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post #181 of 197 Old 03-24-2019, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by hitchfan View Post
It just might be my favorite DeNiro performance of all. lol. Seriously, he should have won the Oscar for it or at least been nominated for one.
Agreed. I love the scene where Ordell scolds Louis who is on the phone while stoned. Watching him untwist the phone cord before hanging up is such an understated scene of pure hilarity. A master at work.
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post #182 of 197 Old 04-23-2019, 11:02 AM
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Se7en (1995), directed by David Fincher.

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

-Bill
This is my favorite line from the entire thread. Not even the library is safe from evil...

It is one of my favorite scenes in the movie, helped by the fact that it's set to Bach's Suite No. 3 (Air), which is a perfect accompaniment IMO. I like how many of your reviews capture the context of your viewing of it. Memories of the Grand Theatre in Des Moines with notes on the context of the time (fashion, music, etc) do well to frame how a movie is received. That context is so important to understanding how opinions are formed.

That's very likely why I'll always have a soft spot for Se7en. My initial viewing came in a large theater in my hometown (Camden, SC, the state's oldest inland city). I think it was an old performance space (stage plays) that was converted into a movie theater. I was there, at 16 years of age with my best friend and no one else in the cavernous space. So consider the content and style of the movie being absorbed by an impressionable 16 year old, small town southern bumpkin. I was an easy mark so to speak. Then, of course, as we left the theater, a sunny afternoon had transitioned into a rainy night. I'm sure that didn't help either, subconsciously at least.

I still really like the movie and it's my favorite of Fincher's, but I also don't think it would have made such an imprint on my psyche had I experienced it as a more well-traveled adult.
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post #183 of 197 Old 05-10-2019, 02:11 AM
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Eyes Wide Shut, by Cubric
Perfect Nicole
Perfect Tom
Perfect light, music and costumes
What else should we need&
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post #184 of 197 Old 05-10-2019, 07:40 AM
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Eyes Wide Shut, by Cubric
Perfect Nicole
Perfect Tom
Perfect light, music and costumes
What else should we need&
Is Cubric a parallel-universe version of Kubrick who has embraced cubism? Should make for some interesting imagery.
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post #185 of 197 Old 05-10-2019, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
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The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995), written and directed by Christopher Monger.

British government surveyors enter Wales during WW1. There are worse places to be in 1917. When villagers are told that their local mountain will be reclassified as a "hill" if it measures less than 1000 feet high, they respond with shock and outrage. Having a mountain is a point of civic pride.

Maybe if they can keep the visitors in town long enough -- sabotage their car, hide the trains -- they can make adjustments to the terrain of Ffynnon Garw, just enough to put it over the limit. The younger of the two surveyors, recovering from shell shock, knows what is going on and doesn't mind at all. Especially after meeting Miss Elizabeth, also known as "Betty from Cardiff" depending on how she is dressed.

This is a sweet tale, told as a story that has already passed into legend, but still within living memory, if that is possible. Sweet enough to be cloying in spots, but let that go. Not as wacky as Local Hero (1983) but with the same type of charm.

Not an ambitious film, but I wanted to see Hugh Grant and Tara Fitzgerald again after Sirens (1994), made the previous year. He had by then perfected his shy stammering Englishman persona, and she had an inviting, impossibly wide smile.

Also with Ian McNeice (Year of the Comet (1992), Edge of Darkness (1985)) and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as "Morgan the Goat", the lecherous pub owner. Lots of red-haired babies being born when the other men are away at war.

I also want to point out Ian Hart (The End of the Affair (1999)) as "Johnny Shellshocked" who had a bad war in France. The war intrudes in other ways: the nation needs extra coal and the Welsh supply it, a dangerous trade. People die on the homefront, too.

Lyrical score.

Available on DVD and on some Blu-ray imports which I haven't seen. My old DVD is non-anamorphic, sad treatment for a scope ratio title. I see what look like later DVD releases but don't know about their encoding.



-Bill
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post #186 of 197 Old 06-07-2019, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Michael Collins (1996), written and directed by Neil Jordan.

A rich-looking, meticulous reproduction of the time and place, the presentation of a short violent life: national hero to the Irish Republicans, terrorist to the Unionists, a complex and mysterious character to just about everyone.

It is a history of an exceptionally vicious conflict, told from the Irish Republican point of view. I'm sure other stories could be told. (For an amused, more jaundiced review, see Mark Steyn's Michael Collins). The director admits the historical inaccuracies, but says that is inevitable in any film. He doesn't try to excuse his own national bias: not worth discussing, I suppose.

Liam Neeson plays Collins as remembered by the people who knew him: larger than life, funny and profane, skilled in the creation of "mayhem", his word for assassinations and guerrilla warfare. People still wonder: did he like the killing too much? Was it even necessary, or could independence have been achieved by other means?

Alan Rickman plays Éamon de Valera with schoolmasterly intensity. Jordan says his screenplay is not very kind to de Valera, but "the film chooses its own villain". He wished he could have found some way of showing other sides to an admittedly devious politician who was an Irish statesman for many decades afterwards.

The love triangle with characters played by Julia Roberts and Aidan Quinn is true history. And she really was buying her wedding dress on the day Collins was killed.

This happened after the Irish War of Independence (more like gangland warfare) had been won. The Irish broke into factions and fought the short sharp Irish Civil War. Collins was killed by his enemies -- former comrades -- in that fighting.

(As an aside, analysis I saw a while ago: revolutionary movements are often broad diverse fronts, but are usually taken over by the most extreme, ideologically disciplined faction. That was the case in the French Revolution, in Russia, Spain, Nicaragua. The other supporters of the revolution are then suppressed or eliminated. The Irish Civil War is a counter-example. The pro-Treaty faction was the more moderate group and they annihilated the radicals. Collins was killed but his side won).

The film received great support from the city of Dublin and the original buildings and rooms were used when possible. Despite the violence the film was given a softer rating so children could see it for its historical value.

Julia Roberts sings She Moved Through The Fair, later reprised by Sinéad O'Connor and incorporated into the score.

I had not appreciated Elliot Goldenthal's fine score until I heard it again while listening to the Blu-ray commentary track separately.

Photographed by Chris Menges (The Mission (1986)).

Available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive. The director's commentary was recorded 20 years after the film was made. He says he wrote the screenplay 20 years before that.

His own view of Collins is more dispassionate and critical than one might suspect. A lesson we should all remember: the story the author writes does not necessarily represent the author's opinion.



-Bill
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post #187 of 197 Old 07-08-2019, 03:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Alien 3 (1992), directed by David Fincher.

It is an old dilemma: when working with a series or within a film genre, do you make more of the same or try something new? You can't please everyone. Especially the fans.

With the "Alien" series the producers definitely went with the something different each time approach, using different directors and writers for each film. The results:

  • Alien (1979): landmark SF/horror, my favorite!
  • Aliens (1986): action/survival sequel.
  • Alien 3 (1992): medieval-themed despair.
  • Alien Resurrection (1997): (let me watch it again before commenting...)

No one seemed very happy with the third entry at the time. The problems:

  • It is a direct sequel to Aliens (1986) but fan favorites Newt, Hicks and Bishop are smashed corpses. Instant disappointment, if dramatically bold.
  • The ex-prison colony of XYY violent sex-offenders turned into a monkish religious order is an interesting idea, but...
  • ...it is sometimes hard to keep these shaven-headed characters straight.
  • ...and as in Carpenter's The Thing (1982), when there is no trust or camaraderie among the characters then there is no hope. We are done before we begin.
  • The industrial settings of the earlier films tended toward the bleak, but this goes way beyond that. They have nothing colorful or comforting.
  • Ripley is tired, giving up. We hate to see that.
  • The filmmakers have a vision that drains excitement and a sense of wonder from the story.
  • The alien does much murder but is just not as scary or dreadful as before.
  • On first viewing I was confused as to how many aliens were loose in the complex. You'd think only one, but the life cycle has been different in each film and I thought they might be trying something new.
  • It is set in a lead foundry. I can accept a lot but interstellar trade in lead sheeting seems extra stupid to me.
  • I was totally lost in the last act with the charging about in the maze of tunnels to trap the creature and kill it. We are given no sense of the geography of the complex.
  • Ripley's final sacrifice is done to a triumphant anthem in the score. That's just wrong. It should have been more poignant, a tragic conclusion.

In my first viewing of the 2003 re-edit (the "Assembly Cut") I remember thinking it started and ran quite a bit better than the theatrical version, until that last confused act of running around in the foundry maze, which was just as confusing as before. Now after a rewatch: I begin to like it more and it seems less eccentric, more mainstream SF/horror than before, if still unfortunate in some of the plot and tonal choices.

The theatrical cut seemed like a blunt abortion metaphor: Ripley is forced to bear a monster child for the damned patriarchal Company. You can find hints of this in the other films of the series; it seems toned down in the re-cut. It helps that they omit the bit where her unholy monster-child bursts from her chest as she falls to her death. That was strange and out of place.

I also appreciate the craftsmanship and cinematography of the production more now. The film is so dark it pays to watch it on a bright panel.

A lot of familiar faces in the British crew, all bald. This is one of Charles Dance's more humane roles; usually he is rigid and severe.

Photographed by Alex Thomson (Excalibur (1981), Legend (1985), Labyrinth (1986)). Score by Elliot Goldenthal (Michael Collins (1996)).

Available on Blu-ray. My thumbnails are from the "2003 Special Edition" cut in the "Alien Anthology" box-set.

Part of the gang commentary track is from the theatrical release version and doesn't quite fit. They all praise young David Fincher and say he did a good job directing his first feature film. He has renounced the project did not participate in the Assembly Cut or home video extras.

It was a "troubled" production, implying a world of hurt, although the commentators say it was a happy shoot. They are proud of the practical effects and pre-digital filming.

Finally, according to the wikipedia, research on XYY syndrome is somewhat contentious but there does not seem to be a correlation with aggression or sexual violence, however useful that might be to screenwriters.



-Bill
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post #188 of 197 Old 07-08-2019, 09:12 AM
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I've always liked Alien 3. I saw it twice opening weekend. I appreciate its nihilism and fearlessness in stripping away everything fans expected from a sequel to Aliens.

I have mixed feelings about the Assembly Cut. Although certain portions of it better flesh out the world or the characters, the opening of the theatrical cut is much more effective and suspenseful with its rapid cuts and streamlined exposition. The Assembly Cut feels like an early edit (which it was) that hasn't been refined or finalized yet.

Personally, I don't feel that the Assembly Cut adds anything that should dramatically change someone's opinion of the movie. When I hear people say, "I hated the theatrical cut, but the longer cut is so much better!", what I really think is happening is that watching the movie again gave them an opportunity to re-evaluate it, and being a different version let them open their minds to the possibility that they might not hate it this time.
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post #189 of 197 Old 07-13-2019, 07:58 AM
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I’d have to go back to AlienTheory on YouTube, but I thought he said that someone made a graphic novel adaptation (?) of William Gibson’s original, discarded script for Alien3. I have the script on an old HDD, but never finished it.

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post #190 of 197 Old 07-13-2019, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by ChromeJob View Post
I’d have to go back to AlienTheory on YouTube, but I thought he said that someone made a graphic novel adaptation (?) of William Gibson’s original, discarded script for Alien3. I have the script on an old HDD, but never finished it.

Apparently so.


https://avp.fandom.com/wiki/William_Gibson%27s_Alien_3


https://www.amazon.com/William-Gibso.../dp/1506708110

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post #191 of 197 Old 08-09-2019, 04:45 AM - Thread Starter
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The Mask of Zorro (1998), directed by Martin Campbell.

Like The Mummy (1999) this is designed to be a crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster, mining an established mythology and using familiar action/romance film themes. It's the awful aristos vs the dignified peasants and their hero. The audience need contribute nothing except their time.

Zorro himself is a composite of Robin Hood and the Scarlet Pimpernel. The fantasy of Alta California has a touch of the Arabian Nights and the mythologies almost touch when Elena talks about riding her horse at night across the plains of Andalusia. More: there is an "I am Spartacus!" moment in the prison and an escape taken from The Count of Monte Cristo.

Abundant swashbuckling sword-fights and ambitious comedy action brawls which owe much to The Three Musketeers: the demolition of a troop barracks and horse-chase stunts.

Antonio Banderas is really very good at the comedy bits. He, Anthony Hopkins and the always perfectly-lit Catherine Zeta-Jones had extensive sword training for the film. This was her breakout role.

Notes:

  • It begins at the triumphant ending: Zorro's glorious defeat of his enemy and liberation of the country. With the setting sun behind he poses one last time on faithful Tornado...
  • ...before it all goes south and we segue into "Zorro: The Next Generation".
  • Was he just comatose in prison for 20 years until his enemy reappeared? Who doesn't recognize him?
  • Old and young Zorro are Obi-wan and Luke. The training, both the sword martial arts and to be a charming foppish cavalier, is improbably accelerated, but that's the movies.
  • Erotic swordplay! "He was vigorous, Father! He was quite vigorous".
  • They get such titanic explosions from low-pressure black powder.
  • Ballistics nonsense: flying bodies don't get knocked backwards when shot with a bullet.
  • Hopkins punches out a guard at the big party. Doesn't that need to be explained later?
  • Banderas is the only Spanish lead. Hopkins, Zeta-Jones and Stuart Wilson are Brits. And that's ok: it's acting.

Lush James Horner score. Photographed by Phil Méheux who frequently collaborates with director Campbell.

Followed by The Legend of Zorro (2005) with the same leads and director. It did not do as well.

I am posting this on August 9, 2019, the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of Zorro in the pages of All-Story Weekly:



People are sometimes surprised that Zorro is not from traditional folklore, but is rather the invention of American novelist and screenwriter Johnston McCulley. He has 45 IMDB credits, not all of them for Zorro stories.

Available on a splendid-looking Blu-ray with a detailed, technical commentary by the director.

I am gratified to learn that he studied swashbucklers from classic Hollywood when making this. As I suspected, he cites Gene Kelly's The Three Musketeers (1948).



-Bill

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post #192 of 197 Old 09-02-2019, 09:18 AM
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Random Hearts (1999) - streamed free w/ads on Sony Crackle

Excruciatingly slow sudser about an internal affairs cop and a congresswoman whose lives cross when their spouses perish together in a plane crash, in mysterious circumstances.

I like all three of the majors involved in this project, ie Pollack, Ford and Scott Thomas. And they are really the only reason I was willing to slog my way through this, all the way to the rather bitter and unsatisfying Hollywood conclusion. Ford and Thomas were the wrong actors for this film though imo. And their halting delivery, which can work well in other contexts, only made the whole thing that much more painful to watch. The film is prettily shot by Pollack and cinematographer Phillippe Rousselot. And that may be its one saving grace. However, it uses an extremely gray and lifeless palette, which only adds to the dreariness of the whole affair, weighing it down even more.

Unless you are a diehard Ford or Scott Thomas fan, or just a glutton for punishment, I'd suggest passing on this one. Four Weddings & a Funeral (another 1990's film) is a much better and generally more enjoyable picture, featuring Kristin Scott Thomas in a supporting role. I've seen that probably a dozen times, and have always enjoyed it.

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post #193 of 197 Old 09-02-2019, 09:36 AM
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Forgive my male chauvinism, but CZJ was quite a dish in the 90's. That might be one reason to check out Mark of Zorro, and some of her other flicks from around that timeframe.

Didn't know she was Welsh btw. Always thought she was Spanish... 'cept for that whole English accent thing.
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Forgive my male chauvinism, but CZJ was quite a dish in the 90's. That might be one reason to check out Mark of Zorro, and some of her other flicks from around that timeframe.

Didn't know she was Welsh btw. Always thought she was Spanish... 'cept for that whole English accent thing.
Born in Swansea, West Glamorgan, Wales. She turns 50 this year, how time flies.

I became familiar with her when viewing The Darling Buds of May (British TV series, 1991 - 1993, 18 episodes). Pic below.

The Mask of Zorro (1998) was her breakout. She became engaged to Michael Douglas in 1999. Many film opportunities soon followed, incl. Entrapment (1999), High Fidelity (2000), Traffic (2000), Chicago (2002).

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post #195 of 197 Old 09-02-2019, 10:40 AM
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Born in Swansea, West Glamorgan, Wales. She turns 50 this year, how time flies.

I became familiar with her when viewing The Darling Buds of May (British TV series, 1991 - 1993, 18 episodes). Pic below.

The Mask of Zorro (1998) was her breakout. She became engaged to Michael Douglas in 1999...
I was available at the time (and still am). But sadly, she never called.

Happy 50th btw! Interesting that her semi-centenary should coincide with Zorro's centenary.
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post #196 of 197 Old 09-11-2019, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Belle Epoque (1992), produced and directed by Fernando Trueba.

A pleasant Spanish romantic comedy bordering on sex farce.

A deserting soldier (six years in the seminary and a good cook) is taken in by a part-time artist with a big country house and four grown daughters. The women all fall for him at least briefly -- even the gay one. A healthy male, he is obliging to all and willing to marry each of them in turn.

Only the youngest thinks this is a good idea: Penélope Cruz at age 18 and in her first year of film-making.

The incident with the lesbian daughter deserves more explanation. He is dressed in drag for a costume party and she is wearing his uniform and a mustache. Finding the combination strangely beguiling she takes him up to the hay loft, mounts him and tries her best to blow his bugle while he offers helpful hints. (A real bugle: that was his job in the army). Hearing of the incident the next day the father exclaims "A miracle!" It is funny, perverse and sweet at the same time.

This daughter is Ariadna Gil and I wish I could see more of her, but all the women are appealing.

In this sort of story the correct attitude makes the plot work. It remains a comedy because no one is hurt and the daughters maintain sisterly solidarity with a minimum of fuss and jealousy. They are adults and will have whatever sexual adventures they want. One is gay and no one minds.

One wonders if the same force of "attitude" works in real life. Can one choose to be outraged or not? Life can be easier or more difficult; why make it harder?

The title means "The Beautiful Era", originally referring to those decades just before WW1 when European civilization was at its peak. What Spanish audiences would recognize in this romantic fantasy of 1931 is that the political conflict would soon stop being comical. The country suffered a civil war of ghastly viciousness, followed by decades of dictatorship.

Available on Blu-ray from Olive Films.



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post #197 of 197 Old 10-14-2019, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Serial Mom (1994), written and directed by John Waters.

It seems like it is going to be a one-joke movie, and that's mostly right. The perfect homemaker from the endlessly satirized perfect suburbs is actually a serial killer. Lately she is barely concealing her depredations as she takes out friends, neighbors, teachers, anyone who even slightly annoys her or offends against strict standards of propriety.

She is gleeful in her work and has outstanding sex afterwards.

Waters keeps developing the story and the skit is longer and funnier than I would have imagined. It's supposed to be hilarious, but I would say "amusing". We go through the dawning realization of the truth by family, town and police, to a big chase scene and finally a courtroom segment, which has my favorite bits:

  • She writes furious notes to her attorney, indicating one of the jurors: "That woman is wearing white shoes after Labor Day!!!".
  • During a bathroom peeper's testimony she slumps in her chair and flaps her knees open and closed. The pervert is so grateful for so little that he completely changes his testimony.

The unfortunate juror with white shoes is played by Patty Hearst. Other cameos are Traci Lords and Bess Armstrong. Suzanne Somers and Joan Rivers appear as themselves.

Waters is not one for subtle humor. I can't claim to be a big fan and I'm not sure what he's about. From his "trash film" period I know I saw Desperate Living (1977). I've always presumed in his purposeful ridiculous offensive-to-everyone work he was trying to be a "message" director, telling people to be less puritanical and judgmental, but I don't know. He says this film is meant to satirize the "true crime" genre and craze for serial killers, but that all of his films are about what "fame" does to people.

Isn't lampooning dull normal suburbia a well-worn path by now? That critique seems to be his base reality and it never gets old for him. I should see his his one-man show This Filthy World (2006); maybe that would explain him.

Score by Basil Poledouris. He is lightly quoting a lot of other film music for ironic effect.

Available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory. Two commentary tracks: Waters and Kathleen Turner in a happy conversation, and Waters alone. He repeats many of the same stories on both tracks.



-Bill
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Unofficial OPPO FAQS: UDP-203 | BDP-103 | BDP-93 | BDP-83 | BDP-80    
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