What movie have you seen recently?


#281

I finally watched “Stand By Me.” Damn this is a great movie. It really captures the essence of boys trying to have an adventure while trying to deal with real world circumstances. I didn’t know Wil Wheaton did anything besides being an annoying brat on Star Trek TNG. He’s actually really good in this, as is the rest of the cast.

There’s definitely some lines where its obvious that its kids acting but most of it comes off authentic. I’d say its a solid 9/10.


#282

Finally got around to watching Moana (or “Vaiana” as it was retitled in my region alongside of the title character). This was surprisingly excellent. Loved the songs, the setting, the animation, the voice acting. There are some small issues with it, e.g. the scene where they retrieve the hook kind of feels like a needless diversion, but at the same time introduces a show-stealing character who then just is gone afterward. But still, between this and Zootopia Disney proper has regained pretty much the top of animation in the world.


#283

Last night the historic theater near me showed a double feature of:

Harold and Maude: Everyone in my group kept comparing it to The Graduate, because Cat Stevens does the whole soundtrack, Simon and Garfunkel style. Also it’s about the relationship between a young man and an older woman. But Harold and Maude is much more whimsical and endearing and surprisingly funny.

Stop Making Sense: The Talking Heads making the best concert film ever! I saw it last year for the first time, and freaked out a little when I saw that it was on this year’s schedule. Even if you’re not the biggest Talking Heads Fan, it’s so fun and energetic and absurd that I’d still recommend it.


#284

I wasn’t a fan of Dunkirk, it was all tension and build up with no real payoff. It’s not a very emotional movie as we have relatively little emotional connection of any of the protagonists. That’s a deliberate choice by Nolan to make the story about the everyman. Yet at the same time we’re supposed to cheer and clap at the triumph of the civilian fleet arriving and at Churchill’s speech when we don’t see the ships getting rallied nor the British people really banding together. I get that Nolan is trying to portray as realistic a war as possible with morally ambivalent characters but it comes off too cold that it feels unrealistic in how little emotion, especiall joy, any of the characters show in one of the feel good but bittersweet events of WW2.

Nolan does a bad job capturing the emotions of the event entirely. He deliberately goes out of his way to avoid war cliches which is nice but he goes too far in that the movie fails to capture what a triumph Dunkirk was in terms of patriotism and morale but with an underlying understanding that its a bittersweet victory given they never imagined it would become so desperate and that the war has only begun. He certainly tries to salvage it in the end but none of the storylines show the emotion I’m describing adequately. Dunkirk is a very pretty historical reenactment piece. Its the short action scenes in between narration that you see in documentaries. But as a movie, as a narrative, as historical window into minds of the past, I see it as a failure.

Also I hate the nonstop blaring soundtrack of the movie. So many long stretches of pointless noise to build tension that you eventually get used to it and none of the scenes feel tense anymore because the movie has been screaming at you for over an hour.


#285

Nope; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for what ever reasons film never managed to keep my interest. My recollection of the events remain… spotty (heh heh). The story is very much like Vanilla Sky, which I do like, and yet…


#286

Re: Dunkirk, I actually appreciate that the film doesn’t put any more emotion into it than it does. We can figure out what the emotions might be for all involved, without it being shown in any way whatsoever. The film gives us the events, we have to populate the minds of those who were in it. I think if it was anything more than “a very pretty historical reenactment piece” then it would no longer be about the survival of the men on the ground but about the war. I accept and appreciate that this story is about men surviving Dunkirk, not about any greater context of Britain at war or the impact of this event on the war. The film could never do all of those themes justice anyway, it would be too far outside the scope. From the limited perspective of those men, most of the people at home don’t matter, the war doesn’t really matter, even the Nazi’s are an invisible nemesis over the hill, save for a few bomber planes. We don’t see beyond the events as they unfold but that’s a conscious decision of the film.

The payoff of the Dunkirk is that there is no payoff. The subtext I took of the Churchill speech the one soldier reads (insofar as the soldiers are parsing it) is, “You survived: well and good. Welcome to a future of more war, more bombs, more of what you survived.” From our shared perspective with the men the only payoff is a few beers and a moment of rest, or an obituary in the paper mostly used as propaganda.

I agree that the arrival of the small boats was too triumphantly framed. I would have shot it as just another thing happening and weary men thinking “oh great another crazy scheme that will likely drown half of us” instead of an uproarious cheer: But who knows, it may be that there were journals stating exactly what they were thinking and doing when they saw the boats. I take if that there was some good research done on such fronts in the production of the film.

In any case, I don’t think the film failed in any way at what it chooses to present. One could be left wanting more scope and that’s a valid thing to wish the film had, but to say it’s the film’s fault is not something I would agree with.

The soundtrack was overdone at times, I agree there. I was fine with most of it, a few moments got too much and like you say, just gets tuned out. Also the soundtrack often did drown out dialogue (at least in my viewing on a 70mm setup in NYC) to the point that I probably missed 10-20% of what was said. I’m not sure if that is universal and intentional choice by the production or an artifact of how it was presented. But it didn’t really diminish the experience overall it just made me focus less on what was being said than on just watching the actions.


#287

Rigor Mortis is a modern jiangshi (hopping vampire) movie from a few years ago. It’s not amazing or anything, but kinda fun if you like the old ones. I appreciate that it’s not a remake of anything and most of the cast were also in movies like Mr. Vampire back in the day.


#288

I would say then that Nolan choose possibly the worst historical battle to do the “soldiers desperately only looking for survival instead of glory” subversion trope. Because men surviving desperately while surrounded applies to pretty much every losing battle ever. But Dunkirk isn’t that because at the end of the operation, morale and patriotism was extremely high whereas Nolan depicts it as being very low among soldiers. You could argue that he’s muted the emotions of the event intentionally to emphasize their struggles, except he tries to have it both ways considering Kenneth Branagh’s does nothing besides being a vessel for reacting patriotically.

I don’t think its hard to have a greater context to the event considering Nolan’s attempts to strip away context by deliberately not using the word “Nazi” and etc to make it feel like a war without time and place. But even beyond not having context, Nolan doesn’t focus on what Dunkirk represents and why we have the phrase “Dunkirk spirit.” As you say, Nolan makes it about about the survival of the men on the beach when the “miracle at Dunkirk” is really about the mobilization of civilians and their bravery.

Nolan is being a cheeky experimental writer by not taking the obvious path but being cheeky and subversive doesn’t automatically mean its good. What I’d say is Nolan’s movie is is being subversive for the sake of being subversive.That’s why he refuses to use CGI for any of the beach and aerials shots so it looks like there’s 1000 people being evacuated and not 400,000 and 3 spitfires vs. a handful of Stukas instead of a huge aerial battle. That’s why he deliberately mixes his sound so that dialogue is unclear and passes it as artistic choice: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/christopher-nolan-breaks-silence-interstellar-749465

Personally, I’m not a fan of his experiments, especially not in Dunkirk where I think his tinkering does a disservice to the historical event.


#289

We watched The Man From UNCLE. It’s my second time. It’s crazy and fun. Juliane and I agreed that Alicia Vikander is unfeasibly beautiful as an East German car mechanic.


#290

War for the Planet of the Apes is absolutely incredible and officially pushes the reboot series as one of the best film trilogies of all time. War even stands out as the best of the three, giving a full circle close to Caesar’s arc and having the best human antagonist in the form of Woody Harrelson.

The movie is is largely focused on ape interaction and sign-language subtitles than any of the others. It is not about large battle compared to how Dawn was; I’d put it more of a story like The Road or The Last of Us. Although much of the action and conflict is dealt with how Caesar wishes to interact with the humans, Maurice gets a really subtle character development from his desire to help others. Even the one new element who’s used for comic relief called Bad Ape feels very natural in the film.

This is now my #2 movie of the year. Matt Reeves has said he’d want to do some stories in-between movies that I would be all for, since there’s very interesting human-ape alliances going on and singular stories that can branch off from what was built in this last film. See this movie.


#291

I watched two Alejandro Jodorowsky classics, The Holy Mountain and El Topo. They were both mentioned in (the amazing) Jodorowsky’s Dune. Going in, my thought was “These are going to be two weird art-house films.” Of course!

I’m not sure there’s much I can say about them. They both follow a sort of dream logic that loosely connects the scenes and contain plenty of misshapen people. The Holy Mountain seems to be an introduction to Jodorowsky’s magical philosophy—what’s right, what’s wrong, with a message empowering people to change. El Topo is a slightly more coherent story about a wandering gunslinger. It starts off about righting wrongs, becomes a misguided quest to become the best, and ends with atonement.

I’d only recommend them if you like weird art-house movies or, like me, are curious about Jodorowsky’s early movies.


#292

I went to the theater yesterday and watched Spider-man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman back to back. Both are very good and I am actually glad that DC finally managed to put out a good movie instead of trite BS. I still liked Spider-Man better but both are worth a watch.


What I particularly liked about Spider-man is that they essentially skip all of the origin story stuff. At this point it is kind of unnecessary since pretty much everybody already knows it already anyway. It is kind of refreshing without having the constant refrain of “With great power comes great responsibility”. Kind of sneakily these words, while unspoken, are still the core of the movie as it is largely about hubris.

The movie also has an excellent little twist in the middle of it which I won’t spoil, but I loved how the tension was just racheted up in the scenes following. Also there is another little twist set up at the very end that I get a great kick out of.

I also loved the very diverse casting. I mean it still white-bread Peter Parker instead of Miles Morales (and in retrospect I find it funny that they gave a role to Donald Glover who a couple of years ago a lot of fanboys had wanted to play the lead in a Miles Morales Spider-Man film) but in the movie you have a bunch of different kids just interacting and nobody raises a stink about what race they are. I was particularly surprised that they made Flash an indian guy. I do find it weird though that a lot of the characters do not have a last name but I guess this is done to obscure things and have fans of the comics keep guessing.


Wonder Woman was also very good and as said above I am happy that DC finally managed to put out a competent movie. It still has some big flaws though. The first thing is the color palette most of the movie is just 15 shades of concrete and little else. You could think this is because its a War movie but even the scenes set on the island of the amazones at the beginning of the film are kind of washed out. Looking at some stills from the film on Google image search it might have been a projection issue, but considering this is week 7 of the movie in my region I would hope its not and the stills aren’t that much of an improvement either.

This really becomes a problem during the fight scenes. A lot of them are set at night and you have trouble following the action due to rapid cuts showing one dark blob interacting with another dark blob from various angles. It’s not transformers bad because there is no shaky cam but I think they could have done a better job framing such fight scenes.

Also muddled is a bit of the character arc of Diana. It’s good that she has an arc in that she has to grow as a person and accept that her worldview is off and has to correct it, even if it is painful to admit for her, but this is also coupled with a fish-out-of-water setup for part of the movie which muddies the waters a bit.

And little bit of nitpicky, but the framing device (which is actually partially literally) is kind of unnecessary. The only thing it does is establish that Diana is still around in modern day while almost the entire film is set during World War I (a good and underutilized setting in my opinion), but it serves little to the movie itself. For one the film starts with an establishing shot of the Louvre because “cool location” I guess but in retrospect is actually kind of distracting. The framing device is supposed to tie the movie to BvS a bit, particularly with a truck with a big “Wayne Enterprises” logo in the foreground, but it is hardly perfect there because it doesn’t give you any insight there. The movie shows a photograph of Diana with her comrades in war and then starts into the bulk of the film. Seeing the photograph center frame you would think a match cut would come to the moment the photo was taken but instead it starts with Diana as a child. I think the match-cut and later flashback-within-a-flashback would have done better cinematically, or they could have just cut the whole of the first couple of scenes, started directly with Diana as a child perhaps with a voice over, and at the end of the movie just gone back to the scene with the photograph and match cut to Diana looking at the photo again.

Also, while I like that they gave a native american actor a role it does seem a bit out of place that a native american character is near the western front of World War I.

It is still a good movie, mostly because the characters don’t all act like complete assholes all the fucking time. It is leaps and bounds ahead of any other DC superhero movie.


#293

Donald Glover’s role in Spider-Man was Miles’ Uncle, so that sen was to hint at Miles being present in the MCU.

I saw Wonder Woman opening weekend and I noticed a sharp division between the color on the island and the grayness in the modern world.

The group that Diana and Steve work with are legacy characters straight out of the old comics. The Director gave the actor playing Chief a very light hand in what to say and how to act, but the character was part of the source material.


#294

I watched The Incredible Jessica James on Netflix. It’s an okay movie which feels like a TV show in terms of production quality and story, but maybe they didn’t have enough to make into a series or mini-series. My only problem with it was that Jessica Williams, the lead actor in the movie, was noticeably the weakest main actor in the whole thing, including the child actors. Which is a pity, because she’s a very engaging screen presence otherwise.


#295

After watching Stand by Me, I read the oral history that Variety wrote, this bit is hilarious:

O’Connell: I’m married to Rebecca Romijn, a beautiful model. She’s way out of my league, a million times out of my league. About three months into dating, my wife is from Berkeley, and I went up there to met her high school friends. We got a little drunk and her high school best friend said to me, ‘you know, ‘Stand by Me’ is Rebecca’s favorite movie of all time. You know she had posters of it all over her room growing up.’ She never told me that.


#296

I watched Hudson Hawk. What a pile of garbage. It looked super expensive with an amazing cast, and I can see the satirical angle they aimed for… but holy shit was it a disaster.


#297

Maybe I’m a child, but I love watching dead pool lol. I’ve seen it probably 10 times and even though I know all the jokes, they still make me roll on the floor

#driveby :rofl:


#298

I’ve seen it before, but I went to the MoMI to see a 70mm screening of Lawrence of Arabia. I didn’t think that many people would go to see a 4 hour movie on a Friday night, but there was quite a turnout.

It really makes Hateful Eight seem like a waste of 70mm film. Tarantino shot almost the whole thing in one room, and only really used the big format with some snow scenes in the very beginning. Lawrence is four hours of the most well composed desert landscapes you’ve ever seen. A real miracle. If you’re going to go big, you gotta go big in all aspects.

Also, still crazy racist. Sir Alec Guinness playing as a Bedouin prince being the most egregious aspect.


#299

I’m trying to clear my massive backlog of movies I have downloaded and have been on my harddrive for years. My approach is that I’m going to try and watch at least half of the movie while in bed before sleep each night. Lets see how it goes.

I watched Riki-oh, the classic over the top gore splatterfest that was adapted from the even more gore-y splatterfest manga. I actually read the manga first and the manga is of several magnitudes more ridiculous than the movie so I wasn’t surprise. It’s rather fun watching a surprising faithful adaption of trashy manga. They cut out a lot of the crazy backstory which is fine because Riki-oh goes completely off the rail (Japanese people are apparently the Lost Tribe of Israel).

Fun fact, M. Bison’s character design is a direct ripoff of one of the villain’s in Riki-oh’s manga.

Then, I watched Uzumasa Limelight, a Japanese film that is a semi-autobiographical depiction of the most famous samurai extra who specializes in getting killed. There’s a lot of pretentious elements that I thought I would like. It’s a movie about a movie and shows how samurai movies are shot and planned. It starts with a Charlie Chaplin quote. It’s about a niche topic that most people don’t care about. But the movie has just awful dialogue and meanders for almost 2 hours. It took 4 nights to finish. I couldn’t believe how on the nose the dialogue was and I had to stop watching after about 30 minutes each time because I felt too embarrassed for the screenwriter to continue.


#300

The other night I sat down to watch Wolf Warrior on the Netflix. That is some highly ridiculous shit. Made me wonder if American military promotional/propaganda films are as obvious to foreign audiences. Probably. Because Wolf Warrior is very clearly a propaganda film for the Chinese military. Think American Sniper, or Lone Survivor, or Act of Valor, but way more stupid. Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the spectacle. Was fun to see how each of the white guys and one black guy was gonna get killed by our valiant and uber patriotic hero.

Plot: A random Chinese “criminal gang” boss /drug kingpin hires a squad of elite Western mercenaries to challenge the Chinese version of SEAL team Six and the entire Chinese army because he’s pissed that his drug dealer brother got killed while being an idiot. Hijinks ensue.

But it still didn’t come close to the over the top ridiculousness of almost any Donnie Yen action film.