Tuesday, November 26, 2013
While at the CCW expo I saw a lot of cameras with a lot of lenses on them. We always talk about a pristine image, and one that is detailed, but a GOOD lens is what can make the difference. Are lenses expensive? They can be and the good ones usually are, but for us cinema obsessed people renting a good lens is something cinematographers do constantly. But there are a whole host of lenses to choice from, and which one will be right for your project is not always an easy answer.
But your in luck. A classmate of mine has just written a pretty good tutorial about lenses. I suggest you pop on over and get schooled. Remember an image is as good as the lens it is being seen through, so when talking about 4K you'll want a GOOD lens in front of your camera to catch all the detail of the scene. The best lens to give you a variety of different shots would be a zoom lens. I'm a lover of good prime lenses, but zooms have saved my bacon on many occasion, so one should know about them. Mr. Gladstone does a good job in describing them, and tells you on what to look for. Give it a read. You'll won't regret it.
Cinema Zoom Lenses by Steven Gladstone.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
So this week I was at the content & communications conference here in New York. The conference is always interesting and somewhat informative. Usually each year there are themes, and this year it seemed all about 4K. Last year there were a lot of panels for 3D, and this year not a peep about 3D. I always knew 3D was a fad, and would not catch on. It's all about consumers voting with their pocket book, and 3D never had a chance.
4K on the other hand is another story. It's all about product, and what will drive 4K will be content, and will that content be worth seeing in 4K. Right now consumers are pretty happy with their flat panel screens of various sizes. At one time the bigger the screen the higher the price, but not so today. LED panel screens are the rage, and they reproduce HD content really well. But the thing is no broadcaster is broadcasting in 1080, and so we're not truly seeing HD. In the United States, 1080p over-the-air broadcasts still does not exist; all major networks use either 720p60 or 1080i60 encoded with MPEG-2. So why this talk about 4K.
One of the seminars I went to was called: "Is a 100 year work flow possible?", and there the discussion about 4K was about that 4K has four times the data of 2K. Every step of the process will take longer, and taking longer means more money. 4K with it's demand for increased bandwidth, and storage capacity can be taxing on a productions budget, so as many post production professionals said that it's hard to justify the expense.
Sure it certainly is nice to shoot in 4K and have it, so that way when the technology becomes more available in the market or more in demand by the consumer the producer can output a 4K program, and sell his movie, or program to that market. But that's a BIG if. Right now the expense is way too high for a low budget film to even think about finishing in 4K.
I did see 4K displays at the expo, and the images were great, and the bigger the screen the more cinematic it felt. The price for a 4K display on the other hand was high. In time I'm sure the price would or will drop, but right now it's all about the money, and will consumers go out and buy another display to see a superior image?. I don't really think so. At least not until the cost drops, but it's never too late for producers to shoot 4K and try and future proof their work flow for the future. To not shoot in 4K is short cited, and it may limit your products distribution in the future.
The argument will go on for some time. Some facilities will want to have the capability to go 4K since it is a choice that they can provide to the producers, but till there is significant product in the pipeline, and till the consumer sees a true difference between what he or she has now 4K will will take a back seat in the home theater arena. For 4K to catch on it needs a foot hold, and there I would think it would begin with sports. Sports bars investing in large 4K displays for BIG highlighted games could be the foundation of where 4K catches on. But for that to happen the networks need to have another tier on their cable channel offerings to consumers, and that may take awhile since the networks would need to invest on new equipment. But 4K is here, and it's not going away, so welcome to the future because someday we'll all be looking at 4K, and we'll watch programs from the past like we do today, and wonder how we ever got along without 4K.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
I know didn't I already write an entry on Bukowski? Yes, but there is so much about him that I think a review of the DVD "Born into this" is something worth noting. Released in 2003 and directed by John Dullaghan the documentary is worth seeing if you know nothing of the man and his work. The film is also pretty much a warts and all about Bukowski. The good and the bad, and as the filmmaker says in the film it was just as well that Bukowski never saw it because some of the footage would have made Bukowski uncomfortable. Seeing this footage shows us how Bukowski is such an interesting and worth while artist and a one of a kind. His wife Linda Lee Bukowski gave the film it's blessing and the filmmaker worked real close with his wife and had access to a lot of footage that Charles Bukowski left behind.
The most interesting documentaries show us the human condition good and bad. After all we all have things in our closet that we are not proud of, but what makes us us. Being an artist and laying bare all your faults and your genesis is something that I admire. Bukowski was a work in progress and to pigeon hole him as a writer would be a disservice to his memory. For example the scene where he has a fight with his then fiance Linda shows a very ugly side to the man, and yet through that scene we see Bukowski's weaknesses and the demons that really drove Mr. Bukowski. Every artist has them and this documentary really gets under Bukowski's skin, and we see a little glimmer of what made him tick and why he was such a prolific writer.
Bukowski wrote from his soul, and bared it all to us. Almost like a chain of thought, but what Bukowski saw nobody else saw. Even the filmmaker who fully admits that he just went out and began shooting his documentary and in time it grew and evolved into what it was. Much like a Bukowski novel the filmmaker delves right into Bukowski, and what we see first is a caustic, and bitter man. There is no narration discussing Bukowski's origin. Instead we hear it from the man himself. How he was abused by his father, and how his parents showed no love to him, and his writing. How he was so conflicted as being an artist and having a job. He was an everyday man who knew the realities of the world, and had some contempt for the world of art. All he knew was that he had to write, and that he had to feed the demon everyday. Ever day life became poetry and his life experiences became books. To read his novels is like peeking into his soul and what made Bukowski Bukowski.
I highly recommend the film, and it is worth seeing just to admire Bukowski's talent, and his tenacity towards his work and life. The filmmaker should be given high praise for his work also, and to think Mr. Dullaghan had no idea where to start and how to approach his subject, and yet he does a great job.
If you're a writer, and you feel frustrated. Pick this DVD up, and give it a viewing. I think you'll find some inspirational things here, and you'll see how genesis and madman can be applied in the same sentence when describing Bukowski.
The film is a great look into a writer who is complicated and passionate about his work. Worth viewing.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
So it's been a pretty quiet here. I get that way sometimes. I think we all do. One evaluates oneself and thinks and wonders where am I or who am I? I've been receding into Charles Bukowski. work. I've always been an admirer of the man and his work. But I began reading his novels and have even started reading some of his many poems, and have become invigorated by his words. I started with the novel "Post Office" and have so far finished three of his novels, and am waiting to read more of his works. This all comes courtesy of my local library, but I was impressed on the many works they did have of Bukowski's work. I even picked up a documentary called "Bukowski: Born into This", and it was a very revelatory film about the man.
I've also read "Hollywood" which was his novel about the making of the film "Barfly", which I also viewed. I have to say I have a new respect for the film, and after seeing it again I had forgot how good the performances were in the film.
So I've become somewhat obsessed on all things Bukowski, and at the same time find myself being taught by the man. An artists life is not easy. It is filled with frustration, apathy, and panic. Yet sticking to it and "DOING IT" makes one a better artist.
Maybe it's the right message at the right time in my life or maybe I'm full of shit. After all that's the way Bukowski would say it. But I have always been striving to achieve goodness or a sense of quality within my work. What ever that work is, yet I seem to want to push myself into other boundaries. Things that make me a bit uncomfortable, but yet excite me. It seems Bukowski's work is working its magic. I have to say some things I don't understand, and don't like, but there is a lot I do like. I also see how he struggled, and how unsure of himself he was. I think it's a strong statement to see, and a very comforting thing to know. We all get that way because life does that to us. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. Hence the struggle of the artist.
So if you get a chance head on over to Bukoski's website and take a look. Maybe you'll find something you like and maybe you'll be inspired. I know I was.
I'll be commenting more about the documentary and Bukowski's work in other entries, but for now an update was needed.
Monday, September 09, 2013
I was watching the other day the movie Chaplin with Robert Downey Jr. as Chaplin. The film was okay, but what really got me to thinking about Chaplin was how much of an innovator he was. I had to take a class about the silent era in college, and though I was no film studies connoisseur back then I did admire and even learn a few things from the masters. In fact I've come to the conclusion that cinema has not changed much since the silent era. Sure there is sound and with sound comes dialogue, but telling a story with pictures only was as basic as it got, and to consider that filmmaking was in its infancy back then and it was all being developed seemed exciting. I became a fan of Buster Keaton, but I'd admired Chaplin very much. His movie "The Kid" was the one that did it for me. In it Chaplin as the Tramp finds a child on the streets, and he is forced to raise the boy. The bond that the two develop is heartwarming, and will tug at your heartstrings. In the end there is a happy ending with the child being re-united with it's mother, and it is extraordinary in how Chaplin tells the story.
But instead of telling you about it why not watch it. It's times like this that make me giddy about the Internet.
Though not as effective as watching it on the screen, "The Kid" still evokes emotion, and laughter. So I hope you enjoy the film from the master filmmaker Chaplin. It has inspired me again, and I'm sure it will inspire you.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Frankenstein's Army is a cleaver horror film that uses the found footage concept to tell a story about a lost Russian unit that comes across a secret Nazi lab where the journal of Dr. Victor Frankenstein is being translated into gruesome experiments. The film is directed by Richard Raaphorst and Mr Raaphorst does a good job with what little he has. I was unfamiliar with Raaphorst work so I enlisted a friend who knew of his work. Mr. Raaphorst was the individual who did a fake trailer of a film entitled "Worst Case Scenario". The clip went viral and was nominated for the best trailer, no movie, at the golden trailer award. Frankenstein's Army is a movie with some of the ideas Raaphorst presented in his trailer "Worst Case Scenario" video.
Shot in Prague, in the Czech Republic the film uses it's location to maximum effect.It was shot in an old abandoned mine. I was fascinated on how the film came about, and since this is Raaphorst's first feature he should be commended at the quality of the film. The monster's in the film were not CGI, which seems to be the fad in today's movie making, but not here. In the film the monsters are actual creations and they are something to look at. The gore content is a bit much, but after all we're dealing with zombie soldiers made from dead corpses. The art direction is stunning and it makes the film worth seeing.
The one thing that kind of made me suspend disbelief was the concept of the found footage. The film is shot from the point of view of the cameraman, and that's fine, but this is happens during the closing days of World War 2, and the handheld color film camera would not be developed until the late 50's early 60's. Knowing this kind of took the air of reality away from the film for me, and yet I still liked it. The detail in the monster creations and even the acting in the film is well done. Some of the cinematography is dark, and the editing is a bit quick for me at times and it felt like a video game, but again this is hard not to achieve when the audiences point of view is that of the cameraman. It would be interesting if the filmmakers had more money to do a more narrative film. I do believe that the story is an interesting one, and one where a more narrative story would enhance the films horror, but sometimes you are given what you are given and must make due, and filmmaker Raaphorst should be commended on what he has made.
In a way Frankenstein's Army is a throwback to those old monster flicks from the past, and maybe that's why I really liked it. The film is not long at all, and it has some good pacing in it. I have to admire Raaphorst's direction, and being that this is his first feature film I can only hope that this is the beginning of a promising career. The visuals in this film are stunning, and if you like a good old fashioned horror film with some gore then this is your film. In fact this film reminds me of Stuart Gordon's films such as "Re-Animator" & "From Beyond", and if you like those types of films you'll love "Frankenstein's Army
All in all a really good solid horror film. I believe it is playing on VOD in some regions and it is also on Amazon on demand, and itunes. I believe it will be released sometime in September on DVD. I know I'll be interested in seeing if the DVD has a director's commentary. If so it will be worth picking up.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
I had been waiting to see this film for some time. After reading Linda Lovelace's books "Ordeal" and "Out of Bondage" I was mortified by what she experienced and what she went through. It wasn't until I met the lady at a convention that I had a chance to talk with her for about 10 to 15 minutes. Some critics point to Lovelace's appearances at these conventions as her being a hypocrite and that her experiences were all a lie. I only spoke to her for a little while, and she was pleasant and I addressed her as Ms Marchiano since that was her name now. She told me to call her Linda, and she really seemed genuine. She talked about her children, and I saw how much she was committed to them. I believe it was this that drove her to provide for her family, and why she would resurfaced as Linda Lovelace.
So how was the movie? Seeing this film is hard. Especially if you've read the book "Ordeal". It's well written and written with Mike McGrady who was a prize winning reporter for Newsday. It's what's not in the movie that I have a problem with.
The filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman do a good job. They stay close to the book, and present Lovelace's rise to stardom two ways. One way we see her as everyone else saw her. A pretty shy young women rise to stardom. The second half of the movie is what really went on, and how Linda was seduced by a Svengali type named Chuck Traynor. To tell you the truth I wasn't too keen on this type of structure in the film, but it does work. Especially if you know nothing about Linda's book or her experiences. If the filmmakers would have done the drama in a linear fashion the tale would be very dark and almost hard to watch. It is difficult to see the abuse that Linda experienced, and it makes you uncomfortable to watch, but let me say that if they had stuck closer to the book those scenes would be 100 times worse. I kid you not that the book is brutal in its description and I applaud the filmmakers for making a film that shows the abuse, but in so doing so they make what Linda experience less then frightening and more melodramatic.
Chuck Traynor was an evil man. He was a sadistic control freak, and he took full advantage of Linda's vulnerabilities. In interviews Traynor denies all the abuse, and tells anyone who will listen that Lovelace made it all up, but Lovelace took a polygraph before the book was published, and though some people can fake the results I don't believe Linda did. Peter Sarsgaard does a good job as Chuck Traynor, and yet I believe that the filmmakers pulled their punches, and didn't really show how twisted Traynor really was. By doing this the filmmakers give us a one dimensional view of Traynor. A film can either go all the way or not at all for me, and by not showing the true evil Traynor was I believe the film waters his character down. The abuse that Linda experienced was physical and mental, and it was only herself that saved her. She became stronger and walked out on Traynor, and if the filmmakers had concentrated on this I think the film would have been better.
The way the film presents Linda's emancipation seems weak, and if anything Linda was not weak. She became a strong willed women who fought her critics. She did not back down in the advance of adversity. That's what I thought the film should have focused on, and since it doesn't it's a weaker film for that.
As for the performances. They are all fantastic. From Sharon Stone's performance as Linda's mother to Chris Noth's performance as Anthony Romano the financier of the film "Deep Throat". All do a great job. I'd also like to give credit to Robert Patrick ,Debi Mazar, and Hank Azaria as supporting characters. They all do a great job here, and should be noted for their fine performances. But the one who should really be complimented is Amanda Seyfried who plays Linda. Her performance of Linda is really well done, and she really brings the role to life. Seyfried plays Linda with such passion that you really believe she is Linda. It's because of this that the movie is so watchable. I have to recommend seeing this film. It is even relevant to today's climate, and should be seen by everyone who thinks porn has no victims. If anything I hope it makes people seek out Lovelace's book "Ordeal" and read it for themselves. It's a good book that is quite revealing and eye opening.
There is a documentary also about the film "Deep Throat" called "Inside Deep Throat", which I highly recommend. It's an interesting view on the film, and why it succeeded and why it will always be popular.
In the end I liked the film, but felt sad. I knew that Ms Marchino wanted her story told, and she was hoping to capitalize on some of it since she was not paid or never made anything from the film. Her daughter and son are listed as consultants and I hope that they are happier seeing their mother's plight and her triumph over such adversities. I think she would have liked the film, and hope that it would serve as a warning to other young girls. The film also touches on Linda's self esteem problems that contributed to her being a victim of Chuck Traynor. It is a theme in the book that Linda touches on throughout her book "Ordeal". But Linda Lovelace will always be an enigma to us since it is hard to put oneself in her shoes. The book tells us, the movie shows us, but for many of us she will always be known as that girl in the funny porn film that made a lot of money, but what is ironic is that the real events were anything but funny. They were more tragic then funny.
In the end Lovelace is a hard film to see, but it is the performances that make you look on. The performances are all riveting and this is the films strength. If you get a chance see it. The film is also available on PPV on most cable systems, so if you're local theater doesn't have it you can order it on cable from home. I hope this way the film finds its audience and is successful. It would be a nice footnote to Ms Marchiano's legacy.