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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008, movies had 'Scope

SP_RIP_500x.jpgAn interview. “For me, the beauty [of widescreen composition] comes out of practicality. I’ve spent my life viewing movies that have at their center, a relationship between a man and a woman. Every single movie. And so the heart of the movies are two-shots. And sometimes I like to be quite close. You can’t work in a close, tight two-shot and have any room for where you are or any sets and environment in a less wide frame. You just can’t. You can’t. A tight two-shot in 1.85 can be in limbo. You can just put up a piece of cardboard and shoot the tight two-shot. You might as well. And if you’re using the environment to tell story—if you take a picture like They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? or Jeremiah Johnson or any of these pictures where where the people are is essential, I mean, the studio kept fighting me with They Shoot Horses, saying, “You’re in one set, for godssake! Why are you using widescreen? It’s not the Grand Canyon. It’s the opposite of the Grand Canyon!” But that was precisely the point. I could shoot Michael Sarazin and Jane Fonda dancing or Bruce Dern and Bonnie Bedelia, whoever, the pairs, and still see this sea of people dancing, or the bleachers, and the people staring at them. So there’s more redolence to each frame. It has a different impact. If I cut the edges off of those frames, and you just have those center people, without a context, I don’t think would be nearly as meaningful. I mean, on an absolutely practical, technical level, I can transmit more information per frame than I can with 1.85. I don’t say it’s more beautiful. I adore those old movies that were 1.33. They’re great. It’s not a question of beauty, it’s a question of… of what is the movie? The one movie I wish I’d done it in, this is when I stopped using ‘Scope, which was Out of Africa. Because I got so sick of it being butchered, y’know, DVDs weren’t in then, they were still doing VHS and they were always panning-and-scanning, chopping the edges off. And I just said, I can’t do this any more. More people see it in the aftermarket now, so they remember it that way. I didn’t frame it that way. I’ve had people come up now, who occasionally have seen a screening of Jeremiah Johnson or a screening of They Shoot Horses and it’s a different movie than what they ever saw. It’s a completely different movie.”

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch