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A few reviews

mnkykungfu

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TM2YC said:
The Conversation (1974)
 much of the credit has to go to genius Walter Murch who served as sound designer and supervising editor because this is a film that's all about the sound and editing. 
^This film has the best sound editing and sound mixing of any film in history.  Change my mind, internet.
A wonderful classic that has been underrated because of the Godfather films.

I saw a couple of loosely Christian movies to celebrate Easter.  :)

Quo Vadis (1951)
I wouldn't believe all the hyperbole in this trailer, but it certainly is a movie on a grand scale.  Those crowd scenes are a lot more impressive when you know it's not digital.  The first half of this could be a #metoo promotional film, which makes it far more interesting than the increasingly thin 2nd half.  Review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/quo-vadis/

Aquirre, the Wrath of God (1972)
I find it fascinating to listen to Werner Herzog speak, or watch him act.  The more I see of his directing efforts though, the less I'm interested in them.  He seems to be saying the same thing over and over again, and is very content to change facts and misportray real people in order to serve his own agenda.  Review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/aguirre-the-wrath-of-god/
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
The Conversation (1974)
 much of the credit has to go to genius Walter Murch who served as sound designer and supervising editor because this is a film that's all about the sound and editing. 
^This film has the best sound editing and sound mixing of any film in history.  Change my mind, internet.

Apocalypse Now is better IMO... also by Walter Murch. :D

Solaris (1972)
'Solaris' is often compared to '2001: A Space Odyssey' but it's the polar opposite, Stanley Kubrick's film is criticised for being too absorbed by the visuals and technical brilliance, with a cold inhumanity. Andrei Tarkovsky's is only interested humanity, just paying lip service to Sci-Fi in order to setup a situation to explore existential themes. A psychologist who has lost his wife travels to investigate problems on a space station in orbit round a strange oceanic planet. The planet Solaris is capable of manifesting beings from people's memory, including his dead wife. FX shots are few and far between and are mostly incomprehensible swirling splodges, the two (or is it three?) shots that do attempt to convey something with form are laughably incompetent. I enjoyed the very 70s vision of a near-future, with it's widescreen HD b&w TVs, hand monogrammed beige pajamas, driver-less radio-controlled cars and chaotic exposed wiring. The haunted performances are truly excellent, especially the leads Donatas Banionis and Natalya Bondarchuk.

At nearly 3-hours, this really tested my patience, there is barely enough hard Sci-Fi content to pad out a lesser episode of Star Trek. Coincidentally I watched a fantastic random episode of 'Star Trek: Voyager' called 'Projections' just after 'Solaris', in which the ship's holographic Doctor (who is an artificial simulation of a human) is faced with the prospect that he might actually be a real person. Something that he finds quite disturbing to his sense of self. It's looking at the telescope from the other end but it's exploring very similar ideas to 'Solaris', it just does it much better, with more wit, more narrative originality and in far less time.


Solaris (2002)
Steven Soderbergh not only Directed this but acted as writer, Cinematographer and Editor too. This 2002 version of Stanislaw Lem's novel is well over an hour shorter than Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 adaptation but somehow feels slower. It's a bit too focused on the romantic relationship between George Clooney and Natascha McElhone (who have little chemistry) and doesn't really get to grips with the thought provoking implications of her re-existence until it's almost over. I could see the plot twist coming a mile away and nothing much is done with it when it finally happens. The visuals are very nice, the FX shots are good and I liked the score by Cliff Martinez. Apparently the notoriously insane MPAA were originally going to give this an R-Rating just because Clooney's naked arse is seen in a couple of wide shots, in heavy shadow, for just a few seconds but Soderbergh appealed the rating and won.

 

TM2YC

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Tepepa (1969)
The charming presence of Tomas Milian (in the title role), Orson Welles as the villain, an Ennio Morricone score and the recommendation of Quentin Tarantino, were four very good reasons to check out this Spaghetti/Tortilla/Zapata Western. Tepepa is an outcast freedom fighter in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution but also a ruthless bandit. The film deliberately keeps him complex and ambiguous, he's nearly illiterate but very canny and suspicious, he fights against cruelty and oppression but is violent and vengeful himself. The general theme is poor people being crushed by the rich and powerful. Welles is borderline phoning it in as the baddie, a despotic Colonel, I suspect many scenes were arranged so there would be an excuse for him sitting down at a table, or in a chauffeured car, scowling and mumbling all his dialogue. The version on Amazon Prime was a bit odd because 95% was in English, the rest subtitled, fantastic picture quality though. I assume they restored it to it's uncut Italian length but lacked the English dub to complete some lines. I got used to it after a while.


 

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3 films I can recommend!

All Is Lost (2013)
Really overshadowed by Gravity, which it actually has a lot in common with, this should have gotten lots of buzz at Oscar time.  As I grew up sailing, I found it a really compelling watch and kept imagining my dad in Redford's position.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/all-is-lost/

Watchmen (2009)
I actually watched the Midnight fanedit, but this re-watch was my first time seeing the material from The Ultimate Cut.  I left a review on the fanedit page, but essentially I do like the Director's Cut material being re-incorporated into the film.  I actually don't think the Tales of the Black Freighter and newstand scenes make the film better as a whole.  The story in general is of course a masterclass examination of Golden Age Charlton Comics characters reset in a very Thatcher-influenced era (like many of the author's stories.)  The film version remains better than many of the comic films coming out these days, and the Midnight fanedit is the best version yet.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/watchmen/

The Street Fighter (1974)
So I just played the old "The Darkness" videogame for PS3, and in the game you come across various TVs playing music videos, old cartoons, and movies.  You can actually watch the entirety of about 10 films in the game if you just sit in front of the TV, including the entire Street Fighter series!  After about 15 minutes, I decided to just get ahold of a proper release of the film, which is not too difficult since it's in the public domain.  (It's on Tubi unedited!)  I recommend the English dub, as it adds to the flavor.  Full review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/the-street-fighter/
 

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Escape from New York (1981)  (US Amazon Prime)

EscapefromNYposter.jpg


So, here's the thing: Escape from New York kinda objectively sucks. The budget is painfully meager, the slapdash script can't be bothered to give a coherent explanation for what's on that cassette tape, Kurt Russell's luscious mane and schoolyard Clint Eastwood impression are deeply lame, and the unapologetic use of Isaac Hayes as a Scary Black Man calls John Carpenter's rebellious tone into serious question. It's just not a good movie.

And yet... it's also, probably indisputably, a classic. Even counting the sequel, it's utterly unique. (Well, maybe not utterly - I've yet to see The Warriors, which predates it by two years.) The slow pace, sparse music, and kooky characters create a dream-logic feel not entirely unlike that of Carnivàle. Maybe Escape from New York would be less memorable if it were a better movie? Who knows. All I know is it is memorable, far more than many other, more competent films, and is required viewing for all genre film fans. Welcome back, Snake. I thought you were dead.

Grade: B-. It's one of the best B- films ever made.


The Naked Gun (1988)   (US Netflix)

The_Naked_Gun_Poster.jpg


Hoo, boy. Speaking of sucking... The Naked Gun is packed with at least 3-4 gags per minute, but I only chuckled aloud a few times, and its 85 minute runtime dragged on and on and onnnnnnn. A jingoistic opening scene sets an unfortunate tone, but just when the credits start, and we think the worst of the dated material is over, we get O.J. Simpson playing a heroic cop, and... ohhh, nooooo.

Why doesn't the movie work? Probably for the same reason Ghostbusters is terrific, but Ghostbusters (2016) remake is not: even totally wacky and absurd comedies need stories and protagonists solid enough for the audience to latch on to, and this movie has neither. Doesn't help at all that Leslie Nielsen, despite being only roughly two decades older than his love interest, looks at least twice her age. Staring in amazement at the bygone styles and clothes just about got me through the screening, but this is one Gun best kept holstered.

Grade: C-
 

TM2YC

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I remember loving EFNY but maybe it doesn't hold up. I should find out one of these days.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
Initially I wasn't too sure about the fairly dislikeable self-obsessed characters in this Steven Soderbergh psycho-sexual drama. His unhurried direction and sympathy for the damaged characters soon starts to suck you in to their lives and begin to appreciate them for their personality flaws (except slimy lawyer John). James Spader is fascinating as Graham, an impotent man who tapes consensual interviews with women about their sexual experiences for his own gratification, something he is totally frank and open about. A revelation late into the story about why he is the way he is totally changes your perspective on his behaviour and makes you want to watch the film over again to experience Spader's performance in a new light. Graham is contrasted with uptight prudish middle-class housewife Ann (Andie MacDowell) and her unashamedly promiscuous younger sister Cynthia (Laura San Giacomo). It's interesting that Soderbergh chooses to feature (virtually) no sex or nudity in the film.

 

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TM2YC said:
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)


We watched this senior year of college in our film class. Every single one of us hated it haha. I'm sure I could appreciate it on its cinematography and writing merits but I could not connect with or care about anyone in that movie whatsoever.
 

TM2YC

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Siliconmaster said:
I could not connect with or care about anyone in that movie whatsoever.

I can totally understand that. I was a couple of scenes away from losing patience with them myself, when I suddenly started to get gripped by it.

Airplane! (1980)
Doing a scene-for-scene, shot-for-shot, line-for-line remake of a "serious" film like 1957's 'Zero Hour!' but making it funny by simply re-contextualizing the material within a comedy is a pretty high-brow concept but one crammed with deliciously low-brow humour of every variety. On this re-viewing I was really laughing at Stephen Stucker's character the control tower assistant Johnny, the only person in the film who isn't playing it deadly straight... in fact he's like some bonkers opposite of playing it straight. Sure not all of the jokes work and a few of the references have dated but there is such a hurricane of gags that these moments get lost in the shuffle.

 

mnkykungfu

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Gaith said:
So, here's the thing: Escape from New York kinda objectively sucks. 
Have to totally disagree about this one.  Russell's performance is iconic, Escape is far better than it's budget and production has any right to be, the story is plenty coherent, and the "racism" compared to other films of it's time is negligible to non-existent.  How many films in 1981 had ANY representation of non-white people?  
 
TM2YC said:
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
Initially I wasn't too sure about the fairly dislikeable self-obsessed characters.... It's interesting that Soderbergh chooses to feature (virtually) no sex or nudity in the film.

When I finally watched this, I couldn't believe the hype it had gotten.  I have to agree with Siliconmaster.  I have a real problem with films that don't have a single likeable character and on top of that seem like the director is being self-indulgent.  You're going to have a film with that title, you better give the audience something more titillating.  
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Watched a bunch of shorts, including this long-delayed follow-up to The Hire!
The Escape (2016)
I remember back in 2001 when BMW commissioned the best car commercials in history, throwbacks to 70s films like The Driver and Bullit that essentially built Clive Owen's career.  They were by real A-list directors like John Woo and Inarritu, but my favorite was probably director Joe Carnahan's.  Here they get Owen to reprise his role for another short film, this one by Neill Blomkamp with an all-star cast.  It's perfect.

The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Bit of educational research here.  I can't say as I found this particularly moving or anything, but it's interesting to see what was likely the model for every train heist scene afterwards, all the way up through Solo.  It struck me that it must've seemed quite violent for the time.

Mind Candy (2015)
The Pixar Short for the Inside Out disc, this is probably the worst Pixar short ever.  It's long, but is just a collection of bits that range from screen savers to animation tests to 20 second gags.  I'm a big fan of the film, so it was worth watching, ONCE.

Gotham Girls (2000)
Seasons 1,2,3 Complete Shorts
You could argue that the recent Harley Quinn movie should've pulled more from this under-rated gem.  These were Flash animation shorts designed back when people were really into things like Homestar Runner.  The first season has lots of clickables and was more gamified, which you can see play out in total in the short videos here.  Season 2 had a bit less of that, and Season 3 actually focused a lot more on the narrative and less on the clicking, telling one long-form story for the whole season.  They're actually quite good, especially S3, and I'd recommend them for any animation/DC fan.

Lobo (2000)
Complete Shorts Series
The flipside of Gotham Girls ("for the boyz") was the Lobo series of Flash shorts.  Kind of telling a longer narrative but with identifiable chapters, the sense of humor was just pretty horrible.  I've never really been a big fan of Lobo, I think unless you do him just right, he ends up being everything that was wrong with '90s comics.  That's on full display here.
 

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Feeding Frenzy is pretty decent. While I didn't care that much for the main character, the creature effects and music were superb. And the parts with Mr Plinkett were hilarious!
 

TM2YC

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The Outsiders (1983)
The young cast that Francis Ford Coppola assembled for this 1960s teen greaser gang movie is insane. Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez and Diane Lane are in their earliest roles, including a little known actor called Tom Cruise. Ralph Macchio's next film after this was 'The Karate Kid'. Coppola created the stars of the 80s right here. Sometimes the inexperience of the cast is apparent but mostly they are excellent. This is partly a nostalgic look back to the era of gleaming hot-rods and malt-shacks but from the wrong side of town, where it's all burned-out wrecks, poverty, black engine grease and flick-knives (it's like a film version of a Bruce Springsteen track). The jukebox soundtrack featuring Elvis, Van Morrison, surf music and Rockabilly is amazing. I liked that the movie starts and concludes in such a way that you can watch it on a perpetual loop.

I watched Coppola's "The Complete Novel" extended cut, adding back 22-minutes of footage cut from the theatrical release. Apparently Coppola's granddaughter was studying S. E. Hinton's book in class and they were planning on watching the film. He was a little embarrassed at the prospect of them seeing the hollowed-out 92-minute version, so he quickly put together a longer cut just for them to watch in school. This convinced him to revisit the film and release the 115-minute extended cut. I can't imagine the short release was better, although since it has a different score, it's probably worth checking out.


Rumble Fish (1983)
Francis Ford Coppola shot 'Rumble Fish' back to back with 'The Outsiders' (also based on an S. E. Hinton story) using many of the same cast and crew and released it six-months afterwards. Unusually he chose to do this narratively similar second film in a completely different way. 'The Outsiders' was a nostalgic sunlit evocation of the period in which it was set, with a 50s jukebox soundtrack and a classic film-making style not unlike actual films of the era like 'Rebel Without a Cause'. Where as 'Rumble Fish' is set in some sort of 50s/80s heightened reality, shot in Noir black & white, with extreme expressionist angles, wild editing, R-Rated sex, violence and drug taking, strobe lighting effects, deliberately artificial post-synced sound design, experimental shots and an avant-garde percussive score by The Police's drummer Stewart Copeland. The sequence of Matt Dillon's soul leaving his body and floating across various scenes, real or imaginary, looks extraordinary because it's accomplished in-camera using some kind of crane arm. There are also perfectly executed shots where the actors did their performance in slow motion, so when played back at the correct speed the sky would appear sped up.

The cast is incredible featuring Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Nicolas Cage, Chris Penn, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits and Dennis Hopper... often all in the same scene together. 50% of the words in the script seemed to be people saying "Rusty James" to each other (the name of Dillon's main character). You could accuse the film of being "style over substance", which I suppose it is but when there is this much style packed into every frame, it hardly matters.



^ The period trailer has the same energetic editing of the film.
 

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The Eagle (2011)

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A rollicking adventure/survival/war film set in Roman and indigenous Britain, 140 CE. A young Roman soldier (Channing Tatum) and his slave (Jamie Bell) embark upon a foolhardy quest to find and retrieve a gold eagle standard from the wilds north of Hadrian's Wall. It isn't just a solid adventure/action movie, however; it's also an invitation to contemplate the origins of civilization as we know it. By any objective measure, the imperial Romans are in the wrong to dominate and tax peoples so far from their home, and yet, it's their very hierarchies, rigid military structure, and exploitative economy that laid the groundwork for pre-modern society, which later directly inspired the architects of contemporary nation-states. For all the systematic injustices of contemporary geopolitics, an ordinary citizen such as myself can make phone and video calls around the world, not to mention travel much of the world (in normal times) without risking life and limb - to say nothing of medical, civil, and artistic advances. Was the bloodshed of building modern civilization worth it? Now that the blood has been spilled, what do we owe the memory of those who died both building it and opposing it?

Grade: B+
 

mnkykungfu

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Gaith said:
The Eagle (2011)

I was doubtful that a Tatum/Bell adventure would live up to your smart commentary, Gaith, but I looked up the director and he has an interesting record!  You've convinced me to give it a shot.

I've been watching through Magnum, P.I. (1980) lately! 
Magnum-PI-TV-show-cast-in-1983.jpg
I've got to say it holds up pretty well, much better then modern sitcoms.  Season 1 is interesting... the drama from Vietnam is baked in right from the pilot, which is essentially a 90 minute movie.  They make use of the filming locations on the Hawaiian islands pretty well, with lots of military cooperation.  More use of local dialect and POC than I recall seeing on any US show in history except something like Sanford & Son.  Lots of spotting of future talent.  A pre-Cheers Ted Danson is in an episode, a pre-Knight Rider Rebecca Holden, a pre-Buck Rogers Erin Gray.  On the other hand, the famous theme song isn't developed until almost halfway through the season, and Rick's club changes from the pilot.  He switches from a Casablanca-inspired nightclub to a beach club.  I can actually picture Selleck as Indy Jones pretty easily while watching the first season... his character is similar in a lot of ways.  I remember as a kid thinking that Higgins was obviously secretly Robin Masters, which is weird, because it's clear in S1 that he's not.  There are episodes actually showing Robin elsewhere, or them talking on the phone.  Will have to see how that conspiracy theory gained so much traction as I watch later seasons.
 

DigModiFicaTion

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Possible spoilers below, but I'm pretty sure most everyone here has seen these two except for me.

Blade Runner - Final Cut
Truthfully, meh....I just don't see why this movie is so praised. It's too ambiguous when it comes to the world it creates and the implications of replicants. Sure the the opening crawl addresses this at a surface level, but I would have liked to learn more of what was actually going on. The movie wreaked of the 80's in it's odd-ball presentation, acting and soundtrack, which I never really can stomach. It had a similar feeling as movies like Legend but in a distopian future. I'm sure many are getting riled up in reading this. Maybe I'll try and make an amended version of this film that quickens the pace, updates the musical score to mirror the sequel's score and brings down some of the gratuitous violence as found myself skipping through a lot of the graphic scenes. I love Harrison Ford, but even he couldn't save this movie for me. I'm sure for its time it was cutting edge, but I certainly missed the impact of this one. 5.5/10*

Blade Runner 2049
Now this was something entirely different. There were real implications of the existence of replicants and we clearly see how they are utilized in the world. The story of K/Joe was captivating and Decker's inclusion was more than a cameo, it was essential to the story and world. Jarred Leto creeps me out, and he owns up to that creepiness here. I honestly don't know if any of his, Leto's, scenes were really necessary. He thinks he's a god and is bringing about a new genesis of existence, but really he's nothing more than exposition. You don't even know if he's a replicant or a cyborg here. The antagonist probably could and should of simply been Luv. I also found it odd that the story of this movie almost contradicts the implications of the final scenes of the Final cut of the original film. I did like how it is used as a plot device and thought it was clever and impactful. As for the aesthetic, most of it looked great, but much of the film has a hideously orange tint that I'd want to bring down as well as removing the needless nudity and overly sexualized scenes that did nothing for the plot. The story itself was captivating and the look was convincing. 8/10

*I went back and watched some of the original after seeing the sequel and I must say that the sequel definitely improves the experience of the original story line. It's always great when a followup is able to both expand and enhance the source it came from.  That being said, I think the best way to watch this would be some hybrid of the theatrical and final cut, basically the theatrical without the narration, as the sequel clearly uses the theatrical ending and implications as its source material.
 

mnkykungfu

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^I feel you.  Watched the Final Cut for the first time recently and was surprisingly underwhelmed.  My review: https://letterboxd.com/nottheacademy/film/blade-runner/

People really love on it as an improvement over the theatrical, but I think it's important to realize it was building on that.  Without the Theatrical Cut or it's cult status, I doubt many people would've even watched a film like what was released as the Final Cut.  It's too obtuse to find a large enough audience.  

When watching it after knowing all the details revealed in the narration of the original, it's easy to appreciate the mood.  But without that exposition, it's a movie that seems like it has a lot of ideas but doesn't flesh any of them out.  (I'm one of the few who thinks the International Cut is a great version of the film, sue me.)
 

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I agree except the exact opposite of everything you both said :D .
 

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TM2YC said:
I agree except the exact opposite of everything you both said :D .

So for a first viewing of both the first film and the sequel, which one is the way to go? Theatrical or Final Cut? I know next to nothing about the movies
 

Moe_Syzlak

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Masirimso17 said:
TM2YC said:
I agree except the exact opposite of everything you both said :D .

So for a first viewing of both the first film and the sequel, which one is the way to go? Theatrical or Final Cut? I know next to nothing about the movies

I’m not the expert that @"TM2YC" is, but I vastly prefer Final Cut to the Theatrical. The Director’s Cut was what I watched until the FC came out. I’m anxious for @"TM2YC"’s color correction though. I understand what @"mnkykungfu" is saying but I love the FC exactly for the reasons he dislikes it. It if you want a more straightforward detective noir, the theatrical is fine, but it makes it a totally different experience. For leading into the sequel, I think tonally the FC is the way to go as it is clearly a sequel in spirit to DC or FC rather than the theatrical.
 
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