Author Topic: Jonathan Demme Influences?  (Read 2592 times)

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Convael

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Jonathan Demme Influences?
« on: July 08, 2008, 04:13:45 AM »
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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

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Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2008, 04:33:49 AM »
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PTA specifically cites Melvin and Howard (with Jason Robards) as an influence in the Hard Eight commentary, I believe.

children with angels

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Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2008, 06:16:01 AM »
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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.
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Alexandro

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Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2008, 10:53:56 AM »
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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

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Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2008, 06:33:04 PM »
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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.
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Alexandro

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Re: Jonathan Demme Influences?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2012, 03:26:13 PM »
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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.

 

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