09 April 2012

Stuff I've Been Consuming 3

  • Angelus, Mary C. Moore
  • Making Movies, Sidney Lumet
  • Cinder, Marissa Meyer
  • The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
  • Wanderlove, Kirsten Hubbard
  • The Notebook, Nick Cassavetes
  • John Carter, Andrew Stanton
  • Friends With Kids, Jennifer Westfeldt
  • Atlas Shrugged: Part 1, Paul Johansson
  • Page One: Inside the New York Times, Andrew Rossi
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi, David Gelb
  • The Hunger Games, Gary Ross
  • Wrath of the Titans, Jonathan Liebesman
  • Manufactured Landscapes, Jennifer Baichwal

A quarter of the way through the year and I'm still on a good pace for our fiftyfifty.me challenge: fourteen books and twenty two movies. This month I'm here to sing the praises of Sidney Lumet's Making Movies. You may recognize Lumet as the director behind 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Murder on the Orient Express, or perhaps his most recent film, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Or um, maybe The Wiz. Sadly, Lumet passed away in 2011 but his book got a lot of press posthumously and that's when I first heard about it.

After reading through Making Movies, written in 1996, I highly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in how films are made. Written with a lot of personality, Lumet breaks down what a director does, what goes into script writing, how to deal with actors, how a movie shoot is organized, different approaches to camera work, and most interestingly to me, a very detailed chapter about editing.

Now, there are lots of resources about the technical aspects of all of these things of course, but Making Movies isn't a how-to manual, and infused with Lumet's commentary, it's a readable gem for laypeople and filmmakers alike. I'm already looking forward to re-reading it whenever I need some inspiration.

This was also the month I rediscovered Netflix, at one point ripping through three movies in one morning/afternoon. Say what you want about the Atlas Shrugged movie, but I need a Part 2. For awhile it was rumored that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were interested to star as Dagny Taggart and John Galt but I had no problems with Taylor Schilling stepping in. She's got enough of the icy look and demeanor to make an ideal Dagny and Jolie would have probably ruined it just with her notoriety. Note I use "ruined it" very loosely as the movie has been widely panned.

This is totally irrelevant but I really enjoyed seeing Edi Gathegi as Eddie Willers. That's right, Gathegi was Laurent in Twilight and Darwin in X-Men: First Class. And when the Black Eyed Peas biopic comes out, he'll be the man standing in for Will.I.Am. Hollywood will totally whitewash Apl.de.ap and Taboo though. Brace for the outrage.

And one last thing. Go watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It's a documentary about 85 year old Jiro Ono and his perfectionist sushi making. Aside from just food porn, you'll marvel over the insanity/amazingness of one man dedicating his life to crafting the same pieces of sushi over and over again. Eating at Jiro's costs $400 so it's unlikely most of us will ever get to try it out but that doesn't matter because watching the movie will only cost a fraction of that. Sure, it's not the all encompassing documentary I'd have liked to see -- I wanted more technique and explanation of why Jiro's sushi was the best -- but overall the movie is a must see.