Tuesday, May 24, 2016

5 Off My Head - Who Framed Roger Deakins

Today is the 67th birthday of Roger Deakins, renowned cinematographer, and if I believed in God right here is where I would say that Mr. Deakins has been turning God's Creation into Something Better for a full forty of those years. As it is I suppose I can say with atheistic assurance that he has at the very least bitch-slapped Nature itself into tip-top ship-shape. He is good at what he does! 

We don't even care that the Academy hasn't seen fit to hand him an Oscar yet (even after thirteen nominations) -- the images he's crafted have painted the insides of several generation's worth of skulls, and that's a prize in itself. I mean, can you imagine? The way everyone, literally everyone, sees the world now has in some way shape or form been shaped and formed by the place you pointed the camera. That's something! 

Anyway to celebrate Mr. Deakins today we're picking Five Of Our Favorite Movies That He's Shot. One stipulation: we're choosing five films made by different directors -- this list could be a list of all his collaborations with the Coens and still be a perfect list, but we wanna spread the wealth. Here goes!

Skyfall (dir. Sam Mendes) -- I agree with the folks who say that there are scenes in between the spectacle where Skyfall falls a little flat, but when Deakins is on point there's never been a more beautiful action movie.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (dir. Andrew Dominik) -- If this movie was the only credit on any person's resume, that person would be a legend. One of the greatest achievements in the movies, ever. Terence Malick wishes.

Kundun (dir. Martin Scorsese) -- I probably haven't seen Kundun in fifteen years and yet I can remember the surfaces of a temple's wooden beams and the koi swimming like it was yesterday.

Sicario (dir. Denis Villeneuve) -- I had issues with the writing of Sicario (I really did not like the last act at all) but Deakins' visuals were searing sand-blasted stuff.

A Serious Man (dir. Coens) -- I had to include one Coens movie obviously, and I mean it could've gone to any of them, but I still feel like ASM is woefully underrated; it very well might be my favorite Coens movie not named Fargo. (Fargo will never ever ever lose the top spot, not ever.) And there images in ASM that I can close my eyes right this second and conjure up with shocking immediacy.

So what's your favorite Deakins joint?


Robert Kirby said...

A Serious Man a few weeks ago and liked it just as much. Really excellent movie, glad you included it.

Rob S said...

A Simple Man is my favorite movie. Period. Every detail is perfectly realized. When the truth is found to be lies.....

chris said...

Lovelovelove this, Jason. I'm a Deakins obsessive! A SERIOUS MAN is among my favorite of his, as well!

Christof said...

I have had 25 years worth of nightmares about the wallpaper in Barton Fink. Mind you, thanks to Sicario, there's now a hole in the drywall behind that wallpaper giving me new nightmares.

On a brighter note, "Passionfish" is a movie I watch every year, and I only just found out that he's the genius responsible for lensing it. If he hasn't won an Oscar, that's just embarrassing for the Oscars.

Nathan Ivey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nathan Ivey said...

I love Roger Deakins work. My favorites are The Siege, Prisoners, The Village, Skyfall, and The Shawshank Redemption. I cannot wait to see what he does with Blade Runner 2.

Anonymous said...

Mike Figgis' "Stormy Monday" -- great shots of Newcastle, great neo-noir look.