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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Shade2 wrote:
Finally got around to The Place Beyond the Pines, and it's magnificent: ambitious and unwieldy but at the same time beautifully constructed and composed. Petey made a point about Pain & Gain and the nature of Bay's arrogance to send up his own work is a sort of necessary and admirable arrogance. On another side of that coin, Derek Cianfrance has the arrogance to attempt a film of atypical structure and massive themes -- and thankfully, he has the skill to pull it off.

Much has been said about it and I'm behind the curve, so I'll focus just on the opening and ending (major, major spoilers):

[Reveal] Spoiler:
As I believe Petey said, the last shot (Jason riding out of the frame of [I believe??] the only static shot in the film) offers the most hopeful moment of the film. I don't think the point of the shot -- or the film -- is that Jason will repeat the sins of his father, or that he won't. I think there's more depth to it than that and I don't think the film is trying to totally provide the answer.

On the one hand, you could make a case that in a very underlying way, the film is saying that individuals will make individual choices -- and you can't blame your past or upbringing. When Jason doesn't kill Avery, that's him making an independent choice to do right.

But you can cut it the other way, too: does Jason not kill him because "shooting first" is not in his blood, as his father never intended to hurt anyone (he was visibly shaken when he hit Kofi and willingly awaited hit punishment and obviously was planning on going to prison, not dying, when he's on the phone right before he's killed).

With AJ, it's tougher: in his last moments in the film, he's shown upset at his Dad (how much does he know?), but when the crowd starts cheering, a smile breaks. Is that an act, or like his father, does the praise of others and their perception that he's good overwhelm his desire to face consequences or own up to anything?


All in all, again, a magnificent film. Personally I wouldn't cut a second of it. Best film I've seen in a long, long time.


I agree with all of this. It's the best movie I've seen in years. I liked the questions you raised in the spoiler tag too, Shade. Good things to think about!

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Fri May 10, 2013 12:57 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Graduate

As I understand it, Ebert changed his opinion on this film when he revisited it several decades after it was released. I think I might be able to explain why. The first part is an at times brilliant deconstruction of 1960's angst and alienation. I was reminded at times of Catcher in the Rye and some of the dark satire is genius. But things fall apart during the second half, which turns Hoffman's character into a complete stalker and he becomes really hard to sympathize with as a result. Maybe at this time, his behavior might have looked more innocent, but now it just comes across as creepy. My opinion was not helped out very much by just having taken a forensic psych class where the prof. used an example in class where a man started stalking a woman who broke up with him, going so far as to burn down her fiancee's house, and eventually track her down after she went into hiding and kill her. So I really had a hard time viewing Hoffman's character with anything other than detached horror after he became a stalker.

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Fri May 10, 2013 1:42 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Shade2 wrote:
Finally got around to The Place Beyond the Pines, and it's magnificent: ambitious and unwieldy but at the same time beautifully constructed and composed. Petey made a point about Pain & Gain and the nature of Bay's arrogance to send up his own work is a sort of necessary and admirable arrogance. On another side of that coin, Derek Cianfrance has the arrogance to attempt a film of atypical structure and massive themes -- and thankfully, he has the skill to pull it off.


Such a good point. Can we just go ahead and say that Cianfrance is the most exciting new director to come around in a pretty long time? To follow up the excellence of Blue Valentine with this unbelivably ambitious project that's almost entirely successful, is damn impressive. He's one of a very small number of young directors that has my complete attention.

Also, how effing good is Ben Mendelsohn in the film? Man, I love that guy.

I also obviously agree with you on Jason:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
He has a shot at breaking the cycle on inevitability, and that's a pretty hopeful thing. Like you said, that underlying idea of individual choices is strongly shown by the end. He's broken the cycle and now it's up to him to become something better than his father.

Good job pointing out the scene where Jason decides not to kill Avery. The film is named after that scene, after all. It should be taken as pretty important.


Shade2 wrote:
All in all, again, a magnificent film. Personally I wouldn't cut a second of it. Best film I've seen in a long, long time.


So glad you feel this way. I really enjoyed Mud, but this is still the best of the year for me. It's stuck with me quite a while after seeing it. I was floored coming out of the theater in a bunch of different ways (none literally).


Fri May 10, 2013 9:08 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
PeachyPete wrote:
Such a good point. Can we just go ahead and say that Cianfrance is the most exciting new director to come around in a pretty long time? To follow up the excellence of Blue Valentine with this unbelivably ambitious project that's almost entirely successful, is damn impressive. He's one of a very small number of young directors that has my complete attention.


Exactly, exactly. So many first-time directors who find success follow-up with something smaller or the same exact thing they already made. So cool that he went the other way while still maintaining who he is.

PeachyPete wrote:
Also, how effing good is Ben Mendelsohn in the film? Man, I love that guy.


Indeed. He's almost always the best thing about every film he's in. Here he plays a role that could have been unnecessary, but Cianfrance makes him integral.

Regarding your spoiler...

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Certainly you're absolutely right about the place where Jason doesn't kill Avery is the title of the film. A cool underlying layer (and I only know this from growing up in the area) is that "Schenectady" is the Mohawk word for "place beyond the pines." So neat.


And regarding the critics complaining about coincidences...

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Yeah, they're there is massive and undeniable ways, but that's the whole heart of the film. When Avery finds out who Jason is at the police station, the suspense comes from how he'll react, not from our surprise as viewers.

And so again... does fate that their fathers set them on cause them to cross paths? Maybe that's the point. And maybe the final shot is heartbreaking and not hopeful because in trying to run away from his past Jason's unwittingly running right into it.

But I think Cianfrance tips his hand by ending the film the way he does. If he was totally sold on the idea of fate, it'd be a much more clearly dark ending, I think. He wants it to be a mystery -- in the best sense of this, he doesn't know. The best films tell a complete story in a world that existed before we dropped in and will go on after the credits roll. I don't think it's a cop-out at all to say that we don't know how Jason and AJ will end up because it's up to them.


I haven't seen Mud yet but very much look forward to it.


Fri May 10, 2013 1:05 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I guess while everyone's chiming in on Cianfrance's film, I'll join in with my thoughts:

The Place Beyond The Pines: You got to hand it to Derek Cianfrance; the guy has ambition. The latest film from Cianfrance, after helming the uncompromising, MPAA-challenging relationship drama Blue Valentine, certainly isn’t afraid to take chances, especially when it comes to narrative structure. While Blue Valentine kept its focus almost entirely on the ups and downs of one relationship, The Place Beyond The Pines tackles several characters and the cross-generational problems that tie them together. And yet, even with this narrative ambition, Cianfrance’s attention to character always remains the most important element. The opening shot is a perfect introduction to his approach, a lengthy tracking shot that follows Ryan Gosling’s Luke Glanton as he moves across a fairground before entering a tent and performing a dangerous motorcycle stunt in front of a cheering audience. It’s an attention-grabbing opening, serving as both a striking feat of directorial showmanship and a primer on almost everything you need to know about Gosling’s character, who dominates the film’s first third. He’s a man with really only one talent, a loser who spends most of his time on his bike, and yet in his narrow fairground world, he’s a superstar and he loves the attention. By the time Gosling finds himself robbing banks, you understand that he’s doing it not only as part of a misguided urge to support his child despite the wishes of just about everyone around him but also because he enjoys the adrenaline rush.

Gosling’s story arc is compelling by itself, but Cianfrance isn’t content to spend all of his time focusing on just one character. Instead, the film is separated into three distinct parts, each revolving around a different character. Bradley Cooper dominates the film’s second third with what may be the best performance in the film, as a cop who, among other things that will go unmentioned, confronts corruption in the police department. His character is also being constantly pressured by his father to consider politics, and it’s here that one of main themes of the film comes into focus: the influence of parents upon children, and how even seemingly inconsequential actions by fathers can have significant ramifications on future generations. This idea becomes even more crucial in the film’s final third, when the focus moves away from Gosling and Cooper and towards two other characters, played by Emery Cohen and Dane DeHaan.

The film slips up ever so slightly in this final third, for a couple of reasons. The first is that the focus is on two actors/characters who don’t command the screen as adeptly as Gosling and Cooper. Cohen’s performance in particular stands out in incredibly irritating fashion, combining sub-Brando mumbling and Ezra Miller We Need To Talk About Kevin artifice (DeHaan is much better, and at times has a young Leonardo DiCaprio vibe to him). The second reason is that, once this particular section of the film starts, the unpredictability of the first two-thirds disappears, and you realize where the story is heading and that there are really only two ways it can end. This inevitability results in a slightly sluggish finale, as you have to wait for all the gears to line up to get to the end you already have a good feeling is coming, which isn’t really that much of a big deal but stands out because of the incredible strength of what has come before. It is a long film, and I started to feel it just a little bit in the last third, although to be fair to the film the final climactic moment and the closing scenes hit all the right notes. Still, a slightly overlong denouement does not do much to diminish what Cianfrance has accomplished here. His film is up there with the best so far this year. 8/10.

Also,

To Have And Have Not:This 1944 film from director Howard Hawks is above all else best known for its pairing of star Humphrey Bogart and newcomer Lauren Bacall (who was 19 at the time of filming), and what was going on between them off the screen. The two began a romance during production, which eventually led to Bogart divorcing his wife to marry Bacall. Not that that has much relevance to the actual content of the film itself; I really only mention it because it’s almost the only thing worth mentioning in relation to To Have And Have Not. The action is loosely based on a novel by Ernest Hemingway, but to be honest the film bears more resemblance to Casablanca than anything else. It doesn’t take long into the film before you start to realize that the film is not much more than a transparent attempt to replicate the success of Michael Curtiz’s 1942 classic, with numerous similarities between the two productions. Bogart plays a man looking out for himself in a foreign country during wartime, but over the course of the story he finds himself tangled up in political intrigue, helping resistance leaders escape the country while fending off the local law enforcement. He also falls in love with a beautiful but mysterious woman with a past, and he spends a lot of time hanging around in a club that employs the services of a cheerful piano player. Sound a little too familiar?

All this is tolerable to a certain extent, but after a little while it starts to get obnoxious. There’s really no attempt by the filmmakers to disguise their obvious intentions. The film hits all of the Casablanca notes beat for beat, but it captures none of that film’s passion and soul. The only thing really different here is the lovers get to walk off together. Because the story makes no attempt to hide its derivative nature, you end up pinning all your hopes on the famed chemistry between Bogart and Bacall, but even that’s not all it’s cracked up to be (Ingrid Bergman felt like a better match for Bogart, at least onscreen; Bacall looks, acts, and is too young for the aging Bogie). Chemistry between Bogart and Bacall be damned, why would I want to watch an obvious rip-off of Casablanca when the original did it better in every possible way? 5/10.

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Fri May 10, 2013 3:26 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Blonde Almond wrote:


Also,

To Have And Have Not:This 1944 film from director Howard Hawks is above all else best known for its pairing of star Humphrey Bogart and newcomer Lauren Bacall (who was 19 at the time of filming), and what was going on between them off the screen. The two began a romance during production, which eventually led to Bogart divorcing his wife to marry Bacall. Not that that has much relevance to the actual content of the film itself; I really only mention it because it’s almost the only thing worth mentioning in relation to To Have And Have Not. The action is loosely based on a novel by Ernest Hemingway, but to be honest the film bears more resemblance to Casablanca than anything else. It doesn’t take long into the film before you start to realize that the film is not much more than a transparent attempt to replicate the success of Michael Curtiz’s 1942 classic, with numerous similarities between the two productions. Bogart plays a man looking out for himself in a foreign country during wartime, but over the course of the story he finds himself tangled up in political intrigue, helping resistance leaders escape the country while fending off the local law enforcement. He also falls in love with a beautiful but mysterious woman with a past, and he spends a lot of time hanging around in a club that employs the services of a cheerful piano player. Sound a little too familiar?

All this is tolerable to a certain extent, but after a little while it starts to get obnoxious. There’s really no attempt by the filmmakers to disguise their obvious intentions. The film hits all of the Casablanca notes beat for beat, but it captures none of that film’s passion and soul. The only thing really different here is the lovers get to walk off together. Because the story makes no attempt to hide its derivative nature, you end up pinning all your hopes on the famed chemistry between Bogart and Bacall, but even that’s not all it’s cracked up to be (Ingrid Bergman felt like a better match for Bogart, at least onscreen; Bacall looks, acts, and is too young for the aging Bogie). Chemistry between Bogart and Bacall be damned, why would I want to watch an obvious rip-off of Casablanca when the original did it better in every possible way? 5/10.


I am SO with you. Warmed over Casablanca with people being "bit by dead bees."

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Fri May 10, 2013 3:58 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Dark Skies (2013)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2387433/
Billed as a "sci-fi horror". While it does have aliens in it, there is no additional sci-fi in sight. I guess it is more of an "alien abduction horror" film. Actually it is more "thriller" than "horror", due to it not being remotely scary (or even trying to be). Well, I wasn't expecting much, and it delivered that. Almost nothing concerning what the aliens do, and absolutely nothing about why they do it, is explained (which is just as well, because what they do makes no sense whatsoever). On the bright side, it was a LOT better than Signs, but that is saying exactly nothing given that Signs is just about the worst piece of garbage I have ever seen in the sci-fi genre.
5.5/10.


Fri May 10, 2013 8:21 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Coriolanus

An interesting Shakespeare adaptation. Director Ralph Fiennes assembled a really good cast, and it certainly feels Shakespeare-esque...but the use of the traditional text in a modern setting serves to remind you that this is a movie. I admire what Fiennes is trying to do, but Coriolanus isn't as immersive as it could be. Still, the acting is top-notch.

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Fri May 10, 2013 9:38 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Mother, Jugs, and Speed

This is a 1976 black comedy about the F + B ambulance company competing for a contract with a rival company in Los Angelos and stars Bill Cosby (Mother), Raquel Welch (Jugs), and Harvey Keitel (Speed).

To start out, I should mention that while I have precious little experience as an EMT. I did complete Basic EMT certification back when I was in NY state and volunteered for almost a year with a volunteer fire department. However, where I lived at the time prevented me from going on a lot of calls. I also volunteered for about the same amount of time in an ER.

I can't say the film is entirely realistic, but there are certain details of the situations the paramedics encounter that makes me think at least some of the filmmakers did research on the topic before committing the film. At the very least, the situations match many of the stories I was regaled by from more experienced EMTs/paramedics during my training. The term hyper-real I think might apply. For example, trying to get a rather large patient down a crumbling flight of stairs reminds of the sort of thing I was warned I might encounter several times. There are plenty of scenes and situations like that through out the movie. I also felt I had met and knew each of the characters here.

However, there are times when the accuracy wanes. For instance, maybe they had different protocols back in the 70's and spinal stabilization was not a big deal or anything, but I cringed (and had to turn away usually) at the careless way most of the trauma patients were handled. Yesh, if that was how EMT's handled trauma patients, I'm surprised anyone who survived a major trauma wasn't killed when the EMT's showed up on the scene...

I looked up some reviews of this film and the common criticism against the film was that it was too disjointed with rapid shifts in tone. Admittedly the film does shift wildly from pathos and tragedy (not just patients die in this film) to moving between slap stick/absurdest/dark/black humor. Artistically, it works rather well and I appreciated the films refusal to cop to any one genre or easy categorization. Also, while again experience is minimal, I have to say, I can't think of any other way that the work of paramedics could be portrayed. In fact, the un-categorizable nature of the film may it's most accurate element.
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Fri May 10, 2013 10:17 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
nitrium wrote:
Dark Skies (2013)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2387433/
Billed as a "sci-fi horror". While it does have aliens in it, there is no additional sci-fi in sight. I guess it is more of an "alien abduction horror" film. Actually it is more "thriller" than "horror", due to it not being remotely scary (or even trying to be). Well, I wasn't expecting much, and it delivered that. Almost nothing concerning what the aliens do, and absolutely nothing about why they do it, is explained (which is just as well, because what they do makes no sense whatsoever). On the bright side, it was a LOT better than Signs, but that is saying exactly nothing given that Signs is just about the worst piece of garbage I have ever seen in the sci-fi genre.
5.5/10.

Thank You! Finally someone who hates Signs as much as I do! That film has one of the single dumbest twists of all time. As for Darkest Hour, I sorta liked it, I didn't mind not getting an explanation for the aliens attacking, I didn't feel it was necessary. I wish I hadn't seen it in 3-D though, as barely used any 3-D shots at all.


Fri May 10, 2013 10:39 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
Coriolanus

An interesting Shakespeare adaptation. Director Ralph Fiennes assembled a really good cast, and it certainly feels Shakespeare-esque...but the use of the traditional text in a modern setting serves to remind you that this is a movie. I admire what Fiennes is trying to do, but Coriolanus isn't as immersive as it could be. Still, the acting is top-notch.


I'm a big fan of Coriolanus, but I can definitely hear your complaints. The dialogue makes the film a little hard to follow, and the relationships feel a little strained because of it--however like you said-- you kinda have to admire what Fiennes does and accomplishes.

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Fri May 10, 2013 11:15 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
thered47 wrote:
Mother, Jugs, and Speed

I dig this movie. I haven't seen it in years, but memory of it largely mirrors your impressions. It's a good opportunity to see Bill Cosby play "regular guy" funny as opposed to "comedian" funny, and of course Harvey Keitel is good in anything

It does tend to veer between extremes--sometimes the comedy gets downright screwball--but it holds together by the likability and humanity of the characters.

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Sat May 11, 2013 12:16 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
An Ideal Husband (1999) ***

A very entertaining adaptation of Oscar Wilde, without the fatuousness of The Importance of Being Earnest (which I still enjoy, mind you) but with the same wit used for higher purposes. A very pleasant film to watch.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Iron Man 3 - **** out of *****

I would say that I liked this more than I liked the second film, but that wouldn't really be much of a compliment. Instead, I'll say that I liked this almost as much as I liked the first film. The makers did the right thing and put the focus right back where it should be: on Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr. They worked in the events of The Avengers nicely, and I didn't find the plot holes to be any sort of real distraction. My only complaint is that Rebecca Hall wasn't used to any great effect in the film which is too bad given that I've heard much about her as an actress. This was more the fault of the script than the actress, and it would have been nice if Maya could have been given a bigger role. Guy Pearce did his job well as the villain, however, so the dearth of screen time for Rebecca was mostly forgivable for me. Ben Kingsley did make the most of his screen time for some of the film's funnier moments.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Quote:
Who's a pedophile?


David Warner (Henry Niles). He might even be the most disturbing aspect of the movie.


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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
An Ideal Husband (1999) ***

A very entertaining adaptation of Oscar Wilde, without the fatuousness of The Importance of Being Earnest (which I still enjoy, mind you) but with the same wit used for higher purposes. A very pleasant film to watch.


That film's a delight. It has an excellent cast, especially the very funny Rupert Everett and Minnie Driver.

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Sat May 11, 2013 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The Raid: Redemption

Hell yeah! I love a good martial arts movie, and much like Tony Jaa's The Protector, this mixes the ballet-like fluidity of Jackie Chan with the brutality of a Mortal Kombat game. Obviously, the similarities between it and Dredd are impossible to ignore, but I like this one a little more thanks to a better central villain and crazy, eye-popping fight scenes. There's just enough story for it to work, although I'd love to see what the eventual American remake does with regards to expanding the relationship between Rama and Andi and some of the "crooked cops" material.

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JackBurns wrote:
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
Coriolanus

An interesting Shakespeare adaptation. Director Ralph Fiennes assembled a really good cast, and it certainly feels Shakespeare-esque...but the use of the traditional text in a modern setting serves to remind you that this is a movie. I admire what Fiennes is trying to do, but Coriolanus isn't as immersive as it could be. Still, the acting is top-notch.


I'm a big fan of Coriolanus, but I can definitely hear your complaints. The dialogue makes the film a little hard to follow, and the relationships feel a little strained because of it--however like you said-- you kinda have to admire what Fiennes does and accomplishes.


And it has a really good performance by--Gerard Butler. Seriously. How did that happen?

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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Syd Henderson wrote:
JackBurns wrote:
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
Coriolanus

An interesting Shakespeare adaptation. Director Ralph Fiennes assembled a really good cast, and it certainly feels Shakespeare-esque...but the use of the traditional text in a modern setting serves to remind you that this is a movie. I admire what Fiennes is trying to do, but Coriolanus isn't as immersive as it could be. Still, the acting is top-notch.


I'm a big fan of Coriolanus, but I can definitely hear your complaints. The dialogue makes the film a little hard to follow, and the relationships feel a little strained because of it--however like you said-- you kinda have to admire what Fiennes does and accomplishes.


And it has a really good performance by--Gerard Butler. Seriously. How did that happen?

He also gave a really good performance in Machine Gun Preacher.


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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Butler's okay in Nim's Island, which is really Abigail Breslin and Jodie Foster's film. But when he plays a romantic lead, you want a restraining order.

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