Before he linked up with Steven Spielberg to win Academy Awards for his work as cinematographer for films like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, Janusz Kamiński was apparently willing to take any paying gig—even one as ignominious as having to be the the guy who makes Vanilla Ice’s 1991 cinematic touchstone, Cool As Ice, look good.
Described by us as “a harried attempt to squeeze whatever profits remained in the Vanilla Ice game following the release of the thoroughly unnecessary concert album Extremely Live” and in a contemporary Washington Post review as “a cross between an after-school special and MTV video,” Cool As Ice didn’t exactly set the world on fire when it came out.
Still, as we’ve previously acknowledged, it has “a hell of a look” thanks to director David Kellogg and Kamiński refusing to phone in the project. David Friedman, writing about the movie for his Ironic Sans newsletter, selected 12 still shots “from the movie that are more beautiful than the film deserves.”
Looking at them, we can only imagine Kamiński poring over Cool As Ice’s script, wrestling with competing images of how to frame its poetic verse and many, many instances of Ice jumping a motorcycle with the visual grace they deserve.
Friedman says Kamiński’s work on Cool As Ice demonstrates a few important artistic lessons. “We all need to start from somewhere,” he writes, and “even a terrible project can be a good place to practice your craft, so make the most of every opportunity.” Most importantly, he sees Ice and Kamiński’s temporary partnership as a reminder that “you can’t always be creative alone. Sometimes you have to stop, collaborate, and listen.”
We never thought we’d say this, but, visually speaking, the upcoming Vanilla Ice biopic has its work cut out for it if it wants to stand toe-to-toe with Cool As Ice.
Check out Friedman’s selection of stills for yourself over at Ironic Sans.
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