What the F-65?

22 Apr

Say ‘Goodbye’ to all of this…and ‘Hello’ to oblivion.

– Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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Okay, congratulations to Tom Cruise for yet again defying the naysayers. Cruise’s Oblivion opened over the weekend and handily blew away the competition, earning 37 million dollars–more than double the #2 movie, 42, which earned 17 million. Not bad. Cruise’s sci-fi odyssey has already earned over 100 million worldwide, but it’s no longer surprising when big-budget action spectacles do blockbuster business with international audiences. Indeed, film producers and studio execs count on it. Just barely more than a year ago, Cruise was riding high on the wave of success thanks to the phenomenal comeback known as Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol; however, he has also suffered some setbacks, both personally and professionally, in the interim. Regarding the latter, he earned wonderful reviews for a standout supporting performance in last summer’s  tribute to 80s “hair bands,” Rock of Ages, but the movie, overall, was panned by the critics (deservedly so), and audiences stayed away in droves. The scenes with Cruise were like a whole different film from the rest of the tacky formulaic drivel. He not only had the swagger, he also demonstrated some surprisingly strong pipes.  (Michael joked that Cruise’s portrayal suggested what Jim Morrison might have been like if he had not died at such a relatively young age.) No matter,  Rock of Ages was a colossal failure.  Jack Reacher, his holiday offering based on Lee Child’s best selling series of mystery novels about an unlikely soldier-of-fortune, initially divided Reacher fans, many of whom thought Cruise was pretty much miscast from top to bottom. Even so, Cruise had Child’s full endorsement, the reviews were better than those for Rock of Ages, and while Jack Reacher was no blockbuster, it eked out a respectable 13 week run in the theatres and, once again, performed much better overseas than in the states.

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Still, if you think this article is a love-letter to Cruise, you’re mistaken. Did I enjoy Oblivion? Of course, I did, but almost in spite of Cruise rather than because of him. Based on an unpublished graphic novel by director Joseph Kosinski and Arvid Nelson, the story is set in 2077, several decades after Earth is attacked and pillaged by so-called scavengers. Now, as the last remaining earthlings prepare to start all over on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, Cruise’s Jack Harper dutifully monitors the harvesting of Earth’s water supply. He does this with the aid of a fantastic flying contraption (a rather phallic marriage between a helicopter and a motorcycle), a host of drones (talk about timely), and a female partner (played by Andrea Riseborough, above).  But wait: aren’t Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo featured in the trailer? Well, sure. Now, go see the movie because that’s all of the plot I’m divulging. I’ll be frank. Oblivion doesn’t serve an airtight script, but I enjoyed it anyway because it’s suspenseful and not ALL the major plot developments are given away in the trailer. Plus, the story is rather thoughtful in its own way. Still, that’s not even the thing I love most about it. What the movie is…..is visually arresting–and for good reason. Kosinski filmed sections of the movie in Iceland to take advantage of the island-nation’s richly photogenic terrain and its stunningly beautiful skies, made possible by the fact that summer sunlight lasts for up to 24 hours. This is no dank noir-ish downer, but a brilliantly gleaming slice of sc-fi heaven, and that’s especially worth noting for two great reasons. 1. The cinematographer is the great Claudio Miranda, who just won an Oscar for lensing Life of Pi. 2. The movie is among the first to be produced using the new Sony F65 4K digital cinematography camcorder. I’m not even sure I can explain how the camera works, but I don’t think that even matters. What matters is that the images are super-sharp. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the camera is good for shooting in IMAX format. Good to know. Oh well. Even the lesser reviews have given the movie props for its “look.” The Hollywood Reporter praised it as “an absolutely gorgeous film” that, like Miranda’s Oscar winner,  seamlessly meshes “live photography and effects.” Plus, some of the fans have been posting on the IMDb about how the nighttime pool scene is especially enticing, aided as it was by the score credited to French duo M83.

Still not enticed? Maybe the following featurette will prompt you to reconsider. Maybe not.  Well, I’m just glad I got to see Oblivion on an impressively large screen at one of my not-so-neighborhood theaters. Here’s the deal. I wanted to see the movie because I’m all about all things Tom Cruise, but I was so dazzled  by the visuals that I had to stick around long enough to see the closing credits as the movie had no opening credits. I immediately recognized cinematographer Miranda’s name because he’d just won the Oscar. That further sparked my interest to learn more. When I came home, I started reading about the making of the film, and I was intrigued to find out about the F-65 and some other cool things, and that’s what I want to share about why you should say ‘Hello’ to Oblivion….

Thanks for your consideration…

Oblivion at Box Office Mojo: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=oblivion.htm

Oblivion review in the Hollywood Reporterhttp://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movie/oblivion/review/435551

Kosinski on shooting in Iceland: http://herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/oblivion-cruise-kosinski-set-for-hero-complex-imax-screening/

F-65 at Creative Planet Network: http://www.creativeplanetnetwork.com/dv/feature/4k-future-oblivion-captured-sony%E2%80%99s-f65-cinealta-camera/62146

Cruise’s Bubble Ship in the Los Angeles Times:   http://herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/oblivion-tom-cruise-bubble-ship-spacecraft-design-form-follows-function/#/7

Cruise, Kosinski, and Freeman in the Los Angeles Times: http://herocomplex.latimes.com/video/oblivion-tom-cruise-joseph-kosinski-on-partnership-morgan-freeman/

More cool behind the scenes stuff: http://nofilmschool.com/2013/04/oscar-winning-claudio-miranda-oblivion-sony-f65/

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