Saturday, March 24, 2012

THAS: Melodiousness

3 Consecutive Moments from 'Toolbox Murders'

#1 - Melodiousness - Laundry Journey

Melodiousness drives Hooper's formulations of mise en scene, camera movement, and the eventual editorial rhythm. Hooper has one of the lightest and constant touches. Every consecutive shot connects in surprising and musical ways with the previous one, whether through the activity of the camera, or the activity of the persons or objects within it. His melodiousness is also one of the most informed by lofty ideas of structure, aestheticism, and the cinematic discursive.


a. Nell and the Wall
Musicalized space
Two floating, forward-pushing shots musicalize Nell's position relational to the wall.

b. Nell Goes to the Wall
Continuities of space captured by use of the edges of the frame

Nell and the Wall

c. Nell Flees the Wall

(Camera dollies forward alongside Nell's movement, capturing her sense of alarm.)


A pure musical shot: a succinct camera push-in towards Nell as the elevator doors close:

A melodious sequence in 3 pieces: 1) Nell in the elevator with the dude behind her. 2) The dude leaves, and we end with the camera push-in on the elevator doors closing on her. 3) The following: a temporally and spatially syncopated witticism of non-context... a sudden acquisition of quasi-POV...

The elevator doors shut in the previous shot... immediately we are thrown this uncontextualized shot of a toolbox on an unspecified floor...

The camera sticks on the toolbox for a prolonged second before suddenly whip-panning across to...

... Nell, just leaving the elevator at the basement floor. The elevator is still noisily shutting behind her just as the camera sets on her, in practically musical a punctuation of both time and environment.

This is a shot that is once a POV, but not a POV. An odd cinematic formulation, and an example of Hooper's sense of pointed cinematic discourse, of formalist dialectic.

It conjoins with the 2 previous moments into a 3-phrase musical sentence (or a 3-stanza poem) harmonizing Nell's emotional beats that consist her trip down the elevator.
A melodious sequence in 3 pieces.


A wonderfully quiet, elegant moment.

Nell arrives at the laundry room...

She stares into the gape...

"Are any of the machines free?"
(an off-screen voice, an off-screen interaction)
"Sure, come on in."
She and the camera set into motion, through the wall.

On display here is the anti-crassness and sensitivity of Hooper: a first interaction between two people, who will soon establish a bond, is kept hidden and obscured from us. Hooper is a filmmaker of great, preeminent sympathies with the finest, gossamer, see-through feelings in representational life (aka the cinematic-allegorical storytelling), and he melodizes them - gives them existence - through the musicality of his film craft.


Anonymous said...


JR said...

Wow! Thanks, tipster. :) [Video: The Making of 'Lifeforce'] Pretty cool, great find. Haven't watched it entirely, but a great take-away is the interviews with Hooper and how he lists nudity - alongside special effects - as one of the film's biggest challenges of scope.

Anonymous said...

My late husband, David Ford, produced Eggshells and The Heisters. He and Tobe were friends in Austin and earlier had worked on some non-theatrical projects together.

I have some Eggshells memorabilia (alas, no Heisters), including an original Jim Franklin painting that was done for the onesheet art.

JR said...


Thank you for stopping by and sharing your close connection! I'm quite honored; it seems I have much to thank your husband for.

Eggshells sure had its stint in the Austin scene.

Patrice said...

Congratulations JR for your website !
I'd like to contact the wife of David Ford who wrote a comment in this thread. How could it be possible ?

JR said...

I'm afraid I have not had any further correspondence with Ms. Ford beyond the comments here. Sorry!

Patrice said...

Ok, thanks.
Do not hesitate to give me an email address where I could contact you in private.

JR said...

Hey Patrice, if you're still checking around these parts, I have gotten new contact information for Terry (her first name).

Please e-mail me at "jrbanzon" @ gmail . com (without the quotes or the spaces) and I can pass it on to you.