Awesome Film Essays

Breaking Bad: Crafting a TV Pilot

Breaking Bad: Crafting a TV Pilot

“A man whose fear is greater than his desire… cannot be a pivotal character.” Lessons from the Screenplay breaks down the basics of a TV pilot – the episode that is used to sell the show to networks – and how Vince Gilligan pulled it off for Breaking Bad.

Jack Nicholson: Master of Anger

Jack Nicholson: Master of Anger

(PG-13: Language) Throughout Jack Nicholson’s 60+ years on the big screen, he’s wowed us with his ability to put the fear of god into other characters, and us as moviegoers. Nerdwriter1 explores Jack’s special gift for using hostility and fear to tell his characters’ stories.

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Recreating History

Recreating History

Editor Vugar Efendi presents a side-by-side look at a few of the many times that scenes from real life have been recreated in movies. While filmmakers clearly take some artistic license, it’s cool to see how the world is reflected on the big screen.

Dark Knight Rises: What Went Wrong

Dark Knight Rises: What Went Wrong

Wisecrack convincingly argues that the Nolan brothers bit off way more than they could chew for the Dark Knight trilogy’s finale. Despite being nearly 3 hours long, the movie didn’t have enough time to be both a remake of A Tale of Two Cities and a conclusion to the trilogy.

How TV Title Sequences Grew up

How TV Title Sequences Grew up

We’ve sure come a long way since the cheesy opening titles of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and now the title sequences are as artfully made as the shows themselves. WIRED takes a look at what happened to get us from there to here. Be sure to check out Art of the Title too.

Come and See: Sight and Sound

Come and See: Sight and Sound

(Gore) Elem Klimov’s Come and See is widely regarded as one of the best war movies ever made. Channel Criswell explains how Klimov broke from the fundamentals of sound and perspective in order to effectively express the mind-breaking brutality of war.

Chess in Films & TV

Chess in Films & TV

(PG-13: Language) “The king stay the king.” In movies and TV shows, a game of chess isn’t just shown to imply that a character is smart. Now You See It points out the many implications and purposes of showing the strategic board game to viewers.

The World of Ralph Bakshi

The World of Ralph Bakshi

(PG-13, Flashing images) “It’s a messy, crude world. And sometimes the best way to show that is to be just as messy and just as crude.” The Royal Ocean Film Society tries to contextualize the work of the controversial animator and filmmaker Ralph Bakshi.

The Basics of Car Chase Scenes

The Basics of Car Chase Scenes

The Fast & Furious series banks on beautiful cars, beautiful people and beautiful stunts. But it wouldn’t be around if its filmmakers didn’t nail the basics of car chase scenes, which mainly involve giving viewers a consistent direction to contextualize the action.

The Elements of Suspense

The Elements of Suspense

Lessons from the Screenplay uses the script for the opening scene in Inglorious Basterds to explain how suspense works in films. Unlike plot twists, suspense works best when you reveal the twist early, then milk it for as long as you can. And when you’ve cast Christoph Waltz.

Boiler Room: Persuasion & Manipulation

Boiler Room: Persuasion & Manipulation

Sales middleman CostFixed hawks its services with… a movie essay? It’s well done though, and stands on its own. It uses Ben Affleck’s famous speech from Boiler Room to analyze how those with the gift of gab can hook people in using only their words and our desires.

The Unsung Heroes of Cinema

The Unsung Heroes of Cinema

The Royal Ocean Film Society tips his hat to the people who restore and repair old movies. Restoring and repairing film negatives requires tons of research, patience and steady hands. Thankfully, high quality digital formats and the Internet is making it easier to save movies.

To the Right

To the Right

Wes Anderson loves his horizontal dolly shots, but he’s not the only director to use this technique, as Candice Drouet of Really Dim shows in her latest montage, which features only shots which track from left to right. View the full list of films on Vimeo.

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The Story of the Re-Evaluated

The Story of the Re-Evaluated

Works of art are products of their time, but critics and audiences are even more so. The Royal Ocean Film Society points out some of the films that were received horribly when they first came out, only to be praised years later. Will Michael Bay’s – ah we can’t. We can’t do it.

The 3 Rules of Living Animation

The 3 Rules of Living Animation

kaptainkristian presents Who Framed Roger Rabbit as a shining example of animated characters combined with live action. The film’s crew worked doubly hard to make the cartoon characters converse and interact convincingly with live actors and real objects.

Arrival: A Response to Bad Movies

Arrival: A Response to Bad Movies

(Spoilers) Film essayist Nerdwriter1 explores Denis Villeneuve’s science fiction opus, and looks at how the director’s stellar grasp on the language and structures of film so deftly elevates it beyond so many other movies.

Great Moments of Subjectivity on Film

Great Moments of Subjectivity on Film

Movies are often at their best when they augment or twist reality to visualize that which has no form: concepts, emotions, mental states, illnesses, dreams, nightmares. CineFix presents its picks for the best subjective scenes.

Cowboy Bebop: The Meaning of Nothing

Cowboy Bebop: The Meaning of Nothing

“When there’s no one to hunt, we have nothing. Nothing to do, nothing to live on.” (SPOILERS) Channel Criswell’s obvious love for Cowboy Bebop makes his analysis a bit redundant and unstructured, but it’s still compelling and makes a lot of sense.

When Harry Met Sally & Genres

When Harry Met Sally & Genres

Lessons from the Screenplay looks at how the late screenwriter Nora Ephron gave us a refreshing romantic comedy in When Harry Met Sally. By focusing on internal conflict, the story was able to go on a leisurely pace without becoming aimless.

Fight Club: Sound Design

Fight Club: Sound Design

Film Radar explores how effective sound design, sound editing, foley work, and sound effects serve to elevate scenes to a level of intensity and immersion that even the best visuals alone could never achieve on their own.

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Woody Allen : A Career in Ten Lines

Woody Allen : A Career in Ten Lines

“…you’re also not Superman, you’re a comedian. You want to do mankind a service? Tell funnier jokes.” Inspired by a Rolling Stone article, The Solomon Society pays tribute to the illustrious career of Woody Allen, as told through lines from some of his most memorable movies.

The Evolution of Keanu Reeves

The Evolution of Keanu Reeves

(PG-13: Language) Ever since John Wick, Keanu Reeves is one of our favorite badasses. But he was also half of Bill & Ted, shooting at nothing in Point Break, maintaining Speed, and learning instant Kung Fu in The Matrix. Burger Fiction recaps Keanu’s illustrious career. Whoa.

Brilliant Moments of Camera Movement

Brilliant Moments of Camera Movement

In films, the camera’s task if often simple: show us where to look. But filmmakers can also use the camera’s movement to amplify a scene, or even to become the main element of a shot. CineFix looks at a few great examples in their latest video.

The Social Network & Aaron Sorkin

The Social Network & Aaron Sorkin

(PG-13: Language) “I write people talking in rooms.” Lessons from the Screenplay dissects The Social Network to highlight some of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s strengths, and how he and director David Fincher worked together to keep the dialogue-heavy movie engaging.

M. Night Shyamalan & Twists

M. Night Shyamalan & Twists

Director M. Night Shyamalan both raised and ruined his reputation with movies that have twist endings. The Film Theorists’ Frame By Frame looks at three of Shyamalan’s movies to see what he got right, and why it would seem that he forgot those rules down the road.

Brilliant Character Visuals

Brilliant Character Visuals

CineFix promotes Vudu’s new cache of free movies by highlighting three great examples of visual characterization: repeated or contrasting actions, props, lighting and more that reveal a character’s inner state. Naturally, all three movies are free on Vudu.

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