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Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Amy Jeanne, Aug 5, 2007.
What do your prefer?
Crystal clear DVD-picture or VHS-patina with 90s-atmosphere?
Just finished "The Force Awakens", the second to last stop on my complete Star Wars marathon prior to seeing "The Rise of Skywalker" later in the month. It does have incredibly derivative moments, yes, but I still like that there's moments where the film shows guts (killing off Han Solo was a ballsy, but not entirely unexpected move). It clearly was playing it safe, likely ordered by The Mouse, to woo original trilogy fans back in after Lucas' Prequels left a bad taste in their mouth (not mine, but the prequels alienated a lot of fans). Little did they know, that Star Wars fans are never happy, and this sequel trilogy has been easily just as divisive as the prequels served to be.
I didn't mind this film but I am no Star Wars fan. Saw the 1977 version in 1977 and a few times over the decades and it never really worked for me. Hokey. I'm bemused by the quasi-religious fandom it has spawned and by the endless reworking of what is by now pretty tired material. I often wonder what it all would have been like if a more talented writer had been responsible for this series.
That said I found The Force Awakens diverting and easy enough to watch.
I saw 25 minutes of Aquaman and didn't enjoy a second of it. Waste of a perfectly good Nicole Kidman in what seemed to be an unnecessarily dull screenplay.
The writing is lackluster at best, and it's just another bloated CGI destructathon, but I'll admit I was in it more for Jason Momoa and Temuera Morrison than anything else.
I got my hair cut today and the barber always has the tv on, usually documentaries, but this time it was The Irishman. I saw about 30 minutes of it, the part straddling the joining of the De Niro and Pacino characters, so about 15 minutes before and after that story juncture. I didn't see any more.
I had expected something good, given the generally positive comments I've seen on it, but boy, it was awful, truly awful. The storytelling was disjointed and didn't flow and wasn't interesting, the camerawork was all over the place as if they had 30 different directors, the acting was lame, the dialogue was wooden and banal and seemed almost ad-libbed, there was zero 'atmosphere', it looked like it had been filmed on video, and overall it just sucked. I was stunned at how bad and amateurish the whole thing looked, like some sort of straight-to-dvd effort, with a couple of big-name actors participating as a favour to the producer or something. The only good things were the costuming, set design, and old cars.
I think of it more as VHS/DVD era clairty (actually, the lack thereof) vs Blu Ray clarity. I prefer the former. I don't need to be able to count the pores on an actor's nose.
Thank you, as I was beginning to think that my wife and I are the only ones critical of this rather poor effort. A great many critics are giving it high marks and it appears on many of their 'best of' lists. Is it a emperor has no clothing moment here and they can't bring themselves to criticize Scorcesse et al in their golden years?
Cannot recall the point in the production but the anti aging CGI effects were awful. At one point my wife thought they were animated figures posing as the actual actors. The only performance that was laudable is Joe Pesci's ….he brought something to the table but that was about it. I am fearful returning to watch Mean Streets or Taxi Driver again after all these years as I don't want to destroy my memory of what I thought to be good movies. Perhaps they are drek too!
A Bette Davis mini movie marathon.
I'm becoming convinced that the two best actors of all time are Bette Davis and Edward G. Robinson - a view only reinforced by my recent Davis "mini marathon." Sure, Davis has her "big" movies - watch her own an entire film despite an all-star cast in All About Eve or make an okay melodrama a classic by dint of her performance in Now, Voyager. But it is also in her more mundane movies - the ones Hollywood was spitting out of its "factory" to serve a weekly need for new movies - where you come to appreciate her incredible talent.
In Marked Woman (from 1937, also with Humphrey Bogart), Davis plays a kinda, sorta high-priced call girl who works at a nightclub - a clip joint - where she "entertains" wealthy men while running up their bill and, well, providing a full menu of personal options. Being a code-era movie, good is good and bad is bad, but Davis still manages to stride the divide as she works in the muck (glitzed up as it is) to pay for her "unsoiled" sister to go to college and associate with the "right" people. Davis convinces you that she can be tough enough to survive the mob-run world of nightclubs and hustling while sincerely trying to keep her sister on a straight path. Even when her two worlds collide - with ugly consequences - it's Davis' acting that balances good and bad in a code-acceptable way while letting the audience see what's really at stake.
In The Working Man form 1933, Davis plays the prodigal party girl daughter (of a deceased wealthy industrialist) running around, smoking, canoodling and boozing her way to a wayward life and - along with her equally wasteful brother - to bankruptcy. Even at her profligate worst, Davis subtly shows us there is more to her character, which bears fruit later when offered the option to turn her life and father's legacy around or watch it all circle the drain. In a nice acting lab experiment, we see Davis portray a believable conversion to serious young adult while her brother doesn't have the acting chops to convince you of his makeover. Davis runs the table from flighty and useless to serious and devoted without a false note. It is an okay movie, but fun time travel and a look at an incredibly young and cute Davis already showing impressive range and screen presence.
In 1941's Little Foxes (a wonderful Biblical reference) Davis plays more to type as the domineering wife of a socially and financially-middling southern family that she wants to elevate despite her husband's failing health and daughter's indifference to it all. But instead of just being a word-that-rhymes-with-witch, she knows when to pull back - when to show vulnerability as real people do. To be sure, watching Davis outwit and out muscle her husband and male cousins in business and life is the fun here - in an atypical role for a '40s woman (some snuck in under the code) - but it would be all but camp without Davis' nuanced ability to bring a range of emotions to her character. And, if you've ever wondered what a Pyrrhic Victory looks like, note Davis' expression at the close of the movie - she knows she's won, but at a tremendous cost.
I've already written (here: https://www.thefedoralounge.com/thr...ovie-you-watched.20830/page-1314#post-2492753) about Davis' later-in-life tour-de-force performance in 1956's The Catered Affair (as an all but broken-down Brooklyn housewife trying to salvage something from her sad life by giving her daughter a big wedding despite there being no money in the family), so I'll just note, regardless of her inability to hold an Irish accent, it's a role that only a fearless actress at the top of her craft could own. And if you do watch it, notice how Ernest Borgnine plays against her. He knows he's no match, but instead of trying to equal her or just fading away, he carves out a brilliant supporting performance by reacting to Davis' dominance by subtly responding in facial expression and body English while saving his few outbursts for moments when they'll have the maximum impact. It's an outstanding movie that could double as an acting class.
It was horrible. I do not believe that I can find one good thing to say about it. I stumbled upon Shazam the other day and could not believe how bad it was as well. It was poorly written and acted.
Fontane - Effi Briest (Germany, 1974)
People Against O'Hara form 1951 with Spencer Tracy, John Hodiak, James Arness and Pat O'Brien
It's a good movie, if you overlook all its flaws, as the acting and atmosphere power it past plenty of plot weakness and cliches. TV wasn't far enough along or this would have been better as a two-hour episode of a solid TV crime-drama show.
Tracy plays a well-past-his-prime alcoholic, brilliant ex-defense attorney who, as a favor to old friends, takes a murder case pro-bono for a poor neighbor's son (yup, cliche number one). This brings him up against the current slick DA looking to use this high-profile case to propel himself into the governor's mansion (cliche number two). The neighbor's son, played by a really young James Arness, is on trial for murder but won't reveal a key piece of exculpating evidence because he wants to protect his girlfriend (cliche number three).
All of that set up - plus a bunch of mob corruption and a few scenes of Tracy fighting the bottle with the aid of his putting-her-life-on-hold self-sacrificing daughter (cliche number four) - happens in the first half of the film. After that, some of the wheels start to come off this movie's bus.
Instead of Tracy brilliantly rallying to win the case, he gets dope-slapped around the courtroom by the slick DA (played well by John Hodiak). Then, in a move completely out of character and beyond stupid, Tracy tries to bribe a key witness not to testify and pays him off with a check(!). It kind of makes one wonder if "brilliant" lawyer Tracy even went to law school.
Things continue to spiral out of control from here. After a conviction, new evidence is discovered that leads to Tracy working with the DA to free Arness (sure, because politically driven DAs always happily work to overturn their own career-advancing convictions because the truth is that important to them). At this point, even though you generally know what's going on, keeping all the details straight is an effort as mob involvement, Tracy wearing a wire to collect evidence, witnesses suddenly cracking under interrogation, gun battles, etc., lead to an unconventional ending.
But what holds this mess of a story together is Tracy being Tracy - a man born to play a tired, disheveled good guy fighting "the system," beautiful noir atmosphere with a few iconic New York City scenes and characters that you care about despite the addled plot. Also, Pat O'Brien, as Tracy's detective friend, with his laconic style brings some Golden Era gravitas to a movie struggling to stay centered. People Against O'Hara is worth the time, even if the plot itself spirals a bit out of super-director John Sturges' control.
I saw this movie in '74 at a film festival at my University. Don't remember much about it except I hated it!
After the chore of watching The Irishman and then the horror of watching 'The Nightingale' I was delighted to watch 'Marriage Story'. I laughed out loud, I cried (silently). IMHO it is a great movie. The performances by Scarlett Jo and Adam Driver are stellar and the supporting cast is worth the price of admission all on their own. I think it represents movie making at its best. Got my value from Netflix this month at least!
I watched The Good Lier last week and enjoyed it....lots of twists and I saw Knives Out yesterday....also full of twists and some humour
I watched both new big guns on Netflix, Marriage Story and The Irishman.
I really liked Marriage Story, it's splendidly acted and sensitively written/directed, and tries to be fair in apportioning both the reasons for and the tortured pains of its divorce. I'm not a big fan of Noah Bumbach in general, but it deserves the praise and nominations. My only real complaint is a standard one with Bumbach: his characters live in a rarified world of privilege and accomplishment not far from the Upper East Side of Woody Allen and Whit Stillman films. While the family divorce story is universal... it's a bit hard to be sympathetic to experimental theater directors winning genius grants and second-generation LA actresses who walk effortlessly into lead roles in TV shows.
I was initially thrilled with The Irishman, it's a classic Scorsese mob story. But it's ultimately closer to the Casino and The Departed side of this filmography than Goodfellas. It is just too long at three and a half hours, it eventually becomes something of a slog. And as another narrated-from-later mob history, it's a lot like Goodfellas... but without the then- (and still-) exciting, palpably new storytelling and technique. The much-vaunted de-aging of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci isn't effective, because they don't look the way these familiar actors actually looked when they were younger. A subplot about one of De Niro's daughters who's aware of his criminal life (eventually played as an adult by Anna Paquin) is surprisingly badly botched with no payoff. Anyway, while it has its charms, I'd much rather see Marty push himself to doing something different (like Silence) than revisiting the mob again, even with these great actors.
I read a raft of critiques of the movie and very few were critical of the CGI de-aging. One critic though pointed out that you can make a face look younger BUT you cannot change an older man's voice or change the way he moves. He pointed out with De Niro that in the scenes he was supposed to be in his 30's he still walked and moved as a 70 year old. My wife could not get past the look....said they looked like animated figures not real humans. I, for years, can not get passed DeNiro's penchant to performing facial ticks instead of portraying real human emotions. Pesci was great but pretty much everybody else was only tolerable.
With Marriage Story, the divorce combatants had to be wealthy as the hiring of the expensive lawyers was a big part of the plot line. Without Laura Dern and Liotta the story loses a lot.
Much of the time while I notice that sort of thing I can get past it for the sake of an outstanding performance - see, for instance, Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption. I will always have the feeling, though, that that's my white privilege talking; it certainly is insulting to the men forcibly segregated (even down to the level of segregated blood banks) to gloss over that side of history.
For me, DVD.... sometimes BluRay, but only if it flatters the original source material. Sometimes, even though film is richer than many digital formats, older films simply don't benefit from the HD treatment. I remember however, being utterly astounded at the improvement in picture quality from VHS to DVD, and then seeing it on my dad's face when one year we bought him a DVD player for his birthday and he, a man not given to gadgets, was like an excited little kid about it.
The new ones don't see as divisive as the prequels, but then while it all went south for me in 1997 when Greedo shot first, it was the prequels that made me self-label as an 'ex-Star Wars fan'. I still consider myself an ex-fan, but I've rather enjoyed what the mouse is doing. Han's death was masively disappointing - signposted a mile off, more phonedin than any of Ford's indifferent performance throughout, and as there was simply no believable relationship between him and Kylo Ren(?), I was totally unmoved by it. Entertaining nonetheless. Last Jedi was a big step up, and finally Luke Skywalker became an interesting character who actually made choices, rather than passively doing what everyone else told him to. (Even facing Vader at the end of ROTJ, he only did that because Yoda told him he had to in order to become a Jedi. Skywalker was in no way, shape or form a true hero in the classical sense in the original films.) Of course, Rogue One is the best of the lot - better than Empire by far. On the other hand, Solo was almost as bad as the prequels.
After the execrable Justice League, it's going to be a very long time before I can be bothered with that one.
De Niro has completely turned me off from watching anything he appears in with his inability to keep his mouth shut about politics. It is irrelevant whether I agree or disagree with the position taken by singers, actors, or anybody else in high visibility positions. I trade my money to watch or listen to your particular talent. Don't ruin that.
I don't care any more about your opinions on anything else than I do about what the guy a block down the street thinks.
Took my daughter to see Knives Out. She loves all the murder mystery shows on TV and she got a real kick out of this one. Great humour interspersed through it as well. Quite enjoyable.