It should come as no surprise that whenever a big cinema tech convention comes to town, all the players start coming out of the woodwork to display their top secret inventions that have been brewing in their R&D labs.
Red usually wins these types of annoucements and I’m pleased to say that they are definitely up there this year and will probably be making at least a couple more significant announcements in addition to all the new products they released with the wireless happy “RedLink” product family and introducing their Dragon Upgrade and Aquire progam.
However I would be completely remiss if I didn’t say that, though I love me some Red and in no way want to minimize what’s going on there (especially before the next few days have had a chance to bring us Red tidings of great joy), Blackmagic Design, with their follow ups to their very popular Cinema Camera, are clearly getting the jaw drop.
Next, and, to some, even more jaw-drop-worthy, is their iphone-sized, Raw shooting,$995 Pocket Cinema Camera
Wow. what a solid punch from Blackmagic who, like Apple, know what to release and when. Although, to be truthful, there’s some trepidation mixed in with the excitement as the Blackmagic Cinema Camera has had massive delays and multiple, not-so-small problems. Here’s to hoping by the time July roles around They’ll have figured out how to prevent such things from happening (though part of me has to wonder if perhaps some of these delays and problems were caused by multiple, similar and, in the case of the 4k model, better cameras being developed simultaneously)
Also on the docket is the Phantom Flex 4k shooting a whopping 1000fps at 4k rez. Gotta love slow mo.
Well. If I haven’t said it enough times before I’ll say it here now. What a great time to be a filmmaker.
Jarred Land just posted the first pic from the Red Dragon. Wow. Can’t wait to see some motion. http://www.redgrabs.com/up/1360380054.jpg
I’m not going to pretend to know how the ins and outs of all this is going to work, but if it goes through and suceeds on the level i”m understanding, this will be HUGE. As Andrew says in the post I gathered this info from, which I”m linking to, this would mark the same type of change whe world saw with the changeover from Film to Digital in cinema. Thanks again to Andrew Reid of EOSHD
There’s been rumblings and sneak peaks of the new digital cinema camera by famed film camera maker, “Bolex,” for about a year now. Since then the Black Magic Cinema camera, 5d Mark iii and others have stormed the scene and made the camera’s, then impressive, specs look rather dull. But now the camera company has released some info on their newly updated version of the, “D16.” The body itself is enough for me to be interested (and I’ll post a quick video showing it off at the bottom of this post). I got my rundown on the feature updates from Andrew Reid over had EOSHD, and man are they awesome. This camera went from nothing to pure contender in my book.
Well that flew by. Another year is now in the books, and by extension, another year of film is as well (funny how that works). As I look back on the cinema of 2012, a few things hit me right away. First, the independent arena didn’t really offer the stunning gems that it frequently does. As Brennan said, “Safety Not Guaranteed” is wonderfully clever and charming, but it doesn’t stick in my mind the way that others do. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” has been wildly acclaimed for its vivid performances and shoestring-budgeted production design, but I don’t feel that the entirety of praise is deserved. I admire the film’s scrappy energy and its command of evocative mood, but it didn’t fully come together for me. “Your Sister’s Sister” could have been a masterpiece—and two-thirds of it promise to be—but it starts spinning its wheels in nearly irremediable ways. Usually every year doles out a low-budget indie drama that knocks me over with its impact (hello, “Blue Valentine”), but I can’t say that for 2012. The second thing that jumps out at me about 2012 is that all of the prestige titles really delivered. Every year, you hear about over-hyped, critically adorned Oscar ponies that turn out to be deflating when they finally wind up in theaters near you. But this year, everything that was raved about truly earned the raves. So the autumnal studio fare overpowered the indie landscape in 2012. Finally, what characterized this past year for me was a more than typical drought before the fall players arrived. This is nothing new, of course—every year features way more quality post September than it does pre—but aside from two summer juggernauts (“The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises”), 2012 offered little of note before the air started getting chilly. With that in mind, I will give my take on the cinematic highlights of the past year. I toyed with the idea of doing a Top 10, but aside from the fact that I haven’t seen everything—”Zero Dark Thirty” will likely be on there—I opted not to because year’s end is typically too early to really start ranking favorites. Some films require a second viewing to show that there was more substance to its surface; some films require a second viewing to show that there was less. It takes time for some films to truly sink in, while others wow you right away and emerge as mere afterthoughts months later. I can’t say which of these titles will become closest friends with my DVD player in the years to come (or closest with my mind, if any), but I can say that these movies are well worth noting if you’re going to review 2012 in film.
The Master: Say what you will about writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson’s juicily divisive sixth feature film—and say plenty of it, please—but here’s one thing you can’t deny: it’s impossible to forget. It’s been four months since I’ve seen it and I can recall more of it than I can films that I saw a month ago. Does that automatically make it a masterpiece? No. But there’s something to say for a film that grabs you and won’t let go. I agree with many of the criticisms out there—its shapeless second half, its staunch elusiveness, etc.—but I also agree with the majority of the praise. The cinematography is transfixing; the atmosphere is inscrutably haunting; and the central performances (particularly in tandem) make the accolade “Acting at its finest” seem more descriptive than hyperbolic. If I’m honest, I still don’t really know what I think about “The Master,” but I know that I want to think more about it.
Looper: The third time was most certainly the charm for writer/director Rian Johnson. He finally blended familiar genre tropes and singularly voiced originality into a fully satisfying concoction. You kind of have it all here: a plot that recalls film-noir as much as it does science-fiction classics, archetypes that surprise you with depth, dialogue that carries some emotion behind the wit, existential struggles that feel only appropriately Hollywood-ized, and a montage that deserves consideration as an all-time great. It’s pulpy storytelling writ resonant, and Johnson shows he could pull it off all along.
The Dark Knight Rises: Talk about divisive. Some critics had the knives ready for this one, but audiences didn’t much care. They knew that Christopher Nolan would give them what they’d come to expect: heightened romanticism, pseudo-gritty realism, indelible characters, comic one-liners, big set pieces, brooding contemplation, and continually escalating stakes. If it’s not your thing, fine, but “Rises” is much more in line with “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” than detractors would have you believe. While not without flaws (an oddly paced first act, a contrived character motivation, etc.), “The Dark Knight Rises” is far from a misfire. It’s big, fun entertainment that floors the pedal halfway through and doesn’t let up. And most importantly, perhaps, it ends Nolan’s trilogy in a way that feels suitably romantic and unsurprisingly, well, Nolan-esque.
Argo: Ben Affleck, one of our most inconsistent actors, has become one of our most reliable directors. This is masterful storytelling, plain and simple. There’s an effortless efficiency at work here that is downright jaw-dropping. The actors are in top form; the camera work is fluid and unimposing; the dialogue is bitingly witty; and the editing is absolutely to-the-bone, finding a place of tension that few films can manage. Some have jumped all over it for narrative embellishments (creative license)/historical inaccuracies and thematic thinness, but who declared it a crime to tell an important sociopolitical story in an entertaining fashion? From where I’m sitting, the theme might be simple but nevertheless potent: “Argo” is about courage and collaboration, and it strikes effectively emotional chords while remaining an entirely easy film to watch.
Skyfall: 007 is back, and in the seemingly unlikely but unquestionably capable hands of Sam Mendes, it feels like Christmas. At once a throwback to the classics and an entry into the recently developed sub-genre of big-budget films that feature an existentially struggling hero and a tone that shifts between romantic levity and gritty realism (I wonder—did Mendes feel obligated to give Christopher Nolan a cut of his paycheck?), “Skyfall” does everything you want a Bond film to do and more. It’s modern but refined, revisionist but familiar, narratively divergent but atmospherically aligned. It plays with the archetypes but never acts like it’s not a Bond film. And it builds to a climax that represents one of the best sequences the franchise has ever given us. Mendes proved himself to be an ideal dance partner for the world of 007, and filmgoers—Bond fans or otherwise—are all the happier for it.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: It’s been a long time since we’ve journeyed to Middle Earth, but ushered back there by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, it feels like we never left. Seeing someplace like Rivendell is like seeing an old home, and seeing someone like Galadriel is like seeing an old friend. But “The Hobbit” succeeds on more than nostalgic grounds. It expertly adapts scenes from the book and imbues them with indelible characterization. Ultimately, this is a thrilling adventure story about enormous strength and courage found in the unlikeliest of persons.
Lincoln: With its honey-soaked visuals, remarkable monologues, and towering central performance, “Lincoln” seems at first swipe to be something we don’t encounter often: an instant classic. It is “capital H” history without the stiltedness and behind-closed-doors politicking without modernist wheel-spinning. Tony Kushner’s extensively researched, astonishingly erudite screenplay is par for the playwright’s course, but Spielberg’s warm direction balances out Kushner’s high-minded dialogue and keeps the proceedings from being too talking-heads cerebral. This improbable pairing between a writer famous for verbosity and a director famous for imagery makes for something quite special.
Les Misérables: Tom Hooper had his work cut out for him: a beloved musical, live singing on set, showstoppers portrayed largely in close-up, etc. And for the most part, he succeeds. The second half feels a bit uneven, but this film’s pros far outweigh its cons, no doubt due to its formidable cast, all of whom bring ample technical skill and hit raw emotional nerves of nearly terrifying intensity. “I Dreamed a Dream” might be the best thing in it, but that does not mean the rest should be discarded.
Silver Linings Playbook: This one gets off to a wobbly start, as its quirky indie-ish rhythms and incongruous drama-comedy tonal shifts fail to mesh in sustaining ways. But then, something happens (for some viewers, that is), and from then on, you can’t really describe the ride that you’re on; you just like being on it. That “something” has a great deal to do with the arrival of a someone, Jennifer Lawrence, who steals every second she’s on screen and shares palpable chemistry with a similarly fantastic Bradley Cooper. She takes this fairly standard romantic-comedy-of-sorts to a new level, but so does writer/director David O. Russell, who—as he did with “The Fighter”—mines familiar narrative territory for gems in the form of intensely specified family tension and atmospheric locale. On paper, I wouldn’t really like “Silver Linings Playbook,” but in execution, I kind of love it.
Django Unchained: Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to make a movie that I can only halfway describe. It’s a nineteenth-century western (or “southern,” according to QT), but it features deeply anachronistic songs, like one by rapper Rick Ross. It doesn’t shy from realistic portraits of the brutality of slavery, but nor does it shy from the kinds of cartoony, over-the-top anime-esque bursts of violence that “Kill Bill” was founded on. It doesn’t decry our nation’s great sin with a “capital H” historical hammer, but it somehow never trivializes the severity of the issue. While some filmmakers attempt to speak truth to power, Tarantino speaks cool to it, and, well, that works too. Calling on blaxploitation cues, the wild director of “Pulp Fiction” takes a slave and turns him into an action hero (a western hero, in essence), empowering the black man with a bit of revisionist history and simultaneously communicating with ongoing social roles as well as portrayals in other movies. But this isn’t homework, by any means; it’s a rocking and rolling good time. If I hadn’t been a fan of Tarantino for many years, I’d be inclined to say I’m shocked that he pulled this off.
So there you have it: some of my favorite films of the year. What did you all respond to in 2012?
Sorry for the absence guys, but we’re back online and back to life! I realize we missed quite a few big things in December and early January but hopefully we’ll get a chance to catch up.
What things you may ask?
Red Ray Player
Red 4k Distribution
World Didn’t End
You know, minor things We’ll be back with all that shortly. Thanks for sticking with us!
When I popped in, “Safety Not Guaranteed,” my perspective on the film was just a bit tainted as I have grown weary of the “quirky, indie comedy/drama.” They seem to be boiling over the Anti-Hollywood crockpot and they have begun to feel as widespread and annoying as Instagram and Hipsterism. I feel like everyone is getting a camera, picking a filter and shooting whatever suits their weird sense of humor and then calling it indie film (which, strictly speaking, it is, but only in the way that Instagram is considered creative photography)
However, it didn’t take long for the honest and unpretentious tone of this film to resonate so deeply with me that I came out calling it, “One of the Best Films I’ve Seen This Year,” and, really, one of the best indie movies I’ve seen since I’ve watched indie movies.
What saves Safety Not Guaranteed from the pretentious monotony or presumptuous quirk is that it never feels like its trying to be different, it just succeeds at being so.
Part of this is due to some impressive acting on all counts. But it is also the interweaving of these characters and their subplots that is so sparingly yet evenly paced that you can’t kill your never ending curiosity to want see them all resolve
The conclusion is so very smile-inducing that anyone who doesn’t at least smirk by the end of the film should probably just go ahead and be honest with themselves that they are in fact the snob they always feared becoming.
5/5 for Safety Not Guaranteed
One of the best 2012 offered