Wednesday, January 24, 2007

mainlymovies' Best of '06: Cinematography

First sort out that mullet, then we'll tackle the cartels

Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men)

It’s not just those unbelievable, digitally aided long takes in the skirmishes, but the grey dawns, bleached landscapes and searching close-ups which made Cuaron’s film the grimly virtuosic and harrowing exercise it is. Lubezki gets the larger share of the credit, for me.

Andrei Butica, Oleg Mutu (The Death of Mr Lazarescu)

Not a pretty movie this, but the way the camera hovered sympathetically on the edges of Lazarescu’s worsening condition — never invasively close, anything but detached — gave it a huge portion of its humane grip.

Dion Beebe (Miami Vice)

Beebe could shoot a poncey deodorant ad and make it look like a shivery poem to the urban night, which is very often just what Miami Vice demanded of him. The film’s starstruck hi-def texture was nothing if not intoxicating.

Robbie Ryan (Red Road)

Ryan made this low-budget triumph the best-looking British feature in years, with his immediately arresting combination of extreme close-ups on Kate Dickie and distanced, wary reverse shots as she prowls the estate. Glasgow, viewed through a lava lamp, has never seemed so infernal.

Chris Menges (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada)

Ravishing work, in a year when Menges’s cinematography was also the best thing about the underrated North Country and valiantly resisted the usual Richard Eyre agoraphobia in Notes on a Scandal. Here he dazzled equally with sunsets and striplights, blinding dunes and craggy faces.


Nick Davis said...

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is easily one of the three or four best movies I saw in a theater this year. If Sony Pictures Classics had given the movie a decent release, especially in 2006 (in the States, it got lost as an L.A.-only awards qualifier at the end of 2005), I'm sure it would have ended up on plenty of Top Ten lists and reaped the kind of popular and awards attention that it deserved. I love that you're enumerating so many of its virtues here. (And great job evoking the Lazarescu photography, too. It's not on my list, but it almost almost was, and maybe it should be, now that you've got me thinking about it more...)

Goran said...

After The New World and Children of Men Lubezki is a bit of a Jesus figure for me - after Collateral and Memoirs of a Geisha, Beebe is a bit of an antichrist figure, so I didn't catch Miami Vice (don't start me on the combination of Beebe, Mann AND Farrell) but I might give it a shot later on at some point.

Three Burials on the other hand I already gave a shot to, and it left me relatively apathetic, particularly in terms of its photography. Actually as soon as any movie pauses for a sunset (much less 24 sunsets) it's dead to me.

tim r said...

Nothing wrong with sunsets. There were a fair few in The New World, you know...

ryan said...

Goran: "as soon as any movie pauses for a sunset (much less 24 sunsets) it's dead to me. "

What kind of criteria is that?? Goran, you are nuts!!! I really hope one day you publish a Collected Comments Of Goran so the world can truly appreciate how gloriously nuts you really are.

Emma said...

Good call on Red Road.

Goran said...

I think I'm not used to people actually reading everything I say and then even taking it literally. This is all very new and exciting to me, but you have to understand:
When I post comments on a blog, they're maybe about 20% digested in advance. So it often happens that I come up with sweeping assumptions and broad generalisations and strange inconsistencies as well as signs of a particular strand of sociopathic disorders. These are inevitable. Don't bother quoting precedent at me. It doesn't process.
(I still say the sunsets in Three Burials looked soul-deadeningly generic.)

tim r said...

Depends on the soul, I guess...