One of the most popular female cinematographers of this century, Ellen Kuras, was born in New Jersey, USA, on 10th July, 1959.

Cinematographer Ellen Kuras

Cinematographer Ellen Kuras

Famous for her aesthetic skills with a moving camera, Kuras has done some remarkable work through the nineties and noughties. Some of my personal favourites include, Swoon (1992), Blow (2001) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).

Swoon is an excellent movie, based on the true story of the ‘Leopold and Loeb’ criminal case of 1924. The story is about two wealthy homosexual lovers, law students from the University of California, who kill a 14 year old boy, to prove that their superior minds could rise above the laws and rules that bound the average man. The movie is entirely shot in Black & White, and a masterwork of film making, both by director, Tom Kalin, and cinematographer, Ellen Kuras.
Cinematographer SwoonAlfred Hitchcock too made a loose adaptation of the ‘Leopold and Loeb’ case, in colour, back in 1948, Rope. But Hitchcock had to tone down the homosexuality due to the dreaded ‘Hayes Code’ (Motion Picture Production Code) of the times. And he changed the story, so that the two murderers strangle a former classmate, an adult male. Rope (1948), is set in one day, where the two men host a dinner party around the wooden chest, that contains the dead body, used as a buffet table.

Blow (2001) is yet another, near excellent, movie, based on a real account. This time about a notorious American cocaine smuggler in the 1970’s. Yet another beautifully done movie, this time to come out in beginning of this century, with Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz carrying the show on their shoulders. Depp plays George Jung, the notorious drug dealer, and Penélope Cruz, his wife, Mirtha.
Cinematographer Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindFrench Director, Michel Gondry’s, American surreal film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), happens to be my favourite of the lot. One of the best surreal, sci-fi, psychological thrillers’ to come out of this century so far. This fantasy film is about a secretive futuristic method (though not set in the future) of lobotomy, minus the actual cutting of the brain, to remove memories people don’t want to remember. Majority of the film takes place in the brain of Joel Barish (played by Jim Carrey) who is slowly getting the memory of his girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski (played by Kate Winslet) erased. Clementine Kruczynski has already erased her memory of Joel Barish.
A beautifully directed movie, by Michel Gondry, and the cinematography by Ellen Kuras is breathtakingly brilliant. Headed by a talented cast, including Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson and Elijah Wood, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, won an Oscar for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ and Winslet was nominated in the ‘Best Actress’ category. It also won two BAFTA’s for ‘Best Editing’ and ‘Best Original Screenplay’. A pity Ellen Kuras was not even nominated, let alone win an award.

I watched all these movies ages ago, within the first six years of this century, thus about a decade and more ago. Am yet to watch some of Ellen Kuras’ famed works, in films like, I Shot Andy Warhol (1996), Summer of Sam (1999), Bamboozled (2000), Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005) and Away We Go (2009), to name a few.

TOP LEFT : Cinematographer Ellen Kuras with Film Director Michel Gondry. TOP MIDDLE & RIGHT : Blow (2001) & Away We Go (2009) BOTTOM ROW : Kate Winslet on the sets of 'A Little Chaos' (2014)

TOP LEFT : Cinematographer Ellen Kuras with Film Director Michel Gondry.
TOP MIDDLE & RIGHT : Blow (2001) & Away We Go (2009)
BOTTOM ROW : Kate Winslet on the sets of ‘A Little Chaos’ (2014)

Am also really keen on checking out Kuras’ latest venture, starring Kate Winslet, which is yet to be released, A Little Chaos (2014).

Wishing Ellen Kuras all the best, and hoping she’ll make another great surreal venture, like the dreamily magnificent, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense