For the past few weekends, my wife and I have been watching a different Coen brothers movie. Tonight we watched Blood Simple and I forgot how much a product of the eighties it is: shadows from Venetian blinds, slow moving ceiling fans and Windows without curtains without blinds, so lots of mood lighting. Bonus observation: a young Francis McDermott looks a lot like like Scarlett Johansson.
What you describe are elements of film noir in the 40s. I assume the Coens were referencing that.
True, but in the 80s it was revisited: witness Blade Runner, Angel Heart and 9 1/2 Weeks which all included these elements.
A lot of 80s movies had big hair and synth-heavy soundtracks.
This was their first movie and Joel came out of the NYU film program. Their movies clearly show they are film historians and on top of wonderfully creative scripts they know how to use film as visual medium. Along with Scorsese these guys are the modern master of cinematography.
Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now somewhere on the soundtrack, particularly the closing credits.
Lots of elements that would later become Coen classics: tracking shots following movement at a low level and random moments of absurdity.
don’t the Cohen’s and Scorsese use cinematographers? How do you tell which is the director and which is the cinematographer???
The Coens started out as cinematographers, but I’m speaking of their use of the camera and it’s effects in their films. Not all directors are as closely involved with that part of the process. They write their own films and I’m sure they’re considering the image as they write.
But I don’t know enough about this, I assume you know more:
There are directors like Tim Burton or Wes Anderson who have a certain look/feel to their movies but could they step in the DP shoes and do just a good job, 100% as well as the guy they hired for that position? I don’t know… could they?
But guys like Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock, Terrence Malick, Micheal Mann, Darren Aronofsky… pretty much all of those guys could take over for the DP and do the job 100% equally as well, right?
Scorsese and the Coens have the experience doing that. I can’t say for the others. It’s not a matter of stepping into their shoes, it’s about decisions made ahead of time about what they’re looking for. Directors have different styles and involve themselves in the whole film making process in different ways.
However, what I’m referring to is the artistic quality of the scenes in their movies that is clearly their own signature style.
Well, I’m referring to the the fact that the lighting elements and choice of where to put the camera, the length of a take, color/filters, aperture, etc, is so consistent with the list of directors I mentioned…
Also, heavy use of the saxophone.
-cough- No. They are film writers and directors.
Coen Brothers 1980’s films: Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing. In all three cases, Cinematography by Barry Sonnenfeld. A fellow NYUie ( as we called them over at SVA where I went to film school in the 1980’s .
Martin Scorcese’s 1980’s films: Raging Bull, King of Comedy, After Hours, Color of Money, Last Temptation of Christ. He makes use of different cinematographers in the his films. ( Michael Chapman on Raging Bull, Fred Schuler on King of Comedy and so on.)
All by way of saying that a Director is a Director and a Cinematographer is a Cinematographer.
They’re not masters of modern cinematography any more than Spielberg is. They know a look they want and find the artist who can deliver it.
Cartooniverse, IATSE Local 644/ 600 Cinematographer.
Look, I said they were master of cinematography, not cinematographers. They know how to use the medium as art. I didn’t say they didn’t use cinematographers either. This is a ridiculous quibble. The Coens are film makers, not simply writers or directors, they create their films from scratch. I really don’t know what this quibble is about, and I’m not insulting cinematographers in any way.
Shower scenes. Girls with big hair, thick eyebrows and sexy overall shorts that roll up one or two folds.
A dance contest where somebody breakdances.
El DeBarge and Jet on the soundtrack. Madonna, when that was a really big deal. Spike Lee in his larval form. Directors who cut their teeth on MTV videos. Starring Kevin Bacon.
I think you are assuming I am allways being contrary just to be contrary. Often that is true! But not in this case. Remember when I said… “you probably know more about this than I do”. I’d like to learn more about cinematography…
I just watched Die Hard for the first time since I saw it at a sleepover in the eighties. I got to thinking about action movies then and now.
Modern action movies tend to go for the PG-13 sweet spot. Which means not much cussing, no boobs, and not much gore. If a modern action movie goes for the R, it’s probably going for intense, stomach-churning, Tarantino-style violence.
Die Hard made today would probably be made to hit the PG-13 spot. In the eighties, it clearly wasn’t. It didn’t have insanely gruesome violence (although it wasn’t exactly a peacenik flick either, natch), but McClain cussed like a muthafucka. And there were random boobs: a fucking couple was dragged out of their tryst, with the woman’s top off, and McClain walked past a nudie calender like three or four times, for no real reason. Today if you want that level of gratuitous nudity, you can’t go to an action movie; you have to turn on HBO.
yeah, this gets overlooked a lot… I can’t really think of any PG-13 movies that have complex/dark plots or subject matter.
Die Hard is only rated M in Australia (more or less our PG13 equivalent). It’s always amused me how many movies are rated R in the US which have much lower ratings here (usually for nudity or swearing).