Big and Bad and similar to Wolves

bigbadwolves_01

MOVIE REVIEW

Big Bad Wolves
United Channel Movies, Israel 
110 Min
2.35:1
UK Release: TBA for 2014 by Metronome Distribution

DIR Navot Papushado, Aharon Keshales
PROD Tami Leon, Chilik Michaeli, Avraham Pirchi
SCR Navot Papushado, Aharon Keshales
DP Giora Bejach
CAST Lior Ashkenazi, Tzachi Grad, Rotem Keinan, Dov Glickman, Menashe Noy

Hailed by Quentin Tarantino as the best film of the year, so far, at Busan international film festival, it’s easy to see why with the flair, punch and shock value that Big Bad Wolves brings to the table.

The film is, ultimately, a black comedy that takes you headfirst into the rather corrupt underworld of the Israeli police. However, it is also a spin on the horror film with torture scenes designed to make your jaw drop one minute, and the next, to laugh out loud. This is by no means a new experience, but there is something fresh about the way Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales (the directors) combine horror and comedy. The horror itself, is not funny, it is overwhelmingly shocking, but it is constantly being switched on and off with unforeseen interruptions of almost burlesque value. We are bounced back and forth in our seats.

The story is quite straightforward: A reckless cop, Miki (Lior Ashkenazi), and a missing girls irate father, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), are drawn to the attention of Dror (Rotem Keinan) who they relentlessly believe is guilty of raping and beheading the girl. The pair duo up and take things into their own hands in order to find a way to extract the truth from Dror. It is the classic set-up for an acrimonious torture scene.

It is within this torture-ology that the film swims in the murky waters of good vs. evil where perspective is the only thing separating the two. You are left constantly trying to guess what the characters will do next, which keeps us tied right to the edge of our seats. This tense atmosphere infuses an air of moral superiority into the narrative. You can’t help wondering, surely there is a better way to go about this? There is also a comical play-off between the local Jews and Arab communities – a statement of change and novel friendship between the two.

The only thing lacking for me in the film was the absence of any real character development. Okay, it is not entirely necessary for the script to work as our squirming and laughing out loud soon sidetracks us. Also, part of the reason this film is so impulsive lies in the lack of back-story. However, there is also nothing to explain why Miki and Gidi are so focused on Dror, the man they are targeting as the killer. Towards the beginning, there is simply an anonymous throwaway line regarding someone alleging to have seen Dror with the child.

Big Bad Wolves is, nevertheless, beautifully crafted, from its apprehensive and muted prologue to sinisterly lit forest scenes and pronounced, sweeping camera shots of the basement corridors and walls. The film is innovative in nearly all respects, it is brimming with the unusual and it boasts a brilliant genre fare. Not since Park Chan-wook’s pictures has a director managed to maintain such a light tone whilst depicting a deeply troubling subject matter.

4 stars

Watch the trailer below:

An Interview with Master Storyteller Mark Day

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

I am incredibly excited to present this interview with Mark Day. Mark has been in the industry for over 30 years and has edited numerous TV series and feature films, most notably the latter 4 Harry Potter films. He is greatly enthusiastic about his craft and it is encouraging to hear his exciting prospects for those starting out.

When did you first get interested in film editing?

My father worked in the film business as a cameraman, so it was already in the blood. I knew I either wanted to work in the camera department or editing, but I decided it was best to get into editing as people might think the only reason I got into the camera dept. was because of my Dad.

I started out working for the BBC and got onto the trainee assistant editors course. The great thing about the BBC then was that you could work in different departments and gain experience in all of them; for example, you could work in science, current affairs, drama, children’s TV or documentary. I then got the chance to assist a very good editor at the BBC called Ken Pearce who edited high end drama and through him I also met Innes Lloyd who was a highly successful producer and this is how I got my break into drama as he offered me my first film to edit at the BBC, which was called Number 27, written by Michael Palin.

Of course, I also love the ability of storytelling and the manipulation of ideas, images and sound that editing gives you.

Would you say that television is a good way to get into the film industry then?

Absolutely, without a doubt. If you can handle the schedules in TV, then you can definitely handle them in film. I think it’s easier to go from TV into film, rather than the other way around.  Also I got to work with some amazing directors like John Schlesinger and Jack Clayton. I also met David Yates there, which was the beginning of our long term working relationship.

Have you always edited on non-linear systems?

No, I started out at the BBC using super 16mm and then I progressed onto using the first non-linear system, which was Lightworks. However, when I came to editing Harry Potter they always used Avid, so I did a crash course in that system and edited a couple of dramas for the BBC also using Avid.

How much creative freedom do you get as an editor?

It depends on what genre you are doing. When I edit a TV drama, I will receive the shot rushes every day during the shoot and then we put the scene together in the best way that I think works. Gradually, over the course of the shoot, the scenes will build up and then by the end of it I will have a rough cut, which is called the first assembly. This is my cut and from here, you work with the director very closely, getting into the real nitty gritty of how the edit will look by examining every scene extremely carefully vis a vis performances, pace and rhythm.

On Harry Potter, it was slightly different, as obviously it was very visual effects based. So, David [Yates – the director] and I would work on scenes very closely together whilst the shoot was happening. We would have to get many scenes ‘semi-locked’ and then turn them over to the visual fx department who would work on them and hand them back to us and gradually the film and visual fx would evolve in tandem. Sometimes edits would change and visual fx would lengthen or shorten, which all costs money, as every frame can be incredibly expensive. Your feel for the film will always develop, until you are absolutely sure of what you really want.

How important would you say the relationship with the director is as an editor?

Incredibly important. Most directors rely on their editor a great deal. It is brilliant when you get on well with someone. David and I had worked together for the BBC on a show called The Sins and from then on we have done loads together and always got on really well. David and I have been working together for 11 years, and it is great fun, as filmmaking should be, although sometimes it can be stressful. However, at the moment he is off working on a fox pilot in America, which I could not do, having already accepted working on Ex Machina with Alex Garland.

How was it working with Richard Curtis on ‘About Time’?    

Richard is a lovely man, so working with him was great fun. I had worked with him a bit before, as he wrote a script called The Girl in the Café which David directed and I was editing; Richard came into the cutting room a few times. He was great to work with and is a very accomplished director.

What is it that really excites you about editing?  

Getting the raw material and then moulding and shaping it into what becomes the final film is just such an exciting process. A film is constantly evolving and changing and the editing is absolutely significant to finding out what works and what does not. You become completely involved with the film. It may sound weird, but when I am editing, I like to get into the characters and feel as though I am actually in the scene. This helps me understand where to cut and where to go with the edit.

Do you find that after seeing the footage so many times over, your vision may become somewhat distorted from that of an average viewer?

That is an interesting question, but you have to try and stay objective and pretend it is the first time that you are seeing it. Of course, I constantly ask myself the question: how will an audience react to this film? It is tricky, you may see the same piece of material 50 times or more, so you have to try and stay objective, which is a skill in itself.

Can you name any favourite movies where editing stands out to you, or do you see continuity as the most important thing?

I do not actually. However, when I first started out I used to think that continuity was so very important, every cut had to be perfect. You would make sure an arm was not up in one shot compared with the next. But, if you are actually really involved in the film then the audience will not notice these things, and that is the beauty of editing. There are horrendous errors that can happen; sometimes it just cannot be helped. You see these programmes on TV where they show all the mistakes, which is true. For example, if you have to cut out a whole load of dialogue then you will get those continuity errors.

There are so many movies I love like Chinatown, Citizen Kane, American Graffiti, Annie Hall, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, L.A. Confidential, City of God and all those classics. I just love films.

When watching a film, do you find your sensibility for editing getting in the way at all?

It all depends on the film. If you are not enjoying a film then you will start to pick it apart and notice the directing, editing, music, all the myriad of craft that go into filmmaking. I like to get lost and engrossed in a film, so it is annoying when you sit there and this does not happen.

What would you say is the most common mistakes editors make who are starting out?

It is a tricky one. Editing can be an infinite process as there are a million ways you can edit a film. I know when I was starting out that I just would not know where to begin with a scene. You have so many rushes it can become overwhelming. Do you start on this shot or that shot? There can be so many angles to choose from. The more experience you get, the more you will work this out. The first thing I do at the start of the day is watch all the rushes, however, now, as I have been editing for so long, I can actually work out the cut in my mind before I start to edit.

Any final advice to give on the craft? 

I would definitely say that editing is a great craft. It is not as recognised as a director or cameraman or designer, as most people can understand that – they are seeing it. However, with editing, it is almost an invisible art, so it needs to be done well and then people do not notice it. I think people are becoming to understand the craft better with all the home movies being made and iPhones being used to create videos. It gives a greater opportunity to edit and make films – to appreciate the art of good editing.

What is your opinion on the digital revolution?

I think it is great. As long as you have a good story to tell, you can shoot it. It has been done many times now on low budgets with digital equipment. Things make it to the cinema on very low budgets. You basically need a good story and people who are passionate about it for it to work. It shows that you do not have to shoot on 35mm to make a good film.

Thanks Mark. It has been a pleasure chatting with you.

Same here Charlie. Thank you.

A film named after the Sexual Demon in You – Possession

possession

If I celebrated a film concocted in an orgy of milk, demonic cum, and vomit, you might think I was mad. However, I do bloody love Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, not just because it has everything from sexual mutilations to wild psychotic descents, but as they are project with wonderfully bizarre methods.

It is a tricky film to bed within any one genre. It will explicitly appeal to art-house audiences. However, suspense, drama, mystery and horror are all at work here to create a distressingly tragic and intimate movie about relationships. It sounds overwhelming, it is, but Zulawski’s direction is masterful in fitting all these outlandish rudiments into a single package (orgasm). He plays around with striking set pieces and tight spaces giving the film a claustrophobic component, which is terrifying. To further complement the acts of insanity, legendary French cinematographer, Bruno Nuytten, meets Zulawski’s vision with gorgeously long sweeping camera shots and 360-degree panoramas of deranged characters.

The plot concerns the breakdown of a couples marriage into hysteric arguments and masochistic melodrama. The husband (Sam Neil – you’ll remember him from Jurassic Park) discovers that his wife, Anne (Isabelle Adjani), is having an affair with an offbeat and laid-back man, Heinrich (Heinz Bennett). Loyalties are thrown out the window as incoherent monologues and farce commotion engulf Anne into sheer madness; a noteworthy scene being when Anne’s inner demon rises to the surface in a subway – the performance is mind-blowing. She won Best Actress at Cannes that year. Her depiction of possession is truly spellbinding. It becomes apparent that Anne is concealing something far darker than anyone could anticipate, which in lieu of the events, makes us begin to question our own sanity as viewers.

Chaos and dynamic extremity sum up the surface. I could feel the boundaries of the screen pulsating as cinema was being pushed to its limits. But there is also a sentimental value and personal touch from Zulawski embedded into every key moment in the story and by his choice of film language. You will fall in and out of love with each scene and become wreathed in your seat. It’s certainly a cinematic experience to be cherished and held in honour of the exciting form.