criterion dvd

“If I could have him like this in my dreams every night of my life, I’d stake my entire life on dreams and be done with the rest.” 

Call Me by Your Name (2017) dir. Luca Guadagnino

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Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna on Y tu mamá también

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Making The Darjeeling Limited DVD Cover — Part 1

To commemorate the newly-released Criterion Designs book, I thought I’d share the making of one of my own contributions (though generally I focus this blog on my independent and non-movie related work!)

It all began with two things my brother — the director and co-writer of the picture — gave me:

1. A thumbnail sketch of the scene and personnel, how their names would appear — floated over the artwork — for the final, printed cover.

2. A beautiful illustrated dustwrapper for The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. It had a quality he wanted to try and recapture. A strong point-of-view: the feeling of peering into a room — perhaps a murder scene — filled with glowing lamplight, playing over and interacting with objects, floor, walls, and of course the body. There was something, I think, intimate and palpable, yet heightened, about the picture. It was the key inspiration.

Despite hundreds of production photographs — taken by James Hamilton, the set photographer — I could not find pictures of actors in the exact poses I needed. So I did the posing myself.

It was straightforward work at first. From the photographs, I had perfect references for Adrien Brody’s face, wearing his dad’s sunglasses; for Jason Schwartzman’s arm in his gold Parisian hotel robe; and for Owen Wilson’s unique velvet slipper (for which I designed the tiny space-themed icons.) Drafting the characters and creating the basic structure of the scene.

There were 2 artificial light sources to help capture the Chandler atmosphere. But, unlike the somewhat plain room it depicted, I had a traincar berth to contend with. An invented traincar berth. With, on practically every surface: a crazy pattern. Or piece of animal-print luggage. Or an area of silver. Or glass. Or a body part, draped in a certain kind of cloth … I would need a fully-customized color palette. Something mixed from scratch, and tested against the photographs for fidelity. Something for every pattern. Every curtain. Every bottle of airplane liquor … (I’m trying to create a little suspense here …)

For Part 2 … which can be found here … Textures and patterns! Color and shadows!

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Andrew Haigh & Charlotte Rampling made for a lovely team in our DVD closet.

“We’ve grown up mainly on male stories, and most of the films have been written and directed by men - and that’s only half of the human race…I remember going to a women’s film festival and feeling a slight amount of trepidation, but actually it was fantastic. Some of the films made me cry because they really spoke to me…It was then I realized up till then I had mostly been spoken to by men in cinema.”

– Andrea Arnold

Still from Andrea Arnold’s 2003 short film, Wasp (available on the Criterion DVD for Fish Tank)

i’ve been trying to get my sister to buy me the mopi criterion collection dvd but she’s always like “why would i do that, watching river’s movies makes you cry” like yeah?? i still want it tho???

poem #138 (May 18, 2017)

Loving Wes Anderson doesn’t make you pretentious.

Even if it did, I could live with that. 

Great art is great art.

The Royal Tenenbaums is the first Criterion Collection DVD I ever purchased. 

Maybe I’m materialistic and falling for cheap ploys, but I get to choose what I find valuable and what is worth spending money on. 

Not everything is evil and capitalistic.

But then again, economics have always flown over my head and Adam Smith always sounded like the most generic and boring combination of traditional first names.