Great Cinematographers, Part 10: Michael Chapman

Michael Chapman (b. 1935) has photographed many films now considered classics: the three that I’m highlighting here (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and yes, The Lost Boys) and also many films in a huge selection of genres: The Last Detail, The Front, Fingers, The Last Waltz, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Hardcore, The Wanderers, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Man with Two Brains, Scrooged, Ghostbusters II, Kindergarten Cop, The Fugitive, Primal Fear, Space Jam, Bridge to Terabithia. You should definitely see Taxi Driver above all else; it’s a true masterpiece. As I wrap up my current series on ten great cinematographers, I realize I cannot wait for the next series of posts later in the year. This past week and a half has been a lot of fun.

Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese) – Capturing the insanity of Travis BIckle and his relationship with gritty, grimy mid-70s New York City, Chapman uses the usual Scorsese style (a lot of panning) and contrasts the ugliness of the streets and, in Travis’s opinion, its citizens with the neon glow of porno theaters. The grit and the glow combine for cinematographic perfection.

Raging Bull (1980, dir. Martin Scorsese) – The “You never got me down, Ray” scene is a beautiful (if grotesque) marriage of photography and editing. The use of black-and-white makes the violence all the more realistic and jarring when every punch is thrown.

The Lost Boys (1987, dir. Joel Schumacher) – One of my favorite ridiculous 80s flicks, the “I Still Believe” performance is just so wonderfully silly. All that sweat (or oil?) on Tim Cappello! Jason Patric and Jami Gertz being at least a little bit interesting, not the annoying dude from Speed 2: Cruise Control and the shrill wife from “Still Standing” (respectively)! Gotta love it. Also the obvious inspiration for SNL digital short “The Curse.”

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One thought on “Great Cinematographers, Part 10: Michael Chapman

  1. Pingback: Great Cinematographers, Part 11: Raoul Coutard | The Iron Cupcake

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