Monday, February 22, 2010

Prairieview Movie Week!

"Oh Brother, Where Art Thou"

"Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" was the first movie I watched during movie week. I remember watching bits and pieces of this movie over the years, but I don't think I ever sat down and watched the entire film from start to finish (or atleast not in a long time). I know it was written, directed, and produced by the Coen brothers, so I knew it would likely be a strange and very well made film. The Coen brothers are fantastic, and most if not all of their films are critical successes. Joel Coen's RT rating is a very respectable 85%, and his brother's RT rating is again a very respectable 81%, considering the way RT calculates it's ratings that is very impressive.

Now on to the film itself, it stars a fantastic cast that has great chemistry together. George Clooney, John Turtorro, and John Goodman to name a few, they are really fantastic actors. The character's in the film are quite well developed, although I think a bit more character development at the start of the film could have helped. You do get a feel for each of the characters as the movie goes on though. The story was interesting as well. It followed three escaped prisoners on their hunt for a so called treasure, which has them winding up in many funny and interesting scenarios. The film is a comedy, and it has the feel of a Coen brothers film, with the filmography, use of subtle humour, and the "look" in regards to the filmography. The filmography/photography of this film was really fantastic, something I probably would not have even noticed if I wasn't into photography. The special features section showed just how much work went into giving this film it's "look". It has a sort of "sepia" toned feel to it, as well as vibrant colors to give each scene a different look. The film really works well, as it combines photography techniques/color manipulation to give certain scenes an interesting "feel". The film was also viewed by the general public as a success, it grossed approx: $72,000,000 dollars which is close to three times it's $26,000,000 dollar budget, making it a modest box office success. It was also a relative critical success earning a 77% approval rating on RT and a 70% amongst the top critics. I would definitely say I enjoyed watching this film, I can appreciate it now more than I did before I started photography.

"One Hour Photo"

One Hour Photo was the second film I watched for our movie week, this was one that I was most excited about as I remember seeing it when it first came out, but forgot most of the important details in the film's storyline. I do remember Robin Williams playing as a lonely and very strange character who develops film for a supermarket. What really drew me to wanting watch this film is Robin William's acting, he is a very underrated actor, especially for dramatic roles like the one he plays in this film. As for the rest of the cast, they are all relatively unknown, mostly people who have played roles in television series, or minor roles in other films. The rest of the cast, however does a very good job with their respective roles, and they all contribute to creating what I would say overall is a very well done film.

The storyline is about a seriously lonely, and disturbed man played by Robin Williams. His character works at a photo finishing area inside of a local supercenter. He takes his job very seriously, almost too seriously for a man working in a one hour photo finishing center. He lives alone, and is insisted throughout the film that he has lived alone the majority of his life. He plays this character very well, and is really convincing in his portrayal of "Sye the photo guy". He develops film for families and watches as they grow up. He has one family in specific that he especially wishes he could be a part of, he often envisions being a part of their family, in a very creepy way. He seems to print a copy of every photo that he develops and keeps them for himself, and has an entire wall dedicated towards other people's family photos, this ultimately leads to him getting fired from his job; when things really start to heat up.

The films cinematic qualities are definitely interesting, they used interesting light and color balance for different scenes to incorporate different feelings during certain scenes. The lenses used work well witht the different parts of the film, they approprately incorporate wide angle lenses and telephoto leneses during different scenes. As with most movies the photography/cinemotography was great, and worked well with the movie.

My own personal opinion on this film, well let me say I really enjoyed it. Robin Williams really does a great job of playing his character, which seems like it would be among the toughest roles to play, especially for someone who usually does comedic films. The supporting actors do their jobs well, but they aren't really on the same level as Robin Williams. The film was a modest financial and critical success as well, gathering a 81% approval rating on RT, and grossing over $52,000,000 at the box office, far more than it's $12,000,000 budget. I highly reccomend watching this film, especially for the amazing performance by Williams.

"Manufactured Landscapes"

This was the last film of the week that I watched. I chose this as I do find landscape photography interesting, and also becasue I wanted to watch something that was totally new to me. The other two films were not totally new to me, but they were in the sense that it was my first time watching either of them completely, but this was totally new to me. This is an interesting documentary film, looking into Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky and his travels across the world. It shows the lives of many people in different parts of Asia. It shows how he sets up each of his shots and the amount of work that goes into each of them. It is definitely interesting to see the lives of people and how much different they are then what we live here.

The film starts off with about a 10 minute view of the inside of an asian factory, where it goes around the entire factory. The rest of the film shows the different circumstances that these people live in as well as their surroundings etc. It shows how he sets up each shot, the amount of posing and the way he has his camera positioned. It also shows the final photo,which is generally beautiful, especially considering the landscapes are manmade. The film maker follows Edward Burtynsky around as he photographs different areas, and also films the people of these areas.

One thing I loved about this documentary was the incredible scale of the images. There were parts of this film were they would zoomed in close on a single subject, which usually would have made for an excellent picture on it's own, but then they zoom out to show the amazingly large scale of the image which is really incredible. The fact that he is able to do that shows, the variety of his subjects and also the amazing quality he is able to capture in his photos. One thing I wished this documentary discussed more was the specific photographic techniques he used, we see him set up the shot, but we don't get any indication as to the focal length of the lens or the film etc. It is clear he is using a large format camera however, we can tell by the sheer size of it, as well as the incredibly high quality images he produces.

Overall I would say recommend this film, even if you are not into photography seeing the lives of others in totally different parts of the world is interesting. The film is also a critical success amongst film critics gaining an 82% approaval rating on RT as well as an 80% rating on Matacritic. For me it was not as entertaining as the first two films, as I am more of a fan of dramas etc, but overall it was an intersting watch.