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A few reviews
(04-09-2020, 02:12 PM)TM2YC Wrote: If it wasn't clear, I didn't mean that as a criticism.
I might be wrong but I don't get that feeling with Miyazaki, it seems like a tasteful artistic choice. 

No, I got you, no worries.  You could be right about the camera being still purposefully, or maybe it's a little of A and a little of B.  I said that because the finances of that movie were famously troubled.  It was only Miyazaki's 3rd film directing, and it was initially only supposed to be an hour long.  As he worked on the autobiographical story, more of the nature elements began creeping in, and sequences got longer... they tried to get approval to distribute it as a full-length feature, but their financiers backed out.  They finally got new financiers who agreed to fund the feauture if it was released on a double bill with Ghibli's other film by their other director, Takahata (who had more pedigree at the time).  Totoro came out with Grave of the Fireflies, which was a big hit.  Totoro flopped however, and didn't make its money back until a couple years later, when it got replayed on NHK a lot.
Quote:I saw some photos of the Ghibli museum building. Looks amazing.
It's exactly what you would want it to be.  The attention to detail is stunning.  Ghibli characters woven througout the iron laticework on railings, in the stained glass windows, on ceiling tiles.  There's a lifesize plush catbus, a Porco Rosso cafe-brewery, and of course the mini-theater, playing original shorts every month.  A must-see in Japan.
 
(04-11-2020, 06:09 AM)TM2YC Wrote: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
 I love that Spielberg and Editor Michael Kahn adopt the style of films from the era it's set in, old fashioned cross-fades, those plane/map traveling shots, classical editing techniques and rigorous use of establishing shots 
This is honestly what makes the movie for me, even more than Ford.  I LOVE those map shots, and wish they were used in more films!
 
(04-11-2020, 08:27 AM)TM2YC Wrote: Even on this incredibly blurry comparison, the redone Jeep CGI shot stands out a mile to me:
Thanks for the comparison video, I was unaware!  I am admittedly less sensitive to CG than some film buffs... but for me this is just a clarity issue.  In the new version, everthing is just a bit crisper and clearer (while still looking "old") and you can more clearly see the jeep and guy falling.  Both new and old are obviously effects shots, so in terms of immersion, maybe it comes down to personal choice?
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(04-11-2020, 06:30 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: It was only Miyazaki's 3rd film directing, and it was initially only supposed to be an hour long.  As he worked on the autobiographical story, more of the nature elements began creeping in, and sequences got longer... they tried to get approval to distribute it as a full-length feature, but their financiers backed out.  They finally got new financiers who agreed to fund the feauture if it was released on a double bill with Ghibli's other film by their other director, Takahata (who had more pedigree at the time).  Totoro came out with Grave of the Fireflies, which was a big hit.  Totoro flopped however, and didn't make its money back until a couple years later, when it got replayed on NHK a lot.
Quote:Interesting info, thanks Smile .

(04-11-2020, 06:30 PM)mnkykungfu Wrote: There's a lifesize plush catbus

Awesome.
 
[quote="mnkykungfu" pid='352936' dateline='1586647823']
[quote="TM2YC" pid='352914' dateline='1586611660']
Even on this incredibly blurry comparison, the redone Jeep CGI shot stands out a mile to me:

Thanks for the comparison video, I was unaware!  I am admittedly less sensitive to CG than some film buffs... but for me this is just a clarity issue.  In the new version, everthing is just a bit crisper and clearer (while still looking "old") and you can more clearly see the jeep and guy falling.  Both new and old are obviously effects shots, so in terms of immersion, maybe it comes down to personal choice?

Using a film based analogy... I suppose I view this sort of thing as being like if somebody gave you a yellowed old hand-typed script from 1981 done on an old typewriter, except one page in the middle has been replaced with a pristine new white page done on a modern word processor. It's undoubtedly cleaner, much more legible and the spellchecker has removed all the little errors but it stands out from the other pages.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
The 2nd day of BBC1 Easter Indy in the afternoon: I've always really loved this film but I've got to admit it has some flaws. It's not Kate Capshaw's Willie Scott, she behaves exactly the way a pampered Cabaret singer would act if she got dragged down into Indy's filthy, chaotic world and I like her character a lot. It's the more overtly comedic tone, coupled with the heavy use of sets, miniatures, FX shots and ridiculous stunts that make this feel more like outlandish fantasy, than the much more grounded Raiders. It suffers from the situation films can get into when they've built a set so vast and so impressive that they don't feel the need to leave it. I also think it drags a little in the middle between our heroes being captured and them fighting back, it's too much time spent in the same set. Those issues are far outweighed by the thrilling action, wonderful characters, John William's score and many amazing set pieces. The ending is pure joy, the Indian village actors look so genuinely ecstatic when the children come back, soundtracked by a triumphant version of the Raiders march. Indy and Shortround's surrogate father/son relationship works so well. They're constantly bickering and making wisecracks like old friends but then you get moments like a frightened Shorty desperately calling "Indy I love you" and when Spielberg has the camera at child-eye-level as Indy and Shorty exchange hats, Shorty staring up at his returned hero, Indy gently touches Shorty's cheek, then kneels and they share a long embrace... your heart just melts. From that point on it's a non-stop (literal) roller-coaster ride as they escape from the temple cult, climaxing with the iconic rope bridge finale.

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^Temple of Doom is the best Indiana Jones movie.  Fight me, internet!

The Founder (2016)

The trailer for this gives away the entire movie (literally, the last scene is in the trailer) so instead: hey, here's the movie.  I like Hancock's films.  You'd never call him an auteur, but they're always very capable, and at points very affective.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/the-founder/

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

The last of my Netflix docs before I signed out forever.  This one does a great job of including lots of music but not being fluff, or a musical tour.  It's actually a great biopic about someone we could all probably stand to learn more about.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/fil...ss-simone/

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

This is another one where apparently the entire film is in pretty good quality on Youtube, so here ya go.  One of the few big John Carpenter films I hadn't seen, and I wanted to give it a watch when I heard the excellent Green Room being compared to it.  I didn't like it near as much as some other Carpenter classics, but I imagine it would have blown my mind if I saw it as a teenager when it was new.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/fil...ecinct-13/
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Outbreak (1995)
I was blown away by Richard Preston's terrifying non-fiction Ebola virus thriller 'The Hot Zone' (based on his own 1992 New Yorker article) when it came out on paperback. So I was very excited to see this 1995 movie, believing it to be an adaptation of Preston's novel. Even as a teenager, I was very disappointed to discover it only bore a passing resemblance to the rigorous science-based horror of the book, which was replaced with amped-up Hollywood action. Reading up on it now... apparently Warner Brothers lost a bidding war for the rights to Preston's novel to Producer Lynda Obst and Fox, so WB decided to do their own Ebola movie, keeping as close to the book as possible without getting sued. They stole a march on Obst who was still in pre-production, resulting in her genuine adaptation being cancelled for fears of it being too similar. I was unaware that she eventually got to make her version in the form of a 2019 mini-series starring Julianna Margulies and co-Produced by Ridley Scott. I'll have to check that out.

Given the current global situation, I fancied revisiting Wolfgang Petersen's film, the last time I watched 'Outbreak', it was a VHS rental! (has it really been a quarter century?). This time, I absolutely f**kin' loved this movie! I really didn't care anymore that it was an OTT Hollywood version of reality, I was just onboard for the ride. Of course the killer virus has to be presented as making "Ebola look like the common cold" but (as the characters themselves point out) that very lethality diminishes it's threat, so they have to make it airborne too! Dustin Hoffman plays a maverick medical Colonel, raging against his duplicitous superiors (Morgan Freeman and Donald Sutherland) attempting to find a cure and save a quarantined Californian town. An extra "ticking clock" element is present because Sutherland's evil character is hell-bent on nuking the town. The all-star cast includes Rene Russo, Kevin Spacey and Cuba Gooding Jr. There are massive sub-nuclear explosions, Hoffman invades a TV studio at gunpoint, there are car chases and even a spectacular helicopter dogfight. James Newton Howard's propulsive score drives it all. I was rooted to my seat for what has got to be one of the best action thrillers of the 90s!

The version I watched (on Netflix) is a bit odd because they've done what looks like a very nice crisp HD transfer from the negative but all the FX shots look like they are from a grainy 35mm print. They look like they would be very convincing FX shots but you can tell they're not real because the image quality changes massively. So I'd probably recommend watching this one via an old DVD if possible.

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The BBC1 Indy adventure Easter weekend concludes (there are no more films in this franchise Wink ). I thoroughly enjoyed 'Last Crusade' when I was a kid, it was the only one I was old enough to see in the cinema but it's the weakest of the original trilogy. Whatever you say about 'Temple of Doom', it was a totally different adventure, LC is pretty much a nostalgic riff on Raiders. They bring back the same supporting characters Sallah and Marcus, except now they're cartoonish buffoons, instead of serious archaeologists. They're in the same scenes, the same story beats, the same sorts of locations, with the same camera angles. The antagonists are the Nazis again, you've got Donovan instead of Belloq, Vogel instead of Toht and the Grail instead of the Ark. They do introduce a few twists on the formula, like having Indy's love-interest being one of the villains. They also attempt to do something different with the cold open by casting River Phoenix as a young Indy but it soon descends into little more than fan service. Remember when Indy got his whip, his scar, his fear of snakes, his hat, first said all his catchphrases and did the jumping off a horse onto a moving vehicle thing for the first time, all in the same afternoon? It does lead into one of the most eloquent time jumps in movie history, as Phoenix's dispirited face drops and comes back up as a defiantly grinning Harrison Ford, then he gets punched in the jaw! Big Grin

The tank chase is terrific entertainment but it's too similar to the truck chase from Raiders. There is a self-indulgent sojourn to Berlin (with the flimsiest of plot contrivances) just so Indy can meet Hitler. For some reason they give Indy a tie to wear for the first half of the film, which slightly ruins his classic costume and helps to make the noticeably older and less svelte Ford, look more so. The comedy dial that was turned up for ToD, is up to 11 this time but when almost all the jokes are hilarious, it's not really a huge complaint. Although what the hell is that scene were Indy pretends to be a Scottish Laird? All those cracks are largely papered over by the genius casting of Sean Connery, as Jones Snr. There's always been a touch of the Bond movie about this franchise, so having the OG 007 as Indy's father just feels so right. The bickering chemistry between him and Indy is what makes this movie work. The first 3/4 of an hour drag a little but it sparks into life when Connery finally turns up and nothing else matters from then on. The script has some of the best one liners ever, like "No ticket!", "Nazis. I hate these guys" and "She talks in her sleep". John Williams does it again with his wonderful Grail theme and a nifty little theme for young Indy. The scene when the heroes and villains must choose the right grail is kinda poetic. Our beloved compadres riding off into the blazing sunset like heroic cowboys, as the Raiders march plays was the note-perfect conclusion to this franchise... or any franchise. Only a crazy person would come back back 19-years later and try to make another one!

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(04-13-2020, 05:36 AM)TM2YC Wrote: Outbreak (1995)
I was rooted to my seat for what has got to be one of the best action thrillers of the 90s!

I might have to give this a rewatch at some point.  I haven't done since the theater, and I remember not being too impressed with it at the time.  Rather bored, really, especially given the phenomenal cast.  Maybe I was too young.
 
(04-13-2020, 12:52 PM)TM2YC Wrote: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
 Only a crazy person would come back back 19-years later and try to make another one!

And another after that!  Like Daniel Craig, Ford is apparently not content to go out on an underwhelming note.  Hard to see them ever winning with an Indy movie at this point, though.  The first film was and has become so influential that everything just seems either derivative or like a parody of it, including the series' own films.  Either they're too much riffing on gags we've already seen or it's too much of a departure.  I always wonder how they'd be judged if they'd come out in a different order...
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Curtiz (2018)
A Hungarian made biopic of Hungarian/Jewish/American film Director Michael Curtiz (born Mano Kaminer, then Mihaly Kertesz) distributed by Netflix, focusing on the production of 'Casablanca'. Curtiz (an imperious Ferenc Lengyel) has to deal with interference from the US government who want a patriotic war film, suspicion of his motives as a European immigrant, an estranged daughter from one of his many affairs, a demanding studio, a constantly changing script, a sister trying to escape the Nazis back in Europe (she survived but her husband and children all died in Auschwitz) and not least his own formidable personal demons and awful behavior. It's all very well acted but you feel it's trying a little too hard to make the behind-the-scenes events mirror the story of 'Casablanca'. It's obviously very low budget and confined to a few interior sets but they make up for this by artfully lighting those sets to perfection, like it was a shadowy B&W 1940s Film-Noir. If you love 'Casablanca', this is worth an hour and a half of your time.

4K trailer:

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Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Hayao Miyazaki's 'Kiki's Delivery Service' ('Majo no Takkyubin' = 'Witch's Delivery Service') takes us on a little coming-of-age adventure with teenage (good) witch Kiki, her talking black cat Jiji, flying broomstick and transistor radio. Thankfully there is no big baddie to defeat, no wars to fight, just finding a place to live, starting a business, making new friends in a strange town and dealing with self-doubt and depression... those problems are plenty big enough for any kid to deal with. The animation is magical, the music is delightful, it's a total joy to watch Smile .



You think Hollywood is bad at doing live-action remakes of Japanese Anime... well Japan needs somebody to hold it's Asahi Big Grin :

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The Rainmaker (1997)
'The Rainmaker' was Francis Ford Coppola's last movie in a 30-year run before semi-retiring (then returning for three poorly received micro-budget movies in the late 2000s). It's a fairly mainstream John Grisham courtroom drama, Coppola eschews his high-concept ambitions and just concentrates on simple effective story telling (he wrote the screenplay too). It was in danger of taking too long to build up it's characters and setting but once the trial starts it's really dramatic. It's a "David and Goliath" setup, with Danny Glover's wonderfully no-bullsh*t judge overseeing the battle. Matt Damon plays a very new idealistic young lawyer, teamed with Danny DeVito's older cynical, hustling and tenacious failed Lawyer, up against a big law firm led by a hissably arrogant Jon Voight. I liked the way the film avoided presenting Damon as an ace hotshot but as a kid who is genuinely slightly out of his depth but trying to do his best. Unfortunately the romance subplot with Claire Danes was a dead weight, it's barely connected to the main plot. This might be an entertaining enough footnote in Coppola's illustrious filmography but it would be the pinnacle of many other Director's careers.

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(04-14-2020, 05:19 PM)TM2YC Wrote: You think Hollywood is bad at doing live-action remakes of Japanese Anime... well Japan needs somebody to hold it's Asahi Big Grin :

You sir, get ALL the claps.
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Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Everyone's seen a trailer already, so there's a good spoiler-filled video instead... it actually just begins to cover the "sins" of what I thought was a massively over-rated film.  There are several big plot problems with that film, but much like Thor: Ragnarok, people who like comedy and pretty visuals don't care.  I'm a story guy however, so.... full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/fil...der-verse/

Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976)

I'm just going to post the movie, because there's a great rip of the Criterion Collection up on Youtube totally free.  I watched this because I heard American Factory being compared to it, but I was skeptical of such an old doc.  Oh lord, was I wrong.  It has immediately shot up into my top 10 best docs ever.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/fil...ounty-usa/

Jimi: All Is by My Side (2013)

Honestly, the trailer doesn't give a very accurate reflection of what the movie is.  Jimi is mostly very pensive and not confidant or dynamic unless he's on stage...and he's not on stage all that much in this.  It's an interesting take on Hendrix's story for me, a lifelong fan, but it's a failure ultimately.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/fil...y-my-side/
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