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Months of Meryl: Adaptation 

"This film is in my all time great top 10. I love everything about it. The acting, the plot, the crazyness of life itself." - Sonja

"I'm not wild about the film - but Cooper is super and I'd be inclined to put this in Streep's top 5, maybe top 3, performances. It's so unexpected, and works perfectly. For a few years this was often the performance I first thought of when I thought of her." - Scott C

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Entries in Production Design (144)

Wednesday
Jul112018

The Furniture: Theatrical Magic in "Fanny and Alexander"

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, our weekly series on Production Design returns for Season 3! Kicking off with an episode of our Ingmar Bergman Centennial Mini-Series.

There is so much to say about Fanny and Alexander. It has the visual density of The Age of Innocence, the spiritual ascent of Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Ingmar Bergman’s remarkable way with character. These elements gather together to form a benevolent and mystical dome, one which will define the young Alexander’s relationship to his family and his world. The film is built with a free sense of reality, leaping across time but lingering in resonant moments. Bergman casts the Ekdahl family as practitioners of a magical humanism, which which whisks the audience through these many hours as if in a dream.

Much of this atmosphere depends upon the film’s Oscar-winning production design. 

Its furniture magic takes center stage in the first act, late into the early morning hours of Christmas. Oscar Ekdahl (Allan Edwall), Fanny and Alexander’s father, spins a fantastical yarn about an otherwise unremarkable wooden chair. Its long history and hidden power, he says, make it the most valuable in the entire world. Between the flickering gas lights, the holiday atmosphere and the mood of childlike wonder, we are all taken in...

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Tuesday
Jul102018

Moulin Rouge!'s Stage Life Begins

by Chris Feil

We've long been awaiting Baz Luhrman's masterpiece Moulin Rouge! to fulfill the seemingly ancient prophecy to make its way onto the stage. Well, that day has finally arrived as the musical's pre-Broadway tryout begins tonight at Boston's Emerson Colonial Theatre.

We have already been teased by Aaron Tveit singing the epic love song "Come What May" in a foggy theatre, but now we have the real goods we've been dying to see: Karen Olivo stepping into the large shoes of Nicole Kidman as the sparkling diamond Satine and a theatre completely transformed to Luhrman excess. While Olivo's costume (designed by this year's My Fair Lady Tony winner Catherine Zuber) might be somewhat understated from what we might have been hoping to see, we're confident there is further opulence coming once we see what the rest of the show has in store. As for the set, hold on to your hats...

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Wednesday
Apr252018

April Foolish Predictions: Let's talk Cinematography!

by Nathaniel R

We didn't forget about the April Foolish Predictions. They just got all tangled up with Tribeca screenings, Cannes news, Avengers mania, and everything else going on in April. So herewith another prediction batch. First charts are now up for all of the visual categories, barring Costume Design which will get its own post tomorrow just because. 

Cinematography is always one of the most exciting contests as there are so many genuinely gifted DPs out there doing great work over and over again but only one Oscar to hand out each year. At the moment I'm wondering about the futures of these four DPs in particular...

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Monday
Apr092018

The Furniture: Demolition and Preservation in The Molly Maguires

Daniel Walber's series on Production Design. Click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Every now and then, while poring over lists of Oscar nominees from years past, you stumble across a movie you’ve never heard of. Not even once. In 1970, the Best Art Direction category included two big war movies (Patton and Tora! Tora! Tora!), another hit Best Picture nominee (Airport) and Scrooge, the musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol starring Albert Finney. Then there’s The Molly Maguires, the only one not nominated in any other category.

So what’s The Molly Maguires? Well, for one thing, it wasn’t a hit. But that may have been more a result of the film’s dour subject matter than its quality. It stars Richard Harris as a real life undercover Pinkerton Detective, tasked with infiltrating a group of Irish industrial terrorists in 1870s Pennsylvania coal country. Though just a few men, the Molly Maguires have been creating tremendous chaos, blowing up mines and eliminating abusive company supervisors.

These are the early days of organized labor in America, when robber barons hired armies of ersatz police to brutally repress strikes and intimidate low wage workers. Sean Connery’s “Black Jack” Kehoe and his co-conspirators are immigrant miners who have been pushed too far...

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Monday
Mar262018

The Furniture: The Age of Innocence and the Living Museum

"The Furniture" honors the Production Design of The Age of Innocence (1993) for its 25th anniversary year. The Martin Scorsese classic is newly available from the Criterion Collection. (Click on the images to see them in magnified detail.)


by Daniel Walber

The final act of Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence leaps through time. The ever-roving camera comes to a temporary rest in the home of Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), married to May (Winona Ryder) and entering the longue durée of family life. But this relative physical stasis comes with the sudden acceleration of time. Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker fast-forward through years of business, leisure and child-raising. After nearly two hours of social whirlpools and lingering formalities, suddenly it’s a new century.

But despite the speed of this sequence, it’s important to pay close attention. On the wall of Newland’s family home rests one very famous painting. Somehow, through the magic of cinema alone, our hero has ended up with JMW Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire

 

It’s an icon for his last days, a masterpiece of a bygone era being towed away...

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Tuesday
Mar062018

The Furniture: *Not* Another Art Deco Oscars!

Daniel Walber's weekly series on Production Design. Click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

“Hey, how about these sets? Are these sets great? They’re just like the Orgasmatron in Barbarella.”
-Jane Fonda

Oh, would that they were, Jane Fonda. Maybe someday we’ll have a Space Oscars, with gravity-defying holographic moons and an ever-shifting alien landscape. Presenters would enter through a pair of giant airlock doors at the back of the stage. The statuettes would float. The 50th anniversaries of both Barbarella and 2001: A Space Odyssey are coming up -- maybe they’ll do it next year?

Of course, the 90th Academy Awards didn’t escape earth’s atmosphere. But were they able to at least escape the endless parade of Art Deco, the nearly uniform tradition of the past few decades of Oscar telecasts...? 

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