Saturday, May 02, 2009

Victim's Gold Stars: Technique, Electronique

Yes, as May begins we finally get around to saying goodbye to 2008 around these parts. This is part one of two; part two will not be coming in August this year, if you're lucky. I have October tentatively scheduled this time.


Kevin Blank, Michael Bruce Ellis & Eric Leven, Cloverfield
The kind of delirious realism of the camerawork is complimented by the visceral, yet somehow knowingly fake, work of the effects team. Obviously that's not really the head of the Statue of Liberty, and your brain doesn't really believe it is; but your heart does, and in the prism of the camcorder the distorted realism of the other memorable moments- including the glimpses of monster- is distressingly basic.

Daniel Craemer, Ryan Laney & Sandesh Ramdev, Hancock
It must be admitted that we're gap-filling here, but in-keeping with the project of showing us the darker side of a superhero the film keeps up with a kind of crunchiness in the impacts and shocks, even if the more traditional superhero effects are slightly shoddy.

Nick Davis, The Dark Knight
The gloomy darkness of Nolan's Gotham is once more aided greatly by its effects, be they car chases, explosions, or all of that usual stuff. Two-Face is a bit cartoonishly explicit and doesn't really make sense next to the Joker's make-up (see below), but the shock factor is certainly achieved.


Judy Chin, Marjorie Durand & Mandy Lyons, The Wrestler
Like the performances, painfully truthful and visceral, emphasizing the wear of some and the effort of others, and, obviously, those staples are horrific to witness.

John Caglione Jr., Deborah K. Dee, Latrice Edwards, Lisa Jelic & Vicki Vacca, The Dark Knight
Sure, it's on the basis of the Joker alone, but when their work was an integral part of even the marketing campaign, you can hardly blame me. Clever, and surprisingly intricate: there's a lot to study, reflecting the attitude of the Joker in the way he presents himself.

Maria Strid, Let the Right One In
It's cold, right, and there's vampires, so it's all chilled and white around these parts; but Strid is never tempted to overegg his subject matter, a cog in the film's machinery of getting under the skin with its cool, delicate approach.


Javier Bennassar & Leslie Shatz, Wendy and Lucy
Emphasizes the nearly empty landscapes Wendy finds herself in, the absence of what she searches for, and, at points, the inconsolable loneliness twinned with the frightening unknown. Simple in its naturalism, but highly effective.

Ben Burtt, Tom Myers & Michael Semanick, Wall-E
Another desolate landscape, the complete emptiness of the world, filled only with sounds of the little robot himself, or else rubbish metallically falling onto itself; the contrasting cacophony of bleeping, sliding, gliding, shouting in the second half is nearly as well rendered, if not as memorable.

Paul Davies & Jim Greenhorn, Boy A
A difficult interiority rendered through the sound; becoming acclimatized to the world again, feeling disorientating experiences with keen intensity, letting the world envelop him. Naturalistic but intensely so, a measured balance between narrative and character.

Petter Fladeby & Per Sundström, Let The Right One In
The icy danger of the world is conveyed when it needs to be, but more striking is the clarity of the empty landscapes, the closeness of the developing relationship; oh, and the screams. Can't be forgetting them.

Rick Hromadka, Marti D. Humphrey, Chris M. Jacobson & Cliff Latimer, The Strangers
When you can't see your villains, you need to hear them. This team are responsible for the large percentage of the tension the film unfurls on its audience, coyly playing tricks and knowing when to hold back and when to shock.


Stefan Busch, The Baader Meinhof Complex
Sure, there are explosions, but what really wins it this spot is the second half, where the desolate soundscapes of the prison are the only thing keeping the audience alert at all; it's boring, but so stultifyingly that you do feel the intense claustrophic horror.

William Files, Cloverfield
Inevitably not as disorientating as the visuals, but there's not necessarily safety in the audio either; full advantage is taken of the limited visuals to extend the freak-out effect into your ears too.

James Harrison & Oliver Tarney, Quantum of Solace
Chases. Explosions. Shooting. Spiffing new electronic board things. Says it all really, but I for one found this a perfectly acceptable Bond entry and it did all this stuff with its usual penache; and of course now with added realistic impact.


Danny Elfman, Milk
Sweet and uplifting without being saccharine, Elfman's score is a perfect accent to the film's slightly more conventional than expected approach, while being lively enough to fill out Harvey Milk's life and fit into the period setting.

Clint Mansell, The Wrestler
A paucity of good scores gets this a slot; but brief as Mansell's contribution is, it's as gorgeously downbeat as the film, a sort of lament for Randy that sits delicately, poignantly in the background, occasionally cutting in with wrenching, jagged guitar riffs.

Thomas Newman, Wall-E
Sprightly and twinkly, fun but also slightly sinister when it needs it, and, in its instrumentation, fittingly space-age. A delight to listen to, and wound beautifully into the film.


April Ferry, The Edge of Love
From the working class trying to be classy to the working class just trying to continue living; convincingly period without trying to wow, and, for the females at least, elements that demonstrate their attempt to shape how they're seen.

Maria Ramedhan Lévy, Don't Touch the Axe
Never as flashy as you might think; this period's dresses are (it would seem) remarkably demure and flat. So intimate a film puts considerable emphasis on how Jeanne Balibar presents herself, and cleverly uses little details of her outfits as character points.

Michael O'Connor, The Duchess
So here's your real period slot. Much of the film is basically a fashion show for Keira, but she wears it all well. Especially those hats. Gotta love 'em.

Gabriela Salaverri, Savage Grace
Barbara's chicness through the decades; from the moment her scarf gets wet you know how highly she prizes it. Expert, deliciously obvious, use of colour too, particularly the red; she's dead already.

Albert Wolsky, Revolutionary Road
Simple, yet reflective of the constricting nature of their bourgeosie existance, the kind of unexciting pastel colours of their safe lifestyle, the slightly awkward adjustment to the increasingly dominant simple lines.


Teresa Carriker-Thayer, John Kasarda, Nicholas Lundy & Kristi Zea, Revolutionary Road
Most striking is the rigid, colourless office he works at; but also, of course, their home. It's nothing Mad Men doesn't do but it does it nearly as effectively.

Ged Clarke, Riccardo Pugliese & Cynthia Sleiter, The Fall
Perfect realization of the fantasy worlds of the exotic stories, but also a marvellously designed 'real' world as well. A feast for the eyes, but not at the expense of mapping the plot properly.

Emmanuel de Chauvigny, Don't Touch the Axe
As with the costume, plentiful exploitation of the same spaces, but deals with each one individually; the Duchess' apartment is an intricate, busy space, but Armand's room is as peripherally percieved as the plot requires, while the ballroom space is effectively spacious yet claustrophic.

Ralph Eggleston, Wall-E
There are several reasons why the opening section of this film is so memorable, and the superbly imagined world, abandoned and desolate, is one of them. Add to that Wall-E's intricate, homely little cabin and we can let the less imaginative and messier second half slide.

Antoine Platteau & Romain Scavazza, Heartbeat Detector
The one aspect of the film that works: an extensively limited world, all squares and sharp edges, all unconnected, all spare and disconcerting. Where is the concrete place that the party takes place? Is there ever, really, anywhere he could actually go to cry in private?


Robin Campillo, The Class
Keeps a lively, natural feel to the proceedings, befitting the documentary-like approach, and never really seems to be carving a story out of proceedings. Particularly tactile in the entertaining classroom discussions, but sharp as a tack throughout.

Sun-min Kim, The Chaser
From the early establishing stages, cutting a cool but nervy picture, and expertly handling the breathless chases. No concealment here, but navigates both plot and character with style and delicacy.

Sloane Klevin, Taxi to the Dark Side
Balancing a documentary can be the hardest of tasks; the interviews, the voiceover, the reconstructions, the archive footage... Klevin keeps a through thread here while allowing for necessary digressions, building up an immensely strong case-study and keeping the audience engaged.

Tim Squyres, Rachel Getting Married
Again, contributes to the effervescent, lively feel of proceedings; has to balance an intimate story with a lot of people, and makes its rhythms effectively unpredictable without being jarring.

Andrew Weisblum, The Wrestler
Crafts a keen immediacy from the sharpness of his edits; everything hurts in this movie, and the closeness Weisblum brings keeps the intimacy in, keeps the pace quick and tragic, emphasizes the cruelest moments as well as the most beautiful.


Juan Miguel Azpiroz, Savage Grace
Accentuates the icy sensuality of it all; emphasizes both the erotic and the distaste for it, lingering over the bodily movements of everyone, watching more for their reactions than their speech. And bonus points for restraint, making the moment more spellbinding from afar.

Sean Bobbitt, Hunger
Famous already; intimate with all, uncomfortably so, a painterly complexion to every scene. Unpleasantly holds some things for far too long, but that's an integral part of the wrenching nature of it.

Eric Gautier, A Christmas Tale
As slow and measured as the plotting, but there's a warmth here that aids a great deal to the necessary feel of the familial; sometimes it feels slightly too invasive, sometimes too distant, in the same way that families do.

Declan Quinn, Rachel Getting Married
Another uncomfortable family encounter; Quinn's handheld camera keeps this gathering constantly edgy, capturing the excitement and the arguments, bringing a sense of spontaneity and occasional deliberate awkwardness through what's in shot and what isn't.

Pablo Rosso, [Rec]
We're handheld once more here, but more convincingly than Cloverfield managed; freewheeling, disorientating, but also stable sometimes, reflecting the people behind the camera while also keeping the audience grounded in some sense of reality.


Dame James Henry said...

Yay! I'm so excited you got your awards started! And I'm even more excited to see A Christmas Tale, The Wrestler and Cloverfield getting the technical love they deserve.

J.D. said...

Okay, seriously, Rachel Getting Married in cinematography probably earns you my respect forever. I'm not even sure why but I still can't get over it, dude.