Wanna look like an Ewok next time Halloween rolls around? Well, Judge Gibron argues that you won't learn the steps to successful Endor emulation from this DVD presentation.
Let's play dress up!
We've all encountered the very same problem at some time in our life. We've been invited to a Halloween party or some fancy costumed shindig, and instead of arriving as something stupid (sheet with holes cut in it = ghost) or conceptual (taping cigarettes all over your suit and going as cancer), we really wish we could look like our favorite horror movie fiend. Perhaps not as fancy as a wigged werewolf or as lame as a fang-toothed vampire, but to arrive as something other than a clown, a hobo, or a '50s greaser (HEEEEEY…no!). Back in the day, it was tough to look expertly eerie. Unless your last name was Savini or Winston, it was almost a lock that you'd look rather ridiculous. Now, during the '70s, every comic book and macabre magazine had ads for the Dick Smith courses on the art of makeup. Think Charles Atlas and dynamic tension, except for the AV geek. Anyway, the undeniable master mascara manipulator, famous for his efforts on Little Big Man and The Exorcist, just to name a few, would give you ways to alter your familiar facade with pancake, a little eyeliner, and a whole lot of blending and powdering. The results could be interesting, if not always effective.
Now, modern effects wiz Bryan D. Furer, with credits including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mighty Joe Young, and that most hideous of fright fare, Baywatch (!!!), is now out to teach young and old how to work the mortician's wax into viable variations of fantastic fantasy faces. Not just content to bring out the beast in people, Furer uses his new DVD tutorial, Making Up Faces, to introduce the young artist to the ways of the pixie, the wood nymph, the harlequin, the glamour clown, and the sexy cat! Though it sets itself up as a visual lesson in the art of professional makeup, what this disc really represents is a painstaking portfolio of some of Furer's best work. Overall, these are theater-quality makeup effects, the kind that really sells the scares—or the surreality—to anyone sitting in the Mezzanine. But up close, you can tell it's just layers of Maybelline and Cover Girl, accented with lots of artistic flair. If the purpose of this production is to teach by doing, then professor Furer is a damn fine instructor. But many who really want the secrets to effective makeup will probably balk at the lack of clear step-by-step instructions.
After a brief intro by alleged "multimedia artist" DJ Colbert (who also has a master's in metaphysical science), we are taken to a small set where Furer proceeds to demonstrate 40 or so different looks. From zombie to car crash casualty, a high class mask look or a simple glitter-covered fairy, this obviously talented man treats us to a very basic collection of creations. Each installment goes a little something like this: the type of make-up—"perky clown"—is announced via a title card. Then we see the lucky subject sitting in a chair, sans applications. Then Furer's hands begin the meticulous process of make-up effects. All the while, like a Mary Lou Conroy of the blush-and-powder set, Colbert guides us through the techniques. "Remember to wax down those eyebrows," she chides. "Also take time to blend and smooth," she advises. Occasionally, Furer will make a comment or two ("Add lots of lines. Be creative") or even walk us through some of the more difficult techniques ("Make sure to blunt the edges of the plastic before applying it to your brow"). The result is a lot like those old Great Chefs PBS shows. Lots of demonstration and professionalism, but not a lot of hands-on hints or tips.
In essence, viewing this title is like having Furer "perform" for you for nearly an hour. Though the DVD cover art insists that you will "learn the basic art of blending color" and "see how to work with appliances," all this critic can confirm is that we do see some of these latex elements, but don't discover how to make them and, as for so-called blending color, if you call running a sponge over a couple of lines so they run together an art, then that's there, too. The disc offers nothing else—simple 1.33:1 video image, Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 sound (mostly narration and odd orchestral music), and no extras—so unless you are a visual, copycat learner, you won't be winning all those jobs away from Weta or KNB anytime soon. Instead, consider this DVD a litmus test regarding your love for film effects. If after watching Making Up Faces, you want to know more about the industry and techniques that Furer is involved in, then the presentation has done its job, but there's a lot more to make-up than shadows and contouring. Sadly, you'll have to find specific instruction on that somewhere else. Bryan Furer is talented, but his digital class is less than enlightening.
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