Author Topic: Respond to the last movie you watched (Jan 2011 - Nov 2013)  (Read 1403601 times)

Bondo

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14060 on: July 09, 2012, 11:11:50 AM »
Being There (1979)

The fish out of water story is common enough. Through some set of circumstances, someone's ignorance of a situation is often taken as simple wisdom. Chance (Peter Sellers) is a sheltered, probably autistic, gardener who is thrown into the world for the first time when the man he works for dies. Things aren't going so well when he is hit by a car and taken in by Eve (Shirley MacLaine) and her wealthy family who mistake him for a wiser, more aristocratic man.

In this case, Chance's gardening thoughts are taken as metaphor, guiding decisions at the very top of American politics. Of course, Chance is not a strategic fellow and any misinterpretations are of those around him. We feel bad for the way his innocence is questioned by those around him that are more cynical as all he ever asked for was a job working the garden.

The performance here from Sellers is an interesting, highly mannered one. Yet that manner is so dry that it makes the film a bit aching at times. The film feels hours long under the weight of its overly formal nature. It's an interesting idea that just doesn't pan out.

2/5

Junior

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14061 on: July 09, 2012, 11:55:09 AM »
The Amazing Spiderman.

I never liked the Raimi Spiderman films. They were compotent and had some of the Raimi touch, but they were mostly undone by a poor lead performance and poor supporting performances. I never liked anybody other than Franco for the most part. And the moment that everybody points to as the worst part of the franchise (the dancing in 3) is a high point for me. So I greeted the prospect of a new version so soon as a promising development instead of a knife in the back. But could Marc Webb (the most apt director to take on the franchise if only for his name) reboot the series effectively? Yes, he could.

I have a theory that had this been the first filmed Spiderman film (well, the first big budget blockbuster version) it would be hailed as one of the best of the superhero genre. Webb brings some of the inventiveness of his previous film, (500) Days of Summer, and adds in some particularly striking framing and directing. I love how this movie looks and feels. It's big and small at the same time. The first person shots work particularly well, and you could easily take stills and turn it into a comic book without the over-done style that Ang Lee brought to his much maligned Hulk film. It works for the action shots and for the interpersonal scenes equally. See the courting between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey for an example of how well Webb directs the character interactions.

Of course, none of this would be worth anything if the actors weren't up to snuff. The good news is that, as I had hoped, Andrew Garfield is a much better choice for the man in the spandex. He's smart and clever and never under or overplays the scene. He spouts the oneliners better than his predecessor ever could. The scene where he shows up his high-school tormenter is hilarious physical comedy. He pairs wonderfully with Emma Stone's Gwen Stacey. Unlike the cold blanket Dunst Mary Jane Watson, Stone is fiery and confident and a perfect match for Garfield. I was also pleased to see a development about halfway though the film that meant we could avoid the standard superhero and love interest thing. The film also takes time after the climax to give them some actual drama, another nice touch. It's good to see a summer action film that cares as much about its characters as it does its explosions.

The action isn't bad, either. Just before the final fight there is a scene that is patently ridiculous. It's corny as hell and quite silly, but Webb navigates it deftly. I laughed a little to myself, but it also fit the tone the film was using. Garfield imbues the character with charisma and an interesting kineticism in his Peter Parker role that transfers over to the superhero side as well. The movement in the film is quite enthralling.

The story works and changes enough to feel like it's a different entity from the first film. Curt Connors (played nicely by Rhys Ifans) is an interesting enough character for the first film in a series. These first villains never get quite as much time as they probably should, but Ifans does well with what he's given. There's a larger arc hinted at throughout which is intriguing and new. This is a Spiderman film that hits all the right notes and is only flawed in its nature as a rehash of sorts so soon after the franchise began. But if people can look past stuff like that for Batman Begins I hope that this film will receive a similar treatment.

B+/A-.
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Lobby

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14062 on: July 09, 2012, 04:38:06 PM »
The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb, US, 2012)

Why it was necessary to remake Spider-Man


Was it too early to do make a reboot of Spider-Man? This question has been asked over and over again over lately and my impression is that most people would say "yes".

It's not that they don't like the new version; most seem to think it's just as good as or even better than the old one. But they don't see any good reason for its existence, since it doesn't bring much new to the franchise compared to Raimi's version. Why replace something that already works?

The short and simple answer is "toys". There's a tight bond between the producers of comic magazines, games, plastic dolls and t-shirts and the film producers. I was vaguely aware of it before, but watching The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was the real eye-opener to me. They feed from each other. The film promotes the toys and the toys promote the film. Whenever the market is ready to consume another set of toys, it's the right time to launch a new movie. But do you need to make it a reset? Yes, of course you do!

If you only set for another sequel in an existing series, there's the risk that the t-shirt or plastic doll could be passed on from an older sibling to a younger one. Now there is a small but distinct difference, a new look of the logo, and parents can be talked into buying the same thing all over again.

However we're film fans, not toy manufacturers, so let's put the obvious commercial interest aside for a moment. Once again: is there any way you can defend this reboot of Spider-Man, especially if you like me have a negative default setting towards remakes and sequels, thinking they occupy too much of Hollywood's attention nowadays compared to new and fresh original ideas?

I thought this over for a bit and I got surprised when I realized that my answer would be "yes".


Reasons for my approval

One reason is of course that I enjoyed The Amazing Spider-Man quite a bit. I watched it with my 18 year old, and while neither of us has superhero movies as our favorite genre, we both babbled enthusiastically as we left the theatre.

We agreed that the movie had found the sweet balance between action, humor and psychological drama - a tasty blend of salt, sweet and bitter. Andrew Garfield is the most adorable teenager you ever saw and it's impossible to believe that the guy is turning 29 in a month. The effects are at the level you expect nowadays and I thoroughly enjoyed the swinging between the skyscrapers as I always do, either its Maguire or Garfield who is hanging in the lines.

But even if I hadn't liked The Amazing Spider-Man as much as I did, I would still have approved. The thing is that I have reconsidered the way I look at those superheroes. I've started to see them as those timeless fairytales that we'll keep introducing to new children, generation after generation, making them a part of our cultural heritage.

Think of tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood. I've never heard anyone complaining about the book publisher printing yet another version with a slightly new way to phrase the story and a different set of illustrations. No-one expects families to go book hunting in secondhand bookshops to look up old editions of the fairy-tales.

If there's a market for a book, someone will publish it again and no one will cry that it's "too soon" or "unnecessary".

Every time those stories come out, it will be like a happy reunion and we'll once again enjoy them, because even if they're familiar, we know that even the smallest of changes will add a new dimension to the experience.

Pop culture education
I think it's a bit of the same with Spider-Man. It's been ten years since the first part of last take on Spider-Man came out. Many of the kids in the audience for the newest Spider-Man movie were barely born then or were at least too young to see it as it came out. Shouldn't those kids also get the chance to enjoy the story about this superhero in the environment where it's best told: at a big screen, in a real cinema?

I guess that you could argue that they needn't have remade the movie. All they needed to do was to make a re-launch of the old series, showing the Raimi version in a theatre again. But hands on heart - how keen would the parents, who already have watched this movie as it came out - be to pay a full ticket price to see it once again? I think they want at least a little bit of variation. We've seen some attempts to do this, when they've slapped on some post-production 3D, as they did with The Lion King. But my impression is that it hasn't been any major success.

Kids who grow up today need to learn about Spider-Man, the same way as they need to know who Hansel and Gretel were or where the Cheshire cat comes from. They need a basic pop culture education and reboots like The Amazing Spider-Man can bring them that.

My rating: 4/5
« Last Edit: July 09, 2012, 04:46:32 PM by Lobby »
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MartinTeller

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14063 on: July 09, 2012, 04:42:10 PM »
I guess that you could argue that they needn't have remade the movie. All they needed to do was to make a re-launch of the old series, showing the Raimi version in a theatre again. But hands on heart - how keen would the parents, who already have watched this movie as it came out - be to pay a full ticket price to see it once again? I think they want at least a little bit of variation. We've seen some attempts to do this, when they've slapped on some post-production 3D, as they did with The Lion King. But my impression is that it hasn't been any major success.

I distinctly remember seeing Fantasia and Snow White in theaters when I was a kid.  Revival screenings used to be very common and rather successful.  The home video market pretty much killed them, at least on a large scale.
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sdedalus

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14064 on: July 09, 2012, 04:52:21 PM »
Disney used to do that every year when I was a kid, a summer rerelease of a classic feature.  They stopped when they realized they could make more money selling "vaulted" VHS tapes.
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jdc

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14065 on: July 09, 2012, 04:56:38 PM »
Being There (1979)
The performance here from Sellers is an interesting, highly mannered one. Yet that manner is so dry that it makes the film a bit aching at times. The film feels hours long under the weight of its overly formal nature. It's an interesting idea that just doesn't pan out.

2/5

Now watch a better version of a similar story line: Bad Boy Bubby
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Verite

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14066 on: July 09, 2012, 05:36:59 PM »
The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb, US, 2012)

[...]

I guess that you could argue that they needn't have remade the movie. All they needed to do was to make a re-launch of the old series, showing the Raimi version in a theatre again.

This wasn't an option because if another Spider-Man film isn't made within the grace period designated in the contract with Marvel then Sony loses the film rights.  They chose a reboot over the alternative (i.e. making Spider-Man 4 without Maguire and Raimi).
« Last Edit: July 09, 2012, 05:39:19 PM by Verite »
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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14067 on: July 09, 2012, 05:46:39 PM »
Revival screenings can still be successful...just slap 3-D on that sucker!

Junior

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14068 on: July 09, 2012, 07:14:44 PM »
I liked your idea of superheroes as the new fairy tale. It's an idea I had in college when thinking about writing an essay on modern retellings of the Odyssey. We don't have many folk heroes as Americans, at least, not at present. Superheroes are really our only examples, and as such I don't mind remakes and reboots and whatnot.

This carries over to all film, for me. Nothing is sacred. Everything can be done differently.
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Bondo

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Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
« Reply #14069 on: July 09, 2012, 07:40:50 PM »
Savages (2012)

I feel like Oliver Stone should be a better filmmaker than he is. With Savages, I was hopeful of an opportunity to see something insightful about the difference in drug industries of California and Mexico, and the relationship between them, government, and the likely future of legalization. After all, the current drug wars along the border are one of the more pressing issues of our time and are not discussed enough. Stone, with his interest in Latin America displayed in the excellent documentary South of the Border, seemed a capable person to bring such a story.

Savages has many interesting elements, even if it doesn't have the ambition that I might have liked to see, something that would follow naturally from something like Traffic. Stone however undercuts what he has with way too many indulgent flourishes including cuts to B&W or various color filters for no clear purpose. Occasionally narrated by O (Blake Lively), this is the story of the interaction between a pair of California growers Chon and Ben (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) and a Mexican cartel that includes Lado (Benicio Del Toro), Alex (Demian Bichir, who gave one of the best performances of last year in A Better Life) and Elena (Salma Hayek). The young Americans are a bit in over their heads and things quickly get out of control.

This is a film that I'd say sits uncomfortably in its treatment of women, too often using them as mere barter, but it is a film that passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. Indeed, the film's best moments are discussions between O and Elena, and the contrast with Elena's relationship with her own daughter. These quiet moments were the strength and I wish Stone had been more willing to tell the story with them and more clearly paint the web of political considerations which are hinted at but not fully developed. Instead, it too often reverts back to a reliance on gruesome action that needs to be earned a bit more with context. The highs aren't high enough to cover for all the rough patches.

2/5