Author Topic: Jonathan Demme Influences?  (Read 3636 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Convael

  • The Road of Trials
  • **
  • Posts: 74
  • Respect: 0
Jonathan Demme Influences?
« on: July 08, 2008, 04:13:45 AM »
0
I've read in a lot of interviews that PTA cites Jonathan Demme as one of, if not his biggest influences along with Scorsese and Altman.  What I'm interested in is the fact that apart from Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs, Demme hasn't really had any particularly great movies that could have influenced PTA for Hard Eight/Boogie Nights/Magnolia, in my opinion.  I remember hearing on maybe the Boogie Nights commentary that Silence of the Lambs was the first time that he had seen what he thought a closeup should look like in a movie, but have never heard him mention by name any of Demme's other films.  Basically what I'm asking is that compared with Altman, Scorsese, Renoir, whoever, Demme to me doesn't seem to have had as many well-known or well-received films, so in an attempt to see what some of PTA's influences were I'm wondering which of Demme's movies I should check out in order to see it more clearly.  Sorry if this is a bit incoherent but it's 4 AM and I've found this place to be one of the best resources on the guy.

matt35mm

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 3248
  • Bony old behind.
  • Respect: +494
    • My Films on Vimeo
Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2008, 04:33:49 AM »
0
PTA specifically cites Melvin and Howard (with Jason Robards) as an influence in the Hard Eight commentary, I believe.

children with angels

  • The Return Threshold
  • ****
  • Posts: 811
  • Respect: +7
    • The Lesser Feat (blog)
Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2008, 06:16:01 AM »
0
Something Wild is a fantastic movie that I think everyone should see, and I think shows its influence on Anderson's films through the really very bold and exciting ways it mixes genres, amongst other things - particularly relevant to Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love. There's a sort of baffled humanism, coupled with some sense of mischief, across a lot of Demme films that I think reflects in PTA's stuff. I would agree that I'm never going to cite Demme as one of my favourite directors, but we all have our personal cinematic loves that we latch onto for various reasons - not always because they're revolutionary - and I think that's what's happened for PTA. At the very least, you can generally rely on Demme to tell a good story well.

Oh, and everyone should see Stop Making Sense.
"Should I bring my own chains?"
"We always do..."

http://www.alternatetakes.co.uk/
http://thelesserfeat.blogspot.com/

Alexandro

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1768
  • Respect: +504
Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2008, 10:53:56 AM »
0
The thing about Johnathan Demme is that he's that rare kind of director who has particular style but is not highly stylized, a la Scorsese or Altman, who both have an instantly recognizable visual design. Demme is way more subtle. As a result, PTA has that strange combination of being bold with shots and camera movements, but he also has  a sensibility to be very subtle with the camera. There are things he does in There Will be Blood that are at the same time simple and complex. I'm thinking, for example, the shot when Paul Sunday meets Plainview for the first time, walks up to his desk, they talk a little as if they are both alone, the camera dollies in on them, Paul sits and reveals that Plainview's main helper is there too. It's all one take, and it's relatively easy to execute it, but in the end it's complicated to come up with something like that, and at the same time is something that goes unnoticed if you compare it to more obvious things he's done, like the opening shot of Boogie Nights. That's the kind of instinct I guess you would develop being a big fan of someone like Johnathan Demme.

I re watched Philadelphia on TV a few months ago and really felt to be discovering it. In anyone else's hands, that film could have been one of the worst Hollywood entries on a "serious" subject of the 90's. He made it interesting with all those close ups and POV shots. It became a film instead of a TV movie. But he's not a director that someone who is not a film buff would recognize without knowing the film is his, like Altman or Scorsese.

ElPandaRoyal

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1724
  • Respect: +121
Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2008, 06:33:04 PM »
0
The thing about Johnathan Demme is that he's that rare kind of director who has particular style but is not highly stylized, a la Scorsese or Altman, who both have an instantly recognizable visual design.

Well, he does have his actors looking directly at the camera all the time, and I'd say that's something to do with style, but yeah, I agree with basically everything else.
Si

Alexandro

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1768
  • Respect: +504
Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2012, 03:26:13 PM »
+1
The thing about Johnathan Demme is that he's that rare kind of director who has particular style but is not highly stylized, a la Scorsese or Altman, who both have an instantly recognizable visual design. Demme is way more subtle. As a result, PTA has that strange combination of being bold with shots and camera movements, but he also has  a sensibility to be very subtle with the camera. There are things he does in There Will be Blood that are at the same time simple and complex. I'm thinking, for example, the shot when Paul Sunday meets Plainview for the first time, walks up to his desk, they talk a little as if they are both alone, the camera dollies in on them, Paul sits and reveals that Plainview's main helper is there too. It's all one take, and it's relatively easy to execute it, but in the end it's complicated to come up with something like that, and at the same time is something that goes unnoticed if you compare it to more obvious things he's done, like the opening shot of Boogie Nights. That's the kind of instinct I guess you would develop being a big fan of someone like Johnathan Demme.

I re watched Philadelphia on TV a few months ago and really felt to be discovering it. In anyone else's hands, that film could have been one of the worst Hollywood entries on a "serious" subject of the 90's. He made it interesting with all those close ups and POV shots. It became a film instead of a TV movie. But he's not a director that someone who is not a film buff would recognize without knowing the film is his, like Altman or Scorsese.

I gotta correct a few things I said about Demme and Philadelphia 4 years ago because I rewatched it the day before yesterday and, besides I appreciated it a lot more as an involving dramatic experience (and one is hard not to cry to) I guess it became more clear that this is a Jonathan Demme film. Perhaps with time I've been able to identify more of the characteristics that compose his particular style. Although I maintain he is a more "sober" director than a Robert Altman or Martin Scorsese, he certainly makes some bold choices with the camera. The actors looking straight at us is the most commonly mentioned, but there's also some intricate steady cam shots and scenes like the one where Tom Hanks translates an opera, which is simply a break from the straight "realism" from the beginning. However, I think Demme's biggest influence on PTA is his humanism. His most personal films (that I've seen) like Something Wild, Rachel Getting Married, and even Philadelphia, take place in a very particular universe that I would call Demmeland, where people of all races, socioeconomic and cultural statuses, and sexual and religious orientations can be friends and cool with each other. Also, the level of intimacy and complicity with the characters. Take one of the last scenes in Philadelphia, where Hanks is very ill in the hospital and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, gets to say goodbye to him and "see you tomorrow" in the most tender, sweet way possible. The film takes it's time for this, and it becomes a beautiful moment. The only other director I can think of that would do something like that, take a full three minutes to show people giving each other love in a hard moment, is Paul Thomas Anderson, particularly in Magnolia.

Just wanted to kind of revisit this. I think Demme is a little underrated.

Something Spanish

  • The Vision Quest
  • **
  • Posts: 278
  • Respect: +133
Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2018, 08:42:47 AM »
+1
short read on pta's love for demme

https://www.austinchronicle.com/screens/2018-03-02/paul-thomas-anderson-on-his-friendship-with-jonathan-demme/


Paul Thomas Anderson on His Friendship With Jonathan Demme
BY RICHARD WHITTAKER, FRI., MARCH 2, 2018

Phantom Thread director to receive Texas Film Award

With eight Academy Award nominations, and countless other plaudits to his name, Paul Thomas Anderson has had his fair share of acclaim. But on March 8, when he receives the inaugural Jonathan Demme Award, it will be an opportunity to praise a filmmaker who shaped him, and was his friend.

Anderson will receive the award at the Texas Film Awards ceremony, alongside Variety’s One to Acclaim winner, actor Armie Hammer. His relationship with Demme's work began in 1984 with Stop Making Sense, the groundbreaking concert movie Demme shot with Talking Heads, and continued through his highest-profile era, with films like Married to the Mob and Silence of the Lambs. "I was a fan and aficionado first," Anderson said. "Just the timing of my life and his life just seemed to work out that, while he was making his strongest films, I was at this very impressionable age of 15, 16, 17, 18."

What inspired Anderson about Demme's work? "Everything. It's not just the stories that he's telling, it's the style with which he's telling them. From the actors that he's casting, from the camera moves that he's employing, to the soundtrack, the lighting, all of that adding up to something that never felt like it wasn't something you couldn't do yourself." This was, after all, the era of the mega-blockbuster, when technology dominated the studios, "things that if you were just a kid with a camera would have been impossible to replicate. Enormous crane shots or super-fast whipping cameras around that would require a certain level of technology. Jonathan's were always very intimate. Even as his budgets grew, it always felt like a Roger Corman movie."

For the future director of There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread, Demme's work questioned the conventions of cinema, like allowing period pieces to feel contemporary in the way they are shot. For many such films, he said, "The camera had to be stuffy and static on a dolly. But that's not true." Emulating period filmmaking techniques becomes "super-limiting ... You've got to touch the past. Just a fingertip."

Unlike most aspiring filmmakers, the young Anderson had a point of connection to the established director. Actor Robert Ridgely was one of the great character actors of the Eighties, and first worked with Demme on 1980's Melvin and Howard, before reuniting with him two years later, for an episode of American Playhouse (an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's "Who Am I This Time?") and again in 1986 for his neo-screwball comedy Some­thing Wild. However, Ridgely was also a friend of Anderson's father, and the high school filmmaker would cast him in his home movies. The fact he was also in these Demme films "was a very mesmerizing thing, and I would ask Bob Ridgely about him all the time."

The two directors finally met in 1997, when Anderson was invited to a screening of Demme's next film, Beloved. Anderson recalled, "He was very sweet to me, very kind to me, and knew that I knew Bob." However, it was later that year, during the release of Anderson's breakout success Boogie Nights, that they became friends. "I was doing the interviews and press to promote the film, and I kept mentioning my admiration for Jona­than, and he sent me a nice letter in admiration of Boogie Nights.”

The two became pen pals, then long-term friends, and inevitably the idea of collaboration came up. Anderson said, "We always talked about, I was going to write something for him, and we were going to write something together. Loads of ideas floated around, nothing ever happened. Life intervened, and he would do things and I would do things."

"Things" is the right word, as eclecticism defined Demme's career. After his run of exploitation classics like Crazy Mama and Caged Heat (the latter screening at AFS Cinema on April 12): not just swerving from the modern Gothic of Silence of the Lambs to capturing Spalding Gray's searing one-man show Swimming to Cambodia, but directing episodes of Saturday Night Live, and music videos for New Order and Bruce Springsteen. "He had a large appetite, and a lot of intellectual, emotional curiosity," said Anderson. "He was a director who wasn't just making movie after movie after movie. It was a movie, five insane weirdo little side projects, followed later by a movie. The way he conducted his work was not a straight line at all. He zigzagged all over the place."

Anderson also found that Demme had a different way of looking at films, unlike any other director. Even Hitchcockian had its own meaning: It's not Psycho or The Birds, but the way Eva Marie Saint's fingers wrap around Cary Grant's neck in North by Northwest, which Demme later emulated and told Anderson was his Hitchcock homage. "No one talks about this moment, it's not in any book, it's not at all what he's known for, but it's this thing that Jonathan's eyes see. Whether it's by design or by accident, it's beautiful to look at."

However, for Anderson, it was Demme's activism, and his burning, abiding belief in civil rights, that defined him as much as his filmmaking: from his portraits of Haiti to his documentary Cousin Bobby (about his own cousin, an Episcopalian minister in Harlem), even through to one of his very last projects, 2016's "Protection Not Protest: The People of Standing Rock." Anderson said, "It's so Jonathan, just going out into the situation and finding these fascinating and hilarious stories in the middle of something deeply serious."
« Last Edit: March 04, 2018, 11:55:37 AM by wilder »

 

DMCA & Copyright | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy