Author Topic: Prisoners  (Read 3876 times)

smirnoff

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2013, 05:51:12 PM »
Having now read/heard several spoiler reviews, it seems so much less than that. The ultimate conclusion that there really is an evil threat and he was right about that all along justifies his means, however misguided.

Didn't get that feeling at all. It felt like it was open to exploring that question and left up to the audience to come to its own conclusions.

smirnoff

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2013, 06:23:09 PM »
- what sense of regret / misgivings do his neighbours/family have about the torture he resorts to?

Pretty much none. One thing I noticed was how easily Terrence Howard goes along with Jackman's torturing after he initially opposed it.

Why is that a flaw? Why is the family's lack of remorse, and Terrence Howard's quick slide towards condoning torture automatically a sign of bad filmmaking? Why is it not a demonstration of the proverbial slippery slope? An example, on a level everyone can relate to, of how easy it can be to continue to do monstrous things once you've already done it once.

The questions presumes the family would feel extreme remorse. I think one of the lessons of the film is that they don't.

ArmenianScientist

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2013, 07:21:05 PM »
- what sense of regret / misgivings do his neighbours/family have about the torture he resorts to?

Pretty much none. One thing I noticed was how easily Terrence Howard goes along with Jackman's torturing after he initially opposed it.

Why is that a flaw? Why is the family's lack of remorse, and Terrence Howard's quick slide towards condoning torture automatically a sign of bad filmmaking? Why is it not a demonstration of the proverbial slippery slope? An example, on a level everyone can relate to, of how easy it can be to continue to do monstrous things once you've already done it once.

The questions presumes the family would feel extreme remorse. I think one of the lessons of the film is that they don't.

Villeneuve is more concerned with getting the audience off on the horror of it all than he is in exploring the moral dilemma that's been presented. The family's lack of remorse strikes and Terrence Howard's lack of resistance to Jackman's methods strike me as pat nihilism; they are not insights that redeem the experience of sitting through the schlocky exploitation that Villenueve uses to deal with morally complex issues. There's nothing valuable to me about a film that presents the trite slippery slope to evil and then indirectly endorses said evil by showing how torture leads to the girls' rescues. Having Jackman get CINECAST!ed over in the end just felt like an contrived way for the film to protect itself from charges that the film says "torture works."'

For some good writing on Prisoners check out my friend Tony's review and Ignatiy's spoiler space thing


smirnoff

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #23 on: November 22, 2013, 04:19:01 PM »
- what sense of regret / misgivings do his neighbours/family have about the torture he resorts to?

Pretty much none. One thing I noticed was how easily Terrence Howard goes along with Jackman's torturing after he initially opposed it.

Why is that a flaw? Why is the family's lack of remorse, and Terrence Howard's quick slide towards condoning torture automatically a sign of bad filmmaking? Why is it not a demonstration of the proverbial slippery slope? An example, on a level everyone can relate to, of how easy it can be to continue to do monstrous things once you've already done it once.

The questions presumes the family would feel extreme remorse. I think one of the lessons of the film is that they don't.

Villeneuve is more concerned with getting the audience off on the horror of it all than he is in exploring the moral dilemma that's been presented.

What leads you to that conclusion? It seems to me he could've  spent a great deal more time showing the torture than he actually did. And if he'd wanted to be more gratuitous he could've been... perhaps Jackman could've chained Dano to the tub instead of building a box around it, that way the audience could've seen the torture instead of just hearing it. Maybe it says something that hiding Dano is the only way someone like Jackman could carry on with it.

As for the moral dilemma imo it's up to the audience to explore it. The characters, in a panicked argument, weigh the obvious pros and cons, but they are in a heightened emotional state and for them it's really just about justifying it to themselves... which is kind of the whole point. You're beliefs about torture are only theoretical. Presented with a real situation they might change.

Quote
The family's lack of remorse strikes and Terrence Howard's lack of resistance to Jackman's methods strike me as pat nihilism; they are not insights that redeem the experience of sitting through the schlocky exploitation that Villenueve uses to deal with morally complex issues.

How should he have dealt with them?

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There's nothing valuable to me about a film that presents the trite slippery slope to evil and then indirectly endorses said evil by showing how torture leads to the girls' rescues.

Isn't that the problem with torture though? And why it continues to be an unsettled issue? Because sometimes it does yield a result.

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Having Jackman get CINECAST!ed over in the end just felt like an contrived way for the film to protect itself from charges that the film says "torture works."'

I think it's a stretch to say the films message is "torture works" and that it's hedging itself out of fear. For one thing the torture is shown to be pretty inconsequential, a detriment even to the police investigation.

If Villeneuve wanted to make a movie where Jackman beats the solution out of Dano, as a demonstration of torture working, he could've communicated the message a lot more clearly. But he didn't. There's a lot more going on than that.

Totoro

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2013, 06:51:54 PM »
I have to add to it that this has to be one of, if not the, worst performance of Hugh Jackman's career. He's all one note, entirely one dimensional, throughout the course of the entire film. There is no subtlety, no grace, no inner thoughts, he is devoid of dimension, of humanity even!

What about when tells Terrance Howard he can let Dano go if he wants to? Doesn't that show a different dimension?

Not really, because A. he's lying and B. he knows Howard wouldn't dare to since he's just as dire.

smirnoff

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2013, 05:01:54 PM »
I have to add to it that this has to be one of, if not the, worst performance of Hugh Jackman's career. He's all one note, entirely one dimensional, throughout the course of the entire film. There is no subtlety, no grace, no inner thoughts, he is devoid of dimension, of humanity even!

What about when tells Terrance Howard he can let Dano go if he wants to? Doesn't that show a different dimension?

Not really, because A. he's lying and B. he knows Howard wouldn't dare to since he's just as dire.

Those are possibilities, maybe even probabilities, but imo not certainties. *shrugs* Of course you're free to feel how you want about it.

Going back to the performance though, you say it's one of Jackman's worst... that he's "one note, one dimensional, no grace, no inner thoughts, devoid of dimension, and humanity". Why do you believe that his performance should be anything but those things? Isn't that the point of the character? Aren't you making a judgement about how someone whose child has been abducted should act?

1SO

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2013, 12:00:26 AM »
If it's possible, I agree with all of you. On the surface this is solid storytelling. The film looks great. It's well-acted with lots of characters acting in morally repugnant ways. It kept me gripped through most of the running time, even though there's a solid ending 90 minutes in (Loki catches the real kidnapper and Paul Dano was incorrectly tortured) and things diffuse into pulp rapidly in the final 20 minutes.

While that was going on, there was a strong itch in the back of my brain that I was watching right-wing american politics create a scenario where their stance on torture is justified. It like "I know you're morally opposed to this as a general rule, but we are presenting a specific set of circumstances you can't be opposed to." By the same token, there's a comment early in this thread about fulfilling the fantasy of beating Paul Dano. I get the joke, but the film should do more than that. When you see him getting tortured it's a thought that shouldn't enter your mind, but it does and the film seemingly courts that meta-thought.

Hugh Jackman was terrific, even though his character becomes increasingly one-note as he's hollowed out. He needed to get a moment of catharsis, a realization of what he had done. That's why Terrence Howard comes off better in the fullness of the film. aI liked a lot of the film despite myself, but I didn't like just enough of it (especially the last section) that I don't recommend it.
RATING: * * 1/2

Totoro

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2013, 05:55:58 AM »
I have to add to it that this has to be one of, if not the, worst performance of Hugh Jackman's career. He's all one note, entirely one dimensional, throughout the course of the entire film. There is no subtlety, no grace, no inner thoughts, he is devoid of dimension, of humanity even!

What about when tells Terrance Howard he can let Dano go if he wants to? Doesn't that show a different dimension?

Not really, because A. he's lying and B. he knows Howard wouldn't dare to since he's just as dire.

Those are possibilities, maybe even probabilities, but imo not certainties. *shrugs* Of course you're free to feel how you want about it.

Going back to the performance though, you say it's one of Jackman's worst... that he's "one note, one dimensional, no grace, no inner thoughts, devoid of dimension, and humanity". Why do you believe that his performance should be anything but those things? Isn't that the point of the character? Aren't you making a judgement about how someone whose child has been abducted should act?

That's a great point and I would agree with you IF it weren't for the fact that he is the protagonist, he is the character we are supposed to sympathize with, the guy we spent the most time with, etc. IF he weren't these things and the Detective was more in the forefront, I honestly wouldn't have mind it as much. But since he doesn't change, he isn't sympathetic, devoid of dimension, etc., then there's no reason why we should spend the majority of the film with him.

As it is, he just sags the film. He does the same old thing over and over. Seriously, folks. The middle section of this film DRAAAAAAAGS. I know Worm would hate me for saying it, but for such a straightforward genre piece like this, it has no business being 2.5 hours.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 05:59:46 AM by Totoro »

smirnoff

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2013, 05:30:50 PM »
Going back to the performance though, you say it's one of Jackman's worst... that he's "one note, one dimensional, no grace, no inner thoughts, devoid of dimension, and humanity". Why do you believe that his performance should be anything but those things? Isn't that the point of the character? Aren't you making a judgement about how someone whose child has been abducted should act?

That's a great point and I would agree with you IF it weren't for the fact that he is the protagonist, he is the character we are supposed to sympathize with, the guy we spent the most time with, etc. IF he weren't these things and the Detective was more in the forefront, I honestly wouldn't have mind it as much. But since he doesn't change, he isn't sympathetic, devoid of dimension, etc., then there's no reason why we should spend the majority of the film with him.

I tend to agree that a protagonist should, for purposes of making one care about what's going on, not be beyond redemption (disclaimer: I say "should" but I realize of course that there are no absolutes, and that successful exceptions probably exist). And I see now that you're not making a judgment about how someone whose child has been abducted should act, but a judgment about how a protagonist whose child has been abducted should act... from a "make me care about this story" standpoint.

I get that. I've felt the same way about other protagonists in other films.

I think for myself Jackman's character never hit that beyond redemption point, and so that's why I was still invested during "dragging" middle, and "pulp" end. I was conflicted about his actions (of course), but not outright condemnatory. And because of that I stayed engaged.

I agree with 1SO that it is "presenting a specific set of circumstances" but don't feel (or itch) that it did so with a particular ideological position in mind.  I think it's "presenting a specific set of circumstances" to make you chew it over and come to whatever conclusion you like, or reassess a position you already hold, not change anyone's mind.

That said, oughtn't your beef be with the writer, not Jackman? He merely played the "devoid of dimension" character laid out for him.

Totoro

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Re: Prisoners
« Reply #29 on: December 02, 2013, 09:59:37 PM »
He could of and should of still strived to find a balance. There is no balance in his performance. If you are with him since minute 1, you're with him until the end. I wasn't so I wasn't with him until the end. Perhaps if he used more tact with when to explode and when to quietly implode (and you'd think he'd be tactful when the opening shot is him hunting a deer, showing his calm side under stress), his performance would have worked enough to get past the bad writing. But the performance reflects the poor writing. I have seen far better actors with far weaker material (Stoker comes to mind) excel despite of it. As I said previously, this role was basically written for someone like Michael Shannon. He would have KILLED in this role. Robert DeNiro, circa early 1980s, would have as well. That's because both know how to be menacing without screaming their heads off. But that's what Jackman does ad nauseum here and it doesn't give anymore insight to the character than what's on the page.

 

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