Briefs News

World in Brief: Swapping prisoners, U.S. shooting, and 43 casualties in New Delhi fire

The United States and Iran swapped prisoners last Saturday. U.S. citizen Xiyue Wang was released by Iran in exchange for Iranian Massoud Soleimani. Wang was held for spying charges and Soleimani for violating U.S. sanctions, reported Reuters. This is one of the few acts of cooperation between the two rival countries whose ties have been worsening since the election of President Trump. Leading efforts in appeasing U.S.-Iran tensions were scattered when President Trump retracted the U.S. as a signatory of the 2015 nuclear deal. After thanking Iran on Twitter for a “very fair negotiation,” President Trump said that the deal showed that U.S. and Iran “can make a deal together.”

At least 43 workers died in a factory fire last Sunday in New Delhi. The victims were workers sleeping in the factory. “Most who’ve died were sleeping when the fire broke out and died due to asphyxiation,” said Sadar Bazar’s assistant commissioner of police to Agence France Presse. Although the nature of the fire is still unknown, the Director of the Fire Department of New Delhi said the building did not comply with fire regulations. The Agence France Presse also reported that in many Indian cities, factories are utilized as dormitories for poor workers at night to save money. They are usually located in old and cramped neighborhoods where rent is cheaper.

Three were killed and eight injured in a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida last Friday. The three victims were honoured as heroes by the U.S. Navy for trying to stop the shooter, reported the Associated Press. The shooter, Mohammed Alshamrani, a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, was shot dead by one of the injured sheriff’s deputies. Alshamrani was undergoing flight training in Pensacola, like many other members of foreign militaries. Whether Alshamrani acted alone, in affiliation to a broader group, or if it was a terrorist act, is still undisclosed.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


The secret behind the best directors working today

Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins are at the forefront of a new movement of visceral films

Modern cinema has brought us so many films with too many cuts that make the action on screen nearly undecipherable. There are exceptions, but it is almost always a detriment, with many films using heavy editing as a lazy form of movie-making.

In contrast to this trend, Quebec-born Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins have been breaking away from the familiar by lingering on shots and not overly editing their films.  As Deakins said himself when discussing Sicario in a interview, “We built the tension by holding the shots a lot longer then somebody else might.” The success of his films, and those with a similar approach such as The Revenant, prove there is a place for films that dive into an unflinching, realistic and unrelenting style.

Villeneuve truly broke out into the mainstream back in 2013 with the release of his film Prisoners. The film depicts the lengths a father will go to in order to find his missing daughter, and the strain of such an experience. In short, the movie is emotionally draining. Prisoners was Villeneuve’s first real chance to prove himself in Hollywood, and he expertly handled the pressure of a demanding story, while working alongside some of the best established actors.

Audiences were drawn in by the story, the eerie tone and the devastatingly vulnerable performances of Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. The beautiful, dark, long, steady shots that compose the cinematography are an essential part of the film’s haunting mood. The first scene sets the tone not only for Prisoners, but for every subsequent Villeneuve project. We open with a shot of the woods. A deer walks into the frame. The camera pans out to show two hunters. One utters a prayer and fires. The deer falls. This one shot sets the bar for the rest of the film.

This type of brutal honesty has been lacking from the silver screen recently. Villeneuve brings it back in a big way, thanks to breathtaking cinematography. Every shot in his recent films are masterfully composed. Every scene has a purpose.

Enter cinematographer Deakins, a 12-time Academy Award nominee, who has worked on classic films like The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. Deakins was the reason actors Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro accepted roles in Sicario, they said in an interview with entertainment news site Collider. Brolin, Del Toro and Emily Blunt, who also worked on Sicario, expressed their respect for the established cinematographer and his legendary status in the filmmaking community. His more recent films include successes like Skyfall and No Country For Old Men. His works never fail to instill a sense of dread and unease in the audience.

Villeneuve has been at the forefront of a new movement in Hollywood of creating truly personal films with mainstream entertainment value. His passion for the medium of visual storytelling is unique in this age of blockbuster, mind-numbing nonsense. Combine that with the genius of methodological and experienced cinematographer Deakins, and the audience is left with a unique film experience that creeps into the very soul. Their films are reviving a genre of intense and visceral movies, and this revival can only have a positive effect on filmmaking.

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