In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_large_nqau8oyqozqla1fhyl0htrfn4yf

Stray Dogs

Tsai Ming-Liang's first feature in five years is a mysterious and alienating series of tableaus about the fragility of flesh and the smallness of humanity.

Thumb_large_p0p30eibxwqhtqqduqowxyadl6f

The Skeleton Twins

This movie asks a lot of Wiig and Hader. It asks them to navigate territory that’s both funny and dramatic, light and raw, goofy and…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Stray Dogs

Tsai Ming-Liang's first feature in five years is a mysterious and alienating series of tableaus about the fragility of flesh and the smallness of humanity.

Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives
Primary_npbs-thumb-510x340-28620

Darren Aronofsky agrees with me

In the new issue of American Cinematographer, Darren Aronofsky (whose film "Black Swan" is heavy on close-ups) is quoted saying:

We used a lot of close-ups. For me, the close-up is one of the great inventions of the 20th century; it allows an audience to sit in a dark room and stare into the eyes of a person who's emoting without being self-conscious.

A primal fascination of the cinema, I'd say. A few weeks back I wrote:

Last spring I was on a panel at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, CO, called "Why We Still Go to the Movies." The first thing I said (because it was the first thing I thought of) was: "Permission to stare." I wasn't thinking about any particular movie (the title said "the movies") or about the business or anything like that. I was trying to get at the essential appeal of the movie-watching experience. And, for me, that has always been about looking really closely, and paying rapt attention to what is on view. Remember how your mom always said it wasn't polite to stare? Well, it's just the opposite at the movies.

portmanswan.jpg

Cinematographer Matthew Libatique tells AC that most of the film was shot with a 12-18 mm lens, a wide-angle format that creates a subjective effect (subliminal or exaggerated, depending on the shot itself) in which the background wraps itself around the subject in the center of the frame. Like "The Wrestler," "Black Swan" uses what Libatique describes as handheld 16mm (gauge) cinéma vérité to follow the main character around, especially when she's dancing, in rehearsal or onstage. If you've seen the film, you know how this works...

Above: Natalie Portman has an expression of fear and distress -- as if she could break into tears at any instant -- clear into the opening night performance of "Swan Lake" in Aronofsky's "Black Swan." The moment in which she finally changes her pained expression is both a cathartic release and a shocking jolt of tension, like a melodramatic version of the tip of the tureen lid in "Jeanne Dielman."

(tip: Andy Horbal)

UPDATE (12/09/10): I wasn't thinking so much of close-ups when I wrote about cinematic voyeurism; that was the spin Aronofsky put on his observation about sitting in the dark and staring at people.

But, now that he mentions it... another chance to recycle my "Close-Up" essay/dream sequence originally contributed to the Close-Up Blogathon at the House Next Door in, what, 2007?

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

There's Something About "Blade Runner"

A new look at the role of hero and villain in Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner."

The Unloved, Part Ten: "The Village"

Part ten in Scout Tafoya's The Unloved series tackles "The Village."

The strength of Robin Williams

An appreciation of the actor's perseverance through age 63 despite depression.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus