How do you replace a golden goose? Ever since the cinema essayists at "Every Frame a Painting" (EFaP) stopped posting, I’ve been asking myself the same question over and over. I’ve tossed my net far and wide, and this is what I’ve caught.
First, a Little About "Every Frame a Painting"
I've been a movie fan for as long as I can remember. When it comes to movie criticism I really don't buy that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. If someone took the time to put something on screen, even if it was just an after thought, something from the subconscious, it certainly means something. So, when I find someone who takes movies as seriously as I do, I hang on. When I found EFaP I was in heaven.
Although they hadn't published an essay since September 2016, it wasn't until December 2017 that Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou of EFaP officially announced that they’d be moving on to different projects (check out their Criterion Collection essays on The Breaking Point and Tampopo). I started watching their essays sometime in mid-2014. Every time I sat down to edit or cull, I searched to see if there was a new episode to keep me company. I've always enjoyed how Taylor and Tony didn't review individual movies so much as discuss how the art of film actually worked. If you’re unfamiliar with their work, go and check out their subtle discussions of Kurosawa and Buster Keaton.
I’ll wait for you. Don’t get lost though, there are over two dozen essays and we have more to talk about.
Over the years EFaP encouraged me to seek out movies I hadn’t seen such as The Bad Sleep Well and Memories of a Murder. They sent me to re-watch old favorites like Silence of the Lambs. They also managed to make me occasionally fall out of my chair in hysterics, In Praise of Chairs and What is Bayhem.
Also Going the Way of the Dodo Bird
If you were a fan of EFaP and haven't stumble across these two yet, go and check them out before their videos are retired. Criswall’s essay on color fits right in here on Fstoppers. Criswell discusses color grading as a tool to tell stories, not as a fancy trick of splash over substance.
As a fan of Denis Villeneuve, I loved Criswell’s essay on Villeneuve’s ambiguity. As an English major with a minor in Film Studies, I couldn’t have been happier to watch Criswell’s take on Old Boy as Greek tragedy. And, if you like his format and if you adore Apocalypse Now, check out his lengthy masterpiece in two parts. Part one starts here.
Liz’s work on Wong Kar Wai and her montage on women cinematographers and the female gaze are incredibly powerful.
Cinema Tyler is probably my favorite film essayist left standing. I’m not sure where to start because the essays are so rich and incredibly detailed. Most of his work spans multiple installments so that he can really delve into his issues of choice. Of note, Cinema Tyler’s Kubrick work and his essays on There Will be Blood are fantastic.
He’s also a film lover after my own heart given his love for Tarkovsky.
If you’re into film music, make sure to look up Dan Golding. Dan started posting in response to EFaP’s final set of essays on Marvel’s music and has grown since then to cover many score and film music topics.
Patrick (H) Willems’ essays are interspersed with short films that riff on and, in their own way, discuss film and the tropes related to certain films. His What if the X-Men were filmed by Wes Anderson is a hoot. Successfully showing off the inner workings of both superhero and hipster cinema.
In particular, his essay on Michael Bay makes for a great response to EFaP's Bayhem. The use of the F Word in PG13 films is an interesting review of the MPAA cursing rules and how restrictive rules can be turned on their head for effect. The structure of Patrick’s essays are very different from those of EFaP. They aren’t as tight, but they certainly are fun.
On another note, I’ve been keeping up with a few montage creators. Instead of creating film essays, these posters are more into the “I’ll show you something cool and you figure it out yourself” school of thought. Give someone a fish and they'll eat for the day, teach them to fish and, well, you know the story. I find that these type of videos provide both eye candy and something to think about. I’m a fan of Jacob T. Swinney, in particular his first and final shots montage.
Likewise, Zack Perwitt has put together some interesting montages and is, incidentally, drastically under-subscribed. I first found Zack’s videos through his war montage. Certainly don’t skip his Mann montage, which with Moby’s cover of Joy Division’s New Dawn Fades at the end has me hooked.
I’ve skipped a lot of the more institutional creators. I've also skipped the essayists who tend to focus on straightforward movie reviews rather than discussions of how movies work. I'm more of a big picture guy. I’ve also skipped a few solid vlogs that are massively subscribed and don’t need me to point them out to you.
Overall, nobody seems to really match the scope and depth of EFaP. Perhaps the overall drive towards quantity over quality means that creators like EFaP will always be temporary additions to my life. That being said, I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments, particularly of newer or under subscribed creators.