Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Watch Movies (With Alexandre Desplat)

I'll be sharing a two part interview with the three time Oscar nominated composer Alexandre Desplat soon but I thought I'd give you this off topic teaser during this week of heavy awardage. It's a handy salve.

During our conversation, I broached the topic of Desplat's time on the Cannes jury this summer and I asked a rather awkward question about how he judged the films, implying that he has a different experience than the rest of us being regular ol' moviegoers, since he's part of the production process and constantly seeing movies in unfinished form.

"Well, I've been to the movies before," he began and we both laughed suddenly at the obviousness of it.  Of course!

He went on to tell me about his teenage cinephilia. He'd go to 5 to 10 movies a week before he started writing music. He dropped several wondrous names of filmmakers he "watched and chewed" (I love the phrasing!) from Kurosawa, Ozu, Monicelli, Scola, Coppola.

"So I arrive on a jury like Cannes with only one thing in mind: wanting to be surprised and watch with a very wide open mind because each cinema is different, because each director is a different person. And whether a film comes from Asia, Europe or America, all these cultures have something different to offer. I look at the film like a child with an educated brain. I try to be surprised and happy and enjoy the moment. That's the only way to do it I think."

But he added one more perfect thing.

"And also: watch movies with benevolence. When you're a young man or a young woman -- 18 to 25 -- your judgments are always a bit tougher. You learn through the years how difficult it is to make a movie not only on the artistical level, it's a difficult task in every way. Watch movies with more respect and benevolence."

Beautifully stated don't you think? And a damn good reminder during awards season when opinions can get so heated and the politics of it all can sometimes overshadow our deep love of movies.  Let's all watch movies like children with educated brains, with respect and benevolence. Let's be ready to be surprised and happy. Let's enjoy the moment.

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