2015movielist

This is Part 2 of 2. Read part 1 here.

In 2015 I watched a lot of movies. If everything is a remix, it’s important to know what’s come before you. Now to give you some backstory, I’ve always watched a lot of movies. I’ve seen almost every Action/Adventure movie ever released. Netflix is usually pitching me old westerns and WWII movies because that’s the only thing I haven’t seen. I also have a great weakness for British movies and especially British TV drama. One other thing is that weekly I get together with friends and usually we watch terrible movies and cry out to the ceiling “HOW DID THIS GET MADE?!?!”

Discoveries: (about myself, about storytelling, etc)

  • 2015 was the year that I sought out Horror movies. In 2014 I saw an article with the 10 Most Horrifying Movies of All Time and found out that I’d seen 7 of them – including #1 Martyrs
  • There is So. Much. Content. About mid-year I adjusted some personal rules on ratings. If the movie didn’t have at least 3 stars (out of 5) or a rotten tomatoes score over 50% (unless I was morbidly curious – like I am for Saving Christmas) I didn’t make time.
  • I paid a lot of attention to editing transitions. What are the pieces that an editor puts together to move us from INT. LIVING ROOM NIGHT to EXT SAN FRANCISCO – DAY ESTABLISH?

Part way through the year, I learned of an exercise that John McTernan would do. I’ll let him explain.

I worked for Ján Kadár, the great Czech filmmaker. If you read Hemingway, half of the information you get is in this style of how he tells you, his prose style. It’s not literally the events he recounts, it’s how he recounts them, which appears to be obsessively simple in nature. There’s a hint to what people are thinking, but he doesn’t go off into these vast internal monologues. That’s what Jan’s style was like. He used to make me sit down and learn movies shot-for-shot. And we’d watch films by some great masters, like Kubrick and Fellini and Jan would say “See! Look what he did wrong there! That’s wrong! Do you understand why it’s wrong?” And I’d say ‘What’s wrong with it? It’s a nice shot.’ “No, no,” Jan would say, “visually, it’s out of key.” He had a whole sense that you had to approach filmmaking like you were composing a piece of music. It wasn’t about making a translation from a literary source. To decide what the next note is in a piece of music, you don’t think about the plot, or what it means, you think about: what does it sound like? Is it in the right rhythm, the right key? So the montage in a film needs to be in the same key, and if you’re going to change key, you’d better transpose it into the other key, as if you were composing a concerto. In color and lighting also, there are visual melodies. It’s weird because I’m sort of known as an “action guy,” who gets 10,000 machine guns and blows things up. But I cut my teeth on very esoteric European films. Maybe what Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop (1987), Starship Troopers (1997)) and I did was to take the technology that the Europeans developed in the 60’s and started applying it to mass market American movies. Paul has an expressive narrator in that his camera is an active, expressive person. I think it’s a very angry, very fiery person. If you think about American films before the European influence in the 1960’s, there was no active narrator. With a few exceptions, the camera just photographed the action and didn’t really have a distinctive voice of its own.

I started doing that with same thing with sequences and movies that I loved and scenes that stuck out to me. Here’s a few examples of my terrible story boards and overhead camera set ups for 12 Angry Men, The Usual Suspects and Pulp Fiction.

Photo 2

Photo 1

Photo 1 1

This was incredibly rewarding and helped (along with the transition piece) to help build scenes and once compared with the scripts to see the choices of Sidney Lumet, Brian Singer and Quentin Tarantino (as noted above) in both blocking but also showing camera movement. This was an incredibly rewarding exercise and I imagine I’ll do this forever.

What did I learn?

I think it comes down to a few things:

  • Building my story chops by breaking things down. For the most part we judge movies or stories as a whole but I think it’s important to understand how they move and function individually. To really understand those that have gone before me – what are the movies that inspired the men and women who inspire me to create? How can I watch them with appreciation and see the same magic they did?
  • Also, understanding the bones, muscle and sinew of a scene can only help in the advertising game as well. We’ve all seen those videos that make us roll our eyes because they’re awful. With continued prep like this, I can see what’s come before and try to innovate.
  • Shots convey ideas and help us as a viewer to identify or be repulsed by a character. Just ask Tony Zhou. Learning how to build a scene, emphasize certain lines or a change in character, I think, can be the difference in being a good or great filmmaker.

I’m always open to movie recommendations… so if you have them, please comment them or talk to me on social media.

xoxo,

Dan

 

And, without further adieu, the list.

  1. Inherent Vice
  2. Imitation Game
  3. Galaxy Quest
  4. Working Girl
  5. Birdman
  6. American Sniper
  7. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
  8. French Connection
  9. Great Expectations – BBC
  10. Clear and Present Danger
  11. Earth to Echo
  12. Lucy
  13. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (animated)
  14. Neighbors
  15. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
  16. Let the Right One In
  17. Automata
  18. The Imitation Game (again)
  19. The Road To El Dorado (animated)
  20. Hondo
  21. Big Hero 6
  22. Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead 2
  23. The Judge
  24. Annabelle
  25. The Running Man
  26. The Hobbit (Tolkien Edit)
  27. 13th Warrior
  28. Snatch
  29. Freezing Hot – Iliza Schlesinger
  30. The Interview
  31. Patton Oswalt – Tragedy + Comedy = Time
  32. War of The Worlds: Goliath (Anime)
  33. FEBRUARY – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Day
  34. Hannibal
  35. Mr. Turner
  36. Special screening of doc on Kenya – Oyee??
  37. The Theory of Everything
  38. Halloween Resurrection
  39. Friday the 13th
  40. Starship Troopers
  41. King Arthur
  42. Scream 4
  43. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2012)
  44. He’s Just not That Into You
  45. The Other Woman
  46. Focus
  47. Fluffy World – Gabriel Iglesias (stand up)
  48. MARCH Star Trek 2 (The original Khan)
  49. Star Trek 3
  50. Star Trek 4
  51. Indie Game
  52. Dracula Untold
  53. The Last Starfighter
  54. War Games
  55. Exodus: Gods and Kings
  56. Insurgent
  57. Snatch
  58. X-Men: Days of Futures Past
  59. APRIL – Batman vs Robin (2015)
  60. Fast and furious 7
  61. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  62. Brotherhood of Blades (China)
  63. Showrunner
  64. Avengers
  65. Shaun of the Dead
  66. Your Sister’s Sister
  67. Let’s be Cops
  68. The One I Love
  69. Jupiter Ascending
  70. Seventh Son
  71. MAY – Kingsmen: The Secret Service
  72. Tammy
  73. Avengers Age of Ultron (x2)
  74. Blackhat
  75. Mad Max : Fury Road
  76. Big Hero 6
  77. Road to Perdition
  78. Chappie
  79. 300: Rise of an Empire
  80. Jurassic Park
  81. This Is Where I Leave You
  82. Oceans’ Eleven
  83. JUNE – Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
  84. Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays
  85. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  86. Lego Movie
  87. Godzilla (2014)
  88. Zombeavers
  89. The Lost Boys
  90. Pacific Rim
  91. Empire Strikes Back
  92. Pitch Black
  93. Hot Girls Wanted (doc)
  94. Inglorious Basterds
  95. Get Hard
  96. Expelled from Paradise (anime)
  97. Point Break
  98. Star Trek: Into Darkness
  99. Tomorrowland
  100. Jurassic World
  101. X-Men: The Last Stand
  102. The Gathering Storm
  103. Into the Storm
  104. Life Itself
  105. Star Trek Nemesis
  106. JULY – Hunt for Red October
  107. Team America
  108. Contact
  109. Inside Out
  110. The Relic
  111. Mission Impossible
  112. John Wick
  113. Conan The Barbarian
  114. 12 Angry Men
  115. Kingdom of Heaven
  116. Maltese Falcon
  117. Terminator: Genisys
  118. High Fidelity
  119. Ant-Man
  120. Scott Pilgrim Vs the World
  121. Tig – A Netflix Documentary
  122. They Came Together
  123. The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Studio Ghibli doc)
  124. Chris Tucker: LIVE
  125. Horrible Bosses 2
  126. Death Proof
  127. X-Men Days of Future Past Rogue Cut
  128. The Usual Suspects
  129. Mr. Holmes
  130. AUGUST Ant-Man (again)
  131. Captain America Winter Soldier
  132. Michael Clayton
  133. The Fountain
  134. Kill Me Three Times
  135. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  136. Aloha
  137. Guardians of the Galaxy
  138. Home
  139. Whiplash (finally!)
  140. Selma
  141. Big Hero 6
  142. The last Survivors
  143. The Guest
  144. Hatchet 3
  145. Demetri Martin: Live (at the time)
  146. America in Bed
  147. The Incredibles
  148. Wild Card
  149. Silence of the Lambs
  150. Tig Notaro – Boyish Girl Interrupted
  151. Nightmare on Elm Street
  152. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
  153. SEPTEMBER – Infini
  154. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
  155. Guardians of the Galaxy
  156. Manhunter (Michael Mann)
  157. Avengers
  158. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  159. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  160. Thor
  161. Captain America: The First Avenger
  162. Captain America: Winter Soldier
  163. Iron Man 3
  164. Black Mass
  165. Highlander
  166. Alien
  167. Thor: The Dark World
  168. OCTOBER – Calvary
  169. Jurassic World
  170. Unbroken
  171. The Dark Knight
  172. The Martian
  173. Iron Man
  174. Dope
  175. Crimson Peak
  176. The Final Girls
  177. Return of the Jedi
  178. Back to the Future 3
  179. Star Trek (2009)
  180. NOVEMBER – Hercules
  181. Making of The Thing (doc on John carpenters movie)
  182. Wild Bill (1996)
  183. Peanuts: The Movie
  184. Inside out
  185. Terminator: Genysis
  186. God is not Dead (Holy Gamoley!!)
  187. Bridge of Spies
  188. The Godfather
  189. Insomnia
  190. Samurai Cop
  191. Left Behind (whoa)
  192. DECEMBER Electric Boogaloo
  193. Chaos on the Bridge
  194. Chasing Tyson (doc)
  195. The Ridiculous 6
  196. Kingsman
  197. Avatar
  198. Straight Outta Compton
  199. Unforgiven
  200. The Good Dinosaur
  201. Sleepy Hollow
  202. Tomorrow Never Dies
  203. The Mask of Zorro
  204. Steve Jobs
  205. The Rock
  206. The Departed
  207. The 40 year old virgin
  208. The Force Awakens
  209. The Intern
  210. The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials
  211. Sicario
  212. Star Wars episode 2
  213. Star Wars episode 3
  214. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  215. Hoffa
  216. Interstellar
  217. Legend (Tom Hardy)
  218. Tales from the Script
  219. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang
  220. Die Hard
  221. The Revenant
  222. The Hateful Eight
  223. In The Heart Of The Sea
  224. Trainwreck
  225. Never-ending Story
  226. The Mist
  227. Kramer vs Kramer
  228. Spotlight
  229. The Big Short
  230. Suffragette

 

 

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