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A few reviews

Moe_Syzlak

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Canon Editor said:
Perhaps. Had the CGI de-ageing been possible for The Godfather, Part II, would De Niro have had the recognition he had? Or would he have disappeared before being able to be cast in such great movies like Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter and The Untouchables? Simply put: would Robert De Niro have been Robert De Niro if CGI de-ageing had been possible in 1974?

While the opportunity for a younger actor is certainly a factor, it’s not my primary concern. Deniro was already a hot commodity because of Mean Streets. My concern is more in movie. A de-aged (had the technology existed) Brando would’ve been continuously distracting whereas there was a small *wait, that’s not what Brando looked like in his 20s* moment but then you just kinda go with it.
 

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Yes yes, I absolutely agree. That is also mainly because De Niro is such a great actor. We're just talking about different aspects of the same matter.
 

mnkykungfu

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mnkykungfu said:
This just really puts the lie to Scorcese's idea that his movies and Marvel movies are very different because HE'S making "art" while they're making a spectacle.

I don't think so. As much as the CGI in this or that film may be bad/outdated, it isn't what Scorsese was talking about, in the least. 
A part from the industrial perspective of his argument, which I won't get into now, one of the points was that Marvel movies aren't driven by storytelling: they don't get you emotionally invested, they don't carry you into a "journey" with those characters in which you experience emotions because of good storytelling manipulation (screenwriting, acting, directing and editing all included).
They tell stories, but they don't let you experience those stories as stories about relatable human beings. This counts for any movie, obviously not only for MCU movies, which I think he took as example because of their popularity not only among moviegoers but for their almost constant presence in theaters.

I didn't mean to imply that Scorsese was talking about CGI.  That is only one aspect of "spectacle", as I said.  I do think his point was relating to storytelling.  From his interviews and his op-ed, he was comparing Marvel movies to theme park rides...implying that there's a thrill, but it's an empty thrill.  There is no substance or content to the adventure...which is why I wrote that he's saying they're not "art" like his films.  

He is, frankly, out of touch and full of himself.  When he makes a huge 3D digital film like Hugo, he is very much making a spectacle and taking people on an amusement park ride.  When he gathers together his cast of good ol boys and de-ages DeNiro and has the trailers be all about how good the de-aging looks: it is the very definition of spectacle.  It's another gangster movie.  How many people are going to remember the story and the characters names?!  Everybody is talking about getting THOSE actors back together and about CGI DeNiro.  It is every bit the thrill ride of a Marvel film.

Now, I'm not saying Scorcese's films are empty.  I'm saying that he's falling into that old pretentious trope of saying big action movies have no substance.  When you suggest that people "aren't on an emotional journey with (Marvel) characters" and "they aren't relatable", I couldn't disagree more strongly.  Peter Parker is totally relatable.  A legion of women relate to Captain Marvel and Black Widow.  Millions of African American fans relate to several of the characters in Black Panther.  They relate more strongly than Scorsese has ever given them a character to relate to.  I can relate more easily to Captain America feeling betrayed by his government and out of place in society than I can to anyone in Gangs of New York or Mean Streets or Taxi Driver or Shutter Island, etc.  And if you think nobody is on an emotional journey with these characters, a quick Google search of "Infinity War reaction" or "Endgame cry" will easily show you tons of people who are.  

Sorry, but this whole pov sounds like Scorcese and his fans having sour grapes because he's now 'slumming' by making a Netflix film because his kind of movies get stomped at the box office.  The general viewing populace cares a lot more about Marvel movies than his films, and he can't understand that it's not different being tired of another gangster movie with the same actors compared to being tired of another superhero movie with the same actors.  I don't want to bag on either one, they both have their merits.  But only Scorcese is out there looking down his nose at the other genre like he's holier than thou.
 

Canon Editor

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I partly agree, and know very well how much the Marvel movies mean to many people. What I'm saying, though, is this: you may tell me that Peter Parker is relatable to many people for who we know him to be like: he's clumsy, a nerd, tried to do the best thing as Spider-Man but this backfires most of the time and hits him right in the face as Peter Parker. Well then, what is the difference between Spider-Man 2 and Far From Home? I'd say this: Far from Home has good effects, but doesn't make the movie relatable to me because other than the spectacle, I'm not shown a human being be just that: a human being. Something that, for that matter, I'm shown in SM2: I see Peter failing, I experience it, I feel it, because I follow every little one of these steps until he'll either give up or try his luck once more, until all these steps will culminate and climax into a finale. This doesn't happen in Far From Home, and I don't feel anything while seeing it. Yes, I can see Peter Parker being a perfectly relatable human being. But I don't feel him because the spectacle isn't awarded any meaning from the surrounding story

Scorsese has his point - not to talk about the in-depth explanation he released after he first gave the interview about the grander scheme of things. You are right, The Irishman isn't better than Endgame because it tries to sell you into watching it for the effects - which some may argue it doesn't only - but because watching it, as bored as you may be, it tries telling a story that matters. Is it going to be another gangster movie? Certainly. Is it just another Scorsese movie? Absolutely. Is the movie necessary? I don't know, I haven't seen it yet. Is any movie, though, worth making until you made it? Because otherwise, the world could have easily lived without any movie, from Birth of a Nation to Jaws through to Spider-Man 2. Yet somebody had the courage to make them, and some of us are still thankful for it.

I'd get back on topic, now! Thanks for the discussion. I curiously await your reply.
 

TM2YC

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Frankenstein's Monster's Monster, Frankenstein (2019)
I love Orson Welles and I love Garth Marengi style deliberately bad comedies, so this Netflix mockumentary with David Harbour playing fictional versions of himself and his father as a spoof of Welles (also called David Harbour), producing a shambolic deconstructed play version of 'Frankenstein' sounded like guaranteed gold. There are a couple of moments where Harbour's imitation of Welles at his most over the top and inebriated worked but the rest doesn't. It's so far from working that I can't even imagine what it was supposed to be. It was a relief to discover it was only 32-minutes long.


^ The trailer has literally all the good bits. Just watch that.

Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner (2007)
Charles de Lauzirika's 3.5-hour film is "the Citizen Kane of" making-of bonus features, a pleasure to watch once again. It features nearly an hour of previously unseen deleted material sprinkled in with the other hours of candid interviews and on-set footage. The polar opposite of the disposable sycophantic promotional "lovies" DVD featurette, all the people are frank in their assessment of the film and of each other and don't hold back on the juicy anecdotes about the troubled production. It's only a shame it was produced in that last period just before HD became standard, so it's SD forever now (I assume).

 

mnkykungfu

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Woah, TM2YC, those are a couple of really interesting finds!  Cheers!  
Side note, David Harbour is great, but he's a weird guy who made a lot of weird film choices for a long time before Stranger Things.  I feel like he needs stronger management because he's being given enough rope to hang his career right now just when he was getting "hot"...

Canon Editor, I think I know what you're saying, and I can sympathize, but I just don't think I share a lot of that point of view.  If you look at my website (in my signature) the entire thing is devoted to sort of anti-Oscar sentiment, anti-pretension, anti-critic... honestly, it's probably the polar opposite of what hardcore Scorcese fans like.  I appreciate some of his films, but I think directors like him and PTA and Steve McQueen and Damien Chazelle, etc. are really overhyped.  These guys are like dark chocolate or ...I don't know... a double IPA.  There's a lot of craft in what they do, but it's not really to everyone's tastes.  Most people want a bit of milk in their chocolate, or a bit less bitterness in their beer, and that's fine.  It really rankles me when fans imply that, imagine this, "If you're not drinking IPA, you're drinking a lesser beer.  What is that, a stout?  Psssh.  That's hardly even beer."  Imagine that tosser in a pub?  Everyone would tell him to kiss right off.  He'd be called a pretentious knob.  

To bring this back to "Reviews" and closer to the thread topic, if you want to compare Spider-Man 2 to SM: Far From Home, then I'm on board with you that SM2 is a much more effective story.  I see where you're coming from with all your reasons.  But I hardly think you can say the same for MCU films across the board.  And there are plenty of Scorcese films that are less effective (Last Temptation of Christ, Kundun, Bringing Out the Dead, etc.).

It's also kind of unfair... if you look at pre-MCU superhero films, Spider-Man 2 is arguably the best of the best.  Versus in the MCU, Far From Home is one of the weakest, imho.  For example, compare the original Spider-Man to Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Raimi's Spider-Man has not aged all that well.  I loved that movie, but nowadays it often seems cheesy and stagey.  Versus Homecoming, where you're just anchored in Peter's journey and actually get a couple of gut punches.

Plus, you could argue that comparing anything to the MCU is like apples and oranges, as they've really re-invented the genre.  They have finally serialized films to match the comic book experience.  It's a shared world, characters enter and exit and everyone brings with them previous history and potential future plot threads... virtually nothing is standalone, everything is part of a bigger picture.  Just by the nature of the thing, it becomes a Producer-driven medium, unless you get one director to director film after film (the closest we've had is the Russos).  It's just not really fair to pick out one MCU film and compare it to one film of anything else, since there's nothing else like it.  There are benefits and drawbacks to making this kind of universe, and I feel like people have now gotten used to the benefits so they just want to pick out the drawbacks, which is not really fair.  

I would agree though that I'd like to see the films show more of the director's personal styles.  We've definitely seen this a bit already with Waititi and Coogler and Black and Whedon.  But I'd like to see them push it like the comics, into these films being really like a totally different genre.  A proper supernatural horror film for Dr. Strange, for example.  A real martial arts film for Shang Chi.  A true meditative headtrippy sci-fi film for The Eternals.  Marvel is definitely in a position to let their properties have more of their own look and feel now.  Would that help to close the distance for you and make them feel more like real "art"?
 

Canon Editor

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That was an interesting reply, thanks.

I'll start by your last question: no, it wouldn't. They've tried, and it all stays form and no substance. The substance is fine, but never excellent: the filmmaking choices they make/show are more often than not average, neutral. They are not decisive or radical in any way. I am talking on almost every level, from the locations (see the concrete in Civil War, which is just about EVERYWHERE and doesn't add anything to story, emotion, character and is not lighted in any way to show any aspect of it that could make it relevant) to the editing (see Ant-Man or the scene where Doctor Strange plays around with Thor and Loki in Ragnarok). Nothing appears to have been thought about under the idea of a camera lens: yet, there is loads and loads of thought in the background of the world, the connections, the throwbacks. That is fine, and appreciable, but I don't think it truly becomes rewarding until the movies become movies in their own right. 

I know it was kind of unfair to compare Spider-Man 2 and Far from Home but it's the last Marvel movie I watched and I still had it pretty fresh in my mind. The reason I criticize these movies is not because I want them to be sold with the word ART on their posters, but because in them I honestly don't see real movies, but prepackaged marketing ploys. This has been done before and will be done in the future. Movies flop since before 1915, forever will, for many different reasons. This doesn't mean that, for example, genre films such as action movies are not "art": that would be blatantly stupid, as there are some very great action movies which tell deep stories, with great screenwriting, great use of camera, great editing, great performances, great cinematography, so on and so forth. Some call these movies masterpieces; others are simply bad movies, which showcase examples of bad filmmaking which, as successful as Marvel movies may be, they often are. 

I'm not trying to fight their existence, or the fact that people like them. I'm not even trying to side with Scorsese: this is simply my opinion. The reason I criticize these films is I deeply love the genre, and have always loved it since I was a child. 

I'll conclude by talking about Spider-Man (2002): the movie may have aged, like Psycho and Gone with the Wind may have, but I still feel them as Cinema with a capital C. And naturally, no: this doesn't mean I like them. Not necessarily.
 

mnkykungfu

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I see what you're getting at Canon Editor, even though I don't fully agree.  There is definitely a commercial aspect to these films that is front and center, but there's no getting rid of that.  It's just inherit in the subject matter.  Also, if you're going to make a big movie with the kind of huge stories and crazy special effects that faithfully adapts these comics, it's going to require boatloads of money.  Which means, they're going to have to get a lot of return on their investment.  That's just the nature of the beast.  If I have to trade some commercialization to see these stories, I'll take that over something like Batman-The Movie (1966), The Punisher (1989), Captain America (1990), The Shadow (1994), etc.  They used to look for properties they thought they could make without a lot of special effects, but there's so much art to getting the dialogue right, the costuming, the production design, framing the shots, etc.  It is so so easy to fail to translate these stories to the screen.  There's so much that goes into getting it right, people take it for granted I think.  There may be some who will just never seriously appreciate these kind of films, like people who just can't get into animated movies.  Each to their own.

I saw a film!
Gerald's Game (2017)
I was skeptical of this film, thought it was probably just a salacious cash-in by Netflix (one of the first Netflix originals that I noticed) but I actually quite enjoyed it.  Well...maybe "enjoyed" isn't the right word.  But it was good.  A pretty psychologically complex and morally dense film, it ties into how people experience love and develop their sense of self, and isn't afraid to dig into touchy subjects like women having "daddy issues" or people ignoring the bad behavior of those they love (thus being complicit in it.)  I saw this jokingly described as "50 Shades of Grey meets 127 Hours", and that's kind of true, but I'd add in "meets Sleepers".  The only weak point for me is that the film starts adding in some obligatory Stephen King supernatural horror which gets resolved in a kind of hackneyed ending.  I've read that it really worked for some people though, so maybe it's just personal taste.  I could've seen that whole storyline edited out, and the film would stand strong as simply a drama and character piece.  Carla Gugino is just that good.
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
Woah, TM2YC, those are a couple of really interesting finds!  Cheers!  
Side note, David Harbour is great, but he's a weird guy who made a lot of weird film choices for a long time before Stranger Things.  I feel like he needs stronger management because he's being given enough rope to hang his career right now just when he was getting "hot"...

I was thinking the same thing. Doing oddball projects, or taking career left turns is great... as long as they succeed (sometimes).

He was doing a tour of his flat on youtube the other week...


...and has a dig at himself at 04.00 while discussing a massive He-Man poster :D . He's a cool guy.

Cruising (1980)
Al Pacino stars in William Friedkin's controversial 1980 film about a straight Cop going undercover in New York's Leather/S&M scene to catch a serial-killer. It's an American "Giallo", complete with the trademark mysterious, creepy voiced, black clad, knife wielding slasher hidden behind Aviator shades, who we are invited to theorize could be practically anybody in the cast. Paul Sorvino has never been better as the police captain who recruits and handles Pacino. The grinding guitar music by artists like Jack Nitzsche and Willy DeVille is amazing and features on some Tarantino soundtracks. Also Tarantino's famous "Gimp" scene from 'Pulp Fiction' has this film all over it. Since this was filmed one year after 'The Warriors' and on similar grimy looking, wet New York streets, I'm going to imagine Friedkin's leather/denim boys are an extra uniormed gang in the "WCU".


Interior. Leather Bar. (2013)
Co-Directors James Franco and Travis Mathews recreate/re-imagine 40-minutes of more explicit material deleted from William Friedkin's 'Crusing'... or rather we see them in the process of attempting it. The main actor is vexed by the idea of pretending to be Al Pacino pretending to be gay, or possibly he is just pretending to be vexed about pretending to be pretending. The rest of the cast are shown being troubled by the possibility they are not in a Franco art-film with sex in it but a piece of pornography, it's not about the content but the intentions of the Directors. Mathews is shown doing the actual Directing, Franco mostly stands to the side grinning, or trying to explain the bizarre project to his confused cast. I'm unsure if it's entirely, or just partially fiction, it's all very meta but it's a thought provoking companion piece to the 1980 film. Isn't being an undercover Cop, a bit like being an actor?

 

Moe_Syzlak

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mnkykungfu said:
I see what you're getting at Canon Editor, even though I don't fully agree.  There is definitely a commercial aspect to these films that is front and center, but there's no getting rid of that.  It's just inherit in the subject matter.  Also, if you're going to make a big movie with the kind of huge stories and crazy special effects that faithfully adapts these comics, it's going to require boatloads of money.  Which means, they're going to have to get a lot of return on their investment.  That's just the nature of the beast.  If I have to trade some commercialization to see these stories, I'll take that over something like Batman-The Movie (1966), The Punisher (1989), Captain America (1990), The Shadow (1994), etc.  They used to look for properties they thought they could make without a lot of special effects, but there's so much art to getting the dialogue right, the costuming, the production design, framing the shots, etc.  It is so so easy to fail to translate these stories to the screen.  There's so much that goes into getting it right, people take it for granted I think.  There may be some who will just never seriously appreciate these kind of films, like people who just can't get into animated movies.  Each to their own.

I’ll preface this to say I’m not a comic book guy. I can’t remember when or even IF I read a full comic book. But of course I still grew up with superheroes. For me, Scorsese sounds bad saying the MCU isn’t “cinema” as it clearly is. I think if he’s given a chance to expand on what he means he’s likely to clarify that it isn’t what HE calls cinema. And I’d wager that he separates it based on whether or not there’s intent for an auteur, whether it has depth, whether it has the things that require more of the viewer than to just switch off for a few hours. In that respect I’m with Scorsese. There isn’t much sense of the auteur with the MCU. And it really irks me that there isn’t more beneath the surface. Superhero movies have the opportunity to be modern myths and the MCU totally fails at that IMO. There’s nothing going on there. For all its faults (and there are many) the DC Snyderverse at least tried to do that. Heck Into the Spiderverse was probably the best Marvel movie for that. Now many of Scorsese’s movies can also have the sort of “sameness” that the MCU has on the surface. But there’s generally more going on that differentiates each film. I’ll move away from Scorsese for a second but keep with Mafia movies. The Godfather is probably my favorite movie(s) (1 and 2 are virtually equal in my mind). But despite being “a mafia movie,” I probably wouldn’t even put “mafia” in the top five things I feel it’s about. Family, capitalism, religion, immigration, the American Dream, the sins of the father... These are all themes that are explored under the guise of a gangster movie. I wish superhero movies aspired to the same.
 

mnkykungfu

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TM2YC said:
Cruising (1980)
Al Pacino stars in William Friedkin's controversial 1980 film about a straight Cop going undercover in New York's Leather/S&M scene to catch a serial-killer. It's an American "Giallo", complete with the trademark mysterious, creepy voiced, black clad, knife wielding slasher hidden behind Aviator shades, who we are invited to theorize could be practically anybody in the cast. Paul Sorvino has never been better as the police captain who recruits and handles Pacino. The grinding guitar music by artists like Jack Nitzsche and Willy DeVille is amazing and features on some Tarantino soundtracks. Also Tarantino's famous "Gimp" scene from 'Pulp Fiction' has this film all over it. 

Co-Directors James Franco and Travis Mathews recreate/re-imagine 40-minutes of more explicit material deleted from William Friedkin's 'Crusing'... or rather we see them in the process of attempting it. 

So Cruisin' actually holds up!?  I always assumed it was one of those things that was very 'of its time' and would be just kind of cheesy and salacious and hard to identify with now.  You make it sound really cool, though.
As far as Franco...wow, what an interesting dude.  He's got his finger in so many pies, he's like a low-rent DaVinci.  Half the time, especially with his self-directed or self-produced projects, I feel like he's more interested in an artistic experience than in a final product.
 
Moe_Syzlak said:
I’ll preface this to say I’m not a comic book guy. I can’t remember when or even IF I read a full comic book. But of course I still grew up with superheroes. For me, Scorsese sounds bad saying the MCU isn’t “cinema” as it clearly is. I think if he’s given a chance to expand on what he means he’s likely to clarify that it isn’t what HE calls cinema. And I’d wager that he separates it based on whether or not there’s intent for an auteur, whether it has depth, whether it has the things that require more of the viewer than to just switch off for a few hours. In that respect I’m with Scorsese. There isn’t much sense of the auteur with the MCU. And it really irks me that there isn’t more beneath the surface. Superhero movies have the opportunity to be modern myths and the MCU totally fails at that IMO. There’s nothing going on there. For all its faults (and there are many) the DC Snyderverse at least tried to do that. Heck Into the Spiderverse was probably the best Marvel movie for that. Now many of Scorsese’s movies can also have the sort of “sameness” that the MCU has on the surface. But there’s generally more going on that differentiates each film. I’ll move away from Scorsese for a second but keep with Mafia movies. The Godfather is probably my favorite movie(s) (1 and 2 are virtually equal in my mind). But despite being “a mafia movie,” I probably wouldn’t even put “mafia” in the top five things I feel it’s about. Family, capitalism, religion, immigration, the American Dream, the sins of the father... These are all themes that are explored under the guise of a gangster movie. I wish superhero movies aspired to the same.

I don't want to belabor this because I think we're just not going to agree.  But for your reading pleasure, here's Scorcese's follow up to his initial interview, where he actually does expand a lot...though he kind of speaks in principles rather than specifics, so you can judge how much he clarifies.  He does talk a lot about "risk" and says "there's nothing at risk" in Marvel movies.  I guess the idea being that you know Captain America isn't going to turn out to be a Trump supporter, or that Spider-Man isn't going to stay dead because Tom Holland is contracted for 2 more films. 

But I disagree that that's the point of a film.  Lots of movies try to defy expectations but do it without a purposeful throughline that makes sense.  There's no resonance, no revealing of some hidden truth.  (<cough>Last Jedi)  Probably 80% of movies follow fairly predictable patterns where you basically know what the characters will do and have a rough idea how it will end.  It's not about the destination, it's about the journey.  

Scorcese says of 'cinema' when he grew up: "It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves."  And "...that was as far from the Marvel universe as we on Earth are from Alpha Centauri."  I totally disagree.  His description absolutely embodies the journeys of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers for me.  If he can't see that and it doesn't resonate with him: that's okay.  When you go to a museum and stand in front of different paintings, some resonate with you and some don't.  I could stare at a Caravaggio for an hour, but O'Keefe rarely does anything for me.  But it's all made with thought and skill and intention.  It's all art, and whether someone can appreciate each piece or not is subjective, imho.

Appreciate you sharing your views though.  I'm back to film reviews!
 

mnkykungfu

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House of Yes (1997)
You can actually watch this whole movie for free on Youtube.  I watched it in search of "alternate Thanksgiving" movies.  Is it ever.  Just another one of those wacky incest/murder/mental illness comedies.  You know how they are.  All of those.  …And how ‘90s could this be?  Freddie Prinze Jr., Tori Spelling, indie darling Parker Posey, and Josh Hamilton, who I unfortunately recently saw suffer through another supposed '90s indie "gem", Kicking And Screaming.  It looked like he was going to be the "It Guy" for a minute in the late '90s, but it seems that Freddie Prinze Jr. survived these bad film choices and took that honor instead.  

To be fair, all the actors are pretty good here.  Prinze does his lovable doofus thing, and even though I read a lot of flack online about Spelling, she does just fine.  Parker Posey gives a fantastic performance actually.  She's magnetic when she's on screen.  The story and dialogue is the weak point of the whole thing, which aside from the cringey material, is just so very obviously stagey.  The whole thing takes place with a couple characters in a couple rooms in 1 night, mostly them having oh so very quirky and clever repartee in a series of 2-person scenes.  I do wish they had tried to add more to the stage play, but maybe there's nothing they could do.  The incomparable Roger Ebert summed it up best: "While it was running, I was not bored" but "When the film was over I was not particularly pleased that I had seen it; it was mostly behavior and contrivance."
 

Moe_Syzlak

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mnkykungfu said:
 
Moe_Syzlak said:
I’ll preface this to say I’m not a comic book guy. I can’t remember when or even IF I read a full comic book. But of course I still grew up with superheroes. For me, Scorsese sounds bad saying the MCU isn’t “cinema” as it clearly is. I think if he’s given a chance to expand on what he means he’s likely to clarify that it isn’t what HE calls cinema. And I’d wager that he separates it based on whether or not there’s intent for an auteur, whether it has depth, whether it has the things that require more of the viewer than to just switch off for a few hours. In that respect I’m with Scorsese. There isn’t much sense of the auteur with the MCU. And it really irks me that there isn’t more beneath the surface. Superhero movies have the opportunity to be modern myths and the MCU totally fails at that IMO. There’s nothing going on there. For all its faults (and there are many) the DC Snyderverse at least tried to do that. Heck Into the Spiderverse was probably the best Marvel movie for that. Now many of Scorsese’s movies can also have the sort of “sameness” that the MCU has on the surface. But there’s generally more going on that differentiates each film. I’ll move away from Scorsese for a second but keep with Mafia movies. The Godfather is probably my favorite movie(s) (1 and 2 are virtually equal in my mind). But despite being “a mafia movie,” I probably wouldn’t even put “mafia” in the top five things I feel it’s about. Family, capitalism, religion, immigration, the American Dream, the sins of the father... These are all themes that are explored under the guise of a gangster movie. I wish superhero movies aspired to the same.

I don't want to belabor this because I think we're just not going to agree.  But for your reading pleasure, here's Scorcese's follow up to his initial interview, where he actually does expand a lot...though he kind of speaks in principles rather than specifics, so you can judge how much he clarifies.  He does talk a lot about "risk" and says "there's nothing at risk" in Marvel movies.  I guess the idea being that you know Captain America isn't going to turn out to be a Trump supporter, or that Spider-Man isn't going to stay dead because Tom Holland is contracted for 2 more films. 

But I disagree that that's the point of a film.  Lots of movies try to defy expectations but do it without a purposeful throughline that makes sense.  There's no resonance, no revealing of some hidden truth.  (<cough>Last Jedi)  Probably 80% of movies follow fairly predictable patterns where you basically know what the characters will do and have a rough idea how it will end.  It's not about the destination, it's about the journey.  

Scorcese says of 'cinema' when he grew up: "It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves."  And "...that was as far from the Marvel universe as we on Earth are from Alpha Centauri."  I totally disagree.  His description absolutely embodies the journeys of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers for me.  If he can't see that and it doesn't resonate with him: that's okay.  When you go to a museum and stand in front of different paintings, some resonate with you and some don't.  I could stare at a Caravaggio for an hour, but O'Keefe rarely does anything for me.  But it's all made with thought and skill and intention.  It's all art, and whether someone can appreciate each piece or not is subjective, imho.

Appreciate you sharing your views though.  I'm back to film reviews!

I think Stark or Roger’s journey is very one dimensional though. I thought the first 2/3 of Endgame was the best Marvel since the first 2/3 of Ironman 1. Why? Because it was focused on character. Once it became the CGI roller coaster I lost interest. But I seem to be diametrically opposed to most fans of the the MCU in that opinion. I don’t begrudge people for liking it. Lord knows we need things to turn our minds off these days. But I fail to see any deeper level. There’s no larger themes represented in smaller stories in the MCU. It’s what you see is what you get. And it’s well made for that. But it’s not what I want from the genre. I wish it was more. Having read Scorsese’s article in the NYT (thanks for the link), I agree with him even more. Movies weren’t necessarily considered art when he was coming up. Nor were comics considered literature. But both were elevated by the efforts of great storytellers. It’s a shame that the elevated nature of comics isn’t really reflected on screen in Marvel movies. Again, despite flaws I feel Snyder is more committed to this than Feige.
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
So Cruisin' actually holds up!?  I always assumed it was one of those things that was very 'of its time' and would be just kind of cheesy and salacious and hard to identify with now.  You make it sound really cool, though.

It is very much 'of its time', in that it's set in a no-limits sub culture (in some of the real clubs) that due to AIDS, ceased to exist soon after. So it's interesting in that respect, a very specific time and a place. It's also ahead of it's time in the boundary breaking way.

mnkykungfu said:
Franco... I feel like he's more interested in an artistic experience than in a final product.

This is exactly the takeaway I got from his film. Although people in it (including Franco) say this very thing to camera. Like I say, it's very meta.

I found this short video of Friendkin answering a Q&A, where he politely sidesteps giving his opinion of Franco's film and goes on a lovely ramble about his own film instead:

 

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Wow, Zack Snyder is the truly committed artiste' but Kevin Feige, the guy behind the most faithful comic films off all time, is bringing LESS elevated stories to the screen?  So, for example, Batman vs Superman displays a commitment to telling an artistic, elevated story, whereas Avengers: Endgame is less focused on larger themes?

Ok, well, that does put a button on that discussion.  I cannot think of any way to respond to that.

I saw a film!  Well, a mini-series, really.
The Spy (2019)
Unlike a lot of Netflix flicks these days, this is one whole story told in a couple episodes, not a pilot season for a series.  
The good: Sacha Baron Cohen is really quite good in the title role, and he has the most screen time.  There are also a great many Middle-Eastern actors and actresses who are really great here, and will hopefully get more exposure as a result.  The period details (though compressed and time-shifted, like most true stories) are really on-point and very compelling.  And the film does a great job of gradually deepening of the plot and the real spy (also named Cohen)'s position in it.

The less good: probably the other main actor is Noah Emmerich, who you'll know as "Ohhh that guy from that thing!" when you see him.  I like him just fine, but his accent here is dodgy as hell.  It's all over from scene to scene.  His storyline is also a bit overdone and hard to believe.  It seems like a concession to the Israeli side of the story.  The plot of the series as a whole is deliberate at the start, and then ramps up and speeds ahead very quickly in the last few episodes.  Slight spoilers here
I wish we would have seen more of Cohen's relationship with his family, the few times he does see them.  I wanted to see more of the impact of all that, and why they stuck with the dynamic rather than just repeatedly seeing them missing him.  I also wanted to see more of him at the height of his spyness, when he was really in good with all the locals. 
I'm sure it would've required a healthy dose of fictionalization, but this isn't a documentary, and it would've made the story better.

Overall, it's a pretty strong series that I'd recommend.  Especially for people who like statecraft procedurals like Body of Lies, Charlie Wilson's War, or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  I went online and saw that there are so many arguments about how "true" or "Hollywood" this is, which is a term thrown around without much understanding.  There's an excellent interview with Sacha Baron Cohen here where he says the script was already complete when brought to Netflix.  It wasn't changed to "Hollywood-ize" it.  As near as I can tell, this is just a blind patriotic argument.  People from the affected nations scream "that general never fell for that, he said it was all lies!"  Well, of course he did.  Cohen's family say "He never cheated on his wife or had wild parties!  He was a paragon of morality!"  Well, of course they do.  Even the people who think it's Israeli propaganda... well, the series makes the Israeli government look pretty heartless and almost evil, except for one belabored character.  So, I'd have to say this is probably the closest to a truly balanced story we'll ever get about this.
 

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^ I was thinking of giving that a watch. Thanks for the review.

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Partly a Netflix biopic of cheesy Blaxploitation star Rudy Ray Moore and partly the making of Moore's 1975 debut movie 'Dolemite'. This film is a total delight, Rudy as played by Eddie Murphy is an joyously endearing, irrepressible man. He won't let lack of support, lack of money, or lack of ability get in the way of him and his family of misfit friends making a movie. It's packed with laughs but also takes the time to show the technical detail of how a low-budget 1970s film was made. A perfect companion piece to 'Ed Wood' and certainly one of the films of the year. Probably takes the record for the most uses of "Mothef****r" in under 2-hours :D .

NSFW trailer:

 

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The Irishman.
Very good movie. Too long though.

Like many said before me: the de-aging is not bad but distracting at times because the actors all have the body movements of older people. Reducing the number of wrinkles on a face does not make the job. Is it better than most make-up? Probably. Is it better than casting a younger actor? I don't think. (to me younger De Niro looked like John Wayne more than a young De Niro, lol)

That said the movie itself is telling a continuous story with short passing of years here and there, so it's not like there is half the movie where De Niro is super young and half the movie where he's old. So I can understand the use of CGI. I think the problem people also had was the fact that they made De Niro's eyes blue... Nothing wrong about making his eyes blue but mixed with the CG face it adds a jarring element that can be seen as distracting.

I will not comment on why the movie is good because you all know the talents involved and they are all great.
But like I said I think the movie is too long and I suppose that is why they went to Netflix. Because on movie theaters The Irishman would have probably flopped just because of its lenght.

In any case: watch it!
 

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TM2YC said:
^ I was thinking of giving that a watch. Thanks for the review.

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Sure!  Will look forward to your thoughts when you do.  Dolemite is on my list, as well.
 
TMBTM said:
Is it better than casting a younger actor? I don't think. 
I think the problem people also had was the fact that they made De Niro's eyes blue... Nothing wrong about making his eyes blue but mixed with the CG face it adds a jarring element that can be seen as distracting.

^All this!  Don't get me wrong, it's in my queue.  I'm just waiting til all the fanboys let the fanfare die down and I can go in without baggage or expectations.

I saw a film!

REC2 (2009):  The English trailer gives too much away, so: 
I liked the first film and found it a pretty effective thriller/horror movie.  It was a nice twist on the found-footage sub-genre and a great example of what you can do without a lot of money.  The ending of that film is kind of wild, and probably left a lot of people hungry for more, though it was a bit of a turn-off for me (from a writing standpoint).  

REC2 was great then, in that it picks up almost exactly where the last film left off, both chronologically and in terms of continuing all the narrative threads introduced at the last minute.  It again manages to twist and update familiar sub-genres, this time both zombie films and religious horror.  I found it very effective and mostly a pretty gripping film.

One big drawback is a kind of side-story in the middle of the film that was really unbelievable and also featured incredibly annoying, bad actors.  It was such a turn off that I almost stopped watching the movie, though I’m glad I hung in there, because they did get back to the main cast.  It does become fairly obvious during that time though that the characters behind the cameras are just there for to work for the audience and don’t really have dialogue or do anything impactful to the story.  After you’ve seen Hardcore Henry, this conceit of REC2 is a glaring weakness.  Despite that though, it does have another ending which will probably leave audiences chomping at the bit to see where the story evolves to next.
 

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TMBTM said:
That said the movie itself is telling a continuous story with short passing of years here and there, so it's not like there is half the movie where De Niro is super young and half the movie where he's old. So I can understand the use of CGI. I think the problem people also had was the fact that they made De Niro's eyes blue... Nothing wrong about making his eyes blue but mixed with the CG face it adds a jarring element that can be seen as distracting.

The problem for me though was telling how old anyone was supposed to be or when it was happening. For a movie that jumped around in time it was difficult to tell. Wait, is this twenty something Deniro or forty something Deniro? You had to sort of piece it together based on the current events and then do the math. Not only was the effect distracting, but it had the effect of making the narrative harder to follow. If it had been linearly told I might agree with you (though I still would’ve found the effect distracting), but in the way the story was told I think it was a mistake. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I thought it was excellent. But I thought the makeup decisions (blue eyes included) for a character very few people in the audience will remember what he actually looked like was a misstep.

I’ve seen several movies. I need some time to collect my thoughts on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Suffice to say I wouldn’t put it among either his best or worst.

Personal Shopper

I watched this on a whim feeling I’d heard good things. It wasn’t what I expected at all as I knew nothing about it going in. But I found it to be quite good. A ghost story that (mostly) manages to avoid cliche.
 
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