Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's the Year of the Extreme Close Up

We saw two very different films today, but liked them both. The first, "The Spectacular Now" will be in theaters eventually. The second, called "Mother of George" was beautifully made, but may not make it to commercial theaters.

"The Spectacular Now" was about a high school senior who was a totally "living in the moment, life of the party" kind of guy who has no plans past high school. An unlikely girlfriend enters the picture and things start to change. What we loved about the film was how brilliantly the actors portrayed high school kids, it also had humor, heart and a well-told story. Not everyone we talked to agreed with us and I will concede there were some story holes (for example: if you drive drunk and your girlfriend ends up in the hospital as a result, there really should be a consequence), but when you have seen slow, plodding, mostly silent movies for two days; action, dialogue and a progressing plot is a welcome change.

"Mother of George" told the story of a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn, NY. When, after two years, they fail to conceive, the cultural differences come to a head. This was one of the most creatively filmed and beautifully executed films we have seen so far. Contrasting rich traditional African dress against the busy, grey landscape of modern-day Brooklyn added a layer of richness and texture to an already rich story. While I didn't love the out-of-focus close-ups that eventually came into focus, I appreciated the unique style and the way the cinematography, styling and lighting added an unspoken emotional element to the film.

We realized today that this is the year of the close-up. There seems to be an epidemic of pointing the camera at the actor doing the listening during intense dialogue, to the point where you are not always sure who's doing the talking. We have seen close-ups of feet, close-ups of hands and close-ups of the back of the neck. And I wasn't going to mention the various barnyard animals, but I just did. I'm hoping at some point during the Festival someone can explain to me how filmmakers from all over the world, telling extremely different stories have all adopted this one technique.

Here are some photos from today's movies. The first is Miles Teller (actor) and James Pondsoldt (Director) from "The Spectacular Now" and the second is Andrew Dosunmu, Director of "Mother of George."


DYLAN said...

Love the Blog. Hope to see you next year. You've inspired me!

Don Campbell said...

Hope you're having a blast down there, Dana!

Dede Helmsworth said...

I know you're having a wonderful time. Love being in the loop with your great posts.