PDA

View Full Version : Munich, & Late Spielberg Style.



Tony Torn
02-09-2006, 02:41 PM
Funny about Jared shooting HVX for the MUNICH pickups. I just finally sat down and watched it on the big screen, and i was thinking a lot about the look of Kaminski's work in relation to all this argument over resolution and color and proper quality for 35mm film-out.

I grew up with Spielberg's films. I was too young to see Jaws (although just the THOUGHT of the movie scarred me for life!), though I have seen it six times now (and thoroughly enjoyed John H's break down of the autopsy scene MORE PLEASE!), instead it was CE3K that absolutely killed me. Along with the first RAIDERS movie, CE3K is the gold standard for me of SS's early work.

He began to lose me with ET. It was so beautifuly made, and I sat in the theater amid hundreds of blubbering people, but the superficial sheen of the filmmaking, the in your face product placement, and the relentless sentimentality ...wow. :(

So, the second phase of his filmmaking, which really began with the T-Rex attack scene in J Park (look, ma, no John Williams! For 20 min of screen time!), but hitting full force with Schindler's List, was as much a revolution in STYLE of filmmaking as in content.

His collaboration with Kaminski has created a hybrid high-low style which incorporates a rough, immediate low rez look with a touch of the old fanatical attention to sheen. It seems not only inspired by direct cinema (60 doc/fake doc battle of algiers) style, but increasingly, digital DOGMA esque imagery. I think it's a deeply effective and exciting visual dynamic.

It makes sense that the post folks for the MUNICH pick ups would have no worries about folding HVX into the imagry of MUNICH (although I'm sure the decision was based on P2 workflow more than anything else.) HVX footage I've seen provides the same feeling for me as some of the Spielberg/Kaminski stuff. dirty but luscious! :thumbup:

Where am I going with this post? Interested in hearing from others how this 'late' SS style breaks down for them, who prefers his old 'perfect old school hollywood' style how we all feel about Kaminski's love for blown-out light sources ect heavy filtering , if anyone's had success emulating that look while shooting, ect. Also, how does his "dirty, but not too dirty" approach compare with films like contant gardner of bourne supremacy, which almost seem to be emulating a shot-on-video look? And would love what a spiel-head like John H thinks about all of this.:cheesy:

TT (bozo the movie clown)

oneinfiniteloop
02-09-2006, 03:00 PM
I went and saw King Kong, Munich, and Chronicles of Narnia all in the same two week window or so. Compared to King Kong and Narnia's slick look, it was much relief to sit back and watch Munich in all it's "dirtiness". I think it's a welcomed change, much like Good Night and Good Luck is, visually.

Kinda off topic, but I like his "late" style, but it's been a while since I've seen his older stuff so maybe this calls for a trip to Best Buy to pick up some new DVD's and do a proper comparison...

krestofre
02-09-2006, 07:26 PM
This is an interesting discussion.

I for one see much the same directing style in Spielberg throughout his whole career. Before his entry into features he had a lot of time to really learn his craft, through school and television. You can watch Duel or Sugarland Express and see some of his "tricks" that appear in War of the Worlds. It's one of the reasons I respect him so much. The cinematography of his films has changed, certainly. Minority Report doesn't look like any other Spielberg film with it's Noir-ish lighting, blown out, pre-exposed look. But if you look at shot composition, camera movement, blocking, it's very much Spielberg.

The fact that Munich looks dirty isn't so much a by product of a "late" Spielberg film. It's a by product of the story that Munich is: Dirty, ambiguous, unsettling. Spielberg isn't afraid to show the story visually, how it is emotionally. I think this is one of the reasons that he can cross genres like no one else.

Blaine
02-09-2006, 10:23 PM
Spielberg is a great director. He has his share of misses, but when he hits the ball he hits a homerun. I can think of no other director that has had the success he has had. It is sometimes a double edged sword because a lot of people equate box office success as a bad thing. Too often people believe that if you're not a struggling independent director you must be some kind of "sellout".

I would ask anyone to show me a director who has had more critical as well as commercial success than Steven Spielberg. It's easy to beat up on a successful person and think he is less the director because he has had commercial success.

Spielberg put movement in the camera that was rarely seen before him. He did for films today what Orson Welles did for the medium a half a century ago. :thumbsup:

limo991
02-10-2006, 05:18 AM
I can't think of anything that Spielberg actually invented in terms of cinematography, but I understand anyone young enough might have a different opinion:)

penfever
02-10-2006, 06:29 AM
Peter Biskind, in his dishy docu-novel Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, describes Spielberg as a sort of idiot savant of the cinema, able to just pick the right time for a cut or the proper framing for a shot with uncanny accuracy, but lacking in the maturity and emotional complexity of, say, a Scorsese or Coppola.
I don't believe anything Biskind says, but it's an interesting theory to play with. I think Spielberg is a successful Hollywood filmmaker because his work, both early and late, always has a sort of childlike wonder to it. Spielberg seems to be continually amazed by the beauty and power of cinema as a tool. And I think that these qualities, this joy at the medium, goes over to the audience as well.
Late Spielberg is really something to see, because now I feel that he has the maturity which he has, at some points in his career, seemed a little weak on. Films like Munich, but especially films like "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Terminal", show a comfort with leaving a little more in the hands of the viewer, rather than dictating every emotional moment, Jaws-style. So yeah, I like late Spielberg, but really, any Spielberg is a treat to watch.

Blaine
02-10-2006, 08:34 PM
I can't think of anything that Spielberg actually invented in terms of cinematography, but I understand anyone young enough might have a different opinion:)

"And then there are some directors who almost seem to have a patent on certain kinds of camera moves. Steven Spielberg has done a certain type of move so often -- which can roughly be described as the camera moving in on a character while also moving down, so the character somehow seems increased in stature -- that it is indelibly associated with him; in the pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when he needed exactly that kind of movement in a shot of Buffy, Joss Whedon asked the pilot's director to "give me the Spielberg," and the director knew exactly what he meant without another word being said."

Or you may want to take a look at these:
http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/03/27/spielberg_symposium_films_and_moments.html
http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/entertainment/60852004.htm

Tony Torn
02-10-2006, 09:27 PM
I can't think of anything that Spielberg actually invented in terms of cinematography, but I understand anyone young enough might have a different opinion:)

How old are you? I'm 40, btw :beer:

Old enough to know that Spielberg and Kaminski have been watching The Battle Of Algiers...

In a sense, it's intersting to see how the S/K team have delt with glossy style occasionally (AI, for instance), rather than this direct cinema / film noir look (Schindlers, Ryan, Minor, War, Munich)

The 'Spielberg', lol , exactly! Poor Tobe Hooper (see Poltergiest). Usually used to crane into the face of someone enraptured, staring at something transendent. It works, too.

But compare say, Hook with Schindlers, and it's a whole different planet style-wise .

Or compare Jurrasic park with The Lost Word...that first scene in the subway with Goldblum, it's really wild how far from glossy it is, almost as if he were saying "I'm never going back to my old way of doing things."

It's just fasinating to me. How much do we think kaminski is to credit for this? Perhaps he has a direct quality to his approach that has loosened Steven up.
Yes, I know SS has complete control over everything he shoots. But something drastic (and I think, wonderful) happened when he let that Pole run with the camera.

Also, it's not as if SS is my favorite director, i'm not exactly Armond White (amazingly SS crazy critic for the NY Press) on this subject. Just get me started on 70's Roeg or DePalma, or Tarkovsky, or Leon Carrax. But, in the interest of staying on message, none of those guys made a film that used an HVX for a pickup.

Tony Torn
02-10-2006, 09:29 PM
Blaine, thanks for the links!

Blaine
02-10-2006, 10:30 PM
I can't think of anything that Spielberg actually invented in terms of cinematography, but I understand anyone young enough might have a different opinion


How old are you? I'm 40, btw :beer:
And I'm 53. I've seen a movie or two.:grin: I have a lot of directors I like but I think it's funny that so many think it's hip to dump on a master. Take a minute to look at his body of work and show me anyone else with similar credentials. :beer:

limo991
02-11-2006, 07:43 AM
I'm only 30:) I was not refering to age but familiarity with the medium. It is usually a kid that says something is "Spielberg" and that is usually refering to a camera move. The move is usually something we have seen in the 50s or 60s. It is "Spielberg" for many other reasons but not for that.

Cinema is a matter of personal taste. Spielberg always failed to impress or move me, although he has abviously done it for millions of people and has tremendous financial success. But Bresson, Tarkovsky, Bertolucci, Kazan, Bunuel, Godard, Bergman, Wenders, Welles, Roeg, Angelopoulos, Kubrick, Imamura, Fellini and many others rarely dissapointed me. This site obviously focuses on american cinematographers but it would be nice if we left some room for others since many people reading these forums want to be involved in cinematography. Speilberg is a good director but there are far more interesting things to study. Speilberg is too busy making money and thinking about his patents that will address "the future of cinema" and the next level of our "filmic experience":)

Sean Michael
02-11-2006, 08:40 AM
I think Spielberg is a successful Hollywood filmmaker because his work, both early and late, always has a sort of childlike wonder to it. Spielberg seems to be continually amazed by the beauty and power of cinema as a tool.

I agree...after all these years, Speilberg is still enraptured with film & cinema. I've heard him talk about film...he enjoys the entire traditional process, even the smell of film being processed. :cheesy:

One reason Dreamworks SKG sold is that Speilberg prefers being on a set making movies to playing the role of studio exec.

Money? At this point, the guy's not doing it for money. He's doing what he loves.

As far as "grittiness" . . . about 10 years ago, his cinematography began to more directly serve the interests of the story. Or maybe he just started telling different types of story, maturing as an artist.

When you see a Speilberg movie, you know it will be good--the only question is how good. I'll never forget seeing Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan in the theater.

notwithstanding
02-11-2006, 09:43 AM
I thought it was really interesting how Spielberg made Munich look and sound like a 70's movie. Not only was he capturing the esthetic, style, atmosphere of the 70's itself, but also re-creating the conventions of 70's style-cinema. Like using an optical zoom out, rather than a dolly out, which gives you that distinctly 70's feel (i.e., before filmmakers decided zooming out was cheesey). It even sounds and is paced like a 70's film. The choices of angles and shots and edits, etc. Curious if you guys also noticed some specifically 70's styled shots/angles.

Tony Torn
02-11-2006, 10:31 AM
like your director's list, limo. Man after my own heart.

'film is evil, radio is good' - richard foreman ;-)

Policar
02-11-2006, 11:15 AM
Munich definitely had a 1970s feel to it (I think Spielberg was intentionally ripping off Coppola a bit). It was really interesting to see how he integrated Kaminski's blown-out grainy look with 1970s widescreen, but it worked and subliminally brought the film's message from its 1970s context into a modern context, much as the last shot of the World Trade Center did in a more literal way. If the movie weren't so heavily flawed, it might have been a masterpiece, but it wasn't.

As much as I liked Raiders and Jaws, I think Spielberg is still at the top of his game and in perhaps an even more exciting way. He's been tackling incredibly diverse projects in lots of different genres, messing with long takes in War of the Worlds and zooms in Munich and even a Tony Scott/Michael Bay tint/tone/fast cut thingy in Minority Report. His borderling fetishist use of mirrors and reflective surfaces to avoid cutting blows my mind, too. Whenever he shoots someone's face through a window (with a reflection of what the person is seeing in the window) instead of a POV shot, I smile a little bit inside. It's so perfect, so clear, so immediate.

Overall, Spielberg impresses me most, perhaps, because he's the last remnant of the studio-era unit-system director. He uses the same editor, same dp, same effects house, same composer, etc. etc. for all his movies and he works fast in a variety of genres.

Lawsuit_Boy
02-13-2006, 05:26 PM
This is an interesting discussion.

I for one see much the same directing style in Spielberg throughout his whole career. Before his entry into features he had a lot of time to really learn his craft, through school and television. You can watch Duel or Sugarland Express and see some of his "tricks" that appear in War of the Worlds. It's one of the reasons I respect him so much. The cinematography of his films has changed, certainly. Minority Report doesn't look like any other Spielberg film with it's Noir-ish lighting, blown out, pre-exposed look. But if you look at shot composition, camera movement, blocking, it's very much Spielberg.

The fact that Munich looks dirty isn't so much a by product of a "late" Spielberg film. It's a by product of the story that Munich is: Dirty, ambiguous, unsettling. Spielberg isn't afraid to show the story visually, how it is emotionally. I think this is one of the reasons that he can cross genres like no one else.

very well put, krestofre! I'm with you 100% here. Spielberg has always had a very unique style in every aspect of filmmaking. I feel that once teaming up with Kaminski, he has really taken off into a whole new territory of film. All of his films have a very unique look and feel to them, but like you said, composition, blocking, movement, have a lot of similarities. Like he has said before, he loves using techniques over and over because of the sense of nostalgia. He just loves seeing it over and over.

back on track, Munich is one of my favorite films of the past few years. The story is, like krestofre said, "dirty, ambiguous, unsettling." And that's exactly what SS and Kaminski were going for with the film. :) Spielberg/Kaminski = LOVE

CineAlta
02-13-2006, 05:57 PM
I agree...after all these years, Speilberg is still enraptured with film & cinema. I've heard him talk about film...he enjoys the entire traditional process, even the smell of film being processed.

Yes, he even keeps an old flatbed KEM in his hotel room, on location, to edit in the evenings. He's said he loves the sight of Michael Kahn, cutting film with a razor and placing tape over the splices.

A true, old-school, classical filmmaker.

Blaine
02-13-2006, 06:12 PM
How can you not like this guy??

jonwolf
02-21-2006, 07:32 PM
any man that gets paid for his passion of film is to be admired. Espcially with all the films Spielberg has done. BTW "MUNICH" is just what we needed at that time. I love the 70s look. ZOOMS! What ever happened to them? Come on. I loved the movie as soon as i saw the Citreon.... Reminds me of Jean Pieree Melvilles "La Samurai".

KMR
02-28-2006, 03:29 PM
This is an interesting thread, reading about Spielberg's recent variety in visual style (and people's overall take on his work). One minor thing I take issue with, however:


In a sense, it's intersting to see how the S/K team have delt with glossy style occasionally (AI, for instance), rather than this direct cinema / film noir look (Schindlers, Ryan, Minor, War, Munich)

I certainly would not include AI amongst his "glossy" pictures--that one was quite grainy (and deliberately so). It has nowhere near the glossiness of Spielberg's early films. Anyway, it's very interesting seeing what he does nowadays. I wonder how he would shoot The Color Purple today, if he had it to do over again?

Now, what would REALLY be interesting to see would be a Spielberg film done ENTIRELY with a DVX or HVX!

MojoTrancer
02-28-2006, 04:20 PM
Old enough to know that Spielberg and Kaminski have been watching The Battle Of Algiers...


Great film. Very raw. The first time I saw it, I really thought it was a documentary... I own the Special Edition. Incidently, a lot of movies have ripped off elements of it, most notably Red Dawn.

Anyway back to Spielberg...

It's amazing to me that out of the 70's generation of directors (one of the best crops of filmmakers in history) he's one of the few still at the top of his game. In fact i think he's better than he's ever been. I just can't bring myself to hate on the man.