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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I'm sure there was an intellectual idea behind those films, i'm just saying it wasn't executed very well.


Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:34 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I'm a huge Funny Games defender. I think it is a great film, and a valuable one.

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Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:37 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Finally watched Cocteau's Orpheus. I could nitpick, but what would be the point? It's a great, atmospheric film in which Cocteau moves the myth to the 1950s and manages to have two romantic triangles with a vertex of one being a female Death (Orpheus's personal one), and a vertex of the other being Death's loyal chauffeur (a great François Périer). And those doing the duty of Death are forbidden to love. A classic. (9 of 10)

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Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:54 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Checked out Danny Boyle's debut, Shallow Grave and thought it was pretty spectacular. It's incredibly stylish for such a low budget production. The film is very reminiscent of the Coen Brothers debut, Blood Simple in that it's stylish with a dark sense of humor and revolves around a group of unlikable people, money, and murder. Boyle is such a cinematic director and its something that was obviously present from the outset of his career. He's really good at meshing the themes of the story into his camerawork and editing. His debut uses a dead body motif throughout to slyly ask the question of whether it's better to be dead or alive in the current world, in an effort to criticize the sort of materialistic lifestyle lead by the film's main characters. The film has a great deal of contempt for how these people live their lives, and takes a pretty pulpy, worn plot line and infuses it with a great deal of style and a bit of heft. I'm up and down on most of his work, but Shallow Grave goes a long way in showing just how great of a craftsman Boyle is.


Tue Mar 05, 2013 5:57 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
PeachyPete wrote:
Checked out Danny Boyle's debut, Shallow Grave and thought it was pretty spectacular. It's incredibly stylish for such a low budget production. The film is very reminiscent of the Coen Brothers debut, Blood Simple in that it's stylish with a dark sense of humor and revolves around a group of unlikable people, money, and murder. Boyle is such a cinematic director and its something that was obviously present from the outset of his career. He's really good at meshing the themes of the story into his camerawork and editing. His debut uses a dead body motif throughout to slyly ask the question of whether it's better to be dead or alive in the current world, in an effort to criticize the sort of materialistic lifestyle lead by the film's main characters. The film has a great deal of contempt for how these people live their lives, and takes a pretty pulpy, worn plot line and infuses it with a great deal of style and a bit of heft. I'm up and down on most of his work, but Shallow Grave goes a long way in showing just how great of a craftsman Boyle is.


I find it completely lacking from a storytelling perspective though

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Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:19 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Joneses and The Raven

On the surface, these films don't have a lot in common, other than that I happened to see them close together. However, outside of some very radical differences, they do share the common trait of taking potentially interesting premises and then proceeding to waste them in the most efficient manor possible. Or to put another way, both films are examples of what happens when creativity is filtered through Hollywood Screenwriting 101. Both films also feature some good to great acting that is as wasted as the thematic material.

In the case of The Joneses, in which a seemingly normal family moves to a new neighborhood and are gradually revealed to be marketers in disguise, the premise gives way to a more typical melodramatic romance that oscillates between boring and cringe inducing. Both David Duchovney's and Demi More's performances are wasted on the material.

For The Raven, we have a clever murder mystery about an overzealous fan mimicing the murders of one of the most famous writers of the 1800's and, that dissolves into over the top theatrics, dumb action scenes, and characters with "red shirt" written on their chests. When one police officer wanders behind a church where we know the killer will be, I knew he was going to bite it. Advice to filmmakers, if by chance you happen to be making a film about one of the great horror masters of all time, try to avoid "dumb horror film" cliches, it's only going to make your work seem even worse in comparison.

I got really tired fairly quickly when Poe, even when surrounded by a small army of police officers, would always end up being the one left to confront the killer on his own. Not to mention these pseudo action scenes appear to have been shot and edited to have been confusing as possible. Maybe they were trying to hide the fact that all of the officers were being teleported away by aliens. Then there are the gory special effects which were unnecessary for a film that should have tried to rely more on atmosphere and plot twists than anything else.

I liked both John Cusack and Luke Evans' performances though.
-Jeremy

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Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:07 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Samsara (2011) by Ron Fricke.

Well I love everything made by Ron Fricke. He is an ace cinematographer. He was largely responsible for the cinematography of "Koyaanisqatsi" (1982) which had a huge impact on the movie industry. Director Godfrey Reggio went on without Ron Fricke to make two more sequels (way inferior). Ron Fricke made de wonderful "Baraka" in 1992. He used custom modified 65mm cameras. He also did it again (with real film - the format called "Panavision Super 70") in 2011 - scanned in at ultra-high res (4K) - yet the result is underwhelming. I think Fricke ran out of ideas. We know that our planet is in danger, we know that animals and people are being explored, tortured, treated with cruelty - we know about the beauty of exotic cultures and rituals.

Fricke did it all way better in "Baraka" (at a time where his former collaborator and director Godfrey Reggio went out of ideas), and meanwhile we have Internet-Movies with the same message: "Earth is beautiful, stop ruining it" like "Home" - which had the benefit of top notch technology, Fricke could only dream of in 1992. Yet he made an inferior sequel almost a decade later.

I recommend this movie (The BluRay Disc is in 1:2.35 format - cropping on top and bottom) for Ron Fricke fans - and noone else. It is a movie made by a very talented man having long since run out of ideas..... (IMHO)


Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:36 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
thered47 wrote:
For The Raven, we have a clever murder mystery about an overzealous fan mimicing the murders of one of the most famous writers of the 1800's and, that dissolves into over the top theatrics, dumb action scenes, and characters with "red shirt" written on their chests. When one police officer wanders behind a church where we know the killer will be, I knew he was going to bite it. Advice to filmmakers, if by chance you happen to be making a film about one of the great horror masters of all time, try to avoid "dumb horror film" cliches, it's only going to make your work seem even worse in comparison.

I got really tired fairly quickly when Poe, even when surrounded by a small army of police officers, would always end up being the one left to confront the killer on his own. Not to mention these pseudo action scenes appear to have been shot and edited to have been confusing as possible. Maybe they were trying to hide the fact that all of the officers were being teleported away by aliens. Then there are the gory special effects which were unnecessary for a film that should have tried to rely more on atmosphere and plot twists than anything else.

I liked both John Cusack and Luke Evans' performances though.
-Jeremy


I thought the film was a waste of time. Not downright awful, but completely mediocre which, in a way, is worse. Although I disagree about Cusack, who I felt was miscast, I agree that Evans did well. The only other thing worthy in the film was McTeigue's direction and the cinematography.

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Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:12 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Thief12 wrote:
thered47 wrote:
For The Raven, we have a clever murder mystery about an overzealous fan mimicing the murders of one of the most famous writers of the 1800's and, that dissolves into over the top theatrics, dumb action scenes, and characters with "red shirt" written on their chests. When one police officer wanders behind a church where we know the killer will be, I knew he was going to bite it. Advice to filmmakers, if by chance you happen to be making a film about one of the great horror masters of all time, try to avoid "dumb horror film" cliches, it's only going to make your work seem even worse in comparison.

I got really tired fairly quickly when Poe, even when surrounded by a small army of police officers, would always end up being the one left to confront the killer on his own. Not to mention these pseudo action scenes appear to have been shot and edited to have been confusing as possible. Maybe they were trying to hide the fact that all of the officers were being teleported away by aliens. Then there are the gory special effects which were unnecessary for a film that should have tried to rely more on atmosphere and plot twists than anything else.

I liked both John Cusack and Luke Evans' performances though.
-Jeremy


I thought the film was a waste of time. Not downright awful, but completely mediocre which, in a way, is worse. Although I disagree about Cusack, who I felt was miscast, I agree that Evans did well. The only other thing worthy in the film was McTeigue's direction and the cinematography.
I'm not at all surprised that the film sucked, the trailer was really lame, i'd completely forgotten about the film until you brought it up.


Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:45 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:
Checked out Danny Boyle's debut, Shallow Grave and thought it was pretty spectacular. It's incredibly stylish for such a low budget production. The film is very reminiscent of the Coen Brothers debut, Blood Simple in that it's stylish with a dark sense of humor and revolves around a group of unlikable people, money, and murder. Boyle is such a cinematic director and its something that was obviously present from the outset of his career. He's really good at meshing the themes of the story into his camerawork and editing. His debut uses a dead body motif throughout to slyly ask the question of whether it's better to be dead or alive in the current world, in an effort to criticize the sort of materialistic lifestyle lead by the film's main characters. The film has a great deal of contempt for how these people live their lives, and takes a pretty pulpy, worn plot line and infuses it with a great deal of style and a bit of heft. I'm up and down on most of his work, but Shallow Grave goes a long way in showing just how great of a craftsman Boyle is.


I find it completely lacking from a storytelling perspective though


If you mean by the plot, sure I can see that. It's a really standard, worn plot line. Even the twists and turns are mostly expected, but the movie uses some pretty good visual cues to show the "breaking" of their threesome (which is not the same thing as the end of the porn video you, reader of this post, watched last night), like the straw drawing scene and the literal sawing of the body.

I also liked the idea of showing these young, moderately successful, disillusioned professionals always looking for a way to infuse their lives with a little excitement. Be careful what you wish for, you soon-to-be-yuppie fucks.


Wed Mar 06, 2013 9:09 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Thief12 wrote:
thered47 wrote:
For The Raven, we have a clever murder mystery about an overzealous fan mimicing the murders of one of the most famous writers of the 1800's and, that dissolves into over the top theatrics, dumb action scenes, and characters with "red shirt" written on their chests. When one police officer wanders behind a church where we know the killer will be, I knew he was going to bite it. Advice to filmmakers, if by chance you happen to be making a film about one of the great horror masters of all time, try to avoid "dumb horror film" cliches, it's only going to make your work seem even worse in comparison.

I got really tired fairly quickly when Poe, even when surrounded by a small army of police officers, would always end up being the one left to confront the killer on his own. Not to mention these pseudo action scenes appear to have been shot and edited to have been confusing as possible. Maybe they were trying to hide the fact that all of the officers were being teleported away by aliens. Then there are the gory special effects which were unnecessary for a film that should have tried to rely more on atmosphere and plot twists than anything else.

I liked both John Cusack and Luke Evans' performances though.
-Jeremy


I thought the film was a waste of time. Not downright awful, but completely mediocre which, in a way, is worse. Although I disagree about Cusack, who I felt was miscast, I agree that Evans did well. The only other thing worthy in the film was McTeigue's direction and the cinematography.


Interesting... I'm kind of wondering now if I was giving Cusack more credit then he deserved. I thought the early bar scene was a brilliant bit of intense acting on his part and the scenes where he's dying at the end I thought were also very moving but now that I think about it, the rest of the performance was kind of meh... I mean to be fair, he's not given much to do outside of playing detective and getting upset over Emily, but that material is just so poorly written it's hard to tell who to blame exactly.

As for McTeigue's direction... I'm surprised you think it was so good. I think the cinematography overall actually was well done, but in terms of what he choose to show, I think there were a lot of bad choices made. I already talked about how we were shown things that didn't need to be shown (the pit and the pendulum scene where we get to see a man cut in half in a rather gory fashion is nothing like the story it's based upon, I also don't see the point of showing us the police officers throat getting slashed in full detail). And as I said, the pseudo action scenes were horribly confusing when they didn't have to be other than it would have been hard to explain otherwise why it always had to be Poe chasing after the villain rather then the small army of police officers that would show up at each scene and then just vanish mysteriously.
-Jeremy

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Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:41 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:
Checked out Danny Boyle's debut, Shallow Grave and thought it was pretty spectacular. It's incredibly stylish for such a low budget production. The film is very reminiscent of the Coen Brothers debut, Blood Simple in that it's stylish with a dark sense of humor and revolves around a group of unlikable people, money, and murder. Boyle is such a cinematic director and its something that was obviously present from the outset of his career. He's really good at meshing the themes of the story into his camerawork and editing. His debut uses a dead body motif throughout to slyly ask the question of whether it's better to be dead or alive in the current world, in an effort to criticize the sort of materialistic lifestyle lead by the film's main characters. The film has a great deal of contempt for how these people live their lives, and takes a pretty pulpy, worn plot line and infuses it with a great deal of style and a bit of heft. I'm up and down on most of his work, but Shallow Grave goes a long way in showing just how great of a craftsman Boyle is.


I find it completely lacking from a storytelling perspective though


Oh, really? What in particular bothered you about the storytelling? I like 'Shallow Grave' very much and also PeachyPete's comparison with 'Blood Simple'.

As for recently watched movies:

The Big Boss (1971)
Cheng Chao An (Bruce Lee) joins his extended family in Thailand to work in an ice factory. When two of Cheng’s cousins finds out that the factory really processes illegal drugs, they are killed by the boss’s henchmen. Another two cousins disappear when they are searching for their brothers. If only Cheng hadn’t sworn an oath of non-violence ...
Incrediby, I had never seen Bruce Lee’s first starring role in a major film before, although I actually like martial arts movies and Bruce Lee just made four movies in total (plus Game of Death, in which footage from an incomplete movie is used for defiling Lee’s memory). I hadn’t missed much, though. ‘The Big Boss’ is a good example for an early 1970ies Kung Fu exploitation flick: The threadbare plot doesn’t make much sense and its primary purpose is to contrive an opportunity for a fistfight every ten minutes or so. There is awkward romance and comedy, which is filmed so ineptly that you feel sorry for everyone involved. The violence is exaggerated and rather gory for a 70ies action film. The acting is awful, which is further enhanced by a shoddy dubbing job one character speaks with a thick American accent, others in cod-Asian accents and non of the lip movements are synchronised with the dialogue. It gets even more absurd because the English dubbing and the German subtitles (couldn’t switch them off) are completely different from each other to the extent that Bruce Lee’s character is called “Cheng Lee” in the subtitles.
In short: ‘The Big Boss’ only works in a so-bad-it’s-good-way and the entertainment value gained from laughing at the incompetence of the filmmaking wears thin after a while. Thankfully, Bruce Lee’s character gets angry after about 45 minutes and forgets about his oath of non-violence. And an angry Bruce Lee doing what he does best is one of the most iconic and exciting sights in action cinema. Overall, ‘The Big Boss’ is worth watching if you like that sort of thing, but anybody who is not interested in martial arts movies won’t be convinced that this genre is worth his or her time by this movie. For me, this movie is an above average one - 6/10


Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:09 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Unke wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:
Checked out Danny Boyle's debut, Shallow Grave and thought it was pretty spectacular. It's incredibly stylish for such a low budget production. The film is very reminiscent of the Coen Brothers debut, Blood Simple in that it's stylish with a dark sense of humor and revolves around a group of unlikable people, money, and murder. Boyle is such a cinematic director and its something that was obviously present from the outset of his career. He's really good at meshing the themes of the story into his camerawork and editing. His debut uses a dead body motif throughout to slyly ask the question of whether it's better to be dead or alive in the current world, in an effort to criticize the sort of materialistic lifestyle lead by the film's main characters. The film has a great deal of contempt for how these people live their lives, and takes a pretty pulpy, worn plot line and infuses it with a great deal of style and a bit of heft. I'm up and down on most of his work, but Shallow Grave goes a long way in showing just how great of a craftsman Boyle is.


I find it completely lacking from a storytelling perspective though




I found the ease with which the gangsters followed their tracks so ludicrous as to make me lose confidence in the screenplay. I also found the writing of Christopher Eccleson's character to be very inconsistent.

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Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:31 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
I found the ease with which the gangsters followed their tracks so ludicrous as to make me lose confidence in the screenplay.


I actually found this to be a pretty clever way to approach that plot point. Hugo is essentially a MacGuffin, and once we get a glimpse of Hugo taking part in a murder, we know the baddies from his past are inevitably going to find the 3 flat mates. It would have been unnecessarily indulgent to waste time going into detail as to how characters from his back story end up in the story. They torture some people, get their answers, and eventually show up at the flat.

In addition, the way it's handled fits with how sparsely the entire film is written. It's a pretty lean movie. I wouldn't say they found the main group with ease as the film shows them torturing a few different people a few different times. It's all just glossed over because going into detail would require exploring stuff that the movie isn't really about.


Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:45 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
PeachyPete wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
I found the ease with which the gangsters followed their tracks so ludicrous as to make me lose confidence in the screenplay.


I actually found this to be a pretty clever way to approach that plot point. Hugo is essentially a MacGuffin, and once we get a glimpse of Hugo taking part in a murder, we know the baddies from his past are inevitably going to find the 3 flat mates. It would have been unnecessarily indulgent to waste time going into detail as to how characters from his back story end up in the story. They torture some people, get their answers, and eventually show up at the flat.

In addition, the way it's handled fits with how sparsely the entire film is written. It's a pretty lean movie. I wouldn't say they found the main group with ease as the film shows them torturing a few different people a few different times. It's all just glossed over because going into detail would require exploring stuff that the movie isn't really about.


I disagree. I think a thriller has to work on a fundamental plot level. When we establish characters secretly burying a body in the middle of nowhere and then the bad guys just show up, I feel let down.

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Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:32 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:
JamesKunz wrote:
I found the ease with which the gangsters followed their tracks so ludicrous as to make me lose confidence in the screenplay.


I actually found this to be a pretty clever way to approach that plot point. Hugo is essentially a MacGuffin, and once we get a glimpse of Hugo taking part in a murder, we know the baddies from his past are inevitably going to find the 3 flat mates. It would have been unnecessarily indulgent to waste time going into detail as to how characters from his back story end up in the story. They torture some people, get their answers, and eventually show up at the flat.

In addition, the way it's handled fits with how sparsely the entire film is written. It's a pretty lean movie. I wouldn't say they found the main group with ease as the film shows them torturing a few different people a few different times. It's all just glossed over because going into detail would require exploring stuff that the movie isn't really about.


I disagree. I think a thriller has to work on a fundamental plot level. When we establish characters secretly burying a body in the middle of nowhere and then the bad guys just show up, I feel let down.


It's not really fair to say they just show up. They're shown gathering information and torturing multiple people, but none if it is shown in great detail because they aren't fundamental to the plot of the film. The movie relies on implication, but I don't see how it's such a great leap for them to eventually get the information of Hugo's whereabouts seeing as how we've seen them getting information and making progress. I don't really see what else is necessary for the audience to understand what's going on. If anything, the movie is more streamlined because of the choice.

You know roughly who they are and what they're doing. I don't see how that fails on a fundamental plot level. It sounds like you wanted more details involved, but that's not the same thing as failing on a fundamental plot level. I'd argue that spending more time with characters from the back story of a very minor character is superfluous, but that's a different debate.


Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:18 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Night Train to Munich


Carol Reed's pseudo sequel to Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes is a pretty good imitator of Hitch's style. It's inferior to Hitch's movie in virtually every way, but it's fairly entertaining. There isn't a whole lot to say about this one since it's one of those older movies that exists as pure escapism. Romance, intrigue, and suspense. Rex Harrison is really good in the lead role. It has some of the worst model work I've ever seen, especially at the beginning and end. It's almost laughably bad and apparently Reed was embarrassed by it later in his career.

The only other thing I'll add is this: Don't bother with the Criterion edition of this one. It's a nice, solid transfer, but the only extras are a booklet with an essay you can read on Criterion's site, and a video conversation between 2 film scholars about the movie. No commentary, documentaries, visual essays, or anything remotely interesting. There's no need to waste your money on the Criterion name brand in this case.


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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Crank 2: High Voltage

One of the most offensive, weird and hilarious films I've ever seen. There's almost too much to try deconstruct here.

9/10

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I watched Silent Running (1972) last night as part of my top 100 Sci-Fi movies pursuit. Man, I had tainted my view of it a bit by reading a reviewer’s synopsis which noted “heavy handed environmentalism in space”. That’s for damn sure. Any more strident and the DVD would’ve come with a subscription to a conservation newsletter. I tried hard to like this movie, but every time I was beginning to enjoy what I was seeing, a wailing (and I mean #$%^ing caterwauling) Joan Baez song came on to serve as a “message montage”. The sole positive I could garner was that it made me appreciate Wall E that much more. Anyone who has seen Wall E cannot help but see the parallels. Rated 1.5 out of 4 for decent visuals, but bludgeoning message delivery and the wince-inducing Baez numbers. I’ll take “Hello Dolly” music over this crap anytime.

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Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:22 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Argo (2012) - 4 out of 4

I got the Combo DVD/Blu Ray/Ultra Violet pack as a birthday gift from my mom and decided to watch it for the third time just to marvel in the fact that it won Best Picture. And I ended up writing a review/analysis of it in my blog titled The Rhythms of Argo. I am going to post it over here as a quote. (Prepare for a wall of text.)
Quote:
A couple of days back, courtesy of a birthday gift from my mother, I got my hands on the combo pack of 2012's Best Picture winner Argo and decided to give it another whirl. Having seen it twice already and being engrossed each time, I chose to fall back into a detached mode and try to nitpick what it is exactly that makes this film tick. So I popped the BR-DVD in and started taking my notes, but as the film neared its inevitable climax, something fascinating happened. The Houseguests along with Tony Mendez got aboard the plane and then... power cut. (You'll be surprised by how often we have that here.) I swear in all honesty I am not lying. It felt as if by some weird cosmic coincidence the God of Cinema was commanding me to stop watching it. Because that moment really is director Ben Affleck's only misstep in what is otherwise a perfectly chiseled motion picture.

In my quest to comprehend what made Argo my favorite film of 2012, I realized that it was a film of immaculate rhythms, and that these rhythms directly resulted in the feeling that Argo is precisely paced. In the opening scenes, this rhythm mostly helped in segueing from scene to scene - for instance, we have the shot of the embassy escapees running through the streets which directly transitions into the shot of footsteps thundering through the CIA Headquarters in Langley to the shot of foot movements in the US State Department Office where the Chief of Staff is briefed - and in denoting the urgency of the situation at hand - Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) and Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston) move through CIA corridors and their walking, the speed of their conversation, and the camera movements are all perfect in giving the audience a sense of the magnitude of the situation the USA is facing.

And I thought that might be all there is to the film's pacing. But about half an hour into the film, I began to notice that it had a very specific rhythm in how the scenes were established. So far, I'd seen scenes of people walking through corridors, driving a car, or moving in general. In and of itself, this wasn't a mindblowing realization, but that the remaining hour and a half of Argo proceeded in similar fashion, by adhering to these structural rhythms, is what gave me the sense that it was an expertly crafted film.

Movement is a big part of Argo and is prevalent in almost every frame (even John Chambers (John Goodman) is shown walking into the set in his introduction), so much so that when people are not moving, the camera is and that helps in maintaining the brilliant pace of the film. Take, for example, one sequence where Tony Mendez and Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) make a visit to the producer's house to get the option on the Argo script. Tony and Lester take a long walk to the producer's house. They exit the building and take a car ride to get themselves a Taco. This, of course, is followed by the Argo press event where more movement is strewn about. Tony and Lester arrive in a car which transitions into a shot of Tony walking as he takes a drink for himself. Then we see a press reporter complete an interview with Lester as they're both walking, and the movement doesn't stop until the camera follows a waiter and segues into a news report from Iran.

Ben Affleck also shows a sure hand in maintaining this rhythm even when the action moves to Iran. We see Tony arriving via plane to Egypt followed by a shot of him walking into what looks like a museum followed by a conversation between Tony and his English handler while they're both taking a stroll through the museum interiors. Then, a car ride to the Iranian Embassy in Egypt; a plane ride to Iran; a car ride to establish Iran (using the Azadi Tower); a walk in the Iranian airport; more car rides with the Canadian Ambassador. This doesn't stop until Tony arrives at the residence where the Houseguests are living. And what is even more striking is that even perfunctory scenes get this treatment. For instance, in one sequence, we see a shot of the Chief of Staff (Kyle Chandler) laid back in his chair and watching the news, and instead of sticking with him while a secondary character comes into frame, we follow the latter as he takes a stroll through White House corridors and arrives at the Chief of Staff's office. There isn't a single sequence, right till the very end, where this impeccable rhythm is disturbed.

Rodrigo Preito's camerawork is exquisite in maintaining Argo's rhythms, as is William Goldenberg's tight editing. (The latter, as we know now, won the Academy Award for his work, justifiably so.) Preito's camera placement and movement is so tactically astute that it almost feels invisible. There is one scene right at the very end which caught my eye. Jack O'Donnell, after having an explosive argument with his boss, is walking swiftly down what looks like a CIA control room when he stops to bark orders at one of his subordinates. The camera follows him as he is walking, and when he stops, it pans around with the same speed of his walk till it comes around to catch a shot of his face. It sounds like there really isn't much to it, and there probably isn't, but it lends a major hand in maintaining the rhythmic feel of the film, and much of Prieto's work in Argo is like that. (I am excited to hear he is the cinematographer for Martin Scorsese's next film The Wolf of Wall Street.)

Outside of the outstanding craft observed in the above paragraphs, Argo remains one of the best-written films of 2012. Obviously the Hollywood sequences run amok with lines dripped in sarcasm: "If he could act, he wouldn't be playing the Minotaur "; "You're worried about the Ayatollah, try the WGA."; But the writing is equally effective in maintaining the film's jocular tone in the more dramatic sequences: "Carter's shitting enough bricks to build the Pyramids."; "Brace yourself, it's like talking to those two old fucks in the Muppets."; "A man in Scranton is placing a flag on his lawn for every day of captivity. He runs out of lawn, and Kennedy wins the primary." Chris Terrio justly deserved his Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ben Affleck, by following Gone Baby Gone, which was equally great, and The Town, which was very good but not great, with Argo has shown himself to be one of the foremost craftsmen working in Hollywood right now. Argo is a great motion picture because of the attention to detail evident in it's every frame. In the Director's Commentary available in the BR-DVD, he details the pains he took to get the look of the film just right. It wasn't until I listened to this that I came to know that the grainy shots shown in the Embassy takeover are from a Super-8 camera and not newsreels and that CGI had been used in many scenes in the film. I was also constantly amazed at the performances Affleck was able to extract from each of his actors. Ben Affleck may or may not have been robbed of a Best Director Oscar, but there's little doubt in my mind that he has it in his locker to win one in the future. As to whether Argo deserved its Best Picture victory, that remains subjective opinion; I've never been one to compare A with B or C. All I will say is that Argo is one of the best films of 2012 and remains a must-watch.

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Balajithots - Last Updated 21-Jan - Frozen (2013)
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Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:59 pm
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