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A few reviews

mnkykungfu

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TM2YC said:
QT definitely pinched a few elements but very little percentage wise IMO. I've seen that old essay before. It's easy to make a persuasive argument that two films are identical when you're only presenting a few minutes of footage and ignoring the majority which is not similar. There is a humorous youtube channel devoted to doing that :D :

Apparently not that easy...I've seen that channel before and it's good for a laugh but I can't take it seriously. It's like contrarians who purposely misread statistics to try to support their point. The Scientific Community: "99% of us agree that climate change is real and manmade causes are a significant contributing factor." That Guy: "So you're saying you can't all agree on this."

Context and history matters. Think we'll have to agree to disagree on Tarantino.
 

Moe_Syzlak

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This discussion deserves its own thread. Might I suggest “Influence, Homage, or Theft.” It can be a fine line. I think QT is a lot like the band Ween. The influences are worn on the sleeve, but in the end it comes out uniquely Tarantino. With Ween, from song to song you can plainly hear Thin Lizzy to Marvin Gaye, but it still comes out as Ween. But again, I’d enjoy expanding on this... in its own thread.
 

mnkykungfu

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^Good idea, that could be a fun thread. But any suggestions to kick it off besides QT?
 

Moe_Syzlak

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mnkykungfu said:
^Good idea, that could be a fun thread. But any suggestions to kick it off besides QT?

Off the top of my head: Joker, Stranger Things, JJ Abrams entire filmography, Fistful of Dollars, Star Wars, Shape of Water, Avatar, Cars... I’m sure we could come up with a ton more. The interesting part is that two reasonable people could see any one of those movies as either homage or plagiarism; unoriginal filmmaking or bringing classic stories and tropes to a totally new and inventive style. To go back to music analogy, depending on how familiar I am with the source sample, I alternately find the songs on Paul’s Boutique to have created something totally new to nearly cover tunes. As I said, I think it’s a fine line and one that is different for each person based on what he or she brings to the table.
 

TM2YC

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Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
This has the rep of being by far the very worst of Hammer's Dracula series but I quite liked it. Shifting Christopher Lee's Count to still-swinging 1972 London worked well. This was the era of Black Sabbath (the band), 'Their Satanic Majesties Request', the "Manson Family", the "Church of Satan" and a rediscovery of ancient pagan religions.  So the Aleister Crowley-alike 'Johnny Alucard' and his hippie gang trying to summon Dracula seemed totally plausible. Christopher Neame looks otherworldly as Alucard. I liked that it exists in some sort of parallel "Hammer-verse" where Dracula was a real historical figure. Peter Cushing is still around to stop him in the guise of the grandson of Van Helsing (and his granddaughter too). The funk score is bad and at odds with trying to create a scary atmosphere, plus the dialogue is peppered with naff phrases like "Maaaan", and "Far out!".  Stick on a more traditional Gothic score and you'd improve things no end.

 

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Ocean’s 11 (2001). I love heist movies. There’s something about watching a plan come together. For me it’s never about the action, but more the mystery of how it’s all going to work; or the fun of watching it all come together if you’re rewatching. Last night we watched the Soderbergh Ocean’s 11 for the umpteenth time. It’s definitely not a perfect movie, but it is one of my favorite heist movies. And this was the first time I’ve seen it since reading the theory that it is about making movies. Though Soderbergh himself denies intentionally making the movie a metaphor for filmmaking you can definitely see how this theory got legs. In the end I think it’s more a Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz thing where it’s interesting to see the similarities when you’re really looking for them. Like most heist movies, there are elements of the plan that strain credulity if you think about them too much. But that would really be missing the point. It’s such a fun movie if you let yourself go along for the ride. I’m not a fan of the sequels, though I thought Ocean’s 8 was a fun time, but this is one movie I can always have fun watching.
 

mnkykungfu

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TM2YC said:
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
This has the rep of being by far the very worst of Hammer's Dracula series but I quite liked it....
The funk score is bad and at odds with trying to create a scary atmosphere, plus the dialogue is peppered with naff phrases like "Maaaan", and "Far out!".  Stick on a more traditional Gothic score and you'd improve things no end.

Light fan-fix?
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
TM2YC said:
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
This has the rep of being by far the very worst of Hammer's Dracula series but I quite liked it....
The funk score is bad and at odds with trying to create a scary atmosphere, plus the dialogue is peppered with naff phrases like "Maaaan", and "Far out!".  Stick on a more traditional Gothic score and you'd improve things no end.

Light fan-fix?

I love to but I couldn't be bothered with all the work it'd take to rescore it and the other easier-to-solve problems are minor in comparison to that issue.  If somebody skilled in rescoring wanted to take it on, I bet they could really transform this one.

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Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
'Crazy Rich Asians' begins with a threatening on-screen quote from a military dictator and then a prologue showing how horrible, pathetic and ludicrously racist British people are. Erm, I thought this was supposed to be a light, fun, romantic-comedy?  So it didn't exactly win me over straight away :D .  The other two hours are devoted to worshipping obscene wealth and profligacy, superficiality and shallowness. The writers seem to assume that the viewer is witless enough that by introducing a character with a shot of her smiling at a cute child, right before a scene where she squanders a couple of million on a pair of gaudy earrings, is enough to make us think she's a good person.  Her character's arc concludes with her shedding her comparatively skint husband and loving the "fabulous" earrings instead.  The male main character is similarly intro'd with him proclaiming his disinterest in money, before sitting back in his designer clothes, 1st class cabin, champagne and positively wallowing in excess.  Everybody is perfect, toned, coiffured, vacuous and every shot looks graded like a Chanel commercial.  This film's idea of poor is arriving at your boyfriend's mansion when you're only driving a metallic-pink sports car which cost upwards of $100k.  One scene ends with a visual "joke" of one of the supporting millionaire characters accidentally killing a hooker with a missile launcher but it's never mentioned because the lives of "the help" aren't important I guess.  Awkwafina was so damn good in 'The Farewell' but here she is very irritating, constantly improving lines to fill up every second of screen time.  That might be the fault of the director, maybe telling her to "keep saying funny stuff, we'll leave it all in".  From what I gather, the source novel was satirical, multi-layered, multi-generation and self-aware but none of that is present in the film. It seems like the script has squeezed the book into a simplistic, Disney-fied, Cinderella-style plot, leaving some characters all but redundant. By the way, I think the title is supposed to read as "crazy-rich asians" but "crazy rich-asians" is equally applicable. Personally, I really disliked this movie but I could also see people switching off their brains and having a good time with it.

 

mnkykungfu

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^I was living in Singapore at the time this came out, and your description of the film's people is an apt description of the actual upper crust Singaporeans. I think Singaporeans looked at this as a way to poke fun at how horrible those people are, while also being unaware of how obviously they all aspire to be them. I think people outside SG probably thought this was all a bit of harmless rom-com fluff like a Jo-Lo jaunt, but no, it's pretty on-the-money. The derision towards maids and "the help" as you say, the open racism towards white people, particularly if they happen to come from a former colonial power, the feeling of having earned the entitlement to be flagrantly wasteful... yeah, it's all true. Despite the attempt to cover it in levity, it was all so on the nose that I couldn't bear to watch it.
 

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The Guilty (2018) (US Hulu)

The_Guilty_%282018_film%29.png

 
Sinbad said:
A Dark Danish thriller I'd heard nothing about until a few weeks ago, easily one of the best films of the year it's basic premise is similar to that of Halle Berry's The Call but any thematic similarities other than the initial setup ends there.  While all the 'action' takes place in pretty much  a single room in the style of Tom Hardy's Locke it managed to make my jaw drop to the floor more than once.  The character progression and performance of the lead was pretty stellar too for an action thriller that basically contains no 'visible' action An absolutely riveting real time thriller and  a definite must see. I think we could well see an American remake of this in the next couple of years but I doubt it will have the nerve to stay true to this.  [Edit] just read American rights have already been acquired (it's up for best foreign film at the oscars)with Jake Gyllenhall in the lead so that's a promising start for a decent if unnecessary remake

Aye, a good flick. I don't have much more than that, really... Enjoyed it, wasn't blown away. Definitely worth a watch for fans of cramped flicks such as Buried, Locke, All is Lost, 127 Hours, etc.

Grade: B+
 

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The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen (1973)
This was the first time I've seen 'The Exorcist' in a theatre and even though it was unfortunately the inferior "Director's Cut" aka "The Version You've Never Seen" it couldn't spoil a great movie and the sound was wonderful.  The 2000 cut features dated CGI FX, drops in image quality during the inserted scenes, laughable "subliminal" demons and suffers from the inclusion of superfluous and repetitive added scenes in the middle act that disrupt the pacing.  There are some nice little nuggets of additional dialogue and seeing a tiny bit more of Jason Miller's powerful performance is welcome.  The alternate ending is just awful though, it's telling that they felt the need to trim it down for inclusion in this version... that's because it doesn't work guys, tinkering around won't fix it.  It's the kind of really enjoyable dialogue scene that is nice on it's own but best left as a DVD extra.


This gives me an idea for a fanedt! :)
 

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Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)
Sacha Baron Cohen cleverly gets around the problem of him and his comedy creation being too recognisable by making that part of the story and by introducing the new character of his teenage daughter.  Both decisions actually provide most of the best jokes as Borat dons multiple silly disguises and his repressed daughter learns about being female empowerment.  The latter is really nicely handled, uplifting and surprisingly emotional.  2020 America gets plenty of criticism from Cohen but the daughter plot celebrates it still being a beacon of freedom, tolerance and equality to some parts of the world.  The underlying theme of this new Amazon Prime distributed Borat sequel is how 14-years later the world has become more like Borat, once a completely ludicrous invention.  Borat's daughter is so backwards she actually believes the world is flat!... oh.  Borat's country is so barbaric that they put children in cages!... oh.  He blindly believes easily provable lies from his politicians because they conform to his existing prejudices!... oh.  My favourite jokes were Borat changing the title of the film about every 10-minutes and the cut-to "My name John Chevrolet".  When 'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm' aims high, it's on-fire, laser-focused, political satire but for my tastes it too often settled for low brow, vulgar, less directed humour... but I have to admit I did laugh like a drain at many of those moments.  Also the mixture of real people, with actors and contrived situations mean the genuine elements don't have quite the punch they should. Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova is so good as Borat's daughter Tutar.  I hope she gets cast in more stuff off the back of this... plus gets some counselling and/or a medal for what she went through in the last 15-minutes :D .

 

mnkykungfu

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^Saw an interview with Stephen Colbert where Cohen detailed the lengthy audition process for Bakalova's role. I'd recommend seeking it out. I initially groaned at the tired "famous character introduces offspring for the sequel" trope, but she's gotten nothing but rave reviews.
 

TM2YC

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mnkykungfu said:
^Saw an interview with Stephen Colbert where Cohen detailed the lengthy audition process for Bakalova's role. I'd recommend seeking it out. I initially groaned at the tired "famous character introduces offspring for the sequel" trope, but she's gotten nothing but rave reviews.

Yep he's been signing her praises everywhere.  Their in-character appearance on Kimmel is unbelievable.

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
I've seen 'Evil Dead 2' a couple of times but I don't like it quite as much as the other two films.  It hasn't got the same levels of visceral, gritty horror as the first movie, it's more cartoony and outlandish but it's nowhere near the kind of comedic self-aware fun of the third movie.   It never feels like the protagonists are facing the same sort of mortal danger as in ED1, Ash is possessed, unpossessed, possessed and then unpossessed again and the other characters are mostly killed/possessed soon after they arrive.  What it does have is an endlessly entertaining slew of inventive practical FX, gross-out makeup, stop-motion creatures and outlandish body horror.  In the first film Bruce Campbell gives a relatively serious performance as a character called 'Ash', here he's just being himself, like nobody else could be. Chewing up what little scenery there is, wide eyed, pure ham and the way he plays his possessed hand is a brilliant bit of mime.  It genuinely looks like it's acting independently from the rest of his body and becomes a weird antagonist for our hero.

 

TM2YC

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Predator (1987)
Soon after watching perhaps the best transfer of an old movie I've ever seen in a cinema with the 2020 4K remaster of 'The Shining', I sat down to watch what is definitely the worst.  I can't believe this notorious old 2010 transfer of 'The Predator' (generally considered to be the source of one of the worst looking blu-rays to hit the market) is still what is being screened in cinemas (despite a new 4K transfer having been done in 2018).  It's been DNRd to the point of looking like the people's faces are "deep fakes" and shots of the jungle look like they were shot on late-90s mobile phones and not 35mm.  This visual smearing and the extreme darkness and lack of contrast to the picture verge on eye strain, even in the dark of a movie theatre.

Look at the third screenshot of Arnie in the red top from this comparison, it's beyond belief:

https://www.dvdexotica.com/2018/10/controversial-blus-predator-with-and.html

With that said, I've never had the chance to see this stone-cold classic at the cinema before, so not even the appalling video transfer could wipe the smile off my face.  Plus hearing the pounding militaristic orchestral score by Alan Silvestri on a theatre setup was heaven.  'The Predator' is one of those contenders for the title of "a perfect movie".  The development of character and visual story telling is masterful.  Every shot and line establishes character and builds your impression of Arnie's squad as a formidable force.  They're all shown to not only be tough but also smart, seeing right through Dillon's lies as easily as Dutch.  They operate on an almost telepathic level with each other. Arnie holds his gun up and a hand takes it away and replaces it with a pair of binoculars without even a gesture.  Unlike the cocky, complacent Marines of 'Aliens', these guys haven't a hint of inflated arrogance, they can't be fooled, they're silent assassins but can also turn into a savage 6-man army and they aren't "afraid of no man".  So their total helplessness and terror in the face of the Predator when he arrives in the middle act, instantly establishes their antagonist as a seemingly unstoppable force.

The small cast are all terrific, investing their characters with tons of personality and depth with little dialogue and screen time, they include several politicians, film directors and writers.  Arnold Schwarzenegger has "star power" and buckets of charisma but his talents as an actor are variable and limited, however, in 'Predator' he delivers a genuinely great performance.  Director John McTiernan goes in for close-ups of his eyes and face in a Clint Eastwood style and maybe that was the direction and inspiration for the actor.  The first act's jacked-up, explosive action would've easily been enough to sustain the movie, the introduction of the sci-fi element takes it to a different level.


 

Gaith

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TM2YC said:
Look at the third screenshot of Arnie in the red top from this comparison, it's beyond belief:

https://www.dvdexotica.com/2018/10/controversial-blus-predator-with-and.html

Okay, granted, but, compared to the DVD and the '08 blu release, the UHD disc seems strikes me as just as bad, in that it's a helluva lot darker for no apparent reason:

predatorc2a.png

DVD


predatorc2ab.png

'08 Blu

predatorc2c.png

UHD


So, is the image supposed to look that dark, and the DVD and '08 Blus got it wrong? Or has the UHD been given a much darker grade just so those who've shelled out for the pricier equipment are tricked into thinking they're getting a more authentic experience?

predatorc1a.png

DVD

predatorc1ab.png

'08 Blu

predatorc1c.png

UHD (note the distinctly modern teal filter)


Stuff like this is what makes me suspect many 4K/UHD discs do little more than piss on consumers' legs, and tell them it's raining. Or am I wrong?  :p
 

TM2YC

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^ It's a sad state of affairs and the reason why I still own Predator (1 & 2) on DVD and have never upgraded.  At least with the UHD you could adjust the brightness/contrast/saturation on your TV.

Varda by Agnes (2019)
Agnes Varda made her last film a retrospective of her own work. She talks through a semi chronological list of her feature films, documentaries, shorts and art installations, mixing a live lecture, with commentary to camera and beautiful film clips. At one point an interviewer/critic says what he thinks one of her films is all about and she emphatically says "no" and instead explains what it meant to her.  As an empathetic observer of other people, it's curious that she choose to be the observer of own life. It's both a joy for fans of her filmography and a great guide to the thinking behind conceiving and shooting a movie.  I ordered the Criterion complete Varda boxset soon after this doc finished because there are some of the films mentioned that I just have to see.

 

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The official 83rd best British film ever made...

Darling (1965)
John Schlesinger directs Julie Christie as Diana, an externally beautiful but internally quite ugly, amoral and superficial model.  Laurence Harvey and Dirk Bogarde play two men she vacillates between, Harvey as an ad-exec, an extreme, callous, kinky male version of herself and Bogarde as a BBC arts reporter, the serious, literate and deep kind of person she has pretensions to be.  In one sequence, Diana attends a charity ball for "world hunger", hosted by the rich and privileged.  As an invited government minister thanks them for their "generosity", Schlesinger intercuts shots of them eating, drinking, yawning and fixing their makeup, silently waited on by young black serving boys they've dressed up in powdered wigs.  Christie comments on her activities in a voiceover which you suppose is some kind of preening future celebrity interview, where she is putting a positive spin on everything.  It's like "cynicism the movie"!  Schlesinger uses her experiences to expose subjects like class, wealth, racism and even taboo topics (for 1965) like orgies, paedophilia, abortion and open homosexuality.  It's bold and intelligent film-making but the problem is, I'm not sure spending 2-hours in the company of irredeemably horrid people is enjoyable.  Saying that, Diana's gay best friend was a relatively pleasant bloke and Bogarde's character has some honesty and dignity to him. His last exhausted and devastating line to Diana is "All your lies are true at the time".

 

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Doctor Sleep (2019)
This belated sequel to Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining', Stephen King's original novel and adaptation of his 'Doctor Sleep' novel is better than it could have been but still not great.  Occasionally you can tell the plot has been mucked around with to try and bridge the gap between film and book but it's mostly successful. For example, the scenes that actually involve the actual "Doctor Sleep" subplot are brief and arguably only left in the movie to justify the title.  My main problem is with the "True Knot" psychic-vampire-cult scenes. I watched the 3-hour Director's Cut where their scenes occupy half the runtime.  They are viscous murderers and torturers of children, so devoting so much of the film to showing their lives and struggles was a waste of time, there was no way I was ever going to have any empathy for them.  They just needed to have a few scenes to make them work as threatening antagonists.  The continuations of the narrative are mostly nicely done and natural, like the alcoholism subject.  I don't know how it was done in the book but since when did dying people emit a hissing gas? or was this supposed to be set in an alternate reality? It's one example where the film-makers don't seem to have grasped the precise division between reality and dreams.  They've gone for a kind of 'Twin Peaks: The Return', meets 'Ghostbusters', meets 'X-Men' tone (mostly the latter).

Although working with the same budget (when adjusted for inflation) as Kubrick's film, it all looks much, much cheaper because it involves a large cast, multiple locations and then still attempts to recreate almost all the sets from the original film as well.  When watching I thought the Overlook Hotel looked decidedly smaller, less impressive and more confined but I couldn't tell if it was just the wrong lenses being used.  Looking up a comparison video afterwards it confirmed that the sets are built 25-30% smaller to save money.  One give away is the famous wall of old photographs being 9x3 in the original and only 7x3 in the sequel.  When Dan returns to the "Here's Johnny!" bathroom I noticed that only one panel of the door was missing and not the two panels seen in Kubrick's film.  Then later watching a behind-the-scenes featurette, I could see that the set designer had originally rebuilt the bathroom with the correct two panels missing. So the director had obviously later told them to put the panel back in (on set, or in post using CG) to match what most people erroneously remember, instead of what it was actually like.  That's not even factoring in the absurdity of the notion that the damage to the rooms was still there 40-years later. In other setups they recreate the positioning of random objects as if the Overlook Hotel staff had OCD and never moved them.  They feebly try to redo the famous and breathtaking helicopter shots with some cheap CG. Sorry but if you try to slavishly copy Kubrick then you've got to expect obsessive film fans to spot all the mistakes you made.  If you can't do it right, maybe do something else?

'Doctor Sleep' really makes you appreciate how real and grounded everything in Kubrick's film felt and looked.  Watching this so soon after seeing a near perfect 4K remaster of the 1980 original was a bad decision.  The sequel is fake looking over dressed movie sets, with cliched horror-movie-lighting, pedestrian editing and horrible, unreal digital grading.   The music and sound also conform to horror cliches, so perhaps a "horror director" like Mike Flanagan was the wrong choice.  I did love his decision to use actors with similar enough looks and voices when bringing back the old characters rather than resort to distracting computer face replacement.  Alex Essoe's vocal impersonation of Shelley Duvall was so spot on that I sometimes forgot it wasn't her.  The location where the finale will take place is inevitable and how the story will be resolved is telegraphed very early on, so knowing both things made the final 2.5 hours drag.  I don't envy Flanagan's task of trying to both please Kubrick fans and writer Stephen King, who hated the 1980 movie and all of it's changes. That he managed something mostly coherent, while seeming to delight King is impressive work.


 

mnkykungfu

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^I heard a podcast where one host swore the Director's Cut saved the theatrical film, but I've remained dubious. Sounds like a fanedit could create an ultimate 2 hour version that is... okay?
 
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