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The Interpreter (2005)


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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 12:08 PM

I like this movie and saw it twice on the big screen, possibly only the second time I've ever done that. I've since owned the DVD and never watched it, until I got rather bored on the evening of the 24th. I don't think we ever talked about it in depth before - I ran a search, anyway. Apologies if I'm retreading old ground. Spoilers abound.

I am predisposed to like The Interpreter it because I have always felt a fondness for the United Nations and its work. The film is self-consciously "for grownups" and doesn't try very hard to pander to the masses, yet was still a modest box office success (cost about $80m, made about twice that). I suspect quite a lot of that was Nicole Kidman's fee and therefore it was fundamentally a fairly low-cost movie, and intelligent, mature movies that don't cost $100m+ are what we like to see. They had a bookend scene at the start which was supposed to be in Africa, for which, to their immense credit and the immense benefit of the film, they actually went to Africa and didn't attempt to mock it up in SoCal. Sydney Pollack seemed like a pleasant, intelligent man and he and I held many opinions in common. The world is a lesser place without him.

They started shooting without a script, which is, as Pollack states on the DVD, "a lousy" approach. As such the plot is confused and the first subplot (the Broome/Keller relationship) is poorly integrated with the main storyline, although it's so unusual to find such a realistic portrayal of halting, inappropriate and mistimed romance I'm inclined to forgive the film its plot problems. In the end it just feels like real life: confused, not straightforward, not neat and tidy, although I suspect that probably wasn't intentional. I applaud Pollack's decision not to have the principal romance become more physically intimate. There are other issues - incriminating photographs are rather obvious photoshop mockups to insert members of the principal cast into locations they clearly never visited, and since the plot makes the audience suspect that this sort of fakery might actually be done in order to falsely incriminate them, it's a bit of a problem.

I'm not sure if we talked about it at the time of release, but this was the only movie ever to shoot inside the UN buildings. As such it had a [i]fairly[i/] rich location to shoot, and made excellent use of it. I don't understand the issue people had with the "empty anamorphic frame" in the lofty interior spaces of the General Assembly - to me it just emphasises the scale of the place. JDC anamorphics, apparently, according to threads on this very forum, and IMDB says 5212 (Vision2 100T, for those whose heads have no space for more numbers) and 5229 (Vision2 Expression 500T). Shot surprisingly straight by Darius Khondji, and you wonder why they bothered with a DI. I got in trouble with Bill Totolo once for saying this, but I have a deep and lasting admiration for people who can shoot things in a manner that doesn't look over-stylized or ostensibly effected in any way, material which looks fundamentally normal, but still has a lot of style and class.

This film was released at the very height of Kidman's most extreme overexposure and I almost turned it down because of that, but I'm extremely glad I didn't. I was in New York for a couple of weeks around the time this film was shooting - we saw a couple of units at work, but I've no idea if it was this.
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#2 Shawn Martin

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 08:20 PM

This was the cover story of, I think, the May 2005 AC. Arri cameras, Cooke anamorphics from JDC and Technovision. 5212 and 5229. Apparently it was the first movie to shoot on 5229.

I never went to see this in the theater because it just didn't look very interesting, but I saw it recently streaming on Netflix, luckily in the correct ratio. It's got a look that's very "direct", I guess is the way to describe it; not overly-stylized, like you said. Slick without really being slick. I really liked the lighting of the night scenes inside Sean Penn's apartment.
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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 09:10 PM

Aaaand guess what, the AC article is free online.

http://www.theasc.co...eter/index.html

P
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