Discussion in 'Community' started by TheEmperorsProtege, Aug 15, 2004.
it was quite good.
here's the trailer:
Premium Rush. It's a pretty lightweight movie, based around the basic premise that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a bike messenger and Michael Shannon is a crooked cop who wants to steal what he's delivering. It takes that premise and draws a lot of entertainment out of it, with a lot of very kinetic bike-chase scenes and humor. JGL is a great choice for the protagonist -- he has to pretty much carry the movie, and he's got exactly the right mixture of charm, intensity, intellect, and exasperation for the role. Michael Shannon is the other major component as the villain, and he plays the character not as a menacing heavy, but as a whiny, petulant, obnoxious asshat you can love to hate. It's a good call, as it keeps the film lighter, which is what makes it work. It's light, fun, and kinetic, and the bike-centric premise gives it the chance to make its action very unique and to play around with visualizations of the way JGL chooses his routes. Very solid.
Little Big Man. Blech. I could accept the silly premise (some guy who's almost as old as the oldest documented person to have ever lived lucidly recalling his life story), but it was campy as hell, the acting was mostly hammy or plain bad, the lines were cheesy. I don't get it.
Black Swan. I haven't see it since it was in theaters. This time around I can appreciate Natalie's performance. Still don't don't think she should have won Best Actress though.
X-Men: First Class. A pretty good film that still holds up on re-watching. I mean, aside from the well enumerated problems with the sudden shifts in Magneto's motivations and the generally rushed progress of the last 20 minutes or so. Still, probably the best entrant in this series after X2. Unfortunately, I noticed a completely nonsensical point. Charles advises Magneto to reach for the point "between rage and serenity." What does that even mean? I mean, his point that maximizing one's power isn't all about rage is well taken enough. But. . .that's not what he said. Instead, his point seems to imply that by being, I don't know, moderately displeased (?), he will get more results than being in a full blown fury. "Only be slightly less angry!" sounds completely idiotic. And yet, by choosing a spectrum that goes from "not angry" to "angry" and telling Eric to find a place between the two, that's pretty much what he guarantees. Am I missing something here?
Life of Pi. Good casting, gorgeous to look at, seamless CGI (apparently real tigers were used at points- I couldn't tell the difference). The novel is one of my favourites, and I never agreed that it was "unfilmable". Unfortunately Ang Lee makes a poor choice with the "second story", by having Pi almost literally narrate it to camera. Suraj Sharma's performance is fine, but it's basically a straight up reading of a passage from the book- and a condensed passage, at that. It was the ideal opportunity to play to the strength of the medium and do something the book couldn't do, which is to draw a visual parallel between the second story and the first one. Show us it, don't just tell us it, for goodness sake. It's meant to be the key scene.
The Hobbit. Yep, it's butter scraped over too much bread alright, but I love Martin Freeman in this role. And Middle Earth is hardly an eyesore. The real star, for me, is Howard Shore and his wonderful compositions. And just like the Prequel Trilogy, the score's many familiar references are the most effective echo of the original films. I can see old sets and old faces and feel nostalgia, but it's always hearing the old themes and motifs which send a chill up my spine.
Man Push Cart. Quietly devastating.
Watched Django Unchained again yesterday morning. Perfect movie is perfect.
And I rewatched Hunger Games last night. Kind of. Had it on in the background as I was doing other stuff. Still a good movie though.
Les Miserables. Amazing movie
Les Mis, yesterday.
I love this film and haven't read the book. I do see what you mean with your above critique WRT "the second story", but I disagree it's unfortunate. I think Lee and company made the right choice: to limit the revelation to a spoken monologue, to let "the second story" remain unseen, undramatized. I understand your disappointment; I think I would feel let down if, like you, I had read the book first, and expected this "second story" to be given the full cinematic treatment of dialogue, scoring, pacing, etc.
But ultimately I feel the film works well with that revelation constrained to speech. This way the veracity of the "second story" remains a question in the viewer's mind: 'which one was real?' we wonder as we leave the theater. The mystery invites post-film conjecture, provokes in-the-car-on-the-way-home discussion in a way that, had the "second" events been filmed, would be less ambiguous, less fun and less interesting. The fantasy remains foremost in the mind in place of the more mundane (and sad, and hard-to-take) "reality"... which is I think the very gist of the film's thematic underpinning.
F for Fake (1973) - Orson Welles
Art is a lie; a lie that makes us able to see the truth.
The final film completed by the great Orson Welles is a monument to his genius and his excess; in all Welles films I can see greatness behind the frames and also sense something lacking. And yet, even at his worst, Welles managed to make films that were intensely unique. Citizen Kane may not be the best film of all time, but there’s certainly not another quite like it. The same could be said for any number of others; as Gary Graver once stated when asked why he wanted to work for Welles, “I think there should be more Orson Welles films.” Amen, Gary, yea and amen.
To describe this film is impossible, but let’s take shot. Francois Reichenbach filmed a documentary about Elmyr de Hory, a man who claimed to have made his living by art forgery. He brought the film to Welles, hoping Welles would narrate it. With his usual panache, Welles asked if he couldn’t re-edit it and share credit. Reichenbach was thrilled; he was French, remember?
As Welles began to edit it, the consummate irony arrived; Reichenbach had been inspired to make the film after reading a book about De Hory, a book called Fake, a book by Clifford Irving who Reichenbach had interviewed extensively for the film. And then suddenly Clifford Irving’s heralded biography of Howard Hughes was revealed to be almost entirely fabricated and it became common knowledge that Irving himself was a forger, a fake, a conman, a liar. And Welles was off and running with a film that is moving, artistic, hilarious, ironic, witty, profound and absolutely unlike anything seen before or since.
Welles himself called it a film essay and that fits as well as any description could. It muses on the nature of truth and art and how the two relate. Welles focuses on de Hory briefly, skips to Clifford Irving, jumps from him to Howard Hughes, from Hughes to Welles’ own early career (what was War of the Worlds, after all, but a masterful forgery?) and from there to a hilarious interlude involving Oja Kador, Welles’ companion at the time, and a series of forged Picasso paintings.
In between, we muse on the nature of criticism, the nature of reality, the nature of perception, the nature of anonymity and everything else relating to art and truth. If this sounds like a head spinning film, it is. The editing style is frenzied; Graver remarks that the cuts were so fast that some cuts did not have negative numbers. The final joke: Orson Welles invented MTV. He’d love that, I think. I know I do.
There are moments of pure transcendence scattered throughout this baffling film. The movie opens appropriately with Welles showing off magic tricks to a befuddled youngster; he spends the rest of the film doing the same to us. A sequence musing on Welles’ early career is entertaining, hilarious and, almost unheard of for Welles, self-deprecating; “I started at the top and have been working my way down ever since,” he says ruefully and he can’t help but laugh. It’s a great laugh line, but it’s also the closest anyone has ever come to really summing Welles up. There’s a moment of raw poetry as Welles muses on the Chartres Cathedral, the pinnacle, in his mind, of human achievement, a work left . . . unsigned, with no name to give it definition.
And the last fifteen minutes are pure theater as Welles and Kador act out a confrontation between an angry and confused Picasso and a desperate, dying forger who seeks validation; it’s the consummate artistry and Welles’ performance, as the forger, is stunning.
Somewhere between the cuts, we see what Welles is driving at. Who was Howard Hughes really? Isn’t forgery in itself an art? Who really made this film, Welles, Reichenbach, de Hory or Irving? And aren’t they all, each and every one of them, firmly established liars? How can any art ever be ‘real?’ How can we ever know anything is ‘real?’ Welles, of course, provides no answers; Welles, as you can see from The Lady in Shanghai, for God’s sake, wasn’t interested in having things make sense. But still, this film, where Welles fully embraces the fragility of reality and art and wrestles with all the themes that he flirted with throughout his career is his final joke. You see, he’s finally definitely topped even Kane; he worked his way down for decades and then his last film . . . was and is his very best. Talk about a rabbit out of a hat.
5 out of 5 stars.
More Movie Reviews!
10 Year - Kind of what you expect from that kind of film. Someone does some dumb crap, someone falls in love, someone re-connects with old friends.
It was decent time travel flick. I'll watch it again.
Captain America, been watching Marvel movies today. On the Avengers now.
Life of Pi (2012, Lee)
Handsomely mounted film and certainly a return to form for Lee after the atrocious Taking Woodstock, but not quite hitting those Ice Storm and Sense and Sensibility highs. Claudio Miranda continues to impress, although I'd still say that the most picturesque and visually arresting film of the year is Skyfall (save for the fact that it's not 35mm... that is its tragedy). What was clearly difficult source material is unpackaged methodically and cleanly here - it's a good screenplay serviced by strong direction and strong performances. I don't know that it's a great film, but what it posits resembles my own opinions on faith, and I don't usually get to see that writ large in a quasi-spectacular film, so that was quite nice. I don't think I'll ever revisit it, but it was certainly worth a gander.
i was handsomely mounted by a young buck just the other day.
The Broadway Melody (1929, Beaumont)
At first I thought it was one of the more innocuous Best Picture winners, but it winds up being semi-effective thanks to Bessie Love's dated but impassioned performance as someone who gives up the love of her life so her idiot sister can live properly. Beaumont's direction is filled with slop merchantry, even for the time (the previous BP winner, Wings, looks positively slick compared to this, as does the work that Murnau and Borzage were doing in Hollywood at the same time), and it clunks and clangs along without a shred of fluency, but it does ultimately work.
Tom Hooper's Les Miserable. Excellent film. I can not recommend it highly enough.
Clearly I like both Life of Pi and Taking Woodstock more than you, but while I wouldn't agree the latter is atrocious, it is a let-down that, for one failing, depends on the viewer having seen another film, namely Woodstock, to understand what's going on. Lee and company leave out key details that, had we been given to know them, would have enhanced our emotion and increased our understanding of the events. Also, while presenting a fairly unvarnished view of the era, the filmmakers can never summon the bravery required to criticize my parents' generation for its failings; in the final scene Altamont is referenced, and the end of an era vaguely hinted at, but we don't understand what it means unless we happen to know what it means. The movie just kind of ends with no real sense of what we're to make of it all.
Life of Pi, on the other hand, is a genius-level tour de force IMHO, and the best of the films I saw in 2012.
The Sword of Doom. It was alright, but not he best Samurai movie I've seen. Main dude was awesome, and the the camera work was excellent. Also liked that our main protagonist was the Villain, but I think it also hurt the plot..
I like that one too. Though I agree it's not one of the best Samurai films out there.
It was also wierd watching a movie with Toshiro Mifune where he doesn't start yelling and going crazy over something. Though the scene where he kills a bunch a dudes in the snow was awesome.
Django Unchained. Overall, excellent. Tarantino has taken on a very delicate task in turning a narrative about slavery not just into entertainment, but into rollicking, humor-filled entertainment. He has to veer between moments of levity and moments of darkness and horror, and while it's impossible for the film to avoid feeling somewhat schizophrenic, it's remarkable how well he succeeds in balancing the two tones. Foxx is excellent as the taciturn Django -- initially hesitant and confused, but almost immediately taking to his situation as he comes to understand it, and building his self-confidence in a well-defined arc over the course of the film, and always driven by love. Waltz is tons of fun but also gets across a subtle transformation from a man academically opposed to slavery to a man fully exposed to it and repulsed into resolution to do something. I really want a Tarantino movie where he and Christopher Walken just talk at each other for two hours. DiCaprio is wonderful, malevolent but in a sort of detached, abstract way, treating Django with a sort of unconcerned, magnanimous intrigue rather than the direct hostility of everyone else. I really want DiCaprio to play more villains; he's so capable of playing slimy, smug bastards. Jackson gets to play against type as a hateful house slave who has so internalized his position as keeper of the plantation's order that he feels poisonous every second he's onscreen. His relationship with Candie is a nice additional bit of complexity, too. Washington enlivens a female role that could easily be underwritten as the object of desire; she has obvious strength despite her position, and Washington is able to give her a certain fire.
The third act has the odd choice of pausing the climax and restarting it over again, which is slightly clunky but does allow the finale to have a bit more distinctive buildup and punch, and has the benefit of establishing Django's ability to do for himself, without the helping white man's hand of Schultz. It's a very unique film, very good, and all the more impressive for how easily it could have gone wrong.
Trouble With The Curve
I'd be fine if Taking Woodstock just threw up ambiguity and functioned dramatically - but it's totally bereft of any real sense of conflict in any way shape or form. Even something like Dazed and Confused, a film that is more about capturing an era than anything else, so to speak, is rife with conflict that propels it. Taking Woodstock just sits there, and from a filmmaker who can do stuff like The Ice Storm that frustrates me to no end. It is comfortably Lee's worst film, and I say that having only missed Pushing Hands.
Jack Reacher (2012, McQuarrie)
Largely un-notable, and I'll have forgotten it by tomorrow, but I guess it's a semi-decent piece of entertainment. Much of the film's logic and behaviour doesn't hold up to scrutiny, but that can be said for a lot of films of its type. It seems to be a throwback to the Dirty Harry films more than anything, complete with all the helicopter shots for the opening titles. Cruise is very good, I didn't mind Pike, Duvall is good fun, but Herzog is totally disappointing. If you've got Werner Herzog and you're not getting him to talk about albino crocodiles or Mayan knuckle-spacing or whatever then there's no point. It's a film that is built for and by Cruise, and largely around him, but I'm somewhat concerned if McQuarrie is indeed doing Mission: Impossible - 5, as he seems to totally lack the filmmaking exuberance needed to tackle that franchise.
Ice Station Zebra (1968, Sturges)
That's all I have to say, really. But to elaborate: an awesomely deft and wonderfully witty supporting performance from Patrick McGoohan that completely elevates a rather stock-standard John Sturges man-venture. I thought it was damn good fun, anyway.