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Killing Them Softly


Julian
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Just watched Killing Them Softly (2012). I liked the movie a lot, but absolutely loved the look! Anamorphic porn :)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDyaNnrgdp4

 

I was curious about the cinematography. Found a nice article about it, very interesting:

http://www.theasc.com/ac_magazine/October2012/KillingThemSoftly/page1.php#

 

It's shot on Kodak film with Panavision lenses, but actually they started testing with those lenses on a 5D II and they wanted to recreate the 5D look with film :lol:

 


“Our basic idea was a low-con image, a kind of creaminess, that harked back to a look that might have existed in the Seventies. Greig suggested that Panavision anamorphic lenses in tandem with the kind of lighting style we wanted would produce a really creamy image, and we shot a lot of tests with Panavision lenses on his [Canon EOS 5D Mark II] DSLR. Then it was a matter of coming up with a look [on film] that would match what we were getting on the 5D, because we loved that. It was a very shallow depth-of-field with layered grays — there were no real blacks in it. That look is pretty impossible to duplicate on film, I think, because once you get down to the release print, moving away from contrasty images is kind of tough.”

 

A new film stock, Kodak 500T 5230, proved to be key, according to Fraser. “We were the first feature to use it, and it has a beautiful creamy quality,” he says. “I didn’t test much of it, mind you, because we didn’t have enough time. We shot some as we drove around L.A., printed it, and thought the results looked amazing. We then put in an order for about 200,000 feet of it, which gave them a little shock up there in Rochester! But they came through.

 


Some of the images in Killing Them Softly possess a strange soft quality, with slightly blurred backgrounds and bright flares. These moments were partly fashioned by the HS50, an older-generation lens customized by Panavision optical engineer Dan Sasaki. Fraser explains, “We asked Dan to shift some of the lens elements to help throw the background crazily out of focus, with a slight doubling of the out-of-focus elements. He made the bokeh even more elongated than it usually is; the falloff was fantastic, and we also got a great flare at the bottom of frame. It was a very interesting and exciting effect.”

 

Here's a shot that shows this:

 

X_ac1012_KTS_07.jpg

 


Throughout the shoot, for which he also employed G-Series and Super High Speed lenses, Fraser emphasized the bokeh by maintaining a shallow depth-of-field, shooting between T2 and T2.5 even in day exteriors with the help of ND filters. “Everyone’s been trying to get the anamorphic image as sharp and clean as possible, and there we were, trying to mess it up,” he notes wryly.

 

Anyway, check the link above and read it all.

 

I found it interesting to see so much shallow dof in an actual movie. And I have to admit, I loved it :)

 

 

 

 

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I like the look of the movie too.  However there are times where the shallow DOF is just distracting.  I think it works for dialogue like the bar scene.  But some of the daytime outdoor scenes just look odd.  I think there's a time and place for it, but I'm not so sure it works in this film.  I thought some of the camera placement was interesting.  The camera on the door (when Brad gets out and slams it) was odd to say the least.  Also it must have been a real bitch to rack focus.  There are so many scenes that are just slightly off and I just can't imagine how the 1st AD must have felt.

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Just watched it.  Freakin' loved it.  This so didn't look like a contemporary film.  The only shots that didn't work for me were some of the process shots where it was obvious to me that Brad Pitt was shot against a greenscreen looking out the car window.  

 

This film, like Fight Club, maintained a fairly consistent shooting stop regardless of day or night, interior or exterior, within ~.6 of a stop between the two films but the dogma is much more noticeable here because anamorphic.  This had such practical benefits with respect to lighting the scenes with economy, achieving naturalism while still being interesting and often beautiful to look at.  

 

Totally works for me.  This, like the other, is a character driven film and it focuses the eye on the character, giving only an impressionistic view of the world they're inhabiting (in the case of Fight Club one that is, like Fincher purposely did with Se7en, never named).

 

Loved the car door shot.

 

That guy's 1st AC is a genuine focusing god.

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It's less poetic Elmore Leonard style pulp fiction.  If you like noirish looks at petty criminals, heist films and dark humor there is a lot to like besides the highly stylized photography and anamorphic porn.  People went in with preconceived notions because of Brad Pitt and wanted something heroic.  Pitt is understated and accessible.  Humorous, brutal and (as is often the case) the pragmatic philosopher and hater of bullshit.  

 

Audiences want him as the heroic protagonist but this is yet another in a long line of films that shows he's at his best as a character and as far away as can be from his tabloid cover image.

 

I love how the filmmaker uses the TV soundbite politics leading up to the 2008 presidential election as a parallel commentary on the motivations and actions of the economic microcosm at center stage of the film.

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One of the major stand-outs for me, performance-wise, is Ben Mendelsoh (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0578853/) who I hadn't a clue about as an actor until first seeing him in The Dark Knight Rises and later in the trailer for The Place Beyond the Pines.  He's mostly a comedic foil but he's so committed to the junky sad sack he plays here it's one of those quietly amazing roles that's just so entertaining.  He's a true chameleon, like a Sam Rockwell or William Fichtner.

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OK, Julian, you talked me into buying the DVD... and you were right: absolutely gorgeous!   Abstract anamorphic compositions and shallow depth of field combined with naturalistic lighting schemes to make a thoroughly convincing universe.  This worked really well with the rambling and very realistic dialog...

 

I couldn't help thinking that it would have been better set in the 70's, though.  The costumes, set design, choice of cars, etc. all screamed 70's.  But then all the 2008 election stuff in blaring on the soundtrack at all times which was strangely anachronistic.  It seemed as if the director wanted to place the movie in 70's era Boston, but budgetary limitations forced him to go with contemporary New Orleans, so then he decided to update the story to parallel the election and financial crisis at the last minute...  

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Good to see you guys like it.

 

It's less poetic Elmore Leonard style pulp fiction.  If you like noirish looks at petty criminals, heist films and dark humor there is a lot to like besides the highly stylized photography and anamorphic porn.  People went in with preconceived notions because of Brad Pitt and wanted something heroic.  Pitt is understated and accessible.  Humorous, brutal and (as is often the case) the pragmatic philosopher and hater of bullshit.  

 

Audiences want him as the heroic protagonist but this is yet another in a long line of films that shows he's at his best as a character and as far away as can be from his tabloid cover image.

 

I love how the filmmaker uses the TV soundbite politics leading up to the 2008 presidential election as a parallel commentary on the motivations and actions of the economic microcosm at center stage of the film.

 

Nicely put into words. I opened the topic because of the technique, but your description of the movie is spot on and I fully agree.

I don't get why it's rated so low in IMDB. Usually films like this get higher ratings and I sure think it deserves more.

 

Actually I found the movie on this list: The Best Movies you didn't see in 2012

 

Another gem from that list: The Raid (Serbuan Maut)

Not anamorphic, although I liked the fact that it was shot on Panasonic AF100's.

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...

I couldn't help thinking that it would have been better set in the 70's, though.  The costumes, set design, choice of cars, etc. all screamed 70's.  But then all the 2008 election stuff in blaring on the soundtrack at all times which was strangely anachronistic.  It seemed as if the director wanted to place the movie in 70's era Boston, but budgetary limitations forced him to go with contemporary New Orleans, so then he decided to update the story to parallel the election and financial crisis at the last minute...  

 

I didn't get that impression at all.  The world inhabited by most of the characters was old but part of the conflict, a key part of the themes explored in this film was old world versus new world.  There's plenty of parts of any city (generally, head east and/or south) where it's not all Starbucks and Chilis and The Gap and things are as they've been for a long time.  Liquor stores and check cashing places with inch thick plexi at every teller window outnumber banks or chain anything.  The slick, modern world is for the middle class suburbanite.

 

Pitt's character and the world of the underground card games and petty criminals all scrounging for their livelihood down in the gutter were the "old" world, oppressed but still relevant and the grease for the modern, streamlined and corporate bosses that were actually above it all, who didn't need to live in the gutter to profit from its existence, calling the shots with oblivion through a proxy, a man who was the one completely modern individual in the whole film.  He drove a period accurate, high end luxury sedan and was obviously not a part of the world he was visiting.

 

The unseen bosses simply wanted a return to the status quo, with money flowing upward and they had no personal stake in any local issues and  no interest in violence or the dog psychology observed by the trash that were now being guarded with their money.  Sounds familiar, politically speaking.  And that whole key part of the story would not have worked at all in a period piece set in the 1970s.

 

The film didn't need the extra parallel layer of political narrative, I'll agree, but by the time you get to the end you realize that the story is actually informing up from the street level to explain the political narrative and not the other way around.

 

Even Gandolfini's character could be seen as a casualty of the modern world, once part of Pitt's character's world and a fearsome player in the Underworld, now all twisted, emotional, decadent and worried for the future, unfocused and seemingly unable to change his own path.  To much indulgence in a more modern way of life, out of the gutter, had made him weak and now unable to take care of business.  Anyway, that was my interpretation.

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There's plenty of parts of any city (generally, head east and/or south) where it's not all Starbucks and Chilis and The Gap and things are as they've been for a long time.  Liquor stores and check cashing places with inch thick plexi at every teller window outnumber banks or chain anything.  The slick, modern world is for the middle class suburbanite.

 

I'll take your word for it, since I never leave my gated community... ;)  

 

But seriously, the movie does have a heavy dose of 70's style (I didn't see anyone driving a Hyundai) AND the book on which it was based (Cogan's Trade) was published in 1974, so there's a substantial link to that period.  If the director had more than $15 million to work with, I think we might have gotten a period piece.

 

However, I can see what you're saying about the on screen players being relics of a bygone era.  The off screen bosses (represented by "The Driver") are living in the modern world, while everyone else on screen is trying to play a new game by the old rules, and generally failing at it.  It might have worked for me if there was some more subtlety to it, instead of all the financial news BLARING on every radio in every scene, and Obama and McCain on every TV.  For instance, Brad Pitt's character puts down a (scratched-up) cell phone on the bar, like a wake up call to the kid who's living in a mobster's dream of the past.  He could have done something similar to James Gandolfini's character, some kind of "It's a new world" speech to try and get through to him, or just tell him to "Google it," or something along those lines.  The way it's played here just seemed awkward and a little too blunt for me...  

 

But, Damn, it was pretty to look at!  Some of those images I just can't get out of my head... 

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