Academy Awards weekend roundup

Emmanuelle Riva & Quvenzhane Wallis - January 2013

They are the oldest and youngest nominees in the Best Actress category - Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour" and Quevenzhane Wallis  in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" - both excellent films, both great roles. I was lucky to get this picture of them together on the day before the Oscar nominations were announced in January. This is the only time they were photographed together in the same room before awards weekend. I love this shot that Eugene Hernandez took of me taking it.

photo: Eugene Hernandez, FSLC

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" was easily my favorite film of the year. After  sweeping the prizes last January at Sundance, I saw the highly anticipated "Beasts" last March on the closing night of New Directors/New Films,  and was blown away. It was indescribable then, and remains so still. The screenplay, based on her own play by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin is also up for an Oscar. Here are some photos from that screening last March.

Benh Zeitlin & writer Lucy Alibar

Benh Zeitlin & producer Dan Janvey

Benh Zeitlin, March 2012

Meanwhile, "Amour" directed by Michael Haneke,  another excellent film,  played at the 2012 New York Film Festival  last September where I took this photo of the director before the public screening."Amour", up for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Film,  is a favorite to win in the latter category. 

Michael Haneke, September 2012

Another film up for  Best Foreign Film is "No" directed by Pablo Larrain, which I highly recommend. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal as the actual 1970's "Mad Man" who took down Pinochet's ductatorship in Chile by running an unlikely ad campaign it was also one of my favorite films of the year, and just opened here in New York last week. Here is a photo of director Larrain with his lead actress from NY Film Festival screening.

 "No" director Pablo Larrain & actress Antonia Zegers

Pablo Larrain, NYC 2009

OK, I just saw "Silver Linings Playbook" this afternoon, and now agree that Jennifer Lawrence will win Best Actress. What a performance. I had originally thought it would go to Jessica Chastain  for "Zero Dark Thirty", whom I photographed a couple of weeks ago.  But honestly I have to go with Jennifer Lawrence (even though I didn't take any photos of  her). The film might even slip by for Best Picture.

Jessica Chastain, January 2013

Have you seen "Flight"?  Disguised as an action movie, it is really a very well made character study of an alcoholic. Denzel Washington's performance is deservedly up for Best Actor. Plus it has John Goodman as a drug dealer for comic relief. 

NY FIlm Festival 2012 - Flight press confrerence

Too bad Denzel Washington is up against Daniel Day Lewis  who seems destined to win Best Actor for Lincoln.  I took a few shots at the "Lincoln" advance screening at last year's NY Film Festival,  but alas, a humble shy Daniel Day Lewis snuck out early and steered clear of the cameras.

'Lincoln' cast, director Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner

Steven Spielberg, NY Film Fest 2012

Up against Steven Spielberg is Quentin Tarrantino for "Django Unchained".  I am almost ashamed to say I have not seen it yet, but here is a shot of the man himself a couple of years ago.

Quentin Tarrantino, NY Film Fest 2011

Also up for Best Director is Ang Lee for "Life of Pi". I'm not an expert on 3D films, but this one was amazing. It was opening night of the 2012 New York Film Festival, where I took this pic of Ang Lee with star Suraj Sharma.

"Life of Pi" star Suraj Sharma and director Ang Lee

Also up for Best Director is Kathryn Bigelow, for"Zero Dark Thirty", I took this shot when she was in town for an early screening of "The Hurt Locker" at Lincoln Center in 2009.

Kathryn Bigelow, NYC 2009

The likely winner in the Best Documentary category is "Searching for Sugar Man".  Director Malik Bendjelloui was in town in January. Also in the Best Documentary category - "The Gatekeepers" directed by Dror Moreh (shown at the NY FIlm Fest) , and "Five Broken Cameras", directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi (shown at New Directors 2012)  are both very excellent docs about the Middle Eastf. 

Malik Bendjellouui -  "Searching for Sugarman" - January 2013

Guy Davidi & Emad Burnat - "Five Broken Cameras" - March 2012

Dror Moreh - "The Gatekeepers" - September 2012

Oh right  - Anne Hathaway. I'm not likely to see "Les Miserables", and Anne Hathaway's likely to win Best Supporting Actress, but I do have a couple of cool pix I took of her at the New York Film Festival a couple of years ago. 

Anne Hathaway, NY Film Fest, Red Carpet 2008

Which brings me full circle to my favorite film of the year, "Beasts of the Southern Wild", and more pix of star Quvenzhane Wallis. If there is an upset win, I sure hope it goes to her.

Benh Zeitlin and Quvenzhane Wallis - January 2013

Quvenzhane Wallis - January 2013



Cinema-tography: Photographers in the Movies

Juaquin Phoenix in The Master

Been thinking about actors playing photographers in the movies. Juaquin Phoenix's performance as a war weary alcoholic department store photographer in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master,  is as good a place to start as any. If a picture's worth a thousand words, this promo still for the film sums up why his performance is up for an Academy Award this year. Taking the psychotic who tries his hand as a photographer to a whole new level, two scenes - "mixing chemicals" in the darkroom with a pretty salesgirl, and as a bullying portrait photographer - are, uh,  kind of unforgettable. 

David Hemmings in Blow-Up

Still for me, the touchstone performance is David Hemmings as the swinging London photographer David Bailey in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, circa 1966. This was the film that drew me towards being a photographer. Scenes photographing in the park, with Vanessa Redgrave that lead to a murder mystery solved in the darkroom were beyond cool to my teenage self. Scenes in the studio with Veruschka are simply self-consciously over the top - not that I haven't seen photographers try to pull that trick off like they invented it.  And the existential nightclub scene with the Yardbirds, was well, for me simply prophetic. Yes, this was the film that was destined to awaken the photographer within me.

The New York City counterpart to David Bailey in London would have been Richard Avedon. In Funny Face, Stanley Donen directs Fred Astaire as a New York City fashion photographer discovering model Audrey Hepburn, based on Donen's friend and legend, Richard Avedon. Here are a couple of nice stills from that film.

This great photograph of James Dean taken by Roy Schatt, is from no film in particular, but some people just have style. 

James Dean with camera, photographed by Roy Schatt

In 1978's The Eyes of Laura Mars, Faye Dunaaway also plays a fashion photographer who helps solve crimes. The tagline for the poster was "You can't always believe what you see". 

This still looks decidedly similar to Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcok's Rear Window. 

How cool and sinister is it to have a wheelchair bound photographer stuck in his Greenwich Village apartment, witnessing crimes, and trying to save Grace Kelly through his telephoto lens? 

Now from the sublime to the ridiculous.Nicole Kidman played Diane Arbus in the absurdly titled Fur (a result of no cooperation from the Diane Arbus Estate I guess). Here's a still from that film, and a shot I just found of the real Diane Arbus in the East Village in 1969 by Mary Ellen Mark.  Notice the St.Marks Cinema in the background!

Diane Arbus 1969, by Mary Ellen Mark

Way back in the 1933, just after the invention of the hand held "spy" camera, James Cagney played an undercover news photographer in The Picture Snatcher. I love that title!

My favorite implausible photographic impersonation would be Farrah Fawcett playing Life magazine photographer Margaret Bourke-White in the "made for TV" movie. Remember "Made for TV Movies"? 

Farrah Bourke-White

Speaking of television, Charles Bronson played a street photographer in the series Man With A Camera from 1958-1960, just before taking off as a movie star in The Magnificent Seven. 

Though not strictly about a photographer, I have to include the great Michael Powell's 1960 classic, "Peeping Tom".  About a serial killer that films his murders, I couldn't resist posting up the opening scene to round this all up. Happy Valentine's Day!


Snow York City Photographs

Bowery 1978
With snow on my mind, I've dug into the archives for pictures taken on those slippery cold nights when I would roam the city streets at night in search of the perfect snow shots. The photograph  above, which I took - let's see 35 years ago - was taken on January 17th 1978. I know this only because I just read a brilliant piece by Binky Philips, about him meeting Johnny Rotten at the bar at CBGB's the night after the Sex Pistols US tour. I too met Johnny Rotten that night and took his photo behind the CBGB bar. I also took a photo of Bob Gruen, who has told me he was walking across Bleecker Street to CB's that night, from his darkroom to show Johnny Rotten the photographs he had just printed of the Sex Pistols tour. Just another quiet Monday night at CBGB's. 

Bob Gruen, Bleecker St. 1978

There were two big snowstorms back to back that winter. This one in late January followed by the Blizzard of 78 two weeks later on February 6th. Style took precedence to winter wear that night, as evidenced by these next two photographs. 

Jimmy Destri & Phyllis Stein, Bowery 1978

Kristian Hoffman & Bradley Field, Bowery 1978

Jump cut to 1996, another winter full of snow. I was out on Wall Street late this night. Downtown was shut down to all cars for the blizzard. Garbage Trucks and plows ruled the streets. It was a bit scary to be out there on foot but I'm a dedicated snow shooter. 

Wall Street, Blizzard 1996

It was also that long winter of 1996, when I navigated through the slush and winds of Astor Place to get this Xmas photo. 

Astor Place, Winter 1996

And then there was 1983, when I took this photograph on the roof of my St.Marks Place apartment building. Guess I didn't travel to far then to get a snow photo. 

St.Marks Place roof, 1983

Just one more thing to tell, before I go out to get some new snow photographs. The first shot, of CBGB's in the 1978 storm, has sat unprinted / unseen for all these 35 years. Last night in anticipation of the coming Blizzard, I went back to the analog proof sheets, pulled the negative, unfroze the image, and brought it back to life. What did Diane Arbus say? - "I really believe there are things which nobody would see unless I photographed them."