Norman Wong has the eye. This month the Toronto-born fashion/celebrity photographer (and smart music video director) whose influence has been steadily reshaping the lexicon of Canadian photography celebrates a ten year collaboration with music label Arts & Crafts (Feist/Broken Social/Trust). The exhibit in Toronto runs until June 15th and features iconic black and white portraits (all for sale) of some of our countries best musicians, as well as a wall of backstage candids that provide an Almost Famous insider’s look at the muscians’ rise to stardom.
His work has been featured in Dazed and Confused, Flare, Bad Day and recently he collaborated with the brilliant young thing Petra Collins for Elle Japan. If you’re lucky enough to pull him aside a party and ask him about movies – expect a spirited conversation. (As a side note: years ago he introduced us to my cinematographer Daniel Grant and we’ve never looked back). Norman’s taste is perfection (peep his photographs throughout this story…I mean…). So of course we were dying to know his ten cinematic notables:
1/ The Road Home - Zhang Yimou
The cinematography in this movie reminds me of my love of the cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. It’s a use of colour to depict certain emotions and metaphors. The movie uses exaggerated yellows and reds to depict young love is border line cheese and amazing and it has stuck with me ever since I saw this when it came out in 1999. This was literally the movie that made me want to make movies at an early age.
2/ Hiroshima, Mon Amour - Alain Resnais
It’s a movie that I constantly revisit every year or two, to me this is one of most romantic films I’ve ever seen, and I hold this as one of my favorite movies for many personal reasons I can’t get into. One of best essay for love and memory at the movies.
3/ Ratcatcher – Lynne Ramsay
It’s honestly one of the most beautifully photographed movies ever! I’m baffled by the performances in the movie, Lynne Ramsay makes you feel like you are just hovering right over these characters, it’s spooky!
4/ Control – Anton Corbijn
A very under looked debut from photographer Anton Corbijn. The story of Ian Curtis told through someone who worked with the band in the peek of their success and helped define their images. This is an incredible debut, you can really feel the labour of love and intent in every frame. Anton Corbijn really did his home work on this one to make this one of the strongest bio pics in recent memory.
5/ Punch Drunk Love – Paul Thomas Anderson
One of my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson films – it’s hard to pick one but if I have to it will be this one.
6/ Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? – William Klein
Famed Fashion Photographer from the late 50′s made a movie spoofing the fashion world during the 60′s. Klein is a recent interest of mine and his personal work has really been a great influence on me lately. This film really reminds me of my early days working with famed Canadian model agent Elmer Olsen.
7/ Almost Famous - Cameron Crowe
I hate saying it, but it’s one of my comfort foods, this movie will always remind me of my early days of working with Broken Social Scene, It’s not the same but there are many un-speakable parallels that I personally relate to.
8/ Pushing Hands – Ang Lee
Ang Lee is one of my heros and this was the movie that helped him launch his career. It took him 10 years after film school to fully get a project running, and during that time, he stayed at home taking care of his children while his wife was the breadwinner. This was the script he submitted and won the funding to make the movie from his home town Taiwan. A movie about cultural and age differences in family and it put me to tears for days like all his movies does.
9/ Memories of Murder – Joon-ho Bong
Joon-ho Bong is the most exciting director working today, he comes from the golden era of Korean cinema and is on the height of breaking it big in North America soon with his up coming movie Snowpiercer with Tilda Swinton. Memories of Murder to me is a modern masterpiece of it’s genre of crime cinema.
10/ Claire’s Knee – Eric Rohmer
I am just in love with the way Nestor Almendro photographs women, it’s heart wrenching.
*All photos courtesy of Kathi Z