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The film equivalent of a stroll through the Louvre, the documentary Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography collects interviews with many of modern-day Hollywood’s finest directors of photography and is illustrated by examples of their best work as well as scenes from the pictures which most influenced them. A who’s-who of cinematographers — Nestor Almendros, John Bailey, Conrad Hall, Laszlo Kovacs, Sven Nykvist, Vittorio Storaro, Haskell Wexler, Gordon Willis, Vilmos Zsigmond and others — discuss their craft with rare perception and insight, paying homage to pioneers like Gregg Toland, Billy Bitzer and John Alton and explaining the origins behind many of the most indelible images in movie history; from Citizen Kane to The Godfather and from Sunrise to Night of the Hunter, many of the truly unforgettable moments in American film history are here in all their brilliance and glory. —Jason Ankeny, Rovi

Sometimes all it means is that the pictures are pretty, and for many people, I think, “cinematography” somehow connects with vast outdoor vistas — the sand dunes in Lawrence of Arabia, or the Texas plains in Days of Heaven. But great cinematography can also consist of the look in an eye, the tense space between two people, or the shadows in the corner of a cramped room. Visions of Light is a documentary that will likely cause everyone who sees it to look at movies a little differently in the future. It is a film about cinematography, consisting of a great many great shots and sequences, commented on by the men (and a few women) who photographed them. In Visions of Light, many great cinematographers talk about their relationships with directors, with shots, and with the light. It is always hard to say exactly where a director’s contribution ends and the cinematographer’s begins, but it is always true that it’s the cinematographer’s responsibility to realize the director’s vision — and sometimes, they hint here, to supply it. —Roger Ebert

Below: the camera captures the scenic beauty of the Colorado mountains as Slim Pickens and Van Heflin ride the Stagecoach, courtesy of A Certain Cinema. Thanks to Casey Moore for the tip.

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Mean Creek | 2004 | dir. Jacob Aaron Estes

All the young actors in this peek at adolescence and blooming manhood are excellent, especially Rory Culkin, who displays the perfect level of timid aliveness and gives potentially the best performance by any Culkin ever, and the persistent presence of grimness thanks to the direction, cinematography, and score was quite an impressive and affective feat.


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For those of you dinosaur-lovers who are fans of “Sue” - the largest, most complete, and most preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex specimens ever found - this film (in theaters and on demand now) will be quite a familiar and rewarding journey to experience.

About the film:

When Paleontologist Peter Larson and his team from the Black Hills Institute made the world’s greatest dinosaur discovery in 1990, they knew it was the find of a lifetime; the largest, most complete T. rex ever found. But during a ten-year battle with the U.S. government, powerful museums, Native American tribes, and competing paleontologists they found themselves not only fighting to keep their dinosaur but fighting for their freedom as well.


Based on the book "Rex Appeal: The Amazing Story of Sue, the Dinosaur That Changed Science, the Law, and My Life" by Peter Larson and Kristin Donnan.

While working in the promotional marketing industry years ago, I had the pleasure of coordinating the Chicago Field Museum’s promotional campaign to highlight the “Sue” exhibit, where a street team distributed promo materials and a model actor donned the workable T. Rex costume around downtown Chicago.


more info on “Sue”…

I was pretty bummed I couldn’t make it out to Chicago for the debut of the Field Museum’s “Sue” inquiry to their collection, so I’m personally excited for this film because it’s a very well deserved dedication to the men and women responsible for preserving history for generations ahead.


learn more @FieldMuseum

For more beyond what the movie trailer does not explain - regarding Chicago Field Museum’s moment in which they acquired “Sue” - read the related Washington Post article and watch the news clip entailed!



Patton (1970) - dir. Franklin J. Schaffner

It’s hard to put it - the power of George C. Scott’s performance. I’ve always heard about it, and I’ve always been a Scott fan. He’s terrific in Anatomy of a Murder, Dr. Strangelove and the Hustler, but this performance is easily his best. In order to best compare this, I’d say it’s similar to Leo in the Wolf of Wall Street… but it’s a better performance still. Apart from Scott’s portrayal as the megalomaniacal George S. Patton, the film is still quite good.

Brevity is not its strong suit, but that’s never been an aspect of war. The cinematography is gorgeous (the Blu Ray remastering is perfect), the set designs are absolutely terrific. It’s an odd movie, an epic surrounding one man, but it still holds up nearly forty-five years later.



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