Design is everything

For the past few posts, I’ve delved into different directors and actors and genres, but I feel like that I have vaguely touched on the different looks and feels of films. When I go to a movie, I find myself more engrossed in the film not just by the characters and story lines but also by the camera angles and the different costumes, which I feel take on a role of their own. This past weekend, I watched “Collateral” and “Public Enemies,” both directed by Michael Mann. While both very different in looks costume-wise and storyline, I couldn’t help but notice the unusual style of camerawork. Mann shot most of “Collateral” and all of “Public Enemies” with an HD formatted camera, which in the movie business is not used a whole lot. Quick history lesson: most films are shot with a 35 millimeter film camera, which has been the standard since its introduction in 1892. An HD format camera is one most people have today to record stuff and upload to YouTube.

Many times, the only time I see an HD formatted film is if its independent or kinda has that more independent feel to it, like “Up in the Air” or “The Social Network,” which aren’t really independent but the usual camera style doesn’t really fit with these styles of movies, which are mostly character based, not a whole lot of action. So, when I watched “Public Enemies,” this huge noir crime film, the HD look really through me off at first because I felt like I was watching Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in a film student’s end of the year project. I never looked at a crime film being done this way before.

Tom Cruise in “Collateral” was even a stretch for me at times because, again, it looked so new and fresh that I thought he must have taken a pay cut to be in this film, but I could see “Collateral” better this way because that movie really is more character based between Cruise and Foxx and the dynamic of the conversations they have. I will always be impressed by the new tactics of this decade being used by well-known directors to create something fresh.