My bro surprised me with a special treat tonight. We had dinner at Ðôi Ðũa, a Vietnamese pop-up tasting series held at Shopkeepers Gallery in Northeast D.C. The entire evening was so "hygge." Really. Candlelight everywhere, great company and ... the food! OMG! The food was delicious, delicate and beautiful! I felt like I was attending one of those cozy Kinfolk dinners. The dishes were creatively prepared and gorgeously presented by Anna Vocaturo and Sarah Bui, chefs and owners of Ðôi Ðũa. I've had Vietnamese food all my life and it's one of favorite cuisines of all time. But I've never had anything quite like this. By the way in case you're wondering, "Ðôi Ðũa" means "a pair of chopsticks."
I think it's time to post a few lists from Cahiers Du Cinema, oui?
Cahiers Du Cinema: Top 10 Films of 2016
- Toni Erdmann – Maren Ade
- Elle – Paul Verhoeven
- The Neon Demon – Nicolas Winding Refn
- Aquarius – Kleber Mendonça Filho
- Ma Loute – Bruno Dumont
- Julieta – Pedro Almodóvar
- Rester Vertical – Alain Guiraudie
- La Loi de la Jungle – Antonin Peretjatko
- Carol – Todd Haynes
- Le Bois Dont les Rêves Sont Faits – Claire Simon
Cahiers Du Cinema: Top 10 Films of 2015
- Mia Madre – Nanni Moretti
- Cemetery of Splendour – Apichatpong Weerasethakul
- In the Shadow of Women – Philippe Garrel
- The Smell of Us – Larry Clark
- Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller
- Jauja – Lisandro Alonso
- Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
- Arabian Nights – Miguel Gomes
- The Summer of Sangaile – Alanté Kavaïté
- Journey to the Shore – Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cahiers Du Cinema: Top 10 Films of 2014
- Li’l Quinquin – Bruno Dumont
- Goodbye to Language 3D – Jean-Luc Godard
- Under the Skin – Jonathan Glazer
- Maps to the Stars – David Cronenberg
- The Wind Rises – Hayao Miyazaki
- Nymphomaniac – Lars von Trier
- Mommy – Xavier Dolan
- Love is Strange – Ira Sachs
- Paradise – Alain Cavalier
- Our Sunhi – Hong Sang-soo
Cahiers Du Cinema: Top 10 Films of 2013
- Stranger by the Lake – Alain Guiraudie
- Spring Breakers – Harmony Korine
- Blue is the Warmest Color – Abdellatif Kechiche
- Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron
- A Touch of Sin – Jia Zhang-ke
- Lincoln – Steven Spielberg
- Jealousy – Philippe Garrel
- Nobody’s Daughter Haewon – Hong Sang-soo
- You and the Night – Yann Gonzalez
- Age of Panic – Justine Triet
Cahiers Du Cinema: Top 10 Films of 2012
- Holy Motors – Leos Carax
- Cosmopolis – David Cronenberg
- Twixt – Francis Ford Coppola
- 4:44 Last Day on Earth – Abel Ferrara
- In Another Country – Hong Sang-soo
- Take Shelter – Jeff Nichols
- Go Go Tales – Abel Ferrara
- Tabu – Miguel Gomes
- Faust – Aleksandr Sokurov
- Keep the Lights On – Ira Sachs
- Christopher Nolan is a self-taught filmmaker.
- As a kid, he used to make movies with a Super 8 (and 16mm) camera.
- He borrowed filmmaking equipment to make this movie.
- He used things available around him to make Following.
- The beginning of the Following were calm tracking shots.
- The rest of Following was shot hand-held.
- To save on lighting budget, he shot scenes near windows.
- Following was shot at friends’ houses or friends’ parents’ houses.
- He filmed Following in London, without permit.
- He shot around the problem areas, constantly reworking the script to fit the locations available.
- He held many rehearsals to familiarize the actors with the script.
- Filming on rooftops is a great way to save money.
- He used fade to black in between scenes.
- Shot in B&W for film noir effect and to make lighting easier and quicker. He lit his scenes with harsh shadows which gave the movie a stylish look, eliminating the need to adjust white balance.
- He used ADR.
- He made the same shots but used different takes for different parts of the film.
- He made a short film in a weekend.
- He shot Following with natural lighting.
- He shot Following in a documentary style, to create naturalism.
- He blocked his actors through the lens and camera work.
This winter has been a strange one. We barely get any snow and then the weather at times was unseasonably warm even though it was only February or early March. On one of those late, warm afternoons, I went for a walk around Burke Lake, saw a beautiful strange bird fishing for dinner, and experience Days of Heaven moments which Terence Malick himself would approve.
It took Christopher Nolan about a year to make his first feature film Following on the weekends with his friends. How inspiring is that? So when my friend wrote a screenplay for Finding Rachel, we all decided to get together for a weekend to shoot a few scenes, even though the script was not entirely finished ... yet. We were a tiny cast & crew of four. Can't tell you much more about the story other than it's a romantic comedy loosely based on something that happened in real life.
I'm stoked to be the DP for Finding Rachel and edited a few scenes last night. Hopefully, we can finish this project one day. For now, here's a sneak peek at Finding Rachel, written and directed by Nora Hoang, starring Alex Chhang, sound & boom operated by Kathy Eng. All are close friends of mine. By the way, Alex is also one of the best Muay Thai fighters I know!
We all know that Terence Malick films are not for everyone. Those who love them, LOVE them. Those who don't get them, can't stand them. I'm in the first category. Sometimes even when I don't get them, I still love them. Malick is well-known for his philosophical visual storytelling that showcases nature in her finest, most awe-inspiring moments. This video by Jacob T. Swinney demos just that. You'll have fun trying to guess which shots are from a Malick film and which shots are from a nature documentary. Have to admit ... I was a wrong a few times, huge Malick fan that I am.
With the 2017 Academy Award Ceremony not too far away, it's time to reflect on all the previous winners ...
From 1927 to 2016 - the very best of cinematography.
This face! My epic crush with Cillian Murphy continues ...
One of my top 10 favorite films of all time is Frances Ha, written by Noah Baumbach (who also directed the movie) and Greta Gerwig (who also starred in it). It was shot in beautiful, silvery black & white tones using Canon 5D Mark II cameras.
Here's a video essay on the visual language of Frances Ha by the good folks of Framed.
If you haven't seen the movie yet, please please please put it on your Netflix queue.
If you're a Wes Anderson die-hard fan like me, this one's for you!
One of my most favorite films of 2016, all the talk you hear about La La Land is all true. Everything about this movie is just ... magical!
To start off, you can watch Hong Kong Strong here.
And here's Brandon's Director's Commentary:
And there's also a commentary by Steven Richard Davis, the composer of Hong Kong Strong:
If you're totally inspired now to go out there and make your own beautiful travel films, here's a bit of advice for filmmakers from Brandon.
Gus Van Sant shared his six rules of moviemaking with Moviemaker Magazine recently.
Rule No. 6 on Photography is my favorite:
Don’t get cuckoo with the lights; you don’t really need them anymore. Film stocks today can handle wildly different color temperatures and low light levels. Keep the pace lively. Don’t waste too much time making the shot look perfect, moving objects on surfaces, playing with the blocking—just shoot it. Don’t over-think. Get a really good director of photography, but don’t fight with him. He has the same control over you that you have over the actors, so he can make you cry.
The remaining five rules are:
1. Be strong. Confident. Get enough sleep. And relax.
2. Stand up for your ideas. Be direct, as in being a director. Take it easy, but don’t let them tell you how to make your movie.
3. Take control of the budget. Go through the budget line by line, and decide if the items in there are things that you really need—or need more of.
4. Make the directions clear and simple for your actors.
5. Take liberties with the script. It's not written in stone.
For more details, check out this Moviemaker Magazine's article.
I'm reading Werner Herzog's book Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed, a 592-page book full of fabulous passages on life and the art of filmmaking.
Here's my favorite quote-of-the-day from Mr. Herzog, a self-taught filmmaker who saw his first movie at the age of 11:
After my sister told me about sofarsounds.com, a website that brings together musicians and music lovers everywhere in the world, I started browsing their list of international musicians. And soon enough, I stumbled upon a couple of YouTube videos featuring Cameron Douglas.
On their site, Sofar describes their mission as:
And you will! When you sign-up to attend a Sofar event, you won't know who will be performing until close to the day of. The live music event can be hosted anywhere, and usually in an intimate setting such as someone's home or rooftop.
It's an event made possible by music lovers for music lovers! My sister is attending one tomorrow and promised to tell me all about it!
When I'm next in London, I hope Cameron will be there performing again.
Wonderful compilation of movies that use colors for visual storytelling.