Movies and TV

Can’t Stop Watching

Penelope Cruz and Lola Dueñas share the screen with vibrant colors and secrets in "Volver" (2006), courtesy of Canal + España

Since I’m currently writing and co-producing a short film, I can’t stop thinking about the looks and feels of movies I’ve loved over time. Story is a major part of why we all watch movies and will always remain paramount to me as a writer, but as I put on a producing hat I find myself pondering the visual aesthetics of film in a whole new way. For this reason I thought it would be fun to share some of the films whose aesthetics I simply can’t stop obsessing over. For your viewing pleasure, you may want to consider renting one of these this weekend…

  • “Volver” (2006) – This Spanish tale of ghosts, murder and strong women simply brims over with contrasting colors and breathtaking cinematography. The actors are always posed like fascinating sculptures, creating compositions worthy of paintings, and the screen constantly sings with vibrantly patterned clothes in this Pedro Almodóvar gem.
  • “Alice in Wonderland” (2010) – Tim Burton serves up another generous helping of vibrancy in this recent film. Skip the 3D and watch this in regular high-definition to enjoy a visual medley of rabbits, stripes, playing cards and top hats.
  • “Amelie” (2001) – You’ve already heard me rave about the whimsy and romance of “Amelie,” but I love the colors, coffee steam and cobble-stone streets of this film just as much as I adore its story. If you want some inspiration to make your home and life like the gnome-and-floral-print-filled scenes of “Amelie,” check out design*sponge’s “Living In” feature that was created for this Jean-Pierre Jeunet classic.
  • “L’Avventura” (1960) – This black-and-white Italian picture is slow, strange and almost indecipherable structurally. Its footage of Italy’s natural beauty and Monica Vitti’s magnetism, however, make this Michelangelo Antonioni film a visual, emotionally resonant feast.
  • “Black Swan” (2010) – Although I have major issues with the sloppy story elements of “Black Swan,” the look of this film has haunted me for months. The depth of focus, pops of color and beautiful ballet costumes make the imagery of this psychological thriller move across the screen like a well-choreographed dance. I’m tempted to throw a vodka-tasting party, provide feather headdresses at the door and play this in the background with the sound off. If only I drank vodka and was the party-throwing type.

Psst: Do you have some cinematic favorites you love purely for the way they look? Or, are there films you can’t stop watching for their music or some other less-talked-about element of their production values? Do tell.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Nancy K. April 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Hey Jennifer, We used to talk movies when you were babysitting(omg, decades ago). I thought the visuals in “Barcelona”, with Cruz and Bardem was great. Also, really like Mike Leigh movies. Ever see “Topsy Turvy”? Love your blog and the pics of you and your affianced are beautiful. Congrats and wonderful best wishes. nancy kaye

  • Reply Jennifer R. Coté April 15, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I fondly remember talking about movies with you, Nancy. 🙂 I love Mike Leigh’s work, but I’ve actually never seen “Topsy-Turvy,” which means I’m delighted to have a movie recommendation for the weekend now. Thanks for the suggestion and your sweet wishes!

  • Reply Kyle April 22, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Almodovar makes gorgeous films, and ‘Volver’ is possibly the fairest of them all. Viva ‘Volver’!

  • Reply Jennifer R. Coté April 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Ooh, I love the phrase “Viva Volver!” I’m going to have to find a way to use it every day now. Thank you for suddenly making my small talk a lot more interesting, Kyle.

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