Why ‘The Little Things’ Is A Film Masterclass, But Not In A Good Way

I don’t think that one way of making movies is inherently better than another. What matters to me is that there is it is a way of making movies. No matter how subtle, even invisible, the “style” of a successful movie may be perceived, it is successful because that “style” is intentional. Motivated Prepared and cared for by its team of filmmakers, led by its director.

The little things, the most recent Warner Bros. movie released on HBO Max, contains no such intent, motivation, or care in its making. Sometimes it slides into visual incompetence, so sloppy, careless, and thoughtlessly constructed are even its most basic sequences. Showing us exactly how not to make a movie, The little things it inadvertently becomes a masterclass on how to make a movie. Just do the opposite of The little things!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The little things‘director, John lee hancock, has a filmography full of movies with a baseline of narrative and performance intrigue shot basically at best and sloppily at worst (Saving Mr. Banks‘primary visual defect is at least one of molasses; The founderThe strange framing and editing rhythms are a more unfortunate omen of The little things‘visual shots). But I entered The little things optimistically. I adore the crime thriller genre, I adore Denzel Washington, and I love when a director can tackle an exciting project (Hancock originally wrote this about 30 years ago). Unfortunately, there is no such obvious passion within the film’s construction. Rather, it feels shattered, rushed, “tried” rather than “completed.” I’m thankful that Washington seems to have cared about this movie, because it seems like Hancock didn’t.


Image via Warner Bros.

Let’s be reductive and say that there are two basic ways of gathering visual information during the making of a movie that you need for editing. We’ll call them “intent-based” and “coverage-based.” In an intention-based shoot plan, the film crew plans only the shots they think they will need to put together in the final edit, no need for weird footage, backup shots, or alternate angles when the crew knows they only want the one angle. . In a coverage-based shooting plan, the film crew approaches each scene with the similar goal of projecting a wide network of angles, covering each moment from different focal lengths and points of view, without knowing exactly at that moment how. they want them to cut together. . The benefits and drawbacks of each method are directly opposite to each other. With intentional filming plans, your style will feel inherently more ingrained, but you can shoot yourself into a corner once you realize you need something in editing that you didn’t plan on while filming. With coverage-based shooting plans, you have a wide variety of options to edit the scene as you see fit, but it’s more difficult to establish an integrated, organic-feeling style beyond “editorial competition.”

The little things It seems undeniable to me that it is based on hedging, but it manages to avoid any of the positives gained from this strategy. In fact, it doesn’t even overcome the “editorial competition” hurdle. I can forgive continuity errors from one take to the next if the overall style of the film and narrative propulsion make those details irrelevant (Martin Scorsese Y Thelma Schoonmaker they are members of royalty). But see so many so widespread The little things, from Rami MalekDisappearing hand gestures and coffee cups in an initial crime scene investigation riddled with magically teleporting characters is indicative of a feature made entirely of bugs. It also feels like Hancock and his publisher. Robert Frazen want to show us all the angles covered during the shoot or “it doesn’t count”; many scenes feature abrupt lash-inducing cuts at extremely wide angles for barely frames before flying back to harsh close-ups, without any care, consideration, or dexterity.

This abrupt pace is another unmotivated and untethered constant throughout the film’s construction. The cutting pace within each scene is blazingly fast, and as mentioned, it switches quickly between focal lengths regardless of orientation or purpose. Scenes begging for any level of encouragement or room to strike, whether it’s Malek trying to placate a press hungry for suspects or Washington briefly reconnecting with a feeling of betrayal. Michael hyatt At home, he shuffles at breakneck speed through his vast plethora of angles before quickly finishing and moving on to the next scene, as if Hancock can’t bear to stay inside one feeling at a time. During another crime scene investigation, the film begins to cut between this current investigation and a past investigation in the exact same location, without any sense of visual change for any timeline; Combine this with the movie’s insistence on abruptly switching between angles at breakneck speed, and you’re going to easily get confused and frustrated.


Image via Warner Bros.

Is there a possibility that these editorial and film choices are intentional? That Hancock, from the very beginning, wanted to create this movie with jarring angle changes and fast cutting rhythms to deliberately keep us confused and disoriented? If that’s the case, you’re very unmotivated by your script’s themes and genre slants (and credit where credit is due, a script that I find quite promising), and it’s a plot that makes less sense compared to some of the scenes that seem carefully planned. Usually, The little things is a character-based and procedural crime thriller; It doesn’t feel like a motivated choice to communicate a character-based and procedural police thriller, in which our main topics of interest are the minutiae of the procedure and the emotions of our characters, with such superficial, fast-paced and carefree cinema. More specifically, the title of the film, which is often spoken of in the film, refers to “the little things” that catch you, obsess you with the details of a case, and haunt you for the rest of your life. Widely skipping such “little things” tests with giant leaps in visual clarity just doesn’t make sense; We can’t appreciate the importance of such small things when Hancock shoots everything as if they were overly generalized cliff notes.

And finally, it is worth noting the scenes and moments in The little things that work because they feel planned, lived out, and honored by Hancock. They all tend to take place in Washington’s dingy hotel room, where he lies in a hotel bed, staring at a corkboard of victims and clues, allowing the physicalizations of his regrets and failures to appear in front of him, haunting him. They’re covered in uncharacteristically long shots, uncharacteristically flowing camera movements, and uncharacteristically intriguing color temperatures. They are edited together carefully, with intention, paying the utmost attention to the little things. They are, for brief and brilliant moments, master classes on how to build a successful cinematic sequence, almost as much as the rest of the film is the exact opposite.

The little things is available to stream on HBO Max until February 28. For more information on The little thingsCheck out Collider’s own Matt Goldberg on why the ending of the movie doesn’t quite work out.


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