Haskell looks out

My favourite image from THE BEST MAN. Cliff Robertson is pretty great as the vicious “man of the people” — kind of a forerunner of Martin Sheen in THE DEAD ZONE.

Cinematographer Haskell Wexler alternates between a simple, theatrical style (often shooting most of a scene from one angle, merely punching in for closeups — a television approach) with some mockumentary handheld sequences which neatly blend crowd scenes from a real Democratic convention with staged action. The beauty of the above shot might even be accidental — Robertson’s hands are pin-sharp but his face is very slightly blurred. The effect is stunning when the shot flashes up, and seems to work as analog of the character — an instinctive reactor, his hands are concrete but his mind is somewhat cloudy…

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4 Responses to “Haskell looks out”

  1. Good call – I think Wexler was going for that.

  2. Bravo David. What you write here is on-the-money, and then some.

    I’m just thinking of the Wexler-photographed film concerning electoral politics that I saw recently, the Sayles-directed SILVER CITY, and the gulf that separates these two films …

  3. Silver City struck me as one of Sayles’ weakest. I appreciate his desire to do his bit against GW Bush, but oddly the result lacks passion. My emotional response to Sayles films is usually strong, so I missed that. And has anybody ever done a Chinatown-inspired narrative that worked? They always seem like very pale shadows of the original to me.

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