Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Watch Movies (With Alexandre Desplat)

I'll be sharing a two part interview with the three time Oscar nominated composer Alexandre Desplat soon but I thought I'd give you this off topic teaser during this week of heavy awardage. It's a handy salve.

During our conversation, I broached the topic of Desplat's time on the Cannes jury this summer and I asked a rather awkward question about how he judged the films, implying that he has a different experience than the rest of us being regular ol' moviegoers, since he's part of the production process and constantly seeing movies in unfinished form.

"Well, I've been to the movies before," he began and we both laughed suddenly at the obviousness of it.  Of course!

He went on to tell me about his teenage cinephilia. He'd go to 5 to 10 movies a week before he started writing music. He dropped several wondrous names of filmmakers he "watched and chewed" (I love the phrasing!) from Kurosawa, Ozu, Monicelli, Scola, Coppola.

"So I arrive on a jury like Cannes with only one thing in mind: wanting to be surprised and watch with a very wide open mind because each cinema is different, because each director is a different person. And whether a film comes from Asia, Europe or America, all these cultures have something different to offer. I look at the film like a child with an educated brain. I try to be surprised and happy and enjoy the moment. That's the only way to do it I think."

But he added one more perfect thing.

"And also: watch movies with benevolence. When you're a young man or a young woman -- 18 to 25 -- your judgments are always a bit tougher. You learn through the years how difficult it is to make a movie not only on the artistical level, it's a difficult task in every way. Watch movies with more respect and benevolence."

Beautifully stated don't you think? And a damn good reminder during awards season when opinions can get so heated and the politics of it all can sometimes overshadow our deep love of movies.  Let's all watch movies like children with educated brains, with respect and benevolence. Let's be ready to be surprised and happy. Let's enjoy the moment.


Unknown said...

Simply put, Alexandre Desplat is a GENIUS !!! And a very productive one indeed, you know... geniuses usually need a lot of time from one project to another, but not this guy!

monkey said...

I know this is way off subject but does anyone which movies I said watch to help me become a good actor?

Who could I find inspiration from, any suggestions?

monkey said...

Also I am an aspiring actor.

Janice said...

Just watch a LOT of movies, Monkey. I know Brando in "Streetcar Named Desire" is thrown at you (probably) if you're into the Method approach, but it's like Desplat says, or like being a painter or a writer - take in a lot of different things, different medium (film AND theater and TV) a lot of different styles, and eventually you will develop your own style from what you digest and what works for you. What kind of actor do you want to be? And then of course, act - every chance you get. In a local group, form a group if it doesn't already exist.

gabrieloak said...

Desplat reminds me of the late Georges Delerue in terms of his consistent excellence. I love the music of both these wonderful Frenchmen.

Andina said...

Agree. Watching movies with good mood also help to judge it better.

Volvagia said...

Monkey, these are good starts from:

Hard Method:

Brando (On the Waterfront or Streetcar), Steiger (The Pawnbroker) and especially DDL in There Will Be Blood. Everyone's influenced by it as an actor, really.

Non-Method/Lightly influenced by Method:

Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence.


Gene Kelly (Singin' in the Rain especially)


If Villain, Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter is your best bet. If hero, Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now is the best male example.


Depends. Numerous suggestions (I do love me some good comedies): Rom-Com: Anything John Cusack, but Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity especially, or possibly Dudley Moore in Arthur. Dark com: If single character, I'd suggest Dennis Price in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Peter Finch in Network or Richard E. Grant in Withnail and I (shameless asexual plug). If multi, everyone knows where to look (Guiness in KH + C, Sellers in Dr. Strangelove if you're unaware.) Physical Comedy: I'm guessing Steve Martin, Clouseau and Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness would be the best bets. Action Comedy: Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness. Dramedy: Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate, Bud Cort, Harold and Maude or Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine.

Pure Action (most do let quips in now or then, though): Bruce Willis, Die Hard or Sigourney Weaver, Aliens.

If you want to make a silent:

Falconetti! Falconetti! Falconetti!

I think that's a good primer.