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post #91 of 114 Old 05-08-2017, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
Contact (1997), directed by Robert Zemeckis.

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.
In reality the Contact story was originally written as a screenplay. Carl and Ann Druyan wrote the story. After some years of failing to get backing Sagan adapted it to the novel format. The novel is vastly superior as a story and is packed with awesome SF content. It wasn't till after the success of the book that the movie got made. Its hugely compressed, many characters are compilations of several book characters and large chunks of story are missing. Its still a decent movie that covers the high points of the book.

Anyway the "vessel" was crewed by 5 or 6 people, not one, and they all had similar experiences.
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post #92 of 114 Old 05-08-2017, 07:44 AM
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The book also introduced me to the word " dodecahedron" which is just such a cool word.

I liked both the movie and the book, but the book let you build landscapes and machines in your imagination that special effects could never come close to.
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post #93 of 114 Old 05-08-2017, 08:29 AM
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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.
What I like about the movie is that it's about smart people who are good at and passionate about their jobs, and willing to fight for what they believe is right. In that way, it almost plays like Zemeckis' apology for Forrest Gump, a movie that celebrates ignorance and complacency as some sort of idealized way of life. Zemeckis may not have actually intended one movie to be a comment on the other, but it worked out that way.

Naturally, the movie about the idiot is still widely beloved while the one about the smart people was scoffed at when it was released and has been largely forgotten in the meantime.
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post #94 of 114 Old 05-08-2017, 12:37 PM
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The book also introduced me to the word " dodecahedron" which is just such a cool word.

I liked both the movie and the book, but the book let you build landscapes and machines in your imagination that special effects could never come close to.
Roll 1 D12 please.

Looky here!
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post #95 of 114 Old 05-23-2017, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Year of the Comet (1992), directed by Peter Yates.

Not to be confused with Night of the Comet (1984).

Inventorying a wine collection at a remote Scottish castle, a professional oenophile and a corporate trouble-shooter get mixed up with a dapper French villain who is pursuing some sort of secret formula for which he will torture and kill. Result: romantic comedy wisecracking and old-school boat, helicopter and motorcycle action from Loch Ness to the Riviera.

Directed by the experienced Peter Yates (Bullitt (1968), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976), Krull (1983)) and written by the great William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Marathon Man (1976), A Bridge Too Far (1977), The Princess Bride (1987), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)), photographed by Roger Pratt (Brazil (1985), Mona Lisa (1986), The End of the Affair (1999)) and filmed in lovely locations in Scotland and France...

...it was a total flop, a box office disaster that has since hit 0% at Rotten Tomatoes almost without anyone noticing it ever existed.

This was Goldman's project. He has a short sorrowful chapter on it in Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade where he admits that it was not some sort of near miss that fell just short: "No, lads. I am talking about the whiff, the stiff, the stinker, the all-out f***ing fiasco".

Test audiences were walking out in the first minutes. He figured it was because few people shared his passion for red wine, so they shot a new opening where the hero says he also hates red wine. Audiences still hit the exits. Sometimes films only find their audiences after they've been out for a while, but when Goldman's daughter admitted she hadn't bothered to see it he understood it wasn't going to happen.

A study in film forensics: What went wrong, and what could have been done?

  • Leads Penelope Ann Miller and Tim Daly are likable enough, but lack the star power needed to drive the story. On the other hand if the film had been successful it might have made them stars.
  • Daly seems to be trying for a Selleck/Magnum character who appears bone-headed but is secretly very sharp. It needs more work.
  • A lot of the quips are stale. Maybe some script doctoring by fresh eyes would have helped. Wit isn't easy.
  • Goldman said he wanted Charade (1963). Is it possible the director and stars were just unfamiliar with the action-and-battling-lovers romantic comedy genre? (He also says Hollywood has lost billions trying to copy a writer's favorite movie).
  • What about some sort of opening hook, a Bond-like prelude to keep the audiences in their seats? The exciting (?) history of the rare bottle of wine, intertwined somehow with the quest for the secret formula? Mysteriously related at first, made clear later?
  • Despite gorgeous locations in Scotland and France, the film often has a sense of cheapness. Their helicopter is from Dollar Rent-a-Chopper (really, it has the big logo) which is realistic, but doesn't help the fantasy.
  • Sometimes the looped dialogue sounds like it is coming from a dead studio space.

Notes:

  • The ageless Louis Jordan is 70 here and seems to be having a blast as the witty villain. His last picture; he lived in retirement for another 23 years.
  • Art Malik, Nick Brimble and Ian McNeice are familiar faces in British TV and movies.
  • The French chiropractor is playing a country tune: "I Just Need a Pick-axe to Break Your Heart of Stone".
  • There really is folklore that bright comets make for good harvests, particularly of wine grapes for comet vintages.
  • The huge bottle of Napoleon's favorite red supposedly dated from the Great Comet of 1811.

Now, finally, a confession: about 20 years ago my wife and I adopted this one as the poor little bad film we like more than it deserves. We never saw it in the theater, just on VHS from the local mom & pop rental place. I don't think it ever had a proper North American DVD, so we imported a PAL DVD, and even that was cropped from 2.35:1 to 1.33, proof there really are people in the business who hate movies.

If I had to pick the least likely / no fan base / forgotten because it was never known title to receive a Blu-ray release, this would be it. And yet, it is now...

Available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, their usual limited edition of 3000. Why this most boutique of specialty Blu-ray houses decided to commemorate the twilight of physical media with this obscure title: I don't know, but am grateful. Shocked, but grateful.

Subtitles and isolated score, but no other extras. TT regular Julie Kirgo provides a little booklet essay to to the effect of "don't worry, be happy, enjoy". What else can you say?

We gasp: look at wide image, all that movie we were missing! And the detail on those lovely tweeds and sweaters... It does seem like a different movie when you can see the whole thing, as intended. Not a good different movie, mind you.



-Bill
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post #96 of 114 Old 06-13-2017, 05:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Payback: Straight Up (1999), directed by Brian Helgeland.

"Straight Up: the Director's Cut". The theatrical and director's cut have different IMDB entries; you don't often see that.

How hard can a tough guy be and still earn our support? Nasty as he is, Porter has a code. As per the tradition, women are the ones who get through his armor.

I saw the theatrical release back when -- probably on cable or video tape -- and it did not leave much of an impression. Mel Gibson as a comical tough guy trying to extract a minor amount of money from the mob, finally reaching Kris Kristofferson as an improbable Mr Big.

The film had been processed with a bleach bypass step giving it a strong "black and white in blue" look. Most people responded with "Wait... they did it on purpose?"

I have so little memory of the original that I can't really compare it with the director's cut. The restored version is tougher and more violent, with Gibson beating up his junkie wife (it's actually a mutual destruction of their kitchen) and killing villains in cold blood. Kristofferson and the narration are gone and we have a completely different final act. The color is more natural, particularly in the interiors, with the Chicago exterior locations still looking blued up in a more standard way.

Gregg Henry is practically the co-star. Much as we hate the treacherous sadist, he is also funny and the narrative loses something after he is gone.

Lucy Liu and Maria Bello -- both playing prostitutes -- have had big careers since. The director described Bello as a "tough Philly girl" and asked her six times before she came on to the picture. She thought she wasn't right, but it is a good fit.

The new cut has a new score, very cool crime jazz.

John Boorman's Point Blank (1967) with Lee Marvin was based on the same book.

Available on Blu-ray with a commentary track by the director. He doesn't seem angry about being fired, understanding there were honest differences about reaching an audience: "So... he doesn't get the money, he dies, and you kill the dog?"

Is the director's cut the only version available on home video? That's a sort of gentle revenge. It was his project from the start.

Finally, on one of the making-of extras, when late in the film we see Bello loading wounded Gibson into the car, the dog is in the back seat with a bandage on its head. That's not in the movie itself, though.



-Bill
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post #97 of 114 Old 06-13-2017, 09:58 AM
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Is the director's cut the only version available on home video? That's a sort of gentle revenge. It was his project from the start.
The theatrical cut was released on DVD, but I believe that disc is long out of print and has been supplanted by the Director's Cut.

A UK Blu-ray release includes both versions on one disc. I have to imagine that they're separate encodes. The color timing of the two versions is so different that seamless branching wouldn't work.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Payback-Blu.../dp/B0027UY87W

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post #98 of 114 Old 06-13-2017, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Additional fun facts: the North American director's cut is MPEG2 and only about 15GB for the main feature. Despite that the image is pretty good.

-Bill
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post #99 of 114 Old 06-28-2017, 07:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Enchanted April (1992), directed by Mike Newell.

Having had enough of a cold, rainy London winter in the grim years just after WW1, four women bust loose and rent an Italian villa for a month. It is a bit of paradise. Cue the magic chamber music and "It's odd how one's mind slips sideways in a place like this..."

This belongs on a small shelf labeled "Cure for the Winter Blues". Those with seasonal affective disorder need to see repressed English people letting go in Mediterranean climates. Sun, water, good food, a chance at love: it restores the soul. A Room with a View (1985) is another example.

It's really finely done; I'm always amazed how much I have enjoyed it, and I don't even have that much SAD.

The women:

  • Josie Lawrence -- who I don't remember seeing elsewhere -- is Lottie, the instigator of the scheme. Timid, scattered, often saying the wrong thing, in the sun she develops kindly psychic powers and trains to be a manic pixie dream girl.
  • Miranda Richardson is Rose, a church lady with "the face of a disappointed Madonna". Yearns to be loved.
  • Polly Walker (fan club!) is Lady Caroline, an unrepressed aristocrat who just wants to be left alone to do nothing. She lost someone in the War, has spent too much time being beautiful for men who just grab at her. Also yearns for love.
  • Joan Plowright is grumpy Mrs. Fisher, a literary figure who wants to mope and remember better days. She has a quick turnaround at San Salvatore and becomes a sweetie. Could use a little love.

The men:

  • Alfred Molina is Lottie's husband, all pounds, shillings and pence until he hits Italy.
  • Jim Broadbent is Rose's rascal husband who writes soft-porn historical romances under another name. Dodges a bullet at the villa.
  • Michael Kitchen is the owner of San Salvatore, a musician whose eyes were ruined by gas in the War. He stops by to say hello; good thing, too.

Happy ending for all!

My thumbnails are from a PAL DVD. The original North American disc was cropped or non-anamorphic; there is a newer edition I haven't seen which may fix that.



-Bill
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post #100 of 114 Old 07-07-2017, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Institute Benjamenta (1995), directed by Stephen and Timothy Quay.

"...or This Dream That One Calls Human Life".

A man enrolls in a training school for domestic servants. It is run by a couple claiming to be brother and sister, and maybe they are. The building is shabby-genteel, encrusted with deer antlers and pine-cones on the inside. (Is this some sort of rebus puzzle? If so it is beyond me). The curriculum is pointlessly degrading and everyone is inexplicably odd. The house has magic doors and strange moving lights and is ruled by a dream reality.

This punches my art-film ticket for another six months. It is beautifully photographed with odd angles and both vivid details and games with blurred focus. I would best describe it as Eraserhead (1977) without the ghastliness. The soundtrack has haunting moments.

You can be moved by a film without an intelligible story; see Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970). This one is tougher sledding because of the many moments of intentional absurdity; a little of that goes a long way. I think actors must love doing this: pure acting with no story to worry about. Just like exercises in acting class.

Even so, it operates on a suggestive, mysterious level. Online comments propose that the Brothers Quay offer an "interior metaphysics", a reality that is suspected but never seen directly.

I had an oddly satisfying moment toward the end: the moving lights have a logical explanation! There is a tram line near the house and we are seeing the train headlights.

Based on a 1909 novel: Jakob von Gunten.

Alice Krige photographs so well I can't take my eyes off her. Her expressions, gestures, postures: enigmatic as they are, I almost believe she understands the film she is in. Last seen in Ghost Story (1981) and Chariots of Fire (1981).

Gottfried John has a face Ingmar Bergman would love. I've been seeing him in movie and TV supporting parts for years. Last seen in Goldeneye (1995).

Mark Rylance is our Everyman, confused but sticking with it.

Available on a region B Blu-ray.



-Bill
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post #101 of 114 Old 07-07-2017, 08:25 AM
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Are ... these the Brothers Quay who made so many peculiar stop motion animated movies?

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post #102 of 114 Old 07-07-2017, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Are ... these the Brothers Quay who made so many peculiar stop motion animated movies?
Yes. I know someone who collects those short films and always wants me to see them but I haven't gotten into it yet. I think this was their first feature film and the first thing of theirs I have seen. Twin brothers, I believe.

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post #103 of 114 Old 07-07-2017, 12:30 PM
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Alice Krige was pretty amazing as the Borg Queen too. No mailing it in for that girl.
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post #104 of 114 Old 07-19-2017, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Deep Impact (1998), directed by Mimi Leder.

Quote:
Well, look on the bright side. We'll all have high schools named after us.
I remembered very little about this except that it was Armageddon (1998) without the jokes (same year!), the one with Morgan Freeman as the President.

With a rewatch I think it is pretty good, especially the initial SF plot development done as a political thriller. Written SF has many examples of this and the rich production values of the film make it believable.

They consulted experts to try to get the science right, with a little lee-way. The only detail that bugs me is that in movies whenever a spacecraft fires its engines it jets away like a skyrocket. Even Apollo 13 (1995) had that. In space, slow and steady wins the race. Acceleration is like compound interest; it accumulates.

The space, comet and East Coast catastrophe scenes are well done. That's another plus for the film: the Earth does not escape unscathed. When the water recedes the World Trade Center towers are still there, though leaning.

Human interest anguish in the face of an Extinction Level Event certainly belongs in this story, but for some reason the second half of the film goes slack for me, until the final climax. It has good moments, but also scenes of exploitation tear-jerking.

Many familiar faces, with Elijah Wood and Leelee Sobieski as the science geek teen lovers. (That's a big well-equipped astronomy club!)

Parallels with Armageddon (1998): both films have a space station, a Russian member, drilling on the comet, a stuck drill that causes lots of problems, a crewman blown into space, and salvation of the Earth at the very last instant requiring heroic self-sacrifice.

Perhaps you could do a mashup of the two films, where Bruce Willis and his roughneck oil drillers are the secret B team on the other side of comet, racing against the same clock. Only Billy Bob Thornton and Morgan Freeman know the truth...

James Horner score.

Available on Blu-ray with a rather good image. The director and visual effect supervisor provide a commentary track. They are pretty happy with it, although Leder sees a lot of things she would adjust, maybe just through cuts or other edits.



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post #105 of 114 Old 07-29-2017, 08:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Clear and Present Danger (1994), directed by Phillip Noyce.

A close sequel to Patriot Games (1992). Same stars, director, composer, cinematographer. The IMDB shows 63 names in common between the two pictures.

Jack Ryan is now a Deputy Director at the CIA and barely prepared for the fierce politics involved. He's advising a President who wants to "take the gloves off" in the Colombian drug war, but who can't have his name attached to the nasty covert war he wants fought. Ryan is in to clean up the mess and blow the whistle, assisted by the mysterious John Clark (Willem Dafoe).

Larger scale than its predecessor but, like it, an expertly done action thriller. And like the first film it is more or less realistic until the final act with its improbable jailbreak (shades of the POW/MIA rescue genre) and rooftop shootout with a helicopter.

The ethical muddles are serious and pretty deep: the ugliness of covert wars and innocent lives sacrificed, how to operate in the gray zones in a democracy.

They deploy ships and planes to support this secret effort: I'm not seeing much plausible deniability. Ryan teams up with the cartel lord, which gave me pause. A comic element with the helicopter pilot.

Last appearance of James Earl Jones as Admiral James Greer.

Score by James Horner; I hear some Aliens (1986) in the incidental music.

Available on Blu-ray and looking better than Patriot Games (1992).



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post #106 of 114 Old 07-30-2017, 07:50 PM
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I liked Clear And Present Danger a lot. My problem with it, (as a book reader) was that Dafoe was no Clark. I say that as a Dafoe fan. "We wait for Ryan!" was a low point. OTOH, JEJ was perfect as Greer.
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post #107 of 114 Old 08-17-2017, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), directed by Nicholas Meyer.

After a disaster on the Klingon home world there is a chance for peace with the Federation if reactionaries and conspirators don't mess it up. The crew of the Enterprise contains both.

I'm strangely indifferent to this entry, the last film with the complete original crew. It has a better reputation than Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), but I can put up a mild defense of the previous film because it seems true to the TV series mythology.

My problems with this one:

  • The regular cast are good humored and comfortable in their roles, but seem to be coasting. George Takei is an exception: he enjoys being Captain Sulu and puts some energy into it.
  • You would think for this finale they would have a grander plot.
  • Instead we get an obvious parallel to Chernobyl, Gorbachev, and the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • The blunt racism and tolerance Message is too much lecturing to the audience.
  • A bickering diplomats plot: who cares?
  • Christopher Plummer doesn't look like a Klingon. Love the bolted-on eye-patch, though.
  • Dumb Shakespeare content, with Meyer trying to recapture Khan's Milton mania from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Here they claim Hamlet's "undiscovered country" is "the future". Actually, it means "death".
  • New score, cutting us off from the mythology.
  • Minor points that seem jarring to me: the crew sleep in triple-stacked bunk beds. We have a well-appointed galley with raw chickens on a starship with a food replicator. The bridge still has chairs that roll around on casters. The Klingon translation resource is a pile of dusty old hardbound books.

Cameos by Grace Lee Whitney, Michael Dorn and Christian Slater.

The Kim Catrall Vulcan officer was originally meant to be Lt Savak from the earlier movies. The shapeshifter is supermodel Iman.

By this time Leonard Nimoy had become a producer powerful enough to shape the film and get it made.

Available on Blu-ray with two commentary tracks.

The first is with director Meyer and his co-writer. Much as I enjoy Meyer's work I find these commentaries painful. Both are profoundly ignorant of science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular. The only thing keeping them from goofing up the whole concept are uncreative studio bureaucrats who make them color inside the lines.

They admit this but point out that you need new blood and fresh -- perhaps naive and inexperienced -- eyes to keep the stories going. It's a legitimate argument, and many say that Meyer and Harve Bennet saved the franchise after Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), but I think more commonly Hollywood destroys its own product when they try this.

The second commentary is a wacky conversation with two Trek pros. They also found the Cold War story irritating at the time, less so now. Same with the ages of the actors and keeping the original crew movies going deep into the Next Generation TV series years: the objection to geezers staying on too long is not as important now as it was then.



-Bill
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post #108 of 114 Old 08-29-2017, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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The Mummy (1999), written and directed by Stephen Sommers.

This designed-to-be-a-PG13-summer-blockbuster is impressive in many ways. It has what seems a lavish budget, rich production values, a likable cast, both comedy and thrills, skilled editing and often impressive computer graphics spectacle. Jerry Goldsmith's exciting adventure/fantasy/mystery score is deeply rooted in film mythology.

As with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) the story is set entirely within the Hollywood fantasy subcreation. Like all action films it's "let's pretend" without a moment of real peril or fright.

I can't think of a story that more exhaustively mines the screenwriters' treasure-chest. The traditional outline of the ancient cursed priest revivified to find his lost love is just the beginning. Not only do we have a quick prelude in exotic Egypt but a Foreign Legion massacre, the romantic meet cute with the leads at his hanging, a gun battle on a burning steamship on the Nile, camel treks into the deep desert, ten plagues over Egypt, a biplane crash, an underground golden hoard as far as the eye can see, swords, dynamite, guns, heavy machine guns and more guns (you can't have too many weapons when dealing with a mummy apocalypse) and finally a heroine in heavy bondage.

It did great business at the box office and continues to sell well on home video and I find it quite rewatchable. It's supposed to be "fun" and it is.

On the down side: it is intended for a mass audience and there isn't much subtlety to the plot. The humor is broad and Brendan Fraser's wit is little more than schoolyard taunting. Because it is "fun" it has to be bloodless. The score sometimes descends into comical mickey-mousing, as for the soldier mummies (which ruins them for me). I hope Goldsmith didn't do those bits.

Available on Blu-ray with three commentary tracks:

  • Happy reflections by the director and editor, mostly on the technical setups of each scene and complaints about working with extras.
  • Sparse, mostly trivial comments by Brendan Fraser. He laughs at all the jokes.
  • Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O'Connor, and Oded Fehr in a fond but not very information dense track. O'Connor's part as the comic villain Beni was written for him; he had worked with the director in Deep Rising (1998). Fehr's first feature film.



-Bill

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post #109 of 114 Old 09-01-2017, 08:52 AM
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Review films of the 1990s here!

The body-painted Egyptian maiden sure made me watch the film a few extra times.

… ST VI had more than a few nods to Trek history. McCoy uses a TOS style hypo to try to save Gorkon, but D. Kelley held it upside down. Whoops.

Fun cameos abound, Rene Auberjonois (Odo in DS9) was in a cut scene restored for the "Director's cut." Thank the Great Bird of the Galaxy that the BD features the theatrical cut. The former ruined Spock's interrogation of Saavik, erm, Valeris by intercutting b/w pics of characters with music stingers. The original edit of the scene is way more intense.

The Klingon battle cruiser from ST TMP got dressed up with some very detailed brass filigree, much of it exquisite. Some pics taken by the tech who worked on the model have surfaced on FB.

Plummer's eye patch has tiny Klingon symbols carved into the rivets.

Shatner hated that Meyer cut away from Kirk after he says, "Let them die."

The blue food for the banquet was disgusting, that got more so as the day's filming under hot lights progressed. No one would even put it near their mouths. Meyer offered the cast $500 or so for every actor who put some in their mouth during a take. Shatner got a couple of grand off the director.

In an interview, Plummer relishes an age when an actor is no longer a matinee idol (one thinks of SOUND OF MUSIC), worrying about his chin and if the camera has got his good angle. He wanted his general to be as gruesomely disconcerting as possible. But Plummer, an old rep theater veteran of many Shakespearean roles, laughs out loud that a "Klingon language expert" had to tutor him in proper Klingon grammar and pronunciation when quoting Hamlet.

Sulu gets his back after being called "Tiny" in ST III (he didn't like the joke but Nimoy convinced him it would be a good bit, and Takei had to agree after seeing the finished film). "That's a big ship." "Not so big as her Captain, I think."
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post #110 of 114 Old 09-08-2017, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
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To Die For (1995), directed by Gus Van Sant.

Quote:

First impressions, in one word? You really want to know? Four letters, begins with "c"... Cold. C-O-L-D. Cold.
A satire tends to be about just one thing and it is sometimes hard to sustain for a full length feature film. When skilfully done -- as in this case -- we explore the ramifications.

Here the main target of the satire is the narcissistic obsession with "you are no one unless you are on TV", but we also have:

  • How shallow that seems to others.
  • The stress the very ambitious lay on those around them.
  • The overwhelming sexual power a mature woman can bring to bear on adolescents.
  • How poor, neglected kids are captivated when someone from a richer class befriends them.
  • The clash of cultures between in-law families: the warm Italians vs cool waspish New Englanders. It's a mini-The Godfather (1972).

Nicole Kidman is a superstar. As such it is hard to critique her acting: she gets no ensemble scenes, but is the magnetic focus of attention whenever she's on. That doll-like face and her control over a powerful sexuality: they tend to cloud our judgment.

Being so famous it is wrong to say she is underappreciated, but I think her acting will be better regarded after the passage of time. Here she just nails the role of a dim-bulb beauty who employs death-ray intensity to get what she wants. For comedy she tends to say profoundly inappropriate things which other people think but don't speak. When you think it can't get any worse, she takes a boom box to her husband's funeral and plays "All By Myself".

Notes:

  • I love seeing Dan Hedaya do something other than weirdo roles, great as he is at those.
  • I also look for Illeana Douglas, last seen in Ghost World (2001).
  • Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck at age 20, Alison Folland age 17.
  • George Segal and David Cronenberg have small parts.
  • Written by Buck Henry, who also appears as a hands-on schoolteacher. The story was suggested by the case of Pamela Smart.
  • Danny Elfman score.
  • I did not know: fictional station WWEN is often used in films.
  • Filmed in and around Toronto.
  • One of the best ending credit sequences I know: Illeana Douglas figure skates over an icy grave to Donovan's "Season of the Witch".

Available on Blu-ray. LPCM audio track, ugly subtitles against a black stripe.



-Bill
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post #111 of 114 Old 09-20-2017, 07:50 AM - Thread Starter
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The Crying Game (1992), written and directed by Neil Jordan.

The IRA kidnap a British soldier and offer him as a prisoner swap for one of their key people. He knows he is as good as dead and befriends Fergus, his only decent captor, asking him to look up and take care of his girl in England after it is all over.

When the plot goes south Fergus does go to England and finds Dil and of course falls in love with her. He can't tell her what he knows of her soldier, of course. Their relationship is complicated and everything gets worse when his IRA pals show up and tell him he is still on the job.

After all these years I'm sure everyone already knows the plot twist at the heart of the film, but I am strangely reluctant to reveal it, just in case. Which is a problem: how do you even talk about the film while maintaining silence?

I've heard that "scorpion & frog" fable many times since, usually as a cynical commentary on our unchanging natures. Which may be true, although one of the messages of the film is that maybe it isn't. Jordan said the fable originated with Orson Welles' Mr. Arkadin (1955), and that he got it from an anonymous Arab.

The first part is strong but the second half begins to lose focus before coming back for the resolution. This is not as bad as Jordan's first film, Angel (1982), which also started strong but collapsed in the second half.

I thought the final scene looked tacked-on, but he insists it was planned from the beginning: Fergus doing honest penance for his crimes. I thought it would end with him alone in the apartment, holding the gun. End of him, end of the film. Jordan wanted something more optimistic.

He says the only thing the IRA objected to was sadistic Miranda Richardson: "She makes us look bad. We're not all psycho-killers. Just a few."

He also said that Jaye Davidson had no interest in a film career. He did Stargate (1994) only because he named an outrageous amount of money and got it.

Great support from Jim Broadbent (witty bartender) and Ralph Brown (sleazy boyfriend).

My thumbnails are from a region B Blu-ray import by BFI in the UK. I don't believe the movie has ever had a North American Blu-ray release, which is curious given its fame.

The director provides a frank commentary track about his struggles to get it written and financed. The Irish locations are scenes from his childhood: "My father died under that bridge".

To get the money he had to write and shoot an alternative happy ending first. Then he did the one he really wanted.



-Bill

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post #112 of 114 Old 09-20-2017, 08:45 AM
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I saw The Crying Game during the earliest days of its release, before it had any buzz or the Miramax marketing machine began hyping its plot twist. I had no idea the movie was even supposed to have a plot twist. Nevertheless, I figured it out pretty early on. That masculine-looking dimple in Jaye Davidson's chin gave it away for me.

The movie became so famous for its twist that soon enough it was all anyone focused on. That made it very easy for many people to dismiss the movie as a one-trick pony, as if knowing the twist were all there was to it. I had a number of friends who refused to see the film after it was spoiled for them. Why even bother? They already knew the twist. What's the point? As if it were a game of Clue and they'd jumped right to the reveal.

Even today, that's still the main thing people talk about. I think that's a shame. The movie is much richer and deeper than that, and that storyline is just one of several weighty themes it juggles.

I disagree with Bill's assessment that it loses focus in the second half. I honestly think it's a perfectly written film, without a single unnecessary plot point or line of dialogue.
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post #113 of 114 Old 09-21-2017, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ChromeJob View Post
Well, #(@&. Bill respects the "no spoilers" ethic for those who haven't seen it and would like to enjoy it fresh, then a reply completely outs it. (slow clap) Bloody bra-vo, mate.

Just use the (SPOILER) tags if you want to be candid about plot details.
Yeah, Bill, way to go spoiling the plot twist you just said you didn't want to talk about. Just because every single man, woman and infant on the planet already knows the twist whether they've seen the movie or not is no excuse to give it away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
He also said that Jaye Davidson had no interest in a film career. He did Stargate (1994) only because he named an outrageous amount of money and got it.
Thanks a lot, jerk.

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post #114 of 114 Old 09-21-2017, 08:43 AM
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Also, posting a close-up of Jaye Davidson's face without makeup is more than sufficient to "spoil" the twist.

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