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Mamma Mia


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#1 Arni Heimir

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 06:26 PM

I saw Mamma mia last friday. Projected digitally in a theatre filled with women. I've been reading reviews about the movie and to my never ending astonishment of critics - the film was receiving a lot of heat for poor cinematography.

I've been a fan of Haris Zambarloukos for a while now and didn't quite see what was supposed to be so wrong with the photography. I like the monochrome moonlight and thought the indoor sunlight was quite believable. It didn't ruin my cinema going experience and I was quite impressed by it actually.

I suspect that the film out of the DI might have been bad. But the digital projection was top notch.

I can't imagine how he could have shot the movie any better and I can't imagine anyone topping him.

What do you guys think?

Edited by Arni Heimir, 20 July 2008 - 06:27 PM.

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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 03:07 AM

Oh now I'm curious who will admit to being a mamma Mia fan!
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 03:35 AM

From the trailers (both theatrical and TV spots), it certainly was not a good looking film. Amanda Seyfried looked especially bad, shiny and blemished. It would appear David Mullen has the knack for lighting her best :)

I wouldn't give the DP all the blame though, make up plays a huge factor.

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 21 July 2008 - 03:38 AM.

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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 05:02 AM

If you want a crazy review of "Mamma Mia" check out Mark Kermode.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...archive_m.shtml
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 05:33 AM

Harris Zambarloukos, BSC is a talented DP. He consistently pushes and tries new stuff, which should be applauded. Not always to my taste, as in Sleuth. This one (which I haven't seen), looks like he's gone for lots of colours (often avoided by todays DP's) and very strong backlight.
Looks interesting and quite hightened reality, which could be interesting. Lubezki doesn't use backlight much, but when he does he sure burns them up - and this has somewhat of the same look as that.
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#6 John Holland

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 11:35 AM

I havent seen this yet , Adam i know your dislike of backlight !! But if you were shooting this film in the summer on a Greek Island would you not use the best back light [the sun] or shoot it with the sun over your and camera left shoulder and end up with a nice flat boring image ,just like Kodak always advised ? Edit . This was shot Panavision anamorphic but looks like its been crapped on by the dreaded 2K DI.
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#7 Arni Heimir

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 12:01 PM

Oh now I'm curious who will admit to being a mamma Mia fan!


Actually, I dragged my significant other to go see it.

I am secure enough with my masculinity to enjoy a chick flick. I found it fun and had a good time. I couldn't imagine being bored out of my mind watching Russian Social realism on a Friday night.

Edited by Arni Heimir, 21 July 2008 - 12:04 PM.

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#8 Arni Heimir

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 12:04 PM

Harris Zambarloukos, BSC is a talented DP. He consistently pushes and tries new stuff, which should be applauded. Not always to my taste, as in Sleuth. This one (which I haven't seen), looks like he's gone for lots of colours (often avoided by todays DP's) and very strong backlight.
Looks interesting and quite hightened reality, which could be interesting. Lubezki doesn't use backlight much, but when he does he sure burns them up - and this has somewhat of the same look as that.


I saw Sleuth and thought it was brilliant. The use of coloured lighting was really inspiring.
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#9 Dan Goulder

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 12:19 PM

I havent seen this yet , Adam i know your dislike of backlight !! But if you were shooting this film in the summer on a Greek Island would you not use the best back light [the sun] or shoot it with the sun over your and camera left shoulder and end up with a nice flat boring image ,just like Kodak always advised ? Edit . This was shot Panavision anamorphic but looks like its been crapped on by the dreaded 2K DI.

Many people, especially with light-colored eye pigmentation, find the "boring Kodak image" to be far easier on the eyes than staring into a bright, glaring back-lit image, regardless of whether they're outdoors or in a movie theater.
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#10 John Holland

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 12:27 PM

If that is the case ? then over the last 40/50 years there choice of movie watching must have been very limited . I am wasnt talking about glaring images exteriors do need a help that that means shooting against the sun [if there is any] and filling anyway you like .
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#11 John Holland

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 01:06 PM

No i dont think [ age ] has anything to do with the use of backlit exteriors its pretty unusual to see a an exterior that isnt backlit to some degree. Makes a lot easier to produce nice pictures .
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#12 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 02:49 PM

Many people, especially with light-colored eye pigmentation, find the "boring Kodak image" to be far easier on the eyes than staring into a bright, glaring back-lit image, regardless of whether they're outdoors or in a movie theater.


I can't stare into " a bright, glaring back-lit image" in actual sunlight without NDs and squinting,
but in a movie theatre or on a TV screen?
Come on, the light intensitity of a screen is nowhere near that of actual sunlight full of deadly UV radiation.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 03:02 PM

If you had a cast of middle aged women and were shooting in the Greek sun, you'd stage in backlight too...

I suspect that the softness of the image (from what I've seen in clips) is probably a way of handling the older cast members, whether it was done in camera or in the D.I.
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#14 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 03:56 PM

Excuse me, but you all need to re-read my post. Nowhere did I say I was against his use of backlight. In fact, I agreed with it. All I did was compare it to Lubezki.
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#15 Max Jacoby

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 04:06 PM

I couldn't imagine being bored out of my mind watching Russian Social realism on a Friday night.

Ah any films in particular that you have in mind there, because I don't think I've ever seen a Russian Social Realism film in my life.
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#16 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:20 AM

Sure you have, Max ;) !

I guess "Russian Social Realism" a.k.a.s to "Russian Socialist Realism" which means in a mainstream way: "Tarkovski films": Andrej Rublev, Nostalgia, Stalker. As these films are almost never shown on television, let alone in theatres (even London), I would take up every opportunity to see them, in any projection or print quality, at any day, even in back-to-back screening while being force-fed with Russian borch soup.

On the other hand, I recently saw a "Russian Capitalist Realism" movie about an elusive slasher killing innocent commuters in Moscow's underground metro system, and how a messed-up agoraphobic ticket controller tries to catch "it" during his off-shifts, i.e. when he is not having psychedelic visions of flying owls and poetic angels and rave parties. That film bored me to death, despite a valiant effort in cinematography, so much so that I even forgot the title of it and the names of the director/writer and DoP.

Now, reading this thread inspired me to go watch Mamma Mia tonight at the Everyman in Hampstead (with, yeah, you guessed it, more female than male friends... :rolleyes: ). The ideal venue for it: they even throw in strawberries & cream and a bottle of sparkling for every ticket. That's like Wimbledon all over again, just in the dark.

Looking forward to seeing the contentious cinematography myself.
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#17 Max Jacoby

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:36 AM

I wouldn't call Tarkovsky 'social realism', it's about as far away from that as one can get, hence why he always had problems with censors in Soviet Russia.
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#18 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 11:00 AM

I very much agree with you on precisely the reasons you mention, particularly Tarkovski (what irony to be labeled like that!).
That's why I in-quoted "...mainstream..." above. That mainstream/newspaper-critic/google-feedback referal is quite erroneous ;) .

For too many people, "RSR" (as I shorten it) equals to any "arty-poetic non-narrative film with rugged sets and B&W inserts" made by a human whose name ends on -vitch, -ej, -ov or -stein.

For my parents who fled from communist rule in the 1960s, "RSR" invokes memories of unbearably badly-written propaganda flicks about happy farmers force-shown every Friday afternoon after school that had a message so obvious ("love mother Russia, the great communist provider, creator of a socialist reality on Earth") it's odd someone even thought it needed any form of promotional emphasis or label.

What you have to leave to these films is, that when they needed 20,000 extras for a re-enactment of Waterloo or Crimea, or some peasant uprising against a local aristocrat, the director/producer called in the Red Army via the Politburo and they got them immediately, in historically correct props and all.

I personally think, however, that Eastern European and Russian film adapations of fairy tales or the Bros Grimm tales are beautiful and highly underrated, and allowed the only uncensored output of somewhat regime-critical film messages. For many cinematographers, working at Barandov's fantasy department was political liberation...
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#19 Dan Goulder

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 11:19 AM

This thread has gone from Mamma Mia to Tarkovsky. Let's see 'em top that over on the Red user's forum!
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#20 Michael Lehnert

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Posted 22 July 2008 - 11:26 AM

:lol:

well, everything is possible with RED.

Anyway, I am off to see Mamma Mia now, so I shall bring this thread back on-topic should I have something to post about it ;) .

Cheers,

-Michael
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