Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Oscar 2016 - Sound Editing & Mixing

I decided to give my quick picks for this year's sound categories, although this is never easy. I'm starting to believe that's a rule to have here four common nominees for both editing & mixing, plus one different for each. I don't remember when, or if I've noticed any other nominee configuration. About the difference between editing & mixing, oh well ... let's backlink again to older references. At the next link you can find a pretty good summary of where and how the sound gets involved in a movie, and should be clear what part in which category goes: https://digitalfilms.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/film-editing-stages-sound/ . So, let's move one to the main list ...

"Bridge of Spies" is the single black sheep, or otherwise said the only case with a nomination just for mixing. The movie is nicely done, carefully put together, but I couldn't find any clip more relevant than the one below. It shows somehow the typical sound of the Cold War time. The background music, the rain outside ... In the end that's the role of a final mix: what the sound feels like ... Still, I don't see much winning chance here.

"Mad Max" wins clearly in mixing. Just if we rely on the first impression given by a track that combines a guitar rock solo with burning engines in something noisy but not annoying, and "listenable". On the editing side, the situation is more complicated ...

"The Martian" didn't catch my ear on mixing. For editing, I don't know... We have a storm, other diverse atmospheric events ... Still, what I heard did sound less complex than "Mad Max" or what's following ...

"The Revenant" is my risky pick for a winner on sound editing, very closely followed by "Mad Max" and "Star Wars". Let's just say that I was convinced again by ... the bear :) who apparently is not just a bear (details below - to watch on Vimeo, unfortunately their embedding doesn't seem to work anymore). For mixing it's good but not the best, so let's move forward ...

"Sicario" has a sound editing nomination. I didn't hear anything to impress me. It's a movie with an ok sound, as good on the effects side as many others that include bullets and explosions. However, I'd rather pick the mixing as something that deserves more attention here. But that doesn't show up in the nominees list.

"Star Wars" is closing the day with entries in both categories. And many say it'll win them. And if the editing vote is politically correct has big chances ... I prefer to keep my options above.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Oscar 2016 - VFX & Makeup

Yup, I know. I'm late with the entry promised for last week. Compensating with a 2-in-1. Sort of. Meaning that I thought there's room for both VFX and makeup today, since anyway we mostly have overlapping titles.

"Ex Machina" starts the nominations series for visual effects. I find it a bit as a "category fill" item here. Maybe I'm subjective, since I found the movie way more pretentious than what it actually delivers. Of course, Ava - who's 99% the subject of the nomination, looks good, but I don't find it groundbreaking in any way. And we have groundbreaking material below ...

"Mad Max: Fury Road" is my prediction for both VFX and Makeup. I won't write again all what I already did in the movie's entry last year. What we have here is a resurrection of "for real" VFX = non-CGI (although we have CGI too, as you can observe below). It's the only movie I've noticed using real staged visual effects at this scale in a long long time. About the makeup, I'm no expert, bt it's clearly the most "visible" among all nominees.

"The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" is a pleasant surprise in this year's nominees list. It scored in makeup, and I can say it's a lesson given to some Hollywood titles, such as "J. Edgar" for instance, in respect to "aging" a character. The year passing on a guy's face looks much more natural in this Swedish comedy that's a sort of a northern Forrest Gump, much much colder, and way less serious.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is seen by many as a VFX winner. I disagree. It looks too ... common for me. It's simply in the same line of recently released movies. Besides the swords, what we see here is not far from what we also saw in "Transformers", "Avengers", etc...

"The Martian" offers planet Mars as a VFX subject. Again, it looks like an entry that stays in the average range of what we typically have here. More I would say, it's even "eclipsed" by last year's "Interstellar" :) ...

"The Revenant" scored nominations on both VFX and Makeup. Unfortunately the clip below is centered on the second, but it's the only I found which displays a couple frames from a scene that I say it makes it the main contender against "Mad Max" for VFX ( and also my wishful winner :) ). It's of course the bear scene, which I think we can consider the next level in CGI, at least from what I've seen by now (maybe "Planet of the Apes" gets slightly close). Well, we'll see where the votes are going ...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Oscar 2016 - Nominations

This year started with deadlines and way too limited time. I said I'll try to cover again the Oscar season, but I think I'll be a bit more restrictive than last times. So I'll start in a total "unprofessional" manner by sending directly to the official site: http://oscar.go.com/nominees , instead enumerating myself the nominations. It's faster, and you also have trailers there ;). What I won't change is the typical order I start with ... = I should be back with VFX next week.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

La Isla Minima (2014)

I thought that before starting the Oscar 2016 season (yup, I'll do that again ...) might be a good idea to blog about something I don't want to miss. I had the inspiration to add "La Isla Minima" on my "to watch" list for the holidays. It's a Spanish thriller that got the public prize at the latest edition of the European Film Awards. Location: a swampy rural area of '80s Spain. Context: two missing girls and two police detectives sent to deal with the case. Spoiler (more or less - we have already the trailer and the IMDb synopsis): the responsible proves to be a serial killer, and more: one who did operate in the area undisturbed for quite a while.

I can't say that the movie amazed me with its "crime story". I've noticed online some comparisons with "Prisoners". It's not the case, it still has a long way to get to the story development we have there. Even so, it's still a decent thriller. What's also maybe a bit downgrading on the script side are the loose ends. Maybe they're intended, but still it's a bit too .. unsolved. However, "La Isla Minima" compensates through some other aspects. We probably have one of the best character development I've seen lately. Without spoilers, the two detectives come with different backgrounds, different experience, and let's say that the case makes them "grow" differently. Besides that we also have the place and the time. I have no idea personally how was the rural Spain in the '80s, but a more intense influence of the location in the action development I probably didn't see besides Alexander Payne's movies ("Sideways" - Californa Wine Valleys, "Descendants" - Hawaii, etc.), with the note that there you could feel the opposite, relaxed side, of the time and place.

Probably there is more to be said, but I'll close up with the technical side. I regret that I didn't have the opportunity to see this movie in cinema. Besides the soundtrack, the visuals are amazing. If last time I was saying that "Youth" is very good with this, then let's just add one extra class on top of it ... It's a lesson about how to do the visual part of a movie. There's a clear contribution of that in everything that the viewer will feel: suspense moments, uncomfortable silences, etc. .. maybe a bit centered on tensed vibes, but in the end.. it's a thriller :)

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Youth (2015)

I wanted to close the year with something a bit better than the disappointing of last time. So, between two cooking rounds, I decided to try a short entry for "Youth", although it probably deserves a more detailed review than the previous one. Who has seen "Il Divo" and "La Grande Bellezza" probably knows already the directing and writing style of Paolo Sorentino. For who didn't see "Il Divo" and "La Grande Bellezza" what I can summarize in two words is: chillout movie. Probably this doesn't cover all that should be covered = the drama part, the reflections over life part, the bitter comedy, and all else you can find in the two movies and even more in "Youth". But I think "chillout movie" catches the essential regarding the mood state where this movie fits. It's slowly advancing, and it might awake some strong feelings on the way, but nothing suddenly. It does it gradually, until the end credits roll over.

Technically, "Youth" is a remarkable achievement. I cannot tell how it is overall compared with "La Grande Bellezza", but for camera work what we have here is clearly better (and it wasn't bad in the other place either). There are many voices praising Michael Caine's performance in the leading role. I agree, but what I find overlooked is the character played by Harvey Keitel, who I think here has the best performance ever at least from what I've seen.

I'll wrap up with what I usually have in the introductory part. What's the subject in "Youth"? We have a snapshot from the final years of an orchestra conductor, while he spends his usual vacation in a mountain resort in Switzerland. That's it. Mainly a few days from a guy's life and what surrounds him. To conclude, starting from the subject description, I think "Youth" is actually recommended to watch until a certain age .. Don't know why, but I guess seeing it after you're 40-50 years old might gain a stronger depressing factor than what it already has. Even if, in the end, the final part can be seen as a metaphor of "you can stay forever young" :)

Rating: 4 out of 5