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The Way It Is (1985)

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Cast

Cast overview:
Kai Eric ...
Marc / Orphee
Boris Major ...
Eurydices
...
Victor / Heurtebise
Jessica Stutchbury ...
Vera / The Grim Reaper
...
Hank / Azrael
...
Willy / Raphael
Rockets Redglare ...
Rockets
Edwige ...
Rebecca / Aglaonice (as Edwige Belmore)
Danny Rosen ...
Eurydices' boyfriend
Eric Mitchell ...
The Undertaker
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Storyline

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Release Date:

4 April 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Euridice on the Avenues  »

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Trivia

After the premiere at the Bleecker Street Cinema, I overheard someone wondering how "the dialogue was out of sync but the rest of sound was in sync?" The entire film was shot without sync sound, except for the "witnesses" scenes that were added during post-production, because Eric Mitchell didn't have the budget to rent a Nagra sync tape recorder. A bold decision to "fix it in post" ;-) Producer Dan Sales (my classmate at Brown University) screened the rough cut for me with dialogue (very) loosely dubbed - Eric accepted the inexperienced actors' clueless attempts to lip-sync as an "artistic" decision, he once told me like the French New Wave films. Dan asked me, "You're a sound guy, what do I do now?" I recorded Foley sound effects for Scarface, Silkwood, and many other films, notably Rumblefish which had several scenes where the sound was entirely added in post-production. I wanted to transition to sound editing, and I had been the sole editor for an independent film A Shade of Gray. I told Dan we needed to add layers of sound: the specific SFX, the SFX in the background of the scenes, roomtones, and Foleys. I was in between jobs collecting unemployment, so I accepted the challenge of becoming the Sound Designer and Supervising Sound Editor - and Eric didn't have any budget to pay me. I walked around the locations in the film with Eric recording sound on a professional cassette machine we borrowed from Times Square director Allan Moyle. I had access to the SFX library at Sound One where I had worked, they let me transfer SFX to our 16mm mag stock after hours for free. A High School classmate owned a video studio where we recorded the Foleys. The cinematographer's Liza Minelli look-alike girlfriend was the Foley Walker. Then I started the daunting task of layering the sounds to bring the film to life. I also added the music composed by Vince Gallo. I spent an afternoon in his Chinese-taking-over-Little-Italy tenement walk-up selecting music. I also remember thinking that Steve Buscemi and Vince Gallo in their debut feature film roles were mad talented. See more »

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User Reviews

Permanent Vacation's little hidden cousin
17 March 2014 | by (Paris, France) – See all my reviews

The Way It Is or Eurydice in the Avenues (title as seen on screen) played tonight at French Cinematheque, in Paris, in front of a crowd of about 40 people, seriously silent while facing this quite hard-to-follow homage to Cocteau and film noir, mixing street theater rehearsals and no-budget sequences revolving around the death of an aspiring actress set to play Eurydice. The long flashback is reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard, just to add to the influences.

Seeing Gallo and Buscemi in their first roles was quite moving, they were the only able actors out of the bunch, and really get something out of their scenes. Gallo, always in a white tank top, already lands this tormented lover profile (never loses his cool though), and Buscemi gets to play the unfathomable funky sidekick (at one point, with Kai Eric, he attempts a sort of break dance routine, throwing himself onto a cardboard layer in Central Park).

Filming was done in B&W 16mm, mostly in the street and very obviously without any permission by NY authorities ! Most of the filming was done without any sound and so got entirely post-synchronized, quite badly to say the least, but verism was probably not the main goal of Eric Mitchell, who deliberately sticked to the New Wave "artificial academism". At one point the bunch of friends go to a cinema and watch Mad Max (a whole sequence of the Miller's film can be seen), and then debate about it at a cafe terrace.

New York is nicely captured, as a quiet, sunny, seemingly broke-down neighborhood with hardly any cars, just bikes and pedestrians in no haste. The long closing credits sequences (5 minutes, with a wonderful dream-jazzy score by Gallo) is a series of moving vignettes across the streets of New York, with decrepit building facades filmed from the streets with a tilted viewpoint.

The film has a plot, but doesn't try too hard to have a story. I guess it can be seen as a poetic statement, or as a declaration of love to film, to theater or to NY... or most likely to all of these at the same time. The amateurism doesn't make it as magnetic or unforgettable as its royal brother, Permanent Vacation.


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