The Penske Media purchase of Indiewire has resulted in an expansion of my role as crafts and awards season contributor. Beginning this week, I begin Emmy coverage of below-the-line contenders along with my usual Oscar season crafts reporting, working closely
The WB Archive Collection gets Hitch and Bogie on Blu-ray and they've never looked better for home viewing.
In Kent Jones' indispensable doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut, he reminds us that Truffaut was on a mission to correct misconceptions about Hitch as a lightweight
For the first time, the complete writings of film critic Manny Farber is available from Library of America, edited by Robert Polito (Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson).
Manny Farber (1917-2008) was the first modernist film critic to write like a modernist.
A more human side to Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (Dec. 21) is revealed in these two clips (“I’ll Catch You” and “Fan Jump”) as Jeremy Renner’s spy is afraid to make the dangerous leap. He’s still learning to be super cool like star Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.
Peter Jackson recently released production video blog #4 for The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14, 2012). This one’s devoted to 3-D and they provide a nice intro to how it works: Jackson shows off the Red Epic camera system and the 3ALITY stereo rig; Gareth Daley, the 3-D camera supervisor, explains interocular distance; Angus Ward, the stereographer, reveals how one camera shoots through a mirror and another bounces off a mirror; and Sean Kelly, the lead stereographer, describes the convergence point. There’s some nice green screen footage shot on set. View all four video blogs below:
The Artist and Hugo are truly miraculous bookends that should be studied in introductory film courses: Michel Hanazavicius pays tribute to Hollywood silents and the classical golden age in a very old school approach, and Martin Scorsese delves into the magical world of Georges Méliès while soaking up the experimental French sound films of the same period, only pushing 3-D to new depths of dynamic immersion with the latest digital tools.
But it’s not about technology or technique: it’s about the primacy and poetry of visual storytelling — pure and simple. Both directors and their crews return to square one to rediscover the past and reclaim the present. Their films are about loneliness and the search for identity, artistic expression, and the longing to lose oneself in the cinematic dream world of the movies to escape the harsh realities of life. They are also about the importance of dealing with change, which is timeless and timely, given the precariousness of our global situation. The Artist and Hugo are not unique but they are sustaining.
This is important not only for jaded cinephiles but also for filmmakers struggling to find their way in the new digital paradigm and a new generation of filmgoers that has no use for the past. Earlier this year, I met an amiable waiter who admitted that he has no interest in movies made before he was born. I found his lack of curiosity shocking. Surely, he read books written before his time. Yes, he admitted, only when it came to movies they seemed foreign and dated. Well, perhaps he’s not alone and perhaps The Artist and Hugo will make the cinematic past come alive and help connect the dots to the present.
In speaking with Hanazavicius and three of his crew, they were certainly liberated by their back to basics journey: learning for the first time how to construct a monochromatic world in keeping with the rise and fall of screen star George Valentin (the marvelous Jean Dujardin, who’s like a cross between Doug Fairbanks and Gene Kelly), and emphasizing a more abstract form of expression without the use of dialogue. Hanazavicius said simplicity was the most difficult challenge.
The same goes for Scorsese and his team on Hugo, a film about forgotten dreams, memory, and time. That sweeping opening that takes us through the Paris train station and into the eye of a hidden child is a marvel of CG and practical effects, something that Méliès would’ve applauded. And the stereoscopic brilliance is part of the narrative, pushing the depth beyond any previous 3-D movie, including Avatar. It’s fulfilling the promise of House of Wax and Dial M for Murder, thanks to more advanced technology. But the technology is merely serving the needs of the storytelling. We are there with Hugo and experience the storybook world right along with him. When the drawings fly around the room and animate like flip books, it’s magical. When Ben Kingsley as Méliès addresses the audience at the premiere, he extends into our space to address us intimately. Scorsese and his colleagues conceived and executed the movie entirely in 3-D. 2-D was an afterthought. No wonder James Cameron told Scorsese that it’s the best photographed 3-D movie he’s ever seen.
NVIDIA introduced the Maximus workstation, which brings together the power of an NVIDIA’s Quadro GPU and the new Tesla C2075 companion processor under a unified technology. With the support of HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Fujitsu, NVIDIA Maximus-powered workstations are now available to impact engineering and design workflows.
According to David Watters, “[P]rofessionals have the freedom to act on ideas immediately. For example, when a product designer believes a component of their design is complete, NVIDIA Maximus allows them to immediately begin validation simulation at their desk — while still continuing to act on new design ideas with full interactive 3D graphics. Their creative work process is no longer tied down by the limitations imposed on them by traditional workstations.”
See below how Maximus increases particle simulation in Autodesk Maya 2012 and performs rapid photoreal renderings in 3ds Max 2012. Learn more about NVIDIA Maximus technology at www.nvidia.com/maximus.
It’s a trip watching this brief conversation about Hugo and 3-D between James Cameron and Martin Scorsese interspersed with the clips. Too bad the impact is lost without 3-D. But when Cameron first compliments Scorsese, he can barely contain himself from laughing: “The beauty of what you did was you integrated it with the color, with the composition, with the camera movement, with the acting, with everything. I would say it’s like a 16-cylinder Bugatti firing on every cylinder, and 3-D is one of those cylinders.”
Scorsese explains that he uses 3-D as part of the narrative, what with the spatial opportunities of the train station and the clock interiors, and Cameron admits that it’s the best 3-D photography he’s seen because he’s “embraced it as part of his artistic medium” rather than just adding another color to the palette.
Hugo is a 3-D game-changer in elevating it to a higher artistic plateau. Now let’s see what other prestigious directors can do with it.
In my latest TOH indieWIRE column, Brad Bird discusses making the transition from animation to live action, IMAX vs. 3-D, riffing off Raiders, Tom Cruise getting more playful, and Peter O’Toole revealing a secret he learned from Audrey Hepburn. Plus the latest trailer and featurette.
See Tom Cruise doing his own wire stunt work atop the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, in this new featurette from the upcoming Mission:Impossible Ghost Protocol (Dec. 21). Shot with IMAX cameras, it’s a thrilling sequence as Ethan Hunt uses smart gloves to access the building’s server from the outside as a sandstorm approaches in the distance. I will have more about Brad Bird’s live-action directorial debut very soon. The new trailer debuts this afternoon.
As you can see by the new Hugo poster and trailer, the look is getting more dazzling, the visual details more intricate, and the action swifter and more mysterious. To be sure, there’s a melancholy undercurrent that we’re told has a terrific payoff. Can’t wait to see what Martin Scorsese has conjured for his first 3-D movie. Opens Nov. 23.
Now we have a Tintin fanboy featurette that gives us the marvelous backstory of Spielberg and Jackson teaming up to adapt Hergé and what attracted them to his fantastic adventures and Ligne claire (clear line) style that he pioneered. We get a glimpse of the performance capture process, the Raiders connection, and the seminal CG Snowy dog test with Jackson pretending to audition as the drunken Captain Haddock.
Here is a making of featurette that reveals the performance capture work in LA, the molding of Snowy, and the amount of frame by frame animated work from Weta Digital that brought these characters and environments to fully-rendered life, as we are now beginning to witness in the latest trailer below.