If Nothing Else, ‘Rock of Ages’ Should Look Gorgeous Thanks to DP Extraordinaire Bojan Bazelli

So, Dear Reader, you’re totally pumped to see Rock of Ages when it opens this weekend? You think it’s going to be pretty rad? Oh, that’s excellent. Good for you. Have a blast. I’m staying home because it looks like the kind of moronic twaddle that I can’t even enjoy on an ironic level. I’ll just kick back and watch me some Born on the Fourth of July because there’s only one kind of Tom Cruise I enjoy and that’s the balding, scruffy, three-sheets-to-the-wind, blubbering-like-a-toddler and lamenting-his-permanent-erectile-dysfunction kind.

Hold up. Did I hear you say…Bazelli? As in Bojan Bazelli? As in one of the greatest DPs of our time? He shot Rock of Ages? Hmm. Well…I’m still not interested, although I’m sure Rock of Ages will look fantastic. Yep. I’ll just stay home, sippin’ on my jug of butterscotch schnapps and reveling in my favorite Bazelli-lensed memories. For instance, how about:

Pumpkinhead (1988)

Three things push this B-creature feature into classic status. Stan Winston’s special effects, Lance Henriksen’s face and Bazelli’s forboding cinematography. Working on a fairly limited budget, Bazelli proves that strategically placed blue gels and oddles of fog can make any scene look freakin’ sweet. Yes, “freakin’ sweet” is a professional cinematographer’s term.

King of New York (1990)

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Why bother with a fog machine if it’s cold enough outside to see your actors’ breath? Bazelli backlights the shit out of Wesley Snipes and Lawrence Fishburne, adding style and drama to a otherwise simply staged ambush.

Body Snatchers (1993)

Oh, butterscotch schnapps, you’ve never failed me. But the intertubes have. There aren’t many quality clips online from Ferrara’s classic horror remake (and his third collaboration with Bazelli). Once again, Bazelli goes all noir, painting with light, shadow and smoke.

Kalifornia (1993)

Working within even tighter bugetary constraints than he had on Body Snatchers, Bazelli delivers another stunningly photographed masterpiece. He makes you feel the desert dust baking onto your skin and parching the back of your throat. Know what’ll relieve that parch? Here’s a hint: It tastes like butterscotch.

The Ring (2002)

The way Bazelli bathes this film in a morose blue hue is a good portion of the reason why I actually prefer Gore Verbinski’s remake to the Japanese original. Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt that The Ring stars my all-time celebrity crush. And I don’t mean Brian Cox.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)

This may be the point where Bazelli’s career took a turn for the silly. Mr. and Mrs. Smith married a goofy plot to some jaw-dropping action sequences, all of which benefited from Bazelli’s accomplished artisanship. Even as I chuckle at the incongruous mix of sentimentality and bloodshed, I can’t get enough of that blue light sifting through the smoke-filled air.

I guess that last clip proves that no matter how absurd a movie’s premise, Bazelli can help sell it by making it look exquisite. This bodes quite well for Rock of Ages.

(Insert obligatory final joke about schnapps here and…cut!)

Rock of Ages opens this Friday.

J.L. Sosa is a freelance writer, photographer and horror filmmaker. He's burdened with an irrational fear of spiders and clowns. He loves (in descending order of magnitude) his girlfriend, his pets and spinach.

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