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Watch: Devan Scott’s Video Essay, “Why Are Movies So Dark?”

Accompanying his debut article in Filmmaker's print edition, "Did You See (and Hear) That?)," Devan Scott posts today a video essay, "Why Are Movies So Dark?", that provides visual backup for his points. "Contemporary visuals are commonly diagnosed as dark,' 'underexposed' or 'underlit'. In actuality, they describe an array of phenomena, many of them widely misunderstood," he writes. "The most common charge, dim,' is often used interchangeably with 'underlit.' Tools are frequently blamed; 'the digital look' is as much an accusation of modern equipment as an assessment of its apparent effects." Watch Scott's new video above.

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“I Love the Kind of Cinema That [Tells You Everything] Through Images, Where Every Frame is Like a Painting”: Ena Sendijarević’ on Her Metrograph Series, Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

Amsterdam-based, Bosnian-born filmmaker Ena Sendijarević’s two features to date, Take Me Somewhere Nice and Sweet Dreams, hone the filmmaker’s personal cinematic language while expanding the parameters of her own perspective. The former, her 2019 debut feature, follows a Dutch teen as she journeys to visit her ailing Bosnian father in the hospital. The latter, which will screen at NYC’s Metrograph beginning today, chronicles the decline of a wealthy Dutch family’s Indonesian sugar plantation at the turn of the 20th century. While her first feature explores the contours of Eastern and Western European relations—a subject Sendijarević is familiar with as a refugee of the Bosnian War—Sweet Dreams required extensive research from the writer-director, involving copious reading and a five-month guided tour of…  Read more

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“Congratulations, That Shot was Terrible”: DP Matthew Temple on Late Night with the Devil

Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, and Ian Bliss in Late Night with the Devil

I typically have two problems with found footage horror movies. First, it’s often hard to believe the characters wouldn’t simply drop their cameras once the body count begins. Just as the haunted house movie must present a sufficiently logical reason for the inhabitants to remain once the voices start whispering “get out,” the found footage horror movie must posit an acceptable rationale for why the cameras keep rolling. Second, the subgenre’s veneer of reality often means some of filmmaking’s most effective tools—score, editing, composition—are sacrificed on the altar of verisimilitude. The premise of Late Night with the Devil alleviates both of those objections. Set on Halloween night 1977, the movie purports to be the master tapes of a ratings-challenged talk show…  Read more

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“The Step from Being a Human to Becoming a Monster is Much Shorter than We Think”: Oksana Karpovych on Her ND/NF Doc, Intercepted

Intercepted

While the on-the-ground horrors of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine have been viewed around the world, often in real time — and even formed the basis of this year’s Best Doc Feature Oscar winner, Mstyslav Chernov’s 20 Days in Mariupol — Ukrainian-Canadian filmmaker Oksana Karpovych has chosen to take a much different and rather innovative approach to documenting the war. Intercepted premiered this year at the Berlin International Film Festival before traveling to CPH:DOX and now, tomorrow night, New Directors/New Films, and while it contains no shortage of cinematically-framed images of both devastation and defiant rebuilding, it predominantly captures our attention through an archive of voices — specifically those of Russian soldiers phoning home from the frontlines. The riveting conversations,…  Read more

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Did You See (and Hear) That? Why Home Viewing Can Be Dark and Inaudible

A television displaying na image during daytime with of a man on a dark beach in a living room.Photo by Devan Scott

If the most frequently used pejoratives for contemporary films—“dim,” “muddy,” “inaudible”—are to be believed, we’ve entered a literal dark age of cinema, with cinematographic and sonic tools pushing filmmakers to ever-greater depths of audiovisual obscurity. For more than a decade, Christopher Nolan has incurred the wrath of audiences who prefer their dialogue clearly audible.1 Five years ago, the Game of Thrones episode “The Long Night” propelled the topic of the visual “New Darkness” into mainstream discourse. That this seemingly unsustainable state of affairs has persisted for as long as it has is, to many outside observers, perplexing. Why haven’t we in the industry solved it? Who’s to blame?  Much of the discourse attempting to pinpoint supposed “causes” of these trends tends…  Read more

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Transfigured Night: Bertrand Bonello on The Beast

A woman and man stare at a fire in a doll factory.Léa Seydoux and George MacKay in The Beast

The anxious energy running through the films of Bertrand Bonello is fueled by seemingly contrary cross currents: a mix of naturalism and dream logic, coolness and hysteria, the emotional equivalents of ice and fire. While hopping across distinct genres—his filmography includes a portrait of a bordello in fin-de-siècle Paris (House of Tolerance), a 1960s/’70s fashion biopic (Saint Laurent), a contemporary zombie movie (Zombi Child) and a take on millennial hipster terrorists (Nocturama)—Bonello stays close to characters who get lost in psychic underworlds, highlighting the mind’s slippery dark side and the human tendency (abetted by genre conventions) to fall into one abyss or another. In choosing to adapt Henry James’s quietly shattering 1903 novella about a man whose fear of a lurking,…  Read more

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