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Pelham 123 Remake


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#1 Tim Partridge

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 03:34 PM

I saw this a few weeks ago. The original is close to me

a) because it's a cynical 70s movie made during my favourite period of cinema

B) it's from what I still consider the peak of cinematography, and it's rugged, exciting anamorphic work

However, I think Tony Scott is still the top leading visual pop stylist in Hollywood, and I think there is always something to learn (and steal) from watching his stuff. So I went along and paid to see the remake.

I found the film very entertaining, different enough to not draw comparisons to the original but also adhering to the cynical tone of Joseph Sargents movie. I think at times it drifted rather indistinguishably into CSI episode on the big screen territory, in terms of content delivery and also visual style. How many times can you watch a tracking shot on the long end of a zoom around a control room with a big light up monitor board on it(DEJA VU deja Vu, anyone?

I must confess to not being overly impressed with all of the visuals, especially as Scott has now moved away from that very smokey, pastelly, backlit look he had even on Domino, moving towards a very crunchy, cross process emulating look of bleached colours and crushed blacks, previously achieved on DEJA VU using cross processing but here created apparently entirely through a DI. Along with the majority of the film being played in extreme close ups with mediums standing in for wides (four cameras all on dollies with long lenses near wide open), I found the overall effect at times to bare more in common with any episode of CSI rather than say the cinematic TRUE ROMANCE, MAN ON FIRE, REVENGE or even TOP GUN (or the BMW and AMAZON web films Scott directed). Add to that the kind of gimmicky editing you even see on Showbiz news shows these days and a musical score of chill-out hums (David Shire this aint) and I cannot help but feel like there should be more than this for a cinematic feature...

Tobias Schliessler did a very admirable job photographing Pelham 123, and reading the ASC article you get the impression that the visual style imposed a pretty rigid shooting approach. I did enjoy how various coloured gels were used quite expressionistically to define the geography of the "hero" train (worked here much better for me than in say Crimson Tide), and I thought the top softlit portraiture on the close ups was very good, if a bit repetitive (but it seems that was down to the four camera shooting style).

I also didn't care for a dialogue sequence with James Galdolfini that seemed to look towards Michael Bay for 360 degree camera movement. I think Scott is a much much better filmmaker than that.

I did notice some unusual suprises for a Scott film though, like close ups in a helicopter shot on what appeared to be more representative looking 50mm and maybe even 35mm settings on the Primo zooms. There is a Hitchcock VERTIGO close up of a terrorist expert, shot at the widest end of the zoom lens with noticable, unflattering distortion for unexpected dramatic effect, certainly for a Tony Scott film, anyway!

There were a few car crash scenes, directed by Alexander Witt, which were pretty much textbook and integrated very well with the main unit footage. I might even pick up the DVD just to reference those scenes alone!

Away from the cinematography, there are still jaw dropping moments of complimentary colour coordination that left me thoroughly impressed, reminding me of the visual command of a Tony Scott movie. I just hope his next film is a little less clean, cross process/crunchy looking and more like the pastel backlight and smoke that got me into his work. Still, at least there seemed to be no hand cranking this time! ;)

As an aside- there is some not very good roto comp work briefly near the end of the film that I felt stuck out like a sore thumb (Tony Scott usually gets this right).
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#2 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 03:42 PM

I saw this a few weeks ago. The original is close to me

a) because it's a cynical 70s movie made during my favourite period of cinema

B) it's from what I still consider the peak of cinematography, and it's rugged, exciting anamorphic work

However, I think Tony Scott is still the top leading visual pop stylist in Hollywood, and I think there is always something to learn (and steal) from watching his stuff. So I went along and paid to see the remake.

I found the film very entertaining, different enough to not draw comparisons to the original but also adhering to the cynical tone of Joseph Sargents movie. I think at times it drifted rather indistinguishably into CSI episode on the big screen territory, in terms of content delivery and also visual style. How many times can you watch a tracking shot on the long end of a zoom around a control room with a big light up monitor board on it(DEJA VU deja Vu, anyone?

I must confess to not being overly impressed with all of the visuals, especially as Scott has now moved away from that very smokey, pastelly, backlit look he had even on Domino, moving towards a very crunchy, cross process emulating look of bleached colours and crushed blacks, previously achieved on DEJA VU using cross processing but here created apparently entirely through a DI. Along with the majority of the film being played in extreme close ups with mediums standing in for wides (four cameras all on dollies with long lenses near wide open), I found the overall effect at times to bare more in common with any episode of CSI rather than say the cinematic TRUE ROMANCE, MAN ON FIRE, REVENGE or even TOP GUN (or the BMW and AMAZON web films Scott directed). Add to that the kind of gimmicky editing you even see on Showbiz news shows these days and a musical score of chill-out hums (David Shire this aint) and I cannot help but feel like there should be more than this for a cinematic feature...

Tobias Schliessler did a very admirable job photographing Pelham 123, and reading the ASC article you get the impression that the visual style imposed a pretty rigid shooting approach. I did enjoy how various coloured gels were used quite expressionistically to define the geography of the "hero" train (worked here much better for me than in say Crimson Tide), and I thought the top softlit portraiture on the close ups was very good, if a bit repetitive (but it seems that was down to the four camera shooting style).

I also didn't care for a dialogue sequence with James Galdolfini that seemed to look towards Michael Bay for 360 degree camera movement. I think Scott is a much much better filmmaker than that.

I did notice some unusual suprises for a Scott film though, like close ups in a helicopter shot on what appeared to be more representative looking 50mm and maybe even 35mm settings on the Primo zooms. There is a Hitchcock VERTIGO close up of a terrorist expert, shot at the widest end of the zoom lens with noticable, unflattering distortion for unexpected dramatic effect, certainly for a Tony Scott film, anyway!

There were a few car crash scenes, directed by Alexander Witt, which were pretty much textbook and integrated very well with the main unit footage. I might even pick up the DVD just to reference those scenes alone!

Away from the cinematography, there are still jaw dropping moments of complimentary colour coordination that left me thoroughly impressed, reminding me of the visual command of a Tony Scott movie. I just hope his next film is a little less clean, cross process/crunchy looking and more like the pastel backlight and smoke that got me into his work. Still, at least there seemed to be no hand cranking this time! ;)

As an aside- there is some not very good roto comp work briefly near the end of the film that I felt stuck out like a sore thumb (Tony Scott usually gets this right).

Agreed yet I feel it is somewhat sad to remake a great film instead of sinking all that money and creative talent into a NEW screenplay.
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#3 Tim Partridge

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 03:48 PM

Oh, rest assured:

Apparently Scott's next film is about Denzel Washington. And a train...

:huh:
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#4 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:23 PM

Oh, rest assured:

Apparently Scott's next film is about Denzel Washington. And a train...

:huh:


Right, "Pelham 456". If only there was as much R&D in the screenplay end of things as there is in the Cinematography department.
And I'm not criticizing the screen writers, I'm criticizing the lack of vision of the people that green light the films that get made.
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 04:26 PM

Oh, rest assured:

Apparently Scott's next film is about Denzel Washington. And a train...

:huh:


Yup! Sad days indeed . . .

I have to say, I have yet to see ANY remake (except for Jessica Alba's The Eye, and just because I worked on it) of ANY movie made, to my knowledge (OK, The Lower Depths being the other exception). How snobbish of me, I know. But it is mostly because I refuse to support this current remake philosophy. There are really good ORIGINAL scripts out there!!

I really like the original Pelham 123 movie, moreover, I LOVE the book that started it all. So this movie would have to be outrageously good to make me drag my butt to a movie theater and fork out 10 bucks to see it. And I know there are plenty of uncalled for pyrotechnics in this movie, another major no-no for me.

But reading about its cinematography here and the AC makes me wanna see it. Maybe when it is released on video and I can get it at a Red Box I will check it out, and skip the pyro scenes . . .

Thanks for posting.
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Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Wooden Camera

Paralinx LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

The Slider

Opal

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Aerial Filmworks