May 26, 2009

Meet Joe Black (1998)

Meet Joe Black welcomes the appearance of a very innocent, very cute, and somewhat clueless DEATH in the corporeal form of a deliciously handsome Brad Pitt and follows him as he enters the physical realm of humankind and pays a special visit to a billionaire tycoon (Anthony Hopkins) about to meet his imminent end. Only of course will Death ever look like Brad Pitt in movie la-la land but to be perfectly honest, I think this is one of Pitt's best performances (and I'm generally scathingly harsh on the pretty boy's acting abilities). It has its flaws, of course (personally I think the ending should've happened a few minutes earlier than it does) but overall, it's a really sweet and quiet, reflective little film that you should pick up if you're in "that kind of mood."

The production designer was Dante Ferretti, a five-time Academy Award-nominee for his production designs for films like Interview with the Vampire (1994) and The Age of Innocence (1993). The budget for this film must've been massive because the entire interior set for the luxurious penthouse shown in the following images were entirely built up from scratch in a huge sound stage in Brooklyn. Even the pool was created for the sole purpose of the film!


Most of the decor is very traditional and conservative. The choice of furnishings and upholstery fits well with the architectural style of the building (love the ornate moldings!).



However, what made this film really stand out to me was the inclusion of all the fantastic pieces of modern art! I absolutely love the Rothkos, Kandinskies, Cezannes, Matisses, and Balthuses featured. They are a very refreshing contrast to the otherwise traditional decor. I feel like it says a lot about his character, as a man and as an entrepreneur, in that he believes in core, fundamental family values but at the same time takes bold, innovative risks and appreciates other like-minded creative revolutionaries. You can always tell a lot about a person by the type of art they're drawn to.




I also like his flair for hallway murals.


The pool room is also encased with an expansive mural:


Don't you just love the windows?!


Like, I said, except for the modern art, the rest of the penthouse is still very traditional:



Check out the beautiful silver. Wouldn't you love to use silver on a daily basis? During breakfast?!


And finally, I had to show these cakes. They are trying to decide which cake to serve for his upcoming birthday bash and these are smaller sample versions:



Sunday, I've always noticed the art in this movie too! I think the set designer did a terrific job of telling us about the character through the interior design. And I always wondered if he was inspired by William Paley and his art collection? I mean, in terms of being a mogul, not other traits necessarily.

Hmm, that's interesting, Courtney! I have to admit, I had to look up who William Paley was but after reading a few article about him, I definitely see the inspiration! I don't know if the production designer had Paley specifically in mind but that's a great connection you made there!

Something very interesting is the masonic reference in the background of the pool scene. It seems like not many have noticed but is on the wall, hot air balloon.

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