|LITTLE WOMENMERYL STREEPCLIP|
Year after year, “award season” sees nominations for sound categories go to big, bombastic films filled with special effects. This isn’t inherently bad — the work that goes into creating and mixing these otherworldly sounds takes immense effort and skill — but in the process, more subtle artistry tends to be overlooked. Case in point: Little Women directed by Greta Gerwig, a film that uses impeccable sound design to weave a fabric of joy and loss all throughout its story.
Most filmgoers are made aware of the non-music sound departments via the Academy Awards, whose two categories, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing, tend to feature significant overlap in the nominations — thanks, in part, to the overlap of sound professions themselves. The same film has won both awards seven of the last ten years; sound designer Paul N. J. Ottosson even won both statues in 2010 for his work on The Hurt Locker; he shared his Sound Mixing Oscar with Ray Beckett. The Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing is awarded to the production sound mixers, who capture dialogue and other related sounds on set, and to the re-recording mixers, who overlay and mix all the sounds in the final film. Best Sound Editing, meanwhile, is awarded to the folks whose jobs come in between those two processes, i.e. creating and capturing the various non-dialogue and non-set sounds eventually mixed into the soundtrack. It should really be three awards, but I digress; in a just world, the folks who worked sound for Little Women — listed in full below — would be recognized alongside their peers on the blockbuster side of the industry.
Sound is as vital to Gerwig’s version of the story as the costumes and cinematography. Each character is introduced through a soundscape, rather than dialogue, or an establishing shot of their surroundings. For Amy Florence Pugh, it’s the chatter of her art institute as she practices her craft. Meg Emma Watson longs silently for expensive fabric, as characters around her discuss its cost. Beth Eliza Scanlen plays the piano long before she utters a single word, though before we ever see any of them, we first meet Jo Saorise Ronan, around whom both the story and its very creation pivot, as she stands nervously outside her editor’s office, listening to the hustle & bustle inside; the sounds of a world she hopes to break into.
Jo introduces herself to the editor Mr. Dashwood Tracy Letts as a middleman for her story, rather than its author, but what she actually has to say in the film’s opening scenes revolves around sound. Ronan’s expressions shift hopefully and nervously in response to Dashwood chuckling, or turning the pages sharply, or striking them through with a pen each stroke sounds harsh and grating, and once her story is accepted, she gallops through the streets, with the clattering of...
As a four-year-old boy, filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky fell in love with a piglet when he spent some time in a remote Russian village. “He became my closest friend and was killed by Christmastime,” Kossakovsky told me at the Berlinale after-party for his nonfiction film “Gunda,” which debuted Sunday in the “Encounters” section. “I became probably the first vegetarian in the Soviet Union. I always wanted to make a movie about pigs.
The movie is fascinating and immersive, and critics are raving, even if it took IndieWire’s Eric Kohn three viewings to figure out what he thought of it. “Gunda” couldn’t be more unlike the entertaining 2019 doc “The Biggest Little Farm,” with its colorful anthropomorphic animal characters and voiceover narration and perky, manipulative soundtrack.
“Gunda” is a documentary with no dialogue that follows around a bunch of farm animals in natural light, with long takes, and no music score. But while market expectations for this black-and-white follow-up to Kossakovsky’s dangerous water epic “Aquarela” were low, his producers were all smiles Sunday. Reviews are strong. And the movie is popping, partly because it’s not like anything else you’ve ever seen, but it also carries a powerful political message: humans should not eat animals.
Kossakovsky eschews emotional manipulation. He wants to earn audience empathy for his animals. He picked out his lead character, sow Gunda, on sight on the first visit to a farm in Norway. “It was easy to film,” he said. “It looks sophisticated. We only filmed with a 1 to 4 ratio for a 90 minute film, like back to old cinema. We found Gunda in the first minute of research. It was open the door, we see Gunda. ‘We have Meryl Streep. This is the one, she is so powerful in her face. We found it.'”
In order to intimately film his ingénue, the director built a round barn with places to set the Arri mini-cameras so they could see inside 360 degrees, and also set up exterior tracking shots. He visited Gunda just after she gave birth to about a dozen little suckling pigs squirming to attach to her engorged nipples. The filmmakers returned three more times over the next three months as the soft white piglets matured and followed their mother around the yard.
While the camera setups were fairly straightforward — this shoot was a cinch compared to watery “Aquarela” — the sound was as fake as any Hollywood shoot, as foley artists and other sound magic recreated what the recordists caught on...
Since 2010, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have been playing versions of themselves in director Michael Winterbottom‘s The Trip franchise, cracking wise and eating their way across some of the world’s most beautiful countries. Now, ten years after their journey commenced, the unlikely series continues with a brand new sequel called The Trip to Greece. IFC Films has released a new clip from the upcoming movie version, in which Brydon takes a musical approach to the duo’s location.The Trip to Greece Clip
The Trip began as a six-episode British television series before being edited down into a feature film in 2010. Coogan and Brydon played fictionalized versions of themselves, with Coogan’s character tasked with writing an article for The Observer about the food of Northern England and Brydon’s character tagging along on the journey as his companion. You’ve probably seen that great clip of them doing dueling Michael Caine impressions. In 2014, the gang got back together for The Trip to Italy, which was again edited down into a feature film and included this bit:
They did it once more in 2017 with The Trip to Spain, with Coogan and Brydon alternately annoying each other and eating delicious-looking food.
Without spoiling things, The Trip to Spain ended with a wild and completely unexpected cliffhanger, so I’m very curious to see if that is ever addressed in The Trip to Greece or if it’s simply never mentioned again. I guess I’d be ultimately fine with either option, as long as most of the new movie is more of these two goofballs just messing around, doing impressions, and eating great food. This is supposedly the fourth and final installment, so hopefully they go out on a high note.
Here’s the sequel’s official description:
When Odysseus left Troy it took him ten years to get back to his home in Ithaca. Steve and Rob have only six days on their own personal odyssey in THE TRIP TO GREECE. On the way they argue about tragedy and comedy, astronomy and biology, myth, history, democracy and the meaning of life! Featuring locations such as: Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the unique island of Hydra, the Caves of Diros, Nestor’s Palace, Neokastro Fortress in Pylos, and Ancient Stagira, as well as a lot of shooting in restaurants and hotels in Athens, Hydra, Lesvos, Chalkidiki, Pelion, Kavala, and at the Peloponnese.
The Trip to Greece is currently slated to get a theatrical release on May 15, 2020 assuming theaters survive this period and have reopened in a couple of months, as well as a digital and On Demand release on May 21, 2020....