Movie Review

Make It Like John Wick, but Funny

The newest film starring the ever versatile Bob Odenkirk has him breaking bad-ass in a new action-comedy from Ilya Naishuller.

It’s a story that starts off like any other in suburban America: a white-collar man goes to a menial, low-key job, is estranged from his wife and kids, follows the same routine every morning without deviation, and gets in the occasional exercise. It’s the grind that many of us are used to and even fewer manage to escape. At his age, Hutch Mansell fell into a trap that will take some extraordinary life event to get him out of it…


Cinematography

Lighting Breakdown for “360 Seconds”

I wanted to break down a little short I DP’d last December. It’s a simple setup, but it was also the first time I tried to incorporate the “light the space, not the face” philosophy.

Below is the lighting scheme:

And the finished product:

The premise was simple: an assassin swaps identities and outfits in a run-down, piss-stained bar bathroom. We had an amazing Production Designer, Sean Perreira (insta: @sap.png) build a bathroom in the director’s living room. I’m constantly amazed at how resourceful the PD Department is and yet cinematographers…


Film

Elia Suleiman, Paradise Now, and occupying cinema

One of my favorite films, Spirit of the Beehive (1973) by Victor Erice, criticized the Fascist Franco regime in Spain in the form of a meditative and poetic piece about the loss of childhood innocence.

Another favorite of mine, The Extras (1993) by Nabil Maleh, revealed a tragicomedy life under an Assad regime for two star-crossed lovers, told entirely in one location.

No matter the regime, the one area they can never occupy or oppress is cinema. …


Movie Review

Déjà Vu, a Travis Scott/Christopher Nolan collab, and a surprise performance from our new Batman, Robert Pattinson

Christopher Nolan’s newest film TENET was released on HBO Max this past weekend. The tentpole blockbuster entrusted with saving theaters nationwide during the pandemic can finally be watched the way Nolan did not intend. And after watching it on increasingly smaller screens, you must wonder that he might have been right.

Nolan’s time-twirling foray into the spy genre, and the closest he will get to making a Bond film, had a lot riding on it: a major action blockbuster with a Black male lead and the only blockbuster to be released…


Movie Review

Cassandra Thomas, Nina Fischer, and Kristin Smart, the girl whose presence has shadowed a small community for decades

Trigger warning: much of this content will focus on sexual assault, as the film’s plot revolves around that topic. If it makes any of this readership uncomfortable, you are more than welcome to skip the article.

Promising Young Woman, the newest take on the rape-revenge trope by Emerald Fennell (currently playing Camilla Parker-Bowles on Netflix’s The Crown), is both timely and timeless. It’s timely because I’m watching this film as Kristin Smart, a local Cal Poly undergraduate student who went missing twenty-five years ago, might finally find…


Cinematography

Lighting Breakdown #1: Spaces vs. Faces

“Through the Lens and Back Again” will be a column in which I share my journey to become a cinematographer. I am by no means an expert, but I think it’s important to show an artist’s creative process. Cinematographers will often post tips, tricks, lighting diagrams, BTS, etc., but I want to show why I approach a scene as much as how I approach it. I will be posting stills with lighting breakdowns when I can, but this column will mostly function as a space for the approach to cinematography rather than just diagrams that others can copy. …


Movie Review

A Meeting of Fists, not Minds

Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t try to hide what it is: a monster movie that pits two classic, colossal creatures against each other in the ultimate smackdown. It’s a meeting of fists, not of minds. The only thing is missing is a couple of announcers, but audiences can supply the commentary. I watched the film with one of my best friends, a Godzilla aficionado, and like every other Godzilla fan, he just wanted to see Godzilla duke it out with Kong (he was rooting for Godzilla the entire time)…


Movie Review

Like Father, Like Son

The tagline for The Fly II was “Like Father, Like Son.” And Brandon Cronenberg, the director of Possessor, and the son of famed body horror director David Cronenberg, proves it. The plot follows an organization that possesses people’s minds from a remote terminal, using their bodies, literally, to carry out assassinations. I didn’t think that assassins would have to do remote work, but everyone is struggling nowadays. Tasya Vos, played by a limber and beautifully porcelain Andrea Riseborough, is a mother who lives apart from her son Ira…


Letter

To the People:

You have been told this is the most important election in your lifetime. That we either have to save democracy or destroy what’s left of it. That we either have to save the planet or destroy it. That we either have to destroy racism or let it uphold nearly every institution in the nation and in the world.

It’s apocalyptic.

It’s frightening.

So, naturally, you wonder: how will this affect me? How will these polices affect me? This goes through everyone’s mind — it’s not selfish, it’s just natural. A reflex. But we are not animals, we…


Poetry

Who will slay me?

My design is glossed and ancient, scaled to fit your mind.

With wings that span eons to sweep

O’er nations and emperors,

Who will slay me?

Curtis Francisco-Sarmiento Yap

Mixed Fil Am filmmaker and writer. I binge Borges, Faulkner, and Qabbani. Unpublished essays, stories, poetry, criticism, and feelings.

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