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Birdman (2014) Fox Searchlight Pictures

Birdman (2014) Fox Searchlight Pictures

In cinema, the Long Take is one long uninterrupted shot lasting several minutes and usually requiring careful and complicated choreography.  It’s a technique that is almost as old as film itself, yet over the years the technical aspects of the long take have evolved as directors and cinematographers rise to the challenge of pulling off even bigger and better “oners.”

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s Birdman, which won an Oscar for best film this year, is a recent example of a long take – in fact the entire movie is intended to have the effect of one long tracking shot.  But this is nothing new.  Alfred Hitchcock employed same device with his 1948 film, Rope.  Hitchcock was limited by the technology of the time. Because reels of film were only 10 minutes long, the director was required to hide the cuts; many of the takes ended on a nondescript surface so the next roll of film could pick up right where the last one left off.

The use of the long take is often a spectacular display of technical acumen, but it also risks breaking the film’s spell with a flashy moment for the filmmaker to shout “look at me!” when it doesn’t serve the story.  It is most successfully executed when we don’t realize that it’s happening.

While this is by no means comprehensive, check out a select list of my favorites: Read More

THE KNICK - Season 1 - 2014 - Photo Credit: Mary Cybulski/Cinemax

THE KNICK – Season 1 – 2014 – Photo Credit: Mary Cybulski/Cinemax

The Knick is the best bloody show on television. The season 1 finale aired last week, and it’s stuck with me ever since. Truthfully, I’ve been a fan since the first episode got under my skin (see what I did there?), and this is less of a review and more of a gushing love letter. And I’m not alone:

The Knick is such modern television it’s like a shot of cocaine between the toes.” The AVClub  Read More