Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

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Jeff
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Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#1 Post by Jeff » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:02 am

Haynes' latest starts shooting next week. It's an adaptation of Brian Selznick's sophisticated children's book, Wonderstruck (Selznick also wrote The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which became Scorsese's Hugo). Like the book, the film will tell parallel stories in two time periods, 1927 and 1977. The 1927 portion will be shot as a silent film, with the lead and much of the supporting cast comprised of deaf actors. Julianne Moore will also star in the silent portion. The 1977 portion stars Oakes Fegley (of the upcoming Pete's Dragon remake) with Michelle Williams. Haynes' usual collaborators including Ed Lachmann and Sandy Powell are on board. I can't wait to see what he does with this material. Amazon Studios is financing and distributing.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#2 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:35 am

Damn excited about this one. And very curious to see how far he goes with the "silent" section - i.e. will it be heavy with words still, or will he use the conceit to free him to do pure, visual, wordless cinema? (Unlike The Artist which heavily relied on title cards.)

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Dylan
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#3 Post by Dylan » Fri May 12, 2017 6:56 pm

The first clip looks absolutely gorgeous.

And here's the first poster.

dda1996a
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#4 Post by dda1996a » Fri May 12, 2017 7:02 pm

Haynes is one of my favorites, but I'm not sure how great this will come out unless they changed quite a bit. Just like Hugo the book, I found the book interesting at first but incredibly anti climactic and disappointing come the end.

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#5 Post by dda1996a » Thu May 18, 2017 5:02 am

Variety review confirms what I suspected. Just like Hugo, first rate director unable to over come Selznick sub parts book.
It appears they changed absolutely nothing from the book. I still believe Haynes will make a great first hour or so, but nothing can change the anticlimactic fizzle of an ending

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hearthesilence
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#6 Post by hearthesilence » Thu May 18, 2017 1:10 pm

Hell, I loved Scorsese's Hugo, I think that was a genuinely great film - but the mixed reviews for Wonderstruck has me a bit worried. Wish I could find a review from a critic I really liked.

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domino harvey
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#7 Post by domino harvey » Thu May 18, 2017 1:19 pm

Most reviews are singling out the poor central child performance in the film, sounds like there are more than structural issues at play here

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#8 Post by dda1996a » Thu May 18, 2017 1:55 pm

I liked Scorsese's film, which focused a lot more on Mellies rather than the automaton and the child. The back half of the film is way better than the first. It's also much better than the book. Having read both Hugo and Wonderstruck in anticipation for this film, I was vastly disappointed. The way everything coalesced in the end of Wonderstruck is incredibly disappointing. It's a shame because I rather liked the concept (which Haynes made Cinematic with the silent BW/modern color) but the amount of contrivances that all lead to a shrug were disconcerting. I hoped Haynes will realize the weak ending but it appears they changed nothing. I'll still see it as with Hugo sometimes the adaptation improves, but seeing Selznick wrote this and the reviews I'm not expecting much.


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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#10 Post by Andrew_VB » Mon May 22, 2017 11:17 am

dda1996a wrote:Variety review confirms what I suspected. Just like Hugo, first rate director unable to over come Selznick sub parts book.
It appears they changed absolutely nothing from the book. I still believe Haynes will make a great first hour or so, but nothing can change the anticlimactic fizzle of an ending
i actually thought the majority of the movie was a little bit of a fizzle but the ending sequence was beautifully shot and realized. overall i thought the movie was pretty good.

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Professor Wagstaff
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#11 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:18 am


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hearthesilence
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#12 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:44 pm

Manohla Dargis, Stephanie Zacharek, Dennis Lim, Amy Taubin and Kent Jones apparently all gave this glowing reviews (with reviews from the latter NYFF curators published during Cannes in May) so I’m a bit more hopeful about this.

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#13 Post by nitin » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:45 pm

hearthesilence wrote:Manohla Dargis, Stephanie Zacharek, Dennis Lim, Amy Taubin and Kent Jones apparently all gave this glowing reviews (with reviews from the latter NYFF curators published during Cannes in May) so I’m a bit more hopeful about this.
Also Jessica Kiang.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#14 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:48 am

It doesn't reach the brilliant heights of Haynes's work, but I liked this. With regards to two other issues raised (an anticlimax and an alleged saccharinity) I think both are a bit overblown. If anything this is tastefully restrained - whereas I find myself cringing over and over again whenever I sit through, say, a new Spielberg film that's trying to pummel me into feeling emotion (the music! the close ups!), that never happened with this film. And that extends to the climax/ending, which worked off a long tradition in children's books. As David Ehrenstein said about Hugo on Glenn Kenny's blog, "it's structured like all classic children's literature in which the hero and/or heroine (typically young children) solves a mystery and in doing so brightens the life of a lonely and/or neglected older person."

Hugo remains a raw and intensely personal film from Scorsese to me, but in this adaptation, Haynes feels more like an excellent interpreter. It's clearly a Todd Haynes film and to his great credit, even though he utilizes certain devices that are strongly identified with his work, they don't feel shoehorned into the film - they feel organic to the material that's presented. But the film doesn't consistently hit a raw nerve the way Scorsese did with Hugo - not a criticism against the film, just an observation of how different these two Selznick adaptations can be.

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#15 Post by dda1996a » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:04 pm

I just personally think Selznick is just not a good writer. He can draw well and this idea of combining drawings and literature are what made me interested in his books in the first place. But his books are incredibly lacking. I rather liked Hugo but I felt it was more due to Scorsese's undeniable grasp of cinema that worked twice as hard against Selznick's rather silly story. It's as if Selznick find an interesting fulcrum but builds such a hackneyed structure around it.
I know his books are aimed at younger children, and I'm glad and happy if it made many people go and seek Mellies and made them get into cinema. But as someone who adores animated films, graphic novels and who grew on the wonders and magic of Amblin and Miyazaki that wonder is sorely lacking.
I'm still interested in seeing this and how Haynes (who I very much like) managed to make something out of this. At least Lach man's cinematography looks beautiful as expected.
I just remember finishing Wonderstruck and just being pissed off that all that lead up was for basically nothing. At least Hugo was a silly lead up to a surprising and a bit touching ending (way better on film than in the book) but I felt nothing but disappointment at Wonderstruck's end.
Will definitely check this out though, hopefully based on your appraisal the film will turn out better.

I just saw that I already vented out my disappointment here a few times. I guess this is what the book made me feel, so I'll reserve any further comment until I see this

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hearthesilence
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#16 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:10 pm

dda1996a wrote:I just personally think Selznick is just not a good writer.
Image

(Apologies, online forums aren't exactly known for immaculate writing, but there was blood in the water and I went for it.)

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mfunk9786
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#17 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:18 pm

That took me a minute.

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#18 Post by dda1996a » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:36 am

"Tips hat"

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#19 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:34 pm

I'm definitely in the HTS camp, but dda is right about Selznick not being the best writer. Thankfully the last thing Wonderstruck is about is its writing. I've been surprised, put off even by a lot of the negativity towards Wonderstruck. The film's supposed to be sentimental and corny, it's intended for kids not a bunch of crotchety middle aged film critics. Not much to add as the film's a straightforward story that's not doing anything particularly groundbreaking, but I appreciated the nods to silent film and 70s New York films. The kids were fantastic and everything about the History Museum is wonderful. It does tie up maybe a little too perfectly at the end but hey you knew the kid wasn't coming all the way to NYC to smoke crack. The music is great, it looks beautiful, Haynes nailed the time periods it's just a movie devoid of cynicism made of a time where everyone's gotten drunk on it.

There's one sequence here when the kid arrives in New York and walks our of port authority that is one best pieces of moviemaking I have seen in quite sometime. Without going into any further detail I just want to point out that it was perfectly executed.

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#20 Post by phantomforce » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:37 am

Saw this tonight. Thought it was a beautiful piece of filmmaking. The cinematography had me in awe. Black and White scenes were beautifully composed and I was really amazed at how realistic the set design looked, especially the exterior NYC shots. Same goes for the 70s sequences. I haven't done enough research to see how it was shot but it certainly had that 70s kodak film stock vibe, and the costumes and sets of both era's really took me back and let me forget about the current events and immerse myself into this world. Also of note is Carter Burwell's score which I think is probably his strongest yet. Varied, Dramatic, Emotional, and overall very engaging. The sound design and music is just as much a character as the cinematography. The dioramas and animation were also very beautifully done. Overall, this definitely tapped into my inner child and I was touched during several sequences.

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#21 Post by whaleallright » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:32 am

There's an excellent article by Ed Lachman from the second-to-last issue of American Cinematographer all about the shooting of this film. It was shot almost entirely on film except for sequences in the museum; in those cases they couldn't bring in too many lights, which could have damaged the dioramas, so used digital to be able to get the latitude required. But they applied faux film grain to those sequences (via a proprietary piece of software that can simulate the grain structure of different film stocks!) to match the other footage. It's a good article, worth reading.

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Dylan
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#22 Post by Dylan » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:58 pm

I loved Wonderstruck. I may return to this thread a bit later to unload my overall impressions, particularly those of the formal elements (yes, it's heart-stoppingly gorgeous - an astounding, even overwhelming achievement in cinematography and visual design), but I wanted come here to write a bit about the ending for those who have already seen the movie and/or have read the book.
SpoilerShow
Like many it seems, I was initially thrown that this story didn't lead to some kind of operatic and/or emotionally explosive conclusion, since it feels like it's going in that direction (think E.T. or Coppola's Tetro, the latter of which has a similar aesthetic to some of Wonderstruck) but in hindsight I admire the understated, ambiguous, and quietly soaring way this finishes. And watching Haynes go back to his Superstar roots in the utilization of dolls and miniatures in the third act was a fan's delight!

But there's one thing about this story that I'm still trying to wrap my head around and I'm curious to read other thoughts about this: the motivation of Ben's parents, and in particular his mother Elaine after Ben's father died. It's never explained (or I didn't catch on if it was) exactly why Elaine wanted to keep Ben's parentage in the dark, going as far as to ensure that he would never have knowledge of or contact with grandmother Rose. One of the doll scenes has Rose meeting Elaine and a very young Ben at the museum, and Rose didn't know at the time who they were, but by the time Rose meets Ben she seems to know exactly who he is. But why was Ben kept from Rose? Why didn't Elaine at least have private contact with Rose? What we learn about Ben's father makes him seem like a good man, and Rose both young and old is just about the sweetest character in all of Haynes, so it doesn't seem like Elaine was running away from (and/or protecting Ben from) something negative. Or did I miss something? Does the book address this a bit more?

Right now I'm reading it like this: for whatever reason Ben's parents made choices that kept him and grandmother Rose apart, but Ben and Rose have a cosmic connection as well as a familial one and are destined to be there for one another, and by the end they're together as grandson and grandmother... but there will always be some mystery as to why Ben's parents kept things in the dark. That is, again, unless I missed something. I would definitely be curious to read some thoughts about this.

Again, I loved this film, but I'm still wrapping my head around this rather mysterious part of the finale.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#23 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:31 pm

SpoilerShow
This may sound strange, but with my childhood friends raised by one parent, I generally didn't know what happened with the "other" parent. Maybe it was the culture I grew up in - the Midwest certainly feels more private and less open about things than NYC - but if they didn't bring it up, I didn't pry.

So in thinking why she would do that, putting myself in that character's place, it might've felt too painful and in a lot of ways too complicated and overwhelming. The kid may have been too young to understand at the time, so she decided to put it off, but with time, the stress of letting him know probably becomes greater - it becomes tougher to do because it's a hell of a thing to lay on a kid. So the easy thing to do (and not necessarily inappropriate) would be to wait until the child reaches some maturity, and when he's able to process it better, break it to him that his father's dead. I'm not sure there's a right answer to how to deal with this situation because every child and family is different. Not knowing his grandparents would've come out of this pretty easily if she chose to keep him in the dark. I personally would've preferred to bring them into his life, but I think I know quite a few people who have that distance between grandchildren and grandparents for various reasons.

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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#24 Post by whaleallright » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:23 pm

Does anyone know what is going on with the distribution of this film? The film's official Twitter feed (and various press releases) indicated that it would be "playing everywhere" in mid-November, but it never topped about 450 screens and didn't play some key markets, and it's already back down to, I think, fewer than 100 screens.

That's the curve you'd expect when a film is about to close soon (and before I had a chance to see it). I don't know if it's an especially busy season and Roadside Attractions couldn't book the film in enough theaters, or if they simply lost faith in the film and thus are hurrying it through an unambitious distribution cycle before dumping it to streaming, or if it's all part of some unorthodox plan to build the release back up to thousands of screens.

This all reminds me of Midnight Special, which after an ambitious national ad campaign never really played that wide (maximum about 500 screens)—in that case it was pretty clear that Warners had lost faith in the picture. (To be fair, in that case I think they were right. Despite some very enthusiastic early reviews, the film wasn't very good.)

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hearthesilence
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Re: Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

#25 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:41 pm

Honestly, it's weird that it's been treated like an arthouse picture. There may be a shot or two of "modern" NYC that might've pushed things, but otherwise, Amazon had an unusually well-made young adult film on their hands, the kind that pretty much defined that demographic before fantasy-type fiction took off.

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