One thing I find displeasing about the contemporary Western cinematic landscape is its visual flakiness. The best shots of our biggest blockbusters are basically lifeless realizations of pre-vis. The images just aren’t memorable. The whole “One Perfect Shot” phenomenon is remarkably ironic given how many of the contemporary shots that trend on these social media accounts are instantly forgettable. I challenge you to think of more than three single shots in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, not including the famed group shot of The Avengers (2012). It’s difficult, even for movie junkies like myself. This is just what has happened to our mainstream cinema.
But that’s not Infernal Affairs (2002), directed by Alan Mak and Andrew Lau. This is a movie, kind of like last year’s Decision to Leave, that’s just packed with iconic (in the original sense of the word) images. The rooftop climax scene alone has more etched-in-my-memory perspectives than does the majority of Netflix’s original big budget programming combined. A movie doesn’t need memorable images to be a good or even great piece of art… but it certainly helps—and Mak and Lau know this. The images of this film carry true staying power.
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