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The Knick (Soderbergh on Cinemax)

Mel · 56 · 10497

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max from fearless

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Reply #15 on: August 17, 2014, 05:20:45 AM
Episodes 1&2 - possible spoilers

Just from viewing the first 2 episodes, I feel that this is the best thing Soderbergh has done in a long long time. The characters are great, and it's definitely more of a ensemble piece. Boogie Nights is coming to mind (as well as Altman) as the second episode gives us a little more insight into the character's individual lives outside of the Knick, and all the secrets and hardships that come with it. The way race was dealt with in Episode 2, was pretty incredible. From the overt/subvert racism, assimilation and the dynamic/friction between working class blacks and middle class blacks, and the way Dr. Edwards circumvents the system and makes his own lane in a creepy cellar. It'll be great to see how that particular storyline plays out.

The intercutting of race and class in the first sequence of episode two is great writing and great editing.

Also loved how Gender is being dealt with, just the look that Cornelia's mum gives her at the breakfast table at the end of the scene, laced with jealousy, as if to say: you should know your place. I think that's whats coming through for me, how characters are wrestling with their new stations in life or the place others think they should inhabit and not leave. Whether it's Cornelia, Edwards or Thackery, who deals with the weight of his new position/job by numbing himself out.

The actors are pretty great. I'm loving the mix of new faces and some old faces who don't get enough shine, READ: CARA SEYMOUR!!! The sound design and music are also very strong. Loved how the score was slightly more downtempo in EP2. The music and camera work give you this real strong, You Are Here Now, immediacy. The lighting is lovely. From the wards, washed out in white to the dark, cavern like lighting of offices and cellars to the red/pink/florescent opium den. And I agree, Mel, I think the ambient/natural sounds are really well used (the lights flickering on and off in EP2, the electricity being powered up and then the little fire) and gives you a real sense of the time and place which is distorted by the contemporary feel of the characters, themes and score. I can't talk much about the operating scenes, mainly because I have to turn away sometimes. But they are full on and gory, without being at all gratuitous. The roaming camera and the lenses are creating this super immersive look and feeling.

The strange tone of this thing is enchanting and I can't quite put my finger on why but that's one of the reasons, I'm watching episodes more than once, to pick up on the mood and vibe of it and the cinema of it. Some shots and beats, I can't shake. Like the doctor soaking his beard in water in the first episode, actually all the hand washing rituals. The way how everyone enters work in the second episode. Edwards waking up in the second episode. Thackery's horse and carriage sequence at the start of episode one.

Really enjoying this show.....and Soderbergh: directing, shooting and editing is knocking it out the park....


Mel

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Reply #16 on: August 17, 2014, 01:14:11 PM
Discussion about episode one with Michael Begler - writer of "The Knick":



Some highlights: origins of characters - Halsted, practical special effects used in operation scenes, why they decided to write about private and not public hospital, difference between USA and Europe at the time, when it comes to racial issues, usage of modern language in the show.

Spoilers 1x02

Just some minor thought about characters.

Dr. Edwards helping the women - at first I perceived it as a much more altruistic gesture. He used cocaine on her, just after seeing similar procedure few days ago.

Barrow - what a weasel. I kinda enjoyed seeing him struggle, yet I like character so far.

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max from fearless

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Reply #17 on: August 17, 2014, 02:21:57 PM
Thanks for that Mel, that was a real cool discussion. I especially like all the historical background info.

And yeah, it was fun seeing Barrow get roughed up.

The Knick Tumblr - with lots of cool historical photos, making of bits, and gifs

http://htl.li/AnU3v


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Reply #18 on: August 18, 2014, 09:10:53 AM
Thanks for the tumblr link - great to see the transformation of the exteriors
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max from fearless

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Reply #19 on: August 20, 2014, 09:55:44 AM
Cliff Martinez On Scoring the Most Hypnotic Show on TV

http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/the-knick-the-most-hypnotic-show-on-television-the-score?utm_term=3as95bh#hlzqu6

Especially loving the track "Son of placenta previa." Dope.


max from fearless

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Reply #20 on: August 29, 2014, 11:36:29 AM
Spoilers for Ep3...

Ok, after this episode, I fear things are moving a bit too fast.

I loved the total tone shift of the first couple of scenes. It felt a bit like another show, seeing another side of Thackery. But then later in the episode: Thackery acknowledging the nurse's optimism/idealism and making a decision to operate on the child, I don't know if I bought it...I did love the shot of Clive Owen considering the phrase the nurse coined. That shot and his performance were great. I just don't know if I bought the character beat.

Also, sure, we knew Edward's new enterprise was gonna slip up, but did it have to happen so fast? Him taking it out on the guy at the bar and trying to elevate himself, great stuff...(class/superiority/taking shit out on the guy beneath you, etc)

But the way the fight scene was shot, I'm not so sure. Took me out the episode.

Score wise, it felt mellower and less experimental than previous episodes. I'm gonna watch it again, but it felt slightly rushed and lacked some of the attention to mood, vibe and deathly aromas that I'd previously enjoyed. I guess we'll know more with the next episode. Still a very dope show, but maybe this was the weakest episode thus far?



diggler

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Reply #21 on: September 01, 2014, 09:35:24 PM
The missing nose was pretty astonishing effects work, however they did it. I'm getting wrapped up in the Edwards story the most. Thackery is still a bit on the nose with the "antihero with demons" tropes, so I enjoyed seeing him get a positive character moment. The first episode set a very bleak tone, it's nice to know the show won't be all doom and gloom. The fight scene worked for me, I love how playful he's being with the cinematography.
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Mel

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Reply #22 on: September 06, 2014, 07:42:41 AM
Discussion about episode three with Jack Amiel - writer of "The Knick":



Highlights: it is hard to describe it, since discussion drifts from background and details for characters to historical tidbits. Not really focused on episode three, maybe beside the nose.
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Mel

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Reply #23 on: September 22, 2014, 01:49:13 PM
Discussion about episode four with Chris Sullivan - Tom Cleary the ambulance driver



Discussion about episode five with Steve Katz - writer of "The Knick"



I liked episode five a lot, but I just love episode six - I seen some scenes few times over. I heckled some board members for calling other shows the next "Breaking Bad", then I think of "The Knick" as new "Deadwood". It is very thematic, to the point of obscuring medical drama and even arcs of characters. Almost every character is intoxicated with something. Joy comes from small happy moments, that are constantly contrasted with something bleak or awful. Quotes from Shakespeare here and there and why drug dealer is called Wu?
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max from fearless

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Reply #24 on: September 22, 2014, 02:47:43 PM
Warning. The following is slightly spoilerish...

Mel, I also loved episode 6. I felt the show hit it's stride. Thackery's obsession with making the future, how that impacts the child birth operations (mirrored by the death of the doctor's child) and how it impacts Edwards. The scenes I re-watched and may watch again, were Thackery's discovery (with the whores and Bertie - i loved the staging of the scene, how the characters watched each other, Bertie lingering over the cab as it left) Thackery and Bertie's successful operation and Thackery's discovery of Edward's enterprise (and progress) and there deal and that final, brutal scene with Cornelia.

The title of the epsiode 'Start Calling Me Dad" kind of applies to a lot of the relationships explored in this episode, in a surrogate father/mentor/older man relationship with a younger woman, kinda way - Thackery and Bertie, Thackery and Edwards, Thackery and Lucy, Dr Gallinger and the baby girl he may adopt to save his wife's sanity and lastly, the final encounter between Cornelia and her soon to be father in law.

Which brings me to your Deadwood comparison. Firstly, I agree, in regards to themes and character obsessions. But also, didn't this scene remind you a bit of the scene where Hearst threatens/nearly rapes Alma Garrett in her room, in the last season of the show? The looming threat of male domination/violence/subjugation and in relation to a transaction be it gold or marriage/money being lent between families. This time it was Cornelia with her back against the wall. I definitely felt the echoes/parallels and I felt for Cornelia big-time. Lastly, the score at the end of that scene/this episode and over the credits was the best music that I've heard on the show thus far. Overall, a stellar episode.

 


Mel

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Reply #25 on: September 23, 2014, 01:16:33 AM
Spoilers 1x06

Mel, I also loved episode 6. I felt the show hit it's stride. Thackery's obsession with making the future, how that impacts the child birth operations (mirrored by the death of the doctor's child) and how it impacts Edwards. The scenes I re-watched and may watch again, were Thackery's discovery (with the whores and Bertie - i loved the staging of the scene, how the characters watched each other, Bertie lingering over the cab as it left) Thackery and Bertie's successful operation and Thackery's discovery of Edward's enterprise (and progress) and there deal and that final, brutal scene with Cornelia.

Pacing and rhythm of episode was great. Even more impressive, since there is so much editing, to the point of montage (everything is cut mid-way) e.g. doctor in clinic picking up phone, cuts to Bertie storming the doors, Thackery picking two phials of dope cuts to scrubbing, in theater steps of operations are shown, it cuts to napping Bertie. Energy of the scene is often enlarged by documentary-like camera work: hand-held following the characters - good example of that is opening with Thackery and Bertie.

Which brings me to your Deadwood comparison. Firstly, I agree, in regards to themes and character obsessions. But also, didn't this scene remind you a bit of the scene where Hearst threatens/nearly rapes Alma Garrett in her room, in the last season of the show? The looming threat of male domination/violence/subjugation and in relation to a transaction be it gold or marriage/money being lent between families. This time it was Cornelia with her back against the wall. I definitely felt the echoes/parallels and I felt for Cornelia big-time.

I didn't think of that - there was so much of that in Deadwood. The most powerful scenes that comes to my mind is where Al pinched little girl and Jane just falls apart. What surprised me was downbeat ending of the episode. This episode of "The Knick" could just end up with Thackery and Edwards shaking hands. Instead Cornelia's tackle on Typhoid Mary is overshadowed by very dark moment.

Lastly, the score at the end of that scene/this episode and over the credits was the best music that I've heard on the show thus far. Overall, a stellar episode.

Part of the reason why I enjoyed music much more is that score in no longer a novelty. I became used to it and instead of being constantly surprised, my focus is elsewhere.
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Mel

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Reply #26 on: September 27, 2014, 04:21:16 PM
Oh jolly! Pace of the episode is just crazy.

I've seen episode twice and took some notes:

Spoilers 1x07
  • Cameo of Halsted - they don't hide it (it did feel more important than Edison or Typhoid Mary, when it comes to historic figures)
  • Tracheotomy - fill my pipe
  • Gallinger is underdog now - I was crossing fingers for him, quick change
  • Bertie doing operation on his own from notes - becoming his own man, gaining confidance
  • Riots
  • Outdoor shots - plenty of them compared to previous episodes
  • All reviling their secrets: underground operation room of Edwards, cocaine stash of Thackery, hidden love of Cornelia
  • Double puncher at the end of episode - reviling  one secret would be enough
  • Saved equipment from underground probably will come handy
  • Sister Harriet taking the ground
  • Under the raps shot with Edwards
  • Interposition of the cuts
  • Nurse seeing good in the Thackery followed by flirt (almost dancing back and forth)
  • Fucking music (actual note)
  • Last sex scene being happy and very sad at the same moment

End of spoilers

Discussion about episode six with Michael Angarano - Bertie from "The Knick"

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max from fearless

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Reply #27 on: September 27, 2014, 05:59:30 PM
Ok, here are some of my thoughts from a second viewing of EP 7. Which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Spoilers follow:


The pacing was furious: A lot of scenes open with (low angle) long-take shots, covering a lot of action and giving this episode the dynamic pulse it requires.

The shot of Edwards in his room, dogs barking in the background. Brought to mind those signs: 'No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs'.

Going in and out of rooms with the lovers. First with Nurse Elkins and Thackery when the policeman dies, the camera goes out with her as she scrambles to find equipment, (Thack can be seen through the window) and then back with her into the room  with the patient. This is kind-of mirrored when Cornelia and Edwards return to his underground hospital to see what damage has been done: the camera follows Edwards, then goes back onto Cornelia as she goes through a door and into another room which Edwards meets her in, using another entrance.

THE RIOTS...

Under the raps with Edwards HOLD HOLD HOLD - ups the stakes, great way to play the scene with all the dialogue off-screen.

The arm being severed off.

HOLDING ON Thack as the lack of cocaine is brought up and he sacrifices his personal stash, Elkins out of focus the whole time. Nifty foreshadowing...

HOLDING ON Nurse Elkins as Thack closes the front door, comes out of the shadows, looks like a painting. The lighting. Staging. Timing. Her directing him and then her question and HIS answer. Where will this lead?

Cornelia wanting to go back with Edwards and then HOLDING ON Nurse Elkins for a long long time as Thack speaks off-screen (maybe the second longest hold after the shot of Edwards under wraps) and she makes the decision to not get her bicycle.

The last sex scene, ripping off Nic Roeg's sex scene from 'Don't Look Now'. Soderbergh ripped this off in 'Out of Sight' but surpasses that here, due to the complexity of Nurse Elkin's experience.

Gallinger power-playing Bertie in the operating room, Bertie then striking back and supporting Edwards new invention, when Gallinger expects him to rally together against Edwards. Bertie steps up (also doing the operation alone from notes)

Sister Harriet helping the patients inside and out.

Cleary pulling the ambulance truck through the streets.

The comedy in this episode. A lot of one liner's:
Thack to the lady in the opium den: "Fill my pipe"
Cornelia to Sears mum: "That's the spirit"
Cornelia to Barrow when he snarks about not knowing about the underground facility: "Maybe they're looking harder"
Harriet to a rioter who wants to hurt a black man under her protection:
"You didn't even know the man"

Barrow going back to make sure his 'woman' is ok and finding her in a compromising position.

Questions: Underground hospital will come of use? The episode was The Avengers styled episode of The Knick, everyone had to work together, secrets were revealed, will this be expanded on or will the characters be isolated again? Or will they split: Thack and the Nurse. Edwards and Cornelia...are Edwards and Cornelia going to get HURT?


max from fearless

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Reply #28 on: September 29, 2014, 04:15:18 PM
I'm in full agreement with the following, this is some of the best work Soderbergh has done...

http://www.vulture.com/2014/09/steven-soderbergh-the-knick-directing-race-riot.html

Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick (Vulture)
By Matt Zoller Seitz

Let’s take a moment to appreciate what we’re watching when we watch The Knick: the greatest sustained display of directorial virtuosity in the history of American TV, courtesy of the show’s primary and thus far only director, Steven Soderbergh.

The seventh episode of this Cinemax drama, which aired on Friday, is one of the most exciting, horrifying, beautiful, and clever hours of filmmaking I’ve seen this year—and that’s saying a lot, considering how great the year has been. The show is created and written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, and set in and around the titular hospital circa 1900. This episode, “Get a Rope,” shows what happens when an incident of racial violence touches off a wave of vigilantism, pitting African-Americans against Irish-Americans and plunging the neighborhood into chaos. 

“Get a Rope” contains many harrowing setpieces, starting with the inciting incident (an off-duty Irish cop mistakes a black woman for a prostitute, scuffles with her boyfriend, then gets stabbed and taken to Knickerbocker Hospital) and continuing through the inevitable escalation. When I watched “Get a Rope” the first time, it seemed almost unbearably brutal, but on second viewing, I was struck by how Soderbergh had pulled a Hitchcock or Spielberg, never showing us as much as we think he’s showing us. The initial stabbing and a subsequent scene of a white mob dragging a black man off a bicycle are filmed from a distance (which makes them more horrifying even though, or perhaps because, the direction isn’t rubbing your face in gore).

When we see shots of African-Americans being battered by a white mob, the camera tracks the action laterally through a chain-link fence in the foreground. The fence creates a kind of “scrim” effect: You see the gist of the horror, but not every detail. The fence bit consists of three acts of violence that last about 12 seconds total, but they’re so ugly that 12 seconds is all Soderbergh needs to get the point across. Even the most prolonged moments of savagery, such as a fight in a hospital hallway and a scene of a prone man being kicked, are shot so as to obscure the bloody details. I wouldn’t call this approach “tasteful,” exactly. There’s a touch of the documentary to it; it’s journalistic, perhaps cold. It’s unflinching, but not exploitive. It feels right.

But there’s more to this episode’s great direction than adroit handling of brutality. About 21 minutes into the episode, there’s a marvelous example of how to lay out geography, ratchet up tension, and advance the plot, all at the same time: A group of doctors and nurses in the main operating theater barricade a door against the mob, which then shatters the door glass and pushes through. This frightening moment is conveyed with one shot that pans from the hospital staff, screen right, to the mob, screen left, and back again.

It’s worth noting here that a good deal of The Knick’s coiled power — conveyed not just in this episode, but in all of them — derives from Soderbergh’s economy. He directs the way Joan Didion writes. He often seems to be challenging himself to see how little he can get away with and still give the audience the information it needs to make sense of a moment. He never covers the action in a scene with ten or 15 angles when just one or two will suffice. If you rewatch pretty much any episode, you might be struck by how many moments play out in just one take — and I’m not talking about showily choreographed long takes, where the entire point is to wow the audience into realizing how much is going on in the scene, how many moving parts it has, and how daring it is to convey it all without cuts. That “wow” factor is what made the six-minute tracking shot at the end of the fourth episode of True Detective, and the warehouse shootout in episode six of Fargo, so pleasurable (I mentioned both here). But for the most part, Soderbergh is doing what film geeks call a “stealth oner” — a one-take scene that’s so subtly executed that you may not notice the lack of cuts until you watch it a second time.

An example of a stealth oner can be found in the second episode, “Mr. Paris Shoes”: the scene in which Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) and other hospital staffers argue in a ward while newly installed electric lights flicker. The camera follows the staffers from bed to bed, weaving among them with a dancerlike grace, the tension building until Thackery blows his stack and attacks a fuse box. In his recap, my colleague Keith Uhlich called it “sublime.” It is, but there’s more sublime direction where that came from. Episode seven contains several more instances. One is the moment where Dr. Algernon (André Holland) hides under a gurney surrounded by a sheet while traveling through an unfamiliar neighborhood, and we hear Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) talk her way past a cop: We hear the exchange but don’t see it, and the camera remains on Algernon for the length of the scene (about a minute). The episode ends with two elegant but rather spare love scenes. One consists of a very long shot illuminated by a single lightbulb (Algernon cozying up to his boss and childhood friend, Julet Rylance’s Corneila Robinson); it moves from a wide shot to a couple of close-ups along different axes, the camera getting closer to the characters as the characters get closer to each other. The second love scene starts with Thackery and Elkins entering Elkins’s apartment building, builds with a faintly McCabe and Mrs. Miller–like shot of Thackery and Elkins in front of Elkins’s makeup mirror lit only by an oil lamp, then, ahem, climaxes with a modified version of the “before and after” montage from Soderbergh’s 1998 classic Out of Sight (itself an homage to the love scene in Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now). The first love scene is dominated by a shot that goes on for about three minutes without a cut. The second love scene is busier, by Knick standards, but there aren’t a lot of different angles: The episode keeps returning to the same ones, intertwining them via judicious editing, building it into a memory anchored to Hewson’s expressions.

I don’t mean to diminish other great directors’ work on TV. In fact, as I’ve written many times for New York and Vulture, TV has always been hospitable to smart and/or inventive filmmakers, perhaps more so recently than in the past. There have been many examples of excellent direction in recent years — I highlighted just a few of them in a 2013 magazine piece — as well as examples of filmmakers directing several consecutive episodes of a TV series. The most acclaimed recent run happened on HBO’s True Detective, all eight episodes of which were helmed by Cary Fukanaga.

But what Soderbergh is doing here goes above and beyond because it’s a feat of multitasking and physical endurance as well as artistry. He did not just direct all ten episodes of the show’s first season, which would be impressive in itself. According to Cinemax, it takes about seven work days to shoot an episode of The Knick (fewer than most dramas), which means Soderbergh is directing and editing for 70 days without any significant break. He also serves, under the pseudonym Peter Andrews, as its cinematographer (overseeing lighting, composition, and camera movement) and its main camera operator. A great percentage of the time, when you see the camera moving with the actors, it’s usually Soderbergh holding it; there is sometimes a second camera getting another angle, but Soderbergh is always the primary. When the production wraps each day, he assembles a rough edit of everything the crew shot, and eventually does the fine cut himself; the show’s editing credit, Mary Ann Bernard, is another Soderbergh pseudonym. This is not how things are usually done, at least not at the level of a lavishly detailed pay-cable period piece. There are other people doing all of these jobs, under the supervision of the showrunners, who tend to identify themselves as writers rather than as directors.

Soderbergh told me recently that a lot of the show’s simplicity is driven by time and budget constraints. They’re working on a tight schedule and have to shoot a lot of script pages every day, so they don’t have the luxury of shooting things five different ways and deciding later which one they like the best. The use of compact, high-definition, light-sensitive digital cameras allows Soderbergh to shoot with one or two visible light sources, often of fairly low wattage, and achieve naturalistic lighting effects that Stanley Kubrick spent a fortune on when shooting the visually similar Barry Lyndon (the first movie with interiors shot entirely by candlelight) on 35mm film 40 years ago. I’m almost reluctant to convey all that information here, though, because it might make it sound as if what Soderbergh is doing is easy. It’s really not. That fusebox scene I mentioned earlier is so complex, in terms of choreography, that a lot of period shows and films would set aside a day to block it, rehearse it, and shoot it. Soderbergh did it in two hours, from start to finish. You can’t work that fast and get such great results unless you’re absorbed in your craft so fully that it has become instinctive, in the way that a painter’s brushstrokes are instinctive, or a great basketball player’s moves are instinctive. At some point, intelligence becomes physical. The eyes and hands are just taking dictation from the subconscious. That, I suspect, is the level at which Soderbergh is operating now, 25 years after the premiere of his first feature, sex, lies, and videotape.

All of which means that when you watch The Knick, you are seeing the closest thing to an undiluted filmmaking vision as top-shelf TV drama has ever given us. Not even Louis C.K. is as hands-on as Soderbergh; he writes and edits Louie himself, but somebody else is lighting and shooting the series. The Knick is not just directed: It’s direct, in the sense that it visual sensibility is going from the filmmaker’s eyes to yours, without layers of other people as intermediaries. The camera and editing software are expressive tools as intimately connected to the artist’s mind and body as a paintbrush or a pen.

This would all be meaningless if the show’s direction were terrible or merely okay. But it’s consistently so extraordinary that after finishing episode five and seeing Soderbergh’s name flash onscreen yet again, I was reminded of a story a relative told me years ago about going to the West Side piers to watch Jackson Pollock do one of his drip canvases. Soderbergh is making art in collaboration with Amiel and Begler and their outstanding ensemble cast, but he’s also putting on a show. He’s performing, turning creative expression into a real-time display of physical assurance that’s as much an athletic event as it is an artistic one.


Mel

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Reply #29 on: September 29, 2014, 05:11:34 PM
I agree, there is so much to enjoy. I'll skip the part with long shots or out-of-frame action. Some pictures to tell the story:

How do you cut from:



To (guess that is how Barrow was feeling at the moment):



Great, painting-like framing:



Whole scene, from far-background:



Still wide shot:



Till almost close-up with very little camera movement:



Every episode/scene is filled with those gems: if not cinematography, then editing. Not to speak about sound design and music.
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