Pick of the Week: The Work of Catherine Hardwicke
My pick of the week is not just a film but a remarkable writer, director, and production designer by the name of Catherine Hardwicke. I watched Lords of Dogtown this week, and the name seemed familiar. I looked up her name and soon saw why.
Many people are not familiar with the role of the production designer. He or she works with the director and producers to determine the overall atmosphere, look, and feel of the finished film. From these choices, the sets, props, lighting, and anything else that would influence the final product are all decided upon. It's a role that isn't so well known but absolutely crucial to the outcome of the film.
Hardwicke started in the business as a production designer and worked her way up the ladder. Her first credits are on the underrated 1988 Tim Robbins and John Cusack cult hit Tapeheads, and on the Keenan Ivory Wayons blaxploitation parody I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka the same year. Later she did two westerns, Posse and Tombstone in 1993, the same year she did the hilarious and bizarre Freaked with Alex Winter. In 1995, she worked on the post apocalyptic and cartoony (who can forget Ice T dressed as a mutant kangaroo?) Tank Girl (who can forget Lori Petty? Except Hollywood?). After Richard Linklater's SubUrbia, Hardwicke took a turn at the big budget films Three Kings and Vanilla Sky.
Three Kings changed the way a lot of films look. The style of the CSI franchise can be seen here in Hardwicke's breakthrough job. Its use of color and strange special effects pushed the movie from watchable army heist to a movie worth multiple viewings.
There was a lot wrong with Vanilla Sky, mostly its script that was entirely derivative of Philip K. Dick's novel Ubik. I was never able to see the original film, maybe that was better. But what I did love about it was the look, it kept me watching and I really wanted to find more about the film I liked.
In her first role as director, she won a slew of awards with Thirteen, including the Sundance award for directing. The film gathered up nominations of all kinds, for various roles. Across the board, it was a big hit. I don't know if there was a major nomination that didn't include it for some category.
Lords of Dogtown wouldn't have been very good without the special attention it received. It had all the little things a film needs to succeed. Most importantly, the skating scenes were awesome. One only needs to see a boring surf flick to realize this importance. The music was varied and not the usual '70s soundtrack. The script was written by one of the seminal skateboarding legends, Stacey Peralta.
Check out Lords of Dogtown, but if you've seen it already, pick something else of Hardwicke's.
Week in Review:
My attitude is growing increasingly negative. Maybe I should've picked the movies with a little more discrimination. Maybe I can't watch this many films and put up with small items of distaste. I keep thinking that I've seen the worst performance of the year, the worst car chase, the worst action scene, but those ideas are easily wiped out with the next week's viewing of more of Hollywood's worst. The only ideas that I could come up with to get me through the next 8 months of this project is to have my own awards for the horrible ideas, acting, plots, and ephemera of American cinema.What else to call them but The Worsties?
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present running nominations for The Worsties:
Worst Robert DeNiro Imitation:
Robert DeNiro, Godsend. I loved him in Jackie Brown, but in the next nine years, he's done nothing I cared for. Even Analyze This seemed like a parody of his other brilliant earlier characters. Can't Scorsese set him back on track?
Worst Drug Scene:
Everyone taking Ecstasy in Out of Order. Cocaine is hack now, but Ecstasy is the new pot-smoking-and-bonding scene. Is it possible to show an Ecstasy scene without some song blaring over the whole thing?
Worst Sex Scene:
Marky Mark getting to 3rd base with Reese Witherspoon on a Roller Coaster in Fear. It was like some anti-sex commercial made by conservative Christians.
Worst Euphemism for a Sexual Practice:
NBT:Never Been Thawed for Rusty Trombone. I'm not printing what the practice is. If you really want to know, email me at email@example.com. What got me more than anything, was that an entire scene and character was built around explaining the practice.
Worst Birthing Moment:
1.Godsend -- If Rebecca Romjin gave birth to a baby that big in real life, she would've been torn apart like the dude in the movie Alien. Also, the delivery room looked as real as a Mr. Show sketch: it was dimly lit and there was barely anything in it. 2. Mi Familia -- The baby pops out as easily as a Pop Tart from a toaster, but then the mother dies.
1. Web of the Spider -- There were few webs, and no spiders.
2. The Vampire Clan. -- No vampires.
3.Ordinary People -- There are no ordinary people in this film.
Worst Use of Klaus Kinski:
Web of the Spider, To Kill a Jackal, Dragon Strikes Back
Worst Casting of a Non Actor:
Coffee and Cigarettes, most of it. but especially Jack and Meg White, the absolute worst actors I've ever seen, including in beginning improv classes.
127 days done, 238 days left, 159 discs watched, 341 left. 10.03 per week to keep pace. I got another 11 out of the way this week. On to 11 more.