Denver 07: Rafelson & Kovács: The Kings Of Marvin Gardens

On Saturday afternoon here in Denver, the festival presented Bob Rafelson’s The King of Marvin Gardens as a tribute to the late cinematographer László Kovács (Shampoo, Frances, Say Anything) who passed away in July of this year and Rafelson, an Aspen, Colorado native, was on hand to introduce the show. He gave a lengthy introduction (possibly to offset the lack of a Q&A following the screening) reflecting on his method of working with a DP. For example, Rafelson has a definite idea of how he likes to have shots framed, as opposed to other directors who receive much more input from the cinematographer.
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Apparently Rafelson is a bit of a taskmaster for DPs, requesting “impossible” shots and leaving it to the cameraman to figure out how to make it work. In the course of the intro, he revealed an interesting little tidbit about the making of the film in that often, conversations between two characters were filmed in two completely different locations. For example, the movie goer might assume that Jack Nicholson and Ellen Burstyn were in the same location while their characters were having a conversation when in fact the two halves of the scene may have been shot separately, often miles apart. A particular lighting challenge for the DP.
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After some very touching remarks and anecdotes about Kovács, Rafelson ended his intro by saying: “I hope you like the film” and referring to Kovács, “This is his work.”
Later that evening at the dinner for festival gala screening of Juno, I stopped Rafelson to mention that it was the first time I had seen the film earlier and that I’d enjoyed it immensely. He confided in me that he haden’t seen it since he’d finished it, only sticking around screenings to see if the print was ok, but was glad I had liked it. “It’s a little raunchy,” he allowed. “So what?” I responded. “What’s wrong with that?” “Right!” was his delighted reply.
Photos: Bob Rafelson introduces The King of Marvin Gardens; Denver Film Festival founder/artistic director Ron Henderson watches Rafelson’s intro.

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