Film vs. Digital

Analogue-DigitalWhile browsing through the latest issue of Reverse Shot, which smartly places the focus away from the ‘relevance of critics’ navel-gazing in the recent media to the more interesting cinematic issue of the analogue to digital transition that has been taking place for decades in filmmaking, but really coming to fruition lately. In conjunction with Marina’s mention of the new media and the way media is consumed, this very detailed analysis (which is written Reverse Shot’s across continuum of writers) of form and content as it pertains to construction of film, across auteurist filmmakers (David Lynch, Terrance Malick, Michael Mann, David Fincher, Ingmar Bergman, Jean Luc Godard, Robert Altman, Steven Soderbergh, etc.) changing from analogue to digital filmmaking is about the meatiest cinema article I’ve come across in ages.

A quick glance at my Top 10 films from 2007 reveals that the Top 3 films on that list (Zodiac, Inland Empire, and Paprika) were pretty much 100% digital in construction. The use of the new digital aesthetic towards a rich and probing film experience, rather than a simple cost-cutting or framing device, is probably the attraction to this new cinema. Particularly striking was the first experience seeing Michael Mann’s Collateral and falling in love with the cinematography, this was further underscored with Haneke’s widely praised Caché and hit a zenith with ridiculously underrated Miami Vice and the criminally un-awarded Zodiac.

If you are interested in the intersection of form in how it functions as thematic and dramatic content, the Reverse Shot article is a must-read. Bring your thoughts back here if you are so inclined.

New Trailer for The Incredible Hulk

Here is a new trailer out for Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk (that is what it should be officially marketed as) and I do immediately know that enjoy it more than the first trailer. Still, whereas with Iron Man, I’ve known since the first photo of RDJ popped up that it was going to be something special, with this, I’m still on the edge. While I enjoyed this more than the last trailer, I’m not sure whether I like what I see or not. I’m perplexed. Since outside of The Italian Job there is literally not one movie with Edward Norton I don’t like (I’m even a fan of Death to Smoochy and the admittedly weak The Score), I should probably have a little more faith. I think this is just going to have to be one of those wait and see flicks.

Thoughts? Opinions? Concerns?

Batman Begins (his war on Terror) One Sheet

It is poster day here at Row Three, and yes, this one bounced around the web yesterday, and furthermore, personally, I do not have a lot of interest in the continuation/re-branding of the Batman Movie Franchise. But give credit for this particular edgy One-Sheet design that echos 9/11 in both the visual imagery and the ominous tag-line, “Welcome to a World Without Rules“.

If Batman desires to be the comic book mascot of our vigilante/private-enterprise-goes-to-war age, then this is the poster to do it. Co-incidentally the recent War Inc. also makes light of events much more recent. I hesitate to bring up the ‘too soon’ debate that surfaces with so many things in cinema when entertainment and tragedy collide (Batman Begins also has the Heath Ledger factor going for it). I did very much like Spielberg’s holocaust and 9/11 imagery and the edge it injected into the War of the Worlds remake; the 9/11 factor made the most of Cloverfield, not to mention the still unreleased in these parts Spanish horror film [*REC] which took the famous 9-11 documentary as an aesthetic template.

Screen Shot Quiz #31

Since the contributors have been passing some emails back and forth about the movie I chose fore today, I will ask that they don’t post their guesses and not to discuss this movie until someone has figured it out.

I just watched the movie last night and I was actually somewhat stunned with how dark this one is. I really expected something lighter.

DVD Pick of the Week: “The Red Balloon”

Red Ballon on DVDSure, the pretty interesting and heartbreaking Nanking (R3 review) is being released on DVD today; as is the critically acclaimed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (R3 review). But my DVD pick this week is much shorter and much more touching; not to mention nostalgic.

If you remember working your way through the American public school system, chances are you can recall seeing Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon at least once, likely several times, throughout the first years of your curriculum.

The Red Balloon is the heart-warming tale of a young boy walking the streets of Paris who discovers that his big, red, helium-filled balloon somehow has a mind of its own and can follow him around and play games with him all by itself. It’s been probably 25 years since I’ve seen this film, but I remember it quite fondly and vividly.

The film is visually interesting with great cinematography and quite decent special effects (for 1956) that keeps the balloon bobbing and weaving around corners and even “running” up and down alleyways and over buildings. It seems that the balloon can even “see” into windows and interpret certain scenarios as The Red Balloondangerous or playful. The way Lamorisse is able to give something as simple as a balloon the appearance of emotion and a personality is truly magical.

The title is getting its first time (region 1) DVD release today and is being released by Janus Films (“in association with The Criterion Collection”). While this got me fairly excited upon first reading, it turns out that it’s not much of what we have normally come to expect from Criterion. Extras include only a trailer and some English subs (although I don’t really remember much dialogue in the movie at all).

Still, from reviews I’ve read, apparently the new digital transfer is gorgeous; along with a remastered digital mono soundtrack. Though kept at it’s orignal full-screen asspect ratio, a black border surrounding the picture has been added to prevent overscan. Moderately priced at ten bucks, I’m quite anxious to revisit this GREAT little film (my first art film and likely my first foreign language film to boot) in all of its Criterion wonder this week.

Amazon ($10)
Netflix (available for free, live streaming!)

New Media Takes Over Tribeca

Isabella RosselliniSo that may be a bit over stated but the simple fact that the Tribeca Film Film Festival has a panel dedicated to a discussion on new media is a step in the right direction.

A few weeks back I had the chance to attend a local discussion on bridging media (we – Colleen, Dale and I, shared our thoughts on the discussion here) at which some of the discussion revolved around creating content specifically for new media – be it websites, phones, iPods or whatever new technology is out there and it looks like this idea of making use of new technology is starting to spread.

The panel at Tribeca was made up of founder Gaurav Dhillon, NBC Universal Executive VP and General Counsel Rick Cott and Sling Media Entertainment Group president Jason Hirschhorn, Isabella Rossellini and The Hollywood Reporter’s Georg Szalai, who moderated the discussion. According to THR, discussion touched on a number of topics including the legality and control of this type of content but it was Rossellini’s comment that really caught my attention:

Are mobile phones only a recycling bin for content or for original content? I agree with David [Lynch] if it’s just a recycling bin, but I don’t think he would be against making art specifically for this new canvas.

I think Rossellini is looking at this in the right way, embracing the changing technology and not simply seeing it as the raping and demise of an old and much loved tradition. I also give the Tribeca organizers huge kudos for enabling such a discussion to take place at a respected festival but I have a problem with the fact that Rossellini was the only artist present on a panel discussing an issue that is of utmost importance to artists. This is either a sign that there aren’t a lot of artists in the film industry willing to embrace changing technology or the discussion could have been aimed more at the business side of new technologies and distribution – reading over the coverage of the panel, the latter sounds like the better answer.

I’m hopeful that this is only the first of many other discussions on the subject. We can’t overlook the reality that technology is shaping the world and rather than fighting it, the industry needs to make a move towards embracing it and though some studios have started to make good use of these technologies, others are still lagging woefully behind.

Here’s hoping we’ll see more talk, involving the artists, on the subject.

Mike Judge and Jason Bateman Team Up

Mike Judge, probably most loved for his comedy cult classic Office Space but also the man behind the likes of King of the Hill and Beavis and Butt-Head, is working on another live-action movie titled Extract about “what it’s like to be the boss when everything seems to be shifting around you.”

So, that’s pretty vague, but the most interesting part? According to Variety, Judge is teaming up with actor Jason Bateman, who is continuing his trend of smart moves that are making his TV show-to-movie transition seem easy.

I think Judge and Bateman both have that certain type of sense of humor that will make this work very well. It’s no secret that Judge was screwed over by the studio with his last movie Idiocracy (a movie that I thought had some great ideas and great things to say, but could have been executed better), so hopefully things go a little smoother with this one, especially since Bateman is the leading man, this could help propel his status to a reliable leading man in Hollywood – which I think he will be before long.

Update: Director’s Cut of Dark City coming July 29th

At the beginning of April, Row Three’s Kurt Halfyard reported on the rumored DVD (and possibly theatrical) release of a director’s cut of Alex Proyas’ Dark City. It looks as if it’s a rumor no more. As reported on Twitch, the director’s cut of this sci-fi/film noir masterpiece will finally be hitting the streets July 29th.

Dark City has been the focus of several postings here on Row Three, including a Finite Focus, and is a film that has deserved every bit of praise thrown it’s way. Even if you’ve somehow missed the film to this point, you won’t want to skip seeing it as Proyas intended.

Mark the date on your calendars, and enjoy. (For anyone interested, click the more link to see a trailer for Dark City)

Would you like to know more…?

We Joined Those Fine Sheeple over at L.A.M.B.


A growing collection of Movie Blog profiles (many of which are on our Blogroll sidebar), The Large Association of Movie Blogs is a site worth a gander. Don’t be sheepish or they will lamb-baste you. OK, there are lots of sheep-y puns over for your groan-worthy pleasure, but they outline some mighty fine movie blogs both big and small. The site was brought to our attention by Colleeny of 353 Haiku Movie Review and regular contributor to our own After the Credits Podcast. Check the L.A.M.B. out (and visit 353 for some finely crafted summations on old and new flicks.)