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Alex Worster

No Country for Old Men

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I saw it yesterday and I was thought it was good. No Barton Fink in my opinion but pretty darn good. Much more violent than I thought it would be but I was okay with that because it was never gratuitous. The end (really the last half hour) was hard to wrap your head around but after some thought it I decided I liked it. It's one of those movies you walk of the theater going, "Wow, I'm not sure how I felt about that" but come to realize that's exactly what you're supposed to think. Despite a few little holes I recommend this one to anyone that doesn't mind blood. It was pretty brutal at times.

 

Deakins's work was very good. As usual, it looked like it wasn't lit but the lighting still packed an emotional impact. Good use of sodium vapor gags. Not as "beautiful" as Jesse James so I'm going to guess no oscar nod for this one but it definitely fit the story which is the most valuable thing the photography can do. Very well done.

 

The only down side was the projection is I saw was pretty awful. A big hair in the gate for a lot of the film. Obvious weaving and pulsing. A couple really dirty reel transitions and it even looked as though it was scratching the film for about 10 minutes. I would guess it's the projector and not the print but who knows. Big bummer for such a good film.

 

I'm curious to hear what other people think.

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Just saw it tonight myself, it really was a great film. It calls back to their roots with "Blood Simple" with some similarities to Fargo, obviously. But in this one they really layed the suspense on thick, and Javier Bardem was incredibly creepy and threatening in his role.

 

Deakins work was excellent, not overdone at all and intentionally unpolished. The best frame of the film was featured in the AC mag this past month, the shot of Josh Brolin sitting in his hotel room.

 

It's ending alone makes me want to see it again, as it really wraps up the story well, abruptly for some, but I only heard that from people who weren't listening or paying attention.

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Can't wait to see this one. I'm planning to take our office to see it next Friday.

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Just saw it yesterday -- fantastic widescreen Super-35 cinematography, almost looks like anamorphic. The lighting is wonderful, realistic yet atmospheric. Great use of industrials colors like orange sodium and cyan cool whites, etc. Great night work, especially that long desert sequence that moves into dusk on the river. And the hotel scene lit with just the table lamp, streetlamp, and light under the door, etc.

 

Very crisp. It seems to me that the Zeiss lenses used here are noticably sharper than the Cooke S4's used in "Jesse James", though the period setting makes the Cookes the right choice for that film.

 

The print projection at the AMC Century City was great. Only minor flaw was that the image was slightly high in the gate, so the frameline would be visible at the bottom edge of the screen masking. Wasn't bad enough to get up and tell the projectionist to fix it though. Print looked brand-new, maybe a contact print off of the digital negative (I.N.), very sharp.

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Just saw it yesterday -- fantastic widescreen Super-35 cinematography, almost looks like anamorphic. The lighting is wonderful, realistic yet atmospheric. Great use of industrials colors like orange sodium and cyan cool whites, etc. Great night work, especially that long desert sequence that moves into dusk on the river. And the hotel scene lit with just the table lamp, streetlamp, and light under the door, etc.

 

Very crisp. It seems to me that the Zeiss lenses used here are noticably sharper than the Cooke S4's used in "Jesse James", though the period setting makes the Cookes the right choice for that film.

 

The print projection at the AMC Century City was great. Only minor flaw was that the image was slightly high in the gate, so the frameline would be visible at the bottom edge of the screen masking. Wasn't bad enough to get up and tell the projectionist to fix it though. Print looked brand-new, maybe a contact print off of the digital negative (I.N.), very sharp.

Hey david, you mentioned the cooke S4 being right for the period... would it be quite noticeable to use cookes for certain parts of the film and zeiss for the other parts. Would I have to hide this transition some how. I'm prepping a short that will transition from unsaturated to saturated and was just going to use cookes, but would it not be fitting to use cookes for desaturated and zeiss for saturated.

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Just saw it yesterday -- fantastic widescreen Super-35 cinematography, almost looks like anamorphic. The lighting is wonderful, realistic yet atmospheric. Great use of industrials colors like orange sodium and cyan cool whites, etc. Great night work, especially that long desert sequence that moves into dusk on the river. And the hotel scene lit with just the table lamp, streetlamp, and light under the door, etc.

 

Very crisp. It seems to me that the Zeiss lenses used here are noticably sharper than the Cooke S4's used in "Jesse James", though the period setting makes the Cookes the right choice for that film.

 

The print projection at the AMC Century City was great. Only minor flaw was that the image was slightly high in the gate, so the frameline would be visible at the bottom edge of the screen masking. Wasn't bad enough to get up and tell the projectionist to fix it though. Print looked brand-new, maybe a contact print off of the digital negative (I.N.), very sharp.

I was curious about the pulsing of the light which was most pronounced during the opening daylight desert scenes. The original poster in this thread noticed the same problem. I had assumed that this was perhaps a projection problem until I read the other post. Now I wonder if there's more to it than that. (Although I assume the D.I. went through a scanner, I've seen this same thing before from telecine. Having the same footage telecined at a different facility made the problem go away.) As I wouldn't expect the problem to be 'in camera' where this particular D.P. and crew are involved, I wonder where in the chain this rather distracting effect on the image may have been introduced, if it is in fact on the release print itself?

Thanks.

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I was curious about the pulsing of the light which was most pronounced during the opening daylight desert scenes. The original poster in this thread noticed the same problem. I had assumed that this was perhaps a projection problem until I read the other post. Now I wonder if there's more to it than that. (Although I assume the D.I. went through a scanner, I've seen this same thing before from telecine. Having the same footage telecined at a different facility made the problem go away.) As I wouldn't expect the problem to be 'in camera' where this particular D.P. and crew are involved, I wonder where in the chain this rather distracting effect on the image may have been introduced, if it is in fact on the release print itself?

Thanks.

 

I didn't notice it in the presentation I went to.

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Just saw "NCFOM" and the cinematography blew me away with it's subtletly, if that makes any sense. It looked like it was shot using only natural light and practicals, yet I know that can't be true. It was cinematographic slight of hand at its best. One shot in particular has me stumped. It is early in the film

 

(potential spoilers ahead)

 

Moss has returned to the scene where he found the money, and has been spotted by some Mexicans sent to recover the drugs and the money. They give chase, and Moss flees. With the camera behind him as he runs, off in the distance behind a mountaintop, there is a flash of lighting ahead of him.

 

(end of spoilers)

 

It works perfectly for me, stylistically, and symbolically. I found myself wondering how that was done. The cynic in me suspected CG, and if so, it was exceptionally good. But then again, it would seem rather blatant an example of manipulation, whereas Deakins and the Coens seem to favor natural/realism, or using CG in hidden ways (like the manipulation of foliage in "O Brother Where Art Thou") But, if it was a real bolt of lighting, then it seems to me that one of two things happened: A) they anticipated a storm, and had to do multiple takes, keeping their fingers crossed that they would capture the lighting on film or B) Pure luck.

 

Anyone have some insight on how this was done? I'd sure like to know!

Best,

Brian Rose

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I didn't notice it in the presentation I went to.

That's because it wasn't on the print. I just saw a different movie in the exact same theater (only 2 days later) and, sure enough, the same pulsing of light was occuring, obviously from the projection. (It definitely must be all Roger Deakins' fault ;)). As they say... "my bad".

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Just saw "NCFOM" and the cinematography blew me away with it's subtletly, if that makes any sense. It looked like it was shot using only natural light and practicals, yet I know that can't be true. It was cinematographic slight of hand at its best. One shot in particular has me stumped. It is early in the film

 

(potential spoilers ahead)

 

Moss has returned to the scene where he found the money, and has been spotted by some Mexicans sent to recover the drugs and the money. They give chase, and Moss flees. With the camera behind him as he runs, off in the distance behind a mountaintop, there is a flash of lighting ahead of him.

 

(end of spoilers)

 

It works perfectly for me, stylistically, and symbolically. I found myself wondering how that was done. The cynic in me suspected CG, and if so, it was exceptionally good. But then again, it would seem rather blatant an example of manipulation, whereas Deakins and the Coens seem to favor natural/realism, or using CG in hidden ways (like the manipulation of foliage in "O Brother Where Art Thou") But, if it was a real bolt of lighting, then it seems to me that one of two things happened: A) they anticipated a storm, and had to do multiple takes, keeping their fingers crossed that they would capture the lighting on film or B) Pure luck.

 

Anyone have some insight on how this was done? I'd sure like to know!

Best,

Brian Rose

 

The end credits list a "weather guru". I don't know what this means exactly, but here in New Mexico -if the weather is right- it's sometimes easy to tell when it is going to rain in the mountains, so maybe this person can tell exactly when lighting is going to strike ! ! !

 

As for the cinematography, it is the most naturalistic film I have seen in a while. Deakins took a lot of liberty with the exposure, I would say. Like David Mullen said about underexposure: "Sometimes you realize the director and producers didn't want it so underexposed after all". So it is great to see there are DP's who are corageous to make it look (sometimes completely) underlit like that. I visited their set a couple of times and I never imagined it would look like that at all. Great (under) lighting!

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That's because it wasn't on the print. I just saw a different movie in the exact same theater (only 2 days later) and, sure enough, the same pulsing of light was occuring, obviously from the projection. (It definitely must be all Roger Deakins' fault ;)). As they say... "my bad".

 

I did notice the pulsating strobes at the beginning, but I don't think they were a mistake. If they were left in the final print it means that's how they intended it. Otherwise they could have reshot that small part. Or it maybe started as a mistake and was embraced as a happy accident because the directors like what it contributed to the film. But they didn't make it to the final print just because.

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Projector pulsing is a common problem at some theaters. I don't know if it's a bulb or shutter or power problem.

 

BTW, I just saw "In the Valley of Elah" on an Academy screener DVD (I know, not the best way to judge cinematography) and it also has wonderfully naturalistic photography, just not as expressive/stylized in directing as the other two Deakins' movies, and no effort at "beauty" shots for the most part (a few dusk shots of a freeway, that's it). It's much more down to earth and simple, and I thought it was a pretty good movie.

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Just saw it yesterday -- fantastic widescreen Super-35 cinematography, almost looks like anamorphic. The lighting is wonderful, realistic yet atmospheric. Great use of industrials colors like orange sodium and cyan cool whites, etc. Great night work, especially that long desert sequence that moves into dusk on the river. And the hotel scene lit with just the table lamp, streetlamp, and light under the door, etc.

 

Very crisp. It seems to me that the Zeiss lenses used here are noticeably sharper than the Cooke S4's used in "Jesse James", though the period setting makes the Cookes the right choice for that film.

 

I just saw it yesterday and loved the photography. I agree that the movie looked much sharper than Jesse James, and had an almost anamorphic feel.

 

One of my favorite scenes was the one in the desert with the truck chase. In the article in AC, Deakins seems disappointed with that whole sequence, because the weather changed on him and he only had two days to shoot the whole thing! It seems funny to me that directors and DPs with this much power suffer like the rest of us in that they cannot always get more days to wait for weather or re shoot to get things perfect. I guess Deakins had to rely pretty heavily on the DI to make that whole night-to-day sequence work as well as it did.

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Projector pulsing is a common problem at some theaters. I don't know if it's a bulb or shutter or power problem.

Xenon projection lamps get squirrely at the end of their life. Some theater managers try to get the last hour out of them. Which is particularly a horrid practice since really old Xenon bulbs are the ones that will go BOOM occasionally when being changed out. I hope any manager that cheap at least supplies full Xenon safety clothing, gloves, etc. for their poor projectionists.

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The scene David Mullen mentioned in the hotel room is amazing. Going from a near silhouette of the actor with street light spill on the wall beside him to a practical key, then focusing on the hallway spill under the door and back to silhouette again got me really excited in a geeky way - I really wanted to rewind the scene and watch it again.

 

The near silhouette shots that occur in the hotel and outside one of the murder scenes (of Tommy Lee Jones and another cop) show a remarkable level of control. There's just a hint of a cheekbone or the side of a nose within the silhouettes, just enough to lend three dimensionality.

 

I need to watch this again on a good screen, projected from a print, to get the full effect. All in all it's a solid film, beautifully shot.

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I had to see this one twice, always a good sign.

 

I think oen fo the most intersting and hauntign shots was when the Sherrif and Chiurg (sp.) are sort of seeing one another through the punched out locking mechanism. Really creepy.

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I just saw NCFOM and was awestruck by Mr. Deakins' cinematography. Just like the day I saw Fargo, I was reminded of the magic of apparent simplicity. Sometimes I find myself trying too hard to invent fancy lighting, and then I am humbled by how effective, riveting and poetic stripped down lighting can be. It is not easy to make naturalistic lighting work dramatically and emotionally with the story and the performances, and Roger pulls it off again. I was looking at the actors eyes to find clues of how he lit them, but only found the reflection of what looked like the real sources. It is like watching a magician perform, trying to catch the tricks, but not being able to! I was thrilled to be so inspired by his work once more, it shows me that there is always so much for me to learn and strive for. Thanks Roger!

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I am seriously considering now whether the photography in No Country was better than Jesse James.

 

My top choices are in flux!

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I think No Country is the best photography of he year so far (and best movie), but I wonder if it will be "noticed" for awards because of the simplicity (its perfect) instead he'll be up for Jesse James which is also greatly inspiring.

(along with Lust, Caution, American Gangster, and my other bets are There Will be Blood, Atonement, and the Diving Bell & Butterfly... but i havent seen those last three yet ; just guessing).

 

Anyway, I also thought the print was fantasticlly sharp and thought it was contact, at the Arclight, but then I saw it again in Atlanta and it was just as good. Will see it again in Mexico City as soon as it comes out and see if its the same... could be whole run be contact? I would imagine not, its more expensive right?

 

Saulie, if you dont mind, you said you visited the set a few times... what stop did it feel like he was shooting at? I thought he tends to work pretty open but thinking of the sharpness and contrast I'm wondering if he shot this movie deeper than he normally does?

 

Thanks.

 

-felipe.

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Hey david, you mentioned the cooke S4 being right for the period... would it be quite noticeable to use cookes for certain parts of the film and zeiss for the other parts. Would I have to hide this transition some how. I'm prepping a short that will transition from unsaturated to saturated and was just going to use cookes, but would it not be fitting to use cookes for desaturated and zeiss for saturated.

If you do it inbetween scenes I don't think it would be noticeably at all to the general audience, except on a subconscious level of course. If you think about it, many times when you go from one scene to the next, there are so many variables already (change in location, interiors/exteriors, day/nighttime, lighting mood, filmstocks etc...) that a lens change will not attract any attention. Most films mix primes and zooms already and 'I Robot' even used Zeiss Ultra Primes for the wider and Cooke S4s for the close shots in the same scene, so changing lenses between scenes should be fairly smooth.

 

The only things to keep in mind is that the more wide-open you are the more obvious the differences between lenses, and also if you have to carry to complete sets of lenses for the whole shoot that's going to add to your budget.

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Just curious if Roger Deakins (or others) ever does any shooting at a slightly elevated frame rate, not enough to be readily apparent, but rather to effect the feel of a scene in a subtle way?

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Didn't like the film. Enjoyed the cinematography.

 

Especially the whole first sequence in the desert. Slow and beautiful. You can see how carefully each shot is composed.

The only scene after that, that really struck was the motel "the-light-under-the-door" one. As mentioned earlier, great under-lighting. Not many cinematographers have courage to make a movie that dark.

 

Looking forwards to see 'Jessie James...'.

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If Deakins does win, it should be for No Country. Jesse James was great, but I feel it was much more experimental for him. Judging from the article in AC, he really reached out and tried a few new things in it, only to have it fine tuned for No Country. I don't know which was filmed first, but No Country for me was just a more masterfully crafted film.

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