Monday, June 17, 2013

BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO

My aura really lights up the stage at the Denver Film Society
I was lucky enough to be invited to speak after a screening of the Italian horror film BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO at the Denver Film Society on Friday night. The film is much more of a psychological thriller than than a horror film, and it is much more of an art film than either of those.

The film does have a lot going for it. Lead Toby Jones (most well-known for playing Capote in the film INFAMOUS, reviewed here) does a great job as a British sound editor who has been asked to come to Italy to create sound design for an ultra-violent (and sexist) horror film in the style of Dario Argento. He demonstrates the obsessive and personal nature of the art.

And the fact that it is about sound at all is a big plus. The sound design for the film (as well as the film-within-the-film) are fascinating. And it's a trip down memory lane for sound geeks like myself. The script and art direction are extremely faithful to both both the time period (late 70s) and the craft. It was nice seeing someone build an actual tape loop again. And using (real) tape delay instead of digital. And the appearance Nagra IV-S, a peculiar homage to inventor Stefan Kudelski, who passed away last year. The film truly brought back a flood of personal memories. It also references a lot of great other sound films, from THE CONVERSATION to BLOWOUT.

The film falls apart badly in the third act. When they finally cut to the end credits, the person sitting behind us said, "I could tell it was going to be one of those films where there is no ending, and you just pray that they cut to the credits." He was right, the film loses all sense of plot and pacing in the last half hour and becomes much too artsy for its own good. Also for what plot there is, it's predictable. There were a ton of great setups that were never followed up on.

Still, if you are a fan of the genre, sub-genre, or even just a sound geek like myself, I highly recommend the film.


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