Filmmaking

Douglas Trumbull & the Future of Film

Hades Landscape from Blade Runner Special-effects legend Douglas Trumbull (2001, Blade Runner) discusses his career, his new MAGI digital filmmaking process, and the future of digital movies, in this Hollywood Reporter article.

Hades Landscape from Blade Runner This video clip from Trumbull's site illustrates how they created the opening "Hades landscape" sequence in Blade Runner (Here's a clip of the scene; jump to the 3:00 mark to skip the opening credits). I think these kinds of practical special effects, created by photographing real models, lights, smoke, etc., in some cases look better than digital effects; I hope software doesn't completely replace craftsmanship.

Soderbergh Retires from Directing

Steven Soderbergh Film director Steven Soderbergh, credited with launching the "Indie movement" with 1989's sex, lies and videotape, has retired from filmmaking. He discusses his reasons, his plans and much more in New York magazine.

Documentaries

Helvetica

Helvetica, the Movie You'd think it would be hard to make an interesting movie about a font, but filmmaker Gary Hustwit has. Helvetica is a “feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture."

Also highly recommended are the other two films of Hustwit's ‘design trilogy,’ Objectified and Urbanized.

Massimo Vignelli, 1931 – 2014.

Criterion Qatsi Trilogy

Criterion Qatsi Collection Criterion, the gold standard for high-qualtiy videos of classic, challenging and artistic films, has released a box set of Godfrey Reggio's remarkable Qatsi  trilogy.

From Criterion's site:

"Astonishingly photographed, and featuring unforgettable, cascading scores by Philip Glass, these are immersive sensory experiences that meditate on the havoc humankind’s obsession with technological advancement has wreaked on our world. From 1983’s Koyaanisqatsi to 1988’s Powaqqatsi to 2002’s Naqoyqatsi, Reggio takes us on a journey from the ancient to the contemporary, from nature to industry, exploring life out of balance, in transformation, and as war, all the while keeping our eyes wide with wonder."

Chronos, Baraka, and Samsara

Koyaanisqatsi cinematographer Ron Fricke went on to direct three visually stunning movies of his own: Chronos (an IMAX film), Baraka, and Samsara. The films feature gorgeous 70mm photography, using custom-made cameras to create spectacular time-lapse sequences, and were shot in dozens of countries on all seven continents. Like the Qatsi trilogy there is no dialog; the soundtracks feature the lush electronics of Michael Stearns, and music from Dead Can Dance vocalist Lisa Gerrard.

Blu-Ray Favorites

Criterion Trois Coleurs Trilogy

Criterion Three Colors Collection Criterion has also released Krzysztof Kieslowski's wonderful Trois Coleurs (Three Colors) trilogy, Blue, White, and Red. The films' titles, and themes, are derived from the colors and symbolism of France's flag, the Tricolour – blue representing Liberty; white, Equality; and red, Fraternity.

The films all feature beautiful photography, gorgeous lead actresses (Juliet Binoche, Julie Delpy and Irène Jacob, respectively) and lush orchestral scores by longtime Kieslowski collaborator Zbigniew Preisner. Criterion has, as usual, included numerous extras, including documentaries, interviews, and several additional short films by Kieslowski.

Watch the three films in order – Blue, White and Red. There are some subtle plot and musical connections, and the conclusion of Red is also the conclusion of the trilogy, and so won't make as much sense if you've not seen the other two.

Sorcerer Re-Released

(And now for something completely different ...)

William Friedkin's SorcererIn 1977 director William Friedkin was white hot, coming off back-to-back megahits The French Connection and The Exorcist. His next project was a new version of The Wages of Fear, a 1953 film by French director George Clouzot.

Sorcerer was, by Friedkin's own admission, a product of ambition, passion, and hubris. Shooting in the Dominican Republic was brutal and plagued with difficulties, and the film was released to poor reviews and box office. It badly affected Friedkin's career, and his psyche.

History has been kinder to Sorcerer, with a new release on Blu-Ray, restoring Friedkin's original cut, and critics now recognizing the film's excellence. The film also features a brilliant soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, of whom more on the Music page.

Friedkin looks back on his life and career, including fascinating stories about making French Connection, Exorcist, and Sorcerer, in his new memoir, The Friedkin Connection.