Anatomy of a Scene

The Secret Lives of Dentists

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Ted Glass ...
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A Viewer May Always Rely Upon The ANATOMY OF A SCENE Concept To Be Instructive While Entertaining.
22 October 2010 | by (Mountain Mesa, California) – See all my reviews

The increasingly popular ANATOMY OF A SCENE series, created for the Sundance Channel, has become a well-received staple included as an extra feature for a burgeoning number of DVD releases for fairly recently made films. This particular production is offered as a piece within a Columbia Special Edition of director Alan Rudolph's visually attractive melodrama, THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS, and it is prospectively instrumental in lifting the enjoyment level for viewers of Rudolph's intensely satisfying motion picture that is adapted from a novella written by Jane Smiley, "The Age of Grief", first published in 1987. Rudolph comments here that the strength of DENTISTS lies in its "evaluation of marriage". The ANATOMY scene we see depicted and studied has as its ostensible setting Tarrytown, New York, at an amateur production of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Nabucco and, as with each ANATOMY episode, it is segmented to include those cast and crew members responsible for the feature film, discussing this scene as well as the most significant elements of DENTISTS, from which it is excerpted. This ANATOMY is fashioned as follows:

(1.) The Scene - Discussion between director Rudolph, screenwriter Craig Lucas, female lead Hope Davis, and male lead Campbell Scott who describes his character, Dr. Dave Hurst, as "the king of non-confrontation".

(2.) The Adaptation - Lucas analyses Smiley's admirable effort and portrays Denis Leary's role as "the Id" of Dave Hurst. Additionally, Rudolph, Davis, and producer George Van Buskirk contribute to this segment.

(3.) Staging and Production - Here are interviews with production designer Ted Glass, and opera director Michael Capasso who reveals that the film's operatic ensemble and soloists for Nabucco are all lip sync-hing from an esteemed 1966 recording with Giangacomo Guelfi, Elena Suliotis, and Nicolai Ghiaurov.

(4.) Cinematography - Director of photography Florian Ballhaus and Rudolph examine the feature film's utilization of cross-processing and the method of bleach bypass.

(5.) Editing - DENTISTS' editor, Andy Keir, and Rudolph explain how the use of flashbacks is combined with musical scoring in order to "keep the rhythm of the film alive" (Rudolph).

(6.) Wrap - Final comments from Lucas, Davis, and Alan Rudolph. There are few predictable moments in DENTISTS, as this 30 minute short film helps to make clear. Rudolph is one of but a small number of American directors who can be legitimately labelled as an auteur, and from the evidence furnished by this ANATOMY piece, his artistry becomes even more manifest. There are several other "extras" offered with this DVD package; however, they are of meagre worth (deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and trailers), and it is this ANATOMY OF A SCENE, particularly when coupled with a commentary track shared by Rudolph and Scott, that will likely permit a viewer to fully appreciate a first-class cinematic production.


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