Author Topic: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts  (Read 272986 times)

Corndog

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2010 on: August 02, 2013, 03:35:22 PM »
The Shining vs. Princess Bride
My apologies for the delayed response; Bondo, oldkid and I were supposed to deliver a unified response all on the same day, but sometimes life gets in the way, doesn't it. So here I am with my opinion trailing in after the wonderful posts by Bondo and oldkid have already determined the verdict...

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) -
When I received this matchup I was quite happy, for while I had seen both of these films previously, I had been wanting to give The Shining another shot, after having been less than impressed the first time saw it. Kubrick has always been a mixed bag with me. At times his filmmaking has astounded me, and other times I have been quite disinterested. The one major qualm I had with The Shining the first time I saw it remains this time as well: the performance of Jack Nicholson. He is just way to over the top for me and seems to get a little too crazy a little too quickly. I don't buy it, which in part comes from Kubrick failing to ever convince me with his delivery of the story in the early going. Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd are a bit grating as well. Duvall gives what is probably the best performance, but her attitude just seems so off and out of sync with what we are seeing the in the development of Jack. One of the other major gripes I have with this film is the fact that I am never once convinced that Jack and Wendy love each other or have ever been a couple in a meaningful relationship with each other, even before Jack goes nuts. The inauthentic feel to these characters really makes me struggle to ever fully invest myself in their story.

What this film does have going for it are the visuals. The set decoration and cinematography make for a visual feast. This is a gorgeous film, and the maze in the snow at night will forever be one of those scenes that stays in my mind. Extremely well shot. But beauty in images is not enough to win me over. Many of the films I love with a great passion are also beautiful looking films, but unlike those, The Shining's beautiful imagery does not seem to compliment or add to the story being told. I am sure there are others who would disagree, but it is not an element I was able to discern.

The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987) -
The Princess Bride is one of those classics. They replay in your mind and are everlastingly quotable with friends. I must admit that there is some nostalgia attached with this film, but my viewing this time I went in to try and be as fair as I could be. Ultimately, my love for the film seems to have receded slightly after this viewing. There is so much to be loved from start to finish here, but I must say that it felt a little less complete; more episodic than I had remembered. The saving grace is that each of those episodes are so much fun! The entire cast in awesome throughout, with the highlight being Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya. This also reaffirms my love of Robin Wright, what a wonderful actress. I really wish she were in more modern films.

But on top of the great cast, wonderful gags and quotable lines, what I took away most from this viewing was the structure of the story, with the annoying grandfather telling the fairy tale to his sick grandson. I just loved how involved the kid gets and the playful interaction between the two as we follow along with them. There really has already been so much said about this film, especially in oldkid's great review, but while it may have a little less polish and greatness than I originally remember, it still remains a timeless classic that I will be sure to watch many more times, year after year.

Verdict: The interesting thing with this matchup is that beforehand I would have told you I hated The Shining and absolutely adored The Princess Bride. The Shining improved, if just ever so slightly, while The Princess Bride managed to feel less beloved this go around. Yet my verdict is as assured as it would have been before rewatching both. The Princess Bride moves on, without a doubt.
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Jared

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2011 on: August 02, 2013, 06:13:38 PM »
I liked the write-ups, but you are all nuts  :)

smirnoff

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2012 on: August 02, 2013, 06:19:27 PM »
A titan falls.

oldkid

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2013 on: August 02, 2013, 11:51:56 PM »
I liked the write-ups, but you are all nuts  :)

At least we all have good company in the nut-house. :)
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Bondo

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2014 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 #2015 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 #2016 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.
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Bondo

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Re: 1980s US Bracket: Verdicts
« Reply #2017 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 #2018 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 #2019 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.

 

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