Awesome Film Essays

Designing Dialogue

Designing Dialogue

(PG-13: Language) “Show us character, and you’ve got good dialogue.” Channel Criswell masterfully explains the ideal purpose of dialogue in movies. A great dialogue doesn’t tell you what the story is, but who the characters are.

Don’t Underestimate the Screenwriter

Don’t Underestimate the Screenwriter

(SPOILERS) YouTuber Lessons from the Screenplay points out how novelist Gillian Flynn expertly applied three fundamental screenwriting lessons in translating her novel Gone Girl to the big screen.

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The Art of Slow Motion

The Art of Slow Motion

Slow motion video gives us more time to see what’s on screen, but it’s not only for eye candy. YouTuber The Discarded Image points out how filmmakers use the technique in different contexts to achieve a variety of results.

Fargo: A Video Essay

Fargo: A Video Essay

Candice Drouet breaks down the quintessential Coen brothers film. Fargo builds on a simple trick to mess with our expectations and drive its point home: that we get by partly by blocking out the horrible things that happen around us.

What Makes a Movie Great

What Makes a Movie Great

Now You See It lists some of the common criteria that we use to deem a movie “great”: introducing or perfecting a cinematic technique, influencing or defining pop culture, etc. But for many of us, the great movies are the ones that we saw at the right moment in our lives.

The Force Awakens Is a Remix

The Force Awakens Is a Remix

Kirby Ferguson looks at J.J. Abrams’ approach to filmmaking and the parallels between The Force Awakens and A New Hope. While referencing the past can be an homage, some might see it as a lack of creativity. In this case, combining the familiar and the new worked brilliantly.

The Eyes of Taxi Driver

The Eyes of Taxi Driver

(Gore) Taxi Driver is mostly told from the perspective of protagonist Travis Bickle. Fandor’s Jacob T. Swinney points out some of the ways that director Martin Scorsese showed the world through Travis’ eyes, whether literally or figuratively.

Pixar: What Makes a Story Relatable

Pixar: What Makes a Story Relatable

Kaptainkristian articulates Pixar’s recipe for success. The movie studio consistently makes wonderful animation and art, and their best movies are the ones that depict core values and relatable experiences, as opposed to parent company Disney’s more thinly veiled approach.

Andrei Tarkovsky: Poetic Harmony

Andrei Tarkovsky: Poetic Harmony

Channel Criswell breaks downs the style of filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. Tarkovsky’s approach is pure in that he created stories that could only be told through cinema, visualizing what the characters are feeling rather than what’s happening to them.

Great Film Casting Decisions

Great Film Casting Decisions

CineFix ranks its top 10 picks for the best movie casts. There are those whose actors have become synonymous with their roles, co-stars with wonderful chemistry and the unicorns on opposite ends: movies filled with amateurs and movies with ensemble casts.

X-Men: Color & Costume

X-Men: Color & Costume

Unlike many recent superhero movies, Fox’s X-Men films have shied away from colorful and distinctive costumes. Kaptain Kristian points out how ironic this is, given that this team symbolizes oppressed minorities accepting who they are and standing up for their identities.

100 Years/100 Shots

100 Years/100 Shots

Editor Jacob T. Swinney dug through the best films of the last 100 years to create this reel of the most memorable and iconic shots from each year. Some of our favorites didn’t make the cut, but when you’re limited to one film per year, it was bound to happen.

Adult Swim: History of a TV Empire

Adult Swim: History of a TV Empire

(PG-13) Film essayist Kaptain Kristian turns his attention to television with this awesome retrospective of Cartoon Network’s late night block that reinvigorated the animation medium for grown-ups, and had a profound influence on popular culture.

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Kubrick: The Cinematic Experience

Kubrick: The Cinematic Experience

“In movies, you don’t photograph the reality. You try and photograph the photograph of the reality.” Channel Criswell breaks down Stanley Kubrick’s brand of fillmmaking: expressing dark and high concepts by creating a surreal world where everything is a symbol.

What Long Takes Can’t Do

What Long Takes Can’t Do

We all love a well executed long take. It gives you a lot to look at, and it’s a surefire way to be immersed in the movie’s world. But Now You See It reminds us that scenes with cuts can be powerful too, and that one is not strictly better than the other.

Never the Same Face Twice

Never the Same Face Twice

John Kricfalusi’s 1990s cartoon The Ren & Stimpy Show is a true animation classic, combining artistic detail, gross-out gags, and weirdness a plenty. The Nerdwriter explores the show’s defiance of norms which made it stand out from the crowd.

Her: Needs & Desires

Her: Needs & Desires

Her explores the evolution of love. But Channel Criswell has a convincing and moving theory about the movie’s underlying concept: that what we want isn’t always what we need, and our well-being may depend on whether or not we become aware of this disparity.

The Coen Brothers’ Shot/Reverse Shot

The Coen Brothers’ Shot/Reverse Shot

Every Frame a Painting explores how conversations are filmed using a basic shot/reverse shot, and how Joel and Ethan Coen use the technique so effectively in their movies. Their use of wide lenses, close shots, and impeccable rhythm brings it all together.

LotR: How Music Elevates the Story

LotR: How Music Elevates the Story

Nerdwriter1 wonderfully breaks down Howard Shore’s The Fellowship theme from the first The Lord of the Rings movie, showing how Shore varies the track to accentuate, foreshadow and familiarize the audience with the characters.

Did Tarantino Steal Reservoir Dogs?

Did Tarantino Steal Reservoir Dogs?

(Gore) Frame By Frame summarizes one of the old criticisms against Quentin Tarantino: that he stole the story of Reservoir Dogs from Ringo Lam’s 1987 classic City on Fire. Then they argue that Tarantino did the same thing with The Hateful Eight.

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When the Evil Smiles

When the Evil Smiles

Editor Semih Okmn gathered together some classic movie moments in which the bad guys celebrate their insanity with a smile. Barry Manilow’s Can’t Smile without You makes for the perfect backing track to the madness. After all these years, Norman Bates still freaks us out.

10 Great Closing Shots

10 Great Closing Shots

CineFix follows up its top 10 opening shots with its picks for the best movie endings, whether because they’re open to interpretation (or undeniably definitive), creative or just plain beautiful.

10 Great Opening Shots

10 Great Opening Shots

CineFix’s first episode for 2016 aptly lists its picks for the best movie opening scenes, including the mirrored shot of The Searchers, the slow-motion destruction in Apocalypse Now and the restrained long take of Flowers of Shanghai.

A Brief History of Swearing in Movies

A Brief History of Swearing in Movies

(NSFW Language) People swear like truck drivers in today’s R-rated flicks. But there was a time when swearing in movies was considered so heinous that filmmakers could be slapped with huge fines. Movie Munchies walks us through the way we got from there to here.

Improvisation in Film

Improvisation in Film

Film essayist Now You See It examines some great moments of on-screen improvisation, techniques for film improv, as well as the reasons that directors allow for it – from capturing raw and real emotion, to the silliness that often comes from true spontaneity.

Jurassic Park: Finding the Lost World

Jurassic Park: Finding the Lost World

“These creatures require our absence to survive, not our help.” Digging Deeper argues that the Jurassic Park sequels The Lost World and Jurassic World are self-aware commentaries on blockbuster films. The Lost World‘s clues are quite telling. Jurassic World just plain sucks.

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