Thursday, May 17, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Last Friday, MoMA opened a new film series that celebrates the 10th anniversary of Focus Features. The series features ten films produced and/or distributed by the New York based film company. I've seen all ten at least once. A few I've seen multiple times. However, I chose to take another look at Beginners, the 2011 film written and directed by Mike Mills and starring Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, who won his first Oscar for his performance. An offbeat and bittersweet romantic comedy, Beginners manages to be both complex and yet simple at the same time, and withstands additional viewings.
The film centers on Oliver (McGregor), a thirty-something man whose father has recently passed away. Through the use of narration, Oliver reflects on his and his father's past. Often, moments in the present will spark memories in Oliver and result in narrative flashbacks. The film gently floats back and forth in time. In the present we witness a new romance for Oliver, while in the past we are shown Oliver's dad coming out of the closet after the death of his wife -- a few short years before his own death from cancer. We are also taken even further back to Oliver's childhood where we meet his mother and discover aspects of his family life that have led Oliver to avoid commitments in his own relationships and remain single. Will things work out differently with his new girl?
The film is beautifully structured. The complex weaving of of space and time is effortless, never forced or jarring, and realistically captures the reflective state of Oliver's mind as he grieves the passing of his father. While at times episodic and seemingly unrelated, the scenes of past and present build and become linked together by the viewer. The cinematography by Kasper Tuxen features a soft, diffused look and frequently employs shallow depth of field to isolate Oliver and blur the background, giving the film the look of fuzzy memories and emphasizing Oliver's lost and lonely nature.
In addition to the masterfully nuanced performances of Plummer and McGregor, and Mills' expertly crafted screenplay, I also admire the pace of the film's complex editing. Editor Olivier Bugge Coutté deftly weaves scenes of past and present together while never disturbing the film's smooth and gentle, reflective tempo. Beginners tells a simple story in a complex manner. And yet, it never feels overly constructed or complex. The narrative, the characters, and the emotion shine through, engage you and remain with you. Isn't that what cinema is all about?
Sunday, April 29, 2012
While surfing the web, trying to find a super-cool website to write about, I stumbled upon http://2012.beercamp.com/. A yearly event held for designers and developers, you would imagine Beer Camp's website to be highly creative. It is. Designed to look like a pop-up book, the website's designers used CSS 3D to create a floating book that not only allows you to click and drag the pages open, but also allows for some shifting of the book -- enabling partial side views of the pop-up cut-outs and adding to the 3D effect. I absolutely loved pop-up books as a kid and doubt that I am alone. The choice of a pop-up design was a smart choice, not only to show off the CSS 3D, but to appeal to the kid in all of us.
Beyond the 3D pop-up aspect of the site, the illustrations are also brilliantly designed. Each of the three pop-up pages features a silly-looking monster, cool font that also pops-up, and a rectangle of text that zooms towards you when you click on it. The text, which invites the reader to attend Beer Camp, is written like a Dr. Seuss storybook with off-beat rhymes that are as kooky as the illustrations. Each page features wonderful use of bold colors that suit the pop-up storybook design.
The only criticism I have of the site is that there isn't any feature that tells you more about the event. I would have liked to seen a clickable "about" button on the back of the book that would link you to more information about the Beer Camp event, its history and its purpose. However, the event's site was probably designed for a limited audience -- a group that was most likely already familiar with the event.
Here's a link to a site that features an in-depth look at beercamp.com's design:
Friday, April 20, 2012
feral fount by gregory barsamian from amanda kirkpatrick on Vimeo.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
"My initial thoughts about what a title can do was to set mood and the prime underlying core of the film’s story, to express the story in some metaphorical way. I saw the title as a way of conditioning the audience, so that when the film actually began, viewers would already have an emotional resonance with it." - Saul Bass
Friday, March 2, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
My love of movies began at a young age. My father managed several small-town Ohio movie theaters and I grew up watching (and re-watching) whatever was playing. Film was my babysitter. Dad was also a journalist. As his career in newspapers took-off, he left theater management behind and became a film critic. I often accompanied him to screenings and back to the paper's offices where we would discuss the film. I owe my critical eye to my father. Our debates over films challenged me to look at cinema in a new way. Initially, I chose acting as my creative outlet and performed in dozens of theater productions throughout central Ohio. However, I continued to spend all my free time at the movies.
In live theatre, the emotional impact of a play and the understanding of the characters’ relationships, motivations, and desires are conveyed primarily through the performances of the actors. In film, numerous other elements work simultaneously to convey this information and to invoke an emotional response from the audience. For me, film editing is the most fascinating and most important aspect of film production. The meaning and emotion of a film can often be found in the edit from one shot to the next. Individual shots convey their own specific information, but when placed together, new information develops. The edit has an enormous influence on the audience’s emotional response to the film.
Influenced by the work of Thelma Schoonmaker and Walter Murch, and informed by my experience as an actor, I seek to discover and create emotion through editing. I work to find the perfect balance, rhythm, and relationship of shots within individual moments and within the film as a whole – to make the audience feel; to create an experience that remains with them long after they have left the theater.