Big screen event films are back with “Dune”, “No Time to Die” and “West Side Story”. But the eyes are not lacking. Constantly updated.
The good news for the cinematography race is that theaters have reopened, which means the full spectacle of “Dune” and “No Time to Die” can be experienced on the big screen. But they’re not alone – this season also features the visual splendor of “The Power of the Dog”, the fictionalized nostalgia of “The French Dispatch”, “Belfast” and “West Side Story” and the film noir intensity of “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and “Nightmare Alley”.
Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” (Warner Bros.) is like a cerebral “star wars” meeting “Lawrence of Arabia,” with its dangerous mix of politics and religion, centered around the Messianic Paul Atreides by Timothée Chalamet. It was photographed in large format by Emmy-winning cinematographer Greig Fraser (“The Mandalorian”), who alternated between the Alexa LF digital camera and the 65mm IMAX camera (for dreams and Paul’s surreal visions of the harsh and desolate desert planet Arrakis, filmed primarily in Jordan). Other environments include the autumnal-looking aquatic planet Caladan and the gothic-looking planet Giedi Prime, making it quite a diverse color palette. Fraser alternated between widescreen formats, but also made the unusual decision to create a 35mm Kodak negative and digitally scan it for a more analog experience in movie theaters.
For Daniel Craig’s swan song as James Bond in “No Time to Die” (MGM / United Artists Releasing), director Cary Fukunaga emphasized the emotional drama as he wrapped up his intricate arc. But the director envisioned it as a classic romantic adventure, punctuated by fierce global action. It was shot on a Kodak film by Oscar winner Linus Sandgren (“La La Land”) in 35mm and 65mm (including IMAX), a first large format franchise. To ensure smooth transitions, entire sequences were shot in one format or another. The nearly 30-minute pre-credit streak is remarkably versatile, ranging from a moment of horror on a frozen lake in Norway to the romance of ancient Italy, which goes horribly wrong with brutal violence. The rest of the film follows Bond from Jamaica to London via Cuba and Norway to the exotic concrete lair of villainous Safin (Rami Malek) in an abandoned World War II island base between Japan and Russia. There’s nothing quite like an intimate close-up of Craig’s tired face in IMAX.
Jane Campion’s psychological western about toxic masculinity, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix, from Thomas Savage’s novel), pits two Montana cattle ranchers living in the same family home in 1925: Benedict Cumberbatch’s sadistic Phil and Jesse Plemons’ sensitive Georges. Cinematographer Ari Wegner (“Zola”) shot in large format with the Alexa LF (and vintage anamorphic Ultra Panatar lenses) to take in New Zealand’s vast landscapes, to capture the entire cast. (including Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee) in isolated close-ups of the beautiful landscape. The exteriors are bright and desaturated, while the ranch’s interiors, with its European-style wood design, have a dark and gloomy hunch.
KIRSTY GRIFFIN / NETFLIX
“The French Dispatch” (Searchlight) by Wes Anderson, a collection of stories from the latest issue of an American “New Yorker” style magazine published in a fictional 20th century French town, was shot on Kodak 35mm film by the director of reference photography. Robert Yeoman. The structure, similar to an anthology, is divided into three stories: “The Concrete Masterpiece”, about a famous incarcerated artist (Benicio del Toro), “Revisions to a Manifesto”, about a journalist (Frances McDormand ) describing and engaging with a revolutionary student. (Chalamet) during the demonstrations of the occupation of May 68, and “The private dining room of the police commissioner”, a police drama involving a food journalist (Jeffrey Wright). For this love letter to journalism, Yeoman alternates between color and black and white and different aspect ratios for stark contrast, often using dolly camera shots to connect the scenes.
Black and white also permeates Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical “Belfast” (Focus), his childhood memories of his childhood in North Belfast during the violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants in 1969, and “The Tragedy of Macbeth »By Joel Coen (A24), adapted from the« Scottish play »by Shakespeare, with Denzel Washington and McDormand. Branagh’s go-to cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos has gone digital for the first time with the Alexa Mini LF to evoke a silky Hollywood look, in keeping with Buddy’s (Jude Hill) larger-than-life view of nine. years on his family and the neighborhood, as he takes refuge in film and television.
Apple / A24
Coen, soloing for the first time as a director without brother Ethan, relied on five-time Oscar nominee Bruno Delbonnel to digitally convey the nightmarish aspect of German Expressionism as well as the flattened, etched quality of the master. Danish Carl Theodore Dreyer (“The Passion of Joan of Arc”). Their aim was to create striking contrasts and to project beams of light up and down the hallways and stairs, as part of the modernist-looking sets of chief decorator Stefan Dechant.
Guillermo del Toro takes on black but without the obvious tropes for his rework of “Nightmare Alley,” the 1940s psychological thriller, which finds former carnival con artist Bradley Cooper teaming up with psychiatrist Cate Blanchett for a scam in a high society nightclub. The director brings together cinematographer Dan Laustsen (“The Shape of Water”) to evoke a colorful surrealism associated with classical expressionism. The result is meant to add a level of mysticism to the attributes.
Steven Spielberg taps into the xenophobic zeitgeist by revisiting the famous “West Side Story”, in which the doomed lovers Maria (Rachel Zegler) and Tony (Ansel Elgort) try to overcome the hatred between their affiliations with street gangs with the Sharks and the Jets in 1957 to find love and unification in New York City. It is Spielberg’s first musical (scripted by Tony Kushner, with David Newman adapting the score by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim). And he enlisted longtime Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kamiński to shoot on 35mm Kodak film to convey a Technicolor vibe. And while the trailer emphasizes iconic shots, we anticipate more Puerto Rican authenticity and a more cinematic take on stylization.
No movie will be considered a favorite until we see it.
Bruno Delbonnel (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”)
Greig Fraser (“Dune”)
Linus Sandgren (“No time to die”)
Ari Wegner (“The Power of the Dog”)
Haris Zambarloukos (“Belfast”)
José Luis Alcaine (“Parallel mothers”)
Michael Bauman and Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”)
Alice Brooks (“Tick Tick Boom”)
Daria D’Antonio (“The Hand of God”)
Drew Daniels (“Red Rocket”)
Ben Davis (“Eternals”)
Robert Elswit (“King Richard”)
Eduard Grau (“Passant”)
Janusz Kamiński (“West Side Story”)
Dan Laustsen (“Alley of Nightmares”)
Hélène Louvart (“The lost girl”)
Claire Mathon (“Spencer”)
Seamus McGarvey (“Cyrano”)
Kramer Morgenthau (“The Many Saints of Newark”)
Andrew Droz Palermo (“The Green Knight”)
Linus Sandgren (“Don’t look up”)
Dariusz Wolski (“House of Gucci”, “The Last Duel”)
Robert Yeoman (“The French Dispatch”)