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Thompson on Hollywood

Talking 'Grandmaster' Costume Design with Oscar-Nominated William Chang

William Chang is certainly "The Grandmaster" of production/costume design and editing in terms of his long-time collaboration with director Wong Kar-wai. And even though he's received his first Oscar nomination for costume designing the lyrical Ip Man martial arts extravaganza, you can't separate his contribution to the overall look and editorial style of the movie.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 24, 2014 2:04 PM
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Anatomy of a Scene: Revisiting 'Hang Me' from 'Inside Llewyn Davis'

The opening of "Inside Llewyn Davis" is a remarkable achievement: It not only sets the melancholy mood of Greenwich Village in '61 with the eponymous singer (Oscar Isaac) performing "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me" at the iconic Gaslight, but it also sets us up for a confusing circular odyssey. I got the lowdown on the Coen brothers' bizarre tale about folk music with the Oscar nominated cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel and sound mixer Skip Lievsay (also nominated for "Gravity").
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 21, 2014 2:03 PM
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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

Talking the 'Her' Score with Arcade Fire Oscar Nominee William Butler

Oscar-nominated William Butler's first-time experience composing the wistful score for Spike Jonze's "Her" with his Arcade Fire partner Owen Pallett was a bit of a romance as well as a crash course in moviemaking. And yet the experience opened him up more intuitively to the collaborative process.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 18, 2014 2:58 PM
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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

Talking Johnny Depp's Oscar-Nominated Makeup and Hair in 'The Lone Ranger'

When it came to Johnny Depp's trippy Tonto in "The Lone Ranger," there were two makeup and hair challenges: the middle-aged Native American as well as the old man (a tribute to legendary Dick Smith's Jack Crabb from "Little Big Man"). We get the lowdown from Oscar-nominees Joel Harlow, who's become Depp's go-to makeup guy, and hairstylist Gloria Casny.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 7, 2014 2:28 PM
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Talking Benedict Cumberbatch, Dragon Secrets and More with the Oscar-Nominated Sound Editors of 'Smaug'

In returning to Middle-Earth for the second "Hobbit" adventure, "The Desolation of Smaug," Oscar-nominated sound editors Brent Burge and Chris Ward were given a gift with the very hot Benedict Cumberbatch. But when he was first announced, they were apprehensive that his overexposure on "Sherlock" and "Star Trek Into Darkness" might make his voice too familiar. But that all changed when he showed up and got down on his hands and knees, played around with his voice, and became the dragon.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • February 5, 2014 2:53 PM
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Anatomy of a Scene: Talking the 'Her' Office with Oscar-Nominated Production Designer K.K. Barrett

Spike Jonze's beautiful and beguiling "Her," the dark horse in the best picture Oscar race, offers a warm and inviting fusion of LA/Shanghai, with its intoxicating use of red. And the opening scene in the office -- a high rise on Hope near Bunker Hill -- wonderfully sets up the delicate mood and world inhabited by the forlorn Joaquin Phoenix. Oscar-nominated production designer K.K. Barrett discusses his artistic choices and the impact.
  • By Bill Desowitz
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  • January 31, 2014 2:05 PM
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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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  • 0 Comments

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