Emmanuel Lubezki

2013movieoftheyear.gravity

Back in November, Alfonso Cuaron was asked by Esquire about “unique experiences” in cinema. They’d framed the conversation as TV vs. Film, and Cuaron remarked that TV rarely produces brain-searing moments. Scenarios? Characters? Sure. But if you’re looking for a better batting average on memorable moments, cinema is holding the big stick. At least, as Cuaron amends, cinema outside the mainstream. For a filmmaker who’s delivered gargantuan imagery and scenic epinephrine, his go-to for a unique film experience this year is telling. “It depends on what you call a unique experience. I just saw the Woody Allen film [Blue Jasmine], and I thought it was just amazing. It’s not that it’s going to give you a roller coaster of a ride. It’s just an amazing film. But definitely there are directors, even in the mainstream cinema, in Hollywood, people like [David] Fincher and Wes Anderson and David O. Russell and Guillermo del Toro, who are doing really exciting mainstream cinema.” Gravity might be the polar opposite of Blue Jasmine. One is unrelenting high concept with a sprinkle of backstory, the other is a piercing dramedy with rounded characters. On the other hand, they both feature towering performances from focus-monopolizing actresses playing struggling women. They’ll also collide in some way on the road to Oscar, creating a convenient story of thematic similarities and structural antitheses to consider when we think about what movies we hold above others at the end of a calendar year.

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Gravity - Bullock and Clooney

It’s tough to miss a film festival where a highly anticipated movie is playing, but it’s a lot easier to handle when the reaction bursting out of the theater is roundly positive. Excitedly positive. None of this, “It was okay, but…” nonsense clouding the expectations game for something we want to blow our minds. Enter Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. With stratospheric hopes, the new partnership between the Children of Men director and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki lands in theaters in early October, but Venice Film Festival goers got an early look, and apparently their eyes are completely dilated.

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Gravity - Bullock and Clooney

This is when the real panic sets in. Stunning in its execution, the new trailer for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity does its duty in evoking Children of Men‘s most famous scene. The abject terror, the immediacy of profound danger, the single-take-ness. If you’re not standing and clapping by the time it’s over, it’s probably because you still can’t breath:

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Children of Men

Traditionally — such a tradition has been built over the 6 week lifespan of this column — Scenes We Love takes a moment each week to focus on a single scene from a film that jumps right out at us, grabs our attention and simply won’t let go. This week brings us something a little different, courtesy of an email I received by a gentleman named Larry Wright from a site called Refocused Media. He’s created a 31 minute cut of Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men using only the scenes that are 45-seconds or longer. Why would someone partake in such a maddening project? Well, I guess you’ll have to read on and find out.

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Acclaimed visual auteur Guillermo Del Toro recently sat down with MTV cameras to have a chat about a number of topics, and during the discussion talk turned to Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming astronaut thriller Gravity. Whatever Cuaron is doing while filming this one seems to be the talk of the town, as he couldn’t help but gush at how blown away both he and big-time director and technophile James Cameron are with the technical aspects of Cuaron’s production. Keeping up with the stuttered sentence structure and charming accent is a little rough when trying for a transcript, but I think I’ve pulled most of the money quotes out of the interview. Del Toro starts by saying, “I think what is incredible about what they did is, they talked to David Fincher, they talked to Jim Cameron… I connected Jim and Alfonso for that… And what Alfonso is trying, is so insane. And Jim said, ‘Well look, what you’re trying is about five years into the future.’ When James said that it’s too early to try anything that crazy… they did it.”

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In an interview with the LA Times, Tree of Life cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki claimed that it was different than any other experience he’s had with filmmaking. Those words carry an immense weight considering the man is in his 28th year of his career and has worked on films as diverse as Children of Men and Y Tu Mama Tambien. What was different about it? They didn’t focus on the actors. “So the actors are performing the dialogue, but Terry [Malick] isn’t interested in dialogue. So they’re talking, and we’re shooting a reflection or we’re shooting the wind or we’re shooting the frame of the window, and then we finally pan to them when they finish the dialogue,” said Lubezki.

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cultwarrior_decadeinreview

This week’s Culture Warrior gives an exhaustive review of the decade that you won’t find anywhere else on the Interwebs.

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