Luc Besson Overdrive

A new Valerian tease and four Perfect Shots with director Luc Besson.

Opening Credits Luc Besson

A new Valerian tease and four Perfect Shots with director Luc Besson.

This morning’s edition of Opening Credits is a special one. You should know that there are two distinct interests at work here. The first is my own personal interest in the work of Luc Besson, whose films I’ve been into since my first viewing of Leon: The Professional in the mid-90s.

Between Leon and The Fifth Element, a teenaged me was easily convinced that Besson was the future. And to a certain extent, he was. Mostly as a writer and producer, putting his unique stamp on franchises like District B13, The Transporter, and Taken. But it’s his work as a director for which I’ve yearned most — something we don’t get to see as often as we’d like. Well, not the wildly visionary sci-fi/action maniac version of Besson that emerged in the mid-90s, at least.

It wasn’t until 2014’s Lucy that it felt like we had that version of Besson back in the director’s chair. And now with his next film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, he appears to be back in full-force. The unbridled id of Luc Besson appears ready to explode in a technicolor 3D dreamscape. And I’m here for that. Take, for example, this exhilarating new trailer released this morning:

The second interest at work this morning is that of One Perfect Shot, our imprint of appreciation. In the months since OPS merged with Film School Rejects, we’ve begun showing off Perfect Shots collections from filmmakers that interest us. Most recently, we invited Free Fire director Ben Wheatley to share a selection of Shots that have inspired him. It’s a feature we love because it allows us to share our love of iconic visuals from cinema history with some of the filmmakers who are making this generation’s iconic visuals. Today, we’re excited to present a selection of Perfect Shots from Mr. Besson, himself.

Here’s a selection of Perfect Shots from Luc Besson, whose new movie is very much on our minds this morning:

Touch Of Evil Opening

TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) DP: Russell Metty | Director: Orson Welles | Watch the full clip here

Says Besson: “I was young when I saw Touch of Evil and it was the first time I noticed this kind of single take, continuous shot. I was very impressed by how in one shot you can communicate so much, and that you don’t need to a lot of shots to say things. You can set up the entire ambiance of the film in one shot.”

Raging Bull Slow Dance

RAGING BULL (1980) DP: Michael Chapman | Director: Martin Scorsese | Watch the full clip here

Says Besson: “I appreciate the contrast of ideas in this shot. We’re seeing a violent situation because it’s a boxer who’s going to fight, but through B&W photography, music selection, and slow motion the opposite is being communicated — suddenly he looks like a dancer, an artist, totally emotionally taken by his soul.”

Shining Head Down

THE SHINING (1980) DP: John Alcott | Director: Stanley Kubrick

Says Besson: “The slow movement of the camera, the position of Jack Nicholson’s head and use of music makes this shot so disturbing when actually it’s just a man standing. With so little he can create such a malaise with nothing but a guy standing, saying nothing. You feel the entire craziness of this character. Without words, you can create a monster.

Tin Tin Chase Scene

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011) DP: Janusz Kamiński | Director: Steven Spielberg | Watch the entire clip here

Says Besson: “This one, continuous shot is just amazing. There is one visually creative idea used in every second of the shot. I wonder how much time they spent just to think about it, to create the sequence on paper.

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Today in Pop Culture History

John C. Reilly was born on this day in 1965. Several years later, we all became best friends.

At Cannes on this day in 1974 and 1979, Francis Ford Coppola debuted his films The Conversation and Apocalypse now, respectively.

In 1989, this was the day on which Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade premiered.

What You Need to Know Today

According to the reviews, Baywatch is not very good. Like 15% on Rotten Tomatoes not very good. We’ll see for ourselves when I schlep to the theater this evening and report back.

Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds has been added to Netflix this week, while over on Amazon Prime, Best Picture winner Moonlight is now available to stream.

The cast of Game of Thrones has been teasing in interviews this week that we’re about to get a breakneck pace in season 7. Said star Kit Harington, “This season is really different than any other season because it’s accelerating toward the end, a lot of stuff collides and happens much much quicker than you’re used to seeing on Thrones … it’s so different than what everybody is used to. It’s quite exciting.” My body is ready.


Jake Orthwein published a wonderful piece yesterday about filmmaker James Gray and the radical classicism of The Lost City of Z.

We gathered together filmmaking tips from the directors of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. None of them appear to be useful in catching Captain Jack Sparrow.

The Resident Evil franchise is coming back. Our Matthew Monagle attempts to (a) explain why and (b) decide if this is a good idea, a bad idea, or both.

Shot of the Day

A favorite from the oeuvre of Luc Besson.


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