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Thompson on Hollywood

Legendary Editor Walter Murch Talks the Physics of 'Particle Fever'

Mark Levinson's "Particle Fever" is the first great doc of the year (and let's hope it gets remembered during the next awards season). It's about the ground-breaking, Nobel Prize-winning experiment that helped unravel the nature of existence. Veteran editor/sound designer Walter Murch ("Apocalypse Now"), whose always had a fascination for physics, was brought on to "galvanize" the project but ended up spending a year humanizing this compelling work about the collision of science and art.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • March 14, 2014 2:04 PM
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Talking Editing with the Oscar Nominees

Editorially, all five films take us out of our comfort zones in this strange season of survival and rebirth: from the chameleon-like con of "American Hustle" to the abduction at sea in "Captain Phillips" to the weightless terror of "Gravity" to the ticking clock death sentence of "Dallas Buyers Club" to the horror of having your life and liberty snatched away in "12 Years a Slave." I got an insider's view from Jay Cassidy ("American Hustle"), Christopher Rouse ("Captain Phillips"), John Mac McMurphy ("Dallas Buyers Club"), Mark Sanger ("Gravity"), and Joe Walker ("12 Years a Slave").
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 20, 2014 4:28 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Anatomy of a Scene: Solomon Northup Chained in '12 Years a Slave'

One of the most important yet difficult decisions in Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" was how to depict Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) waking up in bondage. Fortunately, they hit on the idea in the cutting room to tell it out of sequence, the result of which was disconcerting for Northup and viewer alike, and which laid the groundwork for a more intimate narrative approach by staying with his POV. I discussed this crucial scene with the two Oscar nominees, production designer Adam Stockhausen and editor Joe Walker.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 19, 2014 4:26 PM
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  • 3 Comments

Anatomy of a Scene: Dissecting the Bravura 'Gravity' Opening

The extraordinary 13-minute opening of Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" is like a mini-movie, setting up the zero-gravity world in space, the two astronauts played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the mood, the tension, the crisis, and the metaphor. I break it down with Oscar-nominated cinematographer Emmanuel (Chivo) Lubezki, production designer Andy Nicholson, VFX supervisor Tim Webber, sound mixer Chris Munro, and editor Mark Sanger.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 14, 2014 2:45 PM
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  • 1 Comment

David O. Russell and Oscar-Nominated Crew Talk the Craft of 'American Hustle'

David O. Russell's on a roll with his Oscar-contending "American Hustle," his most personal and popular movie yet. It's smart and funny, and has obviously touched a nerve with its story of survival and reinvention during the cultural and political upheaval of the late '70s. "I don't care about pure dissipation or pure cynicism -- I've gotta have the thing that people live for," he insists. So in a recent roundtable discussion, we explored how this passion spilled over to his Oscar-nominated crew: production designer Judy Becker, costume designer Michael Wilkinson and editor Jay Cassidy.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 12, 2014 2:50 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Anatomy of a Scene: Oscar-Nominated Editor Christopher Rouse Talks the Pivotal Attack in 'Captain Phillips'

Best Picture nominee "Captain Phillips" is the ultimate in Paul Greengrass-style verite, given its life and death intensity and emotional epiphanies. More than just a fact-based heist gone bad, it raises deep concerns about our globalized world in conflict. Oscar nominee Christopher Rouse, who's already won an Academy Award for editing "The Bourne Ultimatum," discusses the pivotal attack on the Alabama, which was dangerous to shoot as well as challenging to cut.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 29, 2014 2:05 PM
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'Gravity' Set to Dominate Oscar Craft Nominations: Talking the Film's Sound, Music and Editing

As we approach Wednesday's Oscar voting deadline, at least one thing's for certain: "Gravity" is a lock for a majority of the craft nominations. We've already covered production design, cinematography, and VFX in depth, so now let's look at the corresponding design for sound and music, which were made for the immersive Dolby Atmos surround experience, along with the editing of what was essentially an animated movie.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 3, 2014 2:07 PM
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  • 0 Comments

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