Why I Love The Greasy Strangler- A Video Essay

In this episode of Pulling Focus with Ethan Hatchett, I discuss The Greasy Strangler.

The film is a personal of favorite of mine for various reasons explored in the video. It has influenced a lot of my more bizarre work and I generally hold the film in high esteem for existing at at all.

I hope you all enjoy the video and give The Greasy Stranger a chance!

5 Unique 2017 Films

Great films come out every year, but truly unique films are hard to find. Luckily, 2017 was full of films with distinct voices.  Here are five films from last year that I thought were truly special.

  1. A Ghost Story (Directed by David Lowery)

A Ghost Story is the kind of film that sticks with you for the rest of your life. This film is a testament to what a talented filmmaker can do with a small budget and a great idea.

The film’s premise is simple; Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara are a couple and one day Affleck dies unexpectedly. Affleck becomes a ghost and “haunts” their house. It is a very cliched premise, but David Lowery does something amazing (and unexpected with it) with it.

The look of the film is one of the most unique aspects. They shot with Panavision Super and Ultra Speeds for a shallower depth of field and more a natural look.

The aspect ratio is also a unique contributor to the film’s look. The film is 4:3  instead of 16:9 because, as Lowery explained, “I liked the concept of trapping this character in a box, in a very formal fashion. I’ve always been a fan of that aspect ratio. It’s 1.33:1, the classic Academy ratio.”

2. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos)

Yorgos Lanthimos has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers with films like Alps, Dogtooth, and The Lobster. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is my favorite work by Lanthimos so far and makes me excited to see what he has next for us.

The story is based around Steven (Colin Farrell), a cardiologist , who takes Martin (Barry Keoghan), under his wing after his father dies. Things turn dark when Steven’s family suddenly starts becoming ill.

It is hard to articulate exactly what makes the film unique. Everything from the choice of camera placement to the timing of words spoken in any given scene is different from many films that came out in 2017. It exudes style. Lanthimos has developed a very clear and effective voice that is unique in the world of film.

The film is tense, funny, and horrifying at times, but it never strays from its eerie tone. Barry Keoghan has an amazing performance, shifting from vulnerable youth to intimidating certainty. It possess the odd delivery of dialogue that is present in Lanthimos’ films, which may annoy some viewers, but I believe it sets the tone very well.

3. The Florida Project (Directed by Sean Baker)

The Florida Project is more understated than the other films on this lost, but it is just as special.

The story follows and group of children who live at a motel in Orlando, FL. There is love, laughs, tragedy, and an ending that annoyed everyone.

As an indie guy myself, Sean Baker is an inspiration. The Florida Project is one of the best and most talked about films of 2017 and it was shot on an iPhone with a cast of mostly unknown actors.

Baker’s voice is unique because of his style and subject matter. A good summation of his films can be summed up in this quote:”When I see a billboard that literally just has five names and they’re all A-listers, I’m just like, What is that bringing to the world that’s new?”

The best word I can use to describe the film simply be raw. It is 115 minutes of raw emotion from such simple images such as children playing in a parking lot.

4. Good Time (Directed by Josh and Benny Sadfie)

Good Time is a film that not talked about enough. The Sadfie brothers are another unique voice in film and this gem should not be overlooked.

Following the trend of simple stories, Good Time is about two brothers (Robert Pattinson and Benny Sadfie) who try to rob and bank and fail. One goes to jail while the other tries to free him.

The film is super fast paced and flies by super quickly. The viewer is quickly invested in the story by the amazing performances and cinematography. Despite the simplicity of the story, you never see what comes next because you simply don’t have time to!

Good Time excels at making you feel as though you were in the situation. You feel just as tense as Robert Pattinson and understand him completely. The relationship between to the two brothers is bittersweet and carries the film well.

5. Ingrid Goes West (Directed by Matt Spicer)

With its eerily realistic premise, Ingrid Goes West is one the better dark comedies made in the last decade.

The story follows Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), as she moves to Los Angeles to stalk an Instagram user (Elizabeth Olsen) whom she idolizes.

Aubrey Plaza is my favorite part of the film. She really surprised me with her performance. Instead of the deadpan character she normally portrays, she actually pulled off a deeper character who was sympathetic and vulnerable while still being dark and quirky.

I admire that Ingrid Goes West is a fully fleshed out film instead of the gimmicky teen comedy I feared it would be. I like how it doesn’t judge its characters for their quirks and just tells the story. It could have easily turned into schlock, but I appreciate the more nuanced version that we got.

What did you think of my list? Are there any films that you thought were especially unique from last year?

Let me know in the comments!

Why You Should Get FilmStruck (and the Criterion Channel)

“When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.'”

-Quentin Tarantino

FilmStruck contains acclaimed films from unique filmmakers such as Yorgos Lanthimos, while The Criterion Channel hosts the iconic and classic films that shaped the medium of Film. Both channels also have video essays, commentaries, behind the scenes footage, and interviews with the cast and crew on many of their films.

When the Criterion Collection left Hulu I was heartbroken. It was the only reason I had Hulu. Netflix and Amazon are great, but they don’t traditionally have a lot of classic films to stream.

I remember trying to find an HD version of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless and I stumbled upon FilmStruck. It was exactly what I was looking for and more!

I believe that you shouldn’t wait for inspiration. Inspiration is a fire that you must keep burning inside your soul. If you are a filmmaker, there is no better way to fuel that fire than by watching films by the masters of the medium.

I have had the service for over a month now, and I am thoroughly pleased. The continually refresh their library so you never run out of things to watch.

I would highly recommend this service to anyone who is interested in Film!

 

*This is not a sponsored post. I just really love the service!*

The Making of ‘Weeb’

The idea behind Weeb was to make “Kung Fu with a weeaboo,” but having the brain that I have, it became this video.

Production went pretty well, considering what we were making. It is often difficult to direct people in a project like this because of its over-the-top style. The hardest scene to explain was the opening. Luckily, Sean and I had gone to school together and even if he didn’t understand the purpose of the opening, he did trust me enough to know it would make sense in the edit.

Something I have discovered while doing these type of little projects is that you can’t always articulate your vision completely to everyone involved. What I mean by that is that you explain it differently to each person involved. To the DP it is how the image makes you feel, and to the actor it is how the character feels in the scene.

I played with the color in this video more than with previous projects because I wanted to to make the viewer feel like they were in a different world. Also, when I think of Anime, I think of vibrant colors both within the character’s dress and the background.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988) 

I wanted to add a sense of child-like wonder to the way that Sean’s character perceived the world, so I thought a super saturated achieved that.

Outtakes from the video:

 

The New Blacklist

“The blacklist was a time of evil…no one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil…[Looking] back on this time…it will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims.”

-Dalton Trumbo

The Academy Awards have been viewed for many years as a sham by many people, but this year I feel insulted as a lover of cinema. I love Film, I hope by now that has been made clear, but I think Hollywood has out lived its usefulness.

I don’t think you should make a film to win awards. You should make a film because you have a story to tell. If you do win an award, it should be because you earned it. It shouldn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or what set of genitals you have.

Art is about appealing to the human soul. It transcends the flesh., crosses barriers, and brings us together. Art does not pander. 

Out of the 20+ films I saw in 2017,  it irritates me that Get Out is nominated for Best Picture, a genre film with forced social commentary over something like A Ghost Story, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, or even Blade Runner 2049 (though I didn’t care for it). Those films were something slightly different than the exciting, annual racism-is-bad romp that we are accustomed to seeing.

It is pretty obvious that Get Out was put there to meet some sort of of quota and that’s really sad. It shouldn’t matter who you are, it should matter what film you made. Enforcing this distorted “diversity” will turn the Academy Awards into the Not White Male Awards.

Isn’t this forced inclusion of “diverse” films simply shifting the prejudice to another group of people rather than giving more people exposure?

I find the idea of the censorship and maligning of the art of any artist based solely on what group they belong to alarming and disgusting. I firmly believe that everyone deserves a voice in art, even if popular opinion is that they have too much privilege. It has only been  50(ish) years since the infamous days of the Blacklist. Are we really going to repeat this petty political game this quickly?