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.


Disney Gets Frozen for November 2013

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Movies, Music, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Walt Disney Animation Studios officially announced that Frozen (formerly The Snow Queen, which has gone from hand-drawn to CG), will open November 2013, directed by Chris Buck (Surf’s Up, Tarzan) and produced by  Peter Del Vecho (Winnie the Pooh, The Princess and the Frog). Read more

DD Recreates Elvis; Recruits Dowdeswell

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Movies, Music, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

Digital Domain Media Group and CORE Media will be be making a virtual Elvis Presley for holographic stage tours along with other avatars or movies, TV, and commercials, in a step forward from what it has already accomplished with Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button) and Jeff Bridges (Tron: Legacy). Read more

Trailering The Great Gatsby

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, Movies, Music, Tech, Trailers, VFX | Leave a comment

When I was a teenager, I distinctly remember seeing the trailer for Jack Clayton’s The Great Gatsby in ’74. It was glitzy and elegant and punctuated by Irving Berlin’s introspective “What’ll I Do.” What a contrast to have Baz Luhrmann open his trailer with Kanye West/Jay-Z doing “No Church in the Wild.” Read more

FMX: The Industry Watering Hole

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Music, Oscar, performance capture, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

I came away from my first FMX experience in Stuttgart, Germany, with a similar impression as Doug Trumbull: a wonderful watering hole to exchange ideas and learn about the state of the craft around the world. Read more

Trailering More Dark Knight Rises

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, Movies, Music, Tech, Trailers, VFX | Leave a comment

“There’s a storm coming,” whisper’s Anne Hathaway’s Selena Kyle. I’ll say. The third Dark Knight Rises trailer overlays Hans Zimmer’s melancholy score over images of Bruce Wayne’s anguish, Bane’s creepy malevolence, and Gotham’s inevitable battleground of mayhem and destruction. It’s eight years later and Christian Bale’s Wayne is in need of redemption and release. Thomas Hardy’s terrorist Bane offers just the battle scarred warrior Batman needs to fight to exorcise his demons. What a culmination to Chris Nolan’s operatic ode to the Batman ethos due July 20 in immersive IMAX.

Restored Cabaret Launches TCM Fest

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Festivals, Movies, Music, Oscar | Leave a comment

The third annual TCM Classic Film Festival began Thursday at the Chinese with
Warner Bros.’ restoration of Cabaret. The DCP presentation in honor of the 40th anniversary was warm and nicely saturated. And Warner MPI digitally repaired a vertical scratch that ran 10 minutes. I anticipate that the eventual Blu-ray will dazzle. As for Bob Fosse’s famous adaptation of the Broadway musical, it holds up very well: Liza Minnelli was never better as the spirited yet vulnerable Sally Bowles; and Joel Grey still mesmerizes as the malevolent MC. Fosse saw it as a drama about the decadent fall of the Weimar Republic and evil rise of the Third Reich with music as a supporting metaphor. The emphasis on the drama is both its strength and weakness. The story isn’t nearly substantial enough but the execution is often powerful and daring (never more so than during the “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” beer garden number).

During a discussion with Robert Osborne, Minnelli revealed that her father, Vincente, turned her on to such dark-haired beauties as Louise Brooks for inspiration and that Fosse pushed them hard to ooze sexuality during the musical numbers. In fact, Grey admitted that Fosse didn’t want him because he wanted to mold the performance from scratch but that the producers insisted on retaining him from the Broadway production. Michael York, meanwhile, admitted that he aggressively pursued the part when his agent informed him that they were looking for a “Michael York type.”

Jaws Goes Blu Aug. 14

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Clips, Editing, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Oscar, Tech, Trailers | Leave a comment

Jaws makes its long-awaited Blu-ray debut Aug. 14 from Universal Home part of the studio’s 100th anniversary celebration, boasting full digital restoration and 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio. Steven Spielberg’s first commercial mega-hit ushered in the summer blockbuster, grabbing more than $470 million globally and earning three Academy Awards for editing, sound, and score.

Jaws is one of 13 classic Universal films to be digitally remastered and fully restored from 35mm original film elements for the studio’s centenary. Throughout the course of several months, skilled technicians at Universal Studios Digital Services meticulously balanced color, removed dirt and scratches, and repaired any damage to the film elements shot by shot and frame by frame. Following the picture restoration, Universal Studios Sound team up-mixed the iconic soundtrack from John Williams to 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio. The entire restoration process was conducted in conjunction with Spielberg and Amblin Ent.’s post-production team to ensure the integrity of the director’s original vision remained intact.

Blu-ray Bonus Features:

  • The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws: All-new feature-length documentary featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with cast and crew including Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, and Roy Scheider.
  • Jaws: The Restoration: An all-new, in-depth look at the intricate process of restoring the movie.
  • The Making of Jaws: A two-hour documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.
  • From the Set: An insider’s look at life on the set of Jaws, featuring an interview with Steven Spielberg.
  • Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
  • Jaws Archives: Take a peek inside the Jaws archives, including storyboards, production photos and marketing materials, as well as a special segment on the Jaws phenomenon.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • UltraViolet: The new way for consumers to collect movies and TV shows, store them in the cloud, and download and stream instantly to computers, tablets and smartphones. Currently available in the United States only.
  • Digital Copy: Viewers can redeem a digital version of the full-length movie from a choice of retail partners to watch on an array of electronic and portable devices.
  • pocket BLU App: The popular free pocket BLU app for smartphones is now even better with newly updated versions for iPad, Android(TM) tablets, PC, and Macintosh computers, with features made especially to take advantage of the devices’ larger screens and high resolution displays.
  • Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray player. Users can navigate through menus, playback, and BD-Live functions with ease.
  • Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
  • Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
  • Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
  • Keyboard: Entering data is fast and easy with your device’s intuitive keyboard.
  • BD-LIVE: Access the BD-Live Center through your Internet-connected player to access the latest trailers, exclusive content, and more!

DVD Bonus Features:

  • Spotlight on Location: The Making of Jaws: Highlights from the full-length documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.

The Return of Napoleon This Weekend in Oakland

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Festivals, Movies, Music, Tech, Trailers | Leave a comment

I highly recommend taking in the fully-restored Napoleon beginning today at Oakland’s Art Deco Paramount Theater. Abel Gance’s legendary epic has never looked better, thanks to more than 30 minutes of additional footage discovered by Kevin Brownlow. Plus you’ll get to enjoy Carl Davis conducting his rousing score in person for the first time in America with the Oakland East Bay Symphony. I spoke with Brownlow and Davis for this week’s Immersed in Movies column at TOH at Indiewire.
Read more

Klyce Talks Dragon Tattoo Sound

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, Clips, Editing, Movies, Music, Oscar, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

I spoke with Oscar-nominated sound designer Ren Klyce about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for my TOH column at Indiewire. The underlying soundscape is a freezing, unsettling horror that perfectly complements the creepy, graphic imagery. The feeling of melting snow was prevalent everywhere and so your ear accepted it as being the same place because it’s freezing. But it’s the surreal sounds that were most intriguing, including the mugging of Salander in the subway, culminating with her beating up her assailant on the escalator. Fincher wanted the sound to carry the violence with a screeching terror.

Reel FX Teams with del Toro on Day of the Dead

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Movies, Music, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

Reel FX has teamed Guillermo del Toro to produce the CG-animated Romeo and Juliet riff, Day of the Dead, bringing him back to his Mexican roots. Day of the Dead, scheduled for release in the fall of 2014, is directed by Emmy Award winner Jorge R. Gutierrez (El Tigre, The Adventures of Manny Rivera). The film is being penned by Gutierrez and Emmy Award nominee Doug Langdale. Reel FX will produce alongside Aaron Berger and Carina Schulze of Chatrone Inc.

The action-packed love story, which takes place during the famed “Day of the Dead” celebration, represents the first time in almost 20 years — since 1993’s Cronos — that del Toro has collaborated on a feature project set in Mexico. Music is also integral to the story; the film will feature an international roster of A-list recording artists performing new songs as well as re-imagined iconic songs. Reel FX’s Brad Booker brought Day of the Dead to the studio and is the development executive on the project.

“We’re thrilled to have Guillermo on board for Day of the Dead,” said Booker. “As individuals, Guillermo and Jorge share a cultural background and love for Mexican folklore, which brings a palpable authenticity to our project; however, as artists, each brings to the picture a vastly different aesthetic sensibility. Working together for the first time, we feel that they bring a truly unique balance to the style and story of the film.”

Notes del Toro, “I have admired Jorge’s work for a long time. He has a unique aesthetic and sense of humor. Day of the Dead offers a perfect opportunity for his sensibilities to shine. This is a colorful, vibrant, vital fable that utilizes the animation medium in an incredible way. The object of the tale is not only to talk about life but to dazzle us — jolt us — into living to the fullest. To join Reel FX, Cary Granat, and Jorge in this adventure is a privilege and a joy.”

In addition to Day of the Dead, Reel FX has secured and is actively developing multiple CG-animated and effects-driven, live-action projects. Projects underway include an animated feature adaptation of the Dark Horse graphic novel, Beasts of Burden, produced by Andrew Adamson (Shrek) and Aron Warner; and Turkeys, the studio’s CG-animated comedy directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!). The studio also recently collaborated on the production of the 3-D film Cirque du Soleil’s Worlds Away, written and directed by Adamson, and exec produced by James Cameron. Granat and Ed Jones served as producers on the project for Reel FX. Worlds Away is currently in post-production and set to debut in late 2012 from Paramount Pictures.