Tag Archives: acting

Mini-Movie Review: ‘Cloud Atlas’

A visual smorgasbord with more storyline’s than it knew what to do with, ‘Cloud Atlas’ is a beautiful film suffering from an over-ambitious script.

I managed to stay intrigued despite a just under 3 hour run time, and hardly once felt bored or uninterested. But as it neared it’s climax, I was left feeling disappointed at an unrealized merging of arcs. Like a science fiction, fantasy version of “Pulp Fiction” without any of the cohesiveness or knowledge of where or how the plot points would ultimately connect.

Many of the more interesting ideas and concepts are forgotten and left as ambiguous, which, while frustrating, seems intentional. The cinematography is stunning, and most of the acting is on the same level. The futuristic Neo-Seoul arc is immediately engaging, staying unique and leaving you wanting more of Jim Sturgess and Xun Zhou. In fact, I felt more of a chemistry and “fated” pairing between the two of them than the powerhouse combo of Tom Hanks/Halle Berry.

The editing overall is satisfactory, and a particular sequence involving a slave raising a ships mast while such events are mirrored in an alternate timeline is unforgettable and sparks a desire for more scenes crafted with such obvious vision and planning.

Surely everyone walked away having experienced (and felt) something different, and therein lies the films greatest achievement.

7.5 out of 10


Make It Happen

“I was directing before I knew it was called that.” -Guillermo Del Toro

Rebecca Noles:

      “I’ve been directing & producing since I was 10 years old and putting on Christmas pageants in the living room for my parents. I’ve learned a few things along the way and am offering them as advice to anyone interested or pursuing either field. I do, however, reserve the right to change this advice at any time in future blogs.

Directing

Directing is about need: What the script needs, what the crew needs, what the audience needs.

As a director, your only job is to acknowledge all the different needs within each department and guide them toward a finished product. Sometimes all the Director of Photography needs is to feel like he has permission to try something new. There are times an actor needs the director to take his/her eyes off the monitor and simply have a conversation with them. Sometimes an editor just needs you to get out of their way.

Acknowledge the need and work to fulfill it.

Producing

Being a producer at a small production company can be categorized into three main jobs:

  1. Make sure people have what they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
  2. Make sure everyone knows where & when to show up.
  3. Make sure the cast & crew members eat, sleep, are groomed, and stay caffeinated.
Being a producer is about serving the people who make the project happen.”

What to Write?

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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Writing for Gradient Productions has been both edifying and challenging.

Tasked daily with drafting something worth reading, in various forms, you gain a set of skills unlike those found in a classroom.

Take campaign writing: In order to get your point across the content must be simple, informative, yet creative. For a graphic flyer, you must take into account what the Visual elements are saying, and choose to either let them speak for themselves, or build upon what’s being implied. And considering you have roughly 5 seconds of an average persons’ attention, it must be short.

In the case of Narration writing, cut the unnecessary. “Audiolize” in your head the narrator’s voice and choose words appropriate to their style of speaking.

I pull inspiration from a variety of sources; Apple for the way they speak volumes for a product/campaign in 1-6 words. Certain creative minds for Vanity Fair & National Geographic. Anthony Bourdain and his superior writing “voice”.

I was an actor under the tutelage of an established screenwriter/director, and of the many lessons I learned from him, one that resonated for me as an actor/writer was that, “If you aren’t going to feature something, cut it.”

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The 84th Academy Awards

“Life. Camera. Action.”

In honor of the 2012 Academy Awards, we managed to collectively watch every film nominated for Best Picture.

“I think it was a year of movies where most of the components were really good, but there was one that didn’t live up to the rest, so you’re just left not satisfied.” ~Alisha Noles, Production Designer

These mini reviews explore the aspects that we know best, be it the acting, directing, design, or music.

Directing/Writing/Sound:

My Week with Marilyn: No film in recent years has been able to capture the inner workings of a star as brilliantly as this film. Williams’ manages to capture the essence of the icon while simultaneously developing her own character. She deserves her nomination and could easily take the prize. It’s disappointing the film is not more represented at this years big night.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: This film was in fact extremely loud and incredibly close to being wonderful. It has Stephen Daldry’s overly dramatic style and lack of restraint all throughout. Under another director the film may have been able to reach it’s potential. That said, Tome Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and Max von Sydow offer beautiful and heartfelt performances.

The Help: Flawless acting compliment a polished screenplay with moments both moving, and unforgettable. You’ll gain a new respect for Emma Stone as an actress, and see why Viola Davis more than deserves her Oscar nomination.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Not since Heath Ledger as The Joker has there been a performance so captivating as Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander. A thrilling, if dense, mystery with unmatched cinematography & editing, though the screenplay fails to capture the intensity of the novel’s end revelations.

Moneyball: The sound design was subtle and added a unique feel to the movie. Their use of silence created dramatic moments in which the audience could respond emotionally to the situation, especially when the drama was at it’s highest point. Two Thumbs Up!

War Horse: The music was written by John Williams and you could tell without looking it up on IMDB. It was as if he took the score from “The Patriot” and mixed it with the score of “Jurassic Park”. In all honesty, the score just felt lazy.

Cinematography/Design/Production:

Hugo: Visually it delivered exactly as hoped. There is a theatrical quality to the design of the film that supports the whimsical storyline. The attention to detail and historically accurate information provided a lot of room for the production design to play with reality.

Midnight in Paris: It was surprising to see this nominated for “Art Direction”. Although the storyline was refreshing, the design of the film did not deliver – ultimately leaving you dissatisfied with flat, obvious design decisions that were nothing more than average.

Winnie the Pooh: You’ll love the simplicity of this movie, and how they stuck to the true nature of the original cartoon. From a Graphic Design perspective, the way they used & interacted with typography was also really interesting. Honestly why wasn’t this nominated?!

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: This was an incredibly stunning film; the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous, and each shot regardless of length was beautiful to look at. It should be every cinematographers goal to make something that inspired for the big screen.

The Descendants: A very satisfying movie, with every element of it done perfectly. The cinematography was simple but amazing and fit for what the movie was. The Director of Photography knew how to use restraint in order to drive the story forward. One of the best films of the year.

Enjoyability:

The Artist: In the wrong hands this black & white, silent, and analogue film may have relied on its “artsy” attributes to get by, but it doesn’t. The “old style” film making moves the thoughtful plot and well rounded characters forward in a way that modern film techniques could not have done. A truly enjoyable film.

The Tree of Life: It was a really pretty movie, and actually certain shots looked straight out of National Geographic. But the story felt really disjointed, with random shots of random things placed sporadically. At one point, there’s dinosaurs…dinosaurs. It felt artsy on purpose. There are some truly beautiful interactions between the main family, but overall, it lacked focus.