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“I’m a mimimalist. I see things in simple ways … It’s human nature to define complexity as better. Well, it’s not.”

Klute, Little Murders, The Godfather, The Godather Part II, The Parallax View, All The Presidents Men, Annie Hall, Interiors, Manhattan..Holy Shit! You might say to yourself…this guy really knows how to string a list of 1970’s film titles together in a grammatically correct manner or Holy Fuck! I can interpret this list any way I want…what a genious blogwriterman or Christ! These are just some of the movies shot by the late Gordon Willis, a master cinematographer who redefined the look of commercial American cinema in the Seventies and whose painterly and naturalistic images in the above mentioned films defined both the morally ambiguous subject matter and adventurous aesthetic of that period.

Willis ploughed on through the 1980”s up until the mid 90’s , occasional gems such as Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo, the ambitious Dennis Potter adaptation Pennies From Heaven mixed in with conventional studio fare such as The Money Pit, Presumed Innocent, Malice and his swansong, the muddled Harrison Ford-Brad Pitt IRA thriller The Devils Own in 1997 directed by frequent Wills collaborator Alan J Pakula.

What is interesting to note however that despite the quality of his work across three decades is that AMPAS only bequeathed him two Oscar nominations for Zelig in 1984 and The Godfather Part III in 1991 with an honorary award finally given in 2010. Some remarkable work, including The Godfather Part I & II were somehow ignored by the tastemakers in power but such rewards seem vulgar and transitory when used to define any artists work nor measure their profound influence on others.

 

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