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'Ocean's 11' Framing. A Cinematography Discussion. (1 Viewer)

Paul_D

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Every one of Soderbergh's films (that I can think of) is framed at 1.85:1 (Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Out of Sight, The Limey etc.), or something very close to it. It's clearly what he's most comfortable working with. Given his adventurous and experimental reputation, maybe he wanted to try something new on O11. Still, it surprised me greatly when I saw the film, framed at the greater width of 2.35:1. I still think it looks magnificent. The color palette is awe inspiring, and very close to Out of Sight. But there were a number of key scenes that seemed kinda off. Unusually for a film framed at that ratio, the image felt constricted. To my amazement, while watching the main documentary on the DVD, the same key scenes I noticed in the cinema, came up, framed at 1.85:1, and they seemed much more natural, and open. (Also, bizarrely, they seemed clearer and sharper than the same scenes in the actual movie) Specifically, the opening parole board scene, and the "why do this" speech scene.
Did anybody else notice this? Why did Soderbergh choose to present his movie like this? Could it have been a contractual obligation? I have no idea why it would have been, but it still seems like an unusual choice.
What other observations about the film's framing, or the differences/similarities between how the film has been shot compared with his other movies do you guys have?
For an in-depth look at the cinemtography of (IMO) Soderbergh's best film Out of Sight, check out Seth Paxton's Analysis. It's got some great caps, which perfectly demonstrate the framing style I refer to above.
If anyone has screencap capabilities and a copy of Ocean's 11, plus a little time to spare, caps of the above two scenes, in the documentary, and then in the film itself, would greatly add to the above observations.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Paul: I think I read that Soderbergh (under his alias Peter Andrews) intentionally misframed the certain scenes to give the movie some edge. I also read that his color timing was intentionally off... He thought the clash of colors from scene to scene would help keep people awake and into it.
 

Paul_D

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Paul: I think I read that Soderbergh (under his alias Peter Andrews) intentionally misframed the certain scenes to give the movie some edge.
It seems amazingly ironic, that his chosen method of misframing them was by correctly framing them for 1.85:1. Nevertheless, the "edge" it gives the film does work.
 

Seth Paxton

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That's interesting Adam. Especially considering that O11 is much more of a star vehicle than OOS but that people look much better in OOS much of the time.

It seems like SS avoided the normal Hollywood Vegas of color and glitz. It felt like it played to the Bellagio colors of orange and gold a lot of the time.

After hearing him say that he intentionally avoided the cliche of Miami (or was trying to) in OOS I could certainly see how he would want to go against Vegas cliches too.

I just watched this but now I feel compelled to go back and watch it again with Paul's comments in mind.
 

Paul_D

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Ocean's 11 said:
The only possible reason I can attribute this difference to (other than the difference between the DPs), is that Out of Sight is a romantic comedy/thriller, with an emphasis on romantic, while Ocean's 11 is a caper comedy, with a distinct skew towards the absurd... the absurdity of the plot, the wackiness of the characters etc. In my mind, this is proof positive, that deliberate misframing was a method of building upon the absurd elements. In that regard, it sorta enhances the film.
 

Talal

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Also, remember that Ocean's 11 is this BIG movie, with BIG stars... It's all meant to be a high gloss escape, and filming in 1:2.35(when done right) really gives you that GIANT feel...
 

Seth Paxton

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Notice how that O11 shot is so front lit. It actually shows off more flaws on the actors and gives them a much older look. Remember how everyone was saying that Roberts was really looking old in this film as if JR was the one who had suddenly "lost it".

I think it has much more to do with how the actors are shot, which is of course tied into the intent of the film.

I think JR and Clooney are intended to be more worn out, distressed, rather than soon to be romantically coming together.

Remember that O11 is playing with a heirarchy of knowledge to con the audience. The audience is supposed to think that Clooney is still after JR but that he left her exhausted and uninterested in him so that she will not be getting with him (she might even turn him in, we think that chasing her might cost them the job). For that you would want to downplay their desirablity during their 1 on 1 scenes so that the sparks seem to not be there anymore.

It certainly would see that the only difference between those 2 shots is the front lighting, so in O11 they COULD HAVE BEEN make to seem much more attractive and "romantic" together, but you can't make the audience mistrust you by not getting them together. If they seem too good together then the audience will doubt her shutting him down and turn against what you are trying to do (pulling the audience out of the film is usually how we think of it).
 

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