2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound’

April 29, 2019

by Carla Hay

Making Waves
“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” interviewee Walter Murch re-recording mixing of “Apocalypse Now” (Photo by W.S. Murch)

“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound”

Directed by Midge Costin

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 29, 2019.

“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” is the type of documentary that is best seen in a movie theater, where the film’s impressive sound editing and sound mixing can be best appreciated.  It’s also the kind of documentary that some might consider too technical for their tastes, but it’s a must-see for cinephiles, film students or anyone who cares to find out more about the history of sound in film.

The movie does a quick run-through of the transition between silent films and “talkies” to get to the heart of the film—the movies and filmmakers who’ve had the most influence on today’s cinematic experiences. Like a classroom presentation at a film school, “Making Waves” takes a somewhat academic approach in describing the different components of sound in cinema. And that’s probably because “Make Waves” director Midge Costin is an Oscar-nominated sound editor who’s also a professor of sound at USC Film School. The movie divides the discussion intro three categories: voice, sound effects and music. In the voice category are production recording, dialogue editing and ADR (automated dialog replacement). In the sound effects category are SFX, Foley and ambience.

“Making Waves” also interviews many of the top filmmakers in the industry, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, Alfonso Cuarón, Sofia Coppola, Ang Lee, Ryan Coogler, Robert Redford, David Lynch and Barbra Streisand. Sound designers/editors interviewed in the documentary Walter Murch (a longtime collaborator with Francis Ford Coppola), Ben Burtt (a favorite of George Lucas), Bobbi Banks (“The Fate of the Furious,” “Straight Outta Compton”), Anna Behlmer (“Moulin Rouge!”, 2009’s “Star Trek”) and Gary Rydstrom, who’s worked on numerous Steven Spielberg movies.

The documentary takes the position that sound in cinema really began to hit its stride in the 1970s, with movies like “The Godfather” and “Star Wars.” There are several movies that are singled out for their pioneering sound. The 1976 version  of “A Star Is Born” is credited with being the first to fully utilize stereo effects in sound editing. Streisand, who starred in the movie and was one of the film’s producers, tells a story in “Making Waves” about how she had to pay $1 million of her own money for the sound, and Warner Bros. Pictures ended up being so impressed with the movie’s sound quality that the movie studio ended up covering the $1 million cost.

Coppola’s 1979 masterpiece “Apocalypse Now” pioneered surround sound, while 1995’s “Toy Story” is considered a breakthrough animated film for sound. Other movies whose sound is given a spotlight in “Making Waves” include “Jurassic Park,” “Argo,” “Top Gun,” “Selma,” “Inception,” “Ordinary People,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “A River Runs Through It.” As for music in movies, the Beatles are credited with being pioneers on screen, as well as being major influences on filmmakers who were fans of the band. “Making Waves” also has interviews with famous composers such as Hans Zimmer and Ludwig Goransson, who gives a demonstration of how he crafted his Oscar-winning score for “Black Panther.”

Although a few of the people interviewed in “Making Waves” come across as bit dull, “Making Waves” is still worth seeing for the way it gives valuable history lessons in cinema. Just don’t watch this movie on a phone or a computer, or you’ll be missing out on the full sound experience of the movie and the reason why this documentary exists.

UPDATE: “Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” opens in New York City and Los Angeles on October 25, 2019. The movie expands to more cities in the U.S. and Canada, beginning November 1, 2019.

2018 Cannes Film Festival: John Travolta, Gary Oldman, Christopher Nolan, Ryan Coogler added to lineup of speakers

May 2, 2018

The following is a press release from the Cannes Film Festival:

During the Festival de Cannes 2018, four meetings with artists will take place Buñuel Theatre replacing the Leçon de cinéma. Four masterclasses with directors and actors invited to share their work and passion about cinema during Rendez-vous for the festival goers.

Our program this year will be a focus on English and American cinema.

Thursday, May 10, 4:00PM

RYAN COOGLER
AMERICAN DIRECTOR & WRITER

Ryan Coogler was born in Oakland (California). He comes back to the Festival de Cannes and will not be the same director since he presented his first feature film, Fruitvale Station (2013), five years ago. Fruitvale Station tells the story of the last 24 hours of the life of Oscar Grant, who was shot to death by a police officer at Oakland’s Fruitvale BART station. Developed and produced by Forest Whitaker, the film won the top audience and several awards among them grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival and Prix de l’Avenir Un Certain Regard at the Festival de Cannes handed out by Thomas Vinterberg, then President of the Jury. Coogler has since co-written and directed the seventh film in the Rocky series, Creed (2015), and the internationally acclaimed Black Panther (2018) making him the youngest Marvel Studios filmmaker. Black Panther was revolutionary in many regards. Upon release, the film was an overwhelming success, grossing the fifth largest opening US weekend box-office results of all time.

Michael B. Jordan starring in all the films directed by Ryan Coogler will be at Cannes with Fahrenheit 451 directed by Ramin Bahrani.

The Rendez-vous with Ryan Coogler will take place on Thursday, May 10th, at 4.00PM, Buñuel Theatre. It will be conducted by American critic and journalist Elvis Mitchell.  

Saturday, May 12, at 4.00PM

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
BRITISH DIRECTOR, WRITER & PRODUCER

Christopher Nolan is a multi-award-winning director, writer and producer whose varied filmography includes some of the most innovative and successful motion pictures of the early 21st century. Beginning with his breakout feature Memento, which earned Nolan an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, his films have captivated critics and audiences alike. Inception (2010), Interstellar (2014) and the Dark Knight Trilogy (whose central film, The Dark Knight, received eight Oscar nominations) have all left their mark on contemporary cinema. Last year, Christopher Nolan made headlines again with Dunkirk, which was also nominated for several Oscars. Nolan is a great cinephile and a loving connoisseur of Stanley Kubrick and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the 50th anniversary of whose release he will be celebrating the following day (May, 13). He also defends and carries on the tradition of film, of “celluloid” and projections on a large screen, so Dunkirk had the biggest release on 70mm of the past 25 years.

The Rendez-vous with Christopher Nolan will take place on Saturday, May 12th, at 4.00PM, Buñuel Theatre. It will be conducted by French critic and historian Philippe Rouyer and translated by Massoumeh Lahidji.

Wednesday, May 16, 4:45PM

JOHN TRAVOLTA
AMERICAN ACTOR & PRODUCER

John Travolta’s breakout performance in the blockbuster Saturday Night Fever (1977) brought such emotion, surprise and pleasure as strong as his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction awarded Palme d’or in 1994 at the Festival de Cannes. Two-time Academy award nominee John Travolta has starred in a number of monumental films. His credits include a vast filmography, the long-running musical Grease, the Brian de Palma thrillers Carrie and Blow OutGet Shorty by Barry Sonnenfeld, The Look Who’s Talking trilogy,Broken Arrow and Face/Off by John Woo, The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick, The Taking of Pelham 123 by Tony Scott. In 1998 he opened the Festival de Cannes with Primary Colors by Mike Nichols with Emma Thompson. John Travolta also played and produced the limited series American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson. He recently completed filming on Moose, and will next be seen in the crime drama Gotti by Kevin Connolly that will have its World Premiere as a Special Gala Screening in the Palais des Festivals at Cannes.

On Wednesday, May 16th at 9:30 PM John Travolta will also introduce on the Cinéma de la Plage (Movies on the Beach) the restored print of the musical Grease by Randal Kleiser to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film.

The Rendez-vous with John Travolta will take place on Wednesday, May 16th, at 4:45PM, Buñuel Theatre. It will be conducted by French critic and journalist Didier Allouch.

Friday, May 18, 4:00PM

GARY OLDMAN
BRITISH ACTOR & DIRECTOR

Gary Oldman was born in London, he is one of the most celebrated actors of his generation on both stage and screen. He gained his first starring film role in Meantime(1983). In the 1990s his credits include JFK (1991), Dracula (1992), True Romance (1993), Léon (1994), The Fifth Element (1997) and Air Force One (1997) playing the villain. Being an author himself, Oldman wrote and directed Nil by Mouth produced by Luc Besson, presented in competition at Cannes (1997), and won Kathy Burke a Best Actress prize. Oldman is also known for his roles as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series, as James Gordon in The Dark Knight Trilogy, as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) by Thomas Alfredson. A year ago, his phenomenon performance of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour brought him international acclaim and recognition, and he was awarded the Best Actor Academy Award in March 2018.

The Rendez-vous with Gary Oldman will take place Wednesday, May 18th, at 4:00PM, Buñuel Theatre. It will be conducted by Douglas Urbanski, American producer and artistic partner for thirty years.