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Something's Gonna Live (2010)

"Daniel Raim has followed his Oscar-nominated The Man on Lincoln's Nose, a warm and illuminating short documentary on renowned production designer Robert Boyle with the equally delightful ... See full summary »

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"Daniel Raim has followed his Oscar-nominated The Man on Lincoln's Nose, a warm and illuminating short documentary on renowned production designer Robert Boyle with the equally delightful and thoughtful feature-length Something's Gonna Live. Raim again focuses on Boyle but brings in Boyle's friends and fellow art directors, the late Henry Bumstead and the late Albert Nozaki, who worked together at Paramount in the early 30s. Raim follows the three on a visit to that studio, and later Boyle and storyboard artist Harold Michelson return to Bodega Bay, the site of The Birds, one of Boyle's five films with Alfred Hitchcock. (Bumstead made four with Hitchcock and designed Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, released the year of his death, 2006, at the age of 91.) Finally, Boyle discusses making In Cold Blood with the late cinematographer Conrad Hall and The Thomas Crown Affair with cinematographer Haskell Wexler. "Boyle and his colleagues admit to missing the camaraderie of the... Written by Kevin Thomas

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27 August 2010 (USA)  »

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A Buoyant, Moving Portrait of 3 Filmmaking Musketeers and Friends
3 September 2010 | by (Whitehall, PA) – See all my reviews

Daniel Raim's moving, exhilarating documentary SOMETHING'S GONNA LIVE (SGL) sets its tone perfectly with this opening line from Haskell Wexler, one of SGL's many legendary Oscar-winners and nominees responsible for countless classic movies: "If you're gonna spend your time doing the best you can doing s**t, then why do it? If you were to spend your time giving to future generations some of the benefits of your knowledge, maybe that's a way of having a legacy. That's a way of having a kind of morality so that Bob Boyle's never gonna die, and I'm not gonna die, and something's gonna live, and I think that's a pretty valuable thing." Amen to that! With the emphasis so many modern filmmakers place on dazzling moviegoers with CGI and pyrotechnics, it's easy to forget the talented people who've always worked behind the scenes, creating movie magic with techniques predating our current digital age. The film is bursting with absorbing, entertaining anecdotes about the golden age of filmmaking, including appearances by Wexler, director of photography Conrad L. Hall, and storyboard artist Harold Michelson. As if these greats didn't already make SGL a must-see for film lovers, Raim focuses most keenly on three longtime friends and colleagues at the twilight of their lives: Robert F. Boyle, production designer, and art directors Henry Bumstead and Albert Nozaki.

Al had the most crosses to bear, what with retinitis pigmentosa slowly stealing his eyesight, and his incarceration at Manzanar with scores of other Japanese-Americans in the wake of Pearl Harbor for no other reason but the shape of their eyes — one of the most outrageous and shameful episodes in U.S. history. I was in awe of Al's incredible grace and fortitude under the circumstances.

Bob matter-of-factly muses, "I think everybody's here by accident. At any moment, anybody could get canceled. Then there are all those things that we do to ourselves. In my case, I overindulged in almost everything. I smoked too much, I drank too much, I lived too long." Nevertheless, on screen the trio's increasing physical frailty doesn't slow down their sharp minds. These men are just as witty, smart, and on the ball as any young hotshots. I especially liked Bummy's quips about film sets that don't look lived-in enough, like one that was supposed to be in a house full of kids: "There isn't a mark on anything. They must be well-disciplined children!" No doubt the love that Bob, Al, and Bummy had for their professions kept them young in mind and spirit over the years -- proof of the importance of spending your life doing what you truly love, if you're lucky! The gents were pretty darn dashing, too, wearing suits and ties on the set of such classic films as THE BIRDS and NORTH BY NORTHWEST. As an Alfred Hitchcock fan, I especially enjoyed these particular anecdotes, including Bob's theory that if Hitchcock was alive and making movies today, he'd happily use the current digital technology as long as it truly served the story's purposes. Bob and Harold's return to Bodega Bay after 37 years was one of the film's highlights. Bob, Bummy, and Al joke about being "three old farts," "three old bastards", and "three tottering people," but Bob got it right when he described them all as "three old soldiers." Raim caught the friends on film just in time. Sadly, 91-year-old Bummy died in 2006; Al died at the same age in 2003; and Bob died this past August at the milestone age of 100. Still, I felt like I'd had a chance to be part of their outfit for 80 minutes; it was a pleasure and a privilege to get a look at these men's exciting, meaningful lives being truly lived to the fullest.

SGL is like a fond, wistful, yet buoyant time machine voyage, deserving a place on the must-see list of anyone who loves movies inside and out. It's a thoroughly entertaining yet heartfelt documentary with much to say about the art, heart, and soul of filmmaking, as well as the duration of friendships, the passage of time, the team effort required in such endeavors, and the legacies that all talented people inevitably leave to enrich generations of creative artists to come. I, for one, am pulling for SGL to achieve the widespread success it deserves!


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