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post #31 of 95 Old 03-16-2016, 04:33 PM
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And don't forget an absolutely bonkers score by Eric Serra, so bad in some places they hired a traditional composer (John Altman) to fill in (e.g. the tank chase). Lowest point: "The Experience of Love" at the end, completely misplaced in a Bond film (except that it was suitable for a porno).

High point: Bono and The Edge's title song, performed by Tina Turner. Has all the hallmarks of John Barry's best title songs ("Goldfinger," "Thunderball," "Diamonds are Forever").

I do like some of the repartee between Bond and his damsel. Prettiest damsel they had in a long while (see, hiring Italian actresses to play Russian ladies works just fine).

And: Arecibo.

My favorite thing: the teaser trailer on the FRWL VHS tape which, if memory serves, is JUST the opening "One man" with Brosnan walking up to the camera, "You were expecting someone else?" then cut to the title. It was ... exhilarating. Missing from the BD I bought a few months back to reacquaint myself. Too bad the film didn't live up to it. Still, my favorite film until Casino Royale. The other Brosnan entries were just warmed up Moore leftovers IMHO.
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post #32 of 95 Old 03-17-2016, 09:10 AM
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And don't forget an absolutely bonkers score by Eric Serra, so bad in some places they hired a traditional composer (John Altman) to fill in (e.g. the tank chase). Lowest point: "The Experience of Love" at the end, completely misplaced in a Bond film (except that it was suitable for a porno).
The score was very controversial in its day, but I think it plays a lot better now that Eric Serra's work is more known from his Luc Besson movies. Honestly, the only scene in the movie where the score has ever felt inappropriate is the early car chase between Bond and Xenia. The music in the opening at the Russian base is pretty great.

"The Experience of Love" is terrible, yes. There was a huge mandate from all the major Hollywood studios in the 1990s and early 2000s to put pop songs in the end credits of movies, no matter how inappropriate or how badly they broke the mood, in order to sell more soundtrack albums. Other movies that suffer from this particularly badly include Bram Stoker's Dracula and Gangs of New York.

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post #33 of 95 Old 03-18-2016, 08:52 AM
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The score was very controversial in its day, but I think it plays a lot better now that Eric Serra's work is more known from his Luc Besson movies. Honestly, the only scene in the movie where the score has ever felt inappropriate is the early car chase between Bond and Xenia. The music in the opening at the Russian base is pretty great.

"The Experience of Love" is terrible, yes. There was a huge mandate from all the major Hollywood studios in the 1990s and early 2000s to put pop songs in the end credits of movies, no matter how inappropriate or how badly they broke the mood, in order to sell more soundtrack albums. Other movies that suffer from this particularly badly include Bram Stoker's Dracula and Gangs of New York.
Agreed, the Ferrari vs. Aston Martin car chase scene just left me with my jaw in my lap. I had high hopes after the pre-title (even with the skydiving catch-up with the falling plane), but then that car chase had me grabbing my coat ready to leave the theater. Cut to the casino scene, and I settled back in my seat.

I've listened to the score (remastered?) on Google Play Music, and it's spotty. Yep, the opening was deliciously dark, thrilling, even the audacious re-orchestration of the gun barrel. But then other parts, I just don't feel Serra understood that a Bond film score is not "just another movie score."

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post #34 of 95 Old 03-18-2016, 09:30 AM
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Agreed, the Ferrari vs. Aston Martin car chase scene just left me with my jaw in my lap. I had high hopes after the pre-title (even with the skydiving catch-up with the falling plane), but then that car chase had me grabbing my coat ready to leave the theater. Cut to the casino scene, and I settled back in my seat.
I really think the car chase is the only part of the score that anyone actually objects to. Unfortunately, it happens so early in the movie and it stands out as so decidedly weird that it leaves a lingering bad impression. As I said, the opening Russian base stuff is great. The score also has some really lovely melodies when Bond gets to Monte Carlo.

Other parts of the score may be a little generic, but if you changed the music in that car chase, I doubt anyone would have had anything to complain about.

Quote:
I've listened to the score (remastered?) on Google Play Music, and it's spotty. Yep, the opening was deliciously dark, thrilling, even the audacious re-orchestration of the gun barrel. But then other parts, I just don't feel Serra understood that a Bond film score is not "just another movie score."
Go re-listen to Marvin Hamlisch's disco score for The Spy Who Loved Me or Bill Conti's for For Your Eyes Only and then try to evaluate where Serra's falls in the Bond music canon.
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post #35 of 95 Old 03-21-2016, 11:16 AM
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I really think the car chase is the only part of the score that anyone actually objects to. Unfortunately, it happens so early in the movie and it stands out as so decidedly weird that it leaves a lingering bad impression. As I said, the opening Russian base stuff is great. The score also has some really lovely melodies when Bond gets to Monte Carlo.

Other parts of the score may be a little generic, but if you changed the music in that car chase, I doubt anyone would have had anything to complain about.

Go re-listen to Marvin Hamlisch's disco score for The Spy Who Loved Me or Bill Conti's for For Your Eyes Only and then try to evaluate where Serra's falls in the Bond music canon.
Yeah. I was going to mention Bill Conti kinda going the extra mile, then started replaying some of the scenes in my mind. I sold my BD of FYEO after watching it and feeling that Moore was already getting too old for the stunts they had Bond doing. Nice scenes, nice elements, but overall, meh.

I bought the Roger Moore Vol. 1 collection with LALD, TMWTGG, TSWLM Friday night, partly inspired by this thread. Watched TSWLM again (wince, cringe) for first time in ages, and have to heartily concur with you. Hamlisch's score was hokey, a far, far cry from Barry at his most disappointing. (I've read that he felt TMWTGG was his low point, but I like some of the suites there, particularly "Hips' Trip" and the final duel in the funhouse.) The Lawrence of Arabia interpolation, the men's chorus at the end,... blech.

So yeah, by comparison with the worst of the 1970s, 1980s scores, GOLDENEYE doesn't seem all that bad. When it's overwhelming, I can just turn off the sound and enjoy all the actresses, up to Dame Judi Dench.

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post #36 of 95 Old 03-21-2016, 01:14 PM
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Hamlisch's score was hokey, a far, far cry from Barry at his most disappointing. (I've read that he felt TMWTGG was his low point, but I like some of the suites there, particularly "Hips' Trip" and the final duel in the funhouse.)
The Living Daylights was John Barry's low point in the Bond series, IMO.

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post #37 of 95 Old 03-21-2016, 03:18 PM
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The Living Daylights was John Barry's low point in the Bond series, IMO.
… "No slide whistles were harmed during the recording of this [TLD] soundtrack." (drops mic, walks off)
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post #38 of 95 Old 03-22-2016, 10:32 AM
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… "No slide whistles were harmed during the recording of this [TLD] soundtrack." (drops mic, walks off)
Yeah, the slide whistle is really bad, but at least Barry did apologize for that later. I still think he phoned in the entire soundtrack for Living Daylights.

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post #39 of 95 Old 03-23-2016, 05:46 AM
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Thanks for refreshing all old memories.....
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post #40 of 95 Old 04-11-2016, 03:39 AM - Thread Starter
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The Sheltering Sky (1990), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.

Shortly after WW2, tourists arrive in French Morocco. Or are they travelers? Tourists go home, travelers might not.

They are a bored, snotty set, with strange affections and odd modern alienations. The first night the husband visits a prostitute in a tent city outside of town and is beaten and robbed. When he gets back to the hotel he suspects his wife of being unfaithful.

The polish wears off as they venture deeper into the Sahara where tourists don't go. Tiny outposts with flies, sandstorms and typhoid. Being sick in such strange places is scary. Maybe with adversity the husband and wife discover they really do love each other? Until death do they part.

Then still deeper into the desert with caravans visiting what seem like lost cities.

It's quite a personal epic, perhaps sometimes opaque as to motivations.

Debra Winger and John Malkovich both do flashes of real nudity. Author Paul Bowles provides narration and has a cameo.

As with The Conformist (1970) and other Bertolucci projects, Vittorio Storaro's cinematography can be gorgeous. Some tremendous landscapes.

Available on DVD, which really doesn't do justice to the imagery. I see a French Blu-ray is available.



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post #41 of 95 Old 04-25-2016, 03:55 AM - Thread Starter
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The City of Lost Children (1995), directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Weird, grotesque and wonderful, but borderline incomprehensible. I saw it years ago and remembered absolutely nothing about it. It's intricate enough to reward repeat viewings.

Circus strongman "One" tries to rescue his adopted little brother Denree who has been kidnapped by a group of mutant (?) one-eyed but biomechanically enhanced goons. They sell gangs of missing children to Krank out on an old oil rig. Krank wants the childrens' dreams (nightmares?) because he cannot have his own (?) so they are put into a dream machine for collection of their psychic emanations.

Krank's "family" consists of a little Mom, a passel of cloned doofuses, and a brain floating in an aquarium. The originator of the whole facility is mysteriously absent.

"One" is assisted by Miette (= "crumb"), a street-wise little girl thief who becomes attached to him.

It goes on and on with a comical nightmarish tone. Lots of gizmos and retro-gadgetry, for example trained fleas that deliver mind-manipulation serum while controlled by hurdy-gurdy music. The final big action sequence includes a virtual reality struggle inside the dream machine; this is truly bizarre.

We have something like a love story between Miette and "One". He eventually says he thinks of her as a little sister, which seems to satisfy her. Joking with him when he ties a string to her, she says "We must see that we don't become too attached". It reminds me of Leon: The Professional (1994), by another French director, when a wiser-than-her-years child bonds with a hulking, simple-minded (or just immature?) adult.

The French are sophisticated, sometimes uncomfortably so.

As always the director likes yellow-green color grading, extra green this time with a bit of blue-green for variety.

Angelo Badalamenti score. They played his music for Blue Velvet (1986) to set the mood while filming.

Available on Blu-ray with French audio, English dub track and commentary with director Jeunet and Ron Perlman. They admit the film is strange and hard to understand. Jeunet: "Particularly at the beginning". Perlman: "I never understood any part of it, then or now".

Jeunet says that because of this he got to do Alien: Resurrection (1997), not a well-loved film by fans of the series. The IMDB shows 19 names in common between the two movies, including Perlman, director Jeunet and his favorite actor, Dominique Pinon.



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post #42 of 95 Old 04-27-2016, 06:42 AM
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Perlman looked so dang young in that film. O_o
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post #43 of 95 Old 04-27-2016, 08:23 AM
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Perlman looked so dang young in that film. O_o
Perlman was young?


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post #44 of 95 Old 05-01-2016, 01:21 PM
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The City of Lost Children looks good. Have to watch it soon. It seems like my cup of tea.
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post #45 of 95 Old 05-02-2016, 04:01 AM - Thread Starter
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The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), directed by Stephen Hopkins.

As the narrator says, this is a true story in it's most important aspects.

Two lions, the Tsavo Man-Eaters, terrorized construction workers of an African railway in 1898. They had many strange characteristics, leading to a superstitious panic:

  • Man-eaters are usually solitary.
  • They are usually old and ill, not young and healthy.
  • They did not eat all the men they killed, but seemed to kill for sport.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson wrote that one of the lions began to stalk him after he had wounded it.
  • Finally, Patterson claimed around 140 men were killed, which must be a record for two lions. Some authorities doubt that high number.

Val Kilmer is likable as the engineer who is going to finish his bridge, evil lion spirits or no. Emily Mortimer, age 25, is his young wife.

Some of the lines were stolen for The 13th Warrior (1999), and Jerry Goldsmith scored both films, reusing some themes. Here he starts with Celtic airs for Patterson, evolving into African and action music.

It's a tremendous adventure story, but I have problems with the film. The real Patterson would have knocked down the Tom Wilkinson character for speaking about his family in the way he did.

More importantly, the screenplay needs doctoring. Writer William Goldman wanted the story made into a film as soon as he heard it. He has a chapter on it in Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade.

He greatly admires Michael Douglas both as an actor and as a producer; after all his first film as producer was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), a risky and innovative project.

The problem is when a producer acts in his own film. Douglas was not originally going to appear in the movie but they couldn't get the Great White Hunters they wanted, Sean Connery being unavailable, etc. So Douglas finally volunteered.

A producer can be dispassionately good at business and even artistic decisions, but actors are insecure people who need to be loved. Given control they will write up their own parts, invent new backstory and try to build an unnecessary emotional bond with the audience. This can ruin the story. In this case when "Remington" appears he elbows out Patterson, our hero.

Goldman also says "I could have written it better". I think he tends to write down to his audience, going for cheap laughs and the over-obvious. That's more apparent in something like Maverick (1994) than in this picture, but still... Maybe a different director could have done more with it, although one of Goldman's gripes is giving the director credit for everyone else's work -- especially screenwriters.

I don't see a Blu-ray of this available yet. The North American DVD is 4:3 letterboxed. Anamorphic PAL DVDs are available.



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post #46 of 95 Old 05-13-2016, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Legionnaire (1998), directed by Peter MacDonald.

French Foreign Legion films used to be a busy little genre, now pretty much lapsed. The formula was well-developed: a preface wherein our hero gets in a jam and needs to escape to somewhere he can forget and be forgotten, the company of similar men, all scum of the earth, the sadistic sergeant and "march or die" training in North Africa, then battles with desert tribesmen and a desperate siege at an isolated fort until our hero is the last man standing.

This is just a "B" adventure movie but they do try to deliver on the formula and actually come close in the time they have. Too much syrup in the emotions? Can't be helped these days. Some rather good large-scale battle scenes.

I don't see many Jean-Claude Van Damme films but I like this one for what it is. It gives him a chance to act in something other than a martial arts vehicle. Like a lot of impassive tough guys (Charles Bronson, say) if you give him a chance he actually delivers anguish through that thousand-yard stare, those sad soulful eyes.

The supporting characters also get to show their stuff: Brit actors Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Nicholas Farrell in this case.

The pre-Legion setup is of a boxer in love with a mobster's girl. He refuses to take a dive, which is another well-known genre: think The Set-Up (1949) and Pulp Fiction (1994) and Snatch (2000).

The score is built around the old song "Parlez-moi d'amour" ("Speak to me of love"). I can never call it to mind; all I can remember for incidental French romantic tunes is "La Vie en rose". There is a third melody... but I just can't remember it.

Opens in 1925 Marseilles, then moves to Morocco and is filmed there, too.

It did not get a theatrical release in the US; direct to cable and home video.

DVDs have been a problem. You can see the mixed history at DVDCompare. In the US you could get either 1.33 cropped editions or 4:3 letterboxed. I imported a PAL DVD but it was one with an aspect ratio of around 1.77; others are the correct 2.35.

My thumbnails are from a German "Eurovideo" Blu-ray. All-region, both English and German audio tracks, but no subtitles. Black levels are poor but we have an occasional good image. At least the aspect ratio is correct.

There is some on-screen text in German at the beginning. The English version on the other DVDs is:

Quote:

At the height of its glory, the French Foreign Legion was made up of men widely regarded as the scum of the earth.

It was a mercenary army posted to colonies in Northern Africa and Southeast Asia... but it's soldiers swore no allegiance to France, only to the Legion and to each other. The Legion asked no questions about a man's past... nor did it offer much hope for his future.

They fought to the last man standing, no matter the quarrel, no matter the cause. It was a hard way to get a second chance in life...
...which everyone who watches movies knows anyway.



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post #47 of 95 Old 05-31-2016, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
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The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), directed by John McTiernan.

This remake of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) is slick and rich-looking, with enough clever bits to keep it exciting. The personalities are more of a problem:

  • Pierce Brosnan is believable as an ultra-rich thrill-seeking magnate who fancies fine art. When he arranges intricate heists we have to figure him for a psycho, the sort who secretly wants to be caught.
  • Rene Russo is the insurance investigator who is instantly on to him, and liking the chase much too much. She seems way too tough for a rich kid, with that combination brass-knuckles and switchblade gizmo. Her excessive attitude is hard to take. She's the sexually dominant partner in their high-charged relationship. Russo deserves credit for doing nudity at age 45, older than the expected "babe" age range.

I like honest working-class police detective Denis Leary better than either. He doesn't give a damn about fine art. That Catherine Banning is out of his league: just as well.

The elaborate art thefts: I can't help thinking of Hudson Hawk (1991). It's an acceptable romantic action plot but I think the switcheroos toward the end tend to the silly side, redeemed by Nina Simone singing "Sinnerman". It's a good score throughout.

It was just after this that director McTiernan hired PI-to-the-stars Anthony Pellicano to do some illegal wiretapping. McTiernan later spent time in jail for that.



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post #48 of 95 Old 06-23-2016, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Se7en (1995), directed by David Fincher.

I have problems with this sort of film, perhaps because I don't know how to classify it. It is a serial killer fantasy set in what looks like the real world. Real in that it is not about demonic possession or super-powers.

Fantasy in that this really doesn't happen: philosopher detective confronts super-genius psycho who perpetrates an impossibly complicated configuration of outrages.

For all its edginess it employs standard police story clichés: burned out detective in his last week is saddled with brash young hotshot.

It is one of Morgan Freeman's better roles. Points for giving him a switchblade, and that old-style hat and raincoat.

The City is entirely evil here, with no redeeming features, apart from its large library. Where you can look up evil things.

I'm not getting much meaning from this exercise, apart from Freeman's cool reason besting Pitt's emotion. Thoughts on celebrity, degeneracy of modern life, the deadly sins: not so much.

Notes:

  • Shouldn't the SWAT team be wearing helmets?
  • 2000 notebooks at 250 pages each is half a million pages.
  • Is Pitt using some sort of bent-wrist hold on his weapon at the end? It looks like an illustration from the Crackhead Handbook.

Howard Shore score, nicely integrated into the sound design.

Available on Blu-ray.



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post #49 of 95 Old 06-23-2016, 10:59 AM
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^^^
A little harsh there Bill....... Sounds like you had difficulty with the whole "suspension of disbelief" thing.
This one and "The Bone Collector" both hold a fond place in my library. Good creepiness.
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post #50 of 95 Old 06-23-2016, 03:40 PM
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Absolutely HATED that film. Reasons:
  • Predictable as peanut butter. I had the end I figured out 20 minutes ahead, and nearly died waiting for the "surprise."
  • Gwyneth Paltrow's most thankless role. Cute, muffin wife
    Spoiler!
    .
  • Movie is relentlessly morose and dark and unhappy. I mean, even a horror movie needs a little levity, e.g. The Exorcist, The Haunting, Dead of Night.
  • Maybe the whole thing is a dream. Yeah, that's it. An out of work screenwriter's dream.
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post #51 of 95 Old 07-07-2016, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), directed by James Foley.

I did technical support for salesmen in two different jobs. They loved this film, even more than Tin Men (1987). Why?

  • Because Sales is a tough job and they wanted others to see just how tough.
  • It exposes the brutal callousness of management.
  • The characters are all recognizable types from the real world: the top salesman who becomes the Big Swinging Dick of the month. The loud-mouthed blowhard who does little real work. The useless office support.
  • The incidents are real, like the constant complaining about poor leads. How when business is bad, the salesmen work on each other when they can't make sales. The belief in their psychic powers to cloud men's minds and make them sign a contract. The constant ingratitude.
  • The humor is theirs. The ethnic jokes: "Patel? You're giving me Patel?" Nothing personal. If an Indian salesman arrived they would have dropped that joke and moved on to someone else.

The places I worked were not as sleazy as scam real estate and the behavior not that vicious, but it is a recognizable world. You haven't seen how business is done until you've been in Sales. At a general company meeting it's all pep talks and moronic Mission Statements, but when the Sales staff are alone it becomes "make your numbers this quarter or you're fired." And they were, en masse. (The salesmen, that is. Tech staff like me were retained, absent gross incompetence).

The cruelest moment: when Jack Lemmon's big sale falls through because of the "Nyborgs", long known to be insane. Why were they even still leads? Kevin Spacey: "Because I don't like you".

Stellar cast, all working for less than normal just to be in the film. Screenplay by David Mamet, adapted from his play. Legendary dialogue. Alec Baldwin's part was added for the film.

Set in Chicago but filmed in New York. James Newton Howard score, sounding like Mark Isham in spots.

My thumbnails are from an all-region Italian Blu-ray. No subtitles, although subtitles from the North American DVD sync up perfectly. Good detail and color, maybe scrubbed of grain?

The DVD also has a commentary track by the director. Many long silent stretches and when speaking he tends to gush. Some good info:

  • Al Pacino was the force behind getting the film made.
  • They had three weeks of rehearsals.
  • Alec Baldwin was brought in late, after the other actors had bonded as an ensemble. They really did hate him and this helped with the violent emotions in his scene.



-Bill
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post #52 of 95 Old 07-07-2016, 08:54 PM
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Coffee's for closers only.
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post #53 of 95 Old 07-07-2016, 09:17 PM
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Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), directed by James Foley.


Al Pacino was the force behind getting the film made.

-Bill
Love this movie. I haul it out to re-watch every year. After spending more than 25 years in sales of one kind or another, including a few years selling life insurance, which might be a tougher sell than real estate even comparing perfectly legitimate insurance vs scam real estate because it is so intangible, I very much recognized the environment and characters.

Pacino was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for it the same year he was nominated and won Best Actor for SCENT OF A WOMAN. Yet, I think his performance in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS is far superior, perhaps my favorite performance of his in any movie with the possible exception of Michael Corleone in THE GODFATHER.
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post #54 of 95 Old 07-08-2016, 04:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Coffee's for closers only.
What's your name, pal? I don't gotta listen to this.

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After spending more than 25 years in sales of one kind or another
You know, I did mean to include an aside on the good aspects of the sales life. At their best the salesmen are advocates for the customer and they seem constantly at war with their own employers, just to get the client what he needs.

I have also seen business organizations so confused and disorganized that they are kept running by outsiders, including salesmen who are doing the customer's work just to keep the doors open so they have someone to sell to.

This can generate considerable customer-salesman loyalty, and if the salesman leaves for a new job, the client will switch to the new vendor just to stick with him.

-Bill
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post #55 of 95 Old 07-18-2016, 02:14 AM
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My favorite movies from the 90's would be Mrs doubtfire,good will hunting, forest gump, Jurassic park.I would give a 10 for them all
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post #56 of 95 Old 07-23-2016, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
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The Sweet Hereafter (1997), directed by Atom Egoyan.

After a school bus accident in wintry British Columbia, a lawyer arrives and works carefully on the grieving parents, trying to build some sort of case. He has his reasons. Some of those involved won't be helping him, for reasons of their own.

Sad but rewarding, the film has a difficult structure: it jumps around the timeline without many clues for some of the scenes. We don't get to know the town or even our main characters very well and are left with questions and speculations.

A continuing theme is the Pied Piper tale, read as a bedtime story. Who took the children away? We have different candidates. In the story one lame child couldn't keep up and returns to tell the tale. We have her, too.

Great casting, with particular note of:

  • Ian Holm as the lawyer, arguably his first starring role. He is so deft, so crafty in his manipulations, yet driven by a secret sorrow that makes him almost mental. Donald Sutherland backed out at the last moment and I think we got the better deal.
  • Sarah Polley, age 18, is the surviving teenager. She'd been acting since she was a child and here shows the transition of a character from childhood to an adult able to make her own decisions, for good or ill. She gets us through a father/daughter incest plot with great delicacy and understated emotion. Neither we nor the character understand what is happening at first. Then we do.
  • Bruce Greenwood as the bitter widower who has now lost both children. I see him in small parts all the time and it's good when he gets better roles. With those whiskers I didn't recognize him at first. Trivia: he really is missing a tooth as shown here. Lost it in a bar fight.

The medieval chamber music score suggests the Pied Piper motif. Gentle yet magically driving.

This is one of those indie films that rewards rewatching and is "discussable" in terms of having mysteries to unwrap:

  • The lawyer presents a common view: that when anything bad happens, someone must pay. He doesn't know who is responsible but someone is and he will legally torture them on behalf of the families. Might it be an accident, no one's fault? "There is no such thing as an accident. The word has no meaning for me".
  • His secret sorrow is his drug addict daughter. Somehow he thinks getting compensation for other parents will fix his own history.
  • Notice how all the young women in his life -- his daughter, the teen girl, the woman on the plane -- all have similar looks, with mid-length blonde hair.
  • Two of them ruin his life.
  • Contrary to the lawyer, the Bruce Greenwood character does not expect any compensation. Things happen for no reason.
  • He and the teen girl are sort of spiritually mated. Nothing physical, no flirting, but consider: she babysits his kids and is a surrogate mother to them. He gives her his dead wife's clothes. After the accident they meet briefly and exchange silent, understanding glances: their lives are ruined and nothing will make it right.
  • See her bedroom when she comes home from the hospital, transformed into something for a fairy princess, permanent childhood. Her response: "I want a lock on the door".
  • Her revenge: on her father for using her and stealing her childhood before the accident, and on the lawyer for using her after. On both for treating her like an ATM, the more pathetic for the court the better.


Available on Blu-ray from Alliance. The black levels could be better and it has that ugly teal color grading.

Two commentary tracks, both pretty essential. The first is a deep conversation between the director and the author of the novel.

The second is a more personal reflection by the director alone:

  • He wanted to make this because of a parallel from his childhood. He had a crush on a girl who he later found to be doing father/daughter incest. She was confused as to what was happening to her, much like the character in this film.
  • "Incest" had become a film fad back then and he wanted to do a treatment more complicated than the standard victim-abuser plot.
  • The grieving "hippy" mother is played by Arsinée Khanjianmuse, wife (?) and muse to the director. They'd just had a child, making the film project even more emotionally fraught.
  • Although necessary to the mood of the story, he admits the non-linear time sequence is too confusing. He tried to put in clues but no one sees them.



-Bill

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post #57 of 95 Old 07-24-2016, 08:33 AM
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Great soundtrack, including Ms Polley doing her own singing. Multitalented lady, she is.

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post #58 of 95 Old 08-10-2016, 05:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), directed by George Armitage.

This is something like a bizzaro-sequel to Say Anything... (1989), as if Lloyd Dobler finally went into the army and found his vocation, but then had to return to high school to patch things up with his great love. Same quirky, witty patter, meeting the girl's Dad and the friendly teacher, going to the old folks home. Jeremy Piven again. Joan Cusack fanclub again!

It has a lot of fun stuff, but also sometimes seem strained, a bit too calculated, meaning it is not as clever as it wants to be.

Something I would have played up: Joan Cusack and the other hit-man secretaries sharing info through their own back channels.

John Cusack is listed as one of several writers and producers. I wonder if this contributed to the problem William Goldman described when talking about The Ghost and the Darkness (1996): that producers who also act in their films can't resist inflating their roles to make them more lovable, to the detriment of the story.

The director said he wrote as much of the film as anyone.

Since this is a class of '86 reunion we have a rich 80s music score.

Available on Blu-ray. The image looks like an old master from the DVD era.



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post #59 of 95 Old 08-24-2016, 02:31 PM
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Looks better than the DVD imho.

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post #60 of 95 Old 09-02-2016, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), directed by Michael Hoffman.

I remember not liking this version very much, but it has grown on me over the years. I still think the fairy tavern scene near the beginning is a low point of old-TV-style bad comedy, but the jumble of acting styles throughout no longer bothers me. MSND is meant to be a zany kaleidoscope of themes.

Any good production must cover these points:

  • Must be funny, which always requires skill. Comedy is harder than it looks. You can go for cheap laughs, but the superior production finds bittersweet humor in the human condition: love, pride, ambition, etc.
  • The language has to be presented to modern audiences. It's customary to cut much of it. This is one of Shakespeare's early plays and we can imagine him with a mythology reference book at his elbow, eager to establish his learning. The text is a bit stiff and the actors have to make us understand its meaning.
  • The four young lovers: who ever remembers which is which? They tend to forget themselves during that bewitched night in the woods. The play requires one of the girls to be taller than the other, but that is their only distinguishing feature. All four have to be both attractive and ridiculous. In this film: there is something spitefully funny about dunking beautiful young people in a mud puddle.
  • Must have a tone of magical weirdness, not serious but neither easily discounted. Our waking minds don't believe in the fairies, but who knows what images the sleeping self and subconscious entertain? Both characters and audience are disoriented.
  • The audience can mock the performance of "Pyramus and Thisby" but by the end they must be brought around and become a little misty. Duke Theseus has advice for critics: "The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them."
  • Bottom the Weaver is the heart of the story. This film does something I don't remember seeing before: even before the magic, his friends watch him and seem concerned for his mental state. At the end, and for the rest of his life, he will have vague memories and fragmentary dreams of the night he was loved by Titania, queen of the fairies.
  • Bottom is used for some gentle jibing at human aspirations. Youthful desires tend toward the excessive -- just look at heavy metal lyrics. We dream of omnipotence and immortality. Having discovered sex we yearn for better sex, for ever more exultant encounters.

    In folklore the fairies can deliver all of that, but it is perilous to accept their gifts because they are full of tricks. And yet: Bottom spends a whole night with them without coming to harm because he brings no harm with him. The Fairy Queen intends seduction, but he's more interested in chatting with her minions.

    "Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream". Our desire for the excessive makes us asses.
  • Finally, the play-within-a-play is often used by Shakespeare, but here at the end Puck suggests yet another level, that the whole thing has been a dream: "If we shadows have offended, / Think but this, and all is mended, / That you have but slumb'red here / While these visions did appear. / And this weak and idle theme, / No more yielding but a dream..."

Rich casting, although some -- like Sophie Marceau -- are rather wasted and given little to do.

The young folk are fine, with the exception of a strangely wooden Christian Bale.

Rupert Everett and Michelle Pfeiffer are the warring fairy royalty; I think I have to give him points for erotic potency.

Kevin Kline gives his all for Bottom and does a good job, making him both funny and endearing, which is the whole point.

Good use of Italian opera themes in the score. The Mendelssohn hearkens back to Max Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935).

Available on DVD, 4:3 letterboxed in the US, which is the source of my thumbnails. Needs an upgrade. Anamorphic PAL editions are available.



-Bill
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