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Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Renner.’

The Immigrant is one of those rare, strikingly beautiful film experiences that transport you to another world.”
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“[The Immigrant] earns its dissonances. It’s richer than anything onscreen right now.”
David Edelstein
Vulture

In light of the extravaganzas X-Men:Days of Future Past and Godzilla pulling in $120 million over the weekend, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only voice in the wilderness talking about The Immigrant which is also in theaters now. This film works on every level you can demand of cinema. Directed by James Gray from a script he wrote with Ric Menello, the film stars Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner.

At one point I’m pretty sure Phoenix was tapping into his inner-Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) from On the Waterfront. I don’t think The Immigrant will win 8 Oscars like the Elia Kazan/ Budd Schulberg/Malcolm Johnson 1954 classic film—but I imagine you’ll see it receive a few Oscar-nominations.

May 29, 2014 Update: “James Gray’s ‘The Immigrant’ is the best movie in theatres right now, a work of nuanced writing, eruptive emotion, and vast psychological complexity.”
Richard Brody
The New Yorker

Scott W. Smith

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Hitchcock loved The Hurt Locker? As in Alfred Hitchcock? Really? Hasn’t he been dead for like 30 years? Yes, I guess I should have said that “Hitchcock would have loved The Hurt Locker”—but that’s a long title, and less interesting. So why do I think the master of suspense and a psychological thrillers would have appreciated the film that picked up the best picture Oscar Sunday?

Well, in part because The Hurt Locker was suspenseful and psychological. But there are three other reasons that come to mind of why I think director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal tapped into the Hitchcock creative mindset as filmmakers.

1) Hitchcock said that the difference between shock and suspense was the difference between having a bomb suddenly going off surprising the audience (shock) and the audience seeing that there is a bomb under a table with a timer ticking down (suspense). The later being able to hold your attention for a long time no matter what the conversation is above the table. Bigelow and her editors knew they didn’t need to rush certain scenes and used the built in suspense to their advantage.

2) Little dialogue/strong visuals—Hitchcock came from the world of silent films and believed you only used words when the visuals didn’t tell the story. (Watch Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo, and The Birds to see excellent examples.) Bigelow studied painting before she became a filmmaker and The Hurt Locker is strong on visuals. Hitchcock embraced simplicity at times sometimes using little or no sound effects. Sometimes pulling the effects and music altogether for a dramatic effect. I’ve only seen The Hurt Locker once so far but I seem to recall the music and effects track being spartan at times. I’m sure much effort went into the sound design of The Hurt Locker but it didn’t overpower the track and at times seemed to be just actor Jeremy Renner breathing in his protective suit.

3) Hitchcock didn’t care about reality. There have been a few articles about how some bomb experts in Iraq don’t feel like the film was realistic. One used the words “grossly exaggerated.” Bigelow wasn’t making a documentary. She was making a movie. And movies as I learned in film school are “heightened  reality.” Some cops never shoot their gun in their whole career, but that tends not to make for good drama. Hitchcock didn’t worry about reality and I’ll let him explain his reasoning, after all he’s the guy who had a chase scene on top of Mount Rushmore, a killing inside the UN building, as well as many other “grossly exaggerated” situations;

“To insist that a storyteller stick to the facts is just as ridiculous as to demand of a representative painter that he show objects accurately…We should have total freedom to do as we like, just so long as it’s not dull. A critic who talks to me about plausibility is a dull fellow…I don’t want to film a ‘slice of life’ because people can get that at home, in the street, or even in front of the movie theater. They don’t have to pay money to see a slice of life. And I avoid out-and-out fantasy because people should be able to identify with the characters. Making a film means, first of all, to tell a story. That story should never be banal. It must be dramatic and human. What is drama, after all, but life with the dull bits cut out.”
Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock: The Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock by Truffaut

Of course, the military leadership has to go on record saying that they aren’t looking for lone-ranger, hotshot cowboys on their bomb squads. And they probably don’t. But I image they realize  this will do a little for recruiting what the cocky, hotshot pilot Tom Cruise and Top Gun did back for Navy recruiting in the 80s. Bigalow and Boal have made rock stars of guys that risk their life to defuse bombs. (I read one reviewer who went as far as to say the movie felt like an Army recruitment film.) The movie hasn’t been seen any where near as much as Top Gun and flying a jet plane seems a little more glamorous, but I think that bomb disposal experts should be sending thank you notes to Bigelow and Boals because they have brought dignity and awareness to a job most Americans knew little about.

And if any bomb disposal experts in Iraq or Afghanistan read this, thank you for what you’re doing. I hope you come home safely soon.

And congrats to Bigelow and the whole Hurt Locker crew on the Oscar wins.

Related post: Pandora vs. Baghdad

Scott W. Smith

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For journalist turned screenwriter Mark Boal, 2009/2010 turned into quite a life changing period. His script for The Hurt Locker was released as a movie and more recently the film has been nominated for nine Academy Awards. He was asked recently by  Claudia Eller at the Los Angeles TImes how all of that has changed the 36-year old’s life;

“Drastically. The single biggest change is probably seeing a story I care about discussed on the “Today” show with Kathryn Bigelow and Jeremy Renner. It’s a far cry from being on the subway and seeing the story you wrote being read by a guy as he turns the page to look at the escort ads. I was in the post office the other day sending a copy of the screenplay to someone whose house I stayed at in Nantucket, and this woman behind me in line who had seen the movie said, “Oh my God, I’ve got to text my friend that I’m in line with you.”
Mark Boal, screenwriter
The Hurt Locker had an explosive effect on Mark Boal’s Screenwriting Career
Article by Claudia Eller/LA Times

Related post: Screenwriting from Massachusetts

Scott W. Smith

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