Chantal Akerman’s sound strategies are defining elements of a unique film language noted for effects that feel close to direct experience and seem to approximate the passing of real time. Drawing from a range of Akerman’s films, from Saute Ma Ville (1968) to No Home Movie (2015), five categories of sound that are of special interest in Akerman’s films are considered: walking, talking, singing (music), exploding, and silence. Local examples are analyzed to give a sense of how, within these five categories, Akerman cultivated an overall tactic of desynchron- ization – often separating layers of sound from one another within the soundtrack, and always working the soundtrack as a whole against the visual image track – to amplify effects of immediacy and temporal complexity, and to generate layers of meaning powerfully but indirectly.
Claudia Gorbman addresses the integral role of the voice in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master (2012). This film offers a particularly apt occasion to consider a striking vocal performance at the height of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s career. For if Kozloff can talk about “the unique alchemy … of that actor,” and if Barthes writes about the thrill he derives from hearing the recorded voice of the French baritone Charles Panzera, one realizes that in a new age of film acting, at least with some actors like Hoffman, the essential, recognizable voice need no longer prevail. This essay is accompanied by video clips that demonstrate the results of the masterful role of the voice in The Master.
FQ Editor-in-Chief B. Ruby Rich’s quarterly roundup of the issue: Winter 2014, Volume 68, Number 2. She recounts her chance meeting at the Toronto Film Festival with celebrated director Zhang Yimou, the IDA convening with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in LA, which she attended, and what the new industry buzzword— “metrics”—portends for the field.
Dolby Digital, Postsocialist China, The Grand Style, and part 1 or our Annual Film Book Survey. Plus reviews of In the Cut and Hero
READ: a review of Hero