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“This Was Like Designing for Six Different Leads and Six Different Backgrounds”: Costume Designer Mary Zophres on The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Harry Melling in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Joel and Ethan Coen have been making films for over 30 years now and, since the mid-1990s, costume designer Mary Zophres has been a key part of creating their distinct aesthetic worlds. Working consistently with the fraternal directing team, Zophres has provided some iconic looks, among them the puffy jackets of Fargo (1996), The Dude’s sweater and bathrobe in The Big Lebowski (1997), and the prison garb of O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), to name just a few. The designer’s resume also includes the delightfully quirky and punkish costumes of Ghost World (2001), which have inspired countless young women, and La La Land (2016), for which she received an Academy Award nomination (her second, after being nominated for the…  Read more

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“There is a Misconception that Cutting Action is not an Intellectual Endeavor”: Debbie Berman on Editing Black Panther

Black Panther

Of the 250 top-grossing films in 2017, women comprised only 16% of all editors. That makes Debbie Berman, co-editor of Black Panther, a glowing exception. And not only has Berman had a successful career spanning work in her homeland of South Africa, Canada and now LA, she’s made a name for herself in the Marvel sphere. Last year, she co-edited Spider-Man: Homecoming, this year, the ground-breaking Black Panther alongside Michael Shawver (Fruitvale Station) and has the Brie Larson-led Captain Marvel out this year. Filmmaker had a chance to ask Berman some questions about her impressive career and her knack for interlacing narrative and emotion into each sequence, action scenes included. “I think there is a misconception that cutting action is…  Read more

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Back to One, Episode 41: First Reformed‘s Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke’s “staying power” is grounded in hard work. He survived being the poster child of Generation X (Reality Bites), and thrived as Richard Linklater’s go-to actor (The Before Trilogy, Boyhood) and always returns to the true home of the actor–the theater (he’s currently starring in True West on Broadway). Now he has delivered one of the most critically acclaimed performances of the year in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. He generously shares the wisdom and knowledge he’s acquired over the years as an actor, and is extremely eloquent when doing so. In this episode, he talks about the importance of off-camera acting, magic vs. rehearsal, not being seduced by laughter, and lots more. Back To One can be found wherever…  Read more

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Can Critics’s Awards and Top Ten Mentions Boost Revenues for Independent Films?

Minding the Gap

Do critics matter? Maybe. But do critics’ top ten lists matter? There’s little doubt within the industry that an Academy Award nomination (or win) can provide an extraordinary boost to a film’s profile, especially smaller independent films who need the long tail of awards recognition more than most. Think of last year’s The Florida Project or Faces Places. But what about all those year-end numerical rankings and lists, proffered by that dwindling professional entity known as the film critic? He’s no Oscar, but when the New York Times’ A.O. Scott puts your little film at the top of his year-end list, how (financially) beneficial is it? Some distributors say that annual critics’ rankings are a mere insular cineaste’s practice that…  Read more

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“Love and Injustice”: Composer Nicholas Britell on the Score for Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk

New York City in the 1970s occupies a special place in the popular imagination; there was a look and feel and, more important, a sound that captured the range of the city from grit to glitz. Barry Jenkins’s new If Beale Street Could Talk is set during this era of New York City, and the look is unmistakable: The backdrop is full of Impala yellow taxis, small shops and cool lofts. Yet the city fades into the background, giving way to the compelling and un-self-consciously presented love story of Tish and Fonny, childhood best friends in Harlem who become lovers as adults, and then the saga of Tish and her family to free Fonny, who is falsely accused of rape.…  Read more

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“Lights are Your Friends, but Sometimes They Don’t Need to Come Around to the Party”: Cinematographer Robbie Ryan on Shooting Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite

Emma Stone and Olivia Colman in The Favourite. Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

In Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, two determined women — Rachel Weisz’s refined but ruthless Duchess of Marlborough and Emma Stone’s desperate and cunning chambermaid Abigail — vie for the titular preferential position alongside the ill and melancholy Queen Anne. Anyone expecting a beautifully mounted but stuffy 18th century period piece has not seen a Yorgos Lanthimos movie. Employing the same absurdist sense of humor as Lanthimos’s The Lobster, The Favourite also imposes the director’s preferred set of aesthetic restrictions — namely, wide angle lenses and shooting almost entirely with available light. Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan (American Honey, Fish Tank), who was recently nominated for an American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Award, spoke to Filmmaker about embracing Lanthimos’s singular sensibility,…  Read more

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Filmmaking

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The 50 Most Anticipated American Films of 2019

Hello! Happy New Year! The fine folks at Filmmaker have invited me back to put together my (now) annual list of the 50 most anticipated American films of the year. I thought about making the list shorter this time around (because 50 blurbs is really…  Read more

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Jan 7, 2019

 

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