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Quantum of Solace 007


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#1 Tim Partridge

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 07:51 PM

I am suprised that nobody has mentioned this so far!

Roberto Schaefer's cinematography is extremely impressive, as is Marc Forster's overall Lewis Gilbert-alike visual direction. For the first time since the late 1970s, we have a highly cinematic, exotic looking Bond movie that does just not aim to be a great looking action genre movie, but an epic in it's own right. The poetic and romantic look of ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and the epic vistas of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME seem to the dominant influences for QUANTUM OF SOLACE. The art direction as well is decidely pretty in the modernist Ken Adam/Syd Cain style of the 60s and 70s, with real locations colour coordinated with precision dressing for the ultimate in photogenic design. All highly refreshing and sincerely welcome, for the first time in my lifetime at least!

What really REALLY impressed me (apart from using super35 to upstage half of the Pierce Brosnan movies that were shot anamorphic) was how Schaefer created incredible subtleties in slightly filling in shadow detail, often with really crushed blacks. There are numerous scenes in pools of light (most memorably in a cave and also a later scene with Bond behind a desklamp), where Schaefer has judiciously positioned reflectors for slight kickers in otherwise harsh, high contrast single source portraits against crushed black backgrounds. What makes it even more impressive is that most of the cast are additionally dressed entirely in black and white outfits throughout the film, yet even with the contrasty lighting he manages to make these tiny details work, and so effortlessly. Very humbling. There is a wonderful sequence where Bond is kissing the back of his first sexual encounter in a dimly lit room. The female talent is so pale, so Schaefer has her lit from above and the light bounced from the actresses skin is used to subtley fill in Daniel Craigs face, almost as a key!

There are also some really great, unconventional compositions in QOS, one of my favourites being how Forster and Schaefer decided to frame the car drive through the desert.

Unfortunately, director Forster seems to be at a loss with the obligatory action/fight sequences. When such scenes arise Forster drops his classical cinematic style in favour of the fad of the moment Bourne approach, with a blurry mess of cramped, handheld compositions and choppy editing that do little more than inspire motion sickness. I honestly had no idea what happened in the opening car chase, nor did I care. It all seems rather a cheap cop out given how lush the bulk of the film looks, and sadly the two styles (Forster's Gilbert-esque direction in the non-action scenes and the Greengrass/Bourne aping action in the action scenes) clash horribly. Even worse, the choppy editing is needlessly employed outside of the action scenes, even within mundane dialogue sequences, perhaps in a botched effort to blend Forster's own dominant style to that of the Greengrass' Bourne aping he employs for the action scenes? Who knows. It definitely takes away from the film though, IMO. I did feel sorry for Mr. Schaefer in many lush exterior master shots where the editors are not brave enough to hold the bold compositions with all of their storytelling mise en scene.

The visual effects work isn't exactly in line with the great work seen in CASINO ROYALE, either. At one point in particular we are treated to a CGI aeroplane sequence that ironically seems to have flown out of DIE ANOTHER DAY. The grainy title sequence is also a major let down.

The film itself is great fun though. Being such a big fan of Lewis Gilbert, I was just thrilled to finally see a more exotic, visual approach to Bond.


One more thing:

I have read in quite a few highly reputable publications that Mr. Schaefer is the second non-UK DP to shoot a Bond (after Robert Elswit). Let's not forget that seven of the early Bonds were shot by a South African (Ted Moore) and two of the most visually arresting Lewis Gilbert efforts by two Frenchmen (Claude Renoir and Jean Tournier).
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 09:37 PM

It's not out for another 10 days in the US. I think that's why the forum is pretty quiet about it.
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#3 Tom Lowe

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 08:39 PM

Yeah, we'll get back to you when it comes out here.

I'm really psyched for this.
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 11:56 PM

I'm really psyched for this.


As am I. I loved Casino Royale. It breathed as much life into James Bond as Batman Begins did for the Batman series.
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#5 Will Earl

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 09:44 AM

I have to agree with pretty much all of what Tim has said - fantastic cinematography and art direction. The way the action sequences have been put together really let the film down (and there are a lot of action sequences), actually it feels more like the action was originally composed to work as longer takes, making use of strong compositions and thrilling stunt work to give the sequences energy. All to be trimmed away in the edit (yeah I'm going to blame the editors for this one). I'd love to be able to describe the opening sequence, but about the best I can do is "lake, cars, truck, bond, italian police, quarry, cliff, boot, main titles". I'm not sure if they did set out to ape the action style of the Bourne films or were trying for a similar style utilising very dynamic camera moves and rapid cutting - either way it didn't work, having none of the movement and pace that Greengrass and team are able to achieve, which is partly why I think the action wasn't necessarily shot in that style to begin with as there is a real disconnect between what the camera is doing and how's it been cut.

That said I did like the chase at the end of the Opera House sequence, even though it's a little too abstract in it's construction and ends up not really working because of it.

I did enjoy the film through, although I probably should have watched Casino Royale before hand, some of the characters and plot that I recognised but couldn't really put a name to. I'm also surprised Tim that you picked the plane sequence as being CG - to the best of my knowledge most of it was shot fo' real with only a few CG elements used to tweak the footage.
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#6 Tim Partridge

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 07:03 PM

I cannot say I agree with you about the action initially being designed to go another way, because they had hired one of the Bourne editors from the start of production, in addition to Forster's regular editor (not forgetting the second unit director, Dan Bradley). That seems like more than a coincidence, in my opinion. That and the compositions during the action scenes have nothing in common with the very classical, precision framing seen in all of the dramatic/dialogue sequences (which are multilated by unneccessary editing). Instead they go for these really tight, cramped (almost abstracted) and uncoordinated blurs on longer lenses, all from similar angles and with no wide coverage. Additionally, this kind of action is obviously very set-up driven and therefore favours a "montage" style of editing, which it was probably designed with in mind. Very much the in vogue style now, particularly in Greengrass' Bourne and not to forget Nolan's Batman movies (also a notable failure in this department), which is something they successfully avoided with CASINO ROYALE's action scenes. I wish Alexander Witt had come back for QOS (although I cannot wait to see his work as DP on BODY OF LIES).

The Opera house scene seemed to have been a dear homage to the Pyramid scene from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (source music as underscore to a fight against a theatrical backdrop). It even concludes with the moment from that movie where Bond sends a thug to his death after leaning him off the top of a building!

Is that true about the plane sequence? If so that has to be some of the least convincing work I have seen in a while. There was certainly a shot of a plane flying up vertically with plumes of really unrendered looking CG smoke billowing out of it that could have come out of the race from STAR WARS EPISODE ONE. It really was on the same level as DIE ANOTHER DAY's climax (incidentally a miniature shot bluescreen that also looks unintentionally like primitive CG)! The way the Dalsa stuff was used wasn't wonderful either (there are better, similar shots from the THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS filmed in-camera before a rolling scenic drum on a soundstage)!

PS I TOTALLY forgot about the Lake in the intro! :)
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#7 Will Earl

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 06:27 AM

Didn't know they had hired one of the Bourne editors, I knew the 2nd Unit Director and Stunt Coordinator had both worked on Bourne as well as Casino Royale. Anyway whatever they were going for it I don't think it was as successful as the action sequences from Casino Royale.
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#8 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 11:43 AM

Haven't seen it yet, but my reaction was exactly the opposite - hard nose shadows and awkward lighting. I could be wrong, but this does not look good to me at all.
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#9 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 02:51 PM

'Just seen it and was a bit underwhelmed. Is it Bond or Bourne? 'Not sure that the producers quite know themselves... and the plot was a bit dull and convoluted... Very crisply shot, as I'd expect, but again for me nothing really stood out. Title seq. and theme both poor...
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#10 Mike Williamson

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 05:12 PM

I've only seen the trailers so far, but I had the same reaction as Adam. I really enjoyed the lighting on "Casino Royale" and thought it had a very classic look to it, especially the use of hard light for beauty work. I thought it captured the essence of a Bond film for me, making the actors look great, incorporating locations well, and still keeping an air of danger or mystery to everything.

From what I've seen so far in the trailers, "Quantum of Solace" isn't quite up to the standard of the last one with respect to lighting the actors. If this new film ends up doing something different with great location work and a sense of adventure, great. But I'm guessing I'm going to end up preferring Phil Meheux's work when all is said and done.
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#11 Tim Partridge

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 06:10 PM

Mike, Adam-

Trust me on this one-

I too really liked Meheux's work on CASINO ROYALE (what a return to form visually after DIE ANOTHER DAY), but I thought it was far from his best Bond work compared to the slick and smokey anamorphic lensing of GOLDENEYE. I was quite disappointed that we didn't get GOLDENEYE part 2 in the visuals department, and that started with the choice of super35 as the DPs preference (Schaefer as reported here was all for anamorphic but had to settle for less). The overuse of steadicam in CR did nothing for me either, especially given how devoted Meheux was to precision dolly work when shooting GOLDENEYE. The less said about the black and white work.... I also really didn't care for the turquoised out 2K DI of CASINO, nor did I care for the pedestrian production design (the Casino of the title looked like the welcome room in any cheap Travel Inn you would find on the side of any British motorway).

Schaefer's work is very very inspired, and with Forster and Gassner he really gives you the spirit of watching an old fashioned anamorphic movie, thoughtfully designed for the big screen. The compositions are the most inspired we have seen in a Bond since Lewis Gilbert was directing. The lighting of actors, as I mentioned above regarding the pools of light, is as delicately expert as you can get, with that very brave high contrast subtle kicker work. Lots to learn from here.

As I mentioned above, in my opinion the action scenes, visual effects, second unit work and editing are all vastly, unforgivably inferior to what you saw in CASINO ROYALE, sadly. Still, it's not nearly enough to take away from the overall visual achievement of the director, DP and production designer.

TRUST ME on this one...
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#12 John Allen

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 11:07 PM

I thought that Casino Royale was ok, but I just thought that the lighting was like a comic book, but if that's what he was going for then great! I thought it was good, not "oscar" worthy, but hey it was good. I liked especially the starting scene in B&W, that was a definate 5 stars. He lit it perfectly. Anyway, I guess that was a little off subject.
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#13 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 11:59 PM

If you can't tell action comprehensibly and with a sense of geography so as to not disorient the viewer, you're either:

1. Not trained properly.

2. Incompetent.

This is the worst action editing and coverage I've ever seen. Stress-edited to such a degree that any recent Tony Scott film looks like a slow Fassbinder.
I feel like strapping these people to a chair, putting on that eye watering contraption from A Clockwork Orange and forcing them to watch filmmakers who are trained in the art of blocking, execution and editing scenes. No, I'm afraid that cutting, cutting, cutting, to try to disguise the fact that you can't do action to save your life doesn't make it suspenseful. I'm sorry. I want Bond back, not Bourne - Quantum Ultimatum.

Lighting? Grainy. Overlit many times. Not terrible - just doesn't feel very inspired. But maybe Roberto got so disenchanted with the blocking and execution that he just decided to be quick instead. Can't polish a turd, after all.
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#14 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 10:03 AM

This is the worst action editing and coverage I've ever seen. Stress-edited to such a degree that any recent Tony Scott film looks like a slow Fassbinder.


I think you'll like this:
http://uk.youtube.co...h?v=bZnjKIAz0iQ
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#15 Tim Partridge

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 02:21 PM

I'm the biggest all-in-oner fan on the planet, but that shot, regardless of obvious operating skill, was like eating nothing but chocolate for a whole day!!! :wacko: Too much of a good thing. That's the only problem with OTT all-in-oners: the lighting has to go pancake (for understandable reasons) and the mise en scene evapourates. Even from the beginning that shot looked more like something from a TV gameshow and less like a piece of of moving image drama.

Adam,

I am 200% with you on the action scenes (we seem to share similar observations in this thread) but I disagree about the rest of the cinematography. It certainly wasn't grainy, not next to that third rate title sequence. What about those slightly shadow accentuated crushed blacks on the portrait close ups? What about the inventive use of human skin and white surfaces as a fill light amid the high contrast, black and white costume and production design? What about the epic exterior shots? I think you are overlooking some obvious/not so obvious gold here.
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#16 Mark Williams

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 05:35 PM

The film wasn't bad but was it Bond? Daniel Craigs performance was really good in Casino Royale because of the work put in but this effort seemed to ride behind that.

Another one like this and I'm afraid there will have to be a major rethink.. I really wish Pierce Brosnan was back in the role as things stand.
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#17 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 10:40 PM

Just saw it with the little wife. It went by so fast that I couldn't make such pristine observations as you cats. We enjoyed it. It wasn't inspired but was about as much fun as a Bond movie can get. If you're spotting what you're spotting, I am obliged to wonder about your suspension of disbelief capabilities. I wonder about the same thing for myself. If I'm seeing the movie being made then it's not doing what it's supposed to be doing on me.
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#18 Tom Lowe

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 12:00 AM

A couple of points:

* Did anyone else notice that the very opening shot skimming over the water was absolutely, horrendously noisy?? What the h*ll was that? It looked like it was shot on an HDV camera and color corrected by a 5th grader on iMovie.

* The rapid editing was awful; it was literally making me seasick.

* The action and "badass" factor was very high in this movie. I really enjoyed seeing Bond embrace his killer instinct. You had to love it when he was talking to the girl about how to enjoy her kill. Awesome amounts of action.

* Some nice moments of lighting. My favorite shot was Bond at that retired spook's villa overlooking the sea. They had him wearing shades framed 1/4 way from camera left. Somehow the exposure looked absolutely perfect.

* Like others, I'm afraid that the Bond series is trying to ape Bourne too much, which is stupid since Bourne was a clone of Bond in the first place!

* What's missing from this picture is a sense of humor and some panache. I realize this was a revenge flick, but it really had no humor at all, which is a staple of Bond. No witty banter with babes. No badass headquarters for the bad guy. No gadgets either. :(
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#19 K Borowski

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 12:23 AM

A couple of points:

* What's missing from this picture is a sense of humor and some panache. I realize this was a revenge flick, but it really had no humor at all, which is a staple of Bond. No witty banter with babes. No badass headquarters for the bad guy. No gadgets either. :(


First off, kudos to the asterisk points.

Second, of course there's no more cool gadgets. Q died, remember? :(
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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 16 November 2008 - 12:45 AM

I liked Roberto's photography -- it was appropriately "masculine", tough, aggressive, contrasty. More appropriate to Bond than some of the ultra-soft commercial product lighting of some of the other Bond movies.

Good Bond cinematography has always teeter-tottered between hard, dramatic, almost noir-ish lighting, glamour portrait lighting for women, and exotic location photography with a sort of National Geographic naturalism. Phil Meheux seemed one of the best DP's for creating that feeling, but Roberto Schaeffer also gives the movie a similar range of classic Bond elements. I wish anamorphic photography was one element brought back, and probably Roberto does too, but one can easily justify the more rugged, grittier Super-35 look as being part of Bond's new "tougher" persona.

I did wish there was a little more wit in this one.

I have to agree that the action editing was not one of my favorite elements of "Quantum of Solace". In almost every action set piece, I found myself wondering "what the f--- just happened?" Ur... Bond was under that passing speedboat and he grabbed a grappling hook and the next thing the villain's boat is flipping over... what did he hook it on to? I even got confused as to when Bond was chasing someone, being chased, and heading away or towards the villains' car or boat. The geography got very confusing at times.
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