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Thompson on Hollywood

Wally Pfister Talks Analog vs. Digital in 'Transcendence'

Wally Pfister not only adores film but also vinyl. That's because they both embody "the breath of life," analog beauty that's at the heart of "Transcendence." Indeed, the Oscar-winning cinematographer ("Inception") and Christopher Nolan's former right hand man couldn't have found a more personal statement for his directorial debut than a cautionary tale about uploading human consciousness into a super computer.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • April 18, 2014 1:15 PM
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Talking Tech and 'Transcendence' with Johnny Depp and Wally Pfister (VIDEO)

You can always bet on a lively press conference with Johnny Depp, but the recent tech talk about "Transcendence" and the inevitability of uploading human consciousness into a super computer brought out his more vulnerable side. Depp admitted, among other things, that he's too clumsy when it comes to texting and that his role as an AI scientist-turned megalomaniac was difficult without a flamboyant mask to hide behind.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • April 16, 2014 1:37 PM
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Behind the High-Frame-Rate Restoration of 'Oklahoma!' Opening TCM Festival

Given Peter Jackson and James Cameron's current embrace of high-frame-rate, there's an added importance to Fox's restoration of the roadshow "Oklahoma!," which opens the TCM Classic Film Fest tonight at the TCL Chinese IMAX Theater. In addition to being shot in Todd-AO large format, the beloved 1955 musical from Rodgers & Hammerstein also experimented with 30 frames to solve the flickering problem and to better stave off competition from TV. The result is almost holographic.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • April 10, 2014 2:03 PM
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The Russo Brothers Talk 'The Winter Soldier' as Conspiracy Thriller

Thanks to sibling co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo, adults can marvel in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." It's a wildly entertaining mash-up of the conspiracy thriller and superhero genres, in which Chris Evans' World War II Marvel superhero not only finds himself trapped between two worlds but also opposing world views.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • April 4, 2014 2:58 PM
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Cinematographer Manuel Claro Talks the Bearable Lightness of 'Nymphomaniac'

Cinematographer Manuel Claro calls "Nymphomaniac" the ultimate Lars von Trier movie ("Volume II" opens Friday), containing "a fuck you to film school energy that's all over the place," in which the director's pessimism and optimism battle one another. However, after the in-your-face look of"Melancholia," the opus about sex addiction starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgard was much simpler to light, despite the greater length and traipsing 55 days through Germany and Belgium.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • April 3, 2014 3:28 PM
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Cinematographer Matthew Libatique Talks Ark and Arcs in 'Noah'

Darren Aronofsky has always been drawn to the mystical, and "Noah" is even ballsier than "Pi" or "The Fountain." Of course, it's divisive as environmental allegory and the conflict between religion and science. But I think it's a powerful evocation of creation and destruction, love and beauty, and the difficulty of raising a family. Talk about survival and rebirth: It's the ultimate road movie, according to cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who's shot every Aronofsky movie but "The Wrestler" because of a temporary rift.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • March 28, 2014 2:05 PM
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Neil Burger Talks Being a 'Divergent' Director (TRAILER)

When asked if he was "Divergent," Neil Burger replied affirmatively but admitted that his biggest films -- "The Illusionist," "Limitless," and "Divergent" -- are all about the quest for empowerment: Ed Norton pulls off a grand scheme to win back the heart of Jessica Biel and to fit in with the social elite; Bradley Cooper takes a psychotropic drug to overcome writer's block and becomes superhuman; and Shailene Woodley's Tris utilizes her extraordinary versatility to lead an uprising against a fascist regime.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • March 21, 2014 2:57 PM
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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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Production Designer Adam Stockhausen Talks 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' (VIDEOS)

Imagine going from "12 Years a Slave" to "The Grand Budapest Hotel." That's exactly what happened to production designer Adam Stockhausen, who was able to convey beauty in the darkest of dramas, but when it came to Wes Anderson's witty caper, there was no holding back the Czech Republic eye candy: a pink hotel, a dollop of yellow butter cream, and the sugary Mendl's bakery.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • March 7, 2014 3:53 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Talking the 'Bad Grandpa' Makeup with Oscar-Nominated Stephen Prouty

So will the Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling go to Stephen Prouty for his impressive transformation of Johnny Knoxville's hysterical and horny 86-year-old Irving Zisman in "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa"? It's a triumph of old school craft, which required a complete re-imagining to believably pull it off and provide Knoxville with better flexibility for his comedic turn.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 25, 2014 2:57 PM
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