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The Libertine


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#1 Jason Debus

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 11:58 AM

Watched The Libertine on DVD recently and was really disappointed with the experience. I found the story and characters compelling, and the cinematography was 'over the top' dark which I love. But the cinematography doesn't translate well to DVD or else it was a horrible transfer (or both), it looked like ocean blob of pixels half of the time.

If anyone knows of any theater screenings let me know because I'm sorry I missed seeing a print of this one.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 July 2006 - 12:02 PM

This was one film (which I didn't see) where I was surprised at how nasty the critics were about the cinematography, which apparently was deliberately gritty compared to a typical period movie -- dark, grainy, maybe skip-bleached at some point, I don't know, or just underexposed and push-processed. Seems like an artistic choice, but since I didn't see it, I can't comment on whether I liked it but it sounds interesting.

I remember that the LA Times or LA Weekly, when reviewing "Casanova" which came out a few weeks later, said that the lush cinematography was a relief after seeing "The Libertine"...
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#3 Keith Mottram

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 01:11 PM

I'm happy to go on the record as saying that the Libertine was technically the worse film i can remember of the last few years. The cinematography was simply awful, it had no redeaming features and had all the hallmarks of a first year student production - it looked like extremely badly shot HD to me. The framing was dreadful, the production design patchy and who could forget John Malcovich's see through prosthetic nose. The script was obviously a play adapted by someone without the smallest grasp of film grammer. I was quite frankly appalled that the production continued after the first lot of rushes were seen- my assumption is that no one with the slightest bit of knowledge actually saw them.

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#4 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 01:20 PM

huahuahauhauhauh! I saw it in the theatre and for sure it was grainy as hell. In my opinion, it rather served the story as he is not the most refined of lead characters, and while I strangely must admit that I enjoyed the film, both my fiance and I upon leaving the theatre had the same question, "...what exactly was that ABOUT?!?" I'm still not sure what the underlying moral/theme/point was (if in fact there was one, which I assume there must have been).
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#5 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 02:16 PM

The interesting thing about the movie is not just that it was blasted by critics for its cinematography, but that it seemed to polarize opinions more than any other film in recent memory. For every review I have read (and for those of you who haven't, do a search for Alexander Melman on google, and you will find a plethora) that attacks it for it's disgusting, seedy, dirty look, there is another that praises it for its painterly, beautifully flawed image- one even compared it to Barry Lyndon. I have yet to see the movie, although it is now number one on my to rent list. But, googling Alexander Melman, he seems to be a very successful commercial and music video DP in the UK. He can't be as untalented as the negative reviews make him out to be, so it must have been an artistic decision. A gutsy one, for sure, as the reviews show, but I would not chalk it up to a case of ineptitude.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 12:29 AM

He can't be as untalented as the negative reviews make him out to be, so it must have been an artistic decision. A gutsy one, for sure, as the reviews show, but I would not chalk it up to a case of ineptitude.


I agree. The danger of making very bold, extreme choices is that you make yourself a visible target, plus you are risking failure by not playing things safe. When you have a style this extreme, it can't be accidental -- you can't "accidentally" skip-bleach everything or push everything by two stops, whatever they did. If it happened on a couple of shots, randomnly, it could be due to technical incompetence, but not a whole movie.

What's the old rule, if it happens twice, it's a coincidence, but if it happens three times, it's a motif?

Trouble is that I wonder if the DVD would adequately capture this grainy look -- look at how cleaned-up & degrained "Eyes Wide Shut" is on DVD. I only saw the trailer for "The Libertine" in the theater, which had a skip-bleached negative look.
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#7 Kim Vickers

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 01:33 AM

I'm happy to go on the record as saying that the Libertine was technically the worse (sic) film i can remember of the last few years.
keith


And I'm happy to go on record as saying that if you're going to assault something for its alleged technical faults, you should at least spellcheck your posts.

Back on topic, it seemed entirely appropriate to me that a movie about a Libertine should take so many...liberties photographically.

Edited by Kim Vickers, 15 July 2006 - 01:35 AM.

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#8 Keith Mottram

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 12:02 PM

And I'm happy to go on record as saying that if you're going to assault something for its alleged technical faults, you should at least spellcheck your posts.

Back on topic, it seemed entirely appropriate to me that a movie about a Libertine should take so many...liberties photographically.


If you are going to hold my typos to account, could you at least not missquote me. Please re-read my post, at no stage did i ever write "(sic)" and if i was going to write it in the same passage as a pointless post about spellcheckers i would spell sick correctly and obviously not put any random brackets round the word...... oh i just realised has one decided to bacome a bit of a subeditor? well that would be fantastic, i'm sure there are plenty of other posters here who could enjoy that sort of service. especially one with such a wonderful sense of comedic wordplay.
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#9 Kim Vickers

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Posted 15 July 2006 - 12:46 PM

If you are going to hold my typos to account, could you at least not missquote me. Please re-read my post, at no stage did i ever write "(sic)" and if i was going to write it in the same passage as a pointless post about spellcheckers i would spell sick correctly and obviously not put any random brackets round the word...... oh i just realised has one decided to bacome a bit of a subeditor? well that would be fantastic, i'm sure there are plenty of other posters here who could enjoy that sort of service. especially one with such a wonderful sense of comedic wordplay.


Note: "sic" is put in brackets by an editor to highlight an error in the original document. It doesn't mean "sick."

Edited by Kim Vickers, 15 July 2006 - 12:48 PM.

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#10 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 08:02 AM

So I just watched The Libertine:

I enjoyed it- actually, enjoy is probably not the right word, but I thought it was a well done film, with a few major flaws, but it made an emotional connection with me. The few major flaws stem from the screenplay and structuring, in my opinion, not from the cinematography, which I actually found fantastic. It was easily one of the grainiest movies I have ever seen- I saw it on DVD and the grain was the size of hailstones, but I think it fit. I thought the lighting was beautiful. I thought the candlelit scences were particularly well done, having the candles 3 or four stops over and just letting the nuclear flames create beautiful textures in the background. The choice to make the candle and firelight more white in color also was interesting, and it created a beautiful contrast. It was almost like lighting for a black and white film. The movie absolutely captured the period and I felt provided a fantastic emotional setting for the movie. The landscapes were plainly done, with lots of fog and gloomy, rainy skies- but it was earthy and beautiful. What I am curious about, though, is how they dirtied up the film so much! My best guess is underexposing by several stops, pushing it by a stop less than they exposed for, and printing up. But I felt it fit. I had read about the almost entirely handheld camerawork, and was expecting to be disapointed with a Bourne Supremacy style, but it was done with restraint, adding just the slightest bit of tension to the scenes, to the point that I almost forgot that it was handheld. I must say that I found it a beautifully shot movie, and, though I can understand why the cinematography has polarized audiences so much, it connected with me and I found it beautiful.
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#11 Michael T

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 03:52 PM

I feel the ?look? and lighting, or lack there of, hindered the telling of this story. Maybe this was an artistic choice between the director and dp...but I honestly feel it was a shallow decision to juxtapose the similarities of the ugliness, grittiness and all around dreary atmosphere of the characters, locations, circa and theme through the cinematography. It?s just to ?on-the-nose? and allows for sloppy filmmaking. And we wonder why so many people are going less and less to the theatres. We?re supposed to be craftsmen/women who specialize in the ability to create suspension of disbelief. The look of a film should not be so distracting?it pulls the audience out of the experience they?ve paid for.
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#12 jonnyh1968

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Posted 01 August 2006 - 10:08 PM

yeh! Speaking of the grain - it looks like simple video gain to me and I don't know whats so special about that - nor the occasional lens flare in the form of a few small marks jittering across the screen. And what's up with the tedious back and forth 6 times rack focus? Does anyone know what format this was shot on?
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