Author Topic: Respond to the last movie you watched (Jan 2011 - Nov 2013)  (Read 1403593 times)

MartinTeller

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14080 on: July 10, 2012, 12:20:36 PM »
Thank you, Melissa!  I really struggled to say what I wanted to say... I had to sleep on it, which I almost never do.  And I'm afraid it still came out as fawning nonsense.  But I hope I captured the spirit of my feelings.
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1SO

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14081 on: July 10, 2012, 12:34:31 PM »
I'm a bit surprised to see such a defensive review. Reads like rather than being swept away in the experience you were finding rebuttal for attacks leveled against the film. Your self-importance section was most interesting and would've been happy to hear more specific examples of places where the detours led to a more interesting exploration of Malick's questions.

When you get to style/substance your retort takes on an equally "knee-jerk" quality. What did you find to be Malick's style and why do you think that style fit the substance so well? What about a mention of just how much substance there is? My favorite surprise was in the layers Malick gave to Pitt's character. He wasn't a stock tough father. That goes completely out the window during the sequence where he's playing piano. And he doesn't just play, but that piano becomes the main thread weaving through that section. My feelings on the father were smashed and rebuilt in that section.

Do you have any theories on why Malick's way of finding the story in the editing room is so effective? Maybe some moments where random imagery came together in a way where pre-conception couldn't have done the same so wonderfully? (I would cite the birth of Jack.)

Now, are you willing to accept the counterpoint that there are times when Malick's jam session approach doesn't work? It makes it difficult for the viewer to get their bearings in the opening. (I think we're starting with 2 deaths, but I've only seen the film once.) I'm talking about before the creation sequence. Most of Sean Penn's scenes didn't click with me. I have nothing against Malick being self-important, stylish and figuring it out in the editing room. I still find the result to be flawed but Malick's most interesting work simply because his technique doesn't work with the material 100% of the time, or even 90%. It's not going to. It's not meant to. What matters is when it all does connect (as it did now and again with me) it's like nothing we've ever seen.
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MartinTeller

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14082 on: July 10, 2012, 12:55:53 PM »
I'm a bit surprised to see such a defensive review. Reads like rather than being swept away in the experience you were finding rebuttal for attacks leveled against the film.

It was a back-and-forth process.  There were times when I tried to put myself in the mind of the skeptic, the cynic, the critic.  It's easy to do, really.  You can do it with any movie.  Makes me wonder how many of my own criticisms against other films come from a place of cynicism, of just not wanting to like something.  But then why do we want to like some things and not like others?  Why do some win us over despite not wanting to like it, or vice versa?  And that was the key to my final evaluation.  I was really trying to not like it.  I could even agree with those critical voices.  But I was still swept away.  In the end I wanted to watch the whole thing over again.

Your self-importance section was most interesting and would've been happy to hear more specific examples of places where the detours led to a more interesting exploration of Malick's questions.

I don't really have an answer to that right now.  I kind of latched on this idea of allowing myself to concentrate on the "style over substance" thing and didn't concern myself with the thematic content.

When you get to style/substance your retort takes on an equally "knee-jerk" quality. What did you find to be Malick's style and why do you think that style fit the substance so well? What about a mention of just how much substance there is? ... Do you have any theories on why Malick's way of finding the story in the editing room is so effective? Maybe some moments where random imagery came together in a way where pre-conception couldn't have done the same so wonderfully? (I would cite the birth of Jack.)

I think the style is finding the moments that have some sort of poetry and/or resonance to them.  Finding the story in the editing room... isn't this what we do with our lives?  We may make plans but when we think over our lives, we latch onto particular moments that stay with us, planned or not.  We remember things in flashes, out of sequence, repeated, abstract.  A thing that isn't important in terms of how you got to where you are now can still feel important in terms of who you are, what you feel.

It occurred to me, though I forgot to mention it in my review, how much this film feels like The Long Day Closes, though more fragmented.

My favorite surprise was in the layers Malick gave to Pitt's character. He wasn't a stock tough father. That goes completely out the window during the sequence where he's playing piano. And he doesn't just play, but that piano becomes the main thread weaving through that section. My feelings on the father were smashed and rebuilt in that section.

I love that too, I mentioned it briefly in my first review.  He's not a heartless brute.

Now, are you willing to accept the counterpoint that there are times when Malick's jam session approach doesn't work? It makes it difficult for the viewer to get their bearings in the opening. (I think we're starting with 2 deaths, but I've only seen the film once.) I'm talking about before the creation sequence. Most of Sean Penn's scenes didn't click with me. I have nothing against Malick being self-important, stylish and figuring it out in the editing room. I still find the result to be flawed but Malick's most interesting work simply because his technique doesn't work with the material 100% of the time, or even 90%. It's not going to. It's not meant to. What matters is when it all does connect (as it did now and again with me) it's like nothing we've ever seen.

You'd have to define "doesn't work". 
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MartinTeller

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14083 on: July 10, 2012, 01:00:57 PM »
In fact, it bears a striking resemblance to The Cook, The Thief.....

Greenaway has such distinct characteristics that most (all?) of his films resemble several of his other films.  Last time I watched Belly it struck me how often he works conspiracies and secrets into his stories.
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verbALs

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14084 on: July 10, 2012, 01:03:07 PM »
Yes here's another director for whom plot might be a secondary issue, so what might seem an over employed story, really isn't an issue. Columns, man , columns
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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14085 on: July 10, 2012, 01:13:55 PM »
Daguerréotypes (Agnes Varda, 1976)

A day in the life of a street. If you think that sounds like the most boring film ever, you don't know Agnes Varda. Even without making herself a central figure as in some of her more recent documentaries, Varda has a playful eye that imbues a certain appeal if not outright interest to the topic. In this case, watching the film a few decades after it was made gives it an added appeal because, it contains a way of life that feels historical at this point.

Beginning with the shops along Rue Daguerre opening for the day and ending as they close up, with the various tradesmen and tradeswomen discussing their dreams, this is a place where the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker are the owners of three different stores, not the stuff of nursery rhymes or employees of a single company or other major corporations that sell to the first. We do see a butcher and a baker if not a candlestick maker as we tour the street, along with a maker of perfumes, a hairstylist and a few others. Admittedly many large, densely populated cities have these sorts of tiny shops, but watching these there is something distinctly Parisian about them in the clutter. I'm not exactly claustrophobic but once you get me (via the camera) in a tiny shop with the man and woman running it along with two customers and a whole lot of tiny bottles on shelves, I started getting that feeling of panic rising in my chest. It all felt very precarious.

Varda's true playfulness comes in the second half of the film as she cuts between a magic show and various scenes from the shops that have interesting correlations. I don't want to spoil too much but to say I'm not a fan of gore gags (yes, I know he doesn't really cut her in half, but I'd rather not even think he is) and the cut Varda uses only makes it worse. But maybe that's just me and my foibles. In the end, watching a Varda doc leaves me with the same feeling as watching a more pedestrian Wiseman doc (but with a few more hours of free time left over). It is simple and a bit weightless. The only real critique being that it doesn't feel important or innovative in style or substance, but that's quite different from saying it is bad.

3/5

Sandy

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14086 on: July 10, 2012, 02:39:31 PM »
Let Malick have his cinematic jam sessions if this is to be the result.

OAD is right that your review should stay intact, but I did really love that last sentence. I saw it only once, a year ago, but haven't forgotten it's impact.

Lobby

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14087 on: July 10, 2012, 03:12:46 PM »
Hm... with everyone floating around in inner and outer space contemplating The Tree of Life I feel a bit awkward breaking in with a completely different kind of movie. But I guess that's the charm with this thread, isn't it? So get ready!
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Lobby

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14088 on: July 10, 2012, 03:14:41 PM »
Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow, US, 1995)

Memories are meant to fade. They're designed that way for a reason.

Quote
"See... I can get you what you want, I can. I can get you anything, you just have to talk to me, you have to trust me. You can trust me, 'cause I'm your priest, I'm your shrink... I am you main connection to the switchboard of the soul. I'm the magic man... Santa Claus of the subconscious. You say it, you think it, you can have it".

I don't take notes as I watch movies. But sometimes as I watch a film, the thought crosses my mind that I would like to do that: freeze the DVD and move forward just a few seconds at a time so I could write down some of the lines so I could get back to them later and enjoy them over again.

It never happens though. I tell myself that there probably is some nice person with a lot of time at hands who has written down the best quotes from the movie at IMDb. And sometimes they have. Other times I get disappointed when it turns out that people have made some pretty strange choices, writing down throw-away lines, but not getting to the brilliant lines that you want to tattoo into your brain so you can hold onto them forever.

Quote
"One man's mundane and desperate existence is another man's Technicolor."

Strange Days was one of those movies where some of the lines stood out to me particularly. Not all are completely natural; some come out like written little speeches, nothing that a person would say in a normal conversation. And yet there was just something to it that stuck with me and that now makes me sprinkle this text with quotes from it. It's not my usual way to write a review, but this time they were irresistible.

Quote
"Memories are meant to fade. They're designed that way for a reason."

I don't blame you if you've never heard of it. This science fiction thriller from the mid 90s appears to be a little overlooked, judging from how it did at the box office and from that at least I hadn't heard of it before I was presented to it the other night.

It's really a shame if you ask me, because it's a wonderful film, a true gem for someone like me. But then I'm really into the kind of science fiction that explores the relationship between mankind and technology in future that is just around the corner. Blade Runner is one of my favourite movies and while this one isn't quite as good, it reminds me a little bit of it in the style.

Quote
"Look... everyone needs to take a walk to the dark end of the street sometimes, it's what we are."

The story takes place in the last few days of the last millennium, as New Years eve 1999 is closing in. Lenny Nero, played by an astonishingly young Ralph Fiennes, is an ex-cop who does shady business with data-discs that contain recorded memories that you can plug into your brain, reliving the memories of someone else. One day he's contacted by someone who says that his ex girlfriend is in some kind of danger and he also receives a disc with a strange recording on it. He starts to investigate it and the more he learns, the worse things start to happen to him and his bad-ass female friend Mace (wonderfully played by Angela Bassett). 

Quote
"Paranoia is just reality on a finer scale."

But it isn't the action that is the unique selling point - even if it's engaging and exciting enough - it's the idea of those devices tied to your brain with and the consequences of their offerings to bring you to a virtual reality that will stick with me in the long run, bringing me all those questions to dwell over long after the film is finished.

I also loved the crazy the-end-of-the-world-is-near atmosphere - dense, dark and believable, associating to the riots that followed after the case of Rodney King in 1999.

Quote
"This tie costs more than your entire wardrobe... it's the one thing that stands between me and the jungle."

Despite the obvious time marks, like the millennium shift that is over and done with a long time ago without anything particular happening, the movie has that timeless vibe that makes it feel fresh. 17 years after its opening it's almost in mint condition.

Considering how much I liked this film, it feels a little bit petty to mention that there is a moment of cheesiness that I could have lived without. So, there I said it. But it's such a small spot that I easily can overlook.

Because in the end Strange Days is a shiny piece of a movie and it increases my interest for the director Kathryn Bigelow, which was raised by her Oscar award winning film The Hurt Locker, which was one of the most exciting films I've seen. I really need to check out her other films. If they're anywhere near as good as those two movies, I've got some great experiences to look forward to.

Quote
"Cheer up. The world's about to end in ten minutes anyway."

My rating: 4,5/5
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 03:16:46 PM by Lobby »
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verbALs

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14089 on: July 10, 2012, 03:34:45 PM »
Smirnoff did an extensive eulogy on Strange Days here. Angela B kicked botty.

You've seen Point Break and Near Dark? Absolutely my favourite action movie evah and a damn fine vampire story. Blue Steel not so much.
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