Monthly Archives: October 2012

Having just seen a bunch of horror comedy shorts at the Jumpcut Cafe last night, I thought of Man Cave, which screened a few weeks ago. I liked the concept film right away, which is a satire of the basic haunted house story.

A couple moves into a house with a mysterious hidden room, which the husband uses as a man cave. It’s inhabited by a supernatural force. Only, instead of a demon yanking you over to another dimension or the mirror world or whatever, all this force does is turn you into a cave man.

So the husband starts having trouble putting sentences together, gets obsessed with hunting (and roasting) squirrels, and mostly wants to just stare into a fire while drinking from a beer hat. You can imagine this is frustrating for his wife. Turns out the house has been turning men into cave men for  decades, and he links up with the local clan of cave men now roaming the suburb.

Obviously the score had to be primitive, and able to encompass horror elements. So this became a combination of percussion, vocal drones, and atmospheric sound design. The big rules were: no modern instruments, and no melodies.

Here’s the result on SoundCloud, from the end titles. I had to do a lot of overdubbing to get those grunts:

There are some great primitive scores out there. There is something iconic and very defining of the 80’s in Alan Silvestri’s score to Clan of the Cave Bear.

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello
Finally saw Tree of Life. 

(a) The “Soviet montage theory” editing – combining shots of the universe intimate family moments and whispered thoughts, the constant movement of the camera – I suspect this style will be imitated a lot in the coming decade. 

(b) My wife pointed out to me, this as clear a dramatic depiction of motherhood as either of us have seen, especially the nature of mothers and sons. 

(c) Haven’t seen The Artist, but I’m genuinely surprised it beat Tree of Life for Best Picture. It strikes me that a very forward-looking picture lost out to what seems like a very backward-looking silent picture. 

(d) How Malick used classical music shows the strengths and weaknesses of relying on classical music for a score. By cherry picking masterworks, you can get enormous emotional power and depth…for the first 60-90 seconds of a given scene. But then there is often a tendency for the emotions of the drama and the music to drift away from each other. The other problem is that the masterworks tend to be than longer film scenes, so you end up with awkward fadeouts. Also, using multiple masterworks means a score without a unified theme, and that can make a film feel a little more like hard work to watch than it would otherwise. 
(e) I agree with many that the universe sequence near the start of the film was too long. Felt indulgent. Maybe handing the audience a little bit more narrative along the way would have helped…we were away from the family’s story for quite a while there. 

(f) Malick is clearly a fan of Fellini and Kubrick. 

(g) I loved, loved those cavernous shots of the atriums and skyscrapers in Sean Penn’s sequences. 

Even with quibbles, I thought TOL towers over recent Oscar winners (King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Hurt Locker). I suppose the one thing you could say is that those films are great stories, and The Tree of Life isn’t much of a story. But exploiting the medium of filmmaking…I was ready to be bored by an ambitious, arty film, but instead I was often astonished and rapt.
Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello