Some people construct an annual top ten list in the final hours of December, with an eye on the clock, but others diligently begin the list at the start of the year and let it take shape over the course of twelve months. I love to read the evolving lists — Christmas all year long — but I have to admit that I more often belong in the former group, myself.
However, I've been so quiet on the blog this year that I thought it would be a good idea to fill the second episode of the Errata podcast with a recap of some faves of the year as we pass the mid-point. It's not a top ten in the making, just a few good films that came up in conversation.
And joining me, with some favorites of his own, is J. Robert Parks who also spends a few minutes talking with me about the Toronto International Film Festival.
Great show. Keep them coming. Do you record on a sound stage? How do you get such a professional sound quality?
For this one, J. Robert was in Chicago but the Errata satellite link-up (also known as Skype) was able to beam J. Robert's voice to the studio in which Errata has invested (because we expect podcasts to be a lucrative publicity machine in the future). The studio is also known as "Rob's house". We had some trouble with J. Robert's mic, which is why his voice was a bit soft and noisy at times, but we'll figure it out for the next one.
It's nothin fancy, and I'm still learning how to master this stuff (using Audacity on a Mac), but it'll gradually improve. I'm glad that it's passable at the moment.
Thanks for listening!
It's better than passable! better than any podcast i've heard before. I was wondering what is the weakest link in the chain that is most determinant to the overall quality... my guess was the mic. The rest of the technology can reach CD quality at the cheapest level, Skype being a good example.
But the interview in Toronto had to be made on site, in less than favorable conditions, and still the voices are perfectly isolated from the background.
Actually the lower quality of the mic from Chicago is almost preferable, as if on design, to give depth to your dialog, to mark the distance and distinguish the voices through a texture intuitively recognisable for the listener. It's like keeping the cracks from a vinyl recording.
Recording in a quiet location is good, even though it's not always possible. We actually recorded the Toronto conversation in a hotel room, so there was very little background noise to get rid of.
I know what you mean about the "distance" evident in the quality of the mics. I usually like to mix one voice a little left of center and the other a little right of center for that very reason, to give some subtle queues to the spatial relationship. I didn't do that with this one since there was already a disparity between the voices.
Harry, you should do a podcast in French. One of these days I'm going to learn French, and that would be one more reason for me to get crackin'. (Trafic is another.)
No, the voice is not my thing. I prefer to take my time to elaborate in writing form.
I may have waited too long to see Once. By the time I did, I'm afraid it had been oversold. Watching it, there were so many moments when the film felt entirely too pleased with its pseudo-verite approach to the musical genre, while still indulging in too much whimsy and unrealistic fantasy, mostly in the music sequences, for me. Though I love many highly artificial musicals of all eras, this felt like a have-it-both-ways mismatch. Maybe I was just grouchy that day, because in retrospect I'm actually kind of interested in the idea of a MGM-Technicolor-style song dream, disguised inside a lo-fi capsule suitable to be swallowed by even the most aloof of hipsters. It's just that at the time it felt more like an overly-precious promotional film for the Frames (who are good, and worth promoting, but still) than a truly genuine piece.
I'm sounding harsher than I feel. I still liked it. But I just didn't find it to be the "must-see" that critical consensus implied it was.
But then again I also found Pan's Labyrinth's overwhelming acclaim rather mystifying too (and that one I saw before consensus had solidified). I'm wondering if I may have grown completely out of touch with what makes a good new movie these days. Brand Upon the Brain! comes to mind, but that's such an homage to cinema history it may not count.
Speaking of cinema history, I caught up with Unknown Chaplin upon the occasion of Kevin Brownlow's visit to town this Spring, and was astonished at all that footage! I think you're right to point out the material on that perhaps-not-so-minor-masterpiece the Immigrant. It might be the most revelatory making-of footage (and wonderfully contextualized) I've ever viewed.
Oh, Brian, thanks so much for your comments. I thought that literally everyone I knew loved Once, so it's nice to get a healthy dose of dissenting opinion. I was starting to feel a little greasy.
Did you happen to see Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You? I haven't. I wonder if it fits into this discussion of naturalistic musicals?
I have to admit that it may have helped that I went into the film knowing absolutely nothing about it -- didn't know where it was from, who was in it, who made it, what the story was going to be, that it was a sort of musical, nothing. It's always the dilemma: whether or not to encourage people to see the movie that you loved perhaps most of all because it was a surprise.
My second viewing of Pan's Labyrinth didn't hold up quite as well as the first. I like it, but I think it's flawed.
But now we come to Brownlow's doc and I absolutely agree. I like to call The Immigrant a small masterpiece, as opposed to minor, because of its length (short) and because of Chaplin's effortless style, which Brownlow reveals was not so effortless but instead the result of a fascinating process.
I can't tell you how many times I've been in a restaurant and thought of the moment where the tramp, now aware that he doesn't have a cent, is stalling trying to think of a way out of the cafe and casually, yawningly, places his bill atop another man's change. You can't even call such an action theft, can you, moving a piece of paper from one spot on the table to another, 12 inches away?
Of course the owner of the change is Henry Bergman, who we learn from the unearthed footage was the underwhelming waiter in a previous incarnation of the scene... ah, what a find.
Clearly there are lots of people loving Once who had heard its praises sung beforehand, so I shouldn't blame the hosannas for my reaction, at least not by themselves.
I think I may just be becoming increasingly picky about naturalism in general. I wonder if anything short of documentaries or This is Spinal Tap is likely to pass my muster as a naturalistic musical. I'll let you know if anything comes to mind. I haven't seen the Woody Allen film.
Oh, and worry not about the hiccups. I thought it was me (I just got a new computer).