The Criterion guys know that Michelangelo Antonioni‘s L’Avventura (’60) was shot 55 years ago (i.e., summer of ’59) with an understanding that a likely majority of cinemas would screen it at 1.66 or perhaps even at 1.37, particularly those in rural Europe. They know it looks exquisite at 1.66, and they know there are ample references to 1.66 as the preferred or default a.r., and they know that 1.77 is so close to the severity of 1.85 that it’s barely worth comparing the two. And yet, as they did with their Bluray of La Notte, Criterion has decided to slice off the tops and bottoms in order to render it at 1.77. Thanks very much, Mr. Becker. History will speak fondly of you for sparing Antonioni fans all of that unnecessary headroom. At least there’s a selected-scene commentary from Olivier Assayas to look forward to. Criterion’s Bluray streets on 11.25.
I ignored the math a few days ago when I mentioned the BFI London Film Festival showing of David Ayer‘s Fury. The fact that the BFI called the 10.19 showing a “European premiere” means that some U.S.-based festival will be also be showing the Brad Pitt-starring WWII combat film before it opens on 10.17. I don’t think Fury and Telluride are an aesthetic fit, but maybe. It would certainly be cool and unusual if that happens, but would you book an envelope-pushing, Joe Popcorn-angled, ultra-violent war film if you were Tom Luddy or Gary Meyer or Julie Huntsinger? If you ask me a surprise showing at the New York Film Festival is the more likely scenario, sometime after the centerpiece showing (i.e., Inherent Vice) but before the closing nighter (i.e, Birdman).
The Deadline gang has a lot of balls posting a photo of Paul Rudd standing near the Golden Gate bridge in a hoodie and calling it “the first look of Rudd in Ant-Man,” which began shooting yesterday. I hate this movie and they’ve barely rolled film on it, although I do notice that the regular-guy-proportioned Rudd has lost weight. Peyton Reed‘s Ant-Man, which also stars Michael Douglas, opens on 7.17.15. Does anyone remember the name of Anthony Zerbe‘s crooked narco in Karel Reisz‘s Who’ll Stop The Rain? Antheil.
Vocal fry murmur among 25-and-under actresses has become so pronounced and consistent and increasingly hard to understand that I brace myself whenever a younger actress pops up in a film or TV drama. Will I be able to understand her at least partly or will I be leaning forward and cupping my ears and wondering what I missed? And don’t say it’s me — VFM is a completely recognized and routinely-analyzed epidemic. It’s been implanted in younger women along with uptalk, and it’s the responsibility of the director to recognize that they become all but indecipherable if they sink too deeply into their vocal murmur, and that they have to be told, “I realize that you’re being natural and real, but you have to figure some way to do that and be understood by people who’re accustomed to greater degrees of vocal clarity.”
It’s not just actresses. Vocal fry is everywhere, and it’s alienating or pissing people off in all walks of life. Here’s an 8.12.14 Business Insider piece that says vocal-fry women are hurting their chances of getting hired and/or advancing. Second graph: “Vocal fry involves dropping one’s voice to the lowest register, causing the vocal chords to flutter, which creates a creaking sound.”
Shailene Woodley was bugging the shit out of me last night as I watched Gregg Araki‘s White Bird in a Blizzard (Magnolia, 10.24). Sometimes I was able to hear her words and other times she would say “uhm…duhcantuhfaylee” or “muhrduhraffah” or “defayzmoreuhmnet.” It depends on how intimate and low-down the setting is. If she’s angry or agitated Woodley is fine (“Why are you doing this? Thank you for, like, totally embarassing me in front of my friends!”). But if she’s laid-back and serene and speaking quietly to a boyfriend on a couch or in a car, forget it. I’d say that her VFM obscures between 25% to 33% of her dialogue in this film.
Woodley has probably decided that enunciating is anathema to expressing her core emotions, and she’s probably told herself, “Marlon Brando was given shit for mumbling and slurring when he was young but it never hurt him any.” That’s actually bullshit. There’s not a single line that’s hard to decipher in any early Brando film. By any case Brando’s mumbling (in what, A Streetcar Named Desire?) pales next to vocal fry.
HE’s last Toronto Film Festival priority slate (posted on 8.12) had 26 hard picks, 30 if you want to be liberal about it and 33 if you really want to bend over backwards. Today the last few titles were announced, and one of them is a keeper — Vincent Melfi‘s St. Vincent with Bill Murray portraying a stonier, less-well-off version of himself, and costarring Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Jaeden Lieberher.
The Compson family in James Franco’s The Sound and the Fury, one of the just-announced additions to the 2014 Toronto Film Festival.
I very much want to see Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi‘s The 50 Year Argument, which HBO will debut on 9.29…but how necessary-to-see alongside everything else? Should I put the New York Review of Books on hold until the HBO airing? Or possibly catch it at the NYFF? Krzysztof Zanussi‘s Foreign Body and Raoul Peck‘s Murder in Pacot sound like near-essentials. Okay, priorities. Okay, films I’d like to see if the schedule allows.
Forget Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s extra-long, time-hogging, schedule-killing Winter Sleep, which I resent anyway because the Cannes jury gave it the Palme d’Or while nickle-and-diming Leviathan with a Best Screenplay award. I’ll see Sleep in Los Angeles when I have the time to spare and not before. If it was screening here before Toronto I’d see it in a heartbeat. Ceylan is a master of his realm and a world-class auteur, but no way am I surrendering 196 minutes to any one film during the Toronto Film Festival.
This is where it is now, what we’ve come to. Our hearts, minds and souls thrive in text messaging or not at all. Whatever you might offer verbally these days is strictly follow-up, explanation and elaboration. If it all works out it leads to touch and warmth, of course, but that’s across the river and into the trees. Otherwise the screen rules. Say it with feeling and conviction, open up and let it in…but we live on and more essentially within our screens. I sure do, I can tell you. And happily, for the most part. But what would Ernest Hemingway or Jack London say?
Which reminds me that I’m pissed that the bigger of the forthcoming Apple 6 phones (what is it, the 5.5 inch?) may be delayed until early ’15. I’m not springing for the 4.7 inch version. No half measures.