Saw an early screening of this and I have to say that Adam Arkapaw did an excellent job on it. It's obviously shot with some sort of older, or perhaps even coating-stripped anamorphics. Sometimes when people sit in front of window or bright background, they almost disappear in the veiling glare they produce. An interesting look that works well if you don't mind losing your subject in the glare at times.
Very naturally lit (as is the trend at the moment), but with enough flourishes and nuances to make it interesting and not full documentary. Tasteful and skillful. There is particularly a shot that I love, where Fassbender's character, holed up in the lighthouse, is composed so as his face and body covers the lantern lighting the room behind him. Very impressionistic. I absolutely love when the source of a light is somehow obscured in frame, ideally by the actor. It's much more interesting than having a source in shot I find many times. In fact, I've recently become allergic to having practicals on. It became such a trope that every single practical has to be on, no matter if it's day or night. It's been done to death. I'd rather have the shape of the lights or shades, but not have them on.
There's also a night storm sequence when his wife is trying to reach the lighthouse that is very well done and lit. You can tell they had to light from the ground here and probably weren't able to light from high above to emulate moon, but the DP turns it into an asset and makes the scene much more dramatic because of it. Beautiful work.
Film is overall excellent as well. A sure Oscar contender. Only complaint I had with visual approach is that it was a mix between static/tracking shots and very handheld stuff. Never really understood why.
A bit of a peculiar film to place, "Blue Valentine" being full of sarcastic imagery (fireworks: end of the relationship! Future room: I want to have an abortion!), "...Pines" being a three part backwards film (most of the action early, the rest being about moral choices), "...Oceans" is about relationships breaking down and moral choices, but is told in an odd hurried slow. I haven't read the novel but the movie seemed to need to jam a whole lot of information and events, but needed to do it slowly because anything that smelled of being fast paced would be inappropriate. Problem between the two mediums that has been handled better before and can be discussed more elsewhere.
If you are a fan of long dissolves and double exposure like I am, there is a lot to enjoy. Favorite shot/cut: a side look at Fassbender sitting down looking into a mirror in a way where there are two Fassbenders but not obvious glass that then has a shot of Vikander outside standing out in the beautiful New Zealand (apparently) scenery placed on it to where she is in the middle of the frame, flanked by two Fassbenders. Related to the novel idea above, the film had a rather large number of montages and multiple series of short shots of scenery mixed in with the character various reasons. How much you enjoy that is all according to personal taste, but one place I thought it worked particularly well was during the second (spoiler that I won't post) when the movie cuts around to random objects inside the house.
The lighting stuff Adam already touched upon above more intelligently than I can. I will say there was a scene where I was like "obviously there is a big light shining through this door" before Fassbender opened the door and walked through it, showing there wasn't. The scene in the graveyard had some kind of weird blur to it, especially in the edges on some shots. When Fassbender is inside the lighthouse in the scene Adam discussed above, it's obviously rain tower type rain that doesn't match the shots of her out there (maybe I'm sensitive to it because I saw "A Tale of Love and Darkness" for the second time right before I saw "...Oceans" and "..Darkness" has a scene of super obvious rain towerness (to be fair, the "...Darkness" scene is somewhat surreal and metaphorical and the movie itself is one of my favorites of the year).
On what Adam touched on above about the few random handheld scenes, my theory is that those were tossed in there (what shots they were early on didn't really look like it was "okay b camera, just go handheld and we'll use you whenever") so when there is the big handheld running following shot, it's not completely out of the rules of what they have been doing before then, so it is less jarring (small handheld shots to build up to a big handheld shot basically). But yes, mostly tracking type stuff, a really good one when the boathand sees the reward money sign.
Fassbender is the best actor going right now in my opinion and Vikander is proving to be one of the best actresses, and of course Rachel Weiss is great. I personally don't think it's going to be a serious Oscar contender, but that's an opinion, and what do I know?
It was shot indeed in New Zealand. Just looks gorgeous, just bummed they didn't shoot on film like Cianfrance's first two films (although Blue Valentine is shot on Red also), I guess there wasn't a lab close to where they were shooting. Didn't see the film yet, the critics are mixed on it, it just connects with some and not with others, I think it looks beautiful. A shame there's no writeup on it in AC or anything else. They shot on G anamorphics.
It's funny you mention film because I always first think of Derek Cianfrance as the DP of "Quattro Nozza", a movie shot on a PAL Sony PD-150 that made a splash at Sundance when I was screening "Northfork" there I believe.
Phew, saw this yday, absolutely superb. Granted, this imo doesn't have as much replay value as The Place Beyond The Pines which is one of my all time favorites, and this is because Pines has a unique feel, plus its story, the three acts, the cinematography, everything whereas TLBO is much slower, takes place during early 20th century, and there is much less plot to the movie than there is to Pines. I'm surprised the critics were mixed, I guess it's really a matter, kinda like with Valentine or Pines of the movie connecting with you or not, Cianfrance said he tried not to judge the characters and ultimately, some people will probably not like the movie because of the story and the characters' decisions.
I felt it was all quite realistic anyway, and thought all the right notes were hit, and could clearly map out why they did what they did. Fassbender has never been better except in Steve Jobs imo, same for Alicia Vikander, the locations in New Zealand are just breathtaking, and Arkapaw's cinematography took my breath away many times, just totally arresting landscape shots, the Alexa has rarely looked this good, I do wish they had shot on film, would have looked even better, but like I said, probably wasn't a lab around, they were pretty far away, Derek probably felt digital was the way to go for practical reasons. I know they used LiveGrain on it, but felt it was really subtle compared to Vinyl, feel like they could have gotten the same result just applying normal grain in the DI, it added some texture but not that much, probably to get it closer to the look Derek wanted.
Very impressionistic indeed, I like the bloomy quality in some interior scenes with the slightly blown out windows, and all the exterior stuff, the sun setting, that gorgeous light more than once & the anamorphic glass, yes yes yes ! Superb movie. The next Cianfrance one is called Empire Of The Summer Moon, he said it'd be a big, epic movie: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, S.C. Gwynne‘s book about the last great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker.