Archive by Author

Foley Artists are the Actors of Sound, A Documentary Review

20 Feb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Coming to VOD and iTunes on Feb 27th.
Also continuing to play at select Film Festivals. Please check local listings.

Actors of Sound is a solid, insightful and fascinating documentary about one stage of the process which makes cinema come alive. Without it, the cute waddle we hear from E.T. the Extraterrestrial moving about would not be there. These days, part of the sound mix is created on the computer and fully assembled. Back in the golden age of cinema, the talents had to innovate. To come up these nuances with limited resources and splicing magnetic tape was a real thing! In the early days of cinema, the work was difficult. People were most likely recruited from radio since timing was important — and the history of this art can be traced to the pioneer of the craft, Jack Foley.

Other talents this full-length feature includes are John Roesch, the mastermind behind giving life to E.T., and Ross Taylor who led the work behind The Exorcist. Twenty-three talents from around the world were interviewed. Each of them offers their own unique perspectives on how this work is done in their native country. India is unique because of the extravagance some of their films are made. Back home in America, Kitty Malone became the first female Foley Artist to work in Hollywood. She did all the dancing we hear (not see) in Liza Minnelli’s movies. They were not recorded as the microphones were intent on catching the vocal tracks than ambience.

This feature is not about the secrets. Instead, it’s about the life and times of those dedicated to this craft. It also becomes part of the romance. Relationships emerged and having a connection to the actors in the film is just as important. A lot of these talents become the celebrity when recording the same footfall they make. These audio artists describe the work as a joy. This exploration shows people “playing in a sandbox and having fun” with it. They are essentially painting a picture with sound.

A gentle plot helps guides viewers to this visual thesis. The threat of going completely digital — using huge sound libraries to put in each sound we hear in a television show or film — to replace these talents is mentioned. An answer is given: the human element is important. The pros and cons are weighed in. Although the stance these talents reveal is obvious, hopefully a revolution can happen to keep this aspect of film/tv production ongoing.

5 Stars out of 5

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Internationalizing the Monster Hunt with its Sequel (捉妖记2)

18 Feb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The only reason why the supernatural beasties in Monster Hunt (捉妖记) are cute than frightful is to make this product accessible for youths. The first film released in 2015 was very successful at the box office.

Three years later, the sequel is chiming in Chinese New Year! This latest live-action CGI marvel directed by Raman Hui (Shrek the Third) has more enthusiasm going for it. The team he assembled adds nuances which are globally recognized than making it a piece of traditional Chinese Fantasy — namely in world construction ala Harry Potter and the addition of musical numbers ala Walt Disney. Also, this tale is far more sentimental.

The adventures of Song Tianyin (Jing Boran) and Huo Xiaolan (Bai Baihe) continue. Although separated from Wuba, a creature that looks like a fat radish with a mop of grass hair, they still wonder how he is doing. The familial bond is important in this tale.

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The Black Panther is Lean, but not Quite Mean

16 Feb

black_panther_posterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

  • Spoiler Alert

Enough has been said in early reviews of why Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is great. It plays the race card right. No clear winners are defined because part of the narrative is about freedom from oppression. This detail is internalized in the conflicts between man vs man. Missing is the spiritual discourse which made me interested in this hero played by Chadwick Boseman when he was introduced in Captain America: Civil War.

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Bringing Ethel and Ernest to Animated Life, A Movie Review

14 Feb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Ethel and Ernest (voiced by Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn) is a very nostalgic and sentimental animated film about these two individuals. It has an illustrative style reminiscent of Tintin. Based on the graphic novel of the same name written and illustrated by Raymond Briggs, this product certainly brings to life the ragtime era of Edwardian London in its opening act. Technically, the year is 1928 and all of this era’s sublime and romantic nature is the highlight. The music is recreated in its vintage glory and it steals the show. I was happily humming along.

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