Friday, September 05, 2014

"Pictures and shapes are but secondary objects and please or displease only in the memory." - Francis Bacon

The Mike's #cinephilephoto Diary

There's this thing going on on the twitter where someone decided it would be a good idea to start this thing about the cinephilephoto with one of them hashtags, presumably to make all of us OCD movie freaks go into nerdiness overdrive.  And boy howdy, did it work.  I kept watching people post favorite images from their favorite movies (as far as I can gather, that seems to be the only goal of the process) and started getting a billion images running through my mind from my favorite - and even some of my not-so-favorite - movies.  I was terrified that someone would nominate me and I'd have to pick an image, so I just sat back and watched and wondered.

And then three people nominated me.

So now I've posted three images, and been pretty impressed with my own eye for awesomeness, but then I felt - much like the guy I quoted above, who's probably Kevin Bacon's grandpa - that the pictures alone didn't tell my story completely.

Luckily, that's what a blog's for.

Here are the three images I've posted before, complete with a) my analysis of what they are, and b) why I picked them. Because I love them and want to keep them forever, basically.
#cinephilephoto No. 1 - That part in Vertigo where Jimmy's a creep and Kim's so freaking beautiful.
So when I first got nominated (by the wicked cool Brett Gallman) the movie that was stuck in my head was Vertigo. Vertigo isn't my favorite movie, but it's probably top 5 and I really struggle to think of a more engaging sequence in film history than the one where Jimmy Stewart's character first trails the mysterious woman played by Kim Novak.   

So, the shot I ended up posting is the one above. I'm gonna say that now, because the next paragraph is going to sound insane. If you're just interested in which picture I picked, look at it and then skip ahead.

I actually racked my brain pretty hard for which shot to use from this sequence. The moment that stuck with me was when Novak sits and stares at the portrait of the mysterious Carlotta while we see Stewart's Scottie Ferguson staring at her from a distance. The best capture of it I could get looks a lot like this -
Click to make more big, obviously.
Click to make more big, obviously.
- but I just wasn't sold on that being the best image. That statue bugs me, it's a little out of focus (That's the DVD's fault, not Hitchcock's) and unless your screen is REALLY big it doesn't convey the scope I feel this moment deserves.  So then I looked at some other moments -
This one almost won because of the hazy dreamlike cemetery with modern stuff in the distance.
- and then I stumbled back to the moment I picked, where I wanted to just grab an image of Novak walking through the beautiful flower shop.

And then I stumbled into that moment where Stewart peeks through the door and we see his eye while also seeing Novak's reflection and my brain exploded with shouts of "AHHHHHHHHHHH! That's perfect!!!"  So, after about a half hour of grabbing a second by second series of images I finally settled on the one above - because her hair is past the edge of the mirror and the dudes in the distance background have good posture - and that's the image I posted and I love it a lot.

#cinephilephoto No. 2 - Laurie Zimmer being a bad mammajamma in Assault on Precinct 13
Ok, so then the second nomination came (from the coolness of Horrorella and her friend The Fly) and I knew that I had thought way too long and hard about my first pick.

This time I knew I wanted to use a John Carpenter film and I always feel like Assault on Precinct 13 is his most under-loved film (I'd say it's my second favorite, behind Halloween) so I pretty much made my mind up on the spot I was doing something from it.

Despite my love for the film's antihero, Napoleon Wilson, I've been deciding over recent years that Laurie Zimmer's Leigh is a strong challenger for most badass character in the film and one of my favorite realistic and tough women in action cinema. I really wanted to use a shot from late in the film where she has to take on an intruding gang member at close range that looked a lot like this -
- because she looks amazingly fierce in this scene and you can just see her realizing what she has to do and not flinching when faced with such a dire situation.
Trouble is, this is not by any means Carpenter's cleanest film, from a visual standpoint and the technology I have (a laptop with a DVD player and an old Image Entertainment DVD) aren't great. I took six images of the scene in question and none were exactly what I wanted because of the grain and the smoke and whatnot. So, I backtracked again and got the image that I posted from a much cleaner shot early in the film - sadly, before her arm got that awesome makeshift bandage after she took a bullet like a champ - because she still looks fierce and there's the Coca-Cola machine in the back and I just think Assault on Precinct 13 and Laurie Zimmer's performance are swell.

#cinephilephoto No. 3 - Arnold in the video store in Last Action Hero.
My third, and thus far final, nomination came up early this morning (from the amazingly named Isaacs Haunted Beard) and his light-hearted image of the great Ernest P. Worrell got me thinking that I needed to post an image a little more fun this time around.

And, to me, nothing's more fun than Arnold Schwarzenegger in a video store. I mean, you've got a poster for Bram Stoker's Dracula, you've got random videos of The Road Warrior and Dead Calm and Field of Dreams in the cluttered background, you've got a girl that looks like Nicholson's wife from Batman, you've even got mega-babe Angie Everhart in the far back corner.

All of that's perfect - but then there's Arnold as Jack Slater too. Man, I love Last Action Hero. It's a misunderstood classic, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.*
You gotta know I almost picked the scene where Arnold does Hamlet, but I just assumed some dope would mistake it for him playing Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin and I'd feel bad. Plus, video stores are my favorite.
My #cinephilephoto journey is over (for now), but it's always a blast to see movie nerds come together and be nerdy. If you're in on this wacky trend, let me know so I can find you and admire your visual handiwork.

* I don't plan to actually fight anyone. Make movies, not war. Hugs.

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