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post #1171 of 1342 Old 02-13-2014, 07:42 AM
 
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Thanks for your review of this well-respected chestnut about Mankind's constant childish need for and fear of "Someone to figure things out, tell us what it means, and control everything"
Your beginning quote from the movie: "Don't personalize it. The next step is deification." sets up well what paranoid mental attitude is exploited in this film.

It is an interesting movie, but I have seen this sad commentary on human intelligence too much. It seems like humanity is only interested in fear as a tool to force change and, ironically, as a tool to keep change from happening.

But that observation aside the special effects in this movie are classic "old school" and kinda fun.

Thanks, Bill, for your review.
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post #1172 of 1342 Old 02-13-2014, 04:24 PM
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Ok, I'm in. You can find my old review here: Alien (1979)

-Bill

I saw your Alien collage before writing my impressions.
I cogitated linking or mentioning your work but for some reason I didn't... sorry about that...
Next time I give my impressions about a movie you've already covered I'll make sure to link or mention your collage work, it's worth more attention.
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post #1173 of 1342 Old 02-14-2014, 07:16 AM
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Breathless (1960)

First feature film of irreverent Godard and one of the seminal works of the Nouvelle Vague movement in France.
In 1960, same year when Hitchcock reached his (and may I say whole Classical Hollywood Cinema) aesthetical apex with Psycho, Breathless was a bold experiment in visual style and editing, it became one of the most influential films ever made.
Quite an interesting exercise to contrast both cinematic paradigmas, Breathless makes Classical Cinema look dated, inflexible and of limited expressive range, Psycho makes most Nouvelle Vague statements look reckless, objectless and a mess all over the place.
Early result of the transgressive and reactionary agenda of the young elites of the 60's which eventually lead to the rise of post-modern paradigma in arts and society.
Being a seminal demonstration of post-modern cinema, Breathless still has a singular and contemporary visual identity.
The mix of existential mindset and humour driving the characters dialogues and actions, in the trivial plot, is the icing on the cake.

A bit shocked to not see a single mention of Godard name in this thread by the way...
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post #1174 of 1342 Old 02-14-2014, 11:11 AM
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I have a love/hate relationship with Godard. I was infatuated with him when I was a pretentious film student. Revisiting the same movies years later, they didn't speak to me nearly as well. In fact, when I watched Contempt on Blu-ray I found it pretty much awful.

The restoration of Breathless played in theaters a few years back. I was alternately engaged and bored with it. The jump-cut editing that must have seemed so revolutionary when the film was made now just feels like an annoying affectation. Of course, there's very little story in the movie, because Godard never cared about narrative and believed (believes) that the need to tell stories is the worst thing that ever happened to cinema.

The movie works best for me as a time travel trip back to Paris in the 1950s. The beautiful people, fashions and locations are mesmerizing. The black & white photography is also just amazing. When you watch it, pay attention to how perfectly smooth the handheld camerawork is. There was no such thing as a Stedicam when this movie was made. Raoul Coutard shot the whole thing with the camera in his hand, and it almost never shakes or jostles no matter how complicated a scene it effortlessly glides through. The guy was an absolute master. No one could shoot a movie like he could.

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post #1175 of 1342 Old 02-14-2014, 02:27 PM
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The movie works best for me as a time travel trip back to Paris in the 1950s. The beautiful people, fashions and locations are mesmerizing. The black & white photography is also just amazing.

Agreed, one of the aspects I like about this and other New Wave, Nouvelle Vague, New Cinema movies is that they work for me as a window for the time and place where they where shoot.
Being only 26 years old, I can only imagine how it was...
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post #1176 of 1342 Old 02-15-2014, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

I have a love/hate relationship with Godard. I was infatuated with him when I was a pretentious film student. Revisiting the same movies years later, they didn't speak to me nearly as well. In fact, when I watched Contempt on Blu-ray I found it pretty much awful.

You have to tread carefully there. Even worse than the "pretentious" film student who loves the films of the old greats like Godard, Truffault, Welles, Bergman, etc. IMHO, is the new brand of "pretentious" film student who rebels with distain against the films of the old greats like Godard, Trufault, Welles, Bergman, etc.
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post #1177 of 1342 Old 02-15-2014, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

The movie works best for me as a time travel trip back to Paris in the 1950s. The beautiful people, fashions and locations are mesmerizing. The black & white photography is also just amazing. When you watch it, pay attention to how perfectly smooth the handheld camerawork is. There was no such thing as a Stedicam when this movie was made. Raoul Coutard shot the whole thing with the camera in his hand, and it almost never shakes or jostles no matter how complicated a scene it effortlessly glides through.
It's ironic that they went to so much trouble to hold the camera steady, given the present tendency to wallow in shaky cam.
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post #1178 of 1342 Old 02-17-2014, 04:28 AM - Thread Starter
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The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), directed by John Cromwell.

I feel a Ronald Colman marathon coming on. In my earliest movie memories he is a mythic figure from the old films, seemingly in a category by himself: distinguished, witty, but with touches of pain and sadness. The silent film actor who became one of the great voices of the century.

This is the now familiar story of the distant relation and look-alike to a monarch who must become king for a day -- but who finds himself in the role for quite a bit longer.

It's a good-looking 1930s action picture, although the swashbuckling doesn't get into gear until the last segment. Terrifically romantic. The heroes are brave and noble, the villains brave and dastardly. All crave the struggle, the chance to fight and triumph.

Many familiar faces:

  • Ronald Colman in the dual lead roles.
  • Madeleine Carroll, last seen in The 39 Steps (1935), the princess who discovers the imposter is a better king -- and a better man -- than the original.
  • C. Aubrey Smith, born 1863, massively featured and captain of the Hollywood cricket team. He played the dual leads on stage in the 1890s when the book was new.
  • Raymond Massey is the arch-villain, although there isn't much for him to do other than glower.
  • Mary Astor, who betrays for love.
  • David Niven, young but stalwart.
  • Douglas Fairbanks Jr, deliciously evil as our hero's nemesis. He wanted the lead badly, but C. Aubrey Smith told him: "I've played every part in this story except Flavia, and no one's career was ever harmed by playing Rupert of Hentzau". (Much as I revere James Mason, his version in the 1952 remake just can't compare).

Alfred Newman score and James Wong Howe photography.



-Bill
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post #1179 of 1342 Old 02-17-2014, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), directed by John Cromwell.

Many familiar faces:

  • Madeleine Carroll, last seen in The 39 Steps (1935), the princess who discovers the imposter is a better king -- and a better man -- than the original.

Alfred Newman score and James Wong Howe photography.

The Prisoner of Zenda is a great old actioner that holds up remarkably well, at this long remove from its release. Madeleine Carroll was Hitchcock's original Ice Queen, one of the many blonde beauties he cast in the female leads of his films. She was later followed by Grace Kelly, Kim Novak,, Eva Marie Saint, et al.
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post #1180 of 1342 Old 02-17-2014, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), directed by John Cromwell.

I feel a Ronald Colman marathon coming on. In my earliest movie memories he is a mythic figure from the old films, seemingly in a category by himself: distinguished, witty, but with touches of pain and sadness. The silent film actor who became one of the great voices of the century.

-Bill

You are certainly not alone in that special feeling for Coleman. I think it was on the Siriusly Sinatra channel on SiriusXM where I heard Frank Sinatra's daughter, Nancy, relate that her dad often mentioned that he totally understood and appreciated the reaction from fans meeting him for the first time, never thought of them as corny or unsophisticated when they were struck speechless since that is exactly the way he felt when he met Ronald Coleman for the first time. One might never link those two names together, Frank Sinatra and Ronald Coleman. But apparently Sinatra was struck as dumb as the most ardent Movie Mag fan when he finally met him. And Sinatra had met some huge movie stars by then.
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post #1181 of 1342 Old 02-18-2014, 01:08 PM
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The Third Man (1949)

Carol Reed directed what is considered one of the finest archetypes of film noir.
I have to say, although I can't disagree, that I found the musical score to be one of the most anticlimatic pieces ever performed on a movie.
It is one of the most notable aspects of the movie but it just didn't work with me, very awkward and detracted too much from the experience.
For some reason I couldn't really connect with this movie, I don't think the score is the only thing to blame, but I still can't quite articulate exactly why or what it is... seems like there's some lack of cinematic nuance or stylistic identity, I dunno, it felt flat overall... also something very artificial about the way things develop on the screen, the acting (although generally very good) at moments seemed opaque, very theatrical not subtle, I know this was normal back then, but in Hitchcock movies it never felt so unnatural as in this movie...
A pity because this is an intelligent and complex work with great dialogue and humour, interesting camera work and cinematography (even if I was expecting a bit more quality here, but maybe the bluray rip I downloaded injured the true aspect of the picture...).
I liked specially those moments where Orson Welles showed up, his acting always seems great to me, I like him very much as an actor and director although I still have seen few of his directed works.
Apparently ambiguous impressions of The Third Man... I wish I could be more clear but this film doesn't compel me to write much either...
I suspect it's my own fault I didn't enjoy it more...
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post #1182 of 1342 Old 02-18-2014, 02:02 PM
 
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^^Thanks for the review. Now I have to watch it again. Been a long time.
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post #1183 of 1342 Old 02-18-2014, 07:49 PM
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The Third Man (1949)

Carol Reed directed what is considered one of the finest archetypes of film noir.
I have to say, although I can't disagree, that I found the musical score to be one of the most anticlimatic pieces ever performed on a movie.
It is one of the most notable aspects of the movie but it just didn't work with me, very awkward and detracted too much from the experience.
For some reason I couldn't really connect with this movie, I don't think the score is the only thing to blame, but I still can't quite articulate exactly why or what it is... seems like there's some lack of cinematic nuance or stylistic identity, I dunno, it felt flat overall... also something very artificial about the way things develop on the screen, the acting (although generally very good) at moments seemed opaque, very theatrical not subtle, I know this was normal back then, but in Hitchcock movies it never felt so unnatural as in this movie...
A pity because this is an intelligent and complex work with great dialogue and humour, interesting camera work and cinematography (even if I was expecting a bit more quality here, but maybe the bluray rip I downloaded injured the true aspect of the picture...).
I liked specially those moments where Orson Welles showed up, his acting always seems great to me, I like him very much as an actor and director although I still have seen few of his directed works.
Apparently ambiguous impressions of The Third Man... I wish I could be more clear but this film doesn't compel me to write much either...
I suspect it's my own fault I didn't enjoy it more...

The Third Man is one of my favorite films. I thought Orson Welles gave one of his finest performances there. The zither background music haunted me. I thought when I first saw the film, and still think now, that Holly Martins was the most naive doofus on the planet. Still, I liked the guy and rooted for him. Go figure. smile.gif Carol Reed directed a lot of films and Graham Greene wrote a lot of great stories but I don't think either of them ever did anything better than The Third Man.
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post #1184 of 1342 Old 02-18-2014, 08:27 PM
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The Third Man is one of my favorite films. I thought Orson Welles gave one of his finest performances there. The zither background music haunted me. I thought when I first saw the film, and still think now, that Holly Martins was the most naive doofus on the planet. Still, I liked the guy and rooted for him. Go figure. smile.gif Carol Reed directed a lot of films and Graham Greene wrote a lot of great stories but I don't think either of them ever did anything better than The Third Man.

I'm with you. One of my all-time favorites. I love absolutely everything about it. The ending shot is one of my favorite moments in all of cinema. It rivals Harry Lime's infamous reveal in the doorway, IMHO.
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post #1185 of 1342 Old 02-19-2014, 09:12 AM
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in for a screen cap review of third man... that criterion is awesome on BD

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post #1186 of 1342 Old 02-19-2014, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Planet of the Apes (1968), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner.

I've never known how to take this one. It's not straight science fiction, nor fairy tale, nor exactly a social satire, although you could take it as a message about evolution or cruelty to animals or race hatred or religion. Or just a funny one about the world turned upside down.

People are animals, but animals are people? The whimsically dark tone is due to our main character Taylor, who is unaccountably sour throughout. Where did a space explorer get such a bad attitude?

How could he not know he was on Earth? Are the moon and stars gone in 3978 AD? Did he not think it strange that the apes spoke English and used latin letters?

Charlton Heston seemed to like science fiction and really liked stripping off his clothes. Tall, big shouldered, impressive physique: it works for him.

The Forbidden Zone has spectacular Colorado River locations, but ape-land itself is obviously Malibu.

Jerry Goldsmith provides a combined eerie-planet and action score, but it is not one of his better efforts.

Available on Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #1187 of 1342 Old 02-19-2014, 12:40 PM
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I dunno...I love Goldsmith's score. The whole atonal Bartok-esque nature of it adds to the effect of the alien aspect of the world Heston finds himself in. Of course, the fact that it was so unconventional is probably a turn off to some, but I love it.

Also, other than the fact that all the apes spoke English (it IS a movie after all....a little license is taken but it never bothered me), as far as Taylor was concerned they had been flying through space for 2000 years. Even their female companion was long dead, so it would seem natural that they would assume they were light years away from Earth.
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post #1188 of 1342 Old 02-19-2014, 02:51 PM
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Oh my, Oh my, I believe I've seen this movie long ago.
If I remember correctly it's the one with that brilliantly brain wrecking twist at the end, it got printed on my memory for ever and I loved it just for that and because of the score, lol.
Today I probably wouldn't care so much about... I'lll have to rewatch.
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post #1189 of 1342 Old 02-19-2014, 03:58 PM
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I've got several copies of that goldsmith score on LP... just in case I play them until the groves are worn completely flat.

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post #1190 of 1342 Old 02-19-2014, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I dunno...I love Goldsmith's score.

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I loved it just for that and because of the score

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I've got several copies of that goldsmith score on LP... just in case I play them until the groves are worn completely flat.

Looks like I'm outvoted on the score. To me Goldsmith means Chinatown and Alien and quite a bit of Star Trek and about 50 years worth of other movies. But I don't think of Apes. I'll give it another listen sometime.

-Bill
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post #1191 of 1342 Old 02-20-2014, 08:44 AM
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So much has been written about POTA over the years, the story of the script rewrites are fascinating and how they arrived at the final version.

Discarded was the version where Taylor got busy with Nova.



I only own the original on Blu-ray but all of the 'Apes' movies are streaming in HD for free on Amazon Prime.
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post #1192 of 1342 Old 02-20-2014, 10:34 AM - Thread Starter
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So much has been written about POTA over the years, the story of the script rewrites are fascinating and how they arrived at the final version.

Discarded was the version where Taylor got busy with Nova.

I read Boulle's book when I was young. Our hero is required to mate with Nova, else she'll be given to a less appealing grunting savage.

In the original story they are on a different planet, but when he escapes and returns to Earth many centuries later the apes have taken over there too. Some universal law of devolution.

It's very French.

-Bill
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post #1193 of 1342 Old 02-24-2014, 10:54 AM
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Stalker (1979)

First Tarkovsky premiere in my short cinematic vocabulary.
Probably not the most acessible initiation but something tells me that previewing any other films from the russian director wouldn't make Stalker any easier to digest.
It's a difficult movie of very slow pace, sober camera work and a plot device apparently propelled by pure intellectual premisse.
The cinematic aesthetic is distinctively bleak, one of the bleakest I've ever seen, and yet the cinematography has a singular quality that fascinates me.
I look forward to the day Stalker receives Bluray treatment, watching a dubious quality DVD rip on an HD capable screen doesn't work it any favors... this was the main reason why I've been delaying the view of Stalker... and Come And See (this one's rip looks even worse, gah...).
Not easy to fully dissect what a first view unravels but I'll say it seemed to me an essay/allegory about faith, about the eternal search for the Truth and about the way how different thought paradigms deal with the task.
I liked the way how this last point was worked out.
3 characters: "Stalker", the one who guides the other 2 through "The Zone" seems to represent the religious or moral paradigm, the "Writer", the Art paradigm and the "Professor" represents Science. Each character, ie, each paradigm has it's own point of view and it's own reason to search for the Truth, the way how their interaction was developed seemed well judged and congruent to me. At the edge of the room where the Truth is to be finaly consumated, the 3 paradigms start fighting between each other and with their own reasons, naturally no one goes into the room because the Truth can only be aimed at from a distance, we still cannot touch it.
Hard to give a rating here, this is quite different from most cinema, it's a unique language or Tarkovsky simply masters it like no one else.
I feel like it makes no sense to rate it lower than 10, nor higher than 0 depending on the love hate camp we land at... hard for me to see this work in the same scale as most other films, a feeling I share with Eraserhead and The Tree of Life (saw this one a few weeks ago and still haven't decided). I know I don't give ratings in this forum but stilll wanted to point it out.
I don't love it (close but not yet) nor hate it, but I highly respect it.
In one hand I enjoyed very much the dreamlike quality of the whole experience, the bleak and surreal atmosphere carved by the singular cinematography and camera work, the very interesting "intellectual plot" (I guess it's more accurate to just describe the whole work as an allegory), the excelent dialogues and something about the "Stalker" character that just doesn't go away from my head, his angular face is quite an unforgeteable view, seriously I can't think of anyone else to play his role (I know it sounds weird...), nice acting.
But on the other hand this film is almost turtuously slow at times, unnecessarily so, a few scenes could had been chopped a bit, but maybe compressing it all to a shorter work would take away some of the immersion factor and post-impression this film produces on it's viewers... I'm still digesting what I saw and I'm gonna lay my eyes on it at least one more time.
I think I will dream with Stalker one day some night...

Solaris is next.
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post #1194 of 1342 Old 02-24-2014, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
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A Tale of Two Cities (1935), directed by Jack Conway.

A clever but drunken and dissolute barrister, redeemed by his love for a good woman. Tragically, she loves another, but that won't stop him from giving his life to save her husband from the guillotine.

It amazes me we do not see more films made from this book. We get the Scarlet Pimpernel more often than Sydney Carton, which is perhaps understandable: action fantasy beats a story of love and ultimate sacrifice.

Despite the cast of thousands, historical sweep, realistic sets and costumes and sturdy supporting cast, one thing brings this movie to life: the essential Ronald Colman. Maybe that's why we don't see new versions -- he is irreplaceable.

The depth and sensitivity of his performance is remarkable. Watch him watching Lucie. See him sitting in church with her on a snowy Christmas Eve, out of place but thinking, wondering if there is a way back. He awaits execution, afraid but undeterred. Note how he cares for the poor little seamstress who will die with him. It's a gift to him: having someone to care for takes his mind off of his own trouble. That's a thought.

Dickens shows us the horrors of the extremes: first of the callous brutality and injustice of the Ancien Régime, but then of the revolutionary mass bloodletting of The Terror. (Yes, that is what its members called the new regime). And what, by comparison, would occupy the safe, sensible center? Why, that would be England: stuffy and muddling through, but basically decent and never going too far wrong.

Only in Dickens: one of the English characters is a comical grave robber. Basil Rathbone is an eminently stabbable aristocrat. Fritz Leiber, father of the SF/fantasy writer, is his assassin. Horsey Edna May Oliver pits English rectitude and gumption against the insane revolutionary zeal of Madame DeFarge, would-be child killer.

The lighting and shadows seem better here than in other films of the era.

Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur are both credited as "arranger: revolutionary sequences". How true.



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post #1195 of 1342 Old 02-27-2014, 07:18 AM
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Solaris (1972)

What a surreal experience, almost like daydreaming!
The slow pace of the movie in certain moments can be a torture but it pays off to see it all, Tarkovsky sculpted a work that slowly modifies and persuades our state of mind and mood culminating in an unforgettable defiance of the logic of reality.
Perfect demonstration that our perception of reality is always relativistic and prone to misinterpretation.
Excelent thematic substance with some common points shared with Stalker (where they are worked more indepth), several philosophical and ethical problems are raised in this film:
Are Science mechanisms enough to extract all the knowledge we need from reality?
How much does subjective experience count into it?
How to deal with a previously existing human replica that appears almost out of nowhere?
What Are we? Do we love real beings or illusions? Among other things...
All this is developed in a plot where Tarkovsky wanted to emphasize the psychological condition of humans in a peculiar reality.
I think this movie like no other is able to remind me about the absurd and preciousness of human experience and consciousness in the universe.
Not to say that we are alone as intelligent life form, but what are the chances that we find anything else like us? All other life forms can be so entirely different, we'll eventually be forced to ask ourselves if our definition of "Life" is incomplete or if it makes any sense at all, still an open debate.
The first 30/45 minutes progression was a bit boring, there was something unnatural, off-putting I can hardly identify, maybe I noticed the technical limitations more clearly in that period due to the slow pace. There's something strange about the sound, voices weren't recorded live and seem to be disproportionately louder than most other sounds, sound effects and score can be hardly heard at times... I don't know if this was a result of deliberate choice or just negligence... it distracted quite a bit in the first half of the movie, one of the major factors that augmented the awkwardness I felt, but curiously it seems to have contributed for the quality of the experience on the second half all the way to the end, the peculiar sound work improved the singular quality of Solaris, the same I say for Stalker...
The soundtrack is hauntigly beautiful and melancholic, the cinematography and camera work are unfortunately not as sophisticated as in Stalker, still competent though. The aesthetics of Solaris is therefore less singular, more vulgar and it's a conventional cinematic exercise, there's no intelectual plot here, apparently Stalker was the more ambicious work from Tarkovsky, linguistically speaking, but I've yet to see his other works. Still there is wonderful and evocative imagery to be seen in this scify movie and it has great emotional and intelectual depth, although the acting could be better overall.
I feel this movie is excessively slow at the begining, Tarkovsky seemed to not give a damn about the potentially racking nature of his movies on the viewers, he'll gladly torture us for a long period before gracing us with cinematic generosity towards the end, he's on his right to do whatever he want, it's his contribute to the art of cinema in his own way.
But I can't shake the feeling that the deliberate slow pace of his movies is more harmful than beneficial to the experience, it's very easy to shift attention away from the film and consequently be reminded that I'm just watching it, not living it. The immersion factor, so important to me, is rather delicate in Solaris and Stalker.
I guess it's a simple matter of being in the right mood.
Anyway Solaris is a movie of great poetic beauty and a fascinating philosophical mindtrip that deeply touches our brains and hearts.
I highly recommend it!
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post #1196 of 1342 Old 02-27-2014, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Solaris (1972)

It's been years, but I remember what seemed like a couple of joke quotes of "2001" in this film:
  • Swooping through the freeway interchanges is like the psychedelic segment.
  • Frantic running in the space station as opposed to Bowman's circular jogging.

-Bill
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post #1197 of 1342 Old 02-27-2014, 07:34 AM
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Haha.
I like both 2001 and Solaris.
As a cinematic experience I find 2001 a more accomplished work, but as a philosophical work I prefer Solaris.
I wouldn't want to have to choose between both.
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post #1198 of 1342 Old 02-28-2014, 08:24 AM
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The Exorcist (1973)
Already covered by Bill here.

First time I see this horror classic.
Didn't impress, technically competent, good acting overall but the directing could be more interesting, could be more polished.
The horror potential I can see in this movie, the prospect of a mother witnessing the perverse transformation of her daughter with the high risk of loosing her, is all there is to it as far as I seriously care. Seems to me The Exorcist has more ability to break my heart than to be spooky just for the sake of it, more of an emotional drama for greater horror effect, a quality I do appreciate, but far from good enough to warrant it's current reputation.
This movie exemplifies very well the reason why I despise the horror genre, it's a challenge to make a frightening movie that is also a good cinematic experience, most stuff in this genre falls short of being a good cinematic experience for me, no matter how disturbing they are, I just can't be take them seriously because they're crap.
And the rare titles that happen to be good works of cinema are not frightening nor disturbing at all, it's hard to come up with something with just the right balance nowadays.
I can't understand how this film acquired the scariest label, much less how it is deemed one of the best ever made.
Maybe the spectrum of the demon or evil spirit does impress and frighten those who have religious beliefs or who actually believe that stuff, go figure...
Cinematically and horrifically it doesn't stand to the praise it has received in my opinion.
I find it a vulgar and somewhat dated work, not a particularly frightening nor interesting experience, overrated.
Technical competence and emotional power are the pluses in my book, as for the rest... meh...
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post #1199 of 1342 Old 02-28-2014, 08:48 AM
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The Exorcist (1973)
Already covered by Bill here.

First time I see this horror classic.
Didn't impress, technically competent, good acting overall but the directing could be more interesting, could be more polished.
The horror potential I can see in this movie, the prospect of a mother witnessing the perverse transformation of her daughter with the high risk of loosing her, is all there is to it as far as I seriously care. Seems to me The Exorcist has more ability to break my heart than to be spooky just for the sake of it, more of an emotional drama for greater horror effect, a quality I do appreciate, but far from good enough to warrant it's current reputation.
This movie exemplifies very well the reason why I despise the horror genre, it's a challenge to make a frightening movie that is also a good cinematic experience, most stuff in this genre falls short of being a good cinematic experience for me, no matter how disturbing they are, I just can't be take them seriously because they're crap.
And the rare titles that happen to be good works of cinema are not frightening nor disturbing at all, it's hard to come up with something with just the right balance nowadays.
I can't understand how this film acquired the scariest label, much less how it is deemed one of the best ever made.
Maybe the spectrum of the demon or evil spirit does impress and frighten those who have religious beliefs or who actually believe that stuff, go figure...
Cinematically and horrifically it doesn't stand to the praise it has received in my opinion.
I find it a vulgar and somewhat dated work, not a particularly frightening nor interesting experience, overrated.
Technical competence and emotional power are the pluses in my book, as for the rest... meh...

You are entitled to your opinion, of course. I totally disagree with it, but that's what makes the world go round.

The Exorcist represents, for me, a devout atheist, a realistic depiction of what a demonic possession and exorcism might really be like, if it were in the least bit possible. Jason Miller's Oscar nominated portrayal of a Jesuit priest who is losing his faith is terrific. Max von Sydow's performance as the aged Exorcist is quite remarkable when you realize that he was only 44 at the time yet he carries the weight of countless encounters with the devil on him making him seem more like 80 (and I'm not crediting the make-up for that, though it's a magnificent Dick Smith make-up job. The final exorcism scene is riveting, as far as I'm concerned.

The worst thing that ever happened to this film is the tagline : "Scariest movie ever made". Over the years, I've heard a number of people say how disappointed they were after seeing it. Shame, really. I believe their appraisal would have been totally different if they had gone into the film knowing nothing about what they were about to see.

This "scariest film ever made" comment that has been latched onto this film was a result of the effect this film had on filmgoers when it first came out in 1973. Numerous reports of people passing out, leaving the theater because they couldn't handle the intensity. These weren't advertising gimmicks ala Paranormal Activity...these were actual reactions to the film. At the time, there were very few films as intense as the Exorcist. Now of course, after years of imitation and influence, there are countless horror films that set out to scare, a good number of them are scarier. Precious few of them are as intelligently written or directed (you are WAY off on your criticism of the direction...Friedkin's direction is masterful and highly influential).

I don't watch this film to be "scared". I watch it because it's remarkable, intelligent filmmaking.

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post #1200 of 1342 Old 02-28-2014, 09:55 AM
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I'm not crediting the make-up for that, though it's a magnificent Dick Smith make-up job.

What's really amazing is how accurate the make-up was to what Max von Sydow actually looks like now.
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Precious few of them are as intelligently written or directed (you are WAY off on your criticism of the direction...Friedkin's direction is masterful and highly influential).

I don't watch this film to be "scared". I watch it because it's remarkable, intelligent filmmaking.

I'm with you. Why The Exorcist really stands the test of time isn't because it's "scary," but because it has a strong emotional core in the story of a mother dragged to the edge of sanity to save her child. Even if you're not religious (or at least, not Catholic), the demonic possession angle plays on very elemental fears of losing yourself to a mysterious "other," the same way that movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing do. William Friedkin claims that he wasn't particularly religious at the time he made the movie (though author William Peter Blatty is a devout Catholic and has different views about the story.)

Friedkin's direction has an incredible control of atmosphere and tone. For all its supernatural elements, he grounds the story in a very palpable sense of reality. It doesn't take place on some elaborately art-directed studio soundstage. It takes place right next door.

Is it "scary"? I'm too jaded to get scared by any movie, but it's an excellent film that holds up very well even after 40 years.
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