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How good is Skyfall? 
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
calvero wrote:
The trailers for films in the 40s/50s were even worse. They revealed everything. The twists in Laura, Vertigo. geez.


Didn't have the internet back then though, and there was more of a dependence on the habitual audience instead of advertising. Watching the Laura and Vertigo trailers now, I imagine a casual moviegoer might forget all about them after leaving the theater. They show too much, but they don't leave much of an impression. Nobody made frame-by-frame breakdowns of them on their blogs. And truthfully, they don't really reveal what those movies are. The Vertigo trailer would just be confusing if you hadn't seen the film yet. It makes sense that it flopped because the trailer leaves one wondering what the hell it's about. And the Laura one doesn't reveal anything. What's more, those trailers don't attempt to give one the sensation of actually watching the film as trailers do today. So I don't see where that was a problem back then the way it is today.

There's nothing in those trailers that can compare to Skyfall showing the entire conversation Moneypenny has with M or the entire coverage of Bond falling into the river.

Those are more like the Casino Royale trailer. They show you snippets from all parts of the movie, but in a way that's deliberately unintelligible so as not to spoil it.


Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:19 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Maybe I'm wrong about Laura, but I've seen noirs and many older movies where so much was revealed in the trailer(sometime even the ending)
I definitely try not to watch any trailer for an older movie before watching the movie.


Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:40 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
I wonder if the idea that a trailers give too much away has to do with that actually happening or more to do with audiences' familiarity with the kind of stories that are being told. If we're talking mostly blockbuster releases and superhero/Bond movies, aren't audiences very accustomed to this style of storytelling by now? I mean, is it really that big of a deal to have a trailer that shows a bunch of plot points the audience likely knows, or can guess, are part of the story anyway?

I guess I just don't see how you can spoil something that's largely formula anyway.


Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:44 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Unke wrote:
(*) My wife and I once watched all (then 20) James Bond movies on successive evenings and kept statistics on Bond movie clichés. Thererefore, I have some data upon which I can rely. Did you know that in 8 out of 20 Bond movies, he is getting attacked by helicopters? And Bond's preferred champagne is Dom Perignon '55, followed by Bollinger '75, although Bond was once offered a Dom Perignon '55 by the movie's villain and answered that he personally preferred the '53 vintage.
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PeachyPete wrote:
I wonder if the idea that a trailers give too much away has to do with that actually happening or more to do with audiences' familiarity with the kind of stories that are being told. If we're talking mostly blockbuster releases and superhero/Bond movies, aren't audiences very accustomed to this style of storytelling by now? I mean, is it really that big of a deal to have a trailer that shows a bunch of plot points the audience likely knows, or can guess, are part of the story anyway?

I guess I just don't see how you can spoil something that's largely formula anyway.

This, pretty much.

Revealing that the hero and villain face off in a climactic final battle, that the girl is in peril, that the hero gets poisoned/critically injured/imprisoned and later gets over it... come on. You can set your watch to this stuff. People get mad when this stuff doesn't happen, when it's not in the right order, when it's not evenly distributed in the right spots, etc.

And really, with the way trailers are cut these days, you can't see half the shit in them anyway.

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Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:19 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
PeachyPete wrote:
I wonder if the idea that a trailers give too much away has to do with that actually happening or more to do with audiences' familiarity with the kind of stories that are being told. If we're talking mostly blockbuster releases and superhero/Bond movies, aren't audiences very accustomed to this style of storytelling by now? I mean, is it really that big of a deal to have a trailer that shows a bunch of plot points the audience likely knows, or can guess, are part of the story anyway?

I guess I just don't see how you can spoil something that's largely formula anyway.


You may be right. Formula can be a lot of fun in itself, but I feel like a lot of moviegoers are getting tired of it to an unfair degree. Skyfall does things that have been done many, many times in movies before. I don't see how anyone could expect better from the 23rd entry in a franchise. Quantum was poorly edited and in some ways lazy, so Skyfall basically settles for an authoritative, high level of competence. You can't ask for more than that. If Skyfall wasn't the Bond film people wanted to see, I honestly shudder to think what was.

Could Skyfall really have been better by taking itself in a slightly different direction? I seriously don't think so. That would have made it different from what it is; but not better. Q and Bond's correspondence in London's subway system is f***ing fun as all hell. As fun as anything I saw at the movies in 2012. I find the whole film to be pure fun. The joy of pure, straightforward, simple dramatic execution. Nothing more. Had it tried to be something more, I'd probably like it less.

I love Casino Royale too, but sometimes I wonder if people take the Vesper yarn to be actually heart-wrenching and profound. It's a pulp device; nothing more. And that's why it's great.

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Revealing that the hero and villain face off in a climactic final battle, that the girl is in peril, that the hero gets poisoned/critically injured/imprisoned and later gets over it... come on. You can set your watch to this stuff. People get mad when this stuff doesn't happen, when it's not in the right order, when it's not evenly distributed in the right spots, etc.


What I'm really talking about is the fact that the allure of the set pieces and cinematography is revealed, and the specific progression of the plot. Your post here is not a response to what I said.


Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:27 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Fine. Mentally swap what I said for what you said. All better!

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Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:36 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Amazingly enough, I'm with Cook on this particular case. Movies aren't just an assemblance of plot points from A to Z. I can read an entire plot summary of a movie on Wikipedia, even a key twist, yet still be entertained immensely when I actually watch it. But a lot of trailers reveal too much from a visual standpoint as well.

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Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:42 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
How much is too much? Movies tend to have a uniform visual aesthetic from beginning to end. You're blowing the lid off the compositional style, the color saturation, the production design, etc., just by showing a few frames.

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Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:50 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Ken wrote:
How much is too much? Movies tend to have a uniform visual aesthetic from beginning to end. You're blowing the lid off the compositional style, the color saturation, the production design, etc., just by showing a few frames.


I'm trying to draw the difference between Skyfall and Casino Royale in this sense. Skyfall's deliberate visual cohesiveness makes it easier to spoil. The scenes are distinct from one another to an extremely exaggerated degree. But Casino Royale's scenes are visually interchangeable. You never know where in the movie you are from a montage of its shots. Skyfall's formalism fits less smoothly into today's mass marketing schematics. My original point was that that factor may be part of the reason why it rubbed some people the wrong way. The nature of Skyfall's style is that if you show one or two shots of a scene, you've shown the scene. Not true for a majority of films.


Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:00 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
MGamesCook wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:
I wonder if the idea that a trailers give too much away has to do with that actually happening or more to do with audiences' familiarity with the kind of stories that are being told. If we're talking mostly blockbuster releases and superhero/Bond movies, aren't audiences very accustomed to this style of storytelling by now? I mean, is it really that big of a deal to have a trailer that shows a bunch of plot points the audience likely knows, or can guess, are part of the story anyway?

I guess I just don't see how you can spoil something that's largely formula anyway.


You may be right. Formula can be a lot of fun in itself, but I feel like a lot of moviegoers are getting tired of it to an unfair degree. Skyfall does things that have been done many, many times in movies before. I don't see how anyone could expect better from the 23rd entry in a franchise. Quantum was poorly edited and in some ways lazy, so Skyfall basically settles for an authoritative, high level of competence. You can't ask for more than that. If Skyfall wasn't the Bond film people wanted to see, I honestly shudder to think what was.

Could Skyfall really have been better by taking itself in a slightly different direction? I seriously don't think so. That would have made it different from what it is; but not better. Q and Bond's correspondence in London's subway system is f***ing fun as all hell. As fun as anything I saw at the movies in 2012. I find the whole film to be pure fun. The joy of pure, straightforward, simple dramatic execution. Nothing more. Had it tried to be something more, I'd probably like it less.

I love Casino Royale too, but sometimes I wonder if people take the Vesper yarn to be actually heart-wrenching and profound. It's a pulp device; nothing more. And that's why it's great.

Quote:
Revealing that the hero and villain face off in a climactic final battle, that the girl is in peril, that the hero gets poisoned/critically injured/imprisoned and later gets over it... come on. You can set your watch to this stuff. People get mad when this stuff doesn't happen, when it's not in the right order, when it's not evenly distributed in the right spots, etc.


What I'm really talking about is the fact that the allure of the set pieces and cinematography is revealed, and the specific progression of the plot. Your post here is not a response to what I said.


I think Eva Green's performance is such that it rises above pulp.

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Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:10 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
MGamesCook wrote:
Ken wrote:
How much is too much? Movies tend to have a uniform visual aesthetic from beginning to end. You're blowing the lid off the compositional style, the color saturation, the production design, etc., just by showing a few frames.


I'm trying to draw the difference between Skyfall and Casino Royale in this sense. Skyfall's deliberate visual cohesiveness makes it easier to spoil. The scenes are distinct from one another to an extremely exaggerated degree. But Casino Royale's scenes are visually interchangeable. You never know where in the movie you are from a montage of its shots. Skyfall's formalism fits less smoothly into today's mass marketing schematics. My original point was that that factor may be part of the reason why it rubbed some people the wrong way. The nature of Skyfall's style is that if you show one or two shots of a scene, you've shown the scene. Not true for a majority of films.



Yes. I agree with this! Good fucking post!

Skyfall becomes more stylised as the film progresses. But not just more stylised, the contrasts are exaggerated so even laypeople can easily recognise the different aesthetics at work.

The opening sequence of the film just has an (albeit well lit) generic action film look. The scenes in London that don't feature Bond have a kind of realism/greyness about them. But the scenes with Bond (when he comes back and is training in the bunker) are well lit again.

The Shanghai scenes are clearly very modern and stylised, but at the same time the screen is sparsely populated. The big empty building lobby. The transparent lift - ultra-modern, but open and uncluttered. Even Patrice's death has a kind of peace about it. Ditto when Bond and Sévérine stare each other across the buildings. It has an almost abstract quality. Like a composite of the many ne'er-do-wells Bond has dispatched previously. Even the fight scene isn't viewed directly, but as a sequence of silhouettes. A real life fight sequence would be too crude for the scene's remarkable aesthetic.

The scene on the abandoned island starts off looking quite modern (when Bond is tied to the chair), but when they step outside, looks (and sounds, owed to the very deliberate choice of music playing over the public speakers) like a vintage piece of cinema. This changes at exactly the moment Bond puts his shades on as he steps outside. The shot of Sévérine tied up, and her looking back at Bond are very, very stylised. Almost like Monet paintings.

Back in London we have something approaching realism, but not as grim as London at the beginning. Then the trip to and events in Scotland are given a very rustic and natural aesthetic. With the use of the colours, the extensive mist in the fells, the 50 year old sports car. When the Aston Martin is revving through the countryside, it's the only man-made object on screen.

So yeah, compared to Casino Royale, Skyfall is a real cocktail of styles.

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Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:20 am
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Thanks, mate. Yeah, Skyfall's formalism is very exciting, and it'll be interesting to see Mendes' non-Deakins approach next year. I think we'll continue to have exciting, intriguing Bond films in the coming decades, exciting in different ways. And those who enjoy the more over the top aspect of Bond will likely get their wish eventually, maybe/maybe not while Craig still holds the position.


Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:04 am
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
All this talk about the style of Skyfall (good stuff, you guys) makes me sad that Deakins isn't coming back with Mendes to shoot the next Bond. We all know it, but the guy's a master. His work in Prisoners this year was damn near as good as his work on Skyfall (and of course he'll lose the Oscar to CGI film...AGAIN). At this point, I'd be sad if he didn't shoot any movie he was rumored to shoot, but especially the new Bond. He brought such an artistry to that movie and was able to move a Bond movie from the realm of mass entertainment to valuable contribution to cinema. At least for me, he did.


Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:18 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Quote:
was able to move a Bond movie from the realm of mass entertainment to valuable contribution to cinema.


Why is there a distinction here? Mass entertainment IS a valuable contribution to cinema.

Quote:
I think Eva Green's performance is such that it rises above pulp.


So if pulp includes a strong, committed actor, it's not pulp anymore? That's ridiculous. It is pulp, her storyline is 100% popcorn, and that's a good thing! I don't understand, can you not live with enjoying popcorn at all? Casino Royale has to be high art?


Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:54 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
MGamesCook wrote:
Quote:
was able to move a Bond movie from the realm of mass entertainment to valuable contribution to cinema.


Why is there a distinction here? Mass entertainment IS a valuable contribution to cinema.


To an extent, sure. I personally don't get a whole lot out of movies designed simply to entertain, especially upon a second and third viewing as the pure entertainment of a film diminishes. There has to be a little more to hold on to for me to truly love it, such as thematic depth, technical excellence, genuine emotion, etc. I love Skyfall because it's an amazingly stylish piece that also uses that style to comment on Bond movies as a whole. Not just because a lot of people thought it was a bad-ass action flick.


Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:23 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
MGamesCook wrote:
So if pulp includes a strong, committed actor, it's not pulp anymore? That's ridiculous. It is pulp, her storyline is 100% popcorn, and that's a good thing! I don't understand, can you not live with enjoying popcorn at all? Casino Royale has to be high art?

There is a strange dissonance that pops up every now and again, such as a few years ago when The Dark Knight was excluded from the major Oscar awards. People complain--rightly, smartly--that the film establishment is prejudiced in favor of certain kinds of movies, and that movies can't rise above a certain level of respect just for being damned good at entertaining an audience.

Then there are times when entertainment-type movies are up for the big awards sweepstakes--American Hustle, for example--and you see a backlash from the public, who argue that it's not enough to entertain, that a movie has to have something more substantial than that.

I'm not saying that every person who complains about one is also complaining about the other. But I know I'm justified in assuming there's at least some overlap between the two groups. We like to say "the Academy" or "the establishment" when we talk about how some films are respected over others... but, to a certain degree, we are the establishment. We have a voice, both in the box office and here online. There isn't a discrete division between us and those dusty old white guys on the hill who are responsible for determining which films get respect, how much, and of what kind.

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Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:00 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Regarding trailers revealing too much:
I think I've sat through a few trailers recently that just seemed too long. They didn't reveal the whole plot or even plot twists but after a certain point, they just seemed like they weren't going to end. I can see how people can come away from those thinking that "they've seen the whole movie".

The thing is a well put together trailer shouldn't reveal (or need to reveal more) than the premise, the talent involved, along with enough bits to tell the audience what the overall style/look of the film is going to be. Maybe touch upon the films key themes. After that... it tends to get pointless.
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Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:03 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
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I'm not saying that every person who complains about one is also complaining about the other. But I know I'm justified in assuming there's at least some overlap between the two groups. We like to say "the Academy" or "the establishment" when we talk about how some films are respected over others... but, to a certain degree, we are the establishment. We have a voice, both in the box office and here online. There isn't a discrete division between us and those dusty old white guys on the hill who are responsible for determining which films get respect, how much, and of what kind.


Exactly. Exactly right. In the end, the true establishment is us. It messes with your head.

I think the best thing that can happen with a pulp movie is that the director takes a look at the material and actually sees some power and depth in it all by itself. I think the worst thing that can happen with a pulp movie is that the director sees the material as an excuse to do...something...and simply tries to layer his art on top of it. Or try to turn it into art, but on his own terms. In the first case scenario, the material itself could be just straight, silly pulp and popcorn. But if the director sees something serious or provocative in it, then great things can really happen. I believe that's what happened with Skyfall. I think there was foundational depth and emotion in the story, and Mendes and Deakins simply drew it out. While another director might easily have missed it and made a more by-the-numbers Bond flick.

Anyway, good pulp is very different from good crowd-pleaser. Actually, I find they seldom go hand in hand.


Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:39 pm
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Yeah, I tend to think of the difference between pulp and fluff is that pulp has something humane layered deeply within--not in the sense of a "very special message" like you get in prestige movies, but in the sense that the filmmakers (or artists or authors or whomever) are letting the nastier side of their own nature seep into the material on an almost instinctive level. Obviously, there's an art to crafting a good piece of fluff, and not all fluff is inherently worthless, but fluff is basically all stylistic exercise. Pulp has a twisted sense of human problems, where those problems don't take center stage but lurk just out of sight around every corner in the story.

Pulp as a genre has historically been defined by talented artists who couldn't get work in higher forms of art or entertainment. When you have brilliant authors working in a medium with zero expectations and very little attention from mainstream tastemakers, those authors might not be recognized in accordance with their talents, but the tradeoff is less restrictions on what they could and couldn't work into their stories. Really, the only requirement was that the stories had to have some kind of potboiler intrigue.

That's when you get (for example) Raymond Chandler writing stories that are ostensibly about tough guys, beautiful women, murders to be solved, and stuff like that, but the sense of existential depression is so thick you can practically touch it. The plots are pure fluff, but Marlowe himself is cut from the same cloth as Mersault or Raskolnikov. Much of what we think of as "pulp" is our own uniquely American take on existential literature--something that has to be snuck in with a spoonful of sugar.

Despite being a British character, James Bond is a part of that tradition, at least in the novels and some of the better movies. Bond's hedonism has its appeal on a level of pure titillation for sure, but it comes from an inner core of loneliness and malaise. Particularly in the earlier novels, Bond's tendency to live it up is in proportion with the level of danger in his mission. He lives largest when he's courting death, and he leads a much more conservative lifestyle when he's not on the job. This is something that a lot of the movies ignore, but not all of them--that Bond the hedonist is inseparable from Bond the death-seeker.

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Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:56 am
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Post Re: How good is Skyfall?
Yeah, it's an important difference. And I think what you describe is different from subversion. It's based around the instincts of the author or director, as you say. The thing is that the plots are essential to their existential despair. Their lives are dominated by petty contrivances, the plot, from which they cannot escape. Underlying even the best plots is a sense of routine. So the plot is both despair and a solution to the despair. What a lot of these characters have in common is the need to keep constantly busy. They always need something to think about or something to do. They can never allow for too much downtime, or they'll realize that none of it matters anyway. A contrived plot gives their life purpose. In fact, it simultaneously gives purpose to both the character and the writer, so I think it can be directly expressionistic. It may not be high art, but it's certainly expressionism, so it must be some kind of art.


Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:42 am
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