My Favorite Films Stills
I just started my first semester of film school. My first assignment was to present my favorite film stills and explain why I like them. This blog is word-for-word how handed it in for my assignment. These are my all favorite film slides in no particular order.
SCREAMING Attica – Dog Day Afternoon directed by Sidney Lumet released in 1975.
This still from Dog Day Afternoon shows just the absolute emotion of dealing with chaos. We can clearly see distress in Al Pacino’s face, playing Sonny Wortzik. The woman standing behind him also has an expression of pure shock at the scene she's witnessing. The background is very symmetrical, but the two characters are asymmetrical in height. However, they share symmetry by standing in the same plain of the camera frame with each other. The background is gritty and dirty to highlight the desperation of the characters. I mainly picked this image because of the over-the-top emotional acting shown on display coming from Al Pacino. This still very much has the quality of witnessing drama with comedic timing.
Ending Still – The Darjeeling Limited directed by Wes Anderson released in 2007.
This still from The Darjeeling Limited, was chosen mainly for the colors used in it, these subtle tones of two different blue shades with the yellow placement of Sanskrit are half of the image still being put together. The other half revolves around the personas of Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody. it just works as a meditative piece to look at how everything is symmetrical and even-handed in the frame. This scene brings the close of the journey of the three brothers in India. They are changed in their relationships, and in the credits roll.
Painfully Uncomfortable Dinner Party – Sliver Lining Playbook Directed by David O. Russell released in 2012.
The reason for picking this dialogue-based scene from the first 20 minutes of Silver Lining Playbook, is to demonstrate the importance of script dialogue combined with actors' emotional relatability and ability to convey what the conflict is. Jennifer Lawrence in these particular scenes comes off as honest, and direct, even more importantly, she comes off as not being mean or nasty, but she holds her own. Her ability to be honest and direct is exactly what gets through to the character, Pat Solitano played by Bradley Cooper. The mood in this scene is tense and unapologetic. The two main characters are compelled by each other’s problems and intensity.
Iconic Stare - Eraserhead directed by David Lynch released in 1977.
This image is a still of Jack Nance from Eraserhead which is iconic in American pop culture. I picked it because the emotions shown in the main characters' faces and this image are both haunting and humorous to me. Plus, I like the grainy effect almost like static in the background which helps work as the lighting; This adds to the effect of the still of Eraserhead. Plus, the black-white used film with the added absurd lighting choice just makes it even creepier. This horror film was a breakthrough event and is still looked to for influence.
Introduction Scene – Gotti Directed by Kevin Connolly released in 2018.
The reason I picked this dumpster fire of a movie known as “Gotti” is to be comparable to the current-day Rocky Horror Picture Show. People view this movie at midnight shows to specifically make fun of how bad it is. Aesthetically there is nothing more baffling than John Travolta wearing a ridiculous wig standing in front in adjacent to the Queensboro bridge. Standing menacingly and with poor lighting, it portrays the ghost of the late John Gotti. The scene still is extremely low-budgeted, however, in my book is the only thing that works in the film. Besides that, getting back to discussing the still frame, the overall effect of a Hollywood motion picture presenting something with this poor lighting is surprising. Also, the bad wig John Travolta is wearing is really a bad director choice. Overall, the whole shot looks out of focus, combined with the ridiculous elements that's why it's on this list as a film that stands out as what you should never do in a movie.
Channeling Death – The Seventh Seal Directed by Ingmar Bergman released in 1957.
This particular scene from The Seventh Seal is iconic and is frequently used in absurd compilation found footage horror videos on YouTube. Besides that, the film still has the eeriness of an infinite plain in the background. The water meets the sky and has two different shades, one almost white and one purely black. Building the tension of opposite forces. The individual playing a chess game against death is completely in the shadow, except for the little light on his face. The opposite is true for death, who is completely black with no lighting, except his face which is white and illuminated. There are many contrasts being played with in shades of white and black, and at a drastic level, the only neutral gray is the stone that the chess board sits on. This scene holds an ominous tone that reveals the struggle between life and death.
This is how I win – Uncut Gems Directed by The Sadie Brothers released in 2019.
This scene from Uncut Gems is out right now as an Internet meme. It's a picture of Adam Sandler playing Howie Ratner who is a degenerate gambler. In this scene, he is completely losing his sanity because a group of mobsters is hunting him down. He is ranting and raving at Kevin Garnett. This still frame shows us the unhinged quality of character and has a tinge of a demonic look. He is disconnected from reality, and you cannot see past the tinted sunglasses. Only to barely see the shimmering outline of his eyes within the sunglass frames. There's also something about his teeth being presented that truly makes it unnerving. His unhinged tirade is captured perfectly in suspended animation.