Friday, May 9, 2008

Credit Mayhem 2

Panic Room

The tone that the credits set: Distant and creepy. There's something very ominous about the type against the large buildings. The enormity of the settings and the type coupled with the ominous score is unsettling. One wonders if there was flowery music underneath, how that would change the feeling of these opening credits. Rank: 9

Do the credits help tell the story: No and there isn't really any reason to. It's a simple story and the title gives away a lot already. I suppose if Fincher wanted to he could have featured renderings of the security measures taken when creating a panic room, but then he might risk copying from himself. Rank: 7

The technique used: Ornate type is placed alongside giant buildings in Manhattan, as if the type is part of the buildings themselves. It's simple and striking. Rank: 9

Is it style over substance (does the technique get in the way of delivering the credits): The cuts area bit too fast at times and the perspective of the type at times may limit the readability but I doubt either of these matter on the big screen which this was designed for. Rank: 8

Overall Ranking: 8.25

The Shining

The tone that the credits set: There's dread in these mountains. No doubt that Kubrick lays it on thick and he starts early with the credits. The tone is not set with the credits so much as the opening score. It tells the viewer that nothing is safe. Even beautiful mountain views. Rank: 8

Do the credits help tell the story: Kind of. The credits run over the opening action as Jack and the family drive the winding roads on the way to The Overlook Hotel. Rank: 7

The technique used: The credits run more as closing credits, scrolling down through the screen rather than fading in and out. There's a no-nonsense approach to these credits as if Kubrick wants to get them out of the way, yet they are very memorable. Rank: 8

Is it style over substance: Hardly. While the shots are striking, they don't take away from the credits and the credits are big and bold and right there for everyone to see. Rank: 8

Overall Ranking: 7.75

To Kill A Mockingbird

The tone that the credits set: Innocent and playful, like a child introducing you to his room. The camera highlights different things within the cigar box as if each one represented a peak behind a new curtain. Rank: 9

Do the credits help tell the story: A little. The entire movie is told from the perspective of Scout, so it helps that the movie begins to set that premise through random objects that Scout has collected. Rank: 8

The technique used: Beautiful cinematography. When looking at it today, the photography is brilliant, so when you think that this was shot over 40 years ago, it makes it that much more beautiful. Rank: 10

Is it style over substance (does the technique get in the way of delivering the credits): No. The entire sequence is graceful, slowly fading in-between shots and the simple white credits fit in nicely with that. Rank: 8

Overall Ranking: 8.75

My Best Friends Wedding

The tone that the credits set: There was a time when you kind of knew what to expect with a Julia Roberts movie. It was rather formulaic and on the surface this movie proves to be just another predictable outing. But the truth is, this is a different movie. A strangely quirky one that's a lot of fun along the way. These credits are along those line. Fun and different. Rank: 8

Do the credits help tell the story: A little bit. The song tells the viewer that when you find a man you love, you have to hold on to him and show him that you care. That tips the hat to the story of My Best Friend's Wedding being that Julia Roberts wants to tell her best friend Dermot Mulroney that she is in love with him. Rank: 7

The technique used: Live performance, is that a technique? I would say yes. Otherwise, the type is a fun yellow script against a pink background - which is to say that it's nothing terribly special. But the live performance takes it up a couple of notches. Rank: 8

Is it style over substance: The credits could suffer a bit due to the singing grabbing all the attention, but I would say that mostly that the credits and performance compliment eachother quite nicely. Rank: 8

Overall Ranking: 7.75

Dawn Of The Dead

The tone that the credits set: At first scary and then somewhat ironic when Cash chimes in with "When The Man Comes Around." Great song, but it lets the audience off the hook. To me Snyder should have gone with straight fright here. Rank: 7

Do the credits help tell the story: Yes, with random cuts of news stories and rabid zombies, the credits help tell the story of the outbreak and the mystery surrounding it. It's a nice placement as well, introducing the credits right after the opening scene where all hell begins to break loose. Rank: 10

The technique used: Random shots of chaos on video provides the background which is interesting, but nothing really new. The type treatment on the other hand is excellent. The titles appear on screen and then scatter from the screen as if alive. It's a nice reinforcement that what we're dealing with here is a really nasty epidemic. Rank: 10

Is it style over substance (does the technique get in the way of delivering the credits): It's a little ADD with all the cuts, but the technique used to deliver the type keeps your attention focused where it needs to be. Rank: 8

Overall Ranking: 8.75

Catch Me If You Can

The tone that the credits set: Intriguing fun. The structure of these credits is not unlike the opening to a Pink Panther movie, yet it's not as playful. There's still a sense that danger lurks somewhere and that more is at stake. Rank: 9

Do the credits help tell the story: Not really, but they help tell the general premise of the story which is the cat and mouse pursuit between DiCaprio and Hanks. Rank: 8

The technique used: Simple animation that is at once progressive and then an homage past credit sequences. Spielberg is a lover of films and it shows in these credits. Rank: 10

Is it style over substance: To me this is the perfect balance of style and substance. The animation is intriguing and the introduction of each credit is seamless within the animation. It's like witnessing a perfect machine. Everything works as it should and it moves forward. Rank: 10

Overall Ranking: 9.25

Twin Peaks

The tone that the credits set: These credits make me want to take a nap, which is exactly what Lynch and Frost were going for. But Badalamenti's score suggests that somethings a miss, which it is. What's you're left with is a sleepy town that's creeping with miles and miles of bad road. Rank: 8

Do the credits help tell the story: Yes. They help set up the town in which everything takes place. The shots of the lumber yard and the blades being sharpened is almost comical in its monotony which is very much the tone of the show. If I could make a suggestion, I would ask for more shots of the sleepy town. Rank: 8

The technique used: No technique here and no need for it. Rank: 8

Is it style over substance (does the technique get in the way of delivering the credits): No fear of saw blades being sharpened overtaking green type on the screen. Especially after repeat viewing every week. Rank: 8

Overall Ranking: 8


TALKING MOVIEzzz said...

That MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING opening has always been a favorite. Better than the film that followed.

Anonymous said...

The credits for Catch Me If You Can totally got me in the mindset for what was to come. A really fun movie.

Garrett Sorrels said...

Nice work on all of these.
Thats a lot of of detail and time put into those, i imagine.

PIPER said...


I have always liked My Best Friend's Wedding - mostly because I didn't expect what I saw. I liked the whole musical aspect of it. To me it was a pleasant surprise.


You ain't fucking kidding.

Anonymous said...

When I saw DAWN OF THE DEAD, I simply could not believe they put Johnny Cash over it. LOVED IT!!! It's a very unsettling opening to a pretty decent remake.

PIPER said...

Nice to have you back Ray.

Dawn Of The Dead was a good remake.

Damian Arlyn said...

Some more great choices, Piper.

I don't feel the need to comment on either Panic Room, To Kill a Mockingbird or Catch Me If You Can since I mentioned them in my response to your last post on this subject, but I do want to commend your inclusion of My Best Friend's Wedding because that was one that I remember being very struck by at the time. I may not have cared very much for the film when I saw it (although I haven't seen it in a long time, so I don't know how I'd respond to it now), but I thought the opening credits were quite clever and enjoyable. Since most romantic comedies tend to either a) run the credits over helicoptor shots of whatever city happens to serve as the locale while playing some pop song or b) paste them over the movie's introductory scenes (often relegated to the bottom left corner of the screen so as they don't "get in the way") while some pop song plays. Well, the credits for My Best Friend's Wedding included the pop song part but decided to actually featured a group of women (who, as it turns out, were NOT the characters in the story) singing it. Very original for a romantic comedy and very memorable.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen Twin Peaks yet, so I don't have an opinion at this time. The Shining is a very moody and atmospheric opening, so that's a good one to mention and the credits for the Dawn of the Dead remake were designed by the same artist I spoke of last time: Kyle Cooper.

A few other favorites that I neglected to mention last time are the extended tracking shot in Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (and it's homage in Robert Altman's The Player) and the childish scratchings displayed over images of planes "copulating" in the air from Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (also payed homage to in the first Men In Black movie).