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The Man Who Shot Chinatown: The Life and Work of John A. Alonzo (2007)

An insightful documentary on one of the greatest Hollywood cinematographers, the talented John A. Alonzo (1934-2001). With more than 80 credits to his resume in a distinguished career that ... See full summary »

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An insightful documentary on one of the greatest Hollywood cinematographers, the talented John A. Alonzo (1934-2001). With more than 80 credits to his resume in a distinguished career that lasted more than 30 years, Alonzo is best known for his extensive and creative work in Chinatown (1974), which earned him an Oscar nomination. Actors, specialists and friends discuss about his life and work, and the certain lack of recognition he suffered for a certain period in the business. Written by Rodrigo Amaro

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The Life and work of John Alonzo, one of the greatest cinematographers of cinema


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15 November 2007 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

A férfi, aki a Kínai negyedet fényképezte  »

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€500,000 (estimated)
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(TV) (2010)

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1.85 : 1
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interesting
30 August 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The work of the film cameraman is something that always carries a special interest for me. Their contributions to films are often, at the same time, underrated and overrated. Now while I admire the efforts that went into the making of this documentary I cannot enthuse over their choice of subject matter.

Mr Alonzo was a good, basic cameraman but not more than that. He was competent while not artistic, hard-working but not that interesting. Many cameramen of his generation went for easy gimmickry in their visuals instead of grounding their work in the best principles of motion picture photography. For example, placing yellow filters over the lens to suggest a 1940s (or historical) ambiance is something that many of these copycat DPs would do, but that isn't artistic cinematography. It is gimmickry. Often provided with photogenic background sets Mr Alonzo would light them not in the best interests of the story but merely to engage in display of visual pyrotechnics.

The producers of this documentary could have chosen so many more accomplished cinematographers as their subject. There are great names out there crying for a documentary like this: Robert Burks, Franz Planer, Robert Krasker, Arthur Miller, Joe August, Wilkie Cooper, Winton Hoch, Freddy Young, Osmond Borrodaile, Bert Glennon to name but a few. If we are going to try to encourage artistry in camera-work then we should be studying the artists.

Interesting documentary, but they could have chosen a more worthy subject.


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