Some interesting movie-related links I’ve run across of late:
- In the Cut, Part I: Shots in the Dark (Knight) – Jim Emerson’s very long but fantastic video takedown of the convoy chase action sequence in the The Dark Knight may come off as overly harsh and gloriously nitpicky, but I don’t really have any issues with the complaints he points out either. Sure, in some cases he’s just not giving the benefit of the doubt, but most of his complaints have merit. I’ve always said that Christopher Nolan wasn’t as impressive as a director as he was as a writer and, perhaps to a lesser extent, editor (of course, some of Emerson’s complaints are with the cuts, so there is that). In the comments at Badass Digest, I also learned that Nolan apparently doesn’t use a second-unit or any sort of pre-visualization. If this is true, I think it goes a long way in explaining most of the problems that Emerson points out. On the other hand, Emerson’s article at Press Play shows what look like storyboards, so who knows. He also seems to cut Nolan a little more slack in the text, acknowledging some of the constraints that Nolan was working under, but his ultimate opinion is still pretty harsh. But I have to say that I really appreciate this video. A lot of critics say that Nolan’s action is incomprehensible and hard to follow, but few take the time to explain in detail what they’re talking about. All that being said, I still love The Dark Knight.
- In the Cut, Part II: A Dash of Salt – Well, if Dark Knight fans weren’t incensed enough by Emerson’s complaints about that movie, they might be driven insane when they see him hold up the middling thriller Salt as an example of a movie that gets action right. That being said, you really can see how much clearer and streamlined the action is in that sequence. I’m really glad that I got to see this video because watching just the part 1 video makes it seem like Emerson is just a stuffy critic making too much of too little, but in this case, he shows how even a mediocre movie (which I did enjoy) can get things right. We need more videos dissecting movies, shot-by-shot, like this.
- Hulk Explain Action Scenes! – So this is an excellent, and very long article about what makes action scenes work. I have one major complaint though, and it has nothing to do with what Film Crit Hulk is actually saying. I realize this is a very usability-nerd complaint, but for fuck’s sake man, drop the ALL CAPS schtick. Look, it works in small doses and is indeed perfect for Twitter, but reading an long article in all caps is simply excruciating. I couldn’t read the whole thing in one sitting and indeed haven’t finished it yet, despite the fact that I really like what I’m reading. What’s more is that he’s not using CSS or other means to create the all caps effect, he’s actually typing this in all caps (meaning that there’s no easy way to convert this into normal, readable text). The grammar schtick isn’t nearly as bad, but if you’re going to be writing long pieces of analysis, it’s really unnecessary to spend the entire article in the Hulk’s voice. Anyway, this proves to be a nice complement to Emerson’s videos.
Both Emerson and Film Crit Hulk are planning additional parts to their respective series, so look out for them. They are well worth while.