I love original approaches to cinema, and here are some from 2015 that work especially well:
Tangerine: This raucous and raunchy high energy comedy was shot on an iPhone. This is not a gimmick. The intimacy and urgency of this character-driven movie is a good fit with the iPhone. There really isn’t any call for helicopter shots or the like. The richness of the colors has been enhanced in post-production, so the iPhone cinematography isn’t any distraction at all. (See the shot above.)
Unfriended: This low-budget, high quality horror flick is about teenagers convening over social media. The ENTIRE MOVIE is comprised of their web cam screen shots. It works.
The Tribe: Although the The Tribe comes from Ukraine, we’re not going to hear any Ukrainian. Nor will we see any English subtitles. It’s set in a residential high school for the deaf, and the entire movie is in sign language. It’s novel for the hearing to experience an entire movie in which we hear only the sound of ambient noises – footsteps, creaking doors and the like – and we know that these sounds are NOT heard by the movie characters.
Wild Tales: This Argentine dark, dark comedy is one of my favorite movies of 2015. One key to its success is that it is an anthology. In a very wise move, writer-director Damián Szifron resisted any impulse to stretch one of the stories into a feature-length movie. Each of the stories is just the right length to extract every laugh and pack a punch.
Creed: Director Ryan Coogler and cinematographer Maryse Alberti have combined for the most impressive boxing scene since Raging Bull. The three-minute rounds are photographed as uninterrupted action (no cuts are apparent) from WITHIN the ring. We feel like we’re in the ring with the fighters – right at shoulder-level.
Victoria: The German indie thriller is filmed in one shot. One 138 minute shot. And this is reputedly a barn-burner of a thriller, not My Dinner With Andre. Victoria was in theaters for about a minute this year, and I haven’t seen it yet, which really annoys me. It’s available to stream on Amazon and iTunes, so I’ve downloaded it and hope to catch up to it over the Holidays.