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.


Talking with the Hugo Oscar Nominees

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Books, Clips, Costume, Movies, Music, Oscar, Production Design, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

For my TOH column at Indiewire, I spoke with the Hugo front runners Dante Ferretti, Sandy Powell, and Howard Shore about the retro vibe. Meanwhile, Hugos sound mixing team (production mixer John Midgley, re-recording mixer Tom Fleischman, and scoring mixer Simon Rhodes) took top CES Sound Mixing honors last night at the 48th annual awards held in the Millennium Biltmore Hotel’s famed Crystal Ballroom.

Further Restored Napoleon to Debut in Oakland

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

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival will present the U.S. premiere of Abel Gance’s legendary Napoleon in its complete restoration by Academy Award-winning historian, documentarian and archivist Kevin Brownlow, in four special screenings at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre on March 24, 25, 31, and April 1, 2012.

The Brownlow restoration, produced with his partner Patrick Stanbury at Photoplay Prods. in association with the BFI, is the most complete version of Gance’s masterpiece since its 1927 premiere at the Paris Opéra.

The SFSFF screenings also mark the U.S. premiere of the renowned orchestral score, written over 30 years ago (and twice expanded since), by Carl Davis, who will conduct the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

The presentation at the 3,000-seat, Art Deco Oakland Paramount will be climaxed by its finale in “Polyvision”—an enormous triptych, employing three specially installed synchronized projectors, that will dramatically expand the screen to triple its width. The logistics and expense of screening Napoleon properly with full orchestra and special equipment have made it nearly impossible to mount. Gance’s Napoleon hasn’t been screened theatrically in the U.S. with live orchestra for nearly 30 years and there are no plans to repeat the SFSFF event in any other American city.

The current restoration, completed in 2000 but not previously seen outside Europe, reclaims more than 30 minutes of additional footage discovered since the 1979 screening and visually upgrades much of the film. This unique 35mm print, made at the laboratory of the BFI’s National Archive, uses traditional dye-bath techniques to recreate the color tints and tones that enhanced the film on its original release, giving a vividness to the image as never before experienced in this country. Each screening of the 5 1/2-hour epic will begin in the afternoon and will be shown in four parts with three intermissions, including a dinner break. Tickets are available online through the  SFSFF website,

“I was stunned by the cinematic flair,” says Brownlow. “I was exhilarated by the rapid cutting and the swirling camera movement. What daring! I had never seen anything comparable — and I set out to find more of it.” That determination led to a lifelong quest. The first major Brownlow/BFI restoration culminated in a screening at the Telluride Film Festival in 1979, with 89-year-old Gance watching from a nearby hotel window. Under the auspices of Francis Ford Coppola and Robert A. Harris, a version of this restoration, accompanied by a score composed by Mr. Coppola’s father Carmine, was presented to great acclaim at Radio City Music Hall and other venues in the U.S. and around the world in the early 1980s. Mr. Brownlow and the BFI did additional restoration work in 1983.

Lady and the Tramp Goes Blu

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Blu-ray, Clips, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Tech | Leave a comment

Lady and the Tramp, Disney’s 15th animated feature from 1955 and the first in CinemaScope, arrived on Blu-ray this week from Disney Home Ent. in a Diamond Edition looking and sounding as sweet as ever in the home.

The beloved love story between a kind Cocker spaniel and feisty stray mutt is a fond look back at early 20th century Americana. Inspired by Joe Grant’s story about his spaniel back in 1937, Lady and the Tramp was directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske. The soft, painterly look was supplied by Claude Coats and Eyvind Earle, who was instrumental in the famous “Bella Notte” sequence. Speaking of which, Walt wanted to abandon the sequence but Frank Thomas took it upon himself to make sure that it was believably romantic in a canine way. Peggy Lee’s vocal work and songwriting took Disney to new musical heights.

The widescreen format provided extra expanse of space and more realism, but required new layout techniques for less close-ups and longer takes, yet the low angled perspectives are in keeping with the dogs’ world.

Bonus clips and clips below:

To Kill a Mockingbird on Blu-ray

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Books, Cinematography, Education, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Oscar | Leave a comment

This week saw the 50th anniversary release of To Kill a Mockingbird on Blu-ray (Universal Home Ent.). It’s one of the most beautifully crafted and emotionally stirring films ever made, and Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning Atticus Finch is a performance for the ages. He is a model of fairness, stubbornness, devotion, courage, and love, as the Harper Lee adaptation by Horton Foote concludes. Russell Harlan’s sensitive black and white cinematography strikes the right visual tone in keeping with the themes of the racial drama. And Elmer Bernstein’s gentle, melancholy score is embedded in our memories right along with the movie. I had the great pleasure of meeting Peck on a few occasions, which has only enhanced my enjoyment of the film. This is a Blu-ray worth owning, to be sure. And kudos to Technicolor for helping restore it.

However, time has been unkind to the elements and it is not a pristine transfer. Robert Harris has an informative post about the condition of the film elements and an analysis of the mastering.

Rango Grabs 5 Annies

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Annies, Below the Line, Editing, Events, Movies, Music, Production Design, Shorts, stop-motion, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Rango was the top winner at last night’s Annie Awards from ASIFA-Hollywood at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The surreal lizard comedy directed by Gore Verbinski and animated by ILM nabbed five awards, including best animated feature. But the wealth was spread around quite evenly, with eight films splitting the 12 feature awards, including two for DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 2, (such as best director for Jennifer Yuh Nelson); and two for Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, animated by Weta Digital.

It was a surreal evening hosted by Patton Oswalt (Remy from Ratatouille), who quipped his way during scripted and unscripted moments, such as when the wrong envelope was opened for one of the TV winners. There was even fun parody of Oswald’s Young Adult with Remy.

Winnie the Pooh, Rio and Arthur Christmas each received one award, as did the live-action films Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which were honored for animated elements.

Rango also won the new Members’ Favorite Award, which is voted on by the entire ASIFA-Hollywood membership, including student and affiliate members. The other awards are chosen by select committees of professionals in the field.

As far as the TV categories, The Simpsons was named Best General Audience Animated TV Production, while Disney’s Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice won four awards. Other TV winners included The Amazing World of Gumball, Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Secret Mountain Fort Awesome and The Penguins of Madagascar. In one of the biggest surprises, Adam and Dog by Minkyu Lee took the short award over the National Film Board of Canada’s Sunday and Wild Life.



Best Animated Feature
Rango – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production

Annie Award for Best Animated Special Production
Kung Fu Panda – Secrets of the Masters – DreamWorks Animation

Best Animated Short Subject
Adam and Dog – Minkyu Lee

Best Animated Television Commercial
Twinings “Sea” – Psyop

Best General Audience Animated TV Production
The Simpsons – Gracie Films

Best Animated Television Production – Preschool
Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates – Disney Television Animation

Best Animated Video Game
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet – Shadow Planet Productions, Gagne/Fuelcell


Animated Effects in an Animated Production
Kevin Romond “Tintin” – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall

Animated Effects in a Live Action Production
Florent Andorra “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” – Industrial Light & Magic

Character Animation in a Television Production
Tony Smeed “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Animation in a Feature Production
Jeff Gabor “Rio” – Blue Sky Studios

Character Animation in a Live Action Production
Eric Reynolds “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – 20th Century Fox

Character Design in a Television Production
Bill Schwab “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Design in a Feature Production
Mark “Crash” McCreery “Rango” – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production

Directing in a Television Production
Matthew Nastuk “The Simpsons” – Gracie Films

Directing in a Feature Production
Jennifer Yuh Nelson “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation

Music in a Television Production
Grace Potter, Michael Giacchino “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Music in a Feature Production
John Williams “Tintin” – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall

Production Design in a Television Production
Mark Bodnar, Chris Tsirgiotis, Sue Mondt and Daniel Elson “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” – Cartoon Network Studios

Production Design in a Feature Production
Raymond Zibach “Kung Fu Panda 2” – DreamWorks Animation

Storyboarding in a Television Production
Brian Kesinger “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Storyboarding in a Feature Production
Jeremy Spears “Winnie The Pooh” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Voice Acting in a Television Production
Jeff Bennett as Kowalski “Penguins of Madagascar” – Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation

Voice Acting in a Feature Production
Bill Nighy as Grandsanta “Arthur Christmas” – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations

Writing in a Television Production
Carolyn Omine “The Simpsons -Treehouse of Horror XXII” – Gracie Films

Writing in a Feature Production
John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit “Rango” – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions

Editing in Television Production
Ted Machold, Jeff Adams, Doug Tiano, Bob Tomlin “Penguins of Madagascar” – Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation

Editing in a Feature Production
Craig Wood, A.C.E. “Rango” – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present
A Blind Wink/GK Films Production


Winsor McCay Award —Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring, Ronald Searle
June Foray — Art Leonardi
Special Achievement — Depth Analysis

Oscar Nominations Full of Surprises

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Books, Cinematography, Costume, Editing, Events, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Oscar, performance capture, Production Design, Shorts, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Is it a three-way race for best picture between The Artist, Hugo, and The Descendants? Or really a two-way race between either The Artist and The Descendants or The Artist and Hugo? Hard to tell, but Hugo nabbed 11 nominations and The Artist 10 as the AMPAS announced the nominations for the 84th Academy Awards. But with the DGA honoring The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius Saturday night, is there anything standing in the way of the black-and-white silent ode to Hollywood taking best picture?

The biggest surprise was that there were actually nine nominees for best picture instead of six or seven, as anticipated: Joining The Artist, The Descendants, and Hugo were Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse. No real surprises as far as the choices. They’re all solid.

The five best director nominees were Hazanavicius for The Artist, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, Martin Scorsese for Hugo, Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, and Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life. Could there be a split between best picture and best director?

With A Better Life’s Demián Bichir somewhat unexpectedly joining the best actor race, this one becomes a lot more interesting with George Clooney from The Descendants (the favorite), Jean Dujardin from The Artist, Gary Oldman from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Brad Pitt from Moneyball.

How about the spellbinding Rooney Mara from The Dragon Tattoo upsetting the heavily favored Meryl Streep from The Iron Lady for best actress? Or does this one really belong to Viola Davis from The Help? Don’t forget the gender-bending Glenn Close from Albert Nobbs and the beguiling Michelle Williams from My Week with Marilyn. This has to be the most competitive category.

Then there’s Moneyball’s Jonah Hill beating out Drive’s Albert Brooks for a best supporting actor nomination. Does The Beginner’s Christopher Plummer still take the Oscar? Or is The Fighter’s Nick Nolte the dark horse? But what about the nostalgia choice of Max von Sydow from Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?

Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids makes the best supporting actress award a lot more interesting as well. She joins Bérénice Bejo from The Artist, Jessica Chastain from The Help, Janet McTee from Albert Nobbs, and Octavia Spencer from The Help.

Best original screenplay is a lot more fascinating with the surprising Bridesmaids (Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wig), Margin Call (J.C. Chandor), and A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) joining The Artist (Hazanavicius) and Midnight in Paris (Allen). Wouldn’t it be something if Bridesmaids pulled this one out?

Adapted screenplay honors also offered its surprises with The Descendants (Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash), Hugo (John Logan), The Ides of March (Clooney & Grant Heslova and Beau Willimon), Moneyball (Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin), and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan).

The most surprising category of all? Animated feature in which two hand-drawn European indies, A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita edged out Pixar’s Cars 2 and Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin. Score one for the traditionalists. Still, they could’ve gone for Winnie the Pooh to lend a helping hand to Disney’s endangered 2D legacy. And this is the first time that Pixar’s been shut out of a nomination. Rango’s still the heavy favorite, which opens a one-week run on Friday at the ArcLight Hollywood. DreamWorks scored two nominations with Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, proving that emotional storytelling’s definitely on the rise over there.

Animated short nominees ranged from Pixar’s La Luna to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, A Morning Stroll (also honored at Sundance), and The National Film Board of Canada’s Sunday and Wild Life. Although this one is also wide open, I think La Luna might have the edge but don’t count out Wild Life or A Morning Stroll.

The VFX Oscar probably belongs to Weta’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes for the emotionally stirring CG Caesar. However, it was joined by the character-driven Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Real Steel (which beat out the favored Captain America:The First Avenger) and the completely inventive Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Hugo.

Best Picture

  • “The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • “The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
  • “The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • “Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • “Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • “Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • “The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
  • “War Horse Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers


  • “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Alexander Payne
  • “Hugo” Martin Scorsese
  • “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
  • “The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
  • Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
  • Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
  • Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”
  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
  • Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
  • Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Animated Feature Film

  • “A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
  • “Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
  • “Kung Fu Panda 2″ Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  • “Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
  • “Rango” Gore Verbinski

Art Direction

  • “The Artist” Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • “Hugo” Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • “Midnight in Paris” Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  • “War Horse” Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales


  • “The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “Hugo” Robert Richardson
  • “The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

Costume Design

  • “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
  • “The Artist” Mark Bridges
  • “Hugo” Sandy Powell
  • “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
  • “W.E.” Arianne Phillips

Documentary (Feature)

  • “Hell and Back Again” Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
  • “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
  • “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “Pina” Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
  • “Undefeated” TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
  • “God Is the Bigger Elvis” Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
  • “Incident in New Baghdad”James Spione
  • “Saving Face” Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing

  • “The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Kevin Tent
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • “Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
  • “Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

Foreign Language Film

  • “Bullhead” Belgium
  • “Footnote” Israel
  • “In Darkness” Poland
  • “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
  • “A Separation” Iran


  • “Albert Nobbs” Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
  • “The Iron Lady” Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)

  • “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
  • “The Artist” Ludovic Bource
  • “Hugo” Howard Shore
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
  • “War Horse” John Williams

Music (Original Song)

  • “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
  • “Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Short Film (Animated)

  • “Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
  • “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  • “La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
  • “A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
  • “Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)

  • “Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
  • “Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
  • “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
  • “Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
  • “Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing

  • “Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
  • “Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • “War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Sound Mixing

  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
  • “Hugo” Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
  • “Moneyball” Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  • “War Horse” Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects

  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  • “Hugo” Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
  • “Real Steel” Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
  • “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • “Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
  • “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
  • “Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
  • “Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  • “Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
  • “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
  • “A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi

Tweedy Atmospherics in Tinker

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

In my latest Immersed in Movies TOH column at Indiewire, I soak up the tweedy atmosphere of the Oscar-contending Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy with cinematographer Hoyte Van Houtema, production designer Maria Djurkovic, and composer Alberto Iglesias. Most fascinating is the story behind that mesmerizing graphic on the wall of the MI6 conference room.

Iglesias Tinkers with a Spy Score

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Movies, Music, Oscar | Leave a comment

Director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) opted for a gritty, rain-sodden, strip-lighted London for his reworking of John Le Carre’s acclaimed ’70s Cold War mystery, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He recruited acclaimed composer Alberto Iglesias to help set the melancholy mood. Here’s what Iglesias had to say about his Oscar-contending score:

What were your initial meetings like with Tomas Alfredson?

I met Tomas in London when he was finishing post-production. Before showing me the film, he explained how difficult the shooting had been. He wanted to focus the idea of the music on the main character, his loneliness and the gray life of the spies more than on the complexities of the plot…

There is a kind of slow motion in Tomas’s approach to this time in the seventies when the world was in a real war. A war not on the battlefield but with the threat of nuclear bombs and widespread paranoia. Under an apparent calm was a deep net of lies, betrayal, and silences. Music works not only for battlefields with machine guns or horses but also for a man in a corner, alone, thinking.

What was your journey like? I sense a jazzy style.

About the style: yes, it’s a little jazzy in the opening titles and more in the orchestration than in the core. The core is melancholic, almost in all the film. As Smiley finds certainties, the music evolves into activity. A family of themes co-exists.

There is one theme that has more presence than the others. It’s very simple and builds a pedal on a fifth E-A, an isorythmic pattern that less by less acquires the meaning of persistence. The music that in the beginning is part of the solitude of Smiley serves to connect him with the reality. I don’t know if this is evident when you watch the film, but for me it was part of the idea for the structure. Tomas came and put more enthusiasm in some pieces than in others. He never said no to any of my proposals. He wanted me to discover new possibilities until the end.

What inspired you?

We didn’t use any temp track, I suppose he used some for the editing but never showed to me. Except for a Scarlatti piece that he loves and inspired me very deeply.

Tintin Takes Golden Globe for Animation

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

Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin took the Golden Globe for best animated feature tonight in Los Angeles. Backstage, Spielberg said animation “gives you so much room to hang yourself with,” reports TOH’s Anne Thompson. “It can get complex with lighting and choreography, can change entire sequences, it’s a malleable art form. It’s like a painter, very personal with a canvas, even with 400 animators. After Peter does Tintin 2, I hope I get to do the third one.” He likened Tintin to a Hope/Crosby film.

Meanwhile, in the dramatic categories: The Descendants nabbed best picture honors with George Clooney winning best actor. Martin Scorsese won best director for Hugo; Meryl Streep took home best actress for The Iron Lady; Christopher Plummer earned best supporting actor for Beginners; and Octavia Spencer collected best supporting actress for The Help. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris scored the best screenplay prize. A Separation won for best foreign film.

In the musical/comedy categories, The Artist earned three Golden Globes, including best picture, best actor (Jean Dujardin), and score (Ludovic Bource); Michelle Williams earned best actress for My Week with Marilyn; Madonna earned best original song (“Masterpiece” from W.E.). Morgan Freeman was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Trueba Talks Chico & Rita

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Music, Oscar, Trailers | Leave a comment

I spoke with co-director Fernando Trueba at AWN about his Oscar-contending Chico & Rita. Set in Havana and New York during the end of the 1940s, Chico & Rita tells the story of love and heartbreak between a pianist and a singer.The GKIDS release is a joint production between Spain’s companies Fernando Trueba PC and Estudio Mariscal, and Britain’s Magic Light Pictures, led by Michael Rose, formerly with Aardman. The soundtrack by legendary Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés takes us back to the origins of Latin jazz when Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker started fusing Cuban music into their compositions.