By Jason Haggstrom, January 30, 2013
In my recent takedown of The King’s Speech, I focused largely on director Tom Hooper’s overbearing use of "short-siding" (i.e., framing a shot so a character looks and speaks towards the edge of the frame that they are most closely positioned rather than across the length of the frame to where their partner in conversation will appear after the next cut).
As with any artistic choice available to a director, short-siding is not inherently evil. But by making it the default mode of framing in The King’s Speech, Hooper turned it into a mere gimmick—conspicuous, but never compelling. When used sparingly and with intelligence in a richly designed scene, the short-sided shot becomes a component to help convey apprehension and conflict. When used well, you may not even notice that short-siding was ever used at all.
Below are but two recent examples where short-siding was used by a director to great effect.
By Jason Haggstrom, December 31, 2012
Oh, lord. Here we go again. Somebody, please stop the ride. I think I’m going to throw up.
If you’ve spent anytime in a movie theatre over the last few months, you’ve no doubt been subjected to the trailer for the latest film adaptation of Les Misérables. Repeatedly. And although Anne Hathaway’s vocal performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" that plays over the teaser is truly breathtaking (without a doubt the greatest "Holy shit!" moment I had at the movies this year), the images themselves are a canted, shaky, fish-eyed mess. The biggest question for me during this year’s run of awards-contending films has not been "When will I find the time for all these movies?," but "Can I really stomach another Tom Hooper film, even if it is guaranteed to contain that performance?" I’ve never been to France, but if Hooper’s vision of Les Misérables is to be believed, it’s a place where visitors should always be on the lookout for the nearest handrail in order to avoid losing both their balance and their lunch.
By Jason Haggstrom, October 31, 2012
I admit it. Like so many millions, I am a Star Wars geek. Having been born right smack dab in the middle of the 1970s, it was pretty hard to not fall in love with the franchise in my formative years. My very earliest memories are populated by Luke Skywalker action figures, and toy versions of the most beautiful spaceships ever designed.
To say that the series had an impact on my life, and my love for cinema, would be a massive understatement. When my two young kids asked me to detail just how Chicken Run was made, I involved them in the creation of a short stop motion film starring R2-D2 so they could (hopefully) learn by doing. In anticipation of Revenge of the Sith, I composed a tongue-in-cheek limerick about Obi-Wan Kenobi where each of the six stanzas referred to one of the films. Just this past weekend, I attended a Halloween event at a military aircraft museum because I really wanted to get my taken with an amazing, fan-made replica of R2-D2 that was onsite (well, I also really wanted to see the planes…). And I didn’t just go way out of my way to make it to each of the last three Star Wars films on opening night, my best friend actually flew across the country so that we could share in the experience together (both the excitement, and the disappointments). Yes, I am a Star Wars geek.
As both a Star Wars geek and a cinephile, my mind has been consumed by a single question since yesterday’s announcement that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and would be producing a new trilogy of Star Wars films beginning in 2015. That question? With George Lucas (thankfully) out of the picture, who will be hired to direct? Here is my wish list: