All posts in Opinion

Salesman Steven Soderbergh and the State of Cinema

Steven Soderbergh (State of Cinema)

The aftershocks of Steven Soderbergh’s far-reaching speech on the State of Cinema—delivered last Saturday at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival—are still been felt. In his frank and often humorous self-described “rant”, Soderbergh vigorously inspects the meaning of art, difference between ‘movies’ and ‘cinema’, film as business, and the need for artists to remain hopeful no matter how bleak things get. It is the kind of pep talk young soldiers like to hear from generals.

Steven Soderbergh—allegedly retiring as film director after his last hurrah, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, the HBO Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon—is not new to public grandstanding. He has done it before…before OCEAN’S 11, before the Oscar awards, before the highly cultivated public persona. Read his book Getting Away With It: Or: The Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw published in 2000 or watch the wildly inventive SCHIZOPOLIS (2003) to understand Soderbergh’s many skills as filmmaker, thinker, articulator of the obvious and master aggregator of the prevailing zeitgeist.

In my view, Steven Soderbergh is a salesman. An erudite, charming and useful salesman.  Continue Reading

Wally Pfister slams digital; will shoot TRANSCENDENCE on 35mm film with mystery DP

Wally Pfister at the Oscars

Wally Pfister, the Oscar winning cinematographer-turned-director, has confirmed  he will shoot his directorial debut TRANSCENDENCE “on film, 35mm anamorphic” and not digital. This is in line with his vociferous belief that celluloid film is still the most superior capture format for motion pictures: “A lot of cinematographers really like digital cameras, but Chris [Nolan] and I still prefer film. There are plenty of other filmmakers out there—Paul Thomas Anderson, Spielberg, J.J. Abrams—that still prefer film.”

Pfister has also confirmed the speculation that he will *not* be serving as his own director of photography. And that he is in “the final phases” of deciding who will take over the cinematography duties he has normally performed for friend and regular collaborator, Christopher Nolan (INCEPTION).

Wally Pfister with camera on the set of INCEPTION

“I don’t have to start [the cinematographer for TRANSCENDENCE] until December. I’m being careful and choosing wisely. It will be someone who really knows what they are doing.” —Wally Pfister

Based on Wally’s above statement and—what the heck—because it’s fun; here are my guesses for who the mystery cinematographer of TRANSCENDENCE might be:  Continue Reading

Johnny Depp to star in Wally Pfister directorial debut TRANSCENDENCE

Johnny Depp and Wally Pfister

Johnny Depp to star in Wally Pfister’s first film as a director

Hot on the heels of the controversy surrounding Wally Pfister’s smackdown of THE AVENGERS (“an appalling film”) comes the news that Tim Burton’s biggest fan and ladies man-child Johnny Depp is to star in the eagerly anticipated Wally Pfister directorial debut, now titled TRANSCENDENCE. Good PR timing, right?

The film’s affected title—if you consider the fact its being produced by the skillfully bombastic Christopher Nolan—is hardly surprising. No further details are available other than Wally’s admittance that “it’s a present-day science fiction film, a fairly big concept. It’s bigger budget—not as big as ‘Batman’, but not independent”.

The script was penned by a Jack Paglen whose other credits amount to two “Special Thanks” on IMDb. TRANSCENDENCE will be produced by Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas with financing by Alcon Entertainment. Warner Bros. will be distributing.

Now, the big question: will the cinematographer of INCEPTION and THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy serve as both the director *and* cinematographer on TRANSCENDENCE?  Continue Reading

DARK KNIGHT cinematographer Wally Pfister calls THE AVENGERS “an appalling film”

Wally Pfister (cinematographer)

Wally Pfister (cinematographer)

Wally Pfister is an Oscar-winning cinematographer. He is also director Christopher  Nolan’s ‘trademark’ cinematographerboth have been inseparable friends and collaborators ever since Nolan ‘arrived’ in Hollywood with MEMENTO (his best work so far). Their relationship is the stuff of legend and a source of inspiration for young filmmakers attempting to fathom the sacred relationship between a director and cinematographer.

A couple of days ago Wally said something that has taken the internet by storm. He dissed THE AVENGERS. This is what he said: Continue Reading