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Postby SickThing » Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:57 am

My wife and I watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid again last night. It had been a long time since I last saw it, and much of it I had forgotten.

Little side note: my first exposure to in-hotel-room movies was in 1976, when we stayed at a motel in Kissimmee, FL, on a trip to Disney World. The motel boasted of "in-room movies", and they showed Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Day of the Dolphin repeatedly, all day and all night. We saw parts of both movies at least a dozen times that week.

"Who are those guys?"

"Fa. Loves. Pa."
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Postby Slade » Sun Sep 09, 2007 5:58 pm

WS,

What began as a summer whim has turned into a lot of fun. When I was a kid - and you too - there was "concentration of culture." By that I mean, due to limited media outlets, we were "all on the same page." When Elvis appeared on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, everybody saw him, and all could talk about the same thing the next day. Now, with a zillion channels and the Internet, it takes commitment, but it's still there. Here we sit, seated around the world, and with a little effort, anyone joining this thread can venture into a whole new realm with like-minded people. Jack Palance died. "Who was he, Dad?" "One of the deadliest bad guys ever put on film. If you want to see, let's watch SHANE." "Okay, get it for this Friday night."

Several times, I've posted this exchange:

Shane: So you're Jack Wilson.
Jack Wilson: What's that mean to you, Shane?
Shane: I've heard about you.
Jack Wilson: What have you heard, Shane?
Shane: I've heard that you're a low-down Yankee liar.
Jack Wilson: Prove it.

This time, I got into the gunfight in detail, playing it again and again. The way Wilson sets the coffeepot aside. The way he stands up and walks around the table. The way Shane pushes away from the bar. And the way every cut adds to the whole.

Riveting!

http://www.filmreference.com/Writers-an ... lliam.html

Frank Capra called William Hornbeck "the greatest film editor in the history of motion pictures," and in a 1977 poll 100 of his peers named Hornbeck the best editor in the film industry...

He began at the bottom as a winder of film when hardly more than a child, and worked up the ladder of the business slowly and thoroughly, learning every phase of film cutting...

His editing technique is simple: it serves its story, and the intent of the director, according to what is most appropriate; it is superbly crafted; it is humanistic in tone...

In Shane, during a lengthy fight in a saloon, the story presents the fascinated young boy (Brandon DeWilde) watching his hero, Alan Ladd, defeat the badmen. The action of the fight is cut so that the audience is returned several times to the sight of DeWilde watching the fight. Since the response of the boy to the gunfighter hero is one of the basic thematic concerns of the film, rapidly cutting him into the dynamic action of the saloon fight maintains the integrity of the fight but also grounds it firmly in the point of view of the child. Later in the same film, DeWilde "participates" in the final gunfight by warning the hero at a crucial moment. Hornbeck's cutting on sound (the cry of the boy's warning) again effectively illustrates the point of the boy's desire not only to watch the hero, but to be the hero. A hard punch on a villain's jaw by Alan Ladd is followed by a cut to the boy crunching down hard on a candy stick. The crack of the candy replaces the sound of the jaw punch, and again unites action to thematic purpose. (These masterful examples of Hornbeck's work were chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to illustrate the technique of editing at one of their annual Oscar shows.)


When I first saw SHANE as a boy, I, too, was awestruck by my gunfighter hero.

Now I know why.

Slade
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Postby Wil » Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:44 am

Slade wrote:Also, last week, I rewatched SHANE... <snip>I don't know whether they cranked the level of the blasts up for the digital reworking, but man, every shot literally explodes off the screen!


Slade,

The gunshots in SHANE were bowling balls rolled into garbage cans. Warren Beatty tells a great story about this in "George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey." I'll try to remember the story, best I can.

Beatty loved Shane and wanted to duplicate the sound for the gunshots in Bonnie and Clyde, so they did the bowling balls in the garbage can trick and mixed the sound very high. Beatty went to the premiere of the movie and was gleefully waiting for the audience reaction to the booming guns. When the first scene came, the gun sounded more like a pop. Next gunshot, same thing.

Beatty raced up to the projectionist's booth and found the guy turning the sound down in the theater at every gun battle.

Beatty asked, "What the hell are you doing?"

And the projectionist said, "This is the worst sound mix since Shane."

-Wil
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Postby Slade » Thu Sep 13, 2007 4:16 pm

Wil,

Since I met you and spent a day scouting HEADHUNTER locations, I've looked at films differently. That's why I've gone back to rewatched those that hooked in my memory and never went away. The mystery solver in me asks why. And there's always an answer.

Slade
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Postby Wil » Thu Sep 13, 2007 8:48 pm

MarylandManson wrote:Perhaps you agree that often the director, and in some cases the producer, is most responsible for a final movie. If you disagree, fine by me. You know far more about the movie business than I ever will. I'm curious to hear your answer either way.


MM,

Movies are a created through a collective of artists, actors, technicians, writers, producers, directors and so on. It is a tough concept to wrap one's head around, when we are used to ascribing artistic output to individuals. The auteur theory was started fifty years ago to provide a framework to analyzing film history. If films could be grouped by director and similarities detected, the academic could justify some primacy to the director's contribution and make a case for singularity of "vision" and individual artistry.

(We can go back to Thomas Carlyle's "Great Man" theory which says, "the history of the world is but the biography of great men.")

The problem occurred in the late 60s when directors morphed this view into self-aggrandizement. The Director's Guild negotiated a contractual obligation for producers to include "A film by..." credit (or a "joint" if you're Spike Lee). This "director as God" view was then incorporated into the marketing language and eventually into film geek speak.

The auteur theory has since been dismissed in the academic world, since it is clear that you can't use a single-artist metric to evaluate the work of a collective. (See Slade's note on Hornbeck's contribution as editor on Shane.)

One cannot point to a finished work and divine who contributed what to the final product. Did the director pick the lenses, or did the cinematographer? Did the editor find a shot from an earlier scene and insert it at the right moment to make the scene sing? Did that glance from an actor set up a new way to look at the romantic relationship between the characters?

Take the music away from Jaws and you have an okay movie. Imagine if Vangelis did the music for Jaws and you've got a crappy monster picture. To say that the decision was Speilberg's alone is bullshit. That music was created by John Williams and was approved by Speilberg, a number of producers, and a score of studio executives. They were all part of the decision to hire Williams in the first place. Who would argue that Williams was the author of Jaws?

If one selects the movies he/she will watch based on a single contributor (this actor, or that director) that is perfectly okay, but let's not go down the road of trying to judge the artistry of any picture on that one person. To do so is to insult the others in the process.

-Wil
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Postby Wil » Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:03 pm

PohlSE wrote:Big egos + big money + free time - personal responsibility = reprehensible behavior.

And yes a few bad apples DO spoil the barrel.


PohlSE,

So then, all cops are alcoholic wife-beaters and racists; all priests are child-molesters; all lawyers are ambulance chasers; and all children are angels.

For every misbehaved movie star, I can name ten who are perfectly acceptable in your eyes. Do we really have to argue the relative value of stereotypes?

You're still being silly.

-Wil
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Postby Slade » Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:26 pm

Last night, I had one of those "Western moments" that put you to the test. My wife and I went out for Chinese food. As we were heading home, she slammed on the brakes. Standing bewildered on the road in front of the car was a small, white cat. Lee gave it a short honk, but the cat didn't move. She gave it a flick of the lights, but the cat didn't blink. So, keeping the car where it was to block any tail-end traffic, she punched on the Hazard lights and got out.

From the passenger's seat, I watched her crouch down in the headlight beams and talk to the cat. Then she moved her hand back and forth in front of its eyes. Finally, she bundled it up in her arms and carried it back to the car.

"I think it's blind," she said.

What suddenly struck me was that our household might be growing by one. An ordinary cat, we could just shoo off the road. But a blind cat, that was something different. Fate had determined that OUR car just happened to chance along, so this pathetic creature was mine to let live or die. It was in OUR car.

Leave a blind cat to fend for itself, and it would probably get crushed by a car after we left. Take it to the SPCA, and it would probably be put down. Either course of action would hit me later. There'd be that shudder of cold awareness, and loathing mutter to self, "What a jerk! You couldn't face up to the inconvenience." (Probably a rather expensive inconvenience from the looks of the waif.)

That's the problem with Westerns. They put you in a bind and leave you just one moral choice. And that sort of thinking spills over into your everyday life.

"Okay, Cat. If we can't place you, you're coming home with us."

As luck would have it, we found the cat's home. "My God! She's old and blind! How did she sneak out?"

As we walked back to our car, a vehicle stopped behind the flashers and a man got out. "Trouble?" he said. "How can I help?"

Today, I took a video back to the library. I drove across the same stretch of road and it looked like every empty stretch that I've been driving down all my life.

A small moment, now lost in time, but influenced by this thread.

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Postby WaywardSoul » Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:44 pm

Slade wrote:That's the problem with Westerns. They put you in a bind and leave you just one moral choice. And that sort of thinking spills over into your everyday life.



And that's not a bad thing, Slade.

I've been in those situations myself and have realized that doing the RIGHT thing isn't always the easiest thing, but it sure helps you face the man in the mirror every morning.
"Remember, there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over." - Frank Zappa
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Postby Slade » Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:16 am

Amen, WS.

John Banks and I were on our Grand Tour of Britain. We'd spent too long climbing Arthur's Seat and were rushing past Holyroodhouse to get to the station to catch the train from Edinburgh to London to see a million bucks' worth of fireworks for the Queen's Jubilee.

John glances over his shoulder and stops running. "Come on! Seconds count!" I say.

Then I see what he's staring at. A toddler without another soul in sight has come out of a door and is weaving along a road full of traffic, heading away from us.

"So we miss the train, we miss the fireworks, we miss our flight home," John said. "I can't walk away from this."

I didn't know he could sprint that fast!

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Postby Cawdorgraves » Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:06 am

I've been on a Paul Newman/Robert Redford fix of late. Butch CAssidy & Sundance kid and The Sting were surprisingly fantastic films. And despite their age still stand to be quite the entertaining films to todays films. What is also easy to note is that they didn't have the special effects we have today yet were able to keep their viewers on the edge of their seats.

Hollywood over kills with the mighty dollar thinking its fans will appreciate high special effects which only run up the dollars. The film Sunshine was made for a very low budget and yet the final product surpasses much of todays high budgeted films.

I think it is time that the film industry take a challenge and try to create equally powerful movies on a cheaper budget and I am certain the results would be as good if not better.
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Postby Slade » Mon Sep 17, 2007 3:51 pm

"I never knew an actor in my lifetime or anybody's lifetime who didn't want to do a Western. We all want to do Westerns and believe me it belongs to us in this country, uniquely to us. ... The Western is here to stay." - "Broken Trail" actor and Emmy winner Robert Duvall.
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Postby PohlSE » Mon Sep 17, 2007 11:13 pm

Wil wrote:So then, all cops are alcoholic wife-beaters and racists; all priests are child-molesters; all lawyers are ambulance chasers; and all children are angels.

For every misbehaved movie star, I can name ten who are perfectly acceptable in your eyes. Do we really have to argue the relative value of stereotypes?

You're still being silly.


You may be taking me waaay too seriously here, Wil.

My initial post decrying all actors as ‘reprehensible’ was meant to represent my how little I care about actor’s personal lives, when it comes to whether I watch their movies or not, in a comically disproportional way.

Once you called it silly I made it even more way out of proportion with the “reprehensible behavior” equation. Because the farther out of proportion it went the funnier I found it.

Now, that you’ve called it silly again, my instinct it to go completely over the top and indict all media for indoctrinating every member of society, from birth to the grave, into the ‘cult-of-celebrity.’ And suggest that if the media were to invent a cult-of-cop (or of priests, lawyers, or children) then any stereotype associated with that cult are of the medias own making and, therefore, a perfectly valid frame of reference for members of said cult.

But I am strong. I can fight my urges to stir the shit pot for my own amusement.

I will persevere!

:wink:
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Postby MarylandManson » Tue Sep 18, 2007 1:15 am

Whoa, how did I miss your post, Wil? Perhaps it was crossing the ether while I raved and drooled about heavy metal. Anyway, thank you for a fine answer.

Wil wrote:Movies are a created through a collective of artists, actors, technicians, writers, producers, directors and so on. It is a tough concept to wrap one's head around, when we are used to ascribing artistic output to individuals.


As noted earlier, I understand this, hence mention of the caterer. That's not meant to be glib--it's meant to underscore everyone's importance, no matter how others might perceive their "rank" in the scheme of film production.

Wil wrote:The auteur theory has since been dismissed in the academic world, since it is clear that you can't use a single-artist metric to evaluate the work of a collective. (See Slade's note on Hornbeck's contribution as editor on Shane.)


Now this is the kind of answer I hoped for! The academic framework makes sense. However...

Wil wrote:One cannot point to a finished work and divine who contributed what to the final product. Did the director pick the lenses, or did the cinematographer? Did the editor find a shot from an earlier scene and insert it at the right moment to make the scene sing? Did that glance from an actor set up a new way to look at the romantic relationship between the characters?


Are there cases where one can divine who contributed what? I'm thinking of the kinds of personality quirks whereby John Woo (or John Glen, for that matter) figures out ways to put flapping birds into a film. Or how Hitchcock made cameos, or take your pick of cinematic idiosyncrasies. Wasn't it Yasujiro Ozu who insisted upon the use of only one, count them, one lens? At some point, it seems to me that some folks bring certain discernible rhythms and features to films they work on, such that there is a common denominator attributable to them.

Further, in the practical world of moviemaking, isn't it true that there are many decisions that boil down to only one person, especially where there is conflict? And often that one person is the director or the producer, and the reality is "my way or the highway"? I imagine that it's far more genuinely collaborative, as you describe, on indie sets.

Wil wrote:If one selects the movies he/she will watch based on a single contributor (this actor, or that director) that is perfectly okay, but let's not go down the road of trying to judge the artistry of any picture on that one person. To do so is to insult the others in the process.


I appreciate the value of sensitivity where others' work is concerned, and this is a fine viewpoint. Ultimately, though, it raises the question of whether audiences can and should "judge" what they experience. I think it's all fair game, but I'd certainly shy away from intentionally insulting someone's work (or maybe you think I already have--I hope not).

Again, thank you for your insightful comments, Wil.

Cheers! MM
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Postby Wil » Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:45 am

MM,

I'm happy to have this conversation. I'm pleased as punch whenever anyone wants a deeper appreciation of movies.

MarylandManson wrote:Are there cases where one can divine who contributed what? I'm thinking of the kinds of personality quirks whereby John Woo (or John Glen, for that matter) figures out ways to put flapping birds into a film.


Sure. Everyone brings their own personality to their work and directors are no different. I have no issue with looking a different films directed by the same person and finding commonality. You can do the same with writers, or editors.

Watch these movie over a weekend (The Black Stallion, The Natural, and Being There). You'll be bowled over by how similar they are, not because they are directed by the same person, but because they were all shot by Caleb Deschanel, an amazing cinematographer that brings his own signature to his work.

What troubles me is when the totality of achievement is ascribed to one person.

Further, in the practical world of moviemaking, isn't it true that there are many decisions that boil down to only one person, especially where there is conflict?


Yes. The studio head... or in the case of independent movies, the financier. Money always trumps in this game.

...it raises the question of whether audiences can and should "judge" what they experience. I think it's all fair game.


Of course they should and it is all fair game. An informed critique is preferable, don't you think? (To your credit, you are asking these questions, so consider the latter rhetorical.)

Let me quote Sidney Lumet, one of the GREAT American directors. He's made over 50 movies and I'll just name a few: 12 Angry Men, The Pawnbroker, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict. Here's what he has to say about the subject:

"...everybody who does decent work does that automatically, so I don't know what the big geshrei is about, the big noise. Everybody who's good has been doing that for years anyway. So all the auteur theory did was make what had been natural self-conscious. It's had a bad effect critically, because it's trained critics to look for the wrong things. It's had a bad effect on the young movie people. You see, I can't even use the words 'film' or 'cinema.' They stick in my throat because it's all become so precious."

May the angels watch over Sidney Lumet as he sleeps. He is truly one of the great ones.

Cheers,

-Wil
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Postby MarylandManson » Tue Sep 18, 2007 11:33 am

Wil wrote:Watch these movie over a weekend (The Black Stallion, The Natural, and Being There). You'll be bowled over by how similar they are, not because they are directed by the same person, but because they were all shot by Caleb Deschanel, an amazing cinematographer that brings his own signature to his work.


I've seen all those films, so my pre-existing opinions would make it difficult to process any new insight. I tend to associate all those films with their directors. Carroll Ballard in particular seems to "overwhelm" the DP with his directorial style, although I see that Deschanel shot FLY AWAY HOME too.

THE NATURAL, in particular, is a "guilty pleasure" that I've watched dozens of times. In some ways it's way too sappy and Redfordized to qualify as "good" Levinson. On the other hand, even after dozens of viewings, I still get misty-eyed (every time, on cue, like a Swiss train) when those sparks reflect in Wilford Brimley's spectacles.

Interestingly enough, if you would have asked me who shot THE BLACK STALLION, I would have said Vittorio Storaro. Somehow I associate him with Coppola and black horses. Perhaps I've been infected with auteuritis.

Wil wrote:The studio head... or in the case of independent movies, the financier. Money always trumps in this game.


There was an interesting story about Bruce Willis in a recent TIME magazine. Something about studio "interference," which he squashed when he asked, "Who's your second choice to play John McClane?" Or something like that, or so he claimed.

Bottom line: There are a few Hollywood types who have the clout to do what they want with the studio's money, are there not?

Wil wrote:An informed critique is preferable, don't you think? (To your credit, you are asking these questions, so consider the latter rhetorical.)

Let me quote Sidney Lumet, "...everybody who does decent work does that automatically, so I don't know what the big geshrei is about, the big noise. Everybody who's good has been doing that for years anyway. So all the auteur theory did was make what had been natural self-conscious. It's had a bad effect critically, because it's trained critics to look for the wrong things. It's had a bad effect on the young movie people. You see, I can't even use the words 'film' or 'cinema.' They stick in my throat because it's all become so precious."

May the angels watch over Sidney Lumet as he sleeps. He is truly one of the great ones.


But deliver us from THE MORNING AFTER! Sorry, couldn't resist. Even the great ones are allowed missteps.

Now here's a question for you. On the "007" thread, several folks here raved about CASINO ROYALE. Then there are two dissenting opinions, as follows...

MarylandManson wrote:CASINO ROYALE is rather a mess for about 40 minutes, then substantially improves.


Wil wrote:I thought the storytelling was atrocious. For the first 30 minutes, I couldn't figure out what was going on, and by the time the goofy 20 minute (!) poker game came along, with Giannini playing the part of Moe the Explainer, I didn't care what was going on.


That's an informed critique and an uninformed one (rhetorically speaking!) that are quite similar. Although those two opinions diverge in their overall perception of the movie's quality, each focuses, independent of the other, on the first 30-40 minutes of the movie.

So, the question: Is it possible that, beyond individual taste, there really is something "wrong" with the writing during the first part of CASINO ROYALE (and, by extension, that one can perceive flaws that are really there, not just subjective)?

Maybe it's not just being precious to make such a comment. Maybe it's just simple observation.

I see a red barn and say, "Oh! The barn is red."

Then again, my traveling companion says, "Surely you are mistaken. It is in fact an orange barn."

Subjectivity and objectivity, always a fascinating discussion...

Cheers! MM
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