Since the early twentieth century, a lot has changed in the way we view movies. Like sorcerers
dabbling in and experimenting with potions, spell-casting and other forms of magic, directors have
experimented with various styles and forms of visual storytelling. That doesn’t necessarily mean their
endeavors worked or that they were successful, but they can be great.
Welcome to another episode of Pet Peeves & Inspirations. I’m the Ranting Usher. Let me talk you to
Most of us have seen extreme close-ups, the camera wobbling all over the place and over the shoulder
shots used far too frequently. Is this really necessary?
Cinema verite is a style of filmmaking that establishes a first person point of view, allowing the actors
and filmmakers to interact with both the camera and the audience. The technique is designed to create
the illusion that they’re shooting actual raw footage. As deceptively clever and sophisticated as this
form of cinematography might be, I don’t believe it grants them a poetic license to shoot scenes like
this one in "The Blair Witch Project."
The acting is heart-wrenching and sincere, but audiences don’t need a front row seat to
The freedom granted through the use of observation cinema can be abused just as much
while filming in motion as when the camera is solitary. For instance, is it really that
difficult to hold it steady long enough to focus on one thing? Why do you need to
constantly drift off to one side or float in different directions?
I also find it difficult to follow a conversation between two or more people when the
camera bounces back and forth between them. Isn’t it enough for audiences to hear what
the other someone else is saying? Can’t we just see the reaction of the person they’re
talking to without peering over their shoulder every five seconds? No one is asking the
camera to be a visual volleyball.
Although I enjoyed "Project Almanac", the actors and producers are guilty of overusing
that particular technique.
Camera tricks such as those often don’t appeal to those afflicted with motion sickness. It
upsets them so much, in fact, they can’t help but splatter their criticism all over the
Those poor ushers...
Personally, I don't mind a fast-paced or bumpy ride once in a while, but being frequently
distracted and confused while following an already complex plot ranks about a seven on
my list of pet peeves.
Not all aspects of cinema verite are nauseating or even annoying. If used correctly
during the process of storytelling, cinematography can be powerfully effective. Please
observe this scene from "American Beauty".
Direct, subtle and poignant.
The camera remains steady, granting us visuals that are easier to follow and absorb.
Filmmakers captivate our interest by taking us on a voyage in the viewpoint of an
omniscient spirit following an abrupt climax. Kevin Spacey’s sincere and gentle
narration concerning the mystery of what happens after death complements the sheer
sentimentally and profound subject matter that director Sam Mendes intended.
I prefer to be entertained and enlightened. Filmmakers who are able to achieve these
latter are those whose movies inspire me. I want to watch them over and over again.
I’m the Ranting Usher. Let me talk you to the next great scene.
Do you agree with my review? What do you like and dislike about cinematography? Let
me know in the comments section.
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