Cumberbatch prefers the hows to the whys of acting, and he found a kindred spirit in Meryl Streep, his co-star in this fall’s August: Osage County. “I asked her how she approached the multiple layers of her part,” says Cumberbatch. “And she said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t have a process. It changes with every job, doesn’t it?’ And I thought, Oh, thank God, to hear her say it. This whole thing about technique or method? It’s bullshit. People say, ‘Oh, you’re so precise.’ But within that I work very hard to give every part a heartbeat. I learned a lot from just watching Meryl in repose. It was a bit like a Sherlock deduction actually.
My cousin Helen, who is in her 90s now, was in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She and a bunch of the girls in the ghetto had to do sewing each day. And if you were found with a book, it was an automatic death penalty. She had gotten hold of a copy of ‘Gone With the Wind’, and she would take three or four hours out of her sleeping time each night to read. And then, during the hour or so when they were sewing the next day, she would tell them all the story. These girls were risking certain death for a story. And when she told me that story herself, it actually made what I do feel more important. Because giving people stories is not a luxury. It’s actually one of the things that you live and die for.
Ivanovo detstvo/Ivan’s Childhood (1962, Andrei Tarkovsky)
The complexly choreographed sequence involving Masha’s encounter with Kholin in the birch forest is one of the most iconic shots in cinema, symbolizing the need for help in hard times, a moment of connection above the void, a desperate act of human contact. The camera tracks their movements at a distance before joining them, finally, in a strange, low-angle embrace over a small trench. The shot begins from a low point of view, and then, when Masha tries to jump over the ditch and is intercepted by Kholin, who holds her in the air and kisses her, the camera goes down below ground level and records the scene from within the ditch, to soon thereafter rise sharply up and continue rolling at eye level with the characters. (1, 2)
cinematographer eigil bryld on designing a uniform look for ‘house of cards’ with director david fincher:
fincher’s ground rules included “no steadicam, no handheld and no zoom lenses.” […] “to a great extent, moves are on the dolly or the boom. we wanted to use the space more so people would grow larger in the frame or move away and get smaller. we went for a more composed look; even though we had very shallow focus, we tried to create deep compositions all the time to add a sense of drama and power, and the 2:1 aspect ratio really helped with that.”
the entire show was shot on arri/zeiss master primes, mostly the 27mm and 35mm. ”we used longer lenses at times for close-ups, but we never wanted the sense of space to disappear,” says bryld.”
zoe barnes gets three sizes of coverage in the scene above, each inching higher and closer to the eyeline.
also, the A and B cameras are usually kept very close, often stacked one on top of the other. ”we typically had one camera doing a low-angle wide over and the other doing a tight over,” says bryld. continuity is key. ”if you have perfect continuity, i think it almost creates a hypnotic universe, like you’re almost experiencing something in real time. in fincher’s world, you have to respect space and time, and two cameras help with that.”
this is so good