Friday Flicks November 1: “Terminator: Dark Fate” & “Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound”

M.V. MoorheadNovember 2019
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Opening wide this weekend:

Terminator: Dark Fate—Another day, another killer robot from the future for Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in this newest sequel to the sci-fi classic of 1984, directed by Tim Miller. This time the murderous cyborg has the handy multitasking ability of separating his handsome human form (Gabriel Luna) from his scary mechanical skeleton. He arrives in Mexico City to terminate Dani (the charming Natalia Reyes), a seemingly ordinary young factory worker. The bitter, careworn Sarah, who gets mysterious texts tipping her off to arriving Terminators, and rushes to them like a storm chaser to a tornado, joins forces with Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a human but “augmented” warrior from the future who is also defending Dani.

After wild, preposterously overscaled action scenes, the ladies meet up with another Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, who since completing his mission has adopted the name “Karl” and is working as a draper. The filmmakers decline to explain why a robot would develop gray hair and a salt-and-pepper beard over the decades, but it’s a good look for Arnie, so we let the question go.

Then more silly action scenes happen, and the story is resolved, more or less satisfyingly. The younger stars are appealing, but it’s the vets, Hamilton and Schwarzenegger, that give the film its heart. The two of them seem to have a ball upending iconic catchphrases from the earlier movies.

It’s moving to see how Hamilton has grown from the hapless, vulnerable heroine-in-peril from the original to the crusty warhorse she plays here. As for Schwarzenegger, he gets a few of the wittier deadpan lines he’s ever gotten to speak onscreen. He doesn’t let them go to waste.

At Harkins Shea:

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound—This documentary’s mission is to convince us of something that most serious film buffs already grasp: The importance of sound to the cinematic experience. This has been understood since long before the era of sound movies; silent films demand musical accompaniment, for instance, even more than talkies do.

Directed by veteran sound editor Midge Costin, the film starts by tracing, in quick, concise, by-the-decades segments, the history of movie sound design. We meet the giants of the field: Murray Spivack slowing down a lion’s roar and playing it backward to create King Kong’s baleful bellow; Barbra Streisand demanding Dolby for her Star is Born; Ben Burtt recording a bear begging for and enjoying bread to create the Wookie’s kvetching cries in Star Wars; the grand guru of them all, Walter Murch, and his cronies layering track after track to create the opening scene of Apocalypse Now.

The last and most informative part of Making Waves offers us a primer on the subdivisions of this art: ADR to dialogue editing to Foley and so forth, and the exacting process of assembling them all. It’s a good documentary on a great subject; it leaves us with a deeper appreciation of the creativity and painstaking discipline of these artists, and their contribution to our favorite movies. Through its clips, it also provokes the best reaction that a documentary about movies can: It makes you want to go watch the films it showcases.

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