[First Man] intentional focus mistakes in films?

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Angrymagpie
Angrymagpie Contributing Member • Posts: 730
[First Man] intentional focus mistakes in films?

I noticed what appeared to be focusing mistakes in the movie First Man

for example:

In a dimly lit scene at the house, night time, Neil was facing his wife, there's a glass in front of Neil, and the focus was on the glass, not Neil's face, which was ever so slightly out of focus

There's another shot of the NASA control center, this was probably during the Gemini 8 mission scene. The camera zoomed into the face of someone, but the focus was not on the face of the individual.

There were several shots like this throughout the film

I can see it working when Denis Villeneuve incorporated the super thin depth of field look to his film Arrival, with characters in the film drifting in and out of focus intentionally, which if you've seen the film would know that it actually serves a story-telling function

But what I saw in First Man was not like that (though there were scenes like that for sure, given that the director opted for very tight close up shots for many scenes). It was more like the shot was composed in a way that we are meant to look at the main subject(s), but somehow the focus was not spot on.

It seems inconceivable that something like this could happen in a big budget film

Could it even be intentional?

I understand that the director of photography was going for a hand-held rough look to give the film a sense of immediacy. This works amazing during the film's action sequences, especially the opening scene and the launch sequences (my favourite launch sequences depicted in films, in fact). But it's kind of jarring to see the camera shaking left and right ever so slightly even during a normal household scene. And it's hard for me to imagine how focus mistakes (front or back focusing) would add to such approach

Any thoughts?

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