Author Topic: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts  (Read 258899 times)

Bondo

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1910 on: August 03, 2013, 01:41:44 AM »
So far both my group verdicts have been unanimous. So contrary to my reputation.

Beavermoose

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1911 on: August 03, 2013, 02:07:26 PM »
Inconceivable! Princess Bride love baffles me.

mañana

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1912 on: November 04, 2013, 10:13:55 PM »
I've always assumed Prince of the City was better than Serpico, but I've only seen the latter.
I haven't seen all of Serpico so can't say.
Yep, Prince is better.
There's no deceit in the cauliflower.

Bondo

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1913 on: November 18, 2013, 01:02:45 AM »
Running on Empty (Sidney Lumet, 1988)

That point in the coming of age process where a young man or woman has to break from their family and make a life of their own (or begin the process of forming a family of their own) is compelling material on its own, something that can (and probably has, though no obvious examples just leap out) be done in a fairly straight drama. But you know what would be really great, hyping up the stakes by having the parents be on the run from the FBI for unconventional political activism gone awry. For Danny (River Phoenix), the need to move constantly demands that his ties to the rest of the world are weak and thus his ties to his parents Arthur (Judd Hirsch) and Annie (Christine Lahti) and his brother are necessarily stronger. For him to move on to his own life (college) with outside friends or romantic partners would in essence be leaving his family forever. Yikes, narrative and thematic hyperbole. It might be seen as contrived the way they set up Annie’s own loss of contact with her family but it kind of is the point...this is something every generation experiences and must experience, to find their own spot in the world.

This all works rather well and a lot of credit for that goes to Phoenix who is expressive as someone torn between a real compassion for his family but the sense that he needs something else. If there is a weakness it comes from a lot of the others, and certain moments that just stick out. His brother is just terrible as are many of the bit parts and even Hirsch contributes to one of the worst moments when Artie gets drunk and acts too far out of character. There are other moments that aren’t so much bad as just too cutesy.

4/5

Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)

I went into this knowing pretty much nothing about it other than its two leads. When it opens upon scenes right from an exploitation slasher, with lots of random female nudity, I instantly recalled Carrie. Then the credit popped up saying this was a De Palma film and it all clicked into place. From this opener (which is revealed to be a film that  Jack (John Travolta) is doing the sound for) right through its political paranoia plot, it feels like an ideal summation of the 70s in film, and thankfully does so with more finesse than De Palma showed me last month with Carrie.

After the opening scene, the film really grabs your attention with its focus, naturally, on sound. The scene with Jack out recording sounds (and the later scene where listening to those sounds evoke his visual memory) speak to the power of sound. Unfortunately, the peaceful night is disturbed by a car crashing into the river, with Jack rescuing Sally (Nancy Allen), putting them both in the sights of a conspiracy. There are a lot of really great moments throughout, including the powerful last shot, but it is a film with a few sticky problems that hold it back from true classic status.

To paraphrase the popular saying, just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean you are paranoid enough. After uncovering what he sees as a conspiracy, Jack is shockingly cavelier about things, which sets up the climax on less reliable foundation. Another big problem here is Nancy Allen, who just doesn’t have the chops or charisma for this big of a role. It stands out more than in Carrie (again alongside Travolta) where her unremarkable acting didn’t stand out amid all the other unremarkable acting. I’ll take Kate Capshaw in Temple of Doom any day as directors casting spouses goes. Less critical, and probably just a result of my own intellectual curiosities, the motivation of the conspiracy is underwhelming. Obviously those involved aren’t keen on the candidate leading the race for the Presidency, but to whom this is a threat is left blank. It is enough of a technical marvel that combined with its pulpy story it is well worth watching, but it ducks profundity on the nature of power in society that might let a conspiracy succeed.

4/5

Verdict: This was a very close contest with both films surprising me quite a bit, but neither avoiding some drawbacks that make me less enthusiastic to push one through. Ultimately I do think De Palma’s brashness and style wins out over the subtler contemplations of Lumet. Blow Out gets my vote.

WillMunny

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1914 on: November 18, 2013, 06:30:02 AM »
This was my fourth viewing of De Palma´s Blow Out, my first of Running on Empty.
One could say wow! if you have watched four times you must love it, not really would be the answer: in 1981 watching a De Palma plus Travolta movie was a cinematic and a social experience at the same time, my returning interest in the film has more to do with my being fourteen at the time than with total appreciation. Blow Out is not the best De Palma film but in my opinion is the one who better represents the good and bad abilities of De Palma as a director, his visual style and cinematic creativity are on constant display here, they are so good that they almost manage to go unnoticed the senseless conspiracy and poorly written characters, just take the hospital scene after the accident and Travolta´s unwillingness to hide the presence of the girl in the car, it makes no sense, at that point of the story he knows still nothing that is wasn´t an accident, it would have been more effective as a narrative and likable as a character if he had agreed that revealing the presence of the girl would have resulted only in ruining the memory of a dead man in the eyes of his family and turn him into a fighter against conspiracy later, when he finds out it wasn´t an accident.
Blow Out is Blow-up meets The Conversation, but is way inferior to those models.
Its best thing are the opening and closing scenes, in a way they have been echoed in Larrain´s no, I ignore if this was a De Palma´s original idea or if someone else had done it before.
I am not a Lumet fan and Running on empty doesnt´t cast famous names, so I am not surprised that it escaped my attention when it came out. It is a very complex and unusual film mixing many narrative elements: the weather underground, parents/sons relationships, how their actions influence for better or worse - with or without intention - each other lives, how a civic conscience to improve our society comes with a big price tag. Describing it this way it sounds like an impossible film but Lumet manages to keep everything smooth, good character development, the romance between the kids sounds natural, a solid film.
Is it possible an abstention?  ;D
A good film with low re-watch value, a highly cinematic one with a disastrous screenplay.
Anyway
Blow Out 3.5
Running on Empty 3

Bondo

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1915 on: August 29, 2014, 10:02:01 PM »
I'm not a young girl and dancing really isn't my thing, so it simply wasn't effective.

I am, it is and it was!  :)

Just going back through these reviews now that I've seen Dirty Dancing (the brackets have great archive value). Now I'm just struggling to remember why the rules allowed Dirty Dancing to be replaced during the resurrection process.

Beavermoose

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1916 on: September 10, 2014, 11:28:40 PM »
Who Framed Roger Rabbit VS Rain Man

Who Framed Roger Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way," says the alluring, fantastically proportioned, Jessica Rabbit in one of the key scenes in the movie.
Which leads us to the questions: What makes us who we are? Are we all just drawn that way? Products of our surroundings, of our sociocultural systems?  Is there such a thing as free will? Roger Rabbit, although stuffed with wacky antics, meta humour and demonstrating a love of old hollywood cinema, is padded with vague existentialist ideas and cultural critique. The toons immortality for example is topic of interest. What value does a life have when it cannot be ended? Would we all just be dropping anvils on each others heads if we we're immortal?
Despite the semi-facetiousness of this first paragraph. I do think that there is much more depth to this film than most people give it credit for. Not only were its visuals revolutionary at the time, the world building for this movie is fantastic and the way the effects are integrated in so many creative ways its a real treat to watch. I remember watching this as a kid and getting so scared by judge doom in those final few scenes that I couldn't watch the end. Re-watching it now I have to give Zemeckis credit for making the judge such a frightening character and upping the stakes in those final scenes. Those crazy eyes and that golden rotary saw arm will forever be stuck in my memory.

Rain Man
A somewhat by the numbers tale about family, self-realization, becoming a better person and all that jazz. Rain Man's main strength, and I have to give credit to Levinson and the performers for this, is that it manages to derive humour from a mentally ill person without ever feeling exploitative. Cruise is at his cruisiest and Hoffmann has his once in a lifetime performance as the, maybe a bit too silly, autistic Raymond.
I have to admit that I also do really enjoy the fact that this is a road movie, the whole literal journey, emotional journey allegory just seems to be something that works really well and allows for both dynamic visuals and storytelling. And of course the scenes in Vegas are fantastic as proven by the many parodies.

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I've never been much for ranking movies. At this point in the brackets all the movies that we are reviewing are at the least very good in my book and so ultimately when choosing between two of them it really comes to personal preference or nostalgia or some single scene that stands out above the rest. For me its the ambition, uniqueness and of course the nostalgia that puts this movie over the edge.

Verdict: The Rabbit moves on. If my bracket partners agree.

edit: added some spoiler tags
« Last Edit: September 11, 2014, 08:08:50 AM by Beavermoose »

1SO

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1917 on: September 10, 2014, 11:55:32 PM »
Great write-ups and you made the right decision, but that Roger Rabbit photo is a major spoiler. I remember the first time I saw the movie, never thinking the toon that killed Eddie's brother was going to come back. I certainly didn't think it was the Judge, who didn't have the eyes or the voice Eddie remembers.
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Bondo

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1918 on: September 11, 2014, 12:14:02 AM »
BRACKETS!!!

I have both films rated 4/5 in my most recent viewings so I'd be happy enough either way.

Beavermoose

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #1919 on: September 13, 2014, 10:37:22 PM »
I really hope that we can get more people to finish up this bracket!