Totally agreed with Casey on this one. It was a good experience but the movie is far from a hidden gem that people online say it is.

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Dec 5, 2023Liked by Anna Rettberg

The Thing is one of my favorite movies, but I still found Casey's criticism to be valid. In general I agreed with Anna more on this one though. Now I really want to hear what y'all think of "Prince of Darkness" and "In the Mouth of Madness". The John Carpenter Movie Club has been great.

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Dec 4, 2023·edited Dec 5, 2023

About your discussion on the lack of polish for the editing and the comparison with Spielberg, like you said there are errors probably due to budget constraints and poor planning/writing, but in general I think what Carpenter is doing is not really classical continuity editing, it's more about stringing moody/intense shots one after the other.

Spielberg's style of editing is much smoother, he does matching eyelines and subtle transitions. It's more like what Walter Murch describes here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3KU4287ptw

I found breakdowns of Spielberg's camera movements, he often moves things with a L pattern, keeps the attention focus in the center of the screen and locks in with the point of view of the character.

L-pattern: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xu6v0nGUl64

eyeline: https://youtu.be/ZyGCyXeVYYg?si=WfCgBwnHyPjdpBlj&t=809

To compare with The Thing, we're not really following a character's point of view, it's more going from one intense image to the other, with a lot of abrupt close-ups. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Esy-776wcIo

On a visual level, Tarantino does things similar to that too. Like in this fight scene in Kill Bill, he cuts at least two or three times for every hit, with close-ups, jump cuts and slow-motion to crank up the intensity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgRlzeYc1nk

I don't think Spielberg ever did that kind of editing. It's a matter of taste, but in general, I'm not a huge fan of the way he shoots things. Like this scene from A.I., he tries to convey intense emotion but the camera is always moving and the soundtrack is super intrusive, so to me it's more distracting than intense. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYgWHwMm9Uo

Anyway, these are kind of very particular details about editing, but I thought it might be of some interest. There was a huge discussion on that topic on the Roger Ebert website when The Departed came out, on whether the sloppiness was intentional or not. I have a high tolerance for jarring/unpolished stuff so I like this style of editing, but I can see why it may have less appeal, especially when things are not clear on the level of storytelling.

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Dec 5, 2023·edited Dec 5, 2023

I found an example from The Departed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTb6iV_YBFk

In my opinion, Scorsese does that completely on purpose to get maximum visual intensity from each shot. I think it's the same idea with Carpenter, he goes more for impact than continuity. Storywise Carpenter is less polished sometimes, but I always find something interesting in what he does nonetheless (at least from what I have seen from him).

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Dec 3, 2023Liked by Anna Rettberg

I love the 2001 shot and the nice thing about it is that it does not feel derivative. The soundtrack by Morricone is great too, you feel the influence of Ligeti, but he puts his own spin on it, it's great.

I like Carpenter a lot too, even his trashier stuff like Vampires, and I think it's because he is very good with visual composition. The way I would describe it is that he maximalizes the impact of every frame with the choice of angle, color and lighting, duration of the shots, etc. Escape from New York reminded me a lot of the way Storaro uses colors, it's very expressive.

For comparison, here's a compilation of Storaro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU5gyzplpR4

And a compilation from John Carpenter's filmography: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYMLZ-KMKK4

And what I mean with Vampires, the editing for the entrance of the vampire hunters, the idea of winching out the vampire, the way she grips the pipe on her way out, I think it's fantastic filmmaking.


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