|Bob Clampett (May 8, 1913 - May 4, 1984)|
In the meantime, thanks to my preoccupation with Studio Ghibli films animation is once again central to Colorful Animation Expressions. This year I intend to continue my series of analyses of red - green complementary contrasts. But I also intend to make 2013 a Looney Tunes year: In one way or another I plan to celebrate Bob Clampett's (and to some extent Frank Tashlin's) 100th birthday by dedicating roughly one post a month to his (and occasionally Tashlin's) films.
But first I feel obligated to guide you to Steven Hartley's audacious attempt to review EVERY Warner Bros. cartoon ever produced: Likely Looney, Mostly Merrie!
2012 Review: Impressive Motion Pictures
|Digital drawing inspired by two production stills from Anna Karenina.[O.I.]|
- ANNA KARENINA (Joe Wright, 2012): Tom Stoppard's English stage melodrama adaptation of Tolstoy's epic novel playfully staged by Joe Wright combining 1930s Technicolor esthetics with 19th century ballet choreographed to Dario Marianelli's sweeping score.
- BRAVE (Brenda Chapman/Mark Andrews, 2012): for all its shortcomings and compromised vision I found it to be the most tactile CG-feature coming out of Hollywood yet.
- DRIVE (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011): Visceral, vibrating, self-contained. A strong central relationship and a most pulsating interplay of sound and pictures make up for a slightly lightweight story.
- HALT AUF FREIER STRECKE (Andreas Dresen, 2011): Eastern German kitchen sink realism at its best. The most impressing of three strong films about slowly dying family members (the others being Haneke's masterpiece Amour and David Sieveking's Vergiss mein nicht).
- KISEKI - I WISH (Kore-eda Hirokazu, 2011): Not Kore-eda's best but one of his warmest and most easily accessible. Undramatically emotional.
- LE PRÉNOM (Patellière/Delaporte, 2012): A French comedy with so many twists and turns that it surmounts last year's Carnage in every particular.
- THE DESCENDANTS (Alexander Payne, 2011): Great acting and a human story that struck a chord with me although living in Hawaii is about as alien to me as living on the moon.
- TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (Thomas Alfredson, 2011): One of the most sensual 1970s spy thriller adaptations: crammed with details, engaging, puzzling, dense as well as calm and impenetrable at the same time.
- WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (Lynne Ramsay, 2011): A disturbing masterpiece that delivers on every level. Highly topical in a year of so many nihilistic massacres.
I have also enjoyed Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, Stephen Chbosky's coming of age drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the two beautiful silent films The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius) and especially Blancanieves (Pablo Berger), a contemporary retelling of "Snow White" in the style of Spanish films of the 1920s. But ultimately, none of them left a lasting impression.
The Joy of Revisiting Favorite Films in a Different Context
Although the new releases still outnumber the older movies I have seen during 2012, it was once again a lot easier to compile the list of (re-)discoveries. This is probably due to the fact that I have been analyzing the works of several directors including Terence Davies, Clint Eastwood, Kore-eda Hirokazu, Kurosawa Akira, Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao as well as historical subjects like horror films around 1960 or three-strip Technicolor films.
Many films have probably resonated with me more deeply than new releases simply because I have already seen and liked them before while gaining new insight by seeing them within a larger or different context. I also like to revisit interesting or favorite movies for the sake of reliving the emotions and discovering how my focus changes according to my growing older. As a matter of fact, I keep seeing many more facets every time I revisit a film.
My top ten (re-)discoveries of 2012 in historical order (* marks films I have never seen before):
- Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)
- High Noon (Fred Zinneman, 1952)
- Le Notti Bianche* (Luchino Visconti, 1957)
- Nashville* (Robert Altman, 1975)
- The Outlaw Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood, 1976)
- Il Casanova di Fellini* (Federico Fellini, 1976)
- Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
- Distant Voices, Still Lives* (Terence Davies, 1988)
- Ju Dou* (Zhang Yimou, 1990)
- After Life/Wandafuru Raifu* (Kore-eda Hirokazu, 1998)
All roads lead to Italy
|Chalk drawing from a Casanova still |
In anticipation of Django Unchained (Tarantino, 2012) I have also been catching up on some lesser-known Spaghetti Westerns. Coincidentally, this year's Locarno Film Festival held a screening of Sergio Leone's opus magnum Once Upon a Time in America. As an almost four hour long collection of imaginative set pieces it left a considerably stronger impression than when I first saw the same cut years ago.
Finally, two of the films in the list above were photographed by Giuseppe Rotunno, one of my favorite cinematographers: He handles the black and white of Visconti's dreamlike Dostoevsky adaptation Le Notti Bianche as gracefully as Fellini's inventive color extravaganza about the adventures of Casanova.
A more refined understanding of Technicolor
After looking at so many American Technicolor films Fellini's Giulietta and Casanova served as a welcome shakeup that put conventional color schemes into perspective. I have been lucky enough to see Fantasia (James Algar et al., 1940) twice this year, once with live orchestral accompaniment in a brutally oversaturated digital projection and once as part of a Technicolor retrospective in glorious 35mm! The projected print of the 1990 restoration looked a lot darker (like a real Technicolor film) and less sterile than the current BD.
|Still from Technicolor's live-action debut La Cucaracha.|
For those interested in the technical history of color film Barbara Flückiger's "Timeline of Historical Film Colors" is an online database to bookmark.
Contemporary Color Concepts
This year's only animated feature that stood out to me in terms of color was Le Tableau/The Painting (Jean-François Laguionie, F 2011)which I will probably get back to in a future red-vs-green post.
In some live-action fantasy films, however, the prevalent blue-yellow scheme of past decades was refreshingly forsaken in favor of combinations of red, blue and white as seen in Hugo (based on a variety of historical concepts as is expected from Scorsese), Andrew Stanton's John Carter (a movie otherwise best forgotten) and some segments of Cloud Atlas (Tykwer/Wachowski, 2012).
|Unfortunately, I don't have a HUGO BD at hand and therefore have not found a good illustration of this fresh red and blue contrast (I have been able to closely analyze the DCP, I'm not just assuming).|
Hugo (2011) along with Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012) also made the most imaginative use of 3D, even if neither of those movies excited me as much as seeing Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder (1954) in 3D.