Black and white everywhere | Culture & Leisure
Denzel Washington walks down a hallway in the castle with a menacing knife. A boy wields a wooden sword in ’60s Ireland. Two women exchange sneaky glances in a posh New York tearoom. Joaquin Phoenix is eclipsed by a precocious boy playing his nephew. All of these scenes and stories acquire another level of meaning and resonance from being filmed in black and white.
It has been a banner year for films released in this art style, including “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, “Belfast”, “Passing” and “C’mon, C’mon”. We had a blockbuster project last year, “Mank,” but I can’t remember any other big black and white movies in 2020. The directors of these four films had to fight to make their stories come true apart. of the standard of our standard. color films. Why was the effort so important to them and was it worth the effort?
Joel Coen shot his adaptation of Shakespeare almost like a horror movie. Witches feature prominently in the trailer, and Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington look ominous in the footage. The cinematography adapts perfectly to the macabre atmosphere and the setting. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” will be released on Christmas.
Kenneth Branagh opens his film with modern and colorful scenes from his hometown of Belfast. The film turns black and white as we travel back in time to his childhood. “Belfast” brings Branagh’s memories of the late 1960s to life when he lived in an integrated neighborhood. The cinematography of the film brings us closer to these characters. In their world, there is no religious segregation, not a clear black and white between Protestants and Catholics. The story is not rosy, but it is not a controversy over The Troubles. The focus is on this one family and how their lives are affected by violence and tension. The story is richer so as not to try to offer a history lesson.
Mike Mills has directed another film exploring family dynamics. He focused on his relationship with his father in his movie “Beginners”. Her film “20th Century Woman” seemed to be a tribute to her mother. Now that he’s a father, we have the movie “C’mon, C’mon”, which features a son. Graphic designer and photographer, as well as writer and director, Mills makes a film that spans three cities, with flashbacks and video calls from additional locations, while retaining his central concept of three people exploring how to be in the world. The black and white cinematography connects all the spaces to create the intimate space between these three characters.
Rebecca Hall, in her early days as a director, wrote the screenplay for her film “Passing”. Hall fought for his vision of the book “Passing” (Nella Larson, 1929) to be shot in monochrome. It is the story of two women, both African-American, who chose to present themselves to the world in very different ways. A woman, Clare (a luminous Ruth Negga), “passes” for white and even marries a racist in Chicago. She’s a childhood friend of our central character Irene (Tessa Thompson), who lives a seemingly more authentic life in Harlem in 1920s New York City.
As the movie “Passing” progresses, we see that Irene suffers from headaches and needs more and more time to rest. Clare has insinuated herself into Irene’s life, but she lives a lie. Irene warns him that she is playing a risky game. Still, Irene’s idyllic wedding life with a doctor, two adorable boys and a maid does not satisfy her. Even her social work, her crusade for a racial justice organization, lets her judge others and their intentions. A large part of the interior life of these women is told through the glances exchanged between them; persistent gazes loaded with tension. Here are two women of navigation racing, and their own authenticity. And all of this at a time when one wrong word or one look could lynch a person. Sadly, this is a statement that echoes the present day.
Joel Coen, Kenneth Branagh and Mike Mills choose to limit color in their films both for artistic reasons and for the enrichment of storytelling. Each of these films is a class affair. As a first-time director, Rebecca Hall held on and waited until she could afford to shoot her film in black and white. “Passer-by” needed this essential element to tell the story. His film had the clearest reason for this artistic choice and this year won its prestigious place among the best films.
Beverage Notes with Films
Three martinis at a Harlem jazz club out of five for “Passing.”
Three and a half slurpies with lots of paper straw liners burping and pulling on the restaurant counter over 5 for “Go, go”.
Four shots of Irish whiskey with a beer hunter in a Belfast workers’ bar on 5 for “Belfast”.