Author Topic: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City  (Read 10671 times)

Clovis8

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 11719
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« on: April 12, 2009, 12:20:58 PM »
Dark City vs Magnolia


Dark City




I had not seen this since my first viewing when it was released in theaters. I remember liking it, but it obviously did not make a huge impact on me. I watched the DC, which apparently has improved effects in parts. This has enhanced the best part of the movie; the visuals. This is a stunning and beautiful movie. It has taken its visual  influences from Metropolis and other films. The slightly off early 20th century designs create a familiar but uncomfortable visual pallet. You immediately know something is off.

As for the story, I was amazed how alike The Matrix this movie was, or should I say how alike The Matrix is to this movie. It is pretty obvious that large portions of The Matrix were taking directly from this movie. They are very similar. Unfortunately, I think because The Matrix has had such a huge influence on modern movies, Dark City's impact on me was significantly muted. I predicted the plot throughout and was never surprised.

I would say this is a good sci-fi movie but nothing rare or special.

Magnolia












I love how every screen shot I can find from this movie it either of two people or one person alone. That is the soul of his movie. Relationships define us and destroy us. We need them like me need food and water.

I love this movie. While its not my favorite PTA film ( http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=5551.msg245458#msg245458 ) it is great. Every performance is genius.  While Cruise got all the honors, I think the best performance is William H. Macy. His repressed acting makes his outburst in the bar so heartbreaking.

The pacing, for such a long film, does not seem slow. I was so invested in the characters that it never drags.

I love the scene when several of the characters break out into song at one of the most heightened emotional moments in the film. It literally gives me chills nearly everytime I watch it.

My only problem with the film is the bookends. The opening sequence tells three stories emphasizing the randomness and accidental nature of life. The final scene with the raining frogs further illustrates this point. However, the bulk of the movie is about how our conscious decisions create our lives. It is not fate, we make our own destiny. Perhaps, PTA uses the bookends to contrast these two points, but I have always thought they did not work very well.

Verdict:

It is probably pretty clear that I would eliminate Dark City and allow Magnolia to move on. While I would be upset if Magnolia were to win the bracket, since there are far superior films in contention, it is superior to Dark City in most respects.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 12:25:33 PM by Clovis8 »

FroHam X

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 17792
  • “By any seeds necessary.”
    • justAtad
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2009, 12:25:40 PM »
Finally somebody with some sense. Dark City should not have made it this far.
"We didn't clean the hamster's cage, the hamster's cage cleaned us!"

Can't get enough FroHam? Read more of my musings at justAtad

edgar00

  • 00 Agent
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *
  • Posts: 12131
  • corndogs are better than Die Another Day
    • Between The Seats
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2009, 12:56:20 PM »
I haven't seen Dark City, but from what I remember a lot of people let it pass into deeper rounds of the bracket because it's good, flawed, but has a lot of potential.

I'm curious to read to other reviews for this matchup, but I suspect that the buck stops here for Dark City. Incidentally, I haven't seen Magnolia either, but that movie receives unconditional love from almost everyone here so I'm guessing this would be a major upset if somehow Dark City made it through with it's so called potential.
-Le Chiffre: You changed your shirt, Mr Bond. I hope our little game isn't causing you to perspire.

-James Bond: A little. But I won't consider myself to be in trouble until I start weeping blood.

https://twitter.com/Betweentheseats
http://crabkeyheadquarters.wordpress.com/

jbissell

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 10842
  • What's up, hot dog?
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2009, 01:01:03 PM »
I like Dark City a lot, but Magnolia is the right pick.

worm@work

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 7506
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2009, 01:07:33 PM »
I like Dark City a lot, but Magnolia is the right pick.

Melvil

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 9978
  • Eek
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2009, 12:59:44 AM »

Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)

Right off the bat, the prologue is extremely effective in sucking me in every time. The three stories are all great, and the presentation and narration perfect. More than that, it sets up the rest of the movie and prepares you for the unique storytelling you're about to be plunged into. Then the title sequence kicks in introducing us to each of the characters and a summation of their stories-to-come set to One is the Loneliest Number. It's so awesome, and really rewarding in repeat viewings.

This is one of those movies where there is just so much joy evident in the filmmaking. PTA goes to town, no holds barred, and his enthusiasm can be felt in every aspect of the movie. It's not often I'm this aware of the filmmaking but still totally drawn into the story. The music / soundtrack is incredible. The editing and visual flourishes are easily the best ever done in this type of "tapestry film".

And, of course, the cast is fantastic. There's not a bad performance in the movie, and there are in fact many completely brilliant performances. It would be insane for me to try and break down all of the things going on in all of the stories throughout this movie, but I honestly don't think there's a weak link in the movie.

Finally, I can't say enough good things about the end. Yes, there are frogs, and I love them stylistically and thematically, how it ties the entirety of the movie together. But really the best part is that final shot, when Claudia looks into the camera and smiles. This movie is completely exhausting emotionally, and I can't imagine any payoff better than that split second moment that leaves me grinning as the credits roll.

Magnolia is truly one of the finest films of the 90's.



Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998)

Unlike Magnolia, this was my first time watching Dark City. I've long meant to watch it, so it was great to finally be forced into it here. :D

So I've been hearing a lot about how ambitious this movie is, but also that it's flawed. With those expectations in place, I have to say I was pretty happy with my reaction to it. It is certainly ambitious, but I have to say for the most part successfully so. Visually, of course, the movie is very impressive. The design and concept of the city and the story is awesome, and for its time it is a very impressive achievement.

Oh crap, I said "for its time"? Hear that death knell tolling? Yes, it's true the movie shows its age a bit. And I feel really bad saying this because it did pave the way, but other movies have since handled similar material better. Not that there's anything bad here, but my impression was that the execution was a little rough. It's also hurt by the fact that movies like The Matrix have stolen its thunder, watching this now it felt much less original than it must have in 1998.

Still, I really enjoyed the vision of this bleak world, and the sci-fi noir feel to it is really exciting. I had some other quibbles with it (certain performances, a really awful climactic fight), but I think by now my verdict is clear so I don't want to bag on it more than necessary. :)

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 31918
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2009, 01:03:28 AM »
The editing and visual flourishes are easily the best ever done in this type of "tapestry film".

That's a very bold statement.  What comes in second?

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Melvil

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 9978
  • Eek
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2009, 01:51:53 AM »
The editing and visual flourishes are easily the best ever done in this type of "tapestry film".

That's a very bold statement.  What comes in second?

Perhaps I should have stated "...that I've seen..." rather than "...ever...". But really, nothing else I've seen even comes close. If you disagree I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on it.

mañana

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 20846
  • Check your public library
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2009, 01:58:56 AM »
The editing and visual flourishes are easily the best ever done in this type of "tapestry film".

That's a very bold statement.  What comes in second?

Perhaps I should have stated "...that I've seen..." rather than "...ever...". But really, nothing else I've seen even comes close. If you disagree I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on it.

Don't let pix push you around, nothing wrong with boldness.
There's no deceit in the cauliflower.

'Noke

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 11799
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Magnolia vs. Dark City
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2009, 06:56:13 AM »
Magnolia vs. Dark City(Theatrical Cut)


Magnolia

At my school, I consider myself the resident expert on movies. Now that;s not hard when 90-905% of the kids have never heard of Martin Scorsese before. Last Friday, the final day of our spring term, I was asked two times what my favorite movie ever was. Both times, without hesitation, I said Magnolia. The first time, my friend noted the fact that I had replied very quickly to that question. On reason may be that I usually like to keep track of these things in my mind, but the fact is that Magnolia had outstripped every other movie I have seen. It was ambitious, yet it had reached everything it was aiming for. PTA was able to flesh out each of these characters in a short amount of time so that everything that happens to these people hit me on an emotional level(something I think he failed to do in Boogie Nights)


The second conversation was a bit more dull. When stating Magnolia was my favorite film, my friend replied simply "Well, who's in it? I said"It was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson(Honestly, I don't know why I bother) It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Cruise, John C.Reilly, Philip baker Hall..." She seemed to latch onto the fact that Tom "look how high I can bounce on this couch" Cruise is in this movie. the conversation then devolved into how tom cruise shouldn't be a celebrity, but my mind stayed on Magnolia, trying to convince my friends "No, No, he's actually good in this."


Because he is. while I understand that Cruise's recent output has not been very good, when given the direction, he can act. He stars in two films that have made it to the 5th round of the bracket (the other being, for you lazy Americans, Eyes Wide Shut.) and he's Brilliant here. Playing Frank TJ Mackey, at the beginning you could construe him as a man similar to Tom Cruise himself. Crazy Hyper, talking in absolutes of the human spirit, ideas that are truly what people want to believe, not what's real. However, halfway in his interview with Gwenovier(April Grace) shes brings up a bit of the past Mackey has left far behind him, one that destroys the character PTA has been building up for the past hour and a half. this is a man who has presented himself as a misogynist, someone who doesn't feel, which(in what could be a bit of social satire)makes him a god amongst men Gwenovier, delicately relaying the story back to him, finishes by asking him simply "why would you lie, Frank?" don't you understand? You have put a soul on a man whose very livelihood relies on him not having one. He then falls silent, not used to what has been presented to him. He has always hid behind the Frank Mackey character, and now it's gone.

"We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us."

This movie, like Boogie Nights, takes a circle of people and observes the life of every single person in that circle. In Boogie Nights, we watch the lives of the porn star, the director, the best friend, the producer. Here, however, PTA broadens his scope. Here, there are two circles. On revolves around a game show, entitled "What do kids know?". there's the show's host(Philip Baker Hall), the whizz kid creeping towards the show's record(Jeremy Blackman), the former whizz kid fallen from glory, harbouring a crush on a bartender(William H. Macy), the daughter of the game show host(Melora Walters) and the policeman sent to investigate a disturbance at her apartment(John c. Reilly). The second revolves around Frank TJ Mackey, his father(The great Jason Robards), his father's wife(Julianne Moore), and his hospice nurse(Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Each thread in Magnolia is so developed in what little time each thread has it's amazing. One of the problems I had with a movie like Boogie Nights is that some of the threads were underdeveloped(I think of Macy's and Hoffman's in particular). but here, each and every thread is given as much time as it deserves. And each one is so deep that I could go into as much detail as I just did with Tom Cruise's(I won't, for the sake of time)


And even this is not enough for Mr. Anderson. Not only do we have a giant cast and camera shots, like the one through the game show corridors, akin to the opening shot of Boogie Nights, but we also have a character introduction to the music from 2001 which ends with the words "respect the cock". We have large sing alongs. And we have an ending straight out of the rough draft for Being John Malkovich(I'm not going to spoil anything, but if you've seen Magnolia you'll know what I mean)

He is trying to packing everything he can into this movie and I think he gets everything. Except the kitchen sink. two short scenes, about 3 minutes in total, aren't very good. One involves John C. Reilly listen to a kid rap, and I'm not sure rapping is really Mr.Anderson's forte. John c. Reilly's reaction is perfect and really speaks for the audience. We don't want this.


the second scene is the scene involving Julianne Moore getting drugs for both her and her father. the clerk, assuming that Moore is going to down all this herself, starts asking questions.While I think this scene is OK, it's another scene that really feels like something out Boogie Nights then Magnolia. Boogie Nights is mostly surface emotion, which is what this scene is. In every other scene, I understand Moore's outbreaks, but here, there is no method to her madness. there is only hysterics.


Dark City (theatrical cut)

Dark City, the only film I have in this round that I had not seen previously(my other matchup, for you lazy Americans, is Goodfellas vs. Glengarry Glen Ross). The story begins with a man(Rufus Sewell) waking up in a bath with amnesia. He is accused of murder. A group of strange men called the, ummm, strangers are after him. It seems like the normal run and hide story, until the clocks hit 12. Suddenly everybody falls asleep except, strangely, Sewell, the strangers, and Dr. Daniel P. Schreber (Keifer Sutherland). Then the buildings start moving, then people's memories start changing, then the world shifts beneath his feet.


Both of these matchups I've had so far in this bracket are surprisingly similar. In both matchups I have gotten a movie I was surprised to see this far in the bracket and was sure I was going to knock out, and was pleasantly surprised by, and a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. And Dark City was a pleasant surprise. Going in, I thought it would be sub-par sci-fi. when I finished watching it, however, I had one of those feelings where I just said to myself "What the f- just happened?" where the world is so surreal and yet rooted in some strange reality. The last time I had that feeling was, ironically, when I saw Punch-Drunk Love.


And there are problems with Dark City, no doubt, the main one being Keifer Sutherland's performance. If you gave this role to a better actor(I would go with Jeffrey Wright, but then again I always go with Jeffrey Wright), they would be able to pull of the struggle Dr.Schreber has between his employers and his race, but Sutherland doesn't pull it off. He instead makes the choice to try and stutter through his lines, speaking in stops and starts. It doesn't work, as this is a character that should be played internally, not externally. Instead of portraying a man conflicted with the ever changing world around him, we instead get a man who could turn around at any moment and shout "HE'S ALIVE!!"


There's also a graininess to the cinematography, and the visual style itself was not brilliant, just normal noir staple. It's the inventiveness of the script that wins out in the end the mindf- world he creates. Here is a director willing to create a world sitting in space, one where normal rules don't apply in any way. One day, she's your wife, the next, she's a serial killer. One moment, you're in an apartment, just trying to make ends meet. the next, you wake up in a bathtub, not knowing who or where you are.

The movie flips itself on its head. When the movie opens, you're expecting a simple movie about a man accused falsely of a crime. It's not. Not really. He is falsely accused of a crime, but that doesn't matter as he becomes a much more serious player in the games the strangers are playing.


They want to be human. Or at least understand us. So they can duplicate us. This comes out of right field, mainly because the rest of the film is in left field. Why? to become us is to become worthless, to become puppets in your shadowy game. The strangers understand this, in a way, but they can't bring themselves to the fact that the worthless puppets are winning. They are fantastic villains, striding their way across the city, silent, quick, horrifying, their pale faces utterly creepy.


And the cast is solid, if not great. While I have major problems with Sutherland's performance, the rest of the cast do their job aptly. Rufus Sewell is great as John Murdoch, the man without any notable character. You get the feeling that until the end of the movie, he doesn't really know exactly what is going on inside Proyas' head, but then again he is an amnesiac. William Hurt and Jennifer Connelly are also solid, but neither of them give great performances.
And that baby stranger still haunts my dreams.

And the winner is:

I guess this means We've officially knocked out Dark city. Ah well. It was a good run.
I actually consider a lot of movies to be life-changing! I take them to my heart and they melt into my personality.