Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

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whaleallright
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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#26 Post by whaleallright » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:47 pm

It's be sort of remarkable if Malick manages to take a story about a man executed by the Nazis and turn it into 140 minutes of a couple's twirling reverie in the Austrian wheat fields. Just the same, one sort of hopes that this is at least a bit of a turn out of the autobiographical rut he's found himself in lately.

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Big Ben
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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#27 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:52 pm

whaleallright wrote:It's be sort of remarkable if Malick manages to take a story about a man executed by the Nazis and turn it into 140 minutes of a couple's twirling reverie in the Austrian wheat fields. Just the same, one sort of hopes that this is at least a bit of a turn out of the autobiographical rut he's found himself in lately.
Unless I'm mistake I was under the impression that Malick was returning to a more strict narrative because of the reception of his more more recent stuff hasn't been received all that well. This will be similar to his earlier features like Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. I still expect characters to wax philosophical but I expect it to be done so in a more formal narrative.

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whaleallright
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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#28 Post by whaleallright » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:14 pm

This will be similar to his earlier features like Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line.
You know this how...?

I'm mostly grateful this wasn't shot by Lubezki. Their collaboration seems to have run aground on a set of increasingly tired visual clichés. I suspect Chivo's passion for roaming around with a steadicam capturing "revelatory moments" encouraged Malick's worst instincts (or vice-versa). The last three of Malick's fiction features felt like "cinematographer's films" in the worst sense.

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Big Ben
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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#29 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:26 pm

whaleallright wrote:
This will be similar to his earlier features like Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line.
You know this how...?

I'm mostly grateful this wasn't shot by Lubezki. Their collaboration seems to have run aground on a set of increasingly tired visual clichés. I suspect Chivo's interest in roaming around with a steadicam capturing "revelatory moments" encouraged Malick's worst instincts (or vice-versa).
Because Malick literally said so.
Terrence Malick wrote: “There’s a lot of strain when working without a script because you can lose track of where you are,” he said. “It’s very hard to coordinate with others who are working on the film. Production designers and location managers arrive in the morning and don’t know what we’re going to shoot or where we’re going to shoot. The reason we did it was to try and get moments that are spontaneous and free.”

“As a movie director, you always feel with a script that you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. And with no script, there’s no round hole, there’s just air. But I’m backing away from that style now.”
I'm pleased he's doing this. I cannot fathom how he'd make a film like this in that loose form he's been utilizing for the past few years.

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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#30 Post by whaleallright » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:34 pm

Ah, I thought you were saying that the finished film—rather than the process by which it was made—will be similar to those earlier films. I don't see how anyone could claim the former without the film's having been completed.

I do think the Steadicam had an initially liberating, and ultimately deleterious, effect on his filmmaking—similar to the effect of nonlinear digital editing suites. The freedom to shot and edit in any and everything seems to me to have meant that many of the scenes were staged and shot with little in particular in mind, and thus the films largely lack for the kind of incisive, meaningful, or just sensuously "correct" cuts that abound in his first three films. (Malick is no Frederick Wiseman, that's for sure.) The solution to the absence of a script seems to have been to shoot, all the time, for a straitened idea of visual beauty and "spontaneity" that is just grinding to watch.

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Big Ben
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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#31 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:43 pm

whaleallright wrote:Ah, I thought you were saying that the finished film—rather than the process by which it was made—will be similar to those earlier films. I don't see how anyone could claim the former without the film's having been completed.

I do think the Steadicam had an initially liberating, and ultimately deleterious, effect on his filmmaking—similar to the effect of nonlinear digital editing suites. The freedom to shot and edit in any and everything seems to me to have meant that many of the scenes seem to have been staged and shot with little in particular in mind, and thus the films largely lack for the kind of incisive, meaningful cuts that abound in his first three films. The solution seems to have been to shoot for an increasingly straitened idea of visual beauty and "spontaneity" that is just grinding to watch.
To be quite honest I won't believe a lot of things about the film until I see it myself. Malick as you (And everyone else) knows is going to do things the Malick way. I agree with you that as he began to experiment more it had a deleterious effect. It's one thing to do a spur of the moment thing because everything just looks right. It's something else entirely to make an entire film that way. While we could debate the merits of his earlier work to varying degrees I don't think I've ever seen someone say they were aesthetically unpleasant. One of the more humorous criticisms I saw of more recent Malick was that he somehow managed to make a strip club uinteresting. That's a crude thing to say no doubt (And we can certainly talk about stuff elsewhere) but it goes to show, at least in my mind how bad some of his visuals have actually gotten.

Speaking of Radegund specifically I'm eager to see what Malick does with this very interesting story about a very real person without all his recent...style?

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whaleallright
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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#32 Post by whaleallright » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:56 pm

I think of the moment in Days of Heaven where Malick cuts in a brief shot of the blast furnace from the steel mill at a point when, if I recall correctly, the Richard Gere character is being chided for not working hard enough despite having chafed his hands and worn out his back on a long day of harvesting wheat. It's just a split-second cut—and it's ambiguous whether it's a subjectively recalled image or a kind of Brechtian commentary on the uniformity of economic exploitation, or both—but there's a force that comes from its precision and purposefulness. There's almost nothing in his recent films that approaches even that modest jolt, to my mind anyway.

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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#33 Post by Kirkinson » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:32 pm

whaleallright wrote:I'm mostly grateful this wasn't shot by Lubezki. Their collaboration seems to have run aground on a set of increasingly tired visual clichés. I suspect Chivo's passion for roaming around with a steadicam capturing "revelatory moments" encouraged Malick's worst instincts (or vice-versa). The last three of Malick's fiction features felt like "cinematographer's films" in the worst sense.
In his autobiography, Nestor Almendros mentions that Malick initially wanted to shoot almost all of Days of Heaven with a steadicam, but they decided against it at the time for both aesthetic and practical reasons. So Malick has had this shooting style in his head for a long time. And while Lubezki might not be involved this time around, the DP on Radegund, Jörg Widmer, is primarily a steadicam operator and has done that job on all of Malick's recent films. Stricter narrative or no, I suspect the look of Radegund will continue in that vein.

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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#34 Post by oh yeah » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:50 pm

I'm not so sure that shooting exclusively Steadicam (c. 1977, no less, when filmmaking in general, as whale notes, and Malick's style of course as well, were so different from today) would've turned Days of Heaven into the same kind of meandering, undisciplined and less formally precise/striking kind of music-video reverie as most of Malick's Lubezki-shot films have been. I mean, there's actually a LOT of handheld work in Days of Heaven, and I imagine Steadicam would be more just providing a smoother glide whenever the camera follows, say, Gere as he sneaks into the farmer's house for just a moment while no-one is there.

But yes, to me DOH benefits from the more stationary camera at many key moments - Badlands was further into this style, which is why handheld shots like Kit dousing Holly's family house in gasoline come as such an effective shock to the system. I don't think you could get the same visceral feel from the confrontation between Gere and his boss at the beginning of the film without it being that somewhat rocky handheld camera.

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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#35 Post by whaleallright » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:45 am

Yes, I think the fact that handheld and/or steadicam were used as just one part of a stylistic toolkit in his first three films is a key point. The impact of any one stylistic decision is potentially greater in part because it was a decision, not a default. Of course, I'm not making an argument about the inherent value of a piece of technology or even a stylistic device. Other directors have built very powerful styles largely out of the steadicam (to cite one very un-Malick-ian example, John McTiernan*). But the results of the particular process Malick has used to make his last few films, a process entirely enabled by the steadicam and digital editing suites, have been one of the severest disappointments in my filmgoing. Or maybe, even without the crutch of these particular tools, Malick would just be a man out of ideas at this point.

And: Kirkinson, I didn't know that about Widmer. That's a bit worrisome. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
smoother glide whenever the camera follows, say, Gere as he sneaks into the farmer's house for just a moment while no-one is there.
I thought that shot actually did utilize a Steadicam!

*BTW, that recent "Going Steadi" retro at the Film Society of Lincoln Center seemed like a partly-missed opportunity to me. They largely chose the earliest films to use Steadicams and/or ones that feature some oft-cited lengthy Steadicam shots. But if they wanted to show how the device has utterly transformed mainstream film style—not necessarily in the flashiest of ways—they would have shown stuff like RoboCop and Die Hard.

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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#36 Post by oh yeah » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:52 am

Ah! I think you're probably right about that shot of Gere using a Steadicam. Actually I guess this fits into the larger point, as the very reason that shot always stood out to me is because its smooth glide tracking behind Gere seems a relatively anomaly, in a film otherwise hewing to either handheld or more firmly locked-down camerawork.

I feel that Malick's recent affair with the Steadicam and Lubezki's approach to it is almost as if he'd just discovered the technology despite being around for decades, and fallen so in love with it that it blinded his better instincts. And so one can point to other examples, like the over-use of zooms or a specific kind of long-lens photography that was so abundant in the 60s and 70s that many of the least inspired films displaying those techniques seem to not have aged well... I can't help but wonder how well Malick's recent films will look in the future - though his style, both new and old, has already been aped so much by younger directors and ingrained in the DNA of not just arthouse but much mainstream cinema that the Malick/Lubezki look may be closer to "timeless" (for better or worse) than an embarrassing relic 30 years from now.

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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#37 Post by All the Best People » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:13 am

Steadicam was not used on Days of Heaven; its "competitor" (ripoff?) the Panaglide, developed by Panavision, was.

There is a brief dialogue scene where Gere and Adams are walking in a shallow river, and the Panaglide is trailing them from 3/4 behind, in a shot-reverse shot -- but then, at one point, instead of cutting it pans from one to the other, then cuts back to the position prior to the pan; this became a recurrent pattern as Malick's career has progressed.

I love what he's been doing lately and can't wait to see what he comes up with here.

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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#38 Post by whaleallright » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:15 am

All the Best People wrote:Steadicam was not used on Days of Heaven; its "competitor" (ripoff?) the Panaglide, developed by Panavision, was.

Right—I was using the term, perhaps inadvisedly, as a kind of brand-to-generic label, like "Kleenex."

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miless
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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#39 Post by miless » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:26 pm

I know it's a bit unrelated, but what was the Arri steadicam predecessor called? I've only ever seen photos of it (being used to shoot Stalker, no less!)

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Re: Radegund (Terrence Malick, 2018)

#40 Post by palefire » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:08 am

miless wrote:I'm mostly grateful this wasn't shot by Lubezki. Their collaboration seems to have run aground on a set of increasingly tired visual clichés.
I never understood why Malick gets this criticism when other directors with distinct visual styles such as Tarkovsky, Ozu, Ophuls or even Wes Anderson do not. I find Malick's later works to be fascinating. While not as great as his other works they are still far superior to most. My biggest complaint is they are too long for the narrative form he has created. If he'd had cut them down to the 1hr30-1hr40 range, I think they would have fared much better. There is just way too much sensory overload. If you take story alone, we are getting more plot in thirty minutes than most films achieve in a running time.

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