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FieldsMan
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PostSubject: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:39 am

A recent post by Film School Rejects (perhaps this is why they get their name?) suggests that the cinematography in Craig's era has been superior. With Roger Deakin's work being the standout out, a case could arguably be made for SP and maybe QOS (at least for the non-action scenes). 

However, the cinematography of the 60s Bond films all showcase excellent photography, as does the TMWTGG, TSWLM, MR, GE, TND, TWINE and DAD (sans CGI). I'd wager that CR's sterile, overly saturated cinematography is quite weak compared to the above. Curiously, they believe that CR set the standard for the next three Bond films, however SF's leisurely work (mostly in the action sequences) is a huge contrast to the Roberto Schaefer's frenetic camera work. Granted the colours and vibrancy is similar, but that in itself is a contrast to the bland work of Phil Meheux's photography of CR. There's some nice visuals in SP, but the grading of certain scenes isn't palatable (PTS and snow scenes particularly). 

Link below. In the video, CR seems to be the least referenced.
https://filmschoolrejects.com/overhaul-cinematography-james-bond-daniel-craig-era/
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lachesis
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:01 am

My top 5 from the Cinematography pov would probably be;

Moonraker, Skyfall, Thunderball, YOLT and OHMSS. CR and QoS sit pretty low on the list for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:35 pm

Skyfall is undoubtedly the most visually stunning Bond film.

Quntlicker of Solitude reeks of unearned pretensions, not to mention the deservedly maligned ADD cuts.

CR had its moments (crane sequence comes to mind) but not necessarily a series highlight.

SP has been struck from my memory, so no comment.
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FieldsMan
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:23 pm

I do like the colour palette of QOS, but the shaky cam is ridiculous. The problem with CR's photography is the sterile grading. Feels more like a generic Hollywood blockbuster and lacks atmosphere. The opening line of the novel creates a tense ambience which is traded in for clinical airport shots.
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Strangways&Quarrel
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Sat Sep 16, 2017 4:38 pm

Like CJB and lachesis have said Skyfall definitely has top notch cinematography but I find the rest of the Craig films to be a mixed bag honestly cinematography-wise. Casino Royale didn't feel all that outstanding, Quantum has awful shaky cam effects and terrible editing which make the film feel like something that was badly cut up by studio heads rather than resemble an attempt at quality filmmaking and Spectre while it wasn't lousy had tried hard to imitate Skyfall's color palette but ended up looking like a fancy beer commercial instead.

The mid-sixties to late-seventies are pretty much the sweet spot for Bond cinematography though especially with the adaptation of the 2.35 aspect ratio for the majority of the films lending to some really beautiful shots of Bond's travels which dwarfs most of Craig's output. And I also agree with FieldsMan on the opening line of Fleming's novel. All they had to do was work off of that to create the film's atmosphere but they obviously failed in that aspect.
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Salomé
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:25 pm

Roger Deakins is more or less a guarantee for the fact that, if nothing else, your movie will look great.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Sat Sep 16, 2017 9:53 pm

SPECTRE has its moments ... Bond's lake-crossing to Mr White's house, for example.
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FieldsMan
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:49 pm

Blunt Instrument wrote:
SPECTRE has its moments ... Bond's lake-crossing to Mr White's house, for example.  

I must admit I do like the opening tracking shot, and when Lucia arrives home from the funeral. Captivating and beautifully moody, respectively.

S&Q wrote:
And I also agree with FieldsMan on the opening line of Fleming's novel. All they had to do was work off of that to create the film's atmosphere but they obviously failed in that aspect.

As iconic a line as any in the world of Bond, and completely ignored in the film version. Crazy how they weren't inspired by it. Part of the allure of Fleming's Casino Royale is its ambience.
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ironpony
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:30 am

Skyfall looks great technically, but I feel it looks too much like a David Fincher movie. It has that yellow tint to it that you see so many movies going for nowadays so even though it looks great, it looks like a product of our time that most movies in Hollywood are going for, so it will not age as well in my opinion, cinematography wise.

It's one of the best looking, but not the best. I would say that YOLT, TSWLM, and GE are the best as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:21 pm

Deakins' work for SKYFALL was the best since Freddie Young's cinematography for YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. Hoyte Van Hoytema's work for SPECTRE was fine, but not as stunning as SKYFALL. The other Craig films were just OK.

Phil Méheux is an excellent DP, but I think his work for GOLDENEYE was superior. More in line with his earlier, grittier work like Alan Clarke's SCUM.
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hegottheboot
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:29 pm

No, no, no a thousand times no.
I really despise modern cinematography most of the time. Admittedly I'm an analog diehard, but I feel the digital changeover has really ruined a lot of things not to mention the fact that most everyone shoots for TV anyways. Spectre looked like a dull advertisement for menswear most of the time.

I'm not a big Deakins fan and didn't feel SF looked anything special. It looked fine, but I felt it could have looked better if had been a 35mm native shoot-and certainly wasn't a patch on any of the rest of the series.

Like virtually every other aspect the series isn't properly respected in terms of its photography. I still to this day marvel at what Ted Moore did in both spherical and scope ratios. Freddie Young made YOLT visually staggering, Michael Reed did some amazing scope work on OHMSS, Claude Renoir gave an elegance to Spy, Jean Tounier made Moonraker have an otherworldly visual quality unique to the series, Alan Hume brought a more down to earth but romantic lens, I adore Alec Mills clean and sharp work, completely agree that Meheux does his career best on GE, love what Robert Elswit did on TND, Adrian Biddle's TWINE photography is gorgeous to look at, and there are some good moments in Tatersall's DAD photography.
I think the different styles go with the times and some may not to be everyone's taste-yet it certainly shows how people have lost the ability to compose for large screens and scope. Personally I think they got a bit too over reliant on zooms in the 70's/80's though it was good when they used it for emphasis or underlining Bond's thoughts. LTK suffers in that they had to do all the work in Mexico and use different stocks along with the Mexican Kodak labs.
I'm also not a fan of how Alan Hume used softness and diffusion at times because it detracts from the sharp clear look Cubby Broccoli always intended each film to have. I haven't mentioned Oswald Morris since he took over for Ted Moore on TMWTGG but in his commentary he reveals how Cubby told him to photograph the film without diffusion, special lighting or filters because they were essentially maintaining an overall look for the series of clarity and sharpness.

Sorry to go overboard. I once did a study of each cinematographer and what they brought to the series and ever since have strongly identified each with how they shot 007. Not to mention some of the films were designed for large theater screens and the transfers for video don't always reflect that well.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Sun May 13, 2018 5:21 pm

I actually think Freddy Young's cinematography for You Only Live Twice is better than Roger Deakin's for Skyfall, although Skyfall is probably the second best looking film in the franchise.
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hegottheboot
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Fri May 18, 2018 11:04 am

I will say that to properly appreciate the photography of the series you must see some actual print screenings. I don't think many of the video transfers do the cinematographers justice-particularly the framing. I remember always wondering why FYEO could look so drab until I ran it on a projector and was bowled over by how well the scope compositions played out on a larger screen. The few 35mm showings I've managed to see have all been incredible-sometimes with far more vivid color than even the modern "restored" versions some of which are not very good.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Fri May 18, 2018 12:30 pm

hegottheboot wrote:

I still to this day marvel at what Ted Moore did in both spherical and scope ratios. Freddie Young made YOLT visually staggering, Michael Reed did some amazing scope work on OHMSS, Claude Renoir gave an elegance to Spy, Jean Tounier made Moonraker have an otherworldly visual quality unique to the series, Alan Hume brought a more down to earth but romantic lens, I adore Alec Mills clean and sharp work, completely agree that Meheux does his career best on GE, love what Robert Elswit did on TND, Adrian Biddle's TWINE photography is gorgeous to look at, and there are some good moments in Tatersall's DAD photography.
There was a time - not very long ago - when I'd never heard of a cinematographer and didn't know what they did.
Now it seem like we're more concerned about who will be the DoP than we are about who will direct.
And I'm fine with that. I used to think it came down to how well the director worked with the editor, and was always happy when an editor and/or second unit director like Peter Hunt or John Glen got to move up in the ranks.
Now, all I can say is that I hope Hoyt van Hoytema does not return, because I'd really like to see a blue sky again.


Last edited by AMC Hornet on Fri May 18, 2018 1:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Fri May 18, 2018 12:43 pm

AMC Hornet wrote:

Now, all I can say is that I hope Hoyt van Hoytema does not return, because I'd really like to see a blue sky again

...instead of piss-stained Mexican, Rome and Moroccan streets. 

Such a shame, as both Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Her were gorgeous films to look at. Maybe it was Mendes' decision to colour the films as such to symbolise him making SP a piss-take.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:36 am

I thought the two Mendes films looked fantastic - far above the standard action film or Bond film. I thought the Iceland and Cuba segments of Die Another Day were quite elegantly done, though the rest of the film looked washed out and dull. Goldeneye and Casino Royale are handsome films but nothing particular stands out. Quantum of Solace was over processed.

I don't think there's much to write home about cinematography wise after maybe the early Moore years. While we love to give Babs flack, there wasn't anything particularly cutting edge about the Bond films really at all between the 70s and the mid-90s. At least they're trying these days.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:27 am

I kind of see what you are saying about the last two movies looking pretty good, but they got that yellow tint to them, that everyone is doing nowadays in so many movies. So I feel they are doing a current fad, which is why they look good, but do not stand out as much, cause so many other movies are doing it now.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:47 pm

You really have to see prints of the later films. The video transfers rarely do them justice. Since stocks became finer and finer grained it became less important for a cinematographer to be talented since there is much more of a safety net.
I thought the modern films looked so boring, bland and dull. I can appreciate Deakins' talent but I find everything these days to look so damn boring. If you were to run a print of Goldeneye against QoS the difference is quality staging and properly balanced photography vs the modernized trends being implemented in the digital-film crossover era.
To compare a print of TND to Skyfall would be like comparing a warm and lively high end tube amplifier to a modern soulless streaming app.

I used to think FYEO always looked slightly dull until seeing various printed trailers and the like. I've seen TLD on film look far better than all the video editions, and there are various original dye transfer Technicolor elements of the early films that are so beautiful you'd swear you could reach out and touch them.

007 Dossier has reposted many of their trailer scans on vimeo. https://vimeo.com/channels/1174003/videos

Here you can see a semblance of the differences when printed to film but keep in mind these are usually unadjusted scans and trailer can sometimes vary from the final more carefully printed final version.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:47 pm

Vesper wrote:
I thought the two Mendes films looked fantastic - far above the standard action film or Bond film. I thought the Iceland and Cuba segments of Die Another Day were quite elegantly done, though the rest of the film looked washed out and dull. Goldeneye and Casino Royale are handsome films but nothing particular stands out. Quantum of Solace was over processed.

I don't think there's much to write home about cinematography wise after maybe the early Moore years. While we love to give Babs flack, there wasn't anything particularly cutting edge about the Bond films really at all between the 70s and the mid-90s. At least they're trying these days.

Pretty much.

With the exception of MOONRAKER and GOLDENEYE, I can't understand anyone that suggests that the films from the 70s-90s has anything on Craig's as far as cinematography. For example, CASINO ROYALE is my least favorite shot film of Craig's run, but even moments like this are far more striking than whatever was in TOMORROW NEVER DIES.




I expect snobs in this thread will snort a shot like this, but whatevs.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Tue Jul 03, 2018 3:54 pm

I suppose the cinematography to Tomorrow Never Dies is not the best ever, but to me it looks better than The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day, and the sets of Carver's boat, are actually pretty good looking, and the best post Ken Adams set we have seen in a Bond movie probably.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Jul 04, 2018 12:34 am

Robert Elswit is a much more competent DOP than Phil Meheux. Call me a snob (or probably a cynic) but it would take a lot more than a wide lens and black and white for me to call something striking. 

The tracking shot of Bond waiting for an assassin Paris in his hotel room is much more evocative than any corresponding scenes in CR.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:45 am

Robert Elswit is a generally a more competent DOP, which makes it damning how utterly dull TND looks (Peter Lamont being absent doesn't help). Just the same year he did BOOGIE NIGHTS, and that's a whole different league. Now THERE'S a tracking shot in that film that really grabs you.

I put all the blame on Roger Spottiswoode, who is probably the weakest director to ever helm Bond. I had just recently watched AIR AMERICA (or AIR GENERICA as Robert Downey Jr. once called it), and funnily it was also lensed by Roger Deakins, but like the rest of the film even his work is pretty forgettable there.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:24 am

The hotel shot of Bond waiting for an assassin, I found to be too smokey looking as if the room was filled with smoke as it had a soft blurry look, but the last time I saw TND was on VHS, so maybe it was a VHS thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Jul 04, 2018 10:34 am

You're not wrong, Spottiswoode went a little overboard with the smoke filled sets to add "atmosphere". You can see some of the samples, almost always whenever they shot a scene in a studio controlled set.

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Tomorrow-Never-Dies-Blu-ray/5076/#Screenshots

Other examples not shown in those samples like the Devonshire, the stealth ship, etc.

It's a nice tool that I think should be used sparingly in films like Bond. Deakins used it pretty effectively in the opening minutes of SKYFALL with Bond finding Ronson.

https://screenmusings.org/movie/blu-ray/Skyfall/
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ironpony
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PostSubject: Re: Superior Cinematography in the Craig era?    Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:29 am

I think the smoke looks good on the Devonshire and the stealth ship, but to have it in a regular hotel room like that, was not my taste. So like Deakins, the DP on Tomorrow Never Dies has some good looking scenes, some not as good for my taste.

But I think I like the cinematography better on TND compared to TWINE and DAD, but not as much as GE, which is one of my favorites for cinematography.

The best looking to this day for me is still YOLT I think, though.
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