Monday, May 9, 2011

The Craig McCall-Jack Cardiff CAMERAMAN: You'll want to see ALL those movies again

An absolute feast for film buffs, CAMERAMAN: The Life & Work of Jack Cardiff -- the new documentary from Craig McCall about the famous British cinematographer and director -- should have you champing at the bit to get home and delve into many, maybe all, of the films of this amazing guy. TrustMovies has seen most of these already. Even so, after viewing this terrific documentary, with its emphasis on the why and how of Cardiff's glorious work, he was more than ready to watch them all again -- this time with renewed eye and mind.

Mr. McCall, shown at left, is interested in the work life, rather than the personal life, of his subject, so we learn precious little gossip fodder. Just as well. There is so much to see and learn about Cardiff's work in films, and about the films themselves, that not one moment of this 90-minute movie is wasted. We're on the edge of our seat, drinking in every word and image. And -- gheesh! -- those images are keepers, while the array of films in which Cardiff was involved amazes.

What we see of films such as Black Narcissus (above), A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes (his work for Powell & Pressburger still stands as some of the best cinematography film has even given us) to lesser known but important milestones like Scott of the Anarctic and Pandora and the Flying Dutchman increases by miles our understanding of film history and the what/why/how of cinematography.

Cardiff reminisces about his mom and dad -- both actors -- and how they learned to scam the line for extra guineas at the end of the working day. He himself started out as a child actor until he got caught up -- quite early (see right) -- in his love affair with the cam-era, lighting and all else.

We hear from luminaries like Lauren Bacall, who talks of the filming of The African Queen); Scorsese (at bottom), post-stroke Kirk Douglas (in one of the most moving sections of the film), and we see (and hear) from Cardiff about his own photo collection of his favorites leading ladies (see below) -- from Ekberg to Loren to Hepburn (Audrey and Kate)

You'll come out of this movie renewed, invigorated and ready to rethink certain films like The Vikings, Legend of the Lost, even Rambo: First Blood Part Two.  (Well, maybe not that last one.) Still, Cardiff's career is amazing; he's worked on every kind of film you can imagine. Great thanks are owed McCall for going after the man and getting him to spill the "working" beans so brilliantly prior to his death in 2009 -- at the age of 94.

Cameraman, from Strand Releasing, opens this Friday, May 13, in New York City at the Quad Cinema, and in Los Angeles on June 3 at Laemmle's Music Hall. You can check out any further screenings, as they become known, here.

No comments: