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Body of Lies


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#1 Tim Partridge

Tim Partridge
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Posted 04 May 2010 - 06:23 AM

I haven't made it all the way through this yet. I bought a copy for £3, so I couldn't lose! I don't find it very engaging at all, or particularly cinematic in it's storytelling. Hopefully I'll make it to the end sometime.

The look of the film is quite refreshing for a Ridley Scott movie. Alexander Witt, probably best known as the action unit director of films such as Casino Royale, served as DP. It's a very rough and rugged looking film, but very grainy and noisy in places too.

A few 45/90 degree shutter blurs I could do without, but this is a very, deliberately unphotogenic looking movie. Even the ASC article mentions how Scott would go against modifying practical lighting fixtures as they didn't want the film to be lit like a movie. Some of it is so grainy I was wondering while watching if it had been shot on S16. Infact, looking at the Hurt Locker and such, I wonder why they stuck to 35mm? If Scott made the film now, might it be in S16?

The Making of claims that Scott shot with four cameras on the go all the time.

In the ASC article Witt is pretty open about the film being shot fairly clean and colour corrected quite a bit in the DI. He also makes a point of the days of grad filters being a thing of the past. Quite interesting to read this from someone who has spent many many years mastering such shots.

Anyway, I thought it was very exciting to see Witt serve as main unit DP and the overall look is quite exciting, if not traditionally pretty.




Can I also note that some of the production design/art direction in this film I felt left a lot to be desired, especially coming from such a well regarded visual stylist with a regarded eye for production design. There is a pretitles scene at the beginning of the film, set in MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, that I found so unconvincing it actually took me out of the film, and I had to rewind the DVD just because I had second guessed my memory regarding the film's geography. Not good for a film that's story hinges on the geography of the characters.

The film opens in "MANCHESTER" on a street of flat roofed buildings, a misplaced, cliched red telephone box that looks nothing like a British red telephone box, American fire escapes and a road jam full of American cars with their licence plates vainly replaced by tiny Brit ones. I might be more forgiving if Scott wasn't so overly attached to his visuals or that the art department was absent of Brits! I found out online that they shot these scenes in Baltimore. I wonder if it looks that bad to American eyes when they shoot US set films over here in the UK.
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