For Pete's Sake...
November 2, 2013
You'd think it'd be easier to keep up with posting a list of movies I see every week.
Posted by David Lowery at 10:09 PM
September 26, 2013
Beverly Hills Cop - dir. Martin Brest
The World's End - dir. Edgar Wright
Prisoners - dir. Denis Vilaneuve
The Retrieval - dir. Chris Eska
Joe - dir. David Gordon Green
Snowpiercer - dir. Bong Joon Ho
Sugarland Express - dir. Steven Spielberg
We Are What We Are - dir. Jim Mickle
Blue Ruin - dir. Jeremy Saulnier
Restrepo - dir. Sebastian Junger & Tim Heatherington
The Bling Ring - dir. Sofia Coppola
Greenberg - dir. Noah Baumbach
Dredd - dir. Pete Travis
Blue Jasmine - dir. Woody Allen
Star Trek Into Darkness - dir. JJ Abrams
The Friedkin Connection by William Friedkin
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
The World Of Sex by Henry Miller
Breaking Bad (the rest of it)
Girls Season 2
Posted by David Lowery at 12:13 AM
Bob & Ruth
August 27, 2013
Last May, just before we went to Cannes, I cut these two teasers for the movie, one for Bob Muldoon and one for Ruth Guthrie. Much of the footage in each came from the cutting room floor - wonderful little moments that just didn't fit into the movie but deserved to be seen all the same.
I cut these with the intent that they be the very first glimpse of the movie released to the world. I felt they set the stage for the characters (and the film itself, with its dichotic structure) quite well. They were succinctly supplemental, too, which is something I always appreciate in marketing materials (is there a way to use appendices as an adjective? Appendectory? Appendicistic?).
Releasing them back then clearly never came to pass. I didn't fight it, but now that the film is out there, but I'm still proud of them and I'm happy to let them slip out, after the fact. Better late than never.
The passage that Casey is reading in the first teaser is from King Lear. It's a passage he sent me long before we started shooting, back when we would have long phone calls about the character. He thought it was applicable to Bob - or rather, that it might be something Bob would read and find applicable to himself. When we stole away to Texas for our Lone Star photography unit, I was determined to get it on camera, even though I had no idea if we'd be able to fit it into the movie.
Posted by David Lowery at 5:46 PM
August 23rd Quadruple Feature Giveaway
August 21, 2013
I'll be back with one final frame in my series of Ain't Them Bodies Saints images shortly, but in the meantime: the film opens wide this weekend. We'll be in every major market (except, for some reason, in Chicago, where it will open on the 30th). From a business standpoint, it is my duty to urge you to go see it.
However, as a fan of great films, it is also my duty to note that there is an alarming number of great movies opening in theaters this weekend. For starters, we have the debut of Destin Daniel Creton's overwhelmingly effecting Short Term 12, which broke my heart and sewed it back up at SXSW last March. Drinking Buddies, Joe Swanberg's smart and incisive comedy of manners, opens theatrically after a successful online debut last month. And lastly, Adam Wingard's phenomenally entertaining and almost impossibly satisfying You're Next finally hits the big screen. There are other great movies, like The World's End, but I want to focus on these three because - well, because my friends made them. And because I love them.
I want you to go see my movie. I implore you to see these others. Hence, I would like to propose a weekend quadruple feature. If seeing four great movies isn't enough, here is some further instigation: if you go see Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Drinking Buddies, You're Next and Short Term 12 this weekend, I will send you a custom-made prize in the mail.
That prize will be as follows. In my movie, there is a thick police file on Bob Muldoon, which Ben Foster's sheriff character peruses in one scene.
I will pull something from this file and augment it with an original handdrawn illustration. Maybe it'll be a newspaper clipping, or a mugshot, or crime scene photos. It could be a map. Or some of Bob's letters, carefully wrapped in evidence baggies. It might be one of the dirty cartoons that our prop guy slipped into the file to make the actors laugh. And as for what I'll do to it - you can get an idea of my crude artwork in this short film.
UPDATE: the producers of You're Next will also throw in a handpainted animal mask from the film, signed by director Adam Wingard! And Joe Swanberg will sweeten the deal with a signed Drinking Buddies coaster.
UPDATE 2: Short Term 12 is going to throw a signed soundtrack album into the mix. More to come. Please keep in mind that a While Supplies Last rule applies to all of these, although in the case of Ain't Them Bodies Saints, that police file runs pretty deep.
It's a small token, to be sure, and the real reward is what you're going to be seeing in the theater, but I hope this extra bit of kindling might light a few fires under excited cineastes and wary moviegoers alike. The only rules are that you have to see all four movies within a single weekend. To participate, just follow these simple instructions:
1. Go see the movies between a Friday and a Sunday.
2. Take a photo of the ticket stubs.
3. Tweet the picture to me at twitter.com/davidlowery. Tag it with #ATBSquadruplefeature.
4. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and send me your mailing address.
5. Look for your just reward in the mail, sometime after September 10th.
And because some of these movies are opening wider in the coming weeks, the expiration date for this offer isn't until September 29th! Check your movie theater's listings and mark your calendars now.
RULES UPDATE: All the movies need to be seen within the space of a single weekend, beginning August 23rd (midnight shows count). If you saw any of the movies beforehand, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, but we've got to have a hard starting line, and this is it (blame me for lack of foresight, as I just came up with this yesterday - although dare I recommend a repeat viewing?). Likewise, although several of these films will be available on VOD or iTunes, buying a ticket to the movie in a movie theater is another rule. This is why every weekend between now and the end of September is fair game, because the films will be expanding on a weekly basis (You're Next is already wide). You can see where Drinking Buddies is going to be playing right here and Short Term 12 here. Hopefully we'll have a complete list for Ain't Them Bodies Saints soon, but it's going to expand fairly wide. Obviously, NY and LA have it easy right off the top, but with any luck all these movies will all get within a stone's throw of you. Make a road trip out of it!
So there you have it. Please join me in having a magnificent weekend at the movie theater. And if you want my recommendation as to what order to see the films in, I would start with Ain't Them Bodies Saints so you can get the solemn sadness out of the way early, move on to Short Term 12, have a few beers before and during Drinking Buddies and then finish things off with You're Next as close to midnight as possible.
P.S. The distributors of any of these films have not endorsed this giveaway in advance in any shape, way or form. I'm trusting that they won't mind.
Posted by David Lowery at 4:08 PM
ATBS Frames, Pt. 9
August 13, 2013
This shot is the first shot of the end of the movie.
When I put together my first cut of the film, I broke the movie into three chapters, a prologue and an epilogue. I even had cards to denote this. This scene was the last one of chapter three; everything else that happened in the movie was an epilogue. Even though I wound up removing those cards, I still feel that the narrative breaks they denoted are very much in place. Hence, this is the end of the movie. If an audience member were to walk out after this scene, I would theoretically be okay with that. If some devilish producer had told me I had to chose between this or everything after, I would have rolled the credits when this scene ended. Certainly, the movie needs the epilogue. But the final shot of this scene, where the car drives off into the distance, is where Bob Muldoon's journey comes to an end.
But that's the last shot, and I'm here to talk about the first. This shot is very simple and very direct, which is why it's important. We shot it as we were driving back to base camp after finishing the rest of the scene. We put a 100mm lens on the camera and just rolled, grabbing fleeting little details, racking between Casey's hand on the gun and Rami's hands on the steering wheel, panning up and and then to an ECU of Rami's eyes.
When I first cut this scene, I got into it with a series of glimpses made up of this very footage. Three or four shots, all jittery and irresolute, which cohered into an impression of the circumstances at hand. A glimpse of a gun here, a frightened glance there. This is an editorial style with which I am completely comfortable - a decoupage approach, in which no frame needs to be perfect or direct or 100% clear, because clarity is going to come from the accumulated value of multiple images juxtaposed together in fluid fashion. The movie has very little of this type of editing, mainly because our visual approach doesn't completely support it. Which was intentional. But my brain naturally strays towards this type of cutting, and I was happy that this footage lent itself to such montage.
I've hinted here and there about my frustration with the editing process on this film. The comfort zone I looked forward to all through the shoot turned into a sticky mess of red tape that we never quite managed to cut through. It was (not through the part of any person) an unhappy and unproductive situation. In spite of this, there are things that my collaborators brought to the table that I am immensely grateful for, and this shot is one of them. After I had made my slipstream point of entry, Craig McKay took it and distilled it down to this single shot. Upon first glance I wanted to take thing back to the way I had them, but after thinking about it, I realized he had did what any good editor does, which is to let the picture speak. In this case, we had a very solid frame that told the audience everything you needed to know about the situation. There was a gun and it was being pointed. Nothing fancy, no slippery edits required. This is how we shot the movie, with strong images designed to do heavy lifting, and here was a muscular edit to match. I started referring to it as a John Ford cut. It made its point, and it actually made me think about the entire movie in a new and more direct light.
I'm glad I listened.
Posted by David Lowery at 1:57 AM
ATBS Frames, Pt. 8
August 12, 2013
I have two favorite scenes in the film, which I love above all the others and which, to me, are real and true moments in a movie that is all about posturing. This week, as we lead up to the release, I want to highlight a few frames from the one that very often sneaks ahead in my favor.
This first one can be glimpsed in the trailer. Bob Muldoon, grievously wounded, waves down an approaching car, driven by a young man on his way to Oklahoma, and hijacks his ride. It sets up what is, to me, the last scene of the movie. It's not literally the last scene, but I'll get to what I feel like it is in a moment.
We shot this on the second day of principal photography, our one day with the great Rami Malek, who plays Will. As written, Bob's truck breaks down and he waits there in the cab until he hears an oncoming vehicle, at which point he gets out and strides out to the middle of the road. This was supposed to take place at the crack of dawn. Given all the other material we had to shoot this day, it was going to be a race to get everything done within the window of daylight we had. Jay Van Hoy came up with the brilliant idea of having Casey leave his broken down truck and set off down the road on foot, allowing us to make a time jump to shortly thereafter, with the sun already up. This way we could give ourselves some leeway and shoot the bulk of the scene with the sun still up, and then back up and shoot the truck breaking down with the last few moments of dusk simulating dawn (it also nicely emphasized the immensity of Bob's drive to get back home, come hell or high water).
This breathing room was still quite slight, and as the sun dipped down, we all raced over to the piney road on which we were set to shoot. Although we'd initially planned on using some Steadicam here, we ultimately decided to do everything handheld, so that we could bounce from one setup to the next and hopefully merge a few into one (that never quite happened). After shooting so slowly and laboriously up until this point, it was a joy to suddenly be running and gunning. Our biggest delay was when we were descended upon by a cross-country bicycle race.
This was also the first time I got in trouble for moving something. I think I grabbed a lens case to get it out of the way and received a slap on the wrist. I know unions have rules for a reason, but that sort of thing drives me nuts.
This particular shot was, I believe, the second we got. A 3/4 following shot that resolves itself into the above composition when Casey turns around. It's one of those moments where an image just falls into place without any planning. I didn't think about it for another two weeks, but this turned out to be the perfect bookend to one of the shots early on in the film, when Bob surrenders at the farmhouse, raising one bloody hand in the air (his left hand, as the right would have been too overt of a Nick Cave reference, although I wasn't thinking about that at all at the time). Here, he makes the same gesture, in what is, ultimately, a second form of surrender.
Speaking of blood, I recall looking over the call-sheet for this shoot the night before and realizing with some degree of panic that I hadn't told Malgosia (our costume designer) that Casey needed to be shot up and bloodied in this scene. I ran over to her trailer to let her know, to which she she said something like "of course I know, it's in the script" and showed me the racks of wardrobe all pre-shot-up and drenched in blood. I had yet to realize the extent to which, if you write something, your crew makes sure it's taken care of. My naïveté knew no bounds in those days, and likely hasn't improved much since.
Casey had to get into this wardrobe (and push himself to a state of near death) for the picture car portion of this scene, then change clothes and clean up for a quick scene with Nate Parker (shot just as the day's thunderstorm was rolling in), and then take himself back to the point of expiry and re-drench himself in corny syrup. This was also the day he had to shave his beard, which we were debating keeping for the whole movie all the way up until just before the cameras rolled. It just looked so good.
I mentioned above that I'd explain why this scene with Bob and Will is, to my mind, the last scene of the movie. I will, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow's shot...
Posted by David Lowery at 1:58 AM