Immersed in Blu-ray: House of Cards

Netflix’s Emmy-contending House of Cards from David Fincher and Beau Willimon has gone Blu (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) and The Complete First Season looks and sounds great in HD.

House of Cards is Richard III in D.C. with Kevin Spacey as charming and ruthless House Majority Whip/puppet master Francis Underwood, who schemes to undermine the president (Michael Gill) after he reneges on his promise to appoint him Secretary of State.  Robin Wright plays wife Claire, who runs the non-profit Clean Water Initiative as a cool and calculating Lady Macbeth. Kate Mara plays newbie reporter Zoe Barnes, who becomes involved with Francis to catapult her career and is used by him to destroy his political enemies. And Corey Stoll portrays a Congressman from Pennsylvania, who is aided and blackmailed by Francis.

The first two episodes directed by Fincher are among the best TV you will see, but my other favorite is the eighth in which Francis visits his alma mater in South Carolina, where they’re dedicating a new library to him and we see him at his most vulnerable.

I recently spoke with the three Bs of below-the-line craft on the acclaimed, House of Cards: cinematographer Eigil Bryld (You Don’t Know Jack), costume designer Tom Broecker (Saturday Night Live), and composer Jeff Beal (Blackfish), whose two-disc soundtrack is available on Varese Sarabande. They all attest to the fact that TV bended to exec producer Fincher and not the other way around.

Bryld, who shot 11 out of 13 episodes, had 10 weeks to prep with Fincher in Baltimore and used the Red Epic for the first time on a series. “David likes the Red and got them to customize matte boxes, remote systems, and wireless technology to be as mean and lean in adapting technology to our means,”  he says. “Preparation was about being economical in how we lit everything in telling the story. David had a rule that there could only be 25 crew members on set and no hand-held. He didn’t want it to seem like there was anyone else present in the complicity between Frank and the viewer.”

Then again, dressing up the D.C. gang was especially fun for Broecker. “Kevin loves politics and President Clinton is a very good friend and took off one of his ties — a bright blue one — and gave it to him. Kevin wears only five suits in the series, primarily a navy blue and gray, but he wanted a nod toward a higher end British look in honor of the original British series, and so we made a deal with Gieves & Hawkes, which Kevin works with when he’s in London. His were the only European suits.”

Musically, Fincher recommended that Beal drift back to the ’70s and reacquaint himself with the title track from Supertramp’s Crime of the Century (an apt thematic metaphor). The composer was inspired to riff on the tantalizing trail of piano, strings, and sax for his main title theme. “We talked a lot about Frank and his wife in Shakespearean terms, and David mentioned that a movie producer reminded him of Frank,” Beal recalls. “It’s not intentional malevolence — power is their drug of existence; that’s just who they are.”

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Costume, Movies, Music, Tech, Trailers

Add a Comment