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Op-Ed: SCAD Savannah Film Festival Recap

That Time Elisabeth Moss Looked at Me Funny

Jason Chapman, Staff Writer

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival brought many wonderful titles to the Lucas and Trustees Theaters. The festival has ended, separation anxiety has set in and nothing really matters anymore. It was a great time and many amazing films were shown.

I’m a pretentious and insatiable cinephile, so I apologize for the snobbery that follows. Make sure to look up some of the films and movies that are mentioned.

“Motherless Brooklyn” is Edward Norton’s film, but the supporting characters are right there with him. The mysterious and dirty dealing New York elite get a light shone onto them by a private eye with Tourette’s Syndrome. It’s a slow burn, but especially rich in all of the areas a noir should be. 

Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life” was a beautiful, spiritual journey. Franz, an Austrian man is forced to fight for the Nazis during World War II. Once he notices the evil that fascism brings to his country, Franz objects to fighting because it is against his faith. He goes through many trials but his wife Franziska and two daughters are always with him.

Director, Terrence Malick is known for his small amounts of dialogue and awe-inspiring shots. With this film, he crafts a beautiful love story that gives viewers amazing performances and an epic story of one man’s drive to fight back against the common place form of evil that invades his country and life.

While shooting “The Peanut Butter Falcon” in 2017, Shia LaBeouf (like many of us at one time or another) had quite the downtown Savannah night. He was arrested and made a scene. After he wrapped shooting, he entered rehab and learned he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The film “Honey Boy” is LaBeouf’s exploration of his troubled childhood. LaBeouf wrote the film while in rehab. His friend and Director Alma Har’el read what Shia wrote and together they made the movie “Honey Boy.” 

Going into this film, you really don’t know what to expect. Upon leaving, you’ve found that it was an exploration of a father and son’s complicated relationship. This film is a deep, unflinching character study that builds and builds to a catharsis that you don’t see coming. It’s a very personal, yet accessible movie. I definitely recommend it for all the “Even Stevens” and “Transformers” series fans.

After the credits rolled on “Honey Boy,” I was distraught and hungry, so I met a friend and got a bite to eat. Next thing I knew it was almost 6 p.m. and I had to hustle down to the red (actually purple) carpet to interview the exquisite actress known as Elisabeth Moss.

En route to the Trustees Theater, I realized it was Halloween. I looked at the outfit I was wearing. Then I thought it’s Halloween. Downtown vintage and clothing resale shop Civvies was on the way, so I dove into the store because it was definitely Halloween. I grabbed a bright blue top hat that had a nicely tied bow and grabbed a button that said, “Time is an Illusion.”

After I donned a ratty old sports coat, I knew it was most definitely Halloween. As the “Much Madder Hatter” I made my way down to the Trustees. It was 6:05 p.m. and I was ready to meet Elisabeth Moss. Some of the professional “journalists” looked at me and scoffed. I really didn’t care what they thought of my outfit, it was Halloween. 

Some time went by and I sat there patiently sweating because it was 80 degrees on Halloween and I was wearing a cheap sports coat. Then people began to whisper, I noticed some of the camera guys gulp and tug at their collars. The man with the notepad next to me began scratching out all of the questions he had prepared and started writing new ones. I sat there thinking to myself “Okay now Miss Moss, let’s hurry this process up it’s hot out here and it’s also Halloween.”

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Elisabeth Moss on the red carpet. Photo by Jason Chapman.

Moss was a short blonde-haired woman who smiled really big. As she made her way down the line answering questions, I sat there with my hands on my hips and tapped my foot against the curb. She was very nice, and never stopped smiling.

Finally, she got down to where I was and it was time for my question. As the Much Madder Hatter I said, “Favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?”

Elizabeth looked at my costume and said, “Is this Halloween or is this you?”

“This is both,” I said.

She said, “That was the right answer.”

Next she stuttered and wasn’t sure how to answer because she hadn’t dressed up in costume for Halloween in a long time. I was taken aback because she was an actress and they dress up all the time. There had to be a day on set where it was Halloween and Don Draper was having a tense conversation with Peggy but at the end of the day, this is all just hopeful speculation. 

“A fairy,” she finally answered.

That is what Moss’ last known Halloween costume was everyone. A fairy, who could’ve imagined? Not I. After coming upon this newfound information, I decided to take off the hat. My job as Much Madder Hatter was complete, and I had succeeded.   

On the night of Nov. 1, the lights in the Lucas Theatre dimmed and “Parasite” began playing. All I have to say is, go see this one whenever you can. It’s one of the best films to come out in the past 10 years easy. It has laughs, shock and heart. What starts out as a con job quickly spirals and becomes much more than you could ever anticipate. 

 

Conversation with Alan Silvestri

SCAD Savannah Film Festival

Madison Watkins, Editor-in-Chief

The DeLorean going back to the future. The feather falling over the Savannah landscape in “Forrest Gump.” The Polar Express arriving at the North Pole. Superheroes arriving through portals just in time to help Captain America defeat Thanos. 

All of these famous moments in film have one thing in common- composer Alan Silvestri. 

Silvestri was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Composing at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts on Oct. 27 as part of the annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival.

After receiving his award, he thanked SCAD for the award, Savannah for hosting the festival, the audience in attendance and then his wife after getting emotional. He said without her there wouldn’t be anything in his life worth achieving. 

After the presentation, Rotten Tomatoes critic Jacqueline Coley took the stage as hostess for the following conversation with Silvestri to reflect on some of his most famous work. 

They discussed his work on the “Back To The Future” trilogy, the James Cameron film “Into The Abyss,” his Oscar-nominated work in “Forrest Gump,” “Ready Player One” and his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

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Alan Silvestri discussing his work as a film composer at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Photo by Madison Watkins.

Zemeckis proved himself to be a funny and engaging storyteller when discussing his work processes on these films.

Before discussing his work, a montage from each film was shown with some of the most famous pieces of music from those films. 

“We[director Robert Zemeckis and Silvestri] had no idea that the world would embrace it the way it did,” Silvestri said on the “Back To The Future” films. 

When they discussed the Oscar-winning film “Forrest Gump,” another film he worked on with director Robert Zemeckis, Silvestri referred to it as a “superhero movie.”

“This is the American dream right here… This is a lovely pure soul with great optimism that wakes up every day, faces the task at hand, does what he has to do, and just looks forward to the next day.”

Coley asked Silvestri about how he came up with the moving music for the famous scene of Forrest running as his braces came off and Silvestri said that scene was very close to him because he and his wife had a child with a chronic illness. 

“The movie is filled with the overcoming of a personal challenge.” 

When they discussed his work with director Steven Spielberg on “Ready Player One,” Silvestri told a compelling story about the famous film composer John Williams coming in to visit during one of his scoring sessions. Silvestri said Williams had a wonderful time while he was there and that he hadn’t sat in on anyone else’s scoring sessions in 35 years.

The last films they discussed were his work with Marvel, particularly “Avengers,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.”

When Coley mentioned that these films would be discussed next, there were excited gasps in the audience. The energy in the room was electric as the montage showed famous scenes and themes from the films. It’s safe to say this montage received the most applause and cheers after it was over. 

Silvestri said as he was working on “Endgame” with the film’s directors, the music had to be a “unifying event” since there were so many characters in the film and they couldn’t fit in all of their themes. 

“We looked at it from the point of view of all of the Avengers.”

Coley asked if he would work with Marvel again and Silvestri replied, “I have no idea.” Then Coley asked the audience if the audience would like to see Silvestri work on future Avengers films and was met with loud applause and cheers. 

Look on our website and next week’s paper for more coverage on the SCAD Savannah Film Festival. 

 

“Motherless Brooklyn” Review

SCAD Savannah Film Festival

Jason Chapman, Staff Writer

“Motherless Brooklyn” was written, directed, produced and starred Edward Norton as a private eye named Lionel Essrog. The film harkens back to the noir genre of the past. While watching there’s a strong impression that films like Chinatown, or The Big Sleep heavily influenced this film. 

The film doesn’t seem to want to make any new marks in the genre. It more so focuses on the characters involved and the sociopolitical battles within New York City in the 1950s. 

The main character Lionel has a great memory, but also suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, which causes him to twitch and yell out random words or phrases. Lionel’s  condition becomes significantly exacerbated whenever he gets nervous, which evokes funny and heartfelt moments throughout the film, and helps the audience connect with Lionel.

 A recurring concept in this film is the daily battles that we as humans must address and take on. There is even a beautiful song by Thom Yorke and Flea called Daily Battles. The song gives us insight into a forgotten world that is unfamiliar to us today. 

Following the events of the story, Lionel’s mentor Frank Minna gets involved with some shady people and consequently dies in front of Lionel. Lionel goes out to try and find out why someone would do this to his friend. In the process Lionel unearths a conspiracy that involves a greedy city planner Moses Randolph  an activist named Laura Rose and the city planners brother played very well by Willem Dafoe. 

We follow this character and cheer for him throughout the convoluted quest he has embarked on. 

The de-saturated greys and bright neon lights help us look through the lens to realize the rich history behind this story. Cinematographer, Dick Pope, shot the film and does a great job. It’s not the grimy New York of the 1970s it’s what came before and lead up to that.

 Daniel Pemberton arranged the score for the film, but the Wynton Marsalis Quartet is what really shines. It gives the film its pulse and drives it forward in many cases. This rich heavily layered noir is a labor of love from Edward Norton. The characters and the settings are very well defined giving a window into the past so that many audiences can experience it.

“Motherless Brooklyn” spent nearly twenty years in pre-production hell. Seeing it finally come together with so many talented actors is truly profound.