Directed by SPIKE JONZE
Cinematography by HOYTE VAN HOYTEMA
Shot on ARRI ALEXA
Spike Jonze’s new film, Her, takes place in a near future Los Angeles and follows a character who falls in love with his computer. I got to see it during closing night at the New York Film Festival along with the cast and director.
The film takes place in LA but is definitely shot in China. Great choice. DP Hoyte Van Hoytema makes future LA looks like an architectural mock-up. Great choice. The art direction, production design, and set decoration make this film worth seeing. The actual technology aspects of the plot weren’t impressive and is actually quite dated but this doesn’t matter. The film is a love story.
It’s a love story along the lines of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and 500 Days of Summer. As done with Gattaca, Her borrows from the distant past to show a plausible future. Great choice. Great cast. Great design. Well worth seeing.
Directed by ALFONSO CUARON
Cinematography by EMMANUEL LUBEZKI
Tree of Life, Like Water for Chocolate, Y Tu Mama Tambien, The New World, Children of Men, and To The Wonder, are films that DP Emmanuel Lubezki shot. Him plus the ARRI Alexa drew me to Gravity.
As you know, 3D did not draw me to this. The so-called best 3D film, The Hobbit, looks absolutely horrendous. I’d rather scrape my retina with hypodermic needles. Gravity‘s 3D works so well because we’re in space and most out-of-focus elements are CG so these elements are perfectly crafted to work well with our eyes. The interior shots had the same headache inducing shadowing we’re used to. However, besides that and the bad science, this movie is definitely worth seeing in 3D. CinemaSins will have a field-day with this but Gravity is worth seeing for all the things that are done well.
DP’s are usually underrated when a movie is so heavily CG. Literally, for most of the film, the only thing real in a composition is the face of the actor. DP Emmanuel Lubezki captured what he needed in camera and oversaw all the post-production to make sure the lighting was good along with camera movements. You’ll see some amazing virtual camera movements here like no other. Behind the scenes are interesting as some of these features and techniques were made for this film. There’s a great cover article in AC on the making of it all.
Shorakapok: Renaming a Manhattan Forest 
Directed and Edited by Brian Camp
My uncle recently uploaded a documentary he made in 1992 about renaming Inwood Hill Park to Shorakapok. There’s some footage of the Native American Festival in it. My family used to go every year when I was a child. It was much smaller in 1992 and only took place on “the island”. It’s amazing to see what it has turned into today.
In an already crowded sea of TV internet streamers, Google has introduced Chromecast. It’s a HDMI dongle that plugs into your TV and will then be able to cast streams from a slew of devices and apps. I didn’t want to write about this because anyone with any interest in this functionality probably already has it. My cablebox already catches streams from a number of my devices. Gaming consoles already do this too. SmartTV’s have this built in. AppleTV and all the other external boxes do it as well.
What makes this better than all of those setups (not including the low price and small size) is the ease of use along with the large number of supported devices. All it takes is one click from YouTube on my Mac laptop to play that video on my TV. No switching HDMI inputs or anything like that. Chromecast does it for you. Doesn’t matter the device or the OS, it’s just integrated.
I wouldn’t buy it for myself because like most, I already have the functionality. If you have a recent Samsung or Google TV, you already have this. However, now I feel confident in recommending this to those not-so-tech-savvy relatives. 35 dollars. It fits in my palm. And can be powered by the TV via USB. Simple.
A friend of mine wrote a blog piece on Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 TV series “Scenes from a Marriage”. In it he writes:
It strikes me that this chapter title cuts to the very heart of the conundrum of negotiating human relationships and that it would have been a great title for the film (or maybe a great new book title for Pema Chodron). Throughout the seesaw emotional battle the husband and wife undergo in this nearly 6-hour journey, we see this issue of “sweeping things under the rug” rear it’s ugly head over and over again. The entire series, in one sense, can be seen as a slow revealing and confrontation of what is under that rug. The range of tonal notes that are played out in scene after scene establish such a believable spectrum of emotive “reality” that it feels as if we are getting the privilege of eavesdropping on an actual couple’s most intimately wonderful and ghastly moments.