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A few reviews
(08-04-2019, 03:32 PM)TM2YC Wrote: Idiocracy (2006)
... the people are shown plugged into mind-numbing hi-tech entertainment equipment but also shown to be so stupid that they could never have designed, maintained, or operated any of the same devices.

I mostly agree, but I think the idea here was that the tech was pretty old by the time the main character arrives, and the design and creation was all done by a previous generation. The interfaces are so user friendly that any idiot could operate the tech, but nobody was left who might know how to invent or fix any of the stuff.
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(08-05-2019, 03:28 PM)addiesin Wrote:
(08-04-2019, 03:32 PM)TM2YC Wrote: Idiocracy (2006)
... the people are shown plugged into mind-numbing hi-tech entertainment equipment but also shown to be so stupid that they could never have designed, maintained, or operated any of the same devices.

I mostly agree, but I think the idea here was that the tech was pretty old by the time the main character arrives, and the design and creation was all done by a previous generation. The interfaces are so user friendly that any idiot could operate the tech, but nobody was left who might know how to invent or fix any of the stuff.

Yeah, I got that bit of exposition but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. You get the impression that mankind has been brain dead for perhaps centuries, decades at the very least by which time all the tech would've stopped functioning. A good work around would have been if we were told man had invented self-repairing tech, or robots who did the repairs and they just quietly went about their jobs fixing everything, while humans atrophied, unable to remember how they created it all. We're already nudging that stage with today's computer algorithms, performing computations so complex, that humans are incapable of verifying their conclusions. By the way, even a TV show that's just about a guy being kicked in the balls takes a large amount of creativity, intelligence, technical knowledge and planning to execute. But I was laughing throughout, so I kinda forgave those problems but they are still there... and it raised some interesting questions, I'll give it that.

The Boy Friend (1971)
Director Ken Russell indulges (and over-indulges) his theatrical tendencies in this 1920s period Musical, set entirely within an English Musichall (Vaudeville) theater. The story of the Musical the actors are performing, reflects their backstage lives, as they strain to impress a famous Hollywood Director in the audience. A third level is us seeing the stage show through the eyes of the Director, magnified and expanded into dreamlike fantasy. Every sequence is a dazzling Busby Berkely-esque feast for the eyes in isolation but I got sick of them after a couple of non-stop hours, like scoffing too many delicious sweets. The scene where Twiggy dances on a giant revolving record player is the best, it's done so well that I almost couldn't see her at a human scale anymore. The colours look amazing in HD.







I re-watch these delightful clips ^ on their own and I wonder how I could have not loved the film as a whole.
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Altered States (1980)
This might be the best Ken Russell film I've watched since 'The Devils'. The premise about a scientist inducing visions through a combination of psychedelic drugs and sensory deprivation is the perfect vehicle for Russell's outlandish visual imagination. Dr. Jessup (William Hurt) is in the Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Frankenstein mold, a maverick mind operating beyond the limits of scientific orthodoxy and medical ethics. Russell uses super rapid cutting for Jessup's visions, like a bad trip brought on by staring at paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Edward Hopper, Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali, fired through the stargate from '2001: A Space Odyssey'. Especially Bosch, the scenes of hundreds bodies falling into hell pits are like his paintings brought to life. It was probably to the film's benefit that Russell came onto the project late (after Arthur Penn dropped out), with it all cast and the script by Paddy Chayefsky finalised, he couldn't go completely nuts with every aspect of the movie. The body distortion scenes are very David Cronenberg and the makeup FX are terrific. John Corigliano's brass heavy avant-garde score is wonderfully unsettling.



The score made me want to go listen to the 'Acid Brass' album yet again Big Grin . Compare 00.21 in the above trailer to the music below at 01.21:

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KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1985)


To dismiss this movie as just a low budget Cannon rip-off of Indiana Jones (which it is), would be a great disservice.  This movie is funny!  And I don't mean it's so bad, it is funny.  But that it is genuinely well written and directed funny.  It is not parody humour (ie Airplane or Naked Gun) but more 1930s screwball, and it works really, really well.  The movie is directed by veteran filmmaker J. Lee Thompson (Cape Fear, The Guns of Navarone, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes) who expertly balances the humour and action, and brings a wonderful sense of fun to this low budget affair.  Scenes that might otherwise pull you out of the movie, are saved by Thompson's master craftsmanship of highlighting the silly charm (ie. terrible green screen airplane sequence) so you forgive the weaknesses of the moment and willingly continue on with the ride.  The movie is further elevated by a great score by movie composer legend Jerry Goldsmith, who knows how to sell a funny or dramatic moment with equal prowess.  The films is rounded out by strong cast (yes, even Sharon Stone), making for a delightful romp.  Recommended.   Big Grin
(I can not believe Cannon made this....lol)

...and now to the sequel...

ALLAN QUATERMAINE AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD (1986)


... now this I can believe Cannon made!!!  Tongue

This was so disappointing, as all the elements are there for another fun silly quest.  Unfortunately someone forgot to tell the editor or producer, and most importantly, the composer, that this is a comedy.  Seriously, never before have I witnessed a soundtrack so badly derail a movie.  Goldsmith is replaced by someone named Michael Linn and based on the ear bleeding soundtrack, I am assuming the composer did not bother to watch the movie he was scoring.  So many moments lost or ruined by horrible or completely inappropriate musical cues.  The actors are still playing it for laughs but the score says otherwise.   What is laughable is some of the special effects.  There is some hilariously atrocious miniature work and perhaps the worst greenscreen scene ever put to film.  Also, unintentionally funny, while Sharon Stone looks amazing in tight leather pants, I am not certain it is appropriate hot jungle quest wear? LOL.  Director Thompson declined to return for the sequel, and was replaced with veteran tv director Gary Nelson and he seemed to do an adequate job.  I believe there was on paper an entertaining sequel here, but sadly whatever fun potential existed was thwarted by poor post-production decisions.   Still watchable if nothing better is on... if for no other reason than to learn how NOT to score a movie.   Sad
"... let's go exploring!" -- CALVIN.
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A Better Tomorrow III: Love & Death in Saigon (1989)
Producer Tsui Hark and Director John Woo parted ways after the second film, so Woo reworked his script for 'A Better Tomorrow III' into the unrelated 'Bullet in the Head' (review here) and Hark stepped into the Director's chair for this third installment with a different script. The two films have some similarities, they are both about Hongkongers caught up in the fallout from the Vietnam war. 'Love & Death in Saigon' does your classic prequel/origins-story thing of showing us how Mark (Chow Yun-fat) acquired his iconic Alain Delon shades and long blue trenchcoat. We're also shown a training montage where he learns his Gun-Fu skills from a female gun-runner he falls in love with. It's a pretty decent drama but there isn't a gun-battle until half an hour in (the only action in the first half) and we don't hear the ABT them tune for an hour, so it doesn't deliver what you expect from a sequel. The other half has some good action, including a battle with a tank.



Pulp Fiction (1994)
I've seen 'Pulp Fiction' many times but seeing it on the big screen was well worth it (I was too young to see it at the cinema in '94), even though the poor transfer looked like an upscaled blu-ray. It's commonly classified as a Crime-Drama but sitting with an audience continually laughing along with the snappy dialogue, crazy characters and explosive violence, you wonder if it's really more of a straight up comedy. This time I noticed how shallow the depth of field is for many shots, so parts of the actor's faces go out of focus when they merely turn their heads slightly. It creates a real intensity to what we are being shown in the foreground. I'm sure he uses a split-diopter lens for other shots. As always, I felt the pace sagged in the middle between Butch escaping the fight and his encounter with Marsellus Wallace (basically, the cab ride and motel scenes). Maybe it's because the rest of the movie is so unrelenting with tension, activity and flavour that the slightest dip in pace becomes obvious, or maybe it's simply because it follows the colourful and dramatic Mia Wallace sequence. A total modern classic.



Random Tarantino thought... all his films are R-Rated/18-Cert (IIRC) and they ooze with violence and offensive language but is there nudity in any of his films? The thought occurred to me when you notice how carefully Tarantino times the shot with Bruce Willis getting out of the shower to avoid nudity. Even in the Bridget Fonda sex scene in 'Jackie Brown', she is not topless and keeps her back to the camera. Considering how much he likes to push the exploitation envelope, it must be a deliberate choice out of respect for his actors. I wonder if he has ever mentioned it? (FYI: I've not seen his new film yet, so can't comment on that).

EDIT: No hang on, I think Kerry Washington is briefly nude in 'Django Unchained' but it's supposed to be unpleasant and degrading in that instance and not for the fun, or gratification of the audience. Also I found this quote from Tarantino (commenting on Kill Bill):

"I like seeing beautiful girls' skin as well as any other pervert. But that wasn't this movie... I didn't want to sexualise the girls to that extent because I wanted them to be empowering to women and not eye candy for guys." Big Grin
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(08-08-2019, 09:43 AM)TM2YC Wrote: "I like seeing beautiful girls' skin as well as any other pervert. But that wasn't this movie... I didn't want to sexualise the girls to that extent because I wanted them to be empowering to women and not eye candy for guys." Big Grin

But what does that leave for ladies who fancy ladies? Can they not be empowered and enjoy eye candy also? I've daydreamed about making a schlocky female-starring grindhouse movie myself, and have wondered where the line between celebration of the human form and objectification might like. One idea I keep coming back to is to set such a flick in an alternate world in which men simply don't exist, and never have. After all, if one's going to make a schlocky pic, why not make it properly weird? Tongue
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(08-08-2019, 09:25 PM)Gaith Wrote: wondered where the line between celebration of the human form and objectification might like.

I think a good example of that line would be the difference in the way Zack Snyder shoots Gal Godot in BvS/JL and how Patty Jenkins does it in WW.

Scanners (1981)
Of course the infamous exploding head scene is what David Cronenberg's 'Scanners' is remembered for but it's actually just one of many impressive and shocking gore FX tricks. The psychic duel at the end has some astonishing and unnerving make up jobs. It's fortunate they are so good because the thinly developed characters and shaky plotting is less impressive. Apparently Cronenberg had to rush into production without a completed script and it shows, although the overall story concept was a clever one. The small budget also shows in the barely adequate sets and thinly dressed locations, plus apart from Patrick McGoohan and Michael Ironside, the cast isn't top tier. Howard Shore's moody synth score and the unsettling sound FX do much of the heavy lifting in making the film's atmosphere work. Not a masterpiece but well worth a watch.



^ Pure cheese vintage trailer.

By the way, I remember thinking "Why would you start with this random mall scene, when you could open with the lecture theater and chase scenes because they're dramatic, memorable and they explain the world the characters operate in?". Afterwards I read Cronenberg moved those scenes from the beginning just so late moviegoers wouldn't miss them. Ah ha. That's one thing I'd fanedit and perhaps more re-arranging of scenes would help the story flow better.
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(08-09-2019, 06:33 PM)TM2YC Wrote: I think a good example of that line would be the difference in the way Zack Snyder shoots Gal Godot in BvS/JL and how Patty Jenkins does it in WW.

Snyder's ass-centric camera was definitely inappropriate in Justice League), and Jenkins' WW camera was indeed respectful and non-exploitative, which is how pop culture's most prominent superheroine should be treated in a PG-13 movie aimed at all audiences. That said, I do think there's a time and place for a more Snyder-esque approach, especially in an adult-aimed, R-rated film. I guess it all comes down to context: the more schlocky and graphic the overall tone, the less problematic a camera that lingers on an attractive woman becomes. I'm particularly skeptical of the American puritanism that's fine with bloody gore and comic violence, but keeps ladies covered up and clothed even during steamy scenes. I definitely roll my eyes at the gratuitous ass shots in a drag race- or party-establishing montage in a Fast & Furious movie, for instance, but at the same time, I'd be pissed if they were omitted for fear of being anti-feminist, because a celebration of hedonism is hard-wired into the franchise's very spirit. I guess it's a case by case thing. Wink
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Didn’t Whedon shoot most of the ass centric stuff in Justice League? Or the scene where Flash falls on top of Wonder Woman? I may be wrong. But like, I remember a similar scene in Age of Ultron when Bruce’s face falls on Natasha’s boobs, played for laughs.
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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder adapts his own stage play about an intense masochistic love/hate-triangle between three West-German women. It's set entirely within Fashion Designer Petra's bedroom but that only adds to the claustrophobia and Fassbinder shoots it from every conceivable angle, always keeping the visuals fresh.  The story is divided into four distinct acts, in each one Petra has a different wig and clothes, reflecting her changing moods.  Margit Carstensen somehow manages to make you feel total sympathy for Petra's pain, even when she acts abominably to others. Maybe it's just because I've been watching it a lot, or maybe it's all the mannequins and dolls being compared to people, lighting coming through blinds and the exaggerated 20s inspired clothing but I kept thinking it felt like 'Blade Runner'. I'm looking forward to seeing more Fassbinder films.



With composition and blocking this good you don't even need words to understand the character's relationship:

[Image: 48506300072_5b84bc3645_h.jpg]
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