We talk a lot about how the camera moves through space, and the implications of those choices to move in or out or sideways, but it's rare that we just stop to consider the size and shape of the frame itself. And isn't this where every film starts?
Roemer and Young populate Nothing But a Man’s frame with one finely wrought close-up after another, in which characters—whether it’s Josie’s unctuous father, quietly ashamed to be branded an Uncle Tom by Duff; or Duff’s own pickled, near-vagrant father, experiencing a slow death of the soul—cannot hide their feelings.
High and Low was shot using the TohoScope process, drastically widening the frame for an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. However much the social and moral themes of the film are posed along the vertical axis—in Japanese, the title is Tengoku to jigoku, “Heaven and Hell”—the images and compositions are constrained to the horizontal.
Science, art, and the spiritual have been linked for centuries across pictorial traditions, but they achieve a unique synthesis in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, an audaciously cerebral epic that, whenever seen or contemplated in its original 70mm format, never feels like anything less than a miracle of human imagination.
Since the committing of atrocities is rarely recorded and documentaries seldom show those that are—no one in his or her right mind would want to see them—it follows that fictional cinema’s representation of genocidal acts carries the ultimate burden of representation.
It's the tale of two men who are striving, against a background of fear, distrust, and discouragement, to work out what they want from each other and how to achieve it. And it's one of the most complex and beguiling cinematic love stories since Wong Kar-wai's turn-of-the-century monument In the Mood for Love.
It’s merely a matter of circumstance that Shane was the first movie to get stretched out against its will, but it gives the film a double place in both film history and more specifically the history of the Western, as a movie widely regarded to be a thoroughbred of its genre was also a kind of guinea pig.
The 4:3 aspect ratio is often referred to as the shape of a conventional television screen, but when contemplating the work of Powell and Pressburger, there is a far more rewarding comparison to be made, which is with the shape of a traditional 19th-century Victorian theater stage.
Let us assume for an instant that perhaps Cronenberg is fully aware his satire is stale, that his critique of contemporary Hollywood lacks trenchancy. So what, then is Maps to the Stars up to? Is it an honest portrait of a family laid low by Hollywood’s dream machine?
In honor of See It Big: Gordon Willis, the Museum of the Moving Image screening series co-curated by Reverse Shot, Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert here pay homage to the great cinematographer by focusing specifically on his work in Woody Allen’s 1978 drama Interiors.
The case for this New York is made straightaway, in one of the most ravishing opening sequences in all of cinema—Gordon Willis’s sublime black-and-white static shots of the city, scored to “Rhapsody in Blue.” Recognizable without being dully iconic, the images should muffle whatever resistance other-city loyalists might raise.
Following 2013’s listless Oldboy, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus is Spike Lee’s second consecutive remake, following a nearly three-decade career during which he’s avoided them altogether. It is, narratively speaking, a largely faithful cover version of Bill Gunn’s 1973 cult horror film Ganja and Hess.