Author Topic: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts  (Read 262991 times)

MartinTeller

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1880 on: July 10, 2013, 02:42:03 AM »
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BlueVoid

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1881 on: July 10, 2013, 09:40:45 AM »
Another Woman
I really like Woody Allen. I like everything about his movies, and have probably seen more of his movies than any other director. His movies, while keeping some elements consistent, fall in a wide range of genres. 'Another Woman' falls in with his more serious works like 'Interiors'. With 'Interiors' Allen seemed to be channeling Bergman, one of his idols, and here the connection is more pronounced. more then just being influenced, Allen appears to be making an homage to Bergman's 'Wild Strawberries'. Like in 'Strawberries', this film features a person, this time a woman, in the twilight of their life re-examining their interactions and influence with people and the value of their life. 'Bananas', this is not.

I didn't love this movie. A woman reexamining her life, age forcing her to really open her eyes for the first time. It's done pretty well. But I can't shake the comparison to Wild Strawberries, and this simply is no where near as good. I know this isn't fair, since I don't think Allen was trying to make a film as good as the Bergman classic. I can't help but compare them though, and I just feel its more worthwhile to go rewatch 'Strawberries'. I wouldn't be so harsh on this, but the problem is I really didn't like the characters. It's set in upper class New York which is not something I identify with. Normally this is fine in Allen movies since its more easy to laugh along with something you don't personally identify with then it is to sympathize in a dramatic portrayal. Gena Rowlands in the lead role was cold and unlikable. I completely understood why so many people didn't like her, she wasn't pleasant. The problem is I don't know if she ever grew during the course of the movie. I'm not saying I don't like the serious side of Allen, but I am saying that this one didn't work for me.


The Thing
The Thing might be my favorite horror movie of all time. I'm going to mostly quote from my review from awhile ago, since my views mostly stayed the same on the rewatch.

"This is the height of suspense horror. Stranded on a base in Antarctica, a group of scientists come in contact with an alien life form which can mutate with any living life form. Quickly the team starts to turn on one another, not knowing who might have become infected with the alien. One thing is certain, if the alien escapes it could wipe out civilization. What follows is a brilliant mix of psychological terror and good old fashioned gore.

I'm not a fan of gross gore-fests, but in this case it works. In an age before CG, everything was done physically and this only adds to the grotesqueness of the biological monstrosities which the creature turns into. It is both revolting and some how artful. It makes me sad that this is art of the past, and we'll probably not get these kind of tactile effects again. Nearly 30 years after the movie was made, the effects hold up and are terrifying. That's not something I can say of CG effects that came out even five years ago.

While the gruesome deaths, and stomach-turning 'transformations' give this movie a fun throwback monster movie feel, what I love about it is that it goes much deeper than that. The physiological torment which the team experiences is griping. Talk about suspense. Not only is there a body-consuming alien tormenting your camp, but your best friend might be the alien. Not to mention if you don't kill it, civilization will probably be wiped out. Now those are some stakes, and the film does a great job portraying how people would react in this kind of situation. It's not a typical screamer movie, the characters are nuanced and have some depth. Not to mention Kurt Russel makes a pretty awesome 'scruffy-cool' guy.

'The Thing' is one of those rare films which is genre-defying, yet firmly rooted in its horror roots. I'm not typically a fan of horror, but I appreciate when a movie of any genre if its done well. It's one of those films which I wanted to watch again as soon as it was over. It's one of only a handful of horror movies that I can honestly put in the 'great' category."

On the rewatch I was struck by just how ridiculous everything is. It is. It's a silly movie. But I love it. It held up very well and is extremely enjoyable.

Verdict: For as much as I love Woody Allen films, 'Another Woman' just wasn't up my alley, and unfortunately it was matched up against one of my favorites in this bracket. 'The Thing' moves on and I hope it goes much further!
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¡Keith!

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1882 on: July 10, 2013, 10:16:25 AM »
Solid write-ups which I wholeheartledly disagree with! ;)

Poker was cancelled for tonight so I'll break the brief deadlock before bedtime (it's 1/2 written at this point.)

mañana

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1883 on: July 10, 2013, 07:21:46 PM »

My Dinner with Andre - Louis Malle, 1981

The first half of their dinner date is dominated by Dre recounting his travels while Wally listens in perplexed fascination – his reaction shots struck me as pretty terrible acting, by the way. Before long the film establishes a dichotomy between the two; one who is searching for meaning and new experiences, and the other who takes a more pragmatic approach to life and work. At first glance their conflicting worldviews appear to be entrenched and neither thinker is willing to budge, however, I think the film is really about the production of a new perspective - thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The film is book-ended by Wally shuffling through the city to the restaurant in an Eeyore-like fashion, and gliding through the streets on his way home with a renewed disposition. He may still not be inclined to run off to a remote Polish forest for wackadoodle experimental theatre shenanigans, but he’s very much better off for having engaged Andre in the dialogue. This is all well and good, but I can’t say this journey did much for me. It certainly does have moments that piqued my interest and I suppose I admire its unique structure (or maybe I don’t admire it as much as I’m cognizant of the fact that others do), but by and large I’m not particularly enthusiastic about the ideas expressed here or how they're presented. Too much of their conversation, for me, seemed obvious. I don’t know, maybe obvious isn't the right word. I think I’m trying to say I just don’t care. Love that waiter, though.




When Harry Met Sally... - Rob Reiner, 1989

The 'Annie Hall as a sitcom' charge is pretty tired, but it's hard to ignore it. To clarify, however, considering my general affection for the sitcom form, I don't think of that as much an indictment as others probably do. It's totally unfashionable to say so, but I think Meg Ryan is pretty charming and deftly capable with Ephron's dialogue. Speaking of which, I imagine Ephron is due for some kind of critical re-appraisal (read this if you’ve got nothing else to do). The response to her death suggested a heck of a lot of good will despite crimes against comedy like Hanging Up and Bewitched. And certainly compared to a Nancy Meyers Joint, WHMS... is undoubtedly a gem. Back on topic: in my mind the film is divided into three parts, and something of a diminishing returns principle can be applied to these sections. My favourite section is the encounters at the beginning, before Harry and Sally are friends – the writing seemed sharpest here and the dynamic between the leads most entertaining. The second section of the film, once H and S are pals has its charms, but Crystal’s sad-sack performance drags the proceedings a bit. The final section commences once they have sex and the film devolves into a by rote grind to the inevitable finish. Long story short, this one isn’t as special to me as it is for a lot of other folks, but I always get some enjoyment out of it when I cross its path.

Verdict: When Harry Met Sally... gets my vote, because I like it more.
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Sandy

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1884 on: July 10, 2013, 08:33:07 PM »
I like your verdict mañana, but what I really like, is another vote for Meg Ryan! And, Nora Ephron too!
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1885 on: July 10, 2013, 08:47:29 PM »
:no:

MartinTeller

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1886 on: July 10, 2013, 09:02:24 PM »
Sigh
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mañana

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1887 on: July 10, 2013, 10:29:51 PM »
I like your verdict mañana, but what I really like, is another vote for Meg Ryan! And, Nora Ephron too!
:)

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oldkid

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1888 on: July 11, 2013, 02:30:11 AM »
Harry Met Sally!  Oh yeah!
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¡Keith!

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1889 on: July 11, 2013, 02:32:16 AM »
So here are two reimaginings of some earlier material from the fifties or something, making them about ½ as old as the inspirations. This really doesn’t mean anything, just, ya know, facts to show some similarity between them.

They really aren’t though; couldn’t be further from each other actually.

On one hand, in Another Woman, an established filmmaker sets out on a new path, a quest for serious artistic acceptance perhaps, or simply an attempt to pay homage to his own artistic inspirations.  Allen, ever in love with the upper west side cultural elites, gives the Wild Strawberries treatment to a younger, though no less accomplished, nor emotionally ignorant subject. In some ways, he sets Marion Post, the protagonist, beautifully played by Gena Rowlands, up for ridicule. The film launches with an soon to be ever present voice over… in a journey of self-awareness, it would seem this is an inevitable device… assessing her life to the point of our introduction. In fact, the script actually begins…” a tad on the nose given the myriad implication of the title. From there, we (and she) overhear a very incongruous conversation from the psychiatrists next door about a man who cannot get over his first encounter with another man and how his thoughts stray during work or masturbation. Kind of odd that. Again… is this randomly out of context piece meant to be comedic? After a brief interlude, however, the next conversation overheard provides the inciting incident that triggers the forward momentum of the plot, such as it is, to induce Marion’s slow awakening. Abbruptly transitioning to a 50th birthday party, again sexual proclivities are the talk of the educated bourgeoisie. The story related involves a working class plumber who walks in on friends of Marion’s (Mark & Lydia) “in flagrante delicto.” Mark comes up with a witticism that he is quite proud of and the plumber turns red from embarrassment and crosses himself. Lydia’s sole commentary is “sad.”

It’s clear at this point, not 10 minutes into the film, that Allen is indeed lampooning his subjects, though the tone is certainly not light or playful. This tonal dissonance walks hand in hand with the more Brechtian segments of the dramatic structure. Taking more from Bergman than just a theme, he uses the Swedish master’s cameraman, Sven Nykvist to affect the technique. During a scene where Marion looks thru some old photos (with a few condescending words to her former nanny), the images are played out as silent, pastoral vignettes with that ever present voice-over. These beautiful early autumn, sepia tone moments reflect the memories of Marion, but turn out to just be part of her self-delusion. The final scene reveals some of the back story hinted at earlier about the reasons Paul, her brother, despises her. This moment is not, however, part of the memory. Marion – the older version, not the flashback version – appears and asks the younger Paul what the matter is. He responds by telling her that both of them (Marion and her father) live in their own world and don’t care about his dreams. Rowlands also plays Marion in a much younger version of herself in a scene with her first husband and watches, in a dream, on a sparsely staged play detailing her current marital issues.

The effect of all this Artistry can be a bit off-putting. The intent of this film is confrontational, and successfully accomplishes that goal, but the technique is on the heavy handed side. It’s a blatantly accusatorial tone struck toward the character(s) of this economic and social milieu and in the end, Marion may have made a few strides toward accepting her own shortcomings but one gets the impression that she is about to settle right back into her delusion. Allen allows small moments, in the form of an ex-lover and a former student, as reinforcement that her current path has some merit, despite the massive pile of evidence against it. Each of these scenes follows with a close-up of Marion with a look brimming with self-satisfaction. This cold and loveless person will likely move onto a similar fate as Bergman’s own doctor 20 or 30 years down the line.

The other side of this bracket presents genre filmmaker around the height of his power dipping into creature feature territory. The Thing isn’t really a remake of the 1951 version but culled from the same 1938 novella and, if the internet is to be believed, more faithful to that story. Unlike Woman, there is no need to parse plot details for evidence of merit… there really isn’t any to be found there. This film succeeds because of the atmosphere created by John Carpenter. This is a strong piece of paranoid horror. The cast is solid, especially Russel, David and Brimley. The practical effects, when they work, work really well, though occasionally evince over the top, cheesy 80s gore. The eerie yet propulsive score from Ennio Morricone1, on the other hand is nothing but perfectly effective, flooding the ears with all the tension and dread that the eyes are shown onscreen. There are typical horror issues with the film: a few too many characters are there simply as fodder and some questionable decision making and/or leaps in logic to move the plot forward or set-up conflict. However there are several great scenes – the test scene in particular is so wonderfully unnerving, you can ALMOST ignore the god-awful faulty the flame thrower pack!

Overall, what holds the film back the most is the inevitable comparison to its far superior predecessor. Coming 3 years prior to The Thing, Ridley Scott’s incomparable Alien, contains a more enveloping atmosphere, better creature effects and better execution in those key tension and dread segments. The Thing, while a very good film, just can’t compete with that precedent.

So now left with the choice. In one telling moment of psychiatric counseling, the next door doc advises, “Don’t worry about humanity all the time, get your own life in order,” .

1Razzie Nominee for Worst Score of 1982!