8 February 2019 | BodyDoubleFilms
It's a B-Movie - But In Great Way
As Steven Soderbergh made his way back to feature film directing, bringing us the rough round the edges psychological horror Unsane - shot on iPhone 7+ smartphones. By contrast High Flying Bird was not shot on iPhone 7+ phones... actually iPhone 8+...
Soderbergh spoke about a new age of B-Movies. Not in the sense of second rate - but going back to the golden age of cinema, when b-movies were cinema fillers for huge audiences.
They were shot on low budgets. Often with limited lighting and not too many stars or spectacular sequences, with crowds of extras.
Instead, the director had to work around his limited means creatively, often filling a lot of the film with dialogue - as it's much cheaper to shoot: if you can't film all those scenes, you can always have one character tell another character what happened.
Be in no doubt, although a lot of those old B-movies were fillers, some were remarkable pieces of cinema. All the better for being forced into creative use of limited resources.
Indeed, this was how film noir was born. And that is very much what High Flying Bird reminded me of. Those old b-movie sports pictures which couldn't afford the big action scenes so left the sport part in the background while the action focused on the backroom talk.
I loved the cinematography. And it was absolutely refreshing to see old school camera angles instead of the tedium we get now - when every kid with a few hundred dollars to spend sports a DSLR and Bokeh inducing lenses.
Boken is no excuse for cinematography. And this is why the use of smartphones is a breath of fresh air. Without those boring ricks to fall back on (do we really need to see another extreme shallow depth of field close up?), every shot in this movie was thought about. Every shot had a purpose. And how great to have the wide depth of field of smartphones bring the surrounded architecture into play. Not a shot or a building was wasted.
And that's what this is all about. Instead of cinema fillers we have Netflix fillers. Who knows, just like the last time some of them may just turn out to be little gems. Soderbergh knows he'll never win any Oscars for these new b-movies. As did those movie directors of old. But he knows he'll have the freedom to make the films he wants to make and have fun doing it.