sound turned low: a movie blog

"it's like black and white tv with the sound turned low" -- rumble fish

Saturday, 9 April 2011

So Long, Sidney Lumet

One of my favourite directors, Sidney Lumet died today, and as I heard about it on the news, there was one scene that immediately sprang to mind. Dog Day Afternoon was one of the films that really made me love film; it contains so many wonderful, moving, funny and heart-breaking moments, it's unimaginable.

The two-disc DVD of it is a treat, there's fantastic audio commentary by Lumet, as well as several fun features. It's a great tribute to a great film. My favourite scene is the one where Sonny calls Leon, and they have the saddest heart-to-heart ever captured on screen. All credit to Frank Pierson for the beautiful dialogue.

A phonecall between two estranged lovers, who know they probably won't see each other again. There's cops listening in on the conversation and it's just awkward as hell. It's only that scene that the estrangement between Sonny and Leon becomes so painfully clear to the viewer and you realise just exactly how bleak their situation is -- not with any big revelations of unhappiness, but everyday chit-chat that just goes round in circles. It's the precise moment Sonny loses any hope he had left.

It's five minutes between Al Pacino and Chris Sarandon. On the DVD commentary, Sidney Lumet explains how they shot it. The phonecall between Sonny and Leon ("his male wife", as Lumet puts it) and Sonny and his female wife Angie took about 14 minutes to film, but as a film reel only holds ten minutes and Lumet wanted to film the scenes consecutively, Lumet set up two cameras and curtained Pacino off from the rest of the set. The other actors were on the end of the phone, acting with Pacino.

After they did the first take, Lumet told Pacino he wanted to go again, and "he looked like I'd shot him, cos he was exhausted". It's the moment after the phonecall with Leon, when he drops his eyes.

"The only thing that was missing in the brilliance of the performance, was the exhaustion of having been there since two-thirty that afternoon, and we were now maybe ten at night, and the exhaustion of doing it a second time shows in his face and that was the reason for going again." -- Sidney Lumet

It's not on YouTube, but I promise you it's worth buying the DVD for.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Last Night (2010)

Why there's a six-month delay in the film being released over here, I don't quite understand, but I'm very excited about the release of Last Night next month. Normally, I'd avoid movies about cheating like the plague (seriously, it's been done!), but with the amazing mix of accents in this trailer, I can't wait.

In recent years, probably since Atonement, I've become quite a fan of Keira Knightley's. Although I think she could do with doing less advertisements, she's picked some amazing films to star in; The Edge of Love being my favourite, and Never Let Me Go as another film on my most-looking-forward-to-in-2011-list.

Reviews so far have been pretty decent for Last Night and even if I can't judge the content yet, the film gets major props from me for allowing the actors to keep their natural accents. It's strange to me how New York is always portrayed in films to be such a melting pot, yet all too often non-American actors are forced to adopt some peculiar overly-unoffensive American accent for their adventures across the pond.

PS: Yay, Guillaume Canet!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

movie locations: Rizzoli's

Being able to spend time in New York is always a dream, but like a total nerd, visiting New York around Christmas meant there was a certain store I just had to visit: Rizzoli bookstore.

Angelo Rizzoli was a big-time publisher and movie producer who worked on 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita with Fellini. In 1964 he opened Rizzoli International Bookstore in Manhattan and it's been featured in numerous films, most notably Falling In Love (starring Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro) and Woody Allen's Manhattan.

Sadly, meeting my own Robert DeNiro (so dashing in his trench) to start an adulterous affair wasn't on the cards this December: the store was so quiet, accidentally swapping coffee table books on sailing and gardening was not a possibility.

Looking to buy a picture book or sailing or gardening like Meryl and Bob? Hit up Rizzoli's at 31 West 57th Street.

Friday, 19 November 2010

films come to life: the dance from 'If....'

Remember that great scene from If.... where Mick Travis dances with The Girl in a sort of David Attenborough-kind of way? It may just be that the singer of Mando Diao (you know, they did that song) always reminds me of Malcolm McDowell, but as this was playing on the TV, all I could think of was that amazing dance. I love it when something completely unrelated reminds me of my favourite films.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

movie interiors: Pretty in Pink

Sometimes I worry I'm studying the wrong subject. As much as I love good screenplays and great acting, probably my favourite thing about film is set design. Maybe it has to do with how much pride I've always taken in my own room, decorating it and plastering posters on my walls, but I find myself having to hold back when I'm writing assignments for my class. I want to dictate what goes where; a green phone, plastic roses or a Wayne Thiebaud print.

If I were a set designer, I'd dedicate myself to films about teenagers -- here's one of my favourite teenage bedrooms on film.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Looks of love: Sur Mes Levres

Oh, hi blog, kind of forgot you existed.. oops. Blogging makes me feel totally inapt, is it supposed to?

Maybe it's just the fact that French men do more for me than the standard Hollywood types, but what is it about French films and romance? There's a couple of French films I've (re-)watched recently that just haunt me for days on end. They get under my skin. Christophe Honoré is a usual suspect, who fills his films with throwaway looks and lines that send my heart all a-flutter, but Sur Mes Lèvres (aka Read My Lips) is another favourite.

Down to lazy broadcasting, I saw the film three times in the span of six months (on Dutch and Belgian telly) and every time I see it I enjoy it more and more. Emmanuelle Devos (she gets my cutie-patootie vote over Audrey Tautou any day) is Carla, a partially deaf secretary who hires Paul (Vincent Cassel), recently released from prison. Both ignored at work, they embark on some sort of illegal deal (her lip-reading comes in handy) and in the mean time there's electric chemistry between the two of them.

I find French films really interesting to watch because not a lot happens in them, usually. The plot is usually pretty thin, can be summed up in one sentence, and still it's a captivating 100 minutes.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Looks of Love: If....

When a film deals with a harrowing subject matter like Lindsay Anderson's If.... does (fagging in British all-boys' public schools), it quite easily gets monotonous. Recently I saw Another Country which is quite like If...., although in Another Country Rupert Everett ends up a Cold War Russian spy, when in If.... Malcolm McDowell deals with his frustrations with some good old ultra-violence.

Another Country lacked many of the things that made If.... so great; it might have been the fact that it was a play brought to screen (I'm beginning to think that's just never a good idea), but it felt so uninspired. Films with younger actors always excite me because anything seems possible, but where If.... still feels fresh and original after 42 years, Another Country was dull and traditional.

There's many moments that stick out when I think of If....: the ending of course, the scene where Mick Travis shoots a gun at pictures on his walls (perfectly aiming for Audrey Hepburn, which infuriated her husband Mel Ferrer when the film came out), the infamous "dance" with The Girl.. but my absolute favourite is the scene where Bobby Phillips falls in love with Wallace.

It's such a simple scene and the contrast between this scene and the rest of the film couldn't be bigger. Just the amount of shouting and noise early on, and the quiet and concentration two minutes in.. amazing.