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post #61 of 107 Old 09-02-2016, 01:16 PM
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Hmm. Early appearances by Dominic West, Sam Rockwell, and veteran clown -- always good -- Bill Irwin.
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post #62 of 107 Old 09-21-2016, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Miller's Crossing (1990), directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

As is almost always the case with the Coen Bros, we are dropped into a strangely familiar world, not real but not exactly fantastical. We know it from books and movies, but mythological as it may seem, the people in it believe in that world, and so do we.

In this case a lot of it seems the creation of Dashiell Hammett, although I spotted lines from other authors, as in "Let's get stinko" from the end of Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain.

Great snappy patter in the dialogue with a stylish Prohibition vocabulary I don't remember from the books:

  • "go dangle": get lost
  • "what's the rumpus?": what's happening?
  • "twist": woman (is that rhyming slang? "twist and twirl" = girl?)

Gabriel Byrne is magnetic here. Those soulful eyes, so tough and pained at the same time. We presume he is a tough guy because of the way he talks and carries himself and because he is #2 in Leo's organization, but he is always the one beaten up.

Marcia Gay Harden is a good match for him: also tough, loyal in her own way, but vulnerable under the brittleness. This was her first major film role.

Jon Polito is great as a reduced-scale Godfather with anger issues. He has the best lines: Youse all a bunch of fancy pants. I'm tired of you given' me the high hat. It's a mental state, a question of ethics.

Considerable shooting and bludgeoning violence. In a weirdly balletic move we see a man torn apart with machine gun fire. Note: that's a 100-round drum in the Thompson that Leo (Albert Finney) is using. The Internet Movie Firearms Database estimates he fires about 524 shots from it. The bullet is a .45; one would have been enough.

Critically acclaimed but a box office flop. Loved by fans and popular on home media. It may be my favorite Coen Bros film.

Carter Burwell score. The main theme is an Irish lament that I think of as Tom Reagan's theme. It goes with the Irish mobs in America.

Finally: the very last scene floored me when I first saw it, Tom's sorrow as Leo walks away from the funeral. I know people argue about it, but I think this is unrequited love. Everything Tom has done has been to protect Leo. Even his intimacy with Verna was to keep her and her brother away from him. Think back to a post-coital scene with Tom sitting on the edge of the bed:

Quote:

Verna: I guess we both double-crossed Leo. He's well rid of us both. The two of us Tom, we're about bad enough to deserve each other.

Tom: (bitterly) Are we?
Available on Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #63 of 107 Old 10-11-2016, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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The Fifth Element (1997), directed by Luc Besson.

Sing O Muse, of arms and the warrior! Of flame-or-blaze-orange-haired Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat, absent from mother Earth a thousand years times five, summoned by the wise Guardians to combat the ultimate -- Am I Disturbing You? -- evil of Mr Shadow. Blown to atoms by the fire of odoriferous warrior-not-merchant assassins addicted to hopeless courses, her substance drifted by winds across the earth of an alien world, until fighting her way back from non-existence, thermal bandages strategically placed, the salt water of her tears greet the chaotic day of three-dimensional Manhattan as she leaps joyously into the void to meet her destiny. Who can recount the adventures of her stout yeoman and meat popsicle Korben Dallas, V for Valiant, lunar mother-plagued, followed by Blade Runner (1982) quotes beyond his knowing, world-saver cute-meeting his multipass-proud perfect fare, the woman who fell to earth, no points left on his license? Police gunfire, they play it hard, unconscious goddess, never without her permission.

When is Leeloo not in trouble?

Summon suave impresario Ruby Rhod of the subtle intellect, perhaps he will sing the secrets of holy Father Vito and his church gunsel David, the plans of art dealer Zorg and the sorrow of a President who would body-slam Evil if only he could. General Munro nervously adjusts his tie. Supergreen. The Diva, blue as a paradise planet ocean and sky, sings "Il dolce suono", soundtrack to murder and mayhem, audience confounding. Escaping on spacecraft stolen, best broadcast ever ending, toy keyboard tapping, human nature learning, sorrow increasing, tracks of her tears leading all the way back to Egypt, death hurtling closer. For the love of the Supreme Being: Korben, speaking to you in your native English and bad English, even without her permission, just kiss her!

We'll have what she's having. So say we all.

Available on Blu-ray. Sony's first release was notoriously poor, the subsequent remastered discs an improvement.



-Bill
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post #64 of 107 Old 10-12-2016, 10:22 AM
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I could NOT understand this film ... until about 15 mins in I realized, "Oh! It's like Heavy Metal magazine serials circa 1975-1982. I used to love that magazine." Adult comics with a capital "A." And fourth-wall breaking humor.

This melange plays a lot better if you realize that you are in no way expected to take anything seriously. Which in a way short-changes you from some interesting social commentary. "One more question. What does '______' mean?" "Um, 'never without my consent...'" "Yeah, that's what thought it meant...."

Trivia note: the regeneration specialist in your upper right photo is the crook who cried, "Who ARE you, man?!" in Tim Burton's Batman (1989).

MultiPass! MultiPass!
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post #65 of 107 Old 10-12-2016, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Trivia note: the regeneration specialist in your upper right photo is the crook who cried, "Who ARE you, man?!" in Tim Burton's Batman (1989).
Christopher Fairbank? I had to look up the name but see him all the time on British TV. In a "Scarlet Pimpernel" series he played a lackey called "Fumier" which I thought meant "smoker" (he was always coughing) but which I now see means "manure". We yell Fumier! whenever we see him.

Big filmography: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0265457/





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post #66 of 107 Old 10-12-2016, 01:19 PM
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...he played a lackey called "Fumier" which I thought meant "smoker"...
Fumeur, mon ami. Fumeuse, if a woman.
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post #67 of 107 Old 10-13-2016, 09:34 AM
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The Fifth Element (1997), directed by Luc Besson.

Sing O Muse, of arms and the warrior! Of flame-or-blaze-orange-haired Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat, absent from mother Earth a thousand years times five, summoned by the wise Guardians to combat the ultimate -- Am I Disturbing You? -- evil of Mr Shadow. Blown to atoms by the fire of odoriferous warrior-not-merchant assassins addicted to hopeless courses, her substance drifted by winds across the earth of an alien world, until fighting her way back from non-existence, thermal bandages strategically placed, the salt water of her tears greet the chaotic day of three-dimensional Manhattan as she leaps joyously into the void to meet her destiny. Who can recount the adventures of her stout yeoman and meat popsicle Korben Dallas, V for Valiant, lunar mother-plagued, followed by Blade Runner (1982) quotes beyond his knowing, world-saver cute-meeting his multipass-proud perfect fare, the woman who fell to earth, no points left on his license? Police gunfire, they play it hard, unconscious goddess, never without her permission.

When is Leeloo not in trouble?

Summon suave impresario Ruby Rhod of the subtle intellect, perhaps he will sing the secrets of holy Father Vito and his church gunsel David, the plans of art dealer Zorg and the sorrow of a President who would body-slam Evil if only he could. General Munro nervously adjusts his tie. Supergreen. The Diva, blue as a paradise planet ocean and sky, sings "Il dolce suono", soundtrack to murder and mayhem, audience confounding. Escaping on spacecraft stolen, best broadcast ever ending, toy keyboard tapping, human nature learning, sorrow increasing, tracks of her tears leading all the way back to Egypt, death hurtling closer. For the love of the Supreme Being: Korben, speaking to you in your native English and bad English, even without her permission, just kiss her!

We'll have what she's having. So say we all.
Hitting the bottle a bit this week, were you Bill?
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post #68 of 107 Old 10-31-2016, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Barton Fink (1991), directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Quote:
It's hot. Charlie's back.
I remember those few of us who saw this back then all said the same thing: "That was interesting. What the hell was that?"

The story I remember was that this one began when the Coens were frustrated by obstacles during production of Miller's Crossing (1990). It does seem to have been born in a bitter mood. The humor is pretty dark.

I don't have a theory of the plot. Charlie seems to be Barton's alter-ego, the authentic common man he longs to be, his anger unleashed. John Goodman is just stupendous.

When we hit the decrepit LA hotel with those ominous hallways and peeling wallpaper, the David Lynch alarms start going off. Barton's haircut looks just like Henry's in Eraserhead (1977).

Everyone says Barton is meant to represent writer Clifford Odets, and that fits pretty well. His New York circle winces when he rants about "the common man" and "the people's theater" and I have the same response to Odets. I don't say he is a bad writer, just that I can hear his voice in his screenplays, which is distracting. Here he seems to be in Hell, unable to write anything but the same play over and over. His fear is that is all he has in him.

Writer W.P. Mayhew is clearly William Faulkner.

Note this is set just before WW2. The anti-Semitic detectives are named Mastrionotti and Deutsch, about as Italian and German as you can get. Charlie takes care of them.

My thumbnails are from a Universal all-region import Blu-ray. As I write this in October 2016 I see a North American Blu-ray is due from Kino.



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post #69 of 107 Old 10-31-2016, 04:48 PM
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Put it on a double bill with THE DAY OF THE LOCUST and you've got a perfect evening to slash your wrists in Hollywood....
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post #70 of 107 Old 11-17-2016, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
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My Own Private Idaho (1991), written and directed by Gus Van Sant.

Sex workers have to put up with a lot. Young male hustlers have mostly male clients whatever their own preferences. Poor scruffy and narcoleptic Mikey Waters (River Phoenix) loves suave Scott Favor (Keanu Reeves), the mayor's son who is slumming among the street people for a while. Scott sells his body at the moment but will return to women when he comes into his own. And Mikey? Well, what about him?

This is a remarkably inventive and touching story of hard lives. We have the characters as talking magazine covers, and they will freeze into a tableau for the passion scenes. Finally everyone starts speaking approximate Shakespeare from the Henry IV plays.

Keanu is now Prince Hal, William Richert (previously unknown to me) as Bob Pigeon is hearty criminal Falstaff, and River Phoenix is... one of those secondary characters the Prince leaves in his wake, unloved and even unremembered. Discarded. All the cast is good but these three are particularly fine.

Notes:

  • The Shakespeare influence came in after the director had seen Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight (1965). He eased back on that aspect by the time the film was made.
  • They go to Rome and find the same old street hustlers.
  • Bass player Flea has a good role as one of Bob's people.
  • First film credit for Jim Caviezel who has lines as a airline ticket agent.
  • "The Simpsons" are playing on TV in one scene. That's a long-lived show.
  • The title was suggested by a B52s song, but the music is not in the movie.

Criterion Blu-ray.



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post #71 of 107 Old 11-28-2016, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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As a fan of romantic movies I will definitely heed your recommendation Billy. Thanks!
You are welcome! And welcome to AVSForum.

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have to agree with you on that!
If you quoted the original post (just the title or significant sentence) we would know which film you are talking about.

-Bill
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post #72 of 107 Old 11-29-2016, 03:15 PM
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Possibly speed-posting. Quick way to get banned before even joining the community. :-/


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post #73 of 107 Old 12-12-2016, 09:12 PM
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I really like the thread. Here I am attaching my all time fav God must be Crazy..
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post #74 of 107 Old 12-12-2016, 09:16 PM
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post #75 of 107 Old 12-13-2016, 03:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I really like the thread. Here I am attaching my all time fav God must be Crazy..
Thank you! That's from 1980, though.

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post #76 of 107 Old 12-14-2016, 04:19 AM - Thread Starter
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The Rocketeer (1991), directed by Joe Johnston.

Quote:
"How do I look?" "Like a hood ornament".
When a jet pack developed by aviation mogul Howard Hughes is stolen, gangsters, G-Men, nazis and one screen idol are all after it. It falls into the hands of a stunt pilot and his partner who have all sorts of damn heroic adventures before they are done with it.

Sometimes these retro-adventure stories work, but sometimes they don't. I like this one but wish it were better. Critics gave it good reviews at the time but it didn't find much of an audience, so no sequels.

It's too sweet and excessively Disneyfied. It was in development for a long time and the best ideas were jettisoned. For example, lovely Jennifer Connelly's character was originally inspired by nude model Bettie Page. No way! The narrative goes slack from time to time; maybe editing changes or a little more script doctoring would have helped.

Timothy Dalton does a deliciously villainous interpretation of Errol Flynn, nazi spy. There actually was a biography of Flynn claiming that. A more serious biographer called the notion "pathetic", and author/actor Jim Beaver said of the writer: "I wouldn't trust him if he said the sun rose this morning".

Dalton's best line: "I'm going to miss Hollywood". He then flies away but falls to his death on the HOLLYWOODLAND sign, obliterating just the LAND part.

Alan Arkin's dirt-kicking accent is hard to take. Terry O'Quinn fanclub! He's a sane Howard Hughes. Always good to see Jon Polito.

Some rather good aviation stunts.

Finally, when we first saw this my wife said of Jennifer Connelly: "Her breasts cannot be that large!" A little later: "Well maybe they are".

James Horner score.

Available on Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #77 of 107 Old 12-14-2016, 08:01 AM
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Finally, when we first saw this my wife said of Jennifer Connelly: "Her breasts cannot be that large!" A little later: "Well maybe they are".
I assume you explained to her that Connelly had breast reduction surgery later in her career?

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post #78 of 107 Old 12-14-2016, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
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I assume you explained to her that Connelly had breast reduction surgery later in her career?
I've heard that and I've heard it's not true. You got... evidence?

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post #79 of 107 Old 12-14-2016, 08:38 AM
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I've heard that and I've heard it's not true. You got... evidence?
Well, I mean...





Maybe it's a myth and maybe she just lost a bunch of weight, mostly from the chest area. I'm not a surgical authority, but she has certainly gone down a few cup sizes.
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post #80 of 107 Old 12-14-2016, 01:59 PM
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Review films of the 1990s here!

She clearly lost weight, who cares how. Look at her arms. Clearly been working out!

I remember seeing her in LABYRINTH , CAREER OPPORTUNITIES, THE ROCKETEER, DARK CITY, and thinking, "boy when she grows out of her young girl plumpness, she's going to be a beauty." She did, and she is. Happens to lots of women, no surgery required IME.

(Compare Angelina Jolie in HACKERS and BY THE SEA. Her face, I mean.)

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post #81 of 107 Old 01-10-2017, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Patriot Games (1992), directed by Phillip Noyce

This looks better now than it did at the time. It must be that current action films suffer by comparison: too frenetic, too much non-stop fantasy violence. Noyce, his photographer and editors know how to build tension and exploit it without going too far over the top. The pacing never goes slack and the sense of realism remains until the final scene with the boats, where implausibility reigns.

Harrison Ford does that thing he is so good at, a classic American film hero: the thinking man, not a tough guy but able to summon the resolve to do what needs to be done, especially when protecting his family. Anne Archer is not squeamish in dealing with threats; she's the same sort of character who plugged an insane bunny-boiler in another film.

Sean Bean knows how to be a rage machine. Cutting between him and the Ryan's perfect seaside Maryland home: I feel his resentment.

Better than your average thriller: Jack Ryan is taken into the command center to view the results of his research. Satellite infrared views of the terrorist camp attacked. It's what he wanted, but being human, he is troubled when watching it.

No motivation is given for the traitor among the Brits.

Polly Walker fanclub! With Thora Birch, age 10. Also: James Fox, James Earl Jones, and Richard Harris.

James Horner score.

Available on Blu-ray.



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post #82 of 107 Old 01-10-2017, 12:40 PM
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Patriot Games (1992), directed by Phillip Noyce

This looks better now than it did at the time.
This movie was soured for me at the time by the trailer, which systematically gave away every single important scene and plot point from beginning to end, including showing how the villain will die. By the time the movie opened, it felt like 114 minutes of filler padding out the 3 minutes of important footage I'd already seen.

I've been meaning to try to revisit it, to see if enough time has passed to see it with fresh eyes, but I never get around to it.

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post #83 of 107 Old 01-10-2017, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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This movie was soured for me at the time by the trailer, which systematically gave away every single important scene and plot point from beginning to end, including showing how the villain will die. By the time the movie opened, it felt like 114 minutes of filler padding out the 3 minutes of important footage I'd already seen.

I've been meaning to try to revisit it, to see if enough time has passed to see it with fresh eyes, but I never get around to it.
It's not top shelf, but as I said, plays better now than then, at least as I remember.

Same crew for the next film, which is more ambitious and slicker. Like this one it is more or less realistic until the final act when it turns into fantasy action. Better Blu-ray.

-Bill

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post #84 of 107 Old 01-11-2017, 12:13 AM
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I remember the depiction of intelligence analysts and how they work being above average in authenticity.


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post #85 of 107 Old 02-03-2017, 04:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), directed by Terry Gilliam

This tracks the book more or less closely; it gets the "bad craziness" right. Hunter S. Thompson seems more political on the printed page: the Age of Nixon as incipient American fascism. Some bits are more elaborated than I remember: the people-to-lizards transformations and turning the hotel room into a swamp.

Performing his work requires an HST impersonation; Bill Murray did his version in Where the Buffalo Roam (1980). Johnny Depp does a remarkable physical performance, shaving most of his head. Perhaps unavoidably in a film treatment he is more articulate than HST in person.

Benicio del Toro has more flexibility as Dr Gonzo, since no one in the audience will remember the real Oscar "Zeta" Acosta, who vanished in Mexico shortly after the events shown here and is presumed dead.

A lot of cameo appearances by known stars, and a funny glimpse of the man himself.

1hr58m is plenty for this; after a while it is the same outrageousness over and over. The offenses against women (Christina Ricci, Ellen Barkin) drain a lot of the fun out of the project.

The enigmas of HST: can one use fantastical bombast to tell journalistic truths? The point of all the drugs is a self-destructive need to get messed up, right? He had no pretense of insight or enlightenment. An anti-guru? We might consider him a bad influence on impressionable admirers.

A box office failure, better liked on home video since.

Available on Blu-ray. My thumbnails are from the Universal disc; it is also available from Criterion. The Criterion has commentary tracks and more extras, but judging by the screen grabs at DVDBeaver, image quality is about the same.



-Bill
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post #86 of 107 Old 02-03-2017, 08:13 AM
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Never cared for Fear and Loathing. I like Gilliam, but he sometimes needs to rein in his excesses. That one's just gaudy, incoherent and wearying to watch. It also has so much voiceover narration smothering every scene that it feels less like a movie than an illustrated audiobook.

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post #87 of 107 Old 03-02-2017, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), directed by Jonathan Frakes

When Commander Data (once again) goes wacky and starts attacking hidden Federation observers on a pre-contact planet, Captain Picard and crew are able to rescue and repair him, but their investigation uncovers a Federation conspiracy to commit dirty deeds. Picard isn't having that and aims to misbehave.

If I were insurrecting I think I would have kept the Sovereign-class starship on hand rather than sending it home with a message.

When I saw this in the theater I thought it was pretty weak, like an average episode of the TV series. I like it a little better now, just because it is good to revisit the characters and feel at home with them again. It is a leisurely paced adventure.

The good:

  • Riker and Troi light it up again.
  • The invisible observation post is a clever premise, adapted from the series.
  • Nice touch: the return of the children, aged and unrecognizable.
  • Anthony Zerbe fan club!

The unfortunate:

  • Roddenberry-inspired survivor-utopias are always beige and brown clothed folk, happy to work at their appropriate technology crafts in sunny and pleasant if suspiciously Californian-looking terrains.
  • The villains look really villainous. (Gregg Henry is nearly unrecognizable. F. Murray Abraham is the chief baddie).
  • The Gilbert & Sullivan trick. Data being cute with the kid. Strained comedy.
  • Picard's romance subplot is tepid. Maybe just as well.
  • The very special manual steering joystick.
  • At the end, Picard sounds like an ad for an outpatient clinic: "The healing process has begun".

Jerry Goldsmith score.

Available on Blu-ray with a commentary track by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis. They shout out names and laugh a lot. He remembers everything, she not so much. Neither knew what "parricide" meant.



-Bill
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post #88 of 107 Old 04-04-2017, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
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The End of the Affair (1999), directed by Neil Jordan.

Quote:

Sarah: Love doesn't end, just because we don't see each other.

Maurice: Doesn't it?

Sarah: People go on loving God, don't they? All their lives. Without seeing him.

Maurice: That's not my kind of love.

Sarah: Maybe there is no other kind.
Movies are good at the direct, the literal, and the obvious. The invisible workings of life are more mysterious than that, incomprehensible to everyone in it and exceedingly hard to present.

I'm reluctant to use words like "perfect" or "masterpiece", but this is a little gem of a film, inescapably troubling the mind and piercing the heart. For some reason I didn't think much of it when it was new, but after a recent rewatch I begin to gush. Where's the Blu-ray?

The twentieth century had a small literary genre I think of as a sort of "crypto-Catholicism": not explicitly religious but where intimations of the beyond creep up and entrap the characters. Flannery O'Connor was an American example and Evelyn Waugh did it in Britain with Brideshead Revisited and his Sword of Honour trilogy.

Graham Greene was another prominent English example, putting himself and his love travails into this story. The setting is before, during and after the Second World War and the story jumps back and forth, giving the same scenes from different perspectives, after we have new knowledge. At one point I thought we were seeing alternate histories, what might have been, but no: same street, same people, just a different year. Like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), when reflecting over our lives we become unstuck in time.

The background is the War and the bombing of rainy, smokey London, but the frame is smaller, kept to a small group of troubled people.

We have:

  • Ralph Fiennes is the narrator, an author recording the story of his hate. ("You're a good hater" the priest tells him). Who does he hate? That is to be revealed.

    He is a jealous, possessive lover. She cheated on her husband so she will cheat on him too, right? Despite their shared passion her love is on a higher level he does not comprehend. No one does.

    His moment of perfect happiness: waking in the rubble of the stairway after the building has been struck by a V1 bomb. Like being born again or returning to life.

  • Stephen Rea, the director's favorite actor, is the husband, a dull sexless civil servant. His love is not of the type his wife or friend appreciate, but it shines brighter toward the end.

    His moment of happiness: none. He is a sad man.

  • Julianne Moore is the wife and adulteress, a woman of passion who gives her whole heart and body to her lover. And has to give him up after the bomb falls. "I knew nothing in this world would make sense to me again". And even then goes back to him, breaking a promise made to God.

    Can such a woman be a saint? "I tempted fate and fate accepted". A little matter of what seems to be two miracles. "And we don't believe in those, do we?" chides the bitter author.

    Her moment of perfect happiness: simple loving kindness when she kisses the boy's cheek ("His afflicted cheek" his father says, meaning the large birthmark). As if she were healed by her own act of healing.

Scored and conducted by Michael Nyman, always an asset to any film. He is best known for the kinetic beauty he added to Peter Greenaway's art films, and for the Scottish-sounding piano concerto in Jane Campion's The Piano (1993).

Here he provides elegiac melody that sounds like one of the soundtracks of life. Really: when people say that I think they mean the pop music playing at the time, but if music moves you then life does have musical themes. Michael Nyman is one of those artists who can score the inexpressible poignancy of life. That's what it sounds like to me.

Jo Stafford's "Haunted Heart" is the period music.

I also want to mention Ian Hart who I just saw as the young John Lennon in Backbeat (1994), perhaps better known as the unfortunate Professor of the Dark Arts master Quirrell in the first Harry Potter film. Here he is a likable working-class outsider in the seedy job of private detective, spying on women to get the goods on them for divorce actions.

Some passion scenes, boobs and backsides. The self-image of the English is of coldness; it's good to break the stereotype.

Available on DVD, not very good quality. I'd like an upgrade.

The director provides a commentary which has -- as you would expect -- many worthwhile reflections:

  • When making a period film he can't help but think of films made during that time. "Should I put the camera where David Lean would?"
  • An Irishman, he feels as much an outsider to British class structures as the average American.
  • Many actresses wanted the lead, but Julianne Moore tested and walked away with it.
  • Neither she nor Ralph Fiennes required any sort of nudity or passion clauses in their contracts, both doing what was needed without hesitation.
  • He did not know the book had been previously filmed in 1955 and waited until the end of his own production to see it. His judgment: "Proof that films have always been bad".
  • When he proposed the project to Columbia they didn't even know they had the rights to the book.



-Bill
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post #89 of 107 Old 04-04-2017, 12:12 PM
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The End of the Affair (1999), directed by Neil Jordan.
A remake of the 1955 film of the same name.
Deborah Kerr, Van Johnson and John Mills
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post #90 of 107 Old 05-08-2017, 06:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Contact (1997), directed by Robert Zemeckis.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) initiated a science fiction film genre that comes around every few years: the "big think" movie, best done on a large scale, founded on real science, but which moves out into a mysterious spiritual realm. Both versions of Solaris qualify; Interstellar (2014) and Arrival (2016) are recent examples.

I hadn't seen this since it was new and it holds up well. I'll have to pay more attention next time -- the commentary tracks point out that the artwork on her walls reappears during Ellie's multi-dimensional space voyage, as does the fantasy-Pensacola of her childhood. A sign that her voyage is at least partly in her mind. And that's ok.

They also talk about background effects which I hadn't detected; apart from the actual SF content it all looked pretty real to me.

I haven't read Carl Sagan's book so I don't know how it was adapted. My impression is that he was very skeptical in matters of religion, so I don't know what he thought of Ellie's inner journey from principled atheist to chosen prophet of a new First Contact spirituality.

I wonder what it would really be like? Would transmissions from a distant region of space cause worldwide religious meltdown? "Oh, yes, definitely" says my wife, but I'm not sure. If they show no sign of showing up right away maybe it would blow over.

Something rare in film: a look at the unpleasant operations of Big Science, the scramble for funding and control. Tom Skerritt is expertly unlikable as the credit-grabbing backstabbing bureaucrat. In some ways this is a fantasy of the technicians: the story belongs to the bright enthusiasts who love their work and manage an end-run around the politicians and administrators, something that wouldn't be allowed in reality.

Very much a Jodie Foster showcase. She specializes in being frightened and anxious and it is a relief to occasionally see her relax and briefly enjoy life.

Jake Busey has "crazed religious suicide bomber" tattooed on his forehead. Why can no one but Ellie see that?

Jena Malone, age 12, is the young Ellie.

Available on Blu-ray with three commentary tracks. Jodie Foster's was the best for me. She not only has valuable insights into the story and her character, but -- being a producer and director herself -- has a good eye for production details and the difficulty of getting such a large project done.

She says that when repeating "I'm good to go" during the scary launch sequence, Ellie really means "I'm ready to die".

She also thinks her relationship with the John Hurt character (a combined Howard Hughes and Bill Gates billionaire) is like Clarice Starling's with Hannibal Lector: he is a scary mentor.



-Bill
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