Saturday, June 5, 2010
This weekend, I was able to watch The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford for the first time. I really adored this film. While the cast was quite marvelous, cinematographer Roger Deakins seemed to be the star of the film. This is a slow-moving film - but not boring - in which Deakins has a great amount of responsibility. Although this marvel effort in photography was most likely tough to achieve, I can't help but think this is the type of opportunity cinematographers dream about. The average shot length in this film is probably exponentially higher than it is in most other films, and Deakins fills those shots with gorgeous images of snowy landscape and lantern-lit train robberies.
By no means is the film lacking in its other areas. Pitt gives a cryptic, but effective performance in the lead role, and Affleck spearheads a tremendous supporting cast. The score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - who also did some great work on The Road - is mesmerizing. But I think this is a film that will ultimately be remembered for its cinematography, and rightfully so. I also think it will age well.
It makes me wonder about some of the other great cinematographic efforts from the 2000s. 2007 is obviously a golden year, considering both Deakins' work on No Country for Old Men and Robert Elswit's Oscar-winning work on There Will Be Blood. I think it is the vast landscapes of these two films which give the lensers the same opportunities that Deakins had on Jesse James. Wally Pfister also comes to mind when I think of great cinematographers from the 2000s. His work on The Dark Knight, although in a much different setting than these group of films, is no less effective.
I would love to hear what some of you think about this topic. What are the best cinematographic efforts of the 2000s? There are numerous films I have yet to encounter from the past decade, so recommendations of any kind are encouraged.