Godzilla Minus One – Tone is everything.

The sense of awe that the director and visual effects supervisor, Takashi Yamazaki himself, clearly has for the iconic Japanese monster, is not to be argued with. Oppenheimer was a flawless script so that slightly tops it but this got the runners-up Film of the year 2023 for me, that’s settled. Godzilla has always been a cautionary tale against the use of Nuclear weapons. You cannot defer damage to someone else with what you do not fully understand. That in essence has been the argument for me. The cinematic rhythm and choices are wonderful throughout. They ensure you stay locked into the themes and the characters. Human characters, ah, actually relatable people. Flawed, scared, and in desperate need of love. That ensures that when Akira Ifukube‘s main theme kicks in, you get ALL OF THE FEELS.

So, when the big bad cat finally screams like hell, you get the whole sense of, history of, wonderful destruction and mayhem. The loss is real, you lose people, you lose stability, and you lose time. Human characters have all the dimensions necessary to engage. The use of progressive trance-like music is very very tasty to me personally. Also, we all remember it won best the Visual Effects Oscar. Not that every choice is perfect but most of them are. So that’s nice to see. The choice of framing is always very very deliberate so the team could re-iterate to improve, instead of, to re-start a new scene every other time an executive suggests something stupid. There is a vision to build real suspense, real stakes and that’s probably why a lot of people have said this is the best Godzilla film of all time so for me, I sure feel like it right now. Definitely worth watching but disappointingly only illegally available. Enjoy that one.

There was a wannabe animated cartoon from the 90s movie this year. Godzilla x Kong – First of all, why x? Second of all, what the hell? Third of all, why does the director of the Hollywood production, think that scenes by the “Monsters” within the monsterverse themselves are cool? Anyway, that’s all I have to say about the Hollywood films. There was potential, yes, in the Gareth Edwards Godzilla film from 2014. But then they tried to be too smart with Godzilla. Always annoyed the viewers during their first watch by cutting away from a big fight that was teased for a large chunk of the previous sequence. And ruined first impressions rarely allow for real praise later on.

The Elusive Skill of Editing Video and Film

Film Editing is both an art form and a technical process. At the end of which you get the finished film. But before it is finished, one must go through countless hours of raw footage multiple times. And juxtapose it in a way that makes sense. And is aligned to the script and the vision of the director. 

A Brief History:

The term is derived from the early days of filmmaking in the 1890s, wherein people would splice the film negative and then glue the pieces together to create cuts. During this time, very few movies used continuity editing. Which meant having continuous scenes strung together seamlessly. Famed French filmmaker Georges Méliès was also experimenting with editing as a visual effect during this time. Then in the 1900s, narrative features were born. Films like The Great Train Robbery (1903) started experimentation with editing and created the cinematic illusions of time and space as we know them today. Then the Soviet Montage movement emerged in the 1910s and 1920s, with filmmaker Lev Kuleshov pioneering his famous Kuleshov Experiment. It involved juxtaposing footage of a man with a bowl of soup, a child in a coffin, and an alluring woman; it would show his unchanging face and cut to one of the three. 

The idea was to demonstrate the power of editing. You could make the audience believe that the man had certain feelings towards any one of these scenes.

“But I suppose film is distinctive because of its nature, of its being able to cut through time with editing.” 

Oliver Stone

The Process and the tools used today:

Thankfully we don’t have to deal with bundles of expensive film negatives and glue all over our rooms anymore. What editors do today is known as Non-Linear Editing. Specialized software is used today which do not modify the original footage but instead prepares what’s known as an Edit decision list (EDL) which keeps track of the various cut points in the footage. Some of the most common Non-Linear Editing Software used in the industry are Avid Media Composer, Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Da Vinci Resolve. 

Editing Techniques 

“The notion of directing a film is the invention of critics – the whole eloquence of cinema is achieved in the editing room.”

Walter Murch

Continuity Editing: The most common form of editing. 

In a scene where characters in a film are supposed to be at one time and place, the editor must ensure that things remain the same from one shot to the next. For example, if a character walks from left to right in a wide-angle shot, they must still be walking when cut to a closeup. Continuity errors are something that the audience will notice immediately. It could take the audience out of the movie and make the experience jarring. Something we filmmakers absolutely do not want. As editors, we must ensure the audience does not notice our craft. And the more invested they are in the story without registering our cuts, the better we did our job. 

Cross-Cutting: The editing technique wherein we show two or more actions separated by time and/or space by cutting between them. This creates complex illusions or serves as parallels of themes. Director Christopher Nolan is perhaps the modern master of this technique. Films like Inception and Dunkirk used these techniques extensively to create a rising tension and momentum. 

The Cutaway: This involves cutting away from one thing to another abruptly. Sometimes this is used to bring attention from one thing to another. It can be used in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is done to show what the character is looking at. Sometimes to provide irony to a scene. Or to unsettle the rhythm of the film and provide a reset. 

Dissolve: This term is used when the visuals of one-shot overlap the visuals of the other shot. It’s used when we want the audience to ruminate on what just happened. Or to draw parallels in visual symmetry or simply to show a passage of time. 

J & L Cut:  The J cut is when the audio from the upcoming shot starts before the previous shot ends. And the L cut is when audio from the current shot overlaps the next shot. This is commonly used in conversations to blend the scene together and imbibe a rhythmic flow.  

Jump Cut:  This was popularised during the French New Wave in the late 1950s. Here there seems to be no continuity in between shots. It’s called Jump cuts because the shots seem to jump ahead in time during the same action. 

Significance of Editing:

Some of the earliest filmmakers noted that the film editing process is unique to motion pictures. Every other aspect of filmmaking originated in a different medium than film (photography, art direction, writing, sound recording), but editing is the one process that is unique to film. With editing, you can relive an entire human life within a feature film length or shorter. With editing, you can travel the world or even the whole of the universe. 

“Editing is where movies are made or broken. Many a film has been saved and many a film has been ruined in the editing room.” 

Joe Dante

Is there No Way Home, Spiderman?

What happens when an IP tries to imitate its past? The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes inspiration from the past and the future.

Phase four has driven us towards the multiverse with hiccups and missteps. Loki did it one way, Doctor Strange another. Ultimately there should be an internal logic that makes sense throughout the films. You could get into that, but it would defeat the purpose of entertainment.

So who is your favourite Live-Action Spiderman? Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire told a different story. One where every swing of the wall-crawler across New York City was the first of its kind on a large screen. Exciting, impactful and full of emotion. But after a few days of reading other people’s opinions on Twitter, Rotten Tomatoes and whatnot, I feel like people have this incredible recency bias that compels them to rate the latest adventure as the best. I feel like over time, as we move away from this initial hype, it will come down as a very derivative movie relying heavily on what came before. I mean, think about it. In terms of Peter’s story, he is often secondary to other characters on screen doing the cool stuff. First, J. Jonah Jameson reveals his identity to the world, then MIT decides to not take them in for their undergraduate programme. Then Doctor Strange casts the spell that breaks reality. Then Aunt May convinces Peter to try to cure the previous generations villains. Then previous Spider-Men take all the applause as they appear in a muddled way due to nostalgia, then Willem Dafoe stops Peter from trying to save MJ which gives Andrew Garfield some closure. The point is, what incredible thing did Tom Holland’s Peter Parker do? Nothing but be a passive protagonist.

It did feel like a fan made this film. It broke box office records, but I think it will not stay in the lexicon for any of its current moments. All the cheer and excitement was to see the previous two SpiderMen come back to dawn their costumes. Another point of frustration is that they underplay so many of the seemingly unbelievable events with a silly joke. No one would behave like that if an actual person from another universe visited.
Perhaps they don’t believe in their verisimilitude. The MCU-Sony Spiderman films have not been my favourites. That’s because I have felt the first iterations to be good enough and definitive. For example, if you admire a word, dream about how you’d feel if you too had tiny spikes in your hand that make you crawl on walls, then someone would come and say that look, that thing you loved is now something else, something new, you’d feel weirded out as well. Cinema greats like Martin Scorcese and others who have raised concerns about Marvel movies do have a point when they say that these kinds of films are not cinema. They feel like theme park rides where they don’t seem to have any relatable consequences as any threat could be CGI’d away instantly.

Their stakes don’t seem high enough for the main characters, even though the world around them is folding onto itself in the mirror dimension. With a great past comes a mediocre imitative present but a hopeful future.

Luca – Pixar Works Emotions Like An Equation

What is a sea monster? I mean, what could someone who lives underwater be a metaphor for? Luca and Alberto mention their dreams multiple times about owning a Vespa and travelling the world together. They just want to be free, or perhaps they just don’t wanna be tied down.

Luca is a sea monster who lives underwater. He does some daily chores like feeding the fish and staying out of sight of the humans. He is told the world above is a dangerous place. Yet, he is inquisitive. He just wants to glimpse the potential of a different world. Different from the daily. Different from the mundane. He finds another soul like his own, Alberto, who waits for his father to show up. But by the looks of things, he won’t show up anytime soon. Both the boys instantly hit it off. They dream alike, so they experiment with their newfound freedom together. Alberto introduces the inner critical voice that cautions them to test their limits, as Bruno. And that they must silence Bruno to do whatever it is that they want to do. 

And then we meet Guilia. And one cannot help feel the tickle of delight at the thought of another trio like Harry, Ron and Hermione interacting. Their story is delightful. And at every stage, it grows in a precisely calculated manner. It develops as if carved carefully after understanding the rules of storytelling. Perfectly times and beautifully drawn hence realised in picturesque scenes. Perhaps one flaw is the one-dimensional bully who is the obvious bad boy too old to participate in the Portorosso Cup Race. He muscles his way around the community of scared boys. And targets them to follow his plans due to fear of being punched otherwise. Besides that, there’s so much to love about Pixar’s Luca, including the always spectacular animation, charming voice cast and melodic music. 

Director Enrico Casarosa, Before joining Pixar, Casarosa worked as a storyboard artist at Blue Sky Studios on Ice Age. In 2002, Casarosa joined Pixar, where he worked as a story artist on CarsRatatouilleUp and Cars 2. It’s great to see his growth as a true artist and then allowed to helm a story from his native land. 

When Movie Theatres Re-open in India.

I am thinking of ending things. No, not through suicide. But you know, not being able to go to a theatre to watch a movie. I am thinking about ending the fear and planning to enter a large screen auditorium again. 

Mulan the film is based on the Chinese folklore “The Ballad of Mulan”. The world currently is suffering from a virus that originated in China. So is that why Disney+ decided to release the 200M USD production as a premium premiere option? I am not too sure. But the route to bypass cinemas when TENET has opened exclusively in theatres is a curious one. The talk about the sound design of TENET more than the movie or its story itself is also the same. 

Also, I cannot wait for the Justice League miniseries from Zack Snyder, which features an “Elseworlds” story. Probably the best part from the theatrical cut of the film was the video and song released by Junkie Xl and Gary Clark Jr. This is also taking a risk, investing another reported 70-80 M USD to film additional scenes with the main cast and restoring the score, visual effects and re-editing the film from scratch. 

For cinephiles, indulging into some of the classics was always on. 

Now it is the only option. Many tentpole movies are pushing themselves as far away from the pandemic as possible. In terms of the Indian film industry, the market is now open. I doubt or would accept that I do not understand the distribution industry in India in detail. As film fans, it is easy to see that all bets are off. All studios are making deals with various streaming platforms and putting out as many films as possible. I am unable to grasp a sense of the industry’s calls for the need of the theatrical experience. 

Anyone who cares about quality art as a necessary part of the culture and the health of society would look elsewhere. Many people, especially in the larger cities, have access to unlimited international streaming content. They would perhaps develop a taste as they grow up with characters and moralities of other nations. Our consumers might not be able to accept some of the mindless entertainment which was going on in Indian cinemas.