Archive for Scout Tafoya

Lensers

Posted in FILM with tags , , on April 29, 2016 by dcairns

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A typically smart and soulful video essay from Scout Tafoya here about the role of the cinematographer and the results of a poll about the best-photographed movies of all time — and scroll down and you also get a bunch of words by me about my own favourite feats of cinematography.

Crowding round are fellow contributors Justine Smith, Dan Sallitt, Carrie Rickey, David Ehrenstein, Jaime N. Christley and many many more.

C/o Fandor.

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Direction

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2015 by dcairns

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Charles Chaplin wrote in his autobiography that the only thing he learned from his first director, Henry “Pathe” Lehrmann, was that if a character exited frame left he should enter frame right in the next shot (maintaining continuity of movement, you see). This was kind of a put-down, but in fact you could argue that Chaplin learned very little film technique, besides this basic and essential component, at any point during his fifty-three year directing career. (And if that seems like a put-down, remember what Chaplin was able to accomplish using his “limited” technique.)

In fact, Chaplin sometimes got basic screen direction wrong. In SHANGHAIED, made a hundred years ago (!), Charlie is working in the ship’s galley, mistaking the soup pot for a wash pot and washing the dishes in it. He exits to deliver the now-soapy soup to the captain and first mate —

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–and exercises a 180 flip upon passing through the doorway. Now, CC hasn’t done anything impossible (yet) — it’s not even a continuity error, it’s just bad matching of screen direction. We’ve crossed the line while passing from room to room, so that Chaplin seems to be moving in a different direction all of a sudden,

Later, things get weirder still, as the tasting of the soup results in a beating for the cook, who then discovers Charlie’s role in the fiasco. A scuffle, ending with Charlie delivering one of his trademark kicks up the arse to the cook, propelling him through the same door Charlie used earlier —

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— only now the door teleports the cook onto the ship’s deck. Same doorway, different destination. A Twilight Zone moment. At least it didn’t flip him 180, which would have made things even more disorienting for him.

The life of a sea cook is rough and confusing, which must be why they’re always fathering illegitimate children.

STOP PRESS: it’s not over until it’s over — a late, and very great blogathon entry from Scout Tafoya, covering late/latest Ridley Scott and late/latest Orson Welles. Here.

Sixty Eight

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , , on February 28, 2014 by dcairns

cannes

Over at Apocalypse Now, you can read the last word (for now) on the Cannes ’68 Film Fest debacle, and the last entry (for now) in The ’68 Comeback Special, in which Scout Tafoya and I have revisited the films in competition that year. This week, we hand out the (virtual) awards. Here.

By coincidence, I spent most of yesterday talking to Richard Lester, who told me that his entry, PETULIA, was second favourite to win at the time. But then he added “FIREMAN’S BALL would have got it.”

After a good deal of horse-trading, Scout and I arrived at a bunch of awards that satisfied us both. See what you think.