Bryan Menages writes: Hitchcock is the unquestioned master of suspense. But what is it about his scenes that makes them so gripping, and why do they stand up to repeated viewings, even when you know the twist?
To answer this, the Nerdwriter turned to blocking—how you position stuff and people in relation to each other—specifically, the blocking in an early interaction from Vertigo. In the lengthy scene, a retired detective (Jimmy Stewart) meets a shipping tycoon (Tom Helmore) in his office, where he’s about to be lied to quite a bit.
During the meeting, Hitchcock uses the chairs to suggest power, with the dominant party at any given time being physically higher than the seated party. Similarly, the back half of the room is slightly raised and blocked by partial walls, almost like a stage…(read more)
With China adding an average of 15 cinema screens every day, the country’s box office brought in $4.8 billion last year, tripling in size since 2010
SHANGHAI — David Barboza writes: Tucked away in a quiet design studio in this fast-growing city, a team of young animators, illustrators and computer programmers is bringing an ancient Chinese village to digital life.
Using three-dimensional texture painting software, the team — mostly graduates of China’s leading arts schools — is adding intricate details to temples, palaces and pagodas. Team members are also helping animate the movements of the digital characters, including two pandas named Po and Mei Mei.
“Because of the importance of the Chinese market to Hollywood, no one wants to make movies that offend China. Some may see that as self-censorship.”
— T.J. Green, a former Warner Bros. executive who now runs Apex Entertainment, which builds cinemas in China
“This is what I really love to do,” says Fang Zheng, a 32-year-old animator who studied environmental arts in college. “I’ve always been interested in characters and cartoons and things like that.”
The project, part of the next installment of the blockbuster Hollywood film franchise “Kung Fu Panda,” represents a shift in China’s moviemaking ambitions.
“We want to learn how to make movies that appeal to a global audience. Eventually, we need to go global.”
— Ren Zhonglun, president of the state-run Shanghai Film Group, which is also negotiating to form alliances in Hollywood
No longer content simply to build movie sets and provide extras in Hollywood films, Chinese studios are moving up the value chain, helping to develop, design and produce world-class films and animated features. They want a bigger role in the creative process, one that will allow them to reap more rewards, financially and artistically.
“Kung Fu Panda 3” is the first collaboration between Hollywood’s DreamWorks Animation and its Chinese partner, Oriental DreamWorks, which is partly owned by a government investment fund and a private equity firm, China Media Capital. DreamWorks Animation has taken the lead in the creative and design work for the animated feature, which is scheduled for release in early 2016. Oriental DreamWorks contributes by adding Chinese elements, creating storyboards and building parts of the 3-D digital sets.
“We’re trying to develop Chinese creative talents,” says James Fong, the chief executive of Oriental DreamWorks.
It is part of a broader push by China Media Capital into the entertainment business. Over the last few years, the investment firm has made deals with Warner Bros. and the IMAX Corporation of Canada. It also helped develop a Chinese version of the hit TV show “The Voice.”
For American companies, such collaborations offer access to new talent and the chance to understand better a culture that will increasingly be portrayed in its films. And coproduction deals provide greater access to China’s tightly regulated market, which in a few years is expected to surpass the United States as the world’s biggest film market.
“We want to leverage the best of the Hollywood creativity with the best Chinese characteristics. We make it faster, do it cheaper, and in the end do something really innovative.”
— James Fong, the chief executive of Oriental DreamWorks
With China adding an average of 15 cinema screens every day, the country’s box office brought in $4.8 billion last year, tripling in size since 2010, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. And Chinese piracy is no longer such a significant threat to American studios; for example, “Transformers: The Age of Extinction” made more money in China than in the United States.
The rapidly growing market is reshaping the way Hollywood deals with China, from the scripts it accepts to the marketing strategies it adopts. Some of America’s biggest television and movie production houses, including HBO and Warner Bros., are already pushing into China with a raft of joint ventures, partnerships and cofinancing projects. Read the rest of this entry »
Birdman is an incredible movie. If you haven’t seen it, see it. The script, acting, storytelling style, cinematography, and directing, risky, exciting, innovative, ingenious stuff. I admire it, a lot, though it’s not the kind of movie that lends itself to repeated viewings. The extended, impossibly long single-camera takes (only 16 shots in the entire movie) is reason enough alone to not miss this film.
I was, however, disheartened that the members of the Academy chose to give its top award to a movie that can fairly be described as an “insider” movie. A theatrical confection. An elite industry celebrating itself, rewarding an inward-looking movie within a movie, about movies. One that will never reach a wide audience. Many viewers will understandably feel that the Academy passed over movies with more heart and soul.
The predictable self-congratulating sanctimony of the 2015 Academy awards made it almost unwatchable, though it did have some good moments.
China’s Answer to Hollywood’s ‘Razzies’
Lilian Lin reports: As China’s film industry has grown, so too has the number of lemons it’s produced.
According to the organizers of this year’s Golden Broom Awards – which asks the public to choose the country’s worst film – this year’s contest is taking place amid “the most shameless, uncreative, dreadful” time in China’s film history.
“Many film critics in this country are bribed by film producers and genuine voice is scarce. There should be an award to represent the audience’s voice.”
“Some online users are complaining to me that they can hardly choose the worst because all of the selected are terrible,” said Cheng Qingsong, who first launched the awards, China’s answer to Hollywood’s Razzies, six years ago. Online voting for the country’s worst movie of the year recently began, with the winner to be announced in the middle of next month.
Last year, the contest attracted more than a million votes, up from merely several thousand in 2009.
“The past few years have witnessed the largest number of lousy films in China’s history that care the least about originality.”
China’s film market has mushroomed, with box-office receipts rising 36% last year to a record 29.6 billion yuan ($4.77 billion), according to the country’s film regulator. Mr. Cheng, a screenwriter and editor-in-chief of an independent film magazine, said he hoped the awards could help spur better movies in the future. “Many film critics in this country are bribed by film producers and genuine voice is scarce,” he said. “There should be an award to represent the audience’s voice.”
“The past few years have witnessed the largest number of lousy films in China’s history that care the least about originality,” he said, criticizing the country’s films as shallow, frequently “uncreative remakes of Hong Kong films.” Read the rest of this entry »
Greg Gutfeld writes: I never get around to seeing movies because I rarely get around to doing anything. This is an important point–as a man with no hobbies and a knack for leaving things unfinished–it’s a big deal for me to finally catch Penn & Teller‘s documentary, Tim’s Vermeer.
It’s an action film in which the only action is painting. And that action beats most other action films, as it’s actually designed to prove a point: to set out on an absurd experiment (in terms of workload) and see it to its ridiculous but satisfying completion. The movie is about a job.
“Jenison embarks on a decade-long experiment in which he tries to paint a Vermeer, using theories he believed Vermeer might have employed. Over these years, he builds an exact set replica of one of Vermeer’s more complicated paintings…”
But it is also really about Penn Jillette‘s old friend, Tim Jenison, an inventor out of Texas who’s congenially obsessed with solving one beguiling question: how did the guy who painted “Girl with a Pearl Earring” paint “Girl with a Pearl Earring?”
Johannes Vermeer was a 17th century Dutch artist who painted works of art so realistically that they’re about as close as you can get to photographs without demanding a nose-picking brat to “say cheese.”
Some in the art world believe Vermeer achieved his mesmerizing work with technology available at the time–a device called a camera obscura–and a mix of lenses and mirrors. In a sense he was photographing with paint.