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Entries in Sound (23)

Wednesday
May072014

First Round Oscar Predix Continue: Sound & Visual FX

The Oscar chart construction must continue. Maleficent was asking and you don't want to keep her waiting. 

Visuals Chart - In Progress. More Categories To Come
You'll find early predictions for Visual F/X and the always confounding Makeup & Hair category. For Visual F/X I'd love to push Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes higher up the charts but I'm still trying to wrap my head around Oscar's complete disinterest in a) superhero movies that don't feature a man in a batsuit -- and that wouldn't confound me at all if they didn't have such deep abiding love for the Transformers franchise of all things which is surely less reputable than Marvel movies --  and b) Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) which won hugely favorable reviews and surprised virtually everyone in its year and seemed like a likely finalist in several Oscar categories but only ended up a VFX nominee. Will Oscar turn its nose up at those damn dirty apes and their stinking paws on round two (which is really round eight)?

Sound Chart - In Progress. More Categories To Come.
I'm very willing, nay, desperate to hear your thoughts on which films might have Original Songs. I'm super curious about Sound Mixing this year as well in that it's a category that loves blockbusters, musicals, potential Best Picture nominees, and films involving lots of water and there are quite a few films that fit at least one of those categories this year. Regarding music movies or traditional musicals: by my count it's quite a robust year iin that there are at least five on the way from obvious contenders like Into the Woods and Get On Up to less prestigious or smaller players like Annie, Begin Again, and The Last Five Years

As for Best Song, also added to the chart, Bret McKenzie won an Oscar for his last go round with The Muppets (we interviewed him). I think he's less likely to get nominated this year now that the novelty has worn off but if he is the Celine Dion/Miss Piggy ballad "Something So Right" seems most likely but my favorite song in the movie is the delightful nonsense of  "I'll Get You Want You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)"

If the new song doesn't sound out of place within its classic song score, it seems unlikely sight unseen sound unheard that any song other than the new Stephen Sondheim / Meryl Streep Into the Woods collaboration (previously squealed over) need show up on the big night. 

Previously
Supporting Actress | Animated Film | Lead Actor | Movies To Watch For 

Saturday
Jan112014

"All is Lost" For Oscar Noms?

One of the biggest question marks this season is what became of All is Lost's Oscar heat?

Was it the box office (okay but unnoteworthy)? The relatively laidback Robert Redford campaign when hard sells are the norm? Or was it merely that the movie is a quiet contemplative type fellow in a sea of noisy exuberant life-of-the-party types? Or was it that other quiet contemplative loner with which critics are far more enamored (That other guy goes, oddly enough, by Her)?

There is still a chance that All is Lost could pull a few nominations out of its hat this Thursday morning but with none of the recent guilds going its way, and very little in the way of critics awards, all might be truly lost. Which seems strange given the early heat it had for Best Actor and the nominations it probably deserves like the sound categories. I know it's not an original notion to compare it to Gravity in terms of theme and plot but the similarities don't end there. In both cases, the sound is inarguably crucial to the movie's success. Here's a veritable FYC ad for its Sound Mixing and Sound Editing...

Do you think the film will come up empty-handed on Nomination Morning or surprise with Redford and other stray nod? 

Monday
Dec302013

Stop Trying To Make Link Happen

Clothes on Film gets writers to name their favorite costumes of the year from Stoker through The Grandmaster and on to Spring Breakers
IndieWire thinks Oscar's Cinematography category should be split into two now (computer environments/traditional) as it once was (black and white / color). Co-sign. But then you knew that since I wrote about the problem with this category earlier this year in preparation for Gravity's Oscar win, which will be the 4th heavily computerized film in 5 years to win both vfx and cinematography statues
Buzzfeed Mean Girls and 34 other movies that are turning 10 in 2014. Yes, The Film Experience will be revisiting some of these. Any preferences?

Vulture homage vs theft as it relates to American Hustle from Scorsese... and, well, Scorsese from Scorsese. I think comparisons between Russell and Scorsese's movies are largely missing the point -- an accident of release date and sudden divisive critical fervor -- but this is a good read
IndieWire gets really effusive about Inside Llewyn Davis' Oscar Isaac calling him the next Paul Newman 
Pajiba the 10 best performances from inanimate objects in 2013 from Christian Bale's hairpiece in American Hustle through Man of Steel's tragic victims
Deadline on the use of silence in Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and All is Lost. Brad from Rope of Silicon and I got into this argument with the Hitfix boys yesterday about Gravity. 'What silence? That score is terrified of letting you deal with silence!'

Today's Wolf of Wall Street arguments
Another 24 hours, another cycle of aggressive shaming of those who don't love it.
In Contention interviews The Wolf of Wall Street's Leonardo DiCaprio who does my least favorite thing that actors can do: diss critics who don't like their movie for not getting it. Usually it's better for filmmakers to shut up when they're unhappy with critics. Remember how embarrassing it was when James Cameron got all touchy about negative Titanic reviews?  Joe Reid at The Wire responds with a terrific piece about the disingenuous posturing going on from critics who like to have their cake and eat it, too. 

I haven't been online much today but I'm assuming the response to Leo's statement is drawing big cheers from critics in the Wolf of Wall Street camp.  Careful, people. Just remember how much fun you made of Armie Hammer when he blamed you for The Lone Ranger's failure. 

 

Finally...
Some of you may have seen this a couple of weeks ago but Michael Cusumano, who writes here on occasion, knew he would have to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with family over the holidays so he caved on his decision not to watch the new Middle Earth trilogy. He liveblogged The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) to catch up (part one and part two) and it is awesome. I made the same initial vow and I've stuck to it but I did happen to recently very casually nibble on parts of last year's 3 hour fantasy slop on HBO the other night so that made this timeline even funnier... I agreed with every word regarding the scenes I tasted (but did not swallow).

Monday
Dec092013

Team FYC: 'Spring Breakers' for Best Sound Mixing

This FYC series brings together all Film Experience contributors to highlight our favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Glenn Dunks on the sound mixing of Spring Breakers.

The neon-infused opening credits to Spring Breakers are accompanied by the peaceful echoes of a beachside before the hordes of teenagers arrive for Spring Break. Director Harmony Korine barely gives audiences a minute to relax before he throws the kitchen sink at the screen and turns the Skrillex up to 11. The images of drunken, sexually open teenagers cavorting about the ocean could hardly come with a better, more abrasively confronting soundtrack. If you were lucky to see this violently satirical black comedy on the big screen then you’ll know the propulsive impact this soundtrack choice had blasting out of the speakers to a crowd of (mostly) unsuspecting victims. Korine wasn’t mincing words: so long to any chance for a nice time at the movies. His movie was to be in your face. And boy, was it ever. And in your ears, too.

It’s not just Korine’s soundtrack choices that made me choose Spring Breakers for sound design but rather the inventive, puzzle-like work he does throughout. There’s the repetitious dialogue that Korine layers over the top of unrelated sequences to discombobulate the viewer (or beat them into submission, who can tell?). There’s the bold way he builds and deconstructs entire soundscapes throughout a single scene. There’s the way he blends in the original score of Cliff Martinez and the aforementioned Skrillex, perfectly harmonised with Benoît Debie’s cinematography to juxtapose moods.

Independent cinema is frequently where one finds some of the most creative sound work. I could have easily chosen the dense layering of cultural beats in Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche, the piercing cacophony of Blackfish, or the pin-point precision of Park Chan-wook’s Stoker. I find these works infinitely more interesting uses of sound than most of what will likely make up the Oscar nominees. The work on Spring Breakers is truly definitive. It’s impossible to imagine the film without it. In keeping with Korine's chaotic tone, the sound work is constantly interesting and ever-changing. It morphs just as often as the film from abrasive dubstep to a tender Britney Spears ballad. Just like the action movies with their voluminous walls of sound that so often find Oscar success, the ebb and flow of the sound mixing here is as meticulous and carefully constructed as you can get. It’s the ace in the film’s hole (pardon the salacious pun).

previous FYCs
Sound Editing The Conjuring | Actor Tye Sheridan | Editing Stories We Tell | Screenplay In a World... | Supporting Actor Keith Stanfield | Song The Great Gatsby | Score Nebraska | Costume Design Lawrence Anyways | Foreign Film Neighboring Sounds | Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz | Picture The Spectacular Now | Make-Up Warm Bodies | Sound Mixing World War Z | Director Edgar Wright | Production Design The Conjuring | Supporting Actor Ulysses the Cat

Sunday
Dec082013

FYC: The Conjuring for Best Sound Editing

We're looking at our favorite fringe awards contenders just to widen the conversation. Here's Tim Brayton on the year's biggest horror hit.


Since as far back as the thudding echo of footsteps that stalked Jane Randolph in 1942's Cat People, savvy horror directors have understood that one of the surest ways to wring the audience into a terrified frenzy isn't to wage a frontal assault on our sense of taste with gallons of stage blood and pig organs, but to instead mount a side attack on our ears. Some of the scariest movies of all time have gotten that way above all because of their skillful use of sound effects, and the sound editing in director James Wan's terrific The Conjuring - led by supervisor Joe Dzuban - is so hugely important that it was even foregrounded in the film's outstanding teaser trailer. Anybody can show a ghost jump out of the darkness to give you a quick, cheap freak out. It takes genius to get the same jolt from of the well-applied use of harsh, distant clapping.

And if that's the only thing that The Conjuring had to recommend its audio landscape, we could stop right there - a terrific setpiece is fine, but not the stuff that year-end recognition is made of. But while the Clapping from Hell is easily the *showiest* aspect of the film's soundtrack, it's not at all the most important. For that, we might sooner listen to the frequent near-silence that penetrates the story's central haunted hause: to create the idea of a place that hums with danger and malevolence, the sound team literally built in humming, a deep vibration in the bass that frequently crops up just to mess with our perception. And then, there's the hard flatness of the "normal" sounds, which land on the ears with a sort of shrill hollowness. The sound contributes significantly to the feeling that this house where so much of the film's terror occurs is a dead, suffocating place.

In all great horror, the effect on the viewer isn't just created by the big gestures, but by a backdrop which permits those gestures to hit with the most impact. That describes the distorted sound of The Conjuring to a T: unrealistic and vivid and deeply unsettling. This horror hit is not dignified enough to attract trophies, but the craft, and the glorious way it knocks the viewer around, is as impressive and effective as anything with more overt artistic aspirations.

previous FYCs
Actor Tye Sheridan | Editing Stories We Tell | Screenplay In a World... | Supporting Actor Keith Stanfield | Song The Great GatsbyScore Nebraska | Costume Design Lawrence Anyways | Foreign Film Neighboring Sounds | Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz | Picture The Spectacular Now | Make-Up Warm Bodies | Sound Mixing World War Z | Director Edgar Wright | Production Design The Conjuring | Supporting Actor Ulysses the Cat

Monday
Nov252013

Team FYC: "World War Z" for Sound Mixing

[Editor's Note: With the critics' awards just around the corner and awards campaigning already in full swing, Team Experience decided it was the right time to begin a series championing some of our favorite contenders lurking on the fringes of the conversation. In 'Team FYC' we're individually selecting favorites in all Oscar categories starting today. To kick things off, here's Andrew Kendall on "World War Z" - Amir]


You might expect a thriller about a zombie infection spreading across the world to depend most on its visuals for effectiveness but months after seeing Marc Foster's World War Z – a uniformly impressive summer blockbuster – the technical aspect I’m still thinking about is its excellent sound design.

“Film is a visual medium”, it’s one of those phrases we hear ad nauseam, but sound didn't become a fixture in motion pictures for no reason. The work a good sound mixing team does in augmenting mood in a film is something which cannot be overemphasised. Oscar aficionados will remember that the difference between sound editing and sound mixing is the former's focus on the recording and creation of specific sounds and the latter on the film's entire soundscape, i.e. the layering, mixing and necessary balancing of score with dialogue and created sound. World War Z benefits from good sound editing, but it is the layering of the various, often discordant, sounds which forms the sometimes terrifying milieu.

From the get-go the sound team is working effectively at building the tension, like the early city scene where the silence inside the family car gives way to the cacapohony of a city under siege. But it is later sequences, like the horrific build-up to a celebration gives way to horror when zombies scale a Jerusalem wall, or the unbelievably taut silences at the WHO facility in Wales that really thrill. The sound mixing becomes indicative of the film’s own ability to know when to go big and when to dial it back, and ultimately it’s the wisdom of knowing not just what to do but how and when that makes the sound mixing of World War Z an easy choice for an FYC.

The film has received some notice for having two women helm the soundmixing team. Lora Hirschberg is an Oscar winner for Inception, Anna Behlmer is a ten time Oscar nominee. It’d be great to see them credited for their excellent work here in a year when the Best Picture hopefuls look to be hogging all the attention in the craft categories.

Friday
Oct252013

Link He Wrote

GQ Michael Fassbender profiled
Deadline Octavia Spencer in a Murder She Wrote reboot? Maybe because I think procedurals are the most formulaic of all genres and entirely dependable on personality to be distinctive at all this sounds like a great idea to me. To others (Angela Lansbury super fans) it will surely sound like sacrilege.
MCN Late October and still no Best Picture frontrunner?
Empire Team Gattaca reuniting: Andrew Niccol and Ethan Hawke making another film together. Call me when Uma & Jude join and we'll talk.

 

Anatomy of a Scene Blue is the Warmest Color I'm bookmarking this one and waiting till I've seen the movie. Hopefully today
Antagony & Ecstasy on Dario Argento's Dracula 3D 
MNPP Jamie Dornan has been cast in 50 Shades of Grey but you need to know who appreciated him first. Besides Keira Knightley
Pajiba amputee Josh Sundquist wins Halloween again. Incredible costume! 
Coming Soon an unfortunate typecasting niche: John Ridley, who wrote a beautiful script for 12 Years a Slave has signed on to the remake of Ben-Hur which is, in case you've forgotten, also a slavery narrative.
The Advocate on the Oscar eligible LGBT documentary hopeful Bridegroom 

Off Cinema
New Yorker "the dream of keeping poor people from seeing the doctor must never die." I love this but it's also sad that political satire barely has to try these days to be accurate!
Vanity Fair "The Ronan Farrow Love & Politics Dreamboat Hour"

Todays' Watch
The sounds of Gravity... (I'm not sure if it's going to win Best Picture but it seems likely that it walks away with the most statues even if it doesn't.)

Horror Fest 2013
Though horror is not among my favorite movie genres I really had a great time viewing a few seminal movies and working on the Best Horror Pre-Exorcist / Post-Exorcist group lists that we did for this haunted month. I'm realizing, as I stated on the latest podcast (one of my favorite episodes actually!), that maybe I like horror films more than I thought but that it's actually just the slasher sub-genre that I hate. Since I came of movie age in the 80s, I now understand that I equate the entire genre with slashers, for whom I have no use. I just find those movies repulsive and politically suspect (so much sexism and conservativism) and I just need more artistry in my movies.

But anyway my point is this: two members of the team shared more at their personal blogs and you should read them: Michael's Top Ten Lists with commentary ; Jason's own Pre-Pazuzu / Post-Pazuzu  lists... and if you like horror Jason is one of THE voices on the web you should be obsessing on. I actually credit him with opening my heart up to the genre slowly over the past few years, like one rib at a time ...now that it's open, don't get stabby with it!

P.S. I ♥ Shelley Duvall in The Shining so much -- f*** everyone who thinks she's terrible in it! -- and that is my last word on these horror lists we did for this season.