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Lust, Caution


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 12:14 AM

After seeing "Lust, Caution" yesterday and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" today, my first question is how Queen Elizabeth was able to destroy the Spanish Armada in under two hours, whereas it takes nearly three hours just to make an attempt on the life of a Chinese official in "Lust, Caution"...

The length of the movie was my only real complaint, but I have to say that Rodrigo Prieto's work kept me glued to my seat throughout.

"Lush" is a good word to describe the movie, as it does "Elizabeth", although in "Lust, Caution" the overall tone is natural rather than operatic as in "Elizabeth".

There is a beautiful use of soft light in interiors throughout "Lust, Caution" that reminded me of some of the interior work on "Frida" that Rodrigo also did. Everyone's skin looked beautiful, soft, radient, even though the image was clean & sharp (I know that there was some use of Black Diffusion-FX filters on the Zeiss Master Primes, but it is very subtle -- I've seen movies shot clean on Cooke S4's that look softer than this movie.)

There is also a generally cool undertone that permeates the movie too.

It's all lovely work, and very mature and subtle, but rich... sort of like the work of Sven Nykvist in some ways.
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#2 Tom Lowe

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 11:58 PM

I will say, after seeing the trailer it looked to me like Lee was trying to channel Wong Kar Wai in a major way with Lust, Caution.

I am looking forward to it. I love that they didn't back down on the NC-17 rating.
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#3 Rodrigo Prieto

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 09:02 PM

Thanks David!!!
"...sort of like the work of Sven Nykvist in some ways." Wow!!! I am a huge fan of Nykvist and am extremely flattered by your words! I did indeed use Master Primes with 1/4 Black Diffusion FX on Fuji Eterna 500T for the Shanghai part of the film. Day exteriors in Hong Kong were shot on Kodak Vision2 5217 200T. The film was timed on the cool side, but the print I saw the night of the Premiere was a bit more cyan than I would have liked. Somehow negatives from a DI react more strongly to color tendencies once you print on film, which can be a bit frustrating. Anyway, I am glad you enjoyed the photography of the movie. Please tell your friends to go see it before it is not on the big screen anymore!
Big hug,
Rodrigo.
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#4 Tom Lowe

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 01:43 AM

Rodrigo, did you and Ang Lee have any films in mind when you were planning Lust, Caution? Any specific influences? Older films maybe?

If you get nominated for an Oscar, this will be the first time in 2 years you won't have to compete with Lubezki!
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#5 Hong Suwadji

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 03:42 AM

I will say, after seeing the trailer it looked to me like Lee was trying to channel Wong Kar Wai in a major way with Lust, Caution.

I am looking forward to it. I love that they didn't back down on the NC-17 rating.



I saw this film last week, great film, beautiful cinematography. I don't think Ang Lee was trying to channel Wong Kar Wai at all, they both have very different styles. I guess shots of Tony Leung and a girl wearing a Qi Pao made it looks similar to In the Mood for Love, but that's the only similarity.
I read somewhere that Wong Kar Wai told Ang Lee that Brokeback Mountain was the best film of that year.
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#6 Tom Lowe

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 02:47 PM

I saw this film last week, great film, beautiful cinematography. I don't think Ang Lee was trying to channel Wong Kar Wai at all, they both have very different styles. I guess shots of Tony Leung and a girl wearing a Qi Pao made it looks similar to In the Mood for Love, but that's the only similarity.
I read somewhere that Wong Kar Wai told Ang Lee that Brokeback Mountain was the best film of that year.


Interesting. WKW preferred Brokeback Mountain over The New World?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 02:52 PM

Interesting. WKW preferred Brokeback Mountain over The New World?


That's not surprising, from the director who made "Happy Together".
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#8 Tom Lowe

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 08:32 PM

That's not surprising, from the director who made "Happy Together".


I still think WKW would share more sensibilities with Malick's 2005 picture than Lee's, but I could be wrong. Perhaps Kar Wai had not seen The New World yet when he made this statement reported by Hong Suwadji? The New World essentially was released in early 2006.

I always do find it fascinating when top directors are willing to discuss their favorite pictures from a given year. Scorsese is one who does this, and I'm always interested in his choices.
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 11:09 PM

I still think WKW would share more sensibilities with Malick's 2005 picture than Lee's, but I could be wrong.


I'm not understanding your logic here. Do explain :)
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#10 Tom Lowe

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 12:40 AM

I'm not understanding your logic here. Do explain :)



haha, you are very unwise to get me started talking about Malick and Wong! :lol:

I just think Malick and Wong share more sensibilities than Lee and Wong might. Malick and Wong make very poetic, almost strictly visual masterpieces, relying heavily on music, editing and the use of poetic voiceovers. Both Malick and Wong are known for only working with the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to artistic DPs (Almendros, Doyle, Lubezki, Toll, Lee, etc), because their movies rely inordinately on visuals. (This is not to say that Lee never works with great DPs... obviously Prieto!)

Lee is a more versatile and wide-ranging director. WKW has dabbled a tiny bit outside of his visually poetic main type of film, but not much. Lee, on the other hand, is all over the map, from suburban US wife-swapping melodramas like The Ice Storm, to Wife Fu movies, to English period pieces to gay cowboys to megablockbuster superhero CGI extravaganzas. You have to give Lee credit!

I just see Malick and Wong as being closer in their ideas about cinema.

Edited by Tom Lowe, 20 October 2007 - 12:43 AM.

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#11 Felipe Perez-Burchard

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 01:42 AM

I finally saw the film... actually I just got back to LA from a trip and went straight from the airport to the cinema (there was a lot of traffic, and it was a better idea... but that was just an excuse anyway).

WOW... I was blown away!

First of all, I believe it is Ang Lee's best film to date (I heard about bad reviews and "too long" quibbles, but I felt none of that).

Secondly, I think Rodrigo has shown us a new side to his work, yes, like David points out, some touches are reminiscent to Frida, and all artists will inevitably return to similar devices if they serve the story, but here Rodrigo and Ang created something that stretched more than either of their common ground. It reminded me of the visual energy and ideas of The Conformist and it felt truly in service of character & story.

One interesting thing is that I felt a heavy influence from the work of Diego Velazquez in the Shanghai portion of the film and as David mentions of Sven Nykvist, something that is probably not the first impression one thinks of China, but it works extremely well given the genre.
(I find it completely unrelated and to any of WKW work, which I absolutely love, other than the fact that Tony Leung is in it).

I was extremely lucky this summer to work with Rodrigo's Hong Kong crew and was pestering incessantly about what they had done and had heard a few things, and so already had high expectations of the film (which can many times be a bad thing because if the film doesn't deliver I am terribly disappointed) and am happy to say it delivered and exceeded my hopes.

I am positive Rodrigo will be nominated, along with many of his other collaborators and the leading lady will take home the statue... but who really cares about awards anyway.

Congrats to the filmmakers...

And go see it before it leaves the cinema.

-felipe

(One a side note, I did see some DI problems twice... some "banding" I saw on Deja Vu, but it wasn't too distracting ; Did any one else see this?
I was surprised because I feel EFilm is the company that does DI's the best -- well, they do too many is the only problem).
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#12 Tom Lowe

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Posted 20 October 2007 - 11:39 AM

Hey, in my own defense I was only going off the trailer when I said it looked reminiscent of WKW's work. The music, the editing, the overcranking...

I am going to see this tomorrow, and I will admit if I was wrong about that. :P
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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 26 October 2007 - 03:21 AM

Just saw it yesterday, some really wonderful work on all fronts.

What I noticed from Rodrigo the most that I hadn't seen in his past films, was he liked to break up the light a bit. Painting in broad strokes, but adding little modifications that really created a great dynamic in every shot, and perhaps even revealed the internal struggles the characters experiencing.

For instance when Wang Jiazhi/Mak Tai Tai is sitting in the cafe and the daylight is shining through the window on her, there's a sharp shadow cutting diagonally on the side of her face. Her hands move from correct to under and then over exposure in one movement to put down a cup of coffee. And as was mentioned in another thread, the perched shot of her and Mr. Yee in the bedroom after the first "love scene" is gorgeous, with the light shing in through the window and a darker lace curtain.

Congrats Mr. Prieto on the awards you've already won for this film, and I look forward to hearing your name called out in future nominations!

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 26 October 2007 - 03:23 AM.

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#14 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 05:22 PM

Hola Rodrigo, felicitaciones con Lust, Caution.

What a great film, I have to admit that it dragged a bit during the first half hour but after that, I was glued to the screen.

Rodrigo, I was wondering if you could talk a bit about your lighting approach and how you create that beautiful, wrapping soft light, I also noticed very prominent eyelights, almost at all times, it really brought me closer to the character's emotions.

To me, the film had the characteristics of a noir film but with the use of more soft light, some of the angles reminded me of the noir movies from the 40's and 50's, was there any particular films that were used as a reference?

I enjoyed the slow mo shot when they were crossing the street, that's a perfect example of technique not being overused, held for a crucial moment in the film.


Saludes,

Fracisco Bulgarelli
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#15 Tom Lowe

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 05:51 PM

I enjoyed the slow mo shot when they were crossing the street, that's a perfect example of technique not being overused, held for a crucial moment in the film.


Yes indeed, this was a perfect use of overcranking.
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#16 Rodrigo Prieto

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 09:25 PM

Rodrigo, I was wondering if you could talk a bit about your lighting approach and how you create that beautiful, wrapping soft light, I also noticed very prominent eyelights, almost at all times, it really brought me closer to the character's emotions.

To me, the film had the characteristics of a noir film but with the use of more soft light, some of the angles reminded me of the noir movies from the 40's and 50's, was there any particular films that were used as a reference?

I enjoyed the slow mo shot when they were crossing the street, that's a perfect example of technique not being overused, held for a crucial moment in the film.


Hi Francisco,

Thanks for your comments. I am glad you enjoyed the film. As you point out, I did set out to emulate a film noirish feel, but with soft light, so the challenge became controlling the soft sources without the use of forests of flags. Lighting each character to emphasize their state of mind and intentions was a fun process. For example, there is one scene where Mr. Yee walks into the room where Wong Jiazhi is unpacking, he comments on how she has changed as he moves from a "godfather" soft top-light into a soft side-light in one step. Instead of dimmers, I used egg crates and "baffles" on the diffusion frames to make the light directional, but soft, keeping it concentrated in pools of light. I used custom made baffles for our kinoflos and soft boxes, and "soft-tools" egg crates for the bigger frames.
It is funny you mention eye-light, as I usually don't use eye-lights, but in this case I did in some instances. The scene where Wong is told she has to gain "experience" by sleeping with one of the guys of the student theater group was one example, as we wanted the intensity of the eyes of the two girls as they talk about it to be enhanced. I used a mini-kino with heavy diffusion. For Mr. Yee I used a gag we called the "Killer Pizza Light" which you can read about in the October issue of the American Cinematographer.
In terms of references, strangely enough, we did not look at movies, just paintings and photographs of the era.
I agree about the slow motion, it is a technique that I usually shy away from, except for very specific moments (like in Alexander where we only used it for the scene where Alexander is wounded and nearly dies).
Anyway, thanks for your comments!

Rodrigo.
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#17 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 02:43 PM

Thank you very much Rodrigo,

That's all really insightful information, I appreciate you sharing it with all of us.

Francisco
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#18 Tom Lowe

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 04:23 PM

So amazon has a pre-order DVD up, but I don't see any info about an HD release?

http://www.amazon.co...duct/B0010SAGHI

The rating is NC-17, so is this the same version we saw in theaters? I can't remember if it was R or unrated or what.
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