Getting More Immersed with Indiewire


  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

Immersed in Blu-ray: Hitchcock and Bogart


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

Immersed in Books: Farber on Film


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.

How They Did It

Pixar Lights Joy from Inside Out

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, How They Did It, Movies, previs, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

There might not be any holy grails left for Pixar to conquer but there are still major tech hurdles. A new kind of lighting approach was needed for  Pete Docter’s Inside Out given the nature of the five key emotions personified by energy particles, particularly Joy (Amy Poehler). She’s not only the main character but also the shining light. Indeed, she’s a direct source of light. As a result,  Angelique Reisch, the character lighting lead, had to create a special model to illuminate Joy, who’s comprised of glowing particles and possesses her very own luminescence. Read more

Inside the Toxic Storm of Mad Max: Fury Road

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, Crafts, How They Did It, Movies, previs, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

There’s definitely a strange and scary beauty to the Toxic Storm from Mad Max: Fury Road,  the movie’s biggest VFX sequence. The cataclysmic event goes beyond the random havoc George Miller wanted overall, sweeping up vehicles into the sky. It achieves an otherworldly spectacle, courtesy of the magnificent fluid sim work by Australia-based Iloura. Read more

Brad Bird and Claudio Miranda Talk Tomorrowland

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, How They Did It, Movies, previs, Production Design, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

The secret to Tomorrowland for Brad Bird is that it’s more about the journey than the destination, which explains why it’s such a subversive Disney fantasy/adventure, despite the pedigree and star power of George Clooney. Because once we get there, it’s not at all what it seems and there are no simple answers. Yet Bird and producer/co-writer Damon Lindelof still consider it more of a fun popcorn movie than a preachy, good-for-the-soul tonic. Read more

Yonebayashi Talks When Marnie Was There

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Below the Line, Books, How They Did It, Movies, Tech, Trailers | Leave a comment

With When Marnie Was There (opening this weekend in LA and NY from Gkids in an English-language version), Studio Ghibli fittingly concludes its remarkable production run during this hiatus on a mysterious and meditative note. It’s based on Joan G. Robinson’s popular YA novel (one of Miyazaki’s favorites) and explores the magic and melancholy of adolescence with shy, artistic Anna encountering strange, empathetic Marnie in the marshes of a seaside town. The English voicecast includes Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, Geena Davis, John C. Reilly, and Vanessa Williams. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi (The Secret World of Arriety) discussed his second feature, which is somewhat of a visual departure for Ghibli, via email. Read more

Rock Opera Meets Vertigo for Fury Road Score

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, How They Did It, Movies, Music, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg), the founder of NERVE and part of a new breed of film composers that merges electronic with symphonic (Divergent, 300: Rise of an Empire), found the perfect blend for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Think rock opera meets Vertigo. It’s this high-octane, retro revitalization that has also landed him Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (he’s scoring the Dark Knight in contrast to Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel) and the remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s iconic Point Break thriller. Read more

George Miller & John Seale Go Inside Fury Road

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, How They Did It, Movies, Tech, VFX | 1 Comment

The great thing about Mad Max: Fury Road is that George Miller comes full circle in a surprisingly powerful way, reminding us what was so brilliant about his post-apocalyptic vision in the first place while stepping it up with even greater visual and visceral force. Good thing, too, that he lured veteran cinematographer John Seale out of retirement because it was an invigorating journey for both of them. Read more

How James Spader and Ultron Become One

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, How They Did It, Movies, performance capture, previs, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

ILM makes its most elaborate robot yet for the Avengers sequel, modeled after James Spader’s inspired performance. Read more

How They Did It: Bringing Hardy to Madding Crowd

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Crafts, How They Did It, Movies, Tech | Leave a comment

Danish DP Charlotte Bruus Christensen discusses how she lit Carey Mulligan singing “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme.” Read more

How They Did It: The Seduction of True Story

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Crafts, Editing, How They Did It, Movies, Tech | Leave a comment

The weird, fascinating cat-and-mouse between disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) and accused murderer Christian Longo (James Franco) begins immediately during their first encounter in True Story. Director Rupert Goold (The Hollow Crown mini-series) and editor Chris Tellefsen (Moneyball) discuss the first scene in which Finkel meets Longo in the Oregon county jail. Read more

How They Did It: Meet Sentient Ava from Ex Machina

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Clips, Crafts, How They Did It, Movies, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Artificial intelligence has certainly become a hot genre, as dystopia was, yet Alex Garland (Sunshine28 Days Later) has no idea why besides our own paranoia with privacy. However, he’s made one of the smartest and most compelling sci-fi movies in years with his debut Ex Machina, a cleverly Pinteresque power-play between Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson with the beguiling Alicia Vikander as the sentient object of their desire, Ava. Read more