Thursday, September 17, 2009

Strand offers feature-length documentary on making of gay-related "Time to Leave", covering filmmaking techniques; script fight over "Love Happens"


Today, I have a couple of items that are more about filmmaking and filmwriting.

First, I recently rented the French film “Time to Leave” (“Le temps qui reste”) by Francois Ozon, distributed by Strand Releasing, known for its library of LGBT films, in 2005. The story concerns the life path chosen by a gay photographer Romaine (Melvil Poupard) when facing a non-HIV-related terminal cancer diagnosis. Although his behavior is then boorish and maybe reckless, he fathers a child, providing some moral irony, before his “letting go” on a beach in Brittany.

But the DVD contains a 66 minute “feauturette”, “The Making of 'Time to Leave'” that is a documentary feature itself in gay-related filmmaking. Unlike most “making of” bonuses on DVD’s, this is a well-structured complete film (worthy of inclusion in an AFI Silverdocs festival) that analyzes the script writing and direction issues for each major character and each major setting. So the bonus amounts to a “Time to Leave II”. It’s in 1.85:1 whereas the original is 2.35:1, and still in French, with some subtitling. It’s a lot easier to get understanding from the film if you speak French and follow it without titles, however. Particularly interesting is the material on the makeup and touchup of the actors, and of the body mechanics and body language in directing the gay intimate scenes (even the use of the “sling”). In a scene near the end, Poupard demonstrates shaving or clipping his own head for a shoot. (Sorry, he’s not quite like Aaron Eckhart in “Meet Bill”.) In a few scenes, the director questions whether Poupard, with his bony, naturally hairless torso, looks "skinny." The lighting and look of the final beach scenes get attention. I wondered here what the scene would look like if filmed instead at the famous “circle beach” in San Sebastian, Spain.

There’s a curious news item today about “Love Happens” (not "Love Actually") with Aaron Eckart (again – he can’t get over “Thank You for Smokimg”, where his bod was duly mauled in the van scene) and Jennifer Aniston) which opens this weekend – there seems to be a complicated legal fight over the copyright ownership of the script. There is a blogger entry on it here. Remember, Hollywood has a “third party rule” when looking at scripts (even loglines), and situations like this explain why Tinseltown enforces it. It seems silly to indie filmmakers and writers, who “know” that nobody else could really use their “idea” and make anything of it. (And, given the world of the Internet and search engines, who can enforce a “third party rule” anyway?) Commercial “mall” cinema and independent cinema still seem to be in different worlds, but they are coming together more again.

Attribution link for p.d. Bayeux Tapestry photograph. Bayeux is near Brittany, more or less; I visited it and saw the tapestry in May 1999.

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