HeadScratcher question: What do these movies have in common?
Two Weeks Notice
My Best Friend’s Wedding
Five Easy Pieces
HeadScratcher answer: They were all shot by wide-ranging Hungarian-born director of photography, Laszlo Kovacs, who died on Saturday at 74. Alongside Vilmos Zsigmond (a pal of Kovacs’ since their childhoods in Hungary) and Haskell Wexler, Kovacs was one of three exotically-named master DPs who helped turn ‘70s cinema into the grungy-gorgeous body of work we fondly recall today. And while Kovacs probably isn’t as well-known as Zsigmond or Wexler (amazingly, he never got nominated for an Oscar), he does deserve a tad more cool-cred from the under-35 crowd, because Kovacs is the guy who shot the iconic image of John Cusack serenading Ione Skye with the boom box from Say Anything (pictured).
Personally, my favorite little bit of Kovacs is the bleak, startling, and near-silent long shot at the truck stop that closes that great rust-colored classic,Five Easy Pieces. And his black-and-white photography for Peter Bogdanovich (a frequent collaborator) in Paper Moon is dustier than we usually find in black-and-white movies, and perfect for that movie’s Depression-era setting. Then, of course, there’s his most lauded work, Easy Rider, as fine and colorful a pairing of shiny chrome and outstretched asphalt that the movies have ever seen. YouTube really doesn’t do justice to his camera work; go put these movies on your Netflix queue right now.