Saturday, June 29, 2013


First, thanks to the great turnout we had Friday night for Blancanieves, and to Anne Arenstein for leading the post-film discussion.

Tonight (Saturday, June 29) at 7:30 p.m. at the Art Academy, we'll be presenting a terrific psychological thriller than certainly is a true mindbender, the British movie Berberian Sound Studio. We will have tickets at the door for $10. But until 3:30 today, you can buy them for a discounted $8.75 from Brown Paper Tickets, just by clicking on the button to your right. Either way, hope you can make it -- this is really a though-provokingly weird movie that uses sound creatively and provocatively.

Any questions, call 513-535-0936

Friday, June 21, 2013

Everything You Need to Know About the June 28-30 Mindbenders: Far-Out Films Series in Cincinnati

(Photo is from the film Blancanieves; see below for information)

Ticket and film information
for Mindbenders: Far-Out Films series 
June 28-30, Art Academy of Cincinnati
1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati. 
(Advance tickets available through fair-trade Brown Paper Tickets and  can be purchased via the button on your right.)

Hello, everyone, and thanks for your interest in the June 28-30 Mindbenders: Far-Out Films series at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, 1212 Jackson St. in the exciting Over-the-Rhine district.

The festival, presented by Pumpkin Productions in partnership with Cincinnati Film Society and the Art Academy, is designed to bring to Cincinnati  three first-run "art films." The first two are cutting-edge in their use of cinematic techniques to further their storytelling. The third, Ornette: Made in America, is a documentary about an artist in another field (jazz) who is dedicated to ground-breaking experimentation.

Here are the three movies that will be presented:
Friday, June 28, 7:30 p.m.

This new movie was Spain's submission for Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar this year. It also won Spain's Goya Award for Best Picture of the Year. Directed by Pablo Berger, it adapts the Snow White story to the world of the bullring in 1920s-era Analusia. Fittingly, to create the dreamlike vision that has been praised by Pedro Almodovar, it is a black-and-white silent movie (with a sumptuous score). It features Maribel Verdu Rollan in a wonderful star turn -- you may know her from "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien." Anne Arenstein, Cincinnati CityBeat arts critic and silent-movie aficionado, will lead a discussion after the screening. For more information about the film, visit
Berberian Sound Studio
Saturday, June 29, 7:30 p.m.

This psychological thriller, just released in New York to rave reviews, is from British director/screenwriter Peter Strickland and stars Toby Jones, who memorably has played Truman Capote in "Infamous," Alfred Hitchcock in "The Girl" and Karl Rove in "W." Both Strickland and Jones won Best Of  prizes at last year's British Independent Film Awards. 

Jones plays a motion-picture sound-design expert who is working on the audio track of an Italian horror picture and perhaps is not completely satisfied with his assignment or the environment. Not to give too much away, but this film is -- besides being a terrific thriller -- a deeply thoughtful look on the nature of sound (in movies and in life) and how what you hear is not always what you get. It's been compared to "The Conversation" and "Blow-Out." 

There will be post-film discussion led by CityBeat arts writer Steven Rosen. 

Ornette: Made in America
Sunday, June 30, 2 p.m.

Already an American icon for pioneering free jazz when he participated in this long-out-of-print 1985 documentary, saxophonist Ornette Coleman has stayed one of our most revered and fearless artists.

 Shirley Clarke, the now-deceased filmmaker of "Ornette: Made in America," was critically important to the development of American-independent film, too, with her documentaries and dramatic explorations of New York's wild side ("The Connection"). This film, then, is a meeting of great artistic minds. 

This restored version of the film is from Milestone Films, which has an ongoing project to bring Clarke's work back into the public eye. Steve Kemme, a local jazz expert, University of Cincinnati instructor and former Enquirer writer, will lead a post-film discussion. 

For more information, visit


Tickets for each show are available in advance for $8.75, by choosing the drop-down menu  for the specific film or films on the Brown Paper Tickets button on the right. We will be charging $10 per film when you buy at the door. If there are any questions, please call 513-535-0936 or send an email to 



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Berberian Sound Studio featured in Sunday New York Times

What Dissonant Sound Looks Like

Toby Jones (with Tonia Sotiropoulou) plays a film studio sound recordist in Peter Strickland’s “Berberian Sound Studio.” More Photos »
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No people were harmed in the making of “Berberian Sound Studio,”but fruits and vegetables didn’t fare too well.
John Travolta as a sound engineer in Brian De Palma’s “Blow Out” (1981).More Photos »

In this British thriller, a sound engineer, Gilderoy (played by Toby Jones), arrives for his first day at an Italian studio unsure of what kind of movie he will be working on. Then footage of a brutal attack is unspooled for him. But as that plays, the viewers’ eyes are directed to a table with a microphone, on which two men create the sound of the attack by using machetes and hammers on melons. Gilderoy realizes that he, too, will soon be laying waste to various forms of produce in the service of movie art.
While films about the filmmaking process are abundant, most make directors, actors or screenwriters their central characters. Far fewer have set their sights on below-the-line talent like editors or costume designers.
“Berberian Sound Studio,” in theaters and on demand starting on Friday, is one of a handful that put sound work in the spotlight, and in a variation of the axiom “Write what you know,” more than one arose from a filmmaker’s own experiences behind the scenes. Probably the best known is “Blow Out,” from Brian De Palma, but they also include Wim Wenders’s “Lisbon Story,” from 1994, which follows a sound engineer around Portugal, and American indies like “Soundman” (1998), in which a sound mixer’s obsession with a violinist leads to violence, and “Nobody Walks,” from last year, about disruptions in a sound designer’s family life.
A person holding a microphone or sitting at a mixing board adjusting faders may not at first seem like the most compelling cinematic subject. The challenge is supplying creative visuals to illuminate characters focused on the aural.
“Berberian Sound Studio” takes an unconventional approach, keeping its film within a film off screen. Directed by Peter Strickland, “Berberian” is set in the ’70s, during the boom in Italian giallo (thrillers, mysteries and horror films). Its characters are working on a horror picture called “The Equestrian Vortex,” which has no shortage of shocking imagery. But the only moment the audience sees is its opening credit sequence. The camera instead finds other elements like actresses in sound booths recording their screams, the light from the movie screen flickering on their faces.
As the movie explores the dire psychological effect those images have on Gilderoy, Mr. Strickland looked for dissonant, visceral ways to illuminate the sound production process. “If you take this very ridiculous image of grown men smashing watermelons, but couple that with very repellent violence,” he said by phone from London, “when you’re watching it, you think: ‘Should I laugh? Should I walk out?’ It’s quite disorienting.”
In addition to watermelon and cabbage stabbings, the film devotes considerable time to quieter aspects of a sound engineer’s job: spooling tape, looking at dubbing charts (a kind of sound storyboard) and keenly, and attentively, listening. Mr. Jones said that last action was crucial to his performance.
“In any role, your listening is important,” Mr. Jones said by phone from London. “But what I found useful was to try and register, so that an audience could see it, shifts in my body, shifts in my breathing. The change the character undergoes is so gradual and, in a way, like a dimmer switch, even though the things he’s seeing and hearing are so extreme. I learned to trust the power of working on a very small spectrum.”
Working on a larger spectrum was John Travolta, who played a sound recordist for B-horror movies who accidentally records the murder of a presidential hopeful in Mr. De Palma’s 1981 thriller, “Blow Out.” Mr. De Palma, known for his focus on visual style, drew from his own experience with a sound editor.
“When I was mixing ‘Dressed to Kill,’ ” — his “Psycho” pastiche from 1980 — “I was working with sound effects editor Dan Sable, who had done a bunch of movies for me,” Mr. De Palma said by phone. “We were looking for an effect. We had some wind in the trees, and I heard the effect he used and said: ‘Dan, I’ve heard that same wind effect in the last three movies. Can’t you get me some new sound?’ ” (They both laughed; the next day Mr. Sable went out to record some new wind.) Mr. De Palma wrote a scene in “Blow Out” that is taken almost directly from this exchange.
While the film involves a serial killer and features elaborately staged action sequences, Mr. De Palma makes time for detailed moments that explore his main character’s work. In a crucial scene, he syncs his recording to film images of the same event. “I did this as an editor, and sound editors do it, but I don’t think anybody had ever seen the process,” he said.
The whirring reels, large recording equipment and rolls of audiotape seen in “Blow Out” and “Berberian Sound Studio” are artifacts of the pre-digital filmmaking eras in which these movies take place. The imposing hardware, as well as the sounds it produces, plays a supporting role, too. Joakim Sundström, the supervising sound editor for “Berberian,” said that his team used digital equipment but he gave the sound a retro feel.
“What I did was take the majority of sounds that were in the film and I retransferred them onto magnetic tape and quarter-inch tape,” Mr. Sundström said.
“Nobody Walks,” by contrast, puts a sound man in a more contemporary setting. In that 2012 film from Ry Russo-Young, John Krasinski plays a sound designer helping a young artist (Olivia Thirlby) with the sound mix on her art film, a collaboration that leads to an affair.
“From my own experience of working on films with editors and in the creative fields, you’re sitting in a dark room with somebody into the night, working relentless hours,” Ms. Russo-Young said by phone. “There’s an intimacy there, and that was one of the things I was interested in exploring.”
Then again, sound itself could serve as a metaphor for that intimacy.
(This film will be getting its Cincinnati premiere at 7:30 p.m., Saturday June 29, as the centerpiece of Mindbenders: Far-Out Films, a series being presented at Art Academy of Cincinnati. Discounted advance tickets ($8.75) are available through the Pay Pal button on this site.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mindbenders. Special page if shows are sold-out


If  you have been automatically forwarded to this page by PayPal while trying to buy a ticket to one of the films in the Mindbenders series, it's because that screening has sold out. HOWEVER, we do have a waiting list and we also may be able to add seats or even have additional screenings, so please call the waiting list at 513-535-0936 or E-mail to get put on the list.