This conversation got started when I, a long-time critic of director Tom Hooper, posted a link that lambasted the cinematography of Hooper’s films. Søren didn’t see the issue, and defended Hooper. The debate touched on director Nicolas Winding Refn, whom Søren found much more visually irritating than Hooper, as well as whether or not interesting cinematography is as important to some films as it is to others.
Some people don’t understand why I think so poorly of The King’s Speech and Les Misérables. Hopefully this great post, which applies Tom Hooper’s awful filmmaking style to beloved movies, will help to explain it.
I never saw Les Mis, but I still don’t get the hate for The King’s Speech. I love that movie. And I think his cinematography was unremarkable enough that I barely noticed it at all in that movie. Also I think this article, while cute and perhaps illustrative of his technique in a more tangible form, is kind of misguided.
All movies look dumb when shot in the style of other famous films. You could make this same exact piece using Ozu as your scapegoat. If every movie was shot in the style of Tokyo Story, that’d be pretty dumb, too. But Tokyo Story was meant to be shot in that style, so it’s fine for that particular story. I guess my question is, what is it about these choice that upsets you?
Side Note: Eternal Sunshine doesn’t look all that different, even if the Dutch angle isn’t organic to the original film.
These choices upset me because they are dumb in all but a few circumstances, and those circumstances never pop up in Hooper’s films. I mean look at this sh*t. That is inexcusable. What is the framing of that shot even supposed to signify? Or this one? Why? There is no reasonable justification for squishing Colin Firth into the corner of the frame. And he keeps doing it. Why would you frame a shot like that? And that’s not even touching the endless, pointless dutch angles.
It’s not that “all movies look dumb when shot in the style of other famous films.” It’s that this style is ugly and awful in almost ANY film, and Hooper applies it to stories as disparate as In The Loop, The King’s Speech, and Les Mis. It’s not just lazy. I mean, it is lazy, but it’s worse than that. It’s bad filmmaking done with the intention of faking artistry. I doubt he put no thought into framing those shots that way. No, he did it with the thought of, “Man, this looks really different! This should get people to think I’m an auteur!” And maybe that’s unfair, but I can’t think of another explanation.
Well those shots all seem to follow the Rule of Thirds (2/3 empty space, 1/3 Colin Firth/Russell Crowe). That’s a classic motif in photography/art. For my part, I find nothing overtly wrong with those shots. I felt like they gave The King’s Speech some character, if anything. But like I said, the camerawork really didn’t stick out to me one way or another. Also, what do you mean, In The Loop? Do you mean the Armando Iannucci film?
Sorry, my bad. I was thinking of The Damned United, got them confused. And I disagree about the rule of thirds thing, because I had that thought initially as well. As we both know, framing a shot using the rule of thirds is meant to organize all the elements in the frame in a grid. But the shots I linked don’t have any visual elements other than the heads of the actors. The rest of the frame is empty.
My point with linking those was to show that Hooper is showing us nothing by framing the shots that way, and he’s breaking the most fundamental rule of cinematography for no reason whatsoever. It’s not like he’s showing us anything else by squishing his actors into the corner. The rest of the frame is just… empty walls. I guess you’re right that those shots gave The King’s Speech some character beyond the typical staid biopic. But they came at the expense of basic filmmaking logic. Same thing with the weird, out-of-place dutch angles and endless close-ups in Les Mis.