I’ve been noticing Oscar-season TV promos that make use of spiritual-uplift music — music that’s not only not heard on the soundtrack of the film being advertised, but which has nothing to do with the mood of the film as a whole. The subdued, gentle choral music in this Zero Dark Thirty spot is an example. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s film never even flirts with the emotions implied by this accompaniment.
And yet the spot “does the trick” on some level. It suggests that the film might be a lulling, calming mood bath. Or at least partly that.
TV ads for Silver Linings Playbook have done the same thing. I heard one last month that used some kind of rave-up, happy-clap “hey!” song that’s not used in the film, but it sounds good so they used it.
I realize that Daniel Montgomery‘s Oscar acceptance clip, which is posted on Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby, is supposed to be ironically, intentionally “bad.” But all you can see are the peeling paint blotches on his ceiling. Which is a symbol, of course, for a hand-to-mouth, down-at-the-heels lifestyle, which does’t go with the tuxedo. But let’s be liberal and accept that tuxedos, poverty, bothersome over-acting, yellow walls, paint chips and huge head-shadows are all of a metaphorical piece.
But Montgomery also tries to blend this Last Exit to Brooklyn atmosphere with ancient Oscar footage (Chad Lowe tearing up at Hilary Swank‘s Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech in ’05) along with Tommy Lee Jones listening to an unfunny joke at last month’s Golden Globes. Plus you can’t hear the guy. Fail.
“I loved Noah Baumbach‘s Frances Ha when I saw it in Telluride. It’s a much faster, sharper and more high-end Girls without the male-hate factor. It has a buoyant Brooklynesque spirit, principally embodied in Greta Gerwig‘s open, vulnerable lead performance. It captures the under-30 thing with exactitude and panache and heart.
“And it’s probably the most beautifully photographed black-and-white film of the 21st Century (cheers to dp Sam Levy). I’m not exaggerating. Frances Ha was captured with a modest digital camera, and it looks an awful lot like Gordon Willis‘s legendary b & w lensing in Manhattan. Really. I honestly found it more transporting than the cinematography in Michael Haneke‘s The White Ribbon. — from a 9.26 HE post.
I don’t remember ever thinking that 27 was “old,” but I do remember one time when I was 19 or 20 and meeting a guy at a party who was 31 or 32 and thinking to myself that he was around the bend age-wise and was close to being over the hill.
To go by a statement from Magnolia honcho Eammon Bowles, the primary reason Magnolia has just acquired U.S. distribution rights to Lars von Trier‘s two Nymphomaniac films is because the company did well with Von Trier’s Melancholia. Bowles (a) called the Melancholia experience “tremendous and never predictable” and (b) said “we couldn’t be more excited to be working with Von Trier again.” Fine.
I don’t know what Magnolia paid but what happened to the idea that films with explicit sexual content don’t perform all that well? Von Trier’s Antichrist wasn’t a “sexual content film” per se, but Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg certainly did a lot of heavy breathing and the film (which cost $11 million to make) was no more than a modest performer, if that. (Boxoffice Mojo reports a wordwide gross of $791,000 and change.) I don’t know what the VOD tallies are.
The last two fairly explicit sexual-coupling mainstream films were Bernardo Bertolucci‘s The Dreamers (’04). and Michael Winterbottom‘s Nine Songs (’04). There was a flurry of such films in the ’90s and early aughts — Zandalee (’91), The Lover (’92), Body of Evidence (’93), The Color of Night (’94), Original Sin (’01), etc.
On top of which it could be observed that Gainsbourg, Nymphomaniac‘s 41-year-old lead actress, doesn’t seem at first glance to be a prime attraction for the young male horndogs who would presumably be the core audience for this sort of thing.
Nymphomaniac won’t go to Cannes, I’m reading, but it will be completed this year.
Every so often a New York tabloid headline becomes an instant classic. The key elements are irreverence, bluntness, mockery, contempt. One of my all-time favorites is BRIDE OF JACKOSTEIN — the 1996 N.Y. Post headline about Michael Jackson‘s breeder wife Debbie Rowe. Ditto their August 2009 headline about Jackson’s final resting place — STACKO! And now the Pope giving God “two weeks notice” — good one.
Last night director William Friedkin tweeted that the much-hungered-for, long-stymied Bluray of Sorcerer, his brilliant 1977 remake of Henri Georges Clouzot‘s Wages of Fear, is finally in the works. “The original negative is in good condition [and] it’s now being budgeted to make a new digital master,” Friedkin said. He added that the Bluray will “not be released by Criterion.”
This is excellent news, of course. I’ve been pining for a Sorcerer Bluray for years. But a thought occured when I read this, and I tweeted it right away to Friedkin. Why not master Sorcerer at 1.66? Friedkin replied that it was framed for 1.85 so why 1.66? I came back with my usual “1.66 is beautiful + it breathes better” response.
But I was also thinking that 1.66 fits because Sorcerer has an international cast, one of the major characters (played by Bruno Cremer) is French and the dominant non-Scope aspect ratio in France during the ’70s was 1.66. (I saw that 1.66 version of Roman Polanski‘s Rosemary’s Baby at a Paris revival house in ’76.)
An hour later I discovered a passage from Thomas Claggett‘s 2003 Friedkin biography, “William Friedkin: Films of Aberration, Obsession, and Reality,” that states the following, according to Sorcerer‘s Wiki page: “During the 1980s and 1990s, like Stanley Kubrick, Friedkin consistently claimed that he preferred the home video releases of his films to be presented in the full-frame format.”
But things are different in 2013, apparently. All TVs are 16 x 9 and Friedkin now wants the Sorcerer Bluray to be cleavered in order to conform to this aspect ratio (i.e., 1.78 to 1 with thin black borders on the top and bottom, which renders 1.85). He did frame Sorcerer for 1.85, of course — the long-established U.S. aspect-ratio standard. There’s nothing wrong in releasing the Bluray this way. And there’s nothing wrong with Friedkin wanting to go with the current commercial flow.
But asserting “during the 1980s and 1990s” that he preferred the full-frame version clearly indicates Friedkin would be at the very least content with a little more height on the Sorcerer Bluray, if not secretly pleased. You can’t be a quoted vocal supporter of the “boxy is beautiful” aesthetic and then turn around a decade or so later and say “Naah, I didn’t mean that…chop off the tops and bottoms and make it 1.85.”
How could it hurt to go the Masters of Cinema route and present two versions of the Sorcerer Bluray — one in 1.85 and the other in either 1.66 or 1.37? Where would the harm be? The 1.85 fascists would hate this, of course, but isn’t that a good thing? These guys are on the ropes after Criterion’s multi-aspect-ratio release of their On The Waterfront Bluray. Bluray distributors who “get it” need to seize the moment and release more of these and marginalize the fascists as much as possible.