First Man: Composing the Score

Posted on October 13, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Director Damien Chazelle cares deeply about music. His film “Whiplash” is about a drummer and “La La Land” is a musical. He worked with composer Justin Hurwitz, who won two Oscars for “La La Land” on all three. In this video, Hurwitz talks about working with Chazelle again on “First Man,” which involved a lot of firsts for him, including learning how to play the theremin.

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Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes: Crazy Rich Asians

Posted on August 18, 2018 at 9:33 pm

I’m so happy that “Crazy Rich Asians” is such a great movie and so happy that audiences are enjoying it as much as I do. Some great behind-the-scenes commentary from director Jon M. Chu, with a lot of detail about what was real and what was done with digital effects:

In this scene, Rachel (Constance Wu) and the audience first see the mansion that is the home of her boyfriends’s crazy rich family.

And here he talks about one of the early scenes, where we see how the news of Nick Young’s girlfriend gets to Singapore. It reminded me of the telephone scene in “Bye Bye Birdie.” Look fast to see Chu’s baby son and also the author, Kevin Kwan.

The stars of the film talk about how much it means to them to be a part of a project with an all-Asian cast.

The Angry Asian Man blog has a fascinating description of what exactly was happening in the climactic mahjong scene.

One of my favorite critics, Inkoo Kang, writes about the film’s references and Easter eggs, and about the last film to feature an all-Asian cast, “The Joy Luck Club.” The success of “Crazy Rich Asians” means that we will not be waiting another 25 years for the next — and that this cast of exceptionally talented breakout stars will all be in other movies very soon.

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Behind the Scenes Race and Diversity Understanding Media and Pop Culture

From Script to Screen: Changing the Dialogue

Posted on June 27, 2018 at 9:41 am

This is a fascinating look at the difference between the way the script for “Sleepless in Seattle” looked on the page and the way it finally appeared on the screen. We don’t know how many of these changes were intentional and how many were slips of the tongue or amended by the actors because they felt more natural.

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Behind the Scenes Understanding Media and Pop Culture Writers

More on “Solo” — Easter Eggs, Clues, and More

Posted on June 1, 2018 at 10:06 am

Don’t listen to people who say that “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a disappointment on the screen or at the box office. It may not have set a record in ticket sales, and some critics may have complained that it wasn’t “A New Hope,” but I thought it was terrific. Whether you’ve seen it already or are planning to go, these will help you appreciate it even more.

Gifted cinematographer Bradford Young (“Arrival,” “Selma”) talks to his hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune:

I am always seeing that Chicago of my grandmother’s house, where I spent a lot of my high school years. It’s in all of my movies, in the way I light faces, in the way I photograph. It’s alive to me, always a reference. Her place was heavy on the senses, so sparsely lit, so textural. I guess I saw a vision there, a deep black aesthetic, in the way things were placed, a response to how space was used that felt specific to our DNA. It’s Great Migration-influenced, really. You don’t have a lot, so what you have you display. Plastic on the couch — black people were not the only people who did this, but for us it transcended the practical. We liked it. My grandmother had one of those Venice scenes on her wall, the kind with a light inside that twinkled. It was fine art to her — aspirational.

NOTE: Some audience members have complained that the movie looks too dark. That is because some theaters are not setting their projection correctly. If it does not look right to you, check with the theater manager. Believe me, this is one movie where you want to see everything.

Copyright Disney 2018
A breakout star of “Solo” is never seen. You just hear the voice of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a very outspoken droid, L3-37. Waller-Bridge had her breakthrough as the creator and star of the hilarious and horrifying “Fleabag,” a series about a wildly dysfunctional young woman. She is also the writer/producer of the acclaimed crime drama, “Killing Eve.” L3-37 is a wise-cracking Sojourner Truth of droids, urging (and implementing) freedom in a manner that would be more inspiring if we all had not seen “Terminator.” Waller-Bridge is a treasure, though, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Slate has A Casual Viewer’s Guide to the Most Obscure References in Solo, including the explanation for the appearance of Darth Maul.

Copyright Disney 2018
And of course there are Easter eggs (hidden jokes, references, and clues). Slashfilm has a good list. I love the way a tiny detail from the first film (Episode IV) has become significant over time. And admit I am not enough of an expert to get the Aurra Sing reference without a little help. Thanks, as always, to the fanboys and nerds who deepen our appreciation for these stories.

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Behind the Scenes Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Mysteries of Screenwriting Credits: & vs “And”

Posted on May 16, 2018 at 8:41 am

Scott Myers has an excellent guide to understanding the arcane world of screenwriting credits. For example:

Here’s the deal with “&” and “and.”

When you see an ampersand (&), that means the writers worked together on the project and are considered — at least for that project — a writing team. So whatever revenue they generated in the form of compensation, production bonuses, and residuals gets split. If it’s two writers as a team, each gets 50%. If it’s three writers as a team, each gets 33%. In the case of a movie like “The Simpsons Movie,” which has 11 writers with Screenplay By credit, each with an ampersand between them, I have no clue how they divide that pie.

When you see the word “and” between two or more writers, that means the writers worked independently of each other and are not considered part of a team. So for instance if you look at the writing credits for The A-Team, you’ll see this:

Written by Joe Carnahan & Brian Bloom and Skip Woods

That means that Messrs. Carnahan and Bloom are considered a writing team on the project while Woods’ contribution was as a solo writer.

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Behind the Scenes Understanding Media and Pop Culture Writers
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