Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Midge Costin's knockout doc, MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND hits theaters

The thrilling, information-laden new documen-tary, MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUND, may begin with the faulty observation about sound being the initial sense experienced by a baby in the womb (TrustMovies suspects it's that of touch). From there on in, however, the movie, directed by noted sound editor Midge Costin (her first directorial effort) and written by Bobette Buster, proves so full of fascinating history, interviews and anecdotes that I should think any real movie lover will remain glued throughout -- aurally and visually -- to this supremely entertaining and informative film.

Ms Costin, shown at left, has done a bang-up job of corralling a fine group of movie sound specialists -- concentrating on Walter Murch, Ben Burtt and Gary Rydstrom, as well as a number of others noted in this field -- and what all of them have to say is worth hearing, accompanied as it is by pertinent and entertaining visuals.

We also hear from filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan and Peter Weir, and best of all get a history of the evolution of sound on film, as below, and finally a better understanding (than I have ever had, anyway) of the various divisions of the "sound" categories you may have noticed in a movie's end credits but had little understanding of what each category actually did. (The work of foley artists, I learned here, is all about sound!)

Much of the delight of the film comes from each new and usually fascinating tidbit you'll discover, one after another, in Making Waves: Murray Spivack's work on the original King Kong; regarding sound effects: how each of the major studios each had its own "sound" version of everything from the bullet ricochet to a punch in the face and an explosion; why John Cage is to music as Andy Warhol is to art; how the music industry formerly far outpaced the movie industry in terms of sound; and what particular sounds were used to create the jets heard in Top Gun (below).

Most surprising of all, perhaps, is the huge credit these sound folk give to Barbra Streisand for what she did with her version of A Star Is Born and how/why she did it. Of course, we get the info on Murch's work on Apocalypse Now , Burtt's on Star Wars, and how Rydstrom and Toy Story led us unto the digital age. However you may feel about the films themselves, what we see and hear here is germane and mostly riveting.

And, yes, there's Orson Welles, too, along with a nice nod to the many women who've labored happily in the sound field (that's Anna Behlmer, below). In their expert use of 94 minutes, the filmmakers pack in so much, so well. Early on, Walter Murch (shown above) notes that "Sound affects us in a deeper way than even image does." By the end of Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound, I'll be surprised if you don't find yourself pretty much in agreement.

The documentary hits theaters in the Los Angeles area (Laemmle's Monica Film Center, and Arclight's Hollywood, Pasadena and Sherman Oaks locations) and in New York City (Cinema Village) this Friday, October 25 -- before expanding to cities around the country. Click here to view all currently scheduled playdates,cities and venues.

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