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Daily Reads: David Fincher’s Misdirections, Is Ultra-Real 3-D the Future? and More

Daily Reads: David Fincher's Misdirections, Is Ultra-Real 3-D the Future? and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. David Fincher’s Misdirections. David Fincher has a reputation as a “control freak” (which we think is lazy and inaccurate), for beating any of the earnestness and cheer out of his actors by demanding multiple takes. But he’s also a very playful filmmaker, and Grantland’s Sean Fennessey and Chris Ryan took a look at his most playful touch: the hidden films inside his films. Here’s the buddy comedy hiding inside “Zodiac”:

What follows is one of the more charismatic exchanges in Fincherland. The domineering Avery, interrogating Graysmith …

Avery: “What do you do for fun?”
Graysmith: “I love to read. I enjoy books.”
Avery: “Those are the same things.”

This scene is basically shot in the dark, and features two men, both on the way to being shitfaced — one eventually doing bumps in a booth — talking about the cryptographic curiosities of a murderer. And it’s the brightest moment in the film — a portrait of connection, of two like minds coming together, despite their constitutional differences. Read more.

2. How Work Works in the Dardenne Brothers’ Films. The Dardenne Brothers are among the most consistently brilliant filmmakers alive, with their grim but humane looks at poverty, low-wage jobs and survival. Their latest, “Two Days, One Night,” played at NYFF, and A.O. Scott of The New York Times chose to look at how work works in the Dardennes’ films.

The title character of “Rosetta” (1999), the first Dardenne brothers film to win the Palme d’Or in Cannes (“L’Enfant” was the second) is a 17-year-old girl at war with everything in the universe, including herself, her alcoholic mother, a factory manager and the short-order cook who may be her only friend. Rosetta’s antisocial and self-destructive behavior expresses a desire that is at once primal and practical, banal and profound. What she wants, above all, is to work, and to secure the kind of social identity and human connection that a job can provide. Read more.

3. Xavier Dolan vs. Jean-Luc GodardThis year’s Cannes Film Festival awarded the Jury Prize (third-place) to two films: veteran provacateur/curmudgeon/filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard’s new 3D film “Goodbye to Language” and Quebecois wunderkind Xavier Dolan’s fifth film, “Mommy.” It’s quite an honor to win such a big prize your first time in the competition, not to mention to share it with a veritable cinema legend, but Dolan is less than happy. A profile in The Star by Peter Howell asked Dolan about his feelings on Godard.

“Jean-Luc Godard did this press release and he mentioned he would never go and seeMommy in theatres because he already knew what Mommy was about: another ‘TV movie’ and that nowadays everything is predictable. He’s this old grinchy man. He’s the grinch from Switzerland in the mountain. Deaf, blind, smoking, literally. Basically being provocative about everything.” 
Read more.

4. Steven Soderbergh and “The Knick.” The new show “The Knick” is many things: one of the most violent shows on television, a fascinating depiction of early twentieth century medical practices, and the best showcase for lead actor Clive Owen in nearly a decade. Above all else, however, it’s a look at how director Steven Soderbergh can take familiar storylines, like Owen’s Dr. John Thackery’s cocaine addiction, and make it seem new. Alan Sepinwall of HitFix writes:

In scenes where Thackery appears — unless it’s one explicitly told from another character’s POV, like when Lucy comes downstairs wearing his shirt — the camera’s first and only focus is on Clive Owen‘s sweaty, uncomfortable face. Other characters exist primarily as blurry shapes on the edge of the frame, or disembodied voices Thack barely notices as he tries to maintain his composure. When he uses one of the cocaine vials Lucy was able to scrounge for him in order to get through the presentation of the hernia paper, the camera movements are fast and jagged (a hand-held sprint up the aisle as he delivers the paper), and when he sits down and listens to Levi Zinberg’s own presentation, the lightning-quick cuts back and forth between Thack’s face and Zinberg’s makes clear just how impatient the drug has made him in this moment. Read more.

5. Is Ultra-Real 3-D The Future? Douglas Trumbull made some of cinema’s most enduring special effects with “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Blade Runner,” but he’s been largely absent for years following the disastrous production of his film “Brainscan.” Trumbull has returned with UFOTOG, which shoots at 120 frames per second (as opposed to the usual 24) and makes for a crisper, more “real” look that would go beyond the much-criticized look of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” into something far more remarkable. Robbie Collin of the Telegraph reports.

But in UFOTOG, thanks to advances in digital projection, there’s no dark downtime: one frame is simply followed by the next. For added crispness, Trumbull screened the film using a new model of laser projector made by Christie Digital, which eliminates the light loss that turns so many projections of 3D films into mud. 
Yet the advanced technology only seems to be restoring something cinema lost long ago. The awesome power of that close-up – a face stretched outwards and upwards like a piece of architecture – was what made icons a hundred years ago of Greta Garbo, Louise Brooks and Lillian Gish. Norma Desmond in “Sunset Blvd.” needn’t have worried: the pictures may be about to get big again. Read more.

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