Monday, October 22, 2012

American movies, 1970-1979

Steve Rash's The Buddy Holly Story (1978)
This film follows the standard conventions that have calcified and hardened into that dead-end but omnipresent genre of nonhuman pseudo-feeling, that robotic checklist of events so beloved by Academy Awards voters and hack directors and screenwriters: the celebrity biopic. However, because this was the 1970s, the film still had atmosphere, a lived-in feeling, and a cast full of oddball character actors and show biz types (Don Stroud, Charles Martin Smith, Paul Mooney, Fred Travalena, Hendrix drummer Buddy Miles). Gary Busey may seem like an odd choice to play Buddy Holly, especially considering what he's become, but he acquits himself nicely. The film isn't much to look at, but it has scrapbook charm. Steve Rash later went on to direct Pauly Shore in Son in Law, Whoopi Goldberg in Eddie, and straight-to-DVD sequels to American Pie, Bring It On, and Road Trip. Carrie Fisher and Chevy Chase were coke-addled enough to be in Rash's Buddy Holly followup. A clip is here, though I have to warn you that it's three minutes you'll never get back.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Harris Savides, 1957-2012

One of my favorite modern cinematographers died last week at the too-young age of 55. I got really excited when I saw Savides' name in the credits of a film. He had this amazing talent for capturing light and turning it into an expressive, poetic tool that served the aesthetics of the directors he worked with while subtly revealing Savides as a distinctive artist in his own right. He wasn't a showoff, and his work didn't call unnecessary attention to itself, but it was beautiful stuff. I'm going to miss seeing it.
Savides was a still photographer who started working in movies in his late thirties after a transitional period photographing music videos. He had an especially fruitful partnership with Gus Van Sant. They started working together on Van Sant's worst film, Finding Forrester. That movie is well-photographed garbage, but Van Sant followed it up with three of his best (Gerry, Elephant and Last Days), using Savides on all three. Savides also worked on Van Sant's Milk and Restless. Besides Van Sant, Savides was a cinematographer for David Fincher, John Turturro, Jonathan Glazer, Noah Baumbach, Ridley Scott, Woody Allen, and Sofia Coppola.

Blog Archive