Pic of the Day: An amusing goof from Scream the series

Scream movie and TV bloopersThis may be a Pic of the Day that only folks who have worked in the Grip/Electric or camera departments of productions will appreciate, but it made me laugh. To cut down the amount of output from a light or even a window  – but not affect the color balance – a Neutral Density (ND) gel can be used. Because it can be difficult by eye to tell the difference between the various levels of ND – with are designated with numbers such as ND.3, ND.6, etc. – people will sometimes label the gels with a sharpie. If you look in the lower right corner of this frame grab from season 1 of MTV’s Scream, you’ll see that whoever wrapped the fluorescent tube in ND gel left the N6 label clearly visible.

Pic of the Day: Rocky III frame echoes classic Ali vs. Williams photo

Rocky IIIWhile gorging myself on Rocky movies a few weeks back – trying to beat the clock on their expiration from Netflix – I came upon this shot in Rocky III (1982) that reminded me of Neil Leifer’s memorable bird’s eye view from the Ali vs. Williams 1966 title fight at the Houston Astrodome.

Ali scored a third-round TKO over Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams that night to retain his heavyweight championship. I’ve been aware of this photo – taken by a camera rigged 80 feet above the ring – for years, but had never heard much about the man splayed on the canvas. Williams apparently fought Ali with a bullet lodged in his hip and sans one kidney, both the result of a policeman’s bullet fired into his abdomen during a traffic stop in 1964. Continue Reading ›

Five Frames: Knock Knock cinematographer Antonio Quercia en español


The Film: Knock Knock
The Cinematographer: Antonio Quercia
The Tools: Shot at 4K resolution with the Canon EOS-1D C and Canon Cinema Prime lenses.
The Plot: Dire consequences await married father of two Keanu Reeves when – alone for Father’s Day weekend – he allows a pair of attractive girls into his house on a dark and stormy night.

The plan for this interview with Knock Knock and The Green Inferno cinematographer Antonio Quercia was for his answers to be translated from Spanish to English via Google and Microsoft Word translators. Turns out – particularly given the jargony nature of film production – that didn’t work out too well.

Neither of those translation tools produced text that was remotely usable. But since Antonio took the time to answer the questions, I’ve decided to present his interview in Spanish. Continue Reading ›

On the Road: The Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In Theatre

Furious 7 may boast an $190 million budget and a billion dollars in worldwide box office receipts, but it’s still essentially a drive-in B-movie sold on car chases and girls, fistfights and explosions. In other words, Furious 7 was the perfect film to experience at North Ridgeville, Ohio’s Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In Theatre – an outdoor movie palace whose mammoth second screen looms over a highway dotted with red tail lights receding into the summer night.

Dating back to 1965, the theatre is in the midst of its 50th season – all under the ownership of the same family. Located near Cleveland, Ohio, the Aut-O-Rama plays two sets of double-features every night of the week during the drive-in season of Memorial Day-to-Labor Day. Continue Reading ›

Predestination (2014)

Running Time: 97 minutes
Rating: R
Genre: Sci-Fi
Who the Devil Made It: The Spierig Brothers
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
Screenplay: The Spierig Brothers
Ben Nott
Budget: $9 million
Tech Info: Shot on Arri Alexa
Where Can I Find It: Here

The Plot: Based on the 1960 Robert Heinlein short story “All You Zombies” (which you can read in its entirety here), Predestination stars Ethan Hawke as a time-traveling crime fighter whose latest assignment finds him in a 1970s New York dive bar being regaled with the unbelievable life story of a strangely androgynous customer.

Ramblings: Ethan Hawke has joked that he wanted the advertising tagline to read “Predestination: Go Fuck Yourself.” Once you’ve unraveled the film’s time-is-a-flat-circle mind-screwery, you’ll get the joke. It’s the latest from the Australian directing duo The Spierig Brothers, whose last film Daybreakers (2009) used a futuristic vampire plot as the armature on which to build an allegory of the rich literally feeding off the poor. Predestination is another high-concept genre flick with something on its mind, a “period piece” sci-fi traversing six decades to touch upon ideas both social (gender roles and patriarchy) and philosophical (to simplify, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?”).
It’s an utterly singular film that rather depressingly played in only 20 theaters.

Continue Reading ›

Tales From the Crypt (1972)

Running Time: 92 minutes
Rating: PG
Who the Devil Made It: director Freddie Francis
Cast: Ralph Richardson, Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, Peter Cushing, Roy Dotrice, Nigel Patrick, Patrick Magee
Cinematographer: Norman Warwick
Studio: Amicus

A woman is attacked on Christmas Eve by an escaped mental patient dressed as Santa Claus. Now imagine that same scenario, only the woman has just murdered her husband with a fire poker. That turn of the screw defined the worldview of EC Comics’ pulp horror rag Tales From the Crypt during its run in the 1950s. The victims of the macabre morality tales usually had it coming, an idea which extends to Amicus’ 1972 anthology film version. Unsurprisingly, considering this adaptation’s British roots, that comeuppance is often inflicted upon a member of the monied class. Continue Reading ›

A visual breakdown of the sci-fi western Young Ones (2014)

Director: Jake Paltrow

Cinematographer: Giles Nuttgens (check out our interview with Nuttgens here)

The Plot: Told in three chronological chapters (think American lit, not Tarantino), this sci-fi western follows the saga of a farmer (Michael Shannon) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) struggling to survive the harsh lives of a drought-ridden dystopian future.

Technical Details: Shot on 35mm anamorphic film in South Africa. Nuttgens pull-processed the film to flatten out the contrast and desaturate the image and lit Young Ones’ first section with available sunlight to emphasize the harshness of the setting.

Where to See It: Currently on VOD Continue Reading ›

I will disintegrate you Earthling…but not before giving you an F-stop

Fred Olen Ray’s 1990 sci-fi opus Alienator has all the hallmarks of a cheapie B-movie – it’s largely set in one location, features a limited number of characters and employs old school special effects such as forced perspective. However, Ray and his cohorts take creative frugality to new heights in the film’s finale when the titular alien bounty hunter whips out her ray gun……and it’s one of the crew member’s light meter.

Fred Olen Ray's Alienator

“I will now zap you into oblivion….and your highlights may be slightly blown out.”