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David Boyd on Jose Luis Alcaine

Eye on the Oscars: The Cinematographer

The camera in Jose Luis Alcaine’s hands is steady and searching, gentle with a razor’s edge. His work on “El Piel Que Habito” (The Skin I Live In), directed by Pedro Almodovar), is at once lush and foreboding.

The compositions entice, then slam the door shut behind. The light on Elena Anaya’s face illuminates her beauty and shows us her pain. I can’t shake the sense that I’m experiencing the story only how I’m intended to feel it. This is the work of an unwavering photographic mind.

I first became aware of Alcaine’s work when I saw “Belle Epoque,” a beautiful piece of cinematography. John Malkovich’s “The Dancer Upstairs” is strong in no small way due to Alcaine’s contribution.

With this year’s El Piel Que Habito, both streamlined and specific, Alcaine steps on down the road a bit farther. I especially admired his visual expression of the many planes of life — some visible or transparent and some not, some imagined or dreamt and some not.

And while the images for this latest work are presentational by nature of the material, I remain unaware of where and how he places his equipment. It’s a pleasure to get into his head.

David Boyd’s d.p. work is featured in such series as “The Walking Dead” and “Sons of Anarchy,” and in last year’s theatrical release, “Get Low.”


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