Good title sequences are much rarer than they should be, an aesthetic often only considered by those making the opening credits of a Bond movie or the show True Detective. Title sequences are about setting a tone and style for a show and do so by doing either very little or a lot. The episodes and show may chance but the title sequence is the one item that ties everything up, alluding to what an audience knows and will find out if they stay tuned.
Art Of The Title knows this best and, to celebrate, they selected their top ten favorite title sequences of last year. The selections span from video games to movies to television shows and even promotional sequences. While just ten sounds paltry, their picks span a variety of styles and forms. For example the brilliant opening sequence for the decent game Alien: Isolation not only falls into an homage category, echoing the original Alien, but set the tone for a decidedly creepy (yet glacially slow) game. It’s place at number ten points out how stellar a year it was.
It’s a good little list, considering many of the titles were part of wonderfully considered and executed design efforts in entertainment (which is a rarity). There is even the wacky inclusion of “Too Many Cooks” which is just as absurd as the video but—hey—it truly is at its heart a title sequence.
Read the full list and see all the sequences in question by clicking here.
With how fast technology in film has advanced, you would have thought that creating using stop motion would have become a thing of the past. This is far from the truth as new cinematic formats like Vine and YouTube have illustrated that they are avenues for stop motion to thrive (despite the meticulous and somewhat stressful process it entails).
The latest example of exemplary IRL animation is a little video by Japanese coffee makers Maxim Stick. According to Design Boom, they created 1000 cups of latte art to tell the Up-like story of a boy and girl meeting, falling in love, and growing old together. It’s a very cute representation of love and, as the ending suggests, lattes” warm the world.”
While only a minute and a half, the microfilm is a showcase of very careful work. Each cup used in the video is a cocoa dusted panel in a moving comic. You get a glimpse of this at the start, when you see the initial cup being made. Because I am easily frustrated and have very little patience for creating in this manner, I have nothing but respect for the people who make this video because you know it must have been incredibly difficult given the medium and style. The result is absolutely perfect though: all the hard work and caffeination definitely paid off.
Dedicated to the analysis of film form, Every Frame a Painting is a fantastic series of video essays created by the filmmaker and editor Tony Zhou. As entertaining as they are insightful, his series of videos may well be one of my favorite discoveries on the internet.
Running for between 5 and 8 minutes, each video focuses on one filmmaker or one aspect of film form. While some people may feel that film form is quite a dull subject matter, Zhou’s essays are well and truly the opposite of this. They’re fun, engaging and informative.
Take for example texting and the internet in cinema. While we may be living in a digital age, film still seems to be somewhat ineffective in depicting this world on screen. In Zhou’s essay on the subject he presents us with how cinema has approached this conundrum and questions if a solution to their problem may lie not in its content, but in form. Check it out below and I’m sure you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about:
Other topics have ranged from Steven Spielberg’s use of the long take to Satoshi Kon’s unique editing style. I particularly enjoyed his examination into the work of Michael Bay. As one YouTube commenter put it “now I can hate his movies in a more intelligent way”. It’s a great analysis and well worth watching:
Perhaps Zhou’s most successful video to date has been his analysis of Edgar Wright’s approach to visual comedy. In his essay, Zhou looks at how the filmmaker consistently finds humor through framing, camera movement, editing, sound effects and music. Its a wonderful insight into how well designed Wrights films are, and Zhou does a fantastic job of articulating exactly how great Wright is as a director.
If you’re a fan of Tony’s work and you’d like to see his series continue you can support the project over on Patreon. If you’d like to see more from the series make sure to subscribe to his channel over on YouTube.
Only a director like Steven Soderbergh would be intrepid enough to turn Steven Spielberg’s classic Raiders of the Lost Ark black and white and overdub it with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ soundtrack music, all in the name of learning. In a recent post on his site he uses this version of the film to teach staging of scenes, an art that Spielberg did masterfully.
I value the ability to stage something well because when it’s done well its pleasures are huge, and most people don’t do it well, which indicates it must not be easy to master (it’s frightening how many opportunities there are to do something wrong in a sequence or a group of scenes. Minefields EVERYWHERE. Fincher said it: there’s potentially a hundred different ways to shoot something but at the end of the day there’s really only two, and one of them is wrong).
It’s actually really interesting to watch the film in such a different way: no color, no dialogue, and a very contemporary soundtrack that’s cut to each scene. My only complaint is that there’s no way to like this, thus no way to be able to watch this on the Vimeo channel on my Apple TV. Watching this on my Macbook Pro is definitely not as impactful as the experience on my TV would be.
Though there has been a lot of talk around Studio Ghibli closing or simply taking a break it’s refreshing that they are still releasing their films here in the States. Opening October 17th is The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, which was directed by legendary creator Isao Takahata who co-founded Ghibli with Miyazaki. The story is based on the folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter:
Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her – but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.
To me this is visually one of the finest films Ghibli has released since Spirited Away. I like that the film feels like a dream with rough sketched ideas and abstract sumi-e splatters that create the action. It’s a stark contrast to Miyazaki’s take on anime and a welcome addition to the Ghibli roster of films.
I sometimes feel that there’s a tendency for blogs to just focus on what the latest thing is. For some reason there seems to be a need to focus on the thing that’s just been released. While I enjoy new things just as much as the next person I also feel that the internet is so full of amazing things that there’s bound to be some stuff that passed us by the first time around. That’s why I thought I’d share this excellent short film from 2011 with you. Called The Runaway (or La Huida in its original Spanish), this 10 minute short looks at how life moves fast and – rather fittingly – it highlights the things that might just pass us by.
Shot on 35mm and directed by Victor Carrey, the film has won 77 Awards and has had more than 200 festival selections. It’s a story told in two-halves, with the first setting the stage for an event to play out in the second. The narration comes from actor Joaquin Diaz, who does a wonderful job of stringing together a seemingly-endless array of apparently unconnected objects and situations. His rapid-fire delivery rattles through a great array of stories, anecdotes and observations before bringing us to the ‘runaway’ of the title in the second part. Here Carrey slows everything right down and wraps it all together with an excellent slow motion sequence that demonstrates the directors finely honed skills as a music video director.
It’s a great little romp and one which, if you didn’t catch the first time around, I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
Jack Torrance: Mr. Grady, You WERE the caretaker here.
Grady: I’m sorry to differ with you sir, but YOU are the caretaker. You’ve always been the caretaker. I should know sir, I’ve always been here.
One of the most iconic aspects of the film The Shining is not Stanley Kubrick’s direction, nor Jack Nicholson’s demented acting: it’s the repeating carpet that lines the Overlook Hotel. The honeycomb pattern made up of warm reds and oranges is both menacing (when you think of the film) though quite aesthetically beautiful in that sort of House Industries sort of way.
Mondo, the Austin based gallery known for the appropriation of pop culture, has released the Mondo 237 collection, which is a series of clothing and home items that utilize the print. For those of you who’ve dreamed of having a cardigan (or balaclava) with the iconic pattern look no further. Personally I think the doormat is pretty rad, and the detail of having the key on the clothing tag is a nice touch. Really nice implementation all around.
Water. It covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. It’s vital for all known forms of life. It’s pure, it’s beautiful, and it’s awfully artistic, as seen in its leading role within Watermark, a documentary exploring “the extent to which humanity has shaped water, and how it has shaped us.” It’s the result of taking two award-winning documentary directors, Jennifer Bachiwal and Nick de Pencier, and soaking them with renowned Canadian photographer, Edward Burtynsky. While living beautifully on the big screen, this film can just as easily find a home on a gallery wall. It’s an amazingly produced documentary that’s excels in every category of film making, combining several elements to ultimately transform the way you think about water and your relationship to it.
I’m a big fan of the Wachowskis and their work. The Matrix was game-changing, and I was a huge fan of Cloud Atlas, and now it seems like they’ve kept their momentum steady with the upcoming release of Jupiter Ascending.
Set in the future where gods rule over humans, Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an unlucky Russian immigrant who cleans toilets for a living. She encounters Caine (Channing Tatum), an interplanetary warrior whom the Queen of the Universe sent to kill Jupiter. Caine tells Jupiter that the stars were pointing to an extraordinary event on the night she was born, and that her DNA could mark her as the universe’s next leader.
I feel like good sci-fi (like next level crazy ideas that make your brain hurt) kind of sci-fi is hard to come by, but the Wachowskis are certainly pushing it. The futuristic parts of Cloud Atlas were pretty fantastic and this feels like an extension of that. Sign me up.
Since the release of The Grand Budapest Hotel there’s been a streak of interesting stories around Wes Anderson and the way he creates his films. The first interesting site was the color palettes of Wes Anderson, a Tumblr that takes key scenes from his films and defines a perfect palette inspired by it. As you can see above the results are quite fantastic.