Increasingly I hear people referring to any film made in the last century as old. Nobody likes “old” movies. It seems that most people don’t even really like black & white. I used to be like that, but of course you can’t call yourself a real cinephile and not have a basic knowledge of the great classics. I’m here to help you. How? I’ve selected 20 of my favorite films of the 20th century. My hope is that these films will help you appreciate the fact that there are gorgeous looking pictures throughout any decade. Moreover these films aren’t just pretty to look at, but they’re also some of the best movies ever made. Continue reading
Yes, this is a beauty contest. It’s not about the overall quality of the film. This is just about the look of the film. So mostly the way it was shot, the cinematography, the framing, the camera angles, the film stock, the sets, the costumes, the actors, the makeup, the landscapes. In short: The visuals. I know this may sound shallow, but if movies are primarily a visual medium after all. The aesthetic qualities of a film are where a lot of our enjoyment of a film comes from, whether we pay attention to it or not. The great thing about it is that you don’t really have to explain it: The picture speaks for itself. Continue reading
Allow me to get a bit personal for a second and take a break from the usual movie talk. I just wanted to share a couple of my favorite landscape shots I took with my ipod touch during the holidays in Italy this year. These were taken on a couple different locations, but like in a dream, I myself don’t even remember exactly when and where.
Last year, October 9, 2012 we lost one of America’s best cinematographers: Harris Savides. He lived in Manhattan and was only 55 years old when he died from brain cancer, leaving his daughter Sophie and his wife Medine behind.
This weekend the last film he shot, The Bling Ring, got a limited release in the United States. I would like to take this opportunity to remember a man who shot some of the most aesthetically interesting films of the last decades.
Starting his career with a Cindy Crawford workout video, Harris moved up in the business working on television and then for Madonna video clips. He then teamed up with video clip director Phil Joanou for his first feature film Heaven’s Prisoner in 1996. Since then he worked with some of the most renowned directors like David Fincher (The Game, where he also has a cameo and Zodiac), Wong Kar-wai (for his BMW short The Follow), Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding and Greenberg), Martin Scorsese (for his short film The Key to Reserva), Ridley Scott (American Gangster), Woody Allen (Whatever Works), Sofia Coppola of course (Somewhere), but most notably Gus Van Sant (from Finding Forrester up to Restless, minus Paranoid Park which was shot by Christopher Doyle).
For me Harris’ style was a mixture of practical look, capturing reality through the honesty of his lens, yet at the same time crafting a captivating and beautiful picture in its simplicity. His sensibilities were most fit for movies that stripped themselves of anything superfluous, trying to frame the essential and at the same time, the essence of objects and people. All the auteurs mentioned clearly recognized his talents and used them to tell stories that needed a realistic, cinéma vérité almost documentarist approach, like Somewhere and Milk. Or when they needed to recount a tale of loneliness and depression like Last Days and Greenberg.
Methodical and precise directors like Fincher; practical, but sentimental ones like Allen and minimalist, but detail oriented ones like Coppola: Harris knew exactly how to fit each and everyone’s needs and make their films look the best they could. He could also be glossy, dazzling and stylish, when he needed to, like in The Follow or even looking at The Bling Ring.
Needless to say, the news of his passing was a sad and devastating one for film fans and especially those among us that appreciate visually refined works. His nuanced vision, his great intuitions and his sense of humor will definitely be missed.
Rest in Peace, Harris Savides.