Sunday, July 11, 2010

When monkeys record movies

I'm disappointed by popular TV shows. My friend recently introduced me to 24, a TV show that he said I would completely fall in love with. He has the complete DVD set, which was thrust in my hands, in the hopes that I'd enjoy the show, and we'd have something to talk about.

We started watching the show, and what first struck us was the mad camera shake. It felt like the camera work was done by a monkey. On crack. It wasn't long before my nerves gave up, and I paused to have a shot of vodka to steady my nerves. My wife stuck with it, and watched the entire show. But at the end, she too had a headache.

This isn't the first time we've had to suffer at the hand of monkeys. The recent Star Trek movie had abysmal camera work: every scene was shaking madly, which was headache-inducing in the theater. At the end of the movie, I was glad to be out of the hall. Some Indian movies have had this as well: Wednesday had similar camera work, as did Yuva. In these two movies, the story is gripping and nice, but the shaky camera spoils the entire scene. I've been told that it is supposed to convey suspense or drama. To me, all it conveys is amateurish recording, and a director who is asleep.

Yesterday, we watched "Murder on the Orient Express", directed by Sidney Lumet. The comparison couldn't have been more striking. Scenes were beautifully done: emotion was portrayed by excellent acting, great direction, and a sober human behind the camera. Ingrid Bergman's acting was excellent: as was Lauren Bacall and Anthony Perkins. Despite the weak ending, the film was remarkable and gripping. The scene with Lauren Bacall holding the blood-stained knife was so dramatic, it made me jump from my seat. It was enough for Lauren to have a stern expression, for you to know what she had in her hand. If the director can't make the actor convey emotion, you either need a better actor, or a better director. Placing on a monkey behind the camera doesn't help.