Author Topic: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition  (Read 86642 times)

Junior

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Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« on: May 26, 2013, 01:02:27 PM »
If you watch a movie from 1999 for the purposes of the Retro Filmspots, please put your review in this thread. Thanks! Also thanks to 1SO for compiling the list of who's watched what!

6ixtynin9 (MartinTeller)
After the Rain (1SO)
All About My Mother (MartinTeller)
American Beauty (1SO, Sam the Cinema Snob)
American Movie (Junior)
Audition (FLYmeatwad)
Arlington Road (smirnoff)
The Astronaut's Wife (smirnoff)
Beau Travail (1SO)
The Boondock Saints (Junior)
Bowfinger (smirnoff)
Buena Vista Social Club (1SO)
Cruel Intentions (sdedalus)
The Curve (Bondo)
Deterrence  (smirnoff)
Election Night (1SO)
Emporte-moi (1SO)
George Lucas in Love (1SO)
Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai (ArmenianScientist)
Gorgeous (smirnoff)
Goya in Bordeaux (MartinTeller)
The Green Mile (1SO)
Grey Owl (smirnoff)
Hazy Life (MartinTeller)
It All Starts Today (MartinTeller, pixote)
Kikujiro (Corndog)
The Mummy (sdedalus)
My Neighbors the Yamadas (1SO)
My Voyage to Italy (1SO)
Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony (1SO)
Not One Less (MartinTeller, Bondo)
One Day in September (1SO)
Ordinary Heroes (MartinTeller)
Peppermint Candy (1SO)
Pola X (MartinTeller)
Ravenous (Junior, 1SO, smirnoff)
Shower (1SO)
The 6th Sense (Junior)
Sleepy Hollow (sdedalus)
The Straight Story (Bondo)
Taboo (1SO)
Their Standing Points (1SO)
Tuesdays With Morrie (1SO)
Virus (1SO)
The War Zone (smirnoff, Bondo)
Wisconsin Death Trip (Verite, 1SO, MartinTeller)
« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 04:21:44 PM by Junior »
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FLYmeatwad

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2013, 02:02:54 PM »
Not really a review, but I wrote this on Letterboxd.

Audition (Miike, 1999)

Good tagline for the poster of an American remake: Sometimes...love hurts!

***/***** (I gave it a 3.5 over there and used a bunch of dumb tags too)

smirnoff

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2013, 02:59:11 PM »



Arlington Road - A film that would be called heavy-handed if it had been come out just a couple years later, instead it's an eerily prophetic pre-9/11 thriller about domestic terrorism. There's some decent moral and philosohpical dilemmas to think over amongst the car chases and first generation internet snooping. Tim Robbins is an imposing presence when he wants to be, and Jeff Bridges is just good at being different. It's a pure thriller, which is what I like best. I expected this to be good and it was.

The Astronaut's Wife - A reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally slow burn that's strongest in the middle and weak at the ends. It's Rosemary's Baby meets 2001... but I came away more impressed with the technical quality than the story. It achieves a great tone but is horribly vague about what it's trying to get across. The ending is a complete bust. It's unfortunate to see so much good work go to waste.

Bowfinger - One scene made the whole film worth watching. It was Steve Martin getting ready for his evening with Heather Graham. Running around his house, watering down the wine, tieing the dog's legs together... I was really laughing. It was no smarter or dumber than anything else in the film but it worked. The rest of the movie fell pretty flat. :-\

Deterrence - Stopped watching after 20 or 30 minutes. I was bored out of my mind.

The War Zone - Hard to watch and it leaves a mark, but that's more to do with the content than anything else. Very little story... more of an existing family situation that reveals itself over the course of the film. I didn't come away with much, other than a sick feeling. Well made I would say though.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2013, 03:01:03 PM by smirnoff »

1SO

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2013, 10:55:27 PM »


American Beauty

With many great films there is that moment where it starts living up to its reputation. Some films, like The Truman Show, grab me at the first frame. Others, like L.A. Confidential take a little time introducing themselves. Doesn't make the film any less great. American Beauty's moment of clarity comes about 15 minutes in, when Rockwell High’s award-winning Dancing Spartanettes take the floor. Until then I'm entertained, but not impressed. (A scene involving Annette Bening trying to sell a house is particularly forced.)

What follows is a perfect piece of artistic filmmaking. The directing, lighting, music and editing define cinematic greatness. To the tune of “On Broadway” the dancers begin their routine, while the camera slowly begins to focus in on one single dancer.


While watching, you forget the quick rise and sudden fall of nymphet Mena Suvari. You forget Spacey’s numerous bad career choices following this triumph. The light intensifies, the editing becomes more seductive, and the band seamlessly (though abruptly) segues into Thomas Newman’s beautiful score.


A minute and half, and the moment is over. From this scene on, American Beauty still holds up, with career-best performances from everyone involved, except Chris Cooper. It’s one of those scenes that remind me why I love movies.


In his film directing debut, Sam Mendes gets the most important elements right. He directs a fine ensemble of actors, pushing the pros into places they've never been before while displaying levels of talent from the newcomers that haven't been tapped into again since. The performances are uniformly daring and strong without ever coming off like they're reaching for big moments. The moments come right to them. All of the characters - major and minor - are fleshed out with an emotional clarity you rarely see. Mendes displays equal skill at telling the story visually, with lighting that knows when to be epic and when - as in the family dinner tableaus - to go subtle. (Conrad Hall was one of the Gods of film lighting.)


One of my favorite movie pleasures is watching Kevin Spacey at the top of his game. Even something like The Negotiator benefits from what he brings to the part. He's known for the smug, sarcastic put down and playing people who are the smartest in the room (or at least like to think they are.) Here, Spacey starts against type as a squashed bug of a human, so destroyed by life he's ready to pop. Spacey's eyes are full of sadness. Look at his face during the cheerleader scene or when ordering a drink at one of his wife's functions. It's the best performance he's ever given.

For years, films have tried to expose the dark heart of suburbia, weaving tales of the slow death of the middle class, undone by their own complacency and misfortune. None have better captured the confusion, the alienation and the yearning to break free. Screenwriter Alan Ball taps into his character's fear - everybody must face that which scares them the most - and he does it with humor and economy. (There are no transition scenes. Every scene is important.)

Take the scene between Spacey and Bening which begins with Spacey announcing the purchase of his sports car. That leads to the couple's most tender moment until all is shattered by Bening's concern over the furniture. An actor could not hope to be given a better scene to play.
RATING: * * * *

Possible Retro Filmspot Nominations:
Picture
Director
Screenplay
Ensemble
Actor - Kevin Spacey
Supporting Actor - Wes Bentley
Supporting Actress - Thora Birch
Cinematography
Score
« Last Edit: May 28, 2013, 12:30:57 PM by 1SO »

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2013, 11:03:23 PM »
Well, here's my original take.

I'd add that it the film also falls into something I hate: having narration explain the interior of the character when it's unnecessary. Spacey is a good enough actor to let the existential crisis of his character shine without narrations. Instead, the film wants to make sure to spell out his character in the opening scene.

1SO

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2013, 12:02:18 AM »
I'd add that it the film also falls into something I hate: having narration explain the interior of the character when it's unnecessary. Spacey is a good enough actor to let the existential crisis of his character shine without narrations.

I'm gobsmacked. This is one of my biggest problems with Terrence Malick.

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2013, 12:18:43 AM »
Bowfinger - One scene made the whole film worth watching. It was Steve Martin getting ready for his evening with Heather Graham. Running around his house, watering down the wine, tieing the dog's legs together... I was really laughing. It was no smarter or dumber than anything else in the film but it worked. The rest of the movie fell pretty flat.

The film is worthwhile for this alone:

Quote
You cannot show it to the Laker Girls. I know you want to show it to the Laker Girls but you can never show it to the Laker Girls. Keep Mr Weenie in the pants. Always in the pants.

As to American Beauty, one thing I'll say, in a way as to avoid spoilers, but the reveal involving Suvari's character at the end is pretty fascinating from a gender perspective and gender expectations and such. Just one small example of what you cite as the full development of pretty much every character.

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2013, 01:57:29 AM »
I'd add that it the film also falls into something I hate: having narration explain the interior of the character when it's unnecessary. Spacey is a good enough actor to let the existential crisis of his character shine without narrations.

I'm gobsmacked. This is one of my biggest problems with Terrence Malick.

The narration in most Terrence Malick's films never beat you over the head? Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line, hell, even Tree of Life use narration to complement the scenes instead of telling ypu the subtext like thisfilm does. Malick's films have unreliable narrators; American Beauty does not.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2013, 10:47:53 AM »
What Totoro said.

1SO

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread: 1999 Edition
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2013, 11:34:56 AM »
I don't have the memory or time to turn this into a debate with examples, but I find Malick's narration beats me over the head more than any other filmmaker.

"He needed me now more than ever, but something had come between us. I'd stopped even paying attention to him. Instead I sat in the car and read a map and spelled out entire sentences with my tongue on the roof of mouth where nobody could read them."


The narration in American Beauty works much like in Richard III. It takes you into the lead's deepest confidence and makes you a con-conspirator in his hopes. ("Look at me, jerking off in the shower... This will be the high point of my day; it's all downhill from here.")

 

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