Serious Movie Discussion

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by Bullitt68, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. Bullitt68 Senior Moderator

    Bullitt68
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    Reboot.

    The original OP from Mr. HuntersCreed:

    The list of the original thread regulars' 25 favorite films, a nice gauge for any newcomers to see where/how their taste falls in line with that of the posters who make up this thread.

    Unfortunately, this part of the OP requires the addition of new names, but this is the spot in the thread where we had reserved space to acknowledge the passing of Kansas (regarding the poster Kansas (aka StillInKansas)), one of the earliest and most frequent contributors to serious movie discussion. Sadly, two more posters have since been added to the SMD in memoriam: The earliest contributor, the TS himself, HuntersCreed (http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/rip-hunterscreed.3240777/), and longtime old-schooler edco76 (http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/serious-movie-discussion-xli.3215313/page-11#post-118457941).

    Kansas, HuntersCreed, and edco were great friends of this thread, and they will be fondly remembered by all of us.
     
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  2. Bullitt68 Senior Moderator

    Bullitt68
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    So I've been in a weird dead zone the last week or so. I'm primed to write the last part of my PhD thesis but I also have to move to a new room in the place where I'm staying this weekend. I've opted not to start writing because I don't want to lose my momentum once I get going. That means I've been doing nothing but watching the clock waiting until I can move. Once I move, I'm going to go on a writing spree and probably not post in here for a week or two. I'll still be watching a movie or two a day, but I won't be logging them in here. Needless to say, I'll have a huge mega post once I'm done writing, but until then, here's a mini mega post to get my movie logging up to date.

    @Caveat, Ricky, and ufcfan: I'm going to start with Nocturnal Animals because that's BY FAR the best movie I've seen of the current batch of movies I've watched. I'll admit, that opening credits sequence was fucked up and gross; I think anyone who utters the phrase "fat shaming" should be forced to watch that disgusting sequence on a loop Ludovico style.

    [​IMG]

    But that wasn't going to dissuade me from watching. Funny enough, I mentioned how I'd been intrigued by that film, but that was just from the cast and the very basic plot of a woman reading a novel by her ex. If I would've known the movie spends a huge chunk of time in Straw Dogs land, I would've been even more pumped. I thought the conceit was brilliant and executed superbly. I did end up with a few complaints. First, I thought the main bad guy could've been creepier/more sinister instead of just being a jackass. Not saying he needed to be Hannibal Lecter or anything, but I think the film would've benefited from having its villain be more than a backwoods doofus who takes his shits on his porch. Second, I thought there could've been more of a relationship between Gyllenhaal and Shannon. Initially (probably because Straw Dogs was in my head), I thought Shannon was going to be a typical asshole cop not giving a shit about this loser who didn't fight to protect his family (in that first car ride, Shannon's basically emasculating him and conveying his complete lack of respect for Gyllenhaal) which was going to force Gyllenhaal to tap into some rage and go on a Dustin Hoffman-style revenge rampage. Instead, all of a sudden Shannon turns on a dime and becomes best friends with and avenging angel for a guy he was basically making fun of and it goes from Straw Dogs to Rolling Thunder. I get that Shannon got the cancer diagnosis, but even if you want to keep the movie's beats the same, then that initial car ride should've been written differently and they should've started off with something more like pity and sympathy from Shannon instead of disdain. The way it started made where it went implausible and contrived.

    Still, those aren't so much complaints about what parts sucked. They're more complaints about what could've made the movie even better. I don't really have any true complaints. I was pissed when the movie ended with Gyllenhaal standing her up, but that was more about me wanting to see Gyllenhaal. I thought about it for a while and I ended up really liking that decision. It worked both for Gyllenhaal's character and for the story.

    What'd you guys think? ufcfan, you mentioned the film having "some utterly shitty aspects to it" that "aggravated [you] at points throughout." Care to elaborate? And @moreorless87, I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that the film "denounces" Amy Adams' character. I think Gyllenhaal's character definitely denounces her - he'd already told her when they were together that they were perfect for each other but that she was just scared and was trying to push him away/run away to avoid having to work on herself (and fuck me did that hit home), and by the end of the movie, when he stands her up (assuming that's what happened), he basically confirms his strength (what she accurately characterized in conversation with her mother as "a different kind of strength") while at the same time demonstrating her weakness. That's still not what I'd call denouncing her character, though; it still leaves the open the possibility, after having acknowledged her weakness and her character flaws, of Adams finally committing to change and growth (of course, it also leaves open the possibility of her paying the bill, going home, waiting for her cheating husband to come home, and slipping right back into her miserable routine).

    After Nocturnal Animals, I decided to have a little Gyllenhaal marathon. I next watched Enemy. The plot sounded awesome but unfortunately the movie wasn't very good. It definitely gets ambition points, but the relationship between plot and theme was rocky to say the least. It sort of felt like a cross between Persona and Eyes Wide Shut with Bergman's bizarre spider motif from Through a Glass Darkly thrown in for good measure. However, as a psychological thriller, I much preferred The Broken, which I thought did the unsettling doppelganger thing much better.

    Then I watched Demolition and that was another awesome movie. I preferred Nocturnal Animals, but Demolition was a much better performance from Gyllenhaal. And it's just a fun movie. That sounds like a weird description given the plot of the film, but it's fun. Gyllenhaal's character has a great spirit that makes it fun watching him adapt to his new life. And his relationship with Naomi Watts' son was fucking great. The scene with them in the hardware store is hilarious.

    Ending my Gyllenhaal marathon, I watched Life. I was disappointed by how unoriginal it was - they literally add zero new wrinkles to the formula - but they made the formula work very well.

    Since Life had me in space, I decided for no other reason to shift from Life to Gravity. I avoided Gravity when it came out for two reasons: First, because I figured it'd have nothing beyond the space gimmick, and two, because the space gimmick wasn't attractive to me since I figured if I tried to see it in theaters (nevermind IMAX) I'd end up with motion sickness and have to leave or fight my way through an unenjoyable theater experience. Having finally watched it, I can say that I was right on both counts. Even on my computer, I was getting dizzy and nauseous at times. I will say that it was better than I'd expected, but once Clooney's gone, you've pretty much seen all the interesting stuff you're going to see.

    The rest of my viewing was very random. I watched American Sniper. I've never really liked Bradley Cooper in anything, but I thought he did a fantastic job in that role. The movie, though, left A LOT to be desired. It felt like Clint wanted to do it less hagiography and more biography, but he never really struck a good balance between character information and character study. I think the drive for "realism" and the documentary-style chronicle of his tours of duty kept Clint from being able to really dive into the character's psychology and tell not the story of a guy in the war but this character's story. In short, he should've tried to make this film more in the mold of The Deer Hunter, making the war relatively incidental to the journey of his main character. I also thought the ending was retarded. Another instance of the movie just stopping.

    Speaking of movies just stopping, Black Mass had a very similar problem. It was stuck between a documentary and a character study, only I thought Black Mass was a worse documentary and a worse character study compared to American Sniper. First and foremost, there was no clear sense of what the filmmakers thought about Depp's character, which left me wondering why I was watching (I'm sensing a pattern here as I watch these movies; I'm watching them close to random but I'm noticing the same problems, and they're often at the level of the script). Depp's performance was very strong, from the look and the voice to the subtler element of menace that he did a great job of conveying even in innocuous dialogue sequences. But the movie itself had no real forward propulsion. Compared to something like Goodfellas, where you're ramping up and find yourself wrapped up in that crazy coke-fueled world, or something like Casino, where you feel the weight of the impending fall, Black Mass just went along with what felt like no rhyme or reason. And unlike Scorsese's incredible ability to balance intense character studies and ensembles within single films (Casino being the best example), Black Mass had way too many characters floating around they clearly had no idea what to do with, chief among them Joel Edgerton's character, who it felt like they kept forgetting about and then had to scramble to shove back in at random points in the story. Until they decided they were done going along and randomly shoving shit in, at which point they just closed up shop and started putting text on the screen. The ending was basically a Wiki entry. Do filmmakers not know how to end movies anymore?

    I also watched American Assassin. Back in my wannabe Tarantino screenwriter days, I'd actually considered doing a practice adaptation of a Mitch Rapp novel. I always liked the character and the book Act of Treason was particularly good. Much like Tom Cruise ending up as Jack Reacher, though, the problem with American Assassin is with the casting of the lead. Cruise simply isn't Jack Reacher; even so, he's still Tom Cruise, so the movies work as Tom Cruise action movies. American Assassin suffered from having an actor who wasn't the lead character but who also had nothing going for him in general. Very bland, no charisma, just...nothing. Michael Keaton, on the other hand, was fucking phenomenal. If you like him even a little bit, it's worth it to see him in this movie. The torture scene near the end is straight up "let's get nuts" awesomeness.

    Then I watched It. No reason. I just saw it on the list and wanted to watch it. It was better than I was expecting but I still preferred the miniseries. I did get hit with one jump scare, but the movie wasn't genuinely creepy or unsettling. The miniseries, even with its low budget and huge helpings of cheese, actually manages to creep me out even now. The one thing the movie has over the miniseries, though, is the actual friendship between the kids. I thought the friendship dynamic was much better and more enjoyable in the movie. It'll be interesting to see how they handle the next chapter.

    After It, to keep it in the horror family, I watched Dark Skies. I loved Felicity, so I've followed Keri Russell's career. I remember always thinking this movie looked like it could be cool but I never got around to it. I finally did and it actually was really cool. Kind of like Signs meets Paranormal Activity. And I was pleasantly surprised to see JK Simmons show up as the cynical, beaten-down CT'er.

    Lastly, another random watch: I watched They Came Together. @Flemmy Stardust, if you haven't seen this, you need to watch it ASAP (BTW, you realize, Flemmy, that you've become the new aqua, always getting @'ed but never showing up :(). I fucking loved this movie. Better than Wet Hot American Summer, better than The Baxter, even better than Wanderlust IMO. The first half-hour fucking slays. The cast is insane and the script is riotous. My favorite part is that, while it spoofs romantic comedies, rather than making fun of the conventions, they're clearly having fun with the conventions. It's a subtle distinction but it makes for a tremendous difference in tone. It's a fun and funny movie, and unlike The Baxter, it never loses its steam and is strong right up to the end. The highlight for me, though, is obviously Christopher Meloni struggling at the Halloween party to get out of his Green Lantern costume to take a shit :D

    The QT school is dangerous. Sort of like Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do: They make it look easy but it ain't for everybody.

    Honestly, my favorite breakdown of the writing process is courtesy of Edgar Allan Poe:

    "Nothing is more clear than that every plot worth the name must be elaborated to its dénouement before anything be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.”

    However you want to go about it, however you want to connect the dots, that they connect - and to the end (fitting phrase) of conveying an explicit and discernible intent - is what's important. Maybe this is why I'm finding myself so disappointed with so much of what I'm watching. It rarely feels that plots are elaborated to their dénouement ahead of time, so that I rarely feel that air of consequence and rarely get a sense of a guiding intent.

    With this in mind, I guess it's a means/ends issue. I don't have a problem with those ends - like I said, the ending of Take Shelter is a fucking home run as a sequence, as the driving home of that moment when the family clicks together - but I do have a problem with the means. His way of doing things isn't appealing to or satisfying for me.

    I don't know if this comparison will resonate, but he reminds me a bit of Otto Preminger (@europe1, you out there? Does this comparison make sense to you?) in that, when he does what he came to do, he just stops caring. The difference is that, when Nichols stops caring, he stops the movie; when Preminger stops caring, he still goes through the motions and brings his films to a resolution. It doesn't always work (Fallen Angel and Angel Face come to mind) but when he forces himself to stick it out to the end (Laura and Advise & Consent come to mind) he demonstrates the MASSIVE difference it makes when you not only hit your theme but tie it in to a fully-functional story with no loose ends left dangling.

    I was home in the States on a break, I had a packed DVR, I tried it, it wasn't doing anything for me, I moved on. Not an ideal viewing, so that's why I didn't just write it off, but for whatever it's worth, it didn't have me hooked from the jump.

    Few things are more enjoyable for me than having movies throw my low expectations back in my face :D

    Not budging on Star Wars. I'd sooner try Rango for Sigh.

    This may seem like a distinction without a difference, but, for the record, I don't judge a movie's potential by who's starring but I do often decide whether or not to take the time to try a new movie based on who's in it.

    The equivocation that I find problematic in Arrival is discernible here: If the aliens are "simply able" to "transcend" time with the faculties they possess, then no human being, Louise included, should be capable of their "level of sophistication" in the absence of those faculties. Sort of like those animal studies where scientists can get an ape to understand the concept of death, which is fucking insane...but that's still a far cry from being at our "level of sophistication." Louise being able to understand what they're trying to say, I can buy that, but her actually ascending to their level of sophistication and being able to perceive time just as they can in the evolutionary equivalent of the blink of an eye, that I'm not buying.

    This would seem to be another problem: Doesn't she arrive already thinking she has an ex with whom she had a daughter who died? Wasn't she already seeing the future before the aliens even showed up? This would again seem to point up that equivocation: Is it because she possesses the same faculties as the aliens (if so, WTF?) or is it because she is able to grasp the language (if so, WTF with the flashbacks/flash forwards prior to her exposure to the language?)?

    I never bothered with the sequel, but the first one didn't strike me as "God-tier choreography." A lot of it felt overchoreographed in the sense that, while I could appreciate the athleticism and the dance-like synchronization, I wasn't actually sold on it dramatically and therefore wasn't buying it as a fight scene.

    [​IMG]

    Fine. Off the top of my head, purely in terms of the (hand-to-hand and not weapons-based) choreography, and excluding the Sensei, I'd say that among the best one-against-many fight scenes would have to be Jackie Chan in the parking lot at the beginning of and in the mall at the end of Police Story (the latter has got to be the GOAT, no?), Donnie Yen in the dojo in Ip Man, and Tony Jaa in the bone breaking scene in The Protector, while among the best one-on-one fight scenes would have to be Jackie Chan versus Benny the Jet in Wheels on Meals (got to be the GOAT, no?), Bruce Lee versus Bob Wall and Chuck Norris in The Way of the Dragon (Bruce and Chuck is cinematically the GOAT but in terms of pure choreography I've always thought the short fight with Bob Wall was his best work), and Gina Carano versus Michael Fassbender in Haywire (best one-on-one fight scene in recent memory).

    This is very encouraging. I'll definitely be watching them both.

    And I'm the opposite. Clearly, I have problems with the ending of Arrival, but it's automatically better than the ending of Midnight Special because at least they offered an explanation. I'd rather you try and fall a little short (or, hell, even a lot short) than not try and pass the buck to the audience.

    Never saw Shotgun Stories, though I remember having it recommended to me in here along with Take Shelter way back when the latter came out.

    Since it's Scorsese, it was one of the first movies to go on my list anyway.

    Wow. Both you and Ricky think very highly of that movie.

    Ok. FYI, I'm saving the superhero stuff until the end, so it'll be a while before I actually watch it, but I'll throw it in along with all the recent Spiderman movies and the post-Civil War Marvel stuff.
     
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  3. europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

    europe1
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    I don't really watch many modern movies -- and what I watch tend to be pretty conventional so I didn't really feel the need to recommend anything.

    Expect Blue Ruin. I feel the need to second that.

    Remove the "very" and pretty much agree.

    Black Mass felt like a movie made to give Depp and Oscar nod. Nothing worked expect his performance -- it's like they put all their eggs in one basket.

    Remember that moment where the psychologist offers Cooper the opportunity to help out other veterans with mental scars? You look at the expression on Cooper. It's like he is experiencing an great excitement and eagerness at finding a new purpose in life -- but stolidly hides it so to keep up apperances, the same apperances he wore in the war.

    Great performance.

    See, I get the impression that one of Eastwood's missions with the film was marshaling patriotic support for America's wars (especially in how he connects 9/11 with the Invasion of Iraq in relation to Cooper's motivations for enlisting, when politically, those things had quite little to do with each other). You can't really do that unless the war is of a more center stage.


    What makes you say that? The real-life character that Cooper portrays is quiet sanitized and lionized.

    Do you think Clint was aiming for something greater than was already there? Or do you mean that his psychology could have been conveyed better?

    To me... it seems like Clint reached what he was going for. Cooper is the shepard that watches the flock. He feels a responsibility to defend us. He is a warrior in the just who kills bad people who preys on lambs. The purpose of the film is to make us sympathize with heroes like him, to realize what a great guy he was. The film is about inspiring a sense of duty through example. Basically, I think this is the jive that Clint was showing... and that he was not in search of anything more complex than that.

    Me and my friends literally went "are they trying to fucking scare us with this shit or is it a joke?" at several times during that picture.

    It was downright flabbergasting.

    I do think that that films saving grace is that there is a sense of earnestness to the kids and their friendship with one-another. It made up for a lot of flaws.

    Ummm... not really.

    I haven't seen Take Shelter. Saw Mud and Midnight Special.

    Loose ends? In Midnight Special I can see that in how the city gets revealed and then the film just ends (I took that as a "we do not have budget for this" moment though, so we'll settle for the mystery angle:p). Can't remember feeling like that about Mud.

    I never really thought of Preminger like that. Not caring about the ending of Angel Face? That never really struck me. How does one discern if a director cares about something if he nails the scene on both an thematic and dictatorial level anyways?

    Sounds to me like you're just mad that the Aliens have better pedagogy skills than you do.:cool:

    When Arrival was realeased, me and some other guy (by which I mean Caveat or Rimbaud, can't remember) was discussing something similar to the monkey business. We mentioned that ethnologists studing indigious, primitive tribes in the jungle asserted that these people really don't have a concept for "the future" outside of cyclical stuff (seasons, birth-and-death). They didn't even have a word for the future. Trying to explain something that could be happening in the future to them was streniously difficult. Their lack of conceptual awareness -- brought on due to lack of word-knowlage -- simply meant that they could not imagine or comprehend something like "the future".

    I think this serves as another neat analogy for what the aliens are trying to do. In the material universe there exists physical phenomenons that we cannot comprehend due to our lack of conceptual understanding. They try to teach us to see these things through language. Just like those ethnologists tried teaching the tribespeople about the future, a phenomenon that they had no cognitive-concepts with which to understand.

    You mentioned the word "evolutionary". As in that mankind would need more inherent brain-power to actually grasp these concepts, more brain-nerves and shit. Such a discussion is of course, entierly speculative considering that this is fiction. But we have the same brains as our caveman ancestors did. And we can comprehend concepts (like, the future) that would have been far out of reach for did. And we did not do this through evolution but through simple socialization, which was facilitated by our mastery of language.

    That makes me wonder, how many concepts can be imagined that we simply have not been able to imagine yet?

    That said, I do agree that this isn't something that you really "buy." This is sci-fi, of course.

    However, by that same account, I have a harder time buying that love could have the metaphysical function that it does in Interstellar. It just seems unreasonable that a human emotional (something that exists due to chemical in our brains) could have an interaction with physical forces that exists in our material universe (gravity and shit).

    Not that that lessened my enjoyment of the movie or anything.

    I saw those scenes as being for the audience -- not from Adams present memory (as have virtually everyone I've seen writing about the film). By splicing those scenes into the narrative, we inject meaning into Adams emotionlessness. We assume that her aloofness is due to this past trauma. However, when the true nature of those scenes are revealed, our assessement of her character takes a dramatically different turn.

    In a sense, in the movie it is us the audience who have been unstuck in time. It isn't Amy who does that. It is us. And that plays and tinkers with our understanding -- mirroing how Amy's understanding changes as she begun grasping the language.

    Agree. The one Denis Villeneuve film I don't like. The film was rather visually unappealing as well.

    Oh come on, the halluciation where he returns into the chinese space-shuttel was pretty bemusing.

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Sigh GunRanger You think anybody will notice?

    Sigh GunRanger
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  5. moreorless87 Gold Belt

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    I'd say the impact comes from the film casting her in an often sympathetic light but then cutting off the kind of catharsis we expect for such a character. Its not perhaps as harsh as Blue Jasmine were the characters pretty much destroyed but still theres an obvious play on the difference between her and our expectation that she'll get a grand romatic moment turning her life around with Gyllenhaal's character and what she actually gets which is lonely introspection and more the potential for a more difficult and realistic shift.

    On the subject of Gyllenhaal have you gotten around to Source Code? granted it has a bit of a Spielberg ending to it(personally I just stop it at the "pause" now) but its a far better take on that kind of sci fi thriller than we typically see, makes me sad Jones wasted so many years on that Warcraft drek.

    Have you tried any Yorgos Lanthimos yet? its certainly not easy viewing(think Kubrick with the black comedy turned up to 11) but I do think some of the most original cinema this decade,
     
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  6. ufcfan4 Can't Andle The Riddum

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    Ditto on Source Code. That was a cool thriller/sci-fi. Definitely made me tense even when you knew he was going to get to repeat the mission. Gyllenhaal is legit.
     
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  7. ufcfan4 Can't Andle The Riddum

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    Glad you liked it man. My biggest gripes about it were as follows:

    The opening credits. Who possibly thought that was a good way to start the movie.

    But other than that, I think my problem really lies in the notion that the Adams dealing with her feelings for her ex-husband and the flashbacks to the interactions with the ex-husband were fundamentally less interesting to me than the story within the story. Now I know that the impact of the story within the story comes from the fact that it draws parallels between Jake's perceived impotence or inability to act in his actual relationship vs. the way his character felt powerless when thrust into that hellish situation with his family and malevolent rednecks. But, for me, when there are two segments of a film and the one stands out as so much more interesting and compelling to me than the other, I'm going to have to consider that a weakness to the movie.

    What I legitimately really liked was the very tense and creepy road rage incident and then the follow up to that. I know you weren't too happy with Aaron Taylor Johnson's character, but I thought he was one of the best aspects of the movie. I've seen him in several films and I've never seen him in that type of role before. I think he pulled it off really well. The interactions between him and Jake and Isla Fisher and the daughter really had me uneasy to the point of worrying about these characters even though this is a work of fiction in a work of fiction.

    Shannon was great from start to finish. You're right though regarding the unevenness in the way they depicted his relationship with Jake's character. But still, Shannon is almost always awesome to watch and I dug his character in this film.

    One more complaint I have is similar to my feelings about a much worse, really substandard film called The Words with Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons. That movie also has a story within a story, as Cooper's author character narrates his book and we see scenes of that work depicted as an actual storyline in the film. The problem I have with that one, which I also got a bit of with Nocturnal Animals was that you have all this hype around this novel that is supposedly utterly amazing and, when you're seeing the actual depiction of the story, you wonder how it's that great.

    Don't get me wrong, I really liked the ATJ, Shannon, Jake sequences in the film, but I never got the vibe that that would be some great novel. Seemed like a pretty standard, horrible crime happens to people who are at the wrong place at the wrong time, law cannot punish the perps, so those seeking justice take the law into their own hand. Standard story we've seen a thousand times. Why is the novel so brilliant and amazing?

    The Words was a worse culprit because the story within the story came across as so seemingly pedestrian, but Cooper had been honored like it was the greatest work of the 21st century thus far.

    Anyway, that's just a minor gripe. For me, the bigger complaint was that I found some of the Amy Adams scenes dull and draggy. She is an actress I really like, but I just could not get completely on board with it. Only scene of hers I really liked was the one with Laura Linney's cameo. Ending was solid in my opinion though. Striking revenge given that he took Adams through an emotional wringer with his story only to deny her the payoff of seeing him again and dealing with what she had done to him face to face.

    Hit the nail on the head. I really liked it and thought Cooper was great, but it was almost like it did not know what it wanted to be at times. All the early character building stuff had some good scenes that were right out of the biopic playbook- when he catches his girlfriend cheating, bonding with his brother, meeting his future wife, basic training. Those were solid scenes that I thought helped to establish Kyle's character. But, then, as you indicate, there were times where the war portion was depicted in such a way that it almost became a military-based action film rather than a study of its main character.

    Of course, that's a thin line because the war was such an important part of who Kyle became and what he did, but I think that the very intriguing moments of him having to cope with being the executioner and grappling with when to pull the trigger from hundreds of yards away was far more compelling than the later act where it becomes Kyle vs. his counterpoint and just like a full on action movie for a brief spurt.

    I liked the ending though. Can't exactly articulate why, but I thought that was the right note to end it on.

    Liked it quite a bit honestly. See I thought that O'Brien kid was actually pretty good. He was far less intriguing and effective than Keaton (who I'm starting to think may be one of the greatest of his generation), but I bought him in the role. Particularly, that sequence where you see him training MMA and just kind of living his life single-mindedly focused on avenging his fiance. I thought it was the type of brooding performance that, as you said, wasn't charismatic, but maybe also wasn't supposed to be. I don't remember much in the way of levity in the film at all either.

    Keaton was awesome though. Funny you say that because right after I got out of the theater with my buddies I said that the interrogation scene was clearly reminiscent of "let's get nuts," scene in Batman. Classic.

    It was kind of a paint-by-numbers thriller but I thought pretty much every aspect of it was competent so how can I complain. I also found the opening segment on the beach really unsettling and disturbing. To me, that really was chilling because it was executed in a way that sort of underscored the absolute randomness/out of nowhere element of an attack. Just seems like a normal vacation day and then abruptly it's chaotic carnage. Really creepy to me.

    I don't know if you saw that Michael Bay film 13 Hours, but it reminded me of a sequence in that film where I thought it was a cinematically effective way of conveying the chaos and uncertainty of a horrific situation.
     
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  8. Sigh GunRanger You think anybody will notice?

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    @Dragonlordxxxxx did you like Homecoming? Outside of vulture i genuinely was bored.



    Saw The Post today and loved it. For a seemingly simple story, Spielberg makes it so visually interesting that it's almost like a thriller. The cinematography is excellent, and Ive never liked Meryl Streep more than here.
     
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  9. Bullitt68 Senior Moderator

    Bullitt68
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    Unless I'm insanely productive, this will probably end up being my last mega post of 2017, but here's another update.

    I watched The Snowman. Holy shit, that movie was atrocious. I genuinely cannot recall a worse thriller. Pick a Lifetime killer movie at random and I guarantee it's easily twice the film The Snowman is. I can't believe that Martin Scorsese's name is on that piece of shit as an executive producer and that Thelma Schoonmaker edited it. It's seriously one of the sloppiest, most poorly-made films I've seen in recent memory. Nothing in that movie worked. I'm not exaggerating. Nothing. Not a single character worked, not a single plot point worked, not a single coherent theme was conveyed. It was just a steaming pile.

    After that I was hoping for better mystery/thriller luck, so, @KOQ24, I checked out A Walk Among the Tombstones. Not a masterpiece by any stretch, but decent. The characterizations weren't particularly sophisticated and the kid was an awful actor, but Liam Neeson was solid and the arc with the loser cemetery worker was the high point. What did you think of it, KOQ?

    Then I ended that particular night with a bit of a curveball (pun intended for a reason you'll soon understand) and watched Trouble with the Curve (see what I did there?). I'd always wanted to get around to it, for Clint if for no other reason, and I'm glad I did. Not as funny or as moving as something like Moneyball, but still a solid effort. And it's always fun watching Clint growl his way through an angry old man role.

    Moving on, I had a Benedict Cumberbatch double header. First up was The Fifth Estate. Very similar to Snowden, only The Fifth Estate had a MUCH better script. Snowden was better directed - I was more invested in the plot, the suspense and excitement was infinitely superior - but The Fifth Estate crafted a far more interesting and provocative story and offered much deeper insights into its respective tech genius. Also, while I love JGL, I thought Cumberbatch offered (thanks to the richer script, no doubt) a much stronger and more complex performance. I wasn't crazy about Daniel Brühl, neither from an actor nor a character perspective, and the only true weak point in the script was the fact that they never really figured out how to use Alicia Vikander, but on the whole, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this film.

    Next up was The Imitation Game. I wanted it to be better but it was still damn good. Cumberbatch nailed the eccentric on-the-spectrum genius; not only did he provide comedy by virtue of how out-of-touch he was with normal people, not only did the intensity of his commitment provide the forward propulsion for the plot, he also served well as the emotional core of the film (his breakdown at the end at the prospect of losing Christopher was the cherry on top of the performance). Given how much I love Keira Knightley, I wish they would've integrated her better into the film and given more space to her and Cumberbatch's relationship, particular post-proposal, but that's a minor complaint.

    Speaking of Keira Knightley, I moved from The Imitation Game to A Dangerous Method. @aquamanpunch's penchant for posting pictures of Keira's bizarre facial contortions whenever I'd mention her notwithstanding :D, I'd wanted to see this movie ever since it came out, and it didn't disappoint. Quite the tame and sober film from one of the weirdest directors ever, but even more impressively, a very astute examination of Carl Jung, in whom I've always been much more interested than Freud. Fassbender did a great job in the role. I was actually kind of bummed that the movie basically ends right at the point when Jung is beginning to have the nervous breakdown that he'd famously chronicle in his Red Book. With Cronenberg directing and Fassbender acting, that combination could've done a hell of a cinematic exploration of what, in Jung's own terminology, could be described as his descent into the realm of Hades to confront the shadow. That aside, the film that Cronenberg decided to make - exploring Jung's emergence as a psychoanalyst to be reckoned with and his struggles with Freud and his patients (particularly Keira and Vincent Cassel, the two of whom shake Jung's sense of himself and force him to question the kind of person he is/should be and the kind of life he is living/should live) - was very strong, helped immeasurably by the quality of the performances.

    Finally, @Sigh GunRanger and @Johner, you'll be happy to know that I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Chronicle. That was like Cloverfield and Project X meet X-Men: First Class. Very interesting and ambitious movie. I wasn't crazy about the main kid, and I can't help wondering if the movie would've been better if we'd been following Matt instead, who was infinitely more interesting and sympathetic, but I was still really impressed. Obviously, the Bruce Almighty portion with them fucking around with their powers was a lot of fun, but the movie reached a completely different level at the end in a sequence that sadly for Man of Steel far surpasses the Superman/Zod battle. What did you guys like about it?

    No idea what I'll be watching next. Like I said, it might be a while before my next run through of movies, but rest assured I'll be making my way through all of your guys' recommendations.

    I'm with you on this. And this is where there seemed to be tension. Like ufcfan mentioned, the movie was working really well as a character study, but then Clint started moving away from that to more of a straight-up war movie, and one, like you're saying, with a patriotic motive. I'm not saying that he couldn't have made a patriotic war movie; I'm saying that, if that's what he wanted to do, then he should've taken a step back from the Chris Kyle story and focused more on the America story (more like what Robert Redford did with Lions for Lambs).

    This is a goofy example from a (fake) movie-within-a-movie, but my point was that Clint was not interested in telling Chris Kyle's story the way the Nazis tell Frederick Zoller's story in Inglourious Basterds. He didn't want to make a Rambo out of Kyle. It wasn't about putting him up on a pedestal and creating a new mythological hero. At least, it never struck me as such.

    Later in your post, you argue that Clint "reached what he was going for." I agree with you on that. Therefore, I'd respond to this by saying that I think Clint was aiming for an end for which he used inappropriate means. As you indicated, Clint's agenda seemed more geared towards American military action and less towards the Chris Kyle story. The problem, as I saw it, was that it started off as - and worked the best as - the Chris Kyle story.

    [​IMG]

    I didn't mean literally the end scenes. More what I was talking about with the "falling action." Preminger's movies sometimes fall off once he hits the high note. Maybe I need a rewatch, but I always think of Angel Face as trailing off after the botched murder attempt and only really coming back to life in the last scene.

    [​IMG]

    First, no we don't. Our ancestors ironically had larger (though less efficient/developed) brains. Second, I don't think you can hive off socializing from evolution. Isn't it that we evolved to socialize, and evolved to socialize using language? Third, while the brain evolves quite rapidly by evolutionary standards, we're still talking several generations for evolutionary change to take effect on the level of the species. Short of touching a 2001-style monolith and bashing Jeremy Renner's head in with a bone, there's no way Amy Adams should've picked that shit up that fast.

    [​IMG]

    I can't imagine.

    [​IMG]

    For some reason, I find it much easier to buy the Interstellar conceit. On a related note, have you seen The Forgotten? I'd be interested to know what you (or anyone else reading this) thought of that film's conceit in relation to Interstellar and Arrival.

    [​IMG]



    I remembered a couple of people heaping praise on it. I had forgotten that you were one of them. I'll be sure to @ you when I watch it.

    Not particularly.

    I guess one of the big differences in our respective viewing experiences stemmed from the fact that I wasn't expecting catharsis for her. If anything, I was expecting catharsis for Jake. And that's what I got, albeit with a big helping of ambiguity.

    I saw and loved Source Code. And I feel the same way about the ending and the "pause."

    Not yet, but The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer are both on my list. I'll be sure to @ you once I get around to them.

    I was thoroughly engrossed no matter which story was going on, but I completely understand this point and it makes sense as a drawback for you.

    I was uneasy and worried for the girls, but the whole time, I felt all the shit Shannon was saying to Jake in that first car ride (they didn't have a gun? he made you drive?). Hopefully I never experience a situation even remotely similar to that nightmare, and I'm not trying to sound like Mark Wahlberg, but if my back is against the wall like that, no fucking way it's going to be that easy for you to take my family away from me and ruin/take my life.

    That said, I might've had a different reaction if that character (not to lay the blame solely at Aaron Taylor Johnson's feet) was less adrenaline-junkie-type doofus and more cold-blooded killer. Either that, or, going the other way, if Jake's character was more in the Dustin Hoffman/Straw Dogs mold, if he'd seemed less cagey and competent.

    I think this is a matter of perspective. I don't think the point was that Jake had finally emerged as the second coming of Dostoyevsky or anything; I think the point was that Jake had finally emerged as a legit author. It's not that the book was an extraordinary achievement of world literature; it's that the book was an extraordinary achievement of insight from Jake. That's why it's framed, in his note, as something completely different from anything he'd written before, as well as something he couldn't have written if he'd been spared the pain of his time with her and the time spent coming to terms with what happened.

    [​IMG]

    Reminds me of one of my favorite moments from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. You think John is going to kill someone, but instead, he lets them live and says, "If I have to live with this, so do you." I'm tempted - though I worry that this is me projecting my own shit onto the character - to interpret that last act on Jake's part as something akin to his refusing to put her out of her misery, refusing to allow her any sort of reprieve.

    Keaton is a beast. And it's unfortunate that the movie wasn't better so more people would see it, because his performance is one of his career-best IMO.

    For more Keaton, have you ever seen Night Shift? He was Kramer before Kramer. And if you haven't seen Pacific Heights, that one's highly recommended.

    I'm with you on this.

    Haven't seen it but it's on my list.
     
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  10. europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

    europe1
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    Good example and good movie.

    He's a self-sacrificing war hero that protects the lambs from the wolves, stoically doing his god-given duty no matter how how hard it is. I really did get the impression that Eastwood was putting him on a pedastal. Especially since the real-life character was so sanatized. This is an American Hero that we should worshipp and have sympathy for. You don't need to go the Rambo route for this.

    <mma4>

    Yeah you need evolution to have the ability to socialize. But once you can socialize you have an entirely new avenue for hoarding knowledge.

    I've seen The Forgotten but it was over a decade ago.

    It was that movie about the UFO-men kidnapping a woman's child in order to test and study what love is -- since they themselves cannot understand it? They see it as this mysterious, quantifiable quality that still enables people to achieve things. And the mother's "love" is what enables her to persue and find her kid? I can very well be incorrect on these details.

    Well... my "problem" with both Insterstellar and Forgotten is that both movies make love have an transcendal power. In Interstellar love can enable a person to manipulate space/time/gravity. In Forgotten love can enable the mother to uncover her daughter despite the Alien's God-like power to make her not to.

    Basically, both movies imagine love to be something "greater" than it actually is. They imagine that it's transcendental, that it can interacts and effect other powers in the universe. Instead of just being chemical in the brain (man ain't I a romantic). Notice how both movies basically mystifies love. It's this mystical, ace-in-the-sleeve that is unique and discernable to us humans and give us power in the universe against it's vast, impersonal forces. We can manipulate the space-time continuum or resist the God-like Aliens. It basically makes humans out to be more special than they really are -- through the power of love.

    I don't really have a "problem" with this on a storytelling level. I have a problem on the classical sci-fi level (in that it doesn't seem plausible). Love isn't something mystical within us. It's part of our biological make-up. The emotion of Love in-and-of-itself should not be able to effect the material universe.



    But the best Sci-Fi movie about the nature of love is obviously Robo Monster.



    I'll keep my eyes open for those notifications from Mars.
     
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  11. moreorless87 Gold Belt

    moreorless87
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    The Lobster is probably his lightest film(that's a relative term) which might be a helpful intro although its also probably the one that plays up his individual style most strongly with things like the stilted dialog(which seems to put some people off entirely). Dogtooth is probably an easier into in that respect although its also a good deal harsher.

    Going straight into Killing of a Sacred Deer is a bit of a bapism of fire as that's him being as nasty as he possibly can be, not so much in terms of being overly graphic but in terms of really taking its characters and the audience to task.

    If you liked Nocturnal Animals I would definitely say give him a try as that film does feel cut from the same cloth to me in terms of picking over the holes in a polite middle class world view.
     
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  12. Sigh GunRanger You think anybody will notice?

    Sigh GunRanger
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    I liked Tombstones too. Another underrated Neeson is Run All Night. Ed Harris is awesome in it.
     
    #12
  13. Bullitt68 Senior Moderator

    Bullitt68
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    For a quickie: @Sigh GunRanger, I tried to watch The Counselor but it was terrible. I powered through to about the 50-minute mark but I had to tap out. That far into the movie, I still had no idea what I was watching or why I was watching it. Awful script, some of the most insufferable attempts at "philosophical" dialogue, stupid characters, no motivation. Just a train wreck.

    Then I watched Let's Be Cops. I wish the script would've been better. Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. have proven to be great and to have great chemistry on New Girl but here it unfortunately fell pretty flat.

    You don't need to go the Rambo route to facilitate identification with and sympathy for your lead character. In that respect, I agree with you that he obviously wanted audiences to identify with his lead. But I just didn't get the sense that he was trying for anything grander than straightforward empathy for the sake of functional drama.

    You got the gist. It's not about love in the general sense, but specifically the bond between parent and child. In this fictional world, aliens use humans for experiments the way we use rats. One alien formulated a hypothesis and sought to put it to the test. He thought he could just tinker with people's brains and make them forget that they'd ever had a kid. It worked with the father subject but not the mother subject. It turns out that the experience of having life grow inside of you creates a bond that's beyond just some memory data stored in her brain that can be wiped like a hard drive.

    This part's the key. I'm very sentimental but not particularly romantic. So I did and do experience the same gut "GTFO" reaction to the proposition. All the same, consciousness in general is still so scientifically mystifying and bewildering that I'm totally open to new discoveries pertaining to it, including in the realm of love and what exactly it is, that take our understanding beyond where it's been for the last couple of centuries. Maybe not as far as Interstellar, but the fact that I'm open to it generally probably allows me to connect with specific fictional treatments that push the boundaries.

    Should not ≠ Does not. Who knows what crazy shit we still have to learn about ourselves...

    It's interesting, though, the things we will and won't accept for story purposes - the things for which we will or won't suspend our disbelief - and the reasons behind our positions. I've spent a lot of my energy the last year and change thinking about objectivity in aesthetics, and I firmly believe that it's possible to make objective judgments of aesthetic value. That doesn't mean, however, that I discount, or would ever want to discount, subjective responses to art or that I don't find subjective responses and the reasons behind them interesting and worth exploring and understanding.

    Never came across that one. I like the Google plot summary: "Earthlings (George Nader, Claudia Barrett, Selena Royle) flee from the Ro-Man, a martian in a gorilla suit with a diving helmet."

    I'm probably not going to bother with this one, but looking up the plot, it kind of sounds like the real-life experience of "the wolfpack." Do you know about this?



    And this is probably what I'm going to end up doing, as that's one of the newer movies I'm most eager to see.

    When I put A Walk Among the Tombstones on the list, I went to Neeson's IMDb page and saw that one, saw Ed Harris in the credits, and put it on the list, too. Haven't watched it yet, but I definitely will.
     
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  14. KOQ24 Silver Belt

    KOQ24
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    I was expecting some standard Liam Neeson action fare and i got a pretty nasty Thriller with a few surprising moments.
    David Harbour, Boyd Holbrook are some really underrated supporting guys (Harbour seems to be getting some credit lately due to his Stranger Things role)
    Dan Stevens is an actor you're gonna come across a lot in the next few years (Have you seen The Guest?).
    Liam Neeson is great as always.The kid actor was slightly annoying, but he was overshadowed by the rest of the cast anyways.
    There were some really tense moments i had while watching the film.I found the Film just as surprising as The Grey when it came out.
    And it was almost as underrated by the critics as 8mm in it's day.
     
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  15. Johner Brown Belt

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    Merry Christmas movie nerds!

    Just watched Bright, and after the giant turd that was Suicide Squad and those terrible reviews I wasn't expecting anything positive from Ayer this round.

    But it feels like I'm taking crazy pills. Critics are calling it the worst movie of the year, complaining about world building, CGI and a similar ending to Suicide Squad. I saw nothing of that. It wasn't a masterpiece, and it was End of Days in a modern day fantasy, but it was entertaining and enjoyable. Edgerton was excellent as usual and brought life to the orcish partner. Fuck hyperbolic critics that unnecessarily shit on movies just for the sake of it! Sigh, can you verify that I'm not completely retarded here?
     
    #15
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  16. moreorless87 Gold Belt

    moreorless87
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    Whilst the basic setup seems similar to that the actual execution is almost the polar opposite, the children being totally cut off from outside influence like cinema(to the degree there father convinces them planes in the sky are toys he hides in the garden) and emotionally stunted. The style of the film making itself is also a very large part of the appeal...



    I would add that Killing of a Sacred Deer is similar in that its very far what you would expect from the premise, more like a deconstruction of it which actually makes it considerably more disturbing to me, certainly your likely to have a few "did I just laugh at that?" moments.
     
    #16
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  17. Bullitt68 Senior Moderator

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  18. Sigh GunRanger You think anybody will notice?

    Sigh GunRanger
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    Mother! - For the first hour this is one of the funniest dark comedies in a while, and the best thing Aronofsky has ever done. The kind of annoying, humiliating invasion of space and privacy that only people who grew up with the worst kind of loud, obnoxious relatives would understand. Then the movie just gets boring, and the characters get lost in the absurdity. It repeats the same structure to the extreme, while Jlaw became more and more unconvincing. She cant scream well at all. No bass, or even a proper shrillness. It becomes all about symbolism instead of drama, which defeats the purpose.

    I did enjoy the baby scene in the room, and the ending, but I could have done without everything else. Still liked it overall though.
     
    #18
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  19. moreorless87 Gold Belt

    moreorless87
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    I will have to get around to watching this at some stage but honestly I have always preffered it when Aronofsky stays more grounded with stuff like Black Swan and The Wrestler, he does intense drama very well but his grasps at grand significance rarely feel like they match his reach to me.

    On that subject as well wasn't he in the picture to direct Jackie at one stage? certainly that film feels of the same oeuvre to me. I really only ended up watching it by chance on a plane with little else to view having written it off as cheap nostalgia/Americana but its a lot more than that, arguely an even better performance from Portman than in Black Swan.
     
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  20. ufcfan4 Can't Andle The Riddum

    ufcfan4
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    Thought the stuff with Pfeiffer and Ed Harris was by far the best portion of the movie. Once they were out of it, the film never recovered what it could have been. Hell, when Domhnall Gleason and his brother came into play I was like, okay this allegory shit is going a bit too far.

    The last 20 minutes was atrocious and ugly in my opinion and really left a real bad taste for me. Sucks too cause I was liking it for the first hour, particularly cause i felt the craft was good and that Pfeiffer, Harris, Lawrence, and Javier were all doing quality work.
     
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