The best films of 2020 that you may not have been able to see in cinemas

What do you know about movies?

A film (from the Latin pellicula, diminutive of pellis, “skin”) is a series of still images that, when projected onto a screen in quick succession, create the optical illusion of moving images. The term is usually used as a synonym for cinematographic work, that is, a story (fiction or documentary), recorded on a support (flexible film or digital container) that is recorded and read by means of a continuous or intermittent mechanism of image succession. These cinematographic films are also called film or movie, as well as the abbreviation peli.

The shooting process. A film can be created by photographing actual scenes with a moving image camera, photographing drawings or miniature models using traditional animation techniques, by computer-generated images or computer animation, or by a combination of some or all of these techniques and other visual effects.

The films were originally recorded on plastic film through a photochemical process and then shown through a film projector on a large screen. Contemporary films are now often completely digital throughout the production, distribution, and exhibition process. Films recorded in photochemical form traditionally included an analog optical soundtrack (a graphic recording of the spoken words, music, and other sounds that accompany the images and that run through a portion of the film reserved exclusively for that purpose, which is not projected).

The individual images that make up a film are called frames. In the projection of traditional celluloid films, a rotating shutter causes intervals of darkness between each frame, which in turn, is placed in position to be projected. The viewer does not notice the interruptions due to an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after its source disappears. The perception of movement is due to a psychological effect called phi phenomenon.

The name “film” originates from the fact that photographic film (also called motion picture film) has historically been the medium for recording and displaying moving images.

The idea of capturing, creating and reproducing motion by mechanical means is very old, there were antecedents such as the camera obscura, or thaumatrope, the magic lantern, the photographic gun. The technique to capture reality by luminous means had already been developed by the inventors of the daguerreotype and photography, in the middle of the 19th century.

Precinematography

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Cinema was the product of a slow experimental evolution over the centuries. The objective of thousands of people, inventors, toy manufacturers or merchants was to entertain the world through images and was not only an impulse but also a need of the human species to express itself through images using the techniques and possibilities of each moment. The basis of cinema is in the development of science and technology, this incessant interest in finding new outlets required the constant application of technique and research on new discoveries.

One of the first scientific advances that led directly to the development of cinema was the observations of Peter Mark Roget, who in 1824 published an important scientific work entitled Persistence of Vision. It stated that the human eye retains images for a fraction of a second after the subject no longer has them in front of it. This discovery stimulated several scientists to investigate in order to demonstrate the principle of the persistence of the image in the retina. Specifically, it was discovered that if 16 images of a movement that takes place in one second are made to pass in succession also in one second, the persistence of vision unites them and makes them look like a single moving image. This theory was later substituted by the phi phenomenon and both will be part of the basis of film theory.

The horse in movement can be considered as the ancestor of all movies, but the aim of its author was to suspend or stop the movement and not to reproduce it, a scientific conception and not of entertainment.

In the meantime, photography was born and already in 1852, photographs began to replace the drawings on the apparatus for viewing animated images. In 1877 the photographer Eadweard Muybridge used a battery of 24 cameras to record the cycle of movements of a horse’s gallop. Later the portable chronograph, a kind of photographic rifle, moved a single band that allowed twelve images to be obtained on a rotating plate that completed its revolution in one second.

In 1890 Thomas Edison built a laboratory in New Jersey, which became the first film studio in the world. His assistant William K. L. Dickson is considered by some to be the designer of the first film machine, the kinetoscope, although it was not properly a machine for recording images. It was finally in France in 1895 when the Lumière brothers arrived at the cinematograph, the first apparatus that can be authentically described as a cinema.

First films

The first films were simply a static shot showing an event or action without editing or other film techniques. At the end of the 20th century, films began to group several scenes together to tell a story. The scenes were later divided into multiple shots photographed from different angles and distances. Other techniques, such as camera movement, were developed as effective ways to tell a story with film.

These cinematic films were a purely visual art, since no sound was recorded on the film. However, these silent films were usually projected in large theaters accompanied by live music, which served as mass entertainment. In the early 1920s, most films came with a list of scores prepared for this purpose and full scores were composed for major productions.

The rise of European cinema was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, while the film industry in the United States flourished with the rise of Hollywood. In April 1927, in New York, the first commercial projection of completely synchronized sound cinema was made, which meant the take-off of this technology.

Contribution of color

Another important technological development was the introduction of color film, which photographically records the natural color of images rather than being added to black-and-white recordings by hand coloring, stenciling, or other arbitrary procedures. The most important innovation was the introduction of Technicolor, first used for cartoons in 1932 and later used in live-action films there.

The material

A film fragment.

Originally the films were recorded on a celluloid tape, a plastic material covered with a silver salt emulsion that, in the presence of light, makes a photochemical reaction. This plastic strip, also called “film”, is what has given name to the succession of images that create the optical illusion of moving images. However, nowadays digital supports are imposed, although film is kept as a name for the recordings of moving images.

From its invention to digital cinema, there has always been a search for ways to improve films, whether in terms of aspect ratio, size or production costs. Thus, according to their chronological appearance, the formats that have appeared are classified as follows:

35 mm film: It was created by George Eastman in 1889 for use with Thomas Edison’s kineto-scope and was quickly standardized for professional use, which is still the case today. Initially, the frame size was 24 mm x 18 mm, with 4 tape holes per frame and was intended to be reproduced at 16 fps. With the addition of the sound on the same tape, the space for the frame had to be reduced to 22.05 mm x 16.03 mm with a 2.54 mm wide strip for the sound. With the sound, the filming speed was increased to 24 fps to improve the sound quality. Currently, along with the 4 holes per frame, this is the most used system. In 1931, after the appearance of sound cinema, an agreement was reached on the aspect ratio of films. This agreement, which was maintained for 20 years, forced the use of 21 mm x 15.3 mm films. Under these measures films like King Kong or Casablanca were recorded. Other tape formats such as 56 mm, 63 mm or 70 mm were also tried, but the high costs of changes in theatres prevented the success of the new formats, except for 70 mm.

Within the 35 mm film, different variations appeared with the intention of achieving a more panoramic image:

Film Theory

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Film theory” seeks to develop concise and systematic concepts that apply to the study of film as art. The concept of film as an art form began in 1911 with Ricciotto Canudo’s The Birth of the Sixth Art. The formalist theory, led by Rudolf Arnheim, Béla Balázs and Siegfried Kracauer, emphasized how film differed from reality and could therefore be considered valid within the fine arts. André Bazin reacted against this theory by arguing that the artistic essence of film lies in its ability to mechanically reproduce reality, not in its differences with reality, and this gave rise to a realist theory. The most recent analysis spurred Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalysis and Ferdinand de Saussure’s semiotics, which among other things has given rise to the theory of psychoanalytic cinema, the theory of structuralist cinema, the theory of feminist cinema, and others. On the other hand, critics of the tradition of analytical philosophy, influenced by Wittgenstein, try to clarify the misconceptions used in theoretical studies and make an analysis of the vocabulary of a film and its link with a way of life. An example of analytical theory applied to cinema is Bechdel’s test, used to evaluate machismo in cinema.

Cinema is considered to have its own language. James Monaco wrote a classic text on film theory entitled How to Read a Movie, which deals with this topic. An example of this language is a round-trip sequence of images of the left profile of a speaking actor, followed by the right profile of another speaking actor, and a repetition of this, which is understood by the audience as a conversation. This describes another theory of cinema, the 180-degree rule, as a visual storytelling device with the ability to place a viewer in a context of being psychologically present through the use of visual composition and editing. The “Hollywood style” includes this narrative theory, due to the overwhelming practice of the rule by Hollywood-based film studios during the era of classic cinema. Another example of cinematic language is to have a shot that approaches the face of an actor with a silent reflective expression, which is cut to a shot of a younger actor that vaguely resembles the first actor, indicating that the first person is remembering his past; a compositional editing that causes a temporal transition.

Editing is the technique by which separate pieces of film are selected, edited and then put together to form the final film. A scene might show a man entering a battle, with returns to his youth and family life and additional special effects placed on the film after the shooting is completed. Since all of these scenes were shot separately, and perhaps with different actors, the final version requires editing. The directors developed a theory of editing, beginning with Sergei Eisenstein and the complex juxtaposition of images in his film The Battleship Potemkin. The incorporation of musical and visual counterpoint, the development of the scene through staging and editing, and visual effects have led to more complex techniques comparable to those used in opera and ballet.

Babelsberg Studio in Berlin

Founded in 1912, Babelsberg Studio, near Berlin, was the first large-scale film studio in the world and the precursor of Hollywood. It still produces global blockbusters every year.

The making and projection of moving images became a source of profit almost as soon as the process was invented. Seeing the success of their new invention and product in their native France, the Lumière brothers quickly began to tour the continent to show the first films privately to royalty and publicly to the masses. In each country, they would normally add new local scenes to their catalog and, quickly enough, find local entrepreneurs in the various countries of Europe to buy their equipment and photograph, export, import and select additional products commercially. Other images soon followed, and moving images became a separate industry that eclipsed the vaudeville world. Movie theaters and dedicated companies were formed specifically to produce and distribute films, while film actors became big celebrities and earned huge fees for their performances. By 1917, Charles Chaplin had a contract that demanded an annual salary of one million dollars. Until 1956, film was also the only system for storing and reproducing images for television programming until the introduction of videotape recorders.

Premieres 2020: the 10 best films of the year so far according to the BBC (and that you probably couldn’t see in the cinema)

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In spite of the pandemic, the cinema is still active.

BBC Culture critics Nicholas Barber (NB) and Caryn James (CJ) selected 10 of the best films released this year, including Da 5 Bloods, The Hunt and a Brazilian tribute to the Westerns.

Here we present them to you, not necessarily in any particular order

**’Da 5 Bloods’.

Da 5 Bloods’ is a movie presented through Netflix as “5 bloods”.

Spike Lee’s latest film is a passionate, kinetic, fully immersive epic that combines intense drama with flashes of wit.

As four black American veterans return to Vietnam to recover the body of their lost friend (and a stash of gold), Lee takes a historical view of America and its racism.

Da 5 Bloods is one of Spike Lee’s best works, which says a lot. (CJ)

**The Personal History of David Copperfield

David Copperfiel’s personal story was not well received by the Bafta.

One of the worst injustices in cinema is that The personal history of David Copperfield was snubbed at the Bafta awards last February.

Even by the standards of its writer and director, Armando Iannucci, this cheerful and infinitely inventive film is a brilliant achievement that raises the bar for Charles Dickens’ adaptations.

The clever part is that it is a loving celebration of the author’s prose, but it is also wonderfully cinematic in its use of vibrant colors, split screens, subtitles, voiceovers and fantasy sequences. (NB)

**Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ is “heartbreaking in its honesty but exciting in its empathy,” says Caryn James.

This quiet and profound drama follows 17-year-old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) as she gets pregnant in a small Pennsylvania town where abortion is restricted, while she and her cousin secretly take a bus to nearby New York City to terminate it.

Far from being a cautionary tale, writer/director Eliza Hittman’s film is an eloquent and intimate account of choices, secrets, and the sad and desperate decisions young women sometimes make to save their own futures.

The film is heartbreaking in its honesty but exciting in its empathy. (CJ)

**The Hunt

President Donald Trump was among The Hunt’s critics.

The Hunt was already controversial before anyone had seen it.

A comedy thriller about a gang of privileged liberals (including Hilary Swank) who kidnap some “lowlifes” on the right (including Betty Gilpin) and then eliminate them for sport.

Its release was postponed last year after two mass shootings in the United States and was condemned by US President Donald Trump on Twitter.

But when it finally came out this spring, just before the theaters closed, the Craig Zobel and Damon Lindelof movie turned out to be a thrilling roller coaster that keeps you guessing who was on which side and who was about to be killed.

So far, none of the 2020 releases have been as good at provoking public outcry as this one. (NB)

**Bacurau

The film shows between the lines a critique of contemporary Brazilian politics.

One of the strangest and most creative films of the year is this Brazilian jewel, set in a poor and isolated village called Bacurau.

The community is oppressed by a corrupt politician, and there is confusion as to why Bacurau has suddenly disappeared from any map, both paper and internet.

When the town is invaded by mercenaries, the film becomes a bloody tribute to the Westerns.

Directors Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles have created a dazzling film, which as The Jury’s Award was given in Cannes last year. (CJ)

**The Assistant

The scandal of producer Harvey Weinstein is portrayed in this film starring Julia Garner.

Kitty Green’s cunning drama takes place in the drab New York offices of a predatory film mogul. It is not necessary to say who is being talked about, even though he is not in the film.

Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison for two crimes of sexual abuse

Julia Garner is the new employee who works from before dawn until dusk, answering phones, printing scripts, unpacking water bottles and taking care of all the evidence left by her boss’ relationships.

The boss, who undeniably resembles Harvey Weinstein, may be the villain, but the film looks beyond one man to focus on a larger corporate culture of sexism, condescension and silent complicity. (NB)

**Emma

Emma has been a novel made into a movie in several adaptations, but Autumn de Wilde’s is very outstanding.

Did the world need one more adaptation of Emma by British writer Jane Austen?

Not really, but this charming and colorful version is a very welcome one.

Director Autumn de Wilde doesn’t reinvent the period genre; she relies on its comforting, old-fashioned appeal.

De Wilde makes the most of her career as a photographer in this beautifully filmed romance. (CJ)

**The Vast of Night

The Vast of Night’ is a film that is distributed on the Internet, through Amazon.

Are aliens watching us? Were they in the skies of the 1950s in New Mexico?

This science fiction mystery asks those questions from “The Unknown Dimension”, but it answers them with so much enthusiasm and originality that they seem new.

Over the course of one night, The Vast Of Night follows a local radio DJ (Jake Horowitz) and a telephone operator (Sierra McCormick) as they investigate the mysterious noises being transmitted from somewhere nearby.

The film includes some sharp comments about the marginalization of certain social groups, but it is pure technical bravura that makes Andrew Patterson’s debut a pleasure.

You know you are watching the emergence of an enormously exciting new talent. (NB)

**The Painter and the Thief

The Painter and the Thief’ is a documentary by director Benjamin Ree.

This strange and compelling documentary begins when Barbora Kysilkova, a Czech artist in Oslo, Norway, has two paintings stolen from a gallery.

After the thief, Karl Bertil-Nordland, is arrested, Barbora seeks him out and asks him to paint her portrait.

She is appropriating his image after he stole her art, but that is only the beginning of a real, sometimes exasperating, friendship as the story grows to include Barbora’s relationship with her boyfriend and Karl’s drug addiction.

Director Benjamin Ree followed the characters for years to create this moving chronicle of inspiration, guilt and reinvention. (CJ)

**True History of The Kelly Gang

Ned Kelly was one of Australia’s most famous bushrangers.

The biographical film of Ned Kelly, the famous bandit of the 19th century, is light years away from the drama of the average age.

Justin Kurzel adapted Peter Carey’s novel, creating something mind-blowing: a dazzling image of the devastated landscapes of colonial Australia, endemic corruption, decadent sex and bloody violence.

Kurzel and his team make Kelly wilder and more terrifying than ever, but more sympathetic as well. (NB)

Top 5 online movie rental platforms

Are you interested in knowing the best online movie rental platforms? This is the offer that is currently on the market.
Online movie rental is one of the most interesting tools that new technologies have given us as movie lovers, but with the passing of time and the establishment (and triumph) of streaming service platforms such as Netflix or HBO we have forgotten about them.

Wuaki

Wuaki is one of the best known platforms in this area of online film rental. Although it follows the style of Netflix and HBO offering you the possibility of paying 6.99 euros per month to watch the entire Selection (catalog that is being updated), you can also pay between 0.99 euros and 4.99 euros for the rental of content, always depending on the release and quality of the film.

Filmin

With a clear focus on independent cinema, short films and documentaries, Filmin stands out for offering a Premium Subscription of between 8 and 15 euros per month that allows you to see almost 8,000 titles available in its catalog, although it does not include the premier titles marked with the symbol of a diamond. Each month you have a basic option that includes 3 vouchers and with which you can see 3 titles, but if you want more then you will have to pay money to access the content.

YouTube

For quite some time now, YouTube has given the possibility of buying movies from its website. The price is quite cheap, depending on whether or not it’s a novelty, and can vary from 13.99 euros for the ‘Justice League’ to 5.99 euros for ‘Mission: Impossible – Secret Nation’ or 2.99 euros for ‘Pokémon, the movie: Mewtwo vs Mew’. As you can see, the time factor is key to save some money in the purchase of an audiovisual product.

PlayStation Store

Here’s how they sell their tool from the PlayStation Store: “Pick a movie for that night you don’t feel like going out, catch up on your favorite series or buy movies to enjoy whenever you want on the PlayStation Store, then watch them on the PlayStation Video-enabled device of your choice. As you can see, it is quite practical as an online movie rental tool, because you can not only buy them but simply rent them for a lower price, watch them and then forget about them.

Orange TV

Orange TV has a video store service that allows you to rent movies, especially new ones that have recently been released in cinemas and arrive in Digital HD on all platforms. In addition, it is very interesting how the service itself creates a series of exclusive packs for a certain period of time, such as the pack of ‘Mission: Impossible’ that was released a few weeks ago on the occasion of the premiere in cinemas of ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’.