Tag Archives: David Gordon Green

Halloween Double Bill: 1978 and 2018

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Frank and Paul are back, this time to discuss John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece, Halloween and how it stacks up to David Gordon Green’s direct sequel. They also discuss the Rob Zombie remake as well as the legacy of the franchise and how it has endured over time.

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David Gordon Green’s Halloween

David Gordon Green’s update on John Carpenter’s Halloween is currently slashing its way through theatres, and aside from a few nit-picky asides, it’s a winner, both in terms of a genuinely scary horror and as the long awaited sequel to a film that practically reinvented the printing press of the horror landscape.

The new Halloween is sleek, vicious, aesthetically pleasing and brings back Michael Myers to do far more killing than he ever did the first time around, as this takes place in a universe bereft of any other sequels, an interesting choice which gives the it a fresh, immediate vibe. Also back is Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode, who has calcified into a paranoid, blunt realist who doesn’t so much worry if Michael will come home, but just somehow knows it in her bones. Judy Greer is fantastic as her estranged daughter Karen, Toby Huss provides great comic relief as her husband and Andi Matichak is a sensational find as Laurie’s granddaughter Alyson, who echoes both the resilience and vulnerability we remember in Laurie when she was her age. Will Patton also kicks ass as the Haddonfield Sheriff’s deputy, always great to see him.

It’s nice to see references that aren’t overt or forced, but woven into the narrative almost seamlessly and with purpose. Many instances feel serendipitous, and as the infamous classroom scene always intones and reiterates here, fate is an inexorable bitch from which there is no escape. Green and his team have lovingly made Michael the relentless stalking Shape we fondly remember, using fluid tracking shots, lingering suspense, mounting dread and those classical music cues to herald his arrival on the fringes of nocturnal suburbia like a monster in a bad dream. There are impeccably orchestrated scares involving a closet and a motion sensor light that are impressively effective and nerve shredding. There were a few things that felt dumb, like the extended involvement of a Dr. Loomis proxy called Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) who at first is welcome until his arc gets inexplicably loopy, as well as some ham fisted writing for Alyson’s male friends, one of whom is so irritating I wish they’d casted an actor who looked and sounded like less of a ripe cheese, but oh well, at least he’s short lived.

Now, my favourite thing about the film: that beautiful score, and I’m not just referring to the original jangly tune. Carpenter himself, his son Cody and Daniel A. Davies worked together to not only rework the iconic theme a bit but compose swaths of new stuff, atmospheric passages and nightmarish synths that are instantly worthy of the main theme. This is definitely the best sequel since the original Halloween 2, which can be considered a companion piece to Carpenter’s first anyways as he reportedly directed chunks of it. This feels like a slasher should, but it’s also smart, deliriously stylish and scary in that elemental way where it’s not the violence itself that haunts the experience, but the spaces in between where Michael is lurking with intent and the suspense builds. That’s what Halloween is about.

-Nate Hill

PTS Presents CINEMATOGRAPHER’S CORNER with TIM ORR

TIM ORR POWECAST

T.O. - Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland 2009-44 (1)Podcasting Them Softly is extremely proud to present our latest addition to Cinematographer’s Corner — Tim Orr! Tim is one of the busiest guys behind a camera currently working in Hollywood, having amassed 40 credits over the last 15 years. He’s the cinematographer of choice for filmmaker David Gordon Green, having shot all of the versatile director’s films, along with pairing up with a diverse field of directing talent on a wide variety of other projects. Tim has worked on some of our favorite comedies from the last few years, with credits including the instant classic Pineapple Express, Jody Hill’s brilliant Observe and Report, the underrated Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Mike White’s charming black comedy The Year of the Dog. He’s also no stranger to dramas, having shot the gritty Nicolas Cage film Joe, the dreamy Zooey Deschanel romance All the Real Girls, the Terrence Malick produced southern thriller Undertow, and film festival favorite George Washington. TV Credits include HBO’s hilarious Eastbound and Down and he shot the pilot for the upcoming Amazon original comedy Red Oaks, which was executive produced by Steven Soderbergh. In late October, his newest feature film hits the big screen — the highly anticipated Sandra Bullock political comedy Our Brand is Crisis, which was produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. One of his most recent efforts is something we’re super excited to see — Pee Wee’s Big Holiday– which marks the return of Pee Wee Herman — and was produced through Netflix and is set for release in March of 2016. We hope you enjoy this fantastic chat!

CINEMATOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: TIM ORR — BY NICK CLEMENT

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Tim Orr is one of the busiest cinematographers currently working in Hollywood, having amassed 40 credits over the last 15 years, putting his distinct touch on both comedies and dramas, always knowing how to approach every visual situation with an organic and naturalistic quality. He’s the director of photography of choice for eclectic, can’t-pin-him-down filmmaker David Gordon Green, having shot all of the versatile director’s films, along with pairing up with a diverse field of directing talent on a terrific mix of studio and indie material. Tim has worked on some of the best comedies over the last few years, including the instant stoner classic Pineapple Express from DGG, Jody Hill’s brilliant satire Observe and Report, the underrated end-of-times comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Mike White’s charming black comedy The Year of the Dog. He’s also no stranger to dramas, having collaborated with DGG on the gritty Nicolas Cage film Joe, the dreamy Zooey Deschanel romance All the Real Girls, the Terrence Malick produced southern thriller Undertow, and film festival favorite George Washington. He’s also dabbled in television, with credits that include HBO’s hilarious water-cooler sensation Eastbound and Down, and he recently shot the pilot for the upcoming comedy Red Oaks for Amazon Originals, which was exec produced by Steven Soderbergh. In late October, his newest feature film hits the big screen – the highly anticipated Sandra Bullock political comedy Our Brand is Crisis – which was produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, and could be a factor in the year end awards season. He’s also got the Netflix original film Pee Wee’s Big Holiday, which marks the return of Paul Reubens as Pee Wee Herman(!), which is set for release in March of 2016. Orr is one of those tremendously talented cameramen who can switch back and forth, effortlessly, between genres and styles, and it will be exciting to see where his career goes from here after establishing such an interesting and varied body of work.

Snow Angels is certainly a bleak, sad film, with an uncompromising ending that’s both upsetting yet somehow cathartic. This isn’t a film I would recommend if you’re easily upset by realistic tragedy and tough stories about familial dysfunction. Orr shot with hand held cameras, draining the image of eye-popping color, and in tandem with the snowy and extra-cold atmosphere which worked perfectly with the story’s themes of anxiety and desperation, the film feels lived-in and entirely convincing. In the unique item Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Orr brought his usual brand of on-the-fly camerawork to the story but had the chance to shoot in vibrant widescreen, stressing bold color saturation in an effort to heighten the emotional fragility of the panicked characters. Nobody gave this movie any credit for having so much odd charm and looking at the end of the world with a unique and funny spin, and Orr was able to craft a film that felt big even though it always remained intimate. Filmmakers have been obsessed with capturing the mood and spirit of young love for years, and with the poetic, sad, and beautiful film All the Real Girls, director David Gordon Green tapped into the heartstrings of a young, inexperienced woman who is learning to love for the first time (Zooey Deschanel in her wonderful breakout performance) and an older lothario who just so happens to fall in love with the sister of his best friend (co-writer Paul Schneider). This is a small-town movie with perfect, small-town flavor, and Orr brought a lyrical, Malick-esque sense of visual poetry to this boldly romantic film via exquisitely framed compositions, naturalistic lighting, and an emphasis on long takes that heighten the dramatic mood at almost every turn. Anyone who has ever fallen in love, had their heart broken, been excited by the possibilities of a new romantic partner, or been confused as to what they want in life, will find this movie to be a potent summation of all of our fears, desires, and longings when it comes to finding that special someone. And a huge reason for its success is the dynamic way in which Orr captured every singe scene, stressing an inherently homespun quality that makes the film feel all the more believable and honest.

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DAVID GORDON GREEN’S PINEAPPLE EXPRESS — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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David Gordon Green, the indie specialist of such films such as George Washington, All the Real Girls, Undertow, and Snow Angels, was just about the last person I’d ever expect to get the directing job on a Cheech & Chong inspired stoner-action-comedy like Pineapple Express. Up until right before Pineapple Express, his style would have been considered much more in the vein of Terrence Malick than Judd Apatow (who produced Pineapple Express). But almost to prove a point that he could change it up and play in the big leagues of studio financed product, Green stepped out of his comfort zone and crafted, along with screenwriters Seth Rogen (who also stars) and Evan Goldberg, the ultimate bromance marijuana movie, a film that playfully mixes genres, blending simple yet extremely effective pot humor with the sensibilities of John Woo’s ultra-violent action movie period of The Killer and Hard Boiled and Face/Off. The results are a bizarrely awesome, hard to define piece of work, a movie that has big laughs, a surprising and almost giddy amount of blood, a never ending stream of creative profanity being uttered from the stacked cast, and a huge supply of generous heart and friendship born from the two perfectly matched leads (Rogen and a scene-stealing James Franco, playing everyone’s friendly neighborhood weed dealer). I’ve been a fan of this film from day one, and I’ve watched it repeatedly over the last seven years, and it’s proven to be a comedy that just won’t die for me. The summer of 2008 will always be remembered for Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, two blockbuster comedies that grabbed their R-ratings by the balls and embraced the hell out of their crazy ideas.

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The set-up is simple in Pineapple Express. Rogen, playing a ganja-loving process server named Dale Denton, stops over at his dealer’s apartment to grab some little green trees. His dealer, Saul Silver (an utterly priceless Franco, looking beyond glazed-over), has the best stuff in town: Pineapple Express. Oh yeah – notice their initials? SS and DD? Same Shit Different Day. Ha! After getting his fresh new stash, Dale heads over to serve someone with their papers, only this someone happens to be the city’s main importer of the fabulous Mary-Jane. What Dale also doesn’t expect to see is Ted Jones (a disheveled and drugged-out Gary Cole, reliably funny as always) murder his rival, shooting him in the back of the head in the living room of his glass-walled house. Fleeing the scene, but not before throwing his roach of Pineapple Express out the window, Dale high-tails it back to Saul’s to tell him what he’s witnessed. Ted observes Dale making his escape, heads out to the street, sniffs the roach, and because Saul is the only one that he’s given the Pineapple too, he knows immediately where to start looking. The film speeds along with Dale and Saul on the run from Ted and his goons, getting stoned every chance they get, and finally culminating in a wonderfully graphic shoot-out that would make Woo and Michael Bay blush.

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What’s so fun and unique about this wild and sometimes out of control movie is the irreverent tone and blissful disregard for logic. The first portion of the film is an easy-going, herb-scented comedy, with Franco’s Saul tossing out one incredible zinger after another. Franco seemed utterly baked in this film, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was, though he’s repeatedly claimed that he wasn’t. Either way, he looks incredibly at ease in the role, laughing and snorting and having a blast with his absurdly lovable character. Rogen, who can do no wrong at this point for me, plays the guy we’ve come to love from films such as Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin, but here, he’s in action-hero mode towards the second half, and it was a blast to see Rogen clearly going wild during the raucous action scenes. One of the film’s highlights is a ridiculous, apartment-destroying brawl between Rogen, Franco, and the hilarious Danny McBride playing the world’s worst best-friend/middle man, who gets tons of laughs with his dead-pan line delivery and vulgar idiocies. Cinematographer Tim Orr, who has shot all of Green’s features, opted for 2.40:1 widescreen, and he was able to mix an anything-goes-atmosphere with creatively chosen angles that maximize the jokes and punchlines while heightening the action. Orr’s work is always visually interesting, and here, he was able to riff on the stylings of a studio action picture while still retaining his inherently organic qualities as a craftsman.

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Pineapple Express is, at its heart, a male weepie. Dale and Saul love each other, and like any lovers, they have some fun, they fight, they separate, and then they get back together. Whether it’s the two of them blowing clouds of smoke onto unsuspecting caterpillars or wielding double shotguns and blowing people away, they are a duo that can’t be separated. A great supporting cast is also along for the ride, including Bill Hader in the film’s hilarious 1930’s set prologue showcasing the sad prohibition of the magical plant, Craig Robinson and Kevin Corrigan as bickering, hysterically inept hitmen, Rosie Perez as a corrupt cop and Cole’s henchwoman, the sexy Amber Heard as Rogen’s high-school(!) girlfriend, and Nora Dunn and Ed Begley Jr. as Heard’s disapproving parents. And when the action-fireworks take place during the film’s final and extremely bloody act, you’re all the more invested in the characters because of the time spent with them watching their characters evolve. It’s a film that’s fairly layered and sort of dark when you cut down to the bone, and it’s easily the most subversive item in Apatow’s catalogue of cinematic craziness. Pineapple Express is the sort of stony movie gift that keeps getting you buzzed, even if you don’t partake in Item 9.