Roger Deakins

Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini

Louis Zamperini lived just about one of the craziest lives imaginable. A first-generation American, he went from being a young punk who grew up during the Depression and was the scourge of local law enforcement, to being an Olympian who ran in the Berlin Olympics and got a personal meet-and-greet with Hitler, to being a bombardier who fought against Axis forces in the second World War, to surviving on a life raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days while eating raw fish and drinking rain water, to being held in a Japanese POW camp, to eventually being a married man and motivational speaker. It’s the sort of story that Hollywood loves to turn into movies. But, due to all of the inherent drama in the subject matter and the delicacy with which it needs to be handled, it’s also the sort of movie that Hollywood tends to turn into sappy melodramas. So, seeing as Zamperini’s upcoming biopic, Unbroken, is being put together by Angelina Jolie, who’s only had one previous go-around at being a director (In the Land of Blood and Honey), sappiness is certainly a concern. There are a couple of indications that Jolie and company are going to get the execution right on this one though, and now that the film aired a teaser during the Olympics, we’ve all got a much better idea of what to expect. Click through to check it out.

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There’s a moment about halfway through Denis Villeneuve’s sprawling, occasionally brilliant yet sharply uneven film Prisoners that finds Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki do something that we’ve seen so many detectives do in movies before: in a bout of frustration, he swipes his arms across his cubicle desk, violently sending his evidence and other materials into a labyrinthine clutter. But this fit of anger ends up leading to a serendipitous discovery – the chaotic new arrangement of papers on the floor reveals for the detective a clue that had been hiding under his nose in plain sight the whole time. This is moment is, in short, a cliché. Yet on the other side of cinematographer Roger Deakins’s lens, the moment takes on a plentiful, foreboding, and eerie quality. The muted tones, carefully composed yet slightly agape mise en scène, and rich depth of field collectively transform a moment we’ve seen so many times before into something considerably more. Through brilliant lensing, a cliché is elevated into the possibility that something, anything can happen in the detailed and uncertain world of this film.

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Roger Deakins, Skyfall

Skyfall returns to the Connery days of the James Bond franchise, where nearly every frame would drip with coolness. Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale was a step in the right direction, but it wasn’t until director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins showed up that the series began to feel at its most alive, cinematic, and stylish. This world of Bond is lavish and bold, and to a degree we have never seen from this series before. Deakins achieved all that slickness with his new favorite storytelling tool, the ARRI ALEXA. Deakins used the camera on his previous film, In Time. After two outings with the ALEXA, Deakins fails to see any shortcoming with the camera. As the man said a few years ago, don’t expect him to return film, unless the Coen Brothers come calling. If you call that sacrilegious, as Deakins tells us, he doesn’t really get what your problem is. Here is what Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins had to say about working with Sam Mendes, the film’s stunning Shanghai fight sequence, and how anything rarely comes easy for him:

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Last night a bunch of critics in the UK were treated to an early screening of Skyfall, and while nobody invited any of our diehard 007 junkies, I figured it’s worth our while to take a look at the first reactions to the new James Bond blockbuster. To do so, I’m using the recent breakdown of elements by one of FSR’s resident Bond experts, Kevin Carr, in order to dissect the reviews and highlight their takes on each individual ingredient. What about overall opinions? It seems they’re generally of a simple consensus, that Skyfall is not only a great return for the series following the disappointing Quantum of Solace but it may be one of the best Bond installments yet. This feat is achieved, apparently, in director Sam Mendes‘s balance of serious and nostalgic tone, brought about with a script (by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan) pays tribute to the past films and franchise conventions while still also delivering a lot of fresh ideas. And Roger Deakins‘s cinematography sounds like a real highlight of the film — even Oscar-worthy, according to some critics. Check out what the reviews (linked at the bottom of the page) have to say about Bond’s fit with the 10 main ingredients of a 007 film after the break.

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Daniel Craig Skyfall

With the new trailer for Skyfall, director Sam Mendes and the hairstylists have recognized the true method to ensuring Javier Bardem is a terrifying villain: give him the most ridiculous haircut possible. There’s no telling what sort of dastardly work he’s up to here, or what James Bond will have to do to stop him, but none of that matters because it’s all overshadowed by the kind of blond wig Dave Chapelle used when he was doing whiteface. It’s like what Donald Trump would look like if he never went thin on top. How do those back goosebumps feel? Of course the real star of this trailer is Roger Deakins‘ cinematography, followed closely by Daniel Craig in a death-defying turn as 007. Check it out for yourself:

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Filmmaking Tips from The Coen Brothers

There are a lot of stories about colleagues and reporters asking Joel and Ethan Coen questions only to get the same exact answer from both (or to get one finishing the other’s sentence), so it seems at least plausible that they’d both agree on all these tips – no matter which brother they came from. Joel Coen got his start as an assistant editor on Fear No Evil and The Evil Dead. He and his brother then partnered for their first movie without the word “evil” in the title, Blood Simple., which rightly launched them to prominence where they’d go on to craft Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, countless other modern classics and a trophy case for all their awards. All of this fulfilled a childhood dream of making movies that started with a Super 8 camera and a hobby of remaking what they saw on television. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from two young masters who think exactly alike.

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The most striking thing about the new Skyfall trailer is the beauty. Yes, there’s the beast. The brawn. Daniel Craig still looks hulking and dark as James Bond, but the trailer shows off some truly gorgeous shots without giving them all away. That’s what happens when you hire Sam Mendes to direct and Roger Deakins to director photography. The latest entry in the Bond franchise sees M’s past coming to haunt everyone and 007 attempting to kill the people trying to kill him. This time, you know, it’s personal. Now see if you can spot any shaky-cam. Check out the trailer for yourself (as if you’ve bothered to read any of this anyway):

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Andrew Niccol is one of the few futurist filmmakers working today. The man knows how to take ten steps ahead of everyone else. His concepts are imaginatively absurd, but in that absurdity, Niccol generally points to problems that plague us today and may grow in the future. The concept of The Truman Show seemed outrageous at the time, and yet that film has become a sad reality. Despite his forward-thinking, Niccol doesn’t have the easiest time getting films made. It has been six years since Lord of War, and a few projects between that time fell through for the filmmaker. Why? Because Niccol, as he himself says, is always creating too expensive of concepts. Now, he’s finally got one of those not-so-cheap concepts made. With In Time being his biggest film yet, he pointed out how like on every film, there are “trucks of compromises.” Here’s what Andrew Niccol — who I also spoke to at Comic-Con, so if you want to know more about In Time, read that interview — had to say about the difficulty of getting his ideas made, the desire of leaving for France, and why it’s easier to sleep when you have no conscience.

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One of the few films from Comic-Con that I wasn’t looking forward to, but left feeling excited about, is Andrew Niccol‘s In Time. After viewing the sizzle reel in Hall H and interviewing Niccol, expectations got raised. Niccol isn’t a filmmaker that works all that often and considering this is his return to the sci-fi world, it’s somewhat of a mini-event. This is also his first action movie, and it is shot through the eyes of Roger Deakins. The action is apparently all running, too – something expressed pretty clearly in this trailer. Seeing Justin Timberlake run around for two hours isn’t exactly ideal entertainment, but there looks to be more than a generic chase film here. The world building comes off topnotch, Roger Deakins’s first step into the digital realm seems to be a success, and Cillian Murphy as the man hunting Timberlake down is an idea I can get behind.

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Andrew Niccol loves thought-provoking ideas. Gattaca, his script for The Truman Show, and Lord of War are works of varying genres that all posed interesting questions. His latest film, In Time, looks to be his most commercial endeavor yet. Although there apparently will be a few action beats, Niccol set out to craft a human story with social commentary. This appears to be, more than anything else, a love story set within a chase thriller. And that chase happens to look fantastic, courtesy of cinematographer Roger Deakins. This is the first film which Deakins shot digitally, and after the experience, the legendary cinematographer expressed the possibility that he may leave film behind for good. As Niccol describes below, it makes sense why he would. Here’s what Andrew Niccol had to say about the world of In Time, the Gattaca connection, Deakins going digital, and what to expect in the action department:

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as SecretWindowNotSoSecret and iDuddits in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the question of who exactly made the movie gets front and center treatment. Why do we treat directors with authorial authority when it comes to assigning ownership to a film? Why not the writers? Why not the gaffers? Who really is the true author of a movie and has the auteur theory ruined everything?

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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OBrotherWhereArtThou

You seek a great fortune, you three who are now in chains. You will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first, first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril.

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