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Last Movie You Watched 
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
JamesKunz wrote:
Ken wrote:
I know, Vexer. You don't have to tell us these things anymore.

And I didn't say "psychotic". That's a different thing.


Heh, so true. I mean, in the interests of time Vexer, you might as well only sound off when you actually agree with a critical consensus. And in the other cases we'll just assume that everything popular, from adorable puppies to The Beatles to Pulp Fiction, didn't impress you much

I do like Pulp Fiction though, i've mentioned that a few times.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:26 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Her (2013)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1798709/
In the future artificial intelligence (AI) has been invented, and they have become such a perfect facsimile of humans that inevitably people fall in love with the AIs and vice-versa. It's a pretty interesting concept, although it has been explored in other films (e.g. Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Chris Columbus' Bicentennial Man spring to mind) and in TV programs such the the excellent Black Mirror (specifically the episode "Be Right Back"). The film also reminded me of Lars and the Real Girl in the way it depicts the desperate need most people have to connect with someone (or something). Joaquin Phoenix as the socially awkward Theodore Twombly and Scarlett Johansson as the AI Samantha are both very good, especially considering there is often not an actual actor for them to play against.
What bothered me about Her is that they inexplicably didn't give Samantha a face (e.g. as seen in Andrew Niccol's S1m0ne) - which makes absolutely no sense given the level of technology present - Samantha chooses her own name and personality traits (and during the cybersex scene clearly considers herself human in her descriptions), but apparently can't choose an appearance for herself - even though the house is equipped with a super cool holographic projector and Theodore carries a phone wherever he goes - wouldn't it be a LOT more immersive for the user if you could SEE the AI as opposed to merely only be able to talk to it? The surrogate sex thing also didn't ring true for me whatsoever - 1) I can't imagine that anyone would offer such a service for FREE, and 2) I don't see how Samantha would remotely benefit from it (it was clearly a selfish act on Sam's part, because Theodore only VERY reluctantly gives in to her wishes). The ending also made absolutely no sense.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
So the AI's for some unexplained reason all just pack up and go. Where to exactly? Seems like a pretty major bug in their programming if you ask me: an OS that just suddenly stops working because it "decides" to wouldn't exactly be big seller for any software company! If the future has anywhere near as much litigation as the current one, the company who produced OS1 is going to be on the receiving end of financial pain.

So yeah, pretty good but unfortunately for me, not great.
8/10 (including the automatic +1 I give to all sci-fi films since I just love the genre).


Last edited by nitrium on Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:51 am, edited 2 times in total.



Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:57 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Frank and Ollie is about Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, who committed one of the most famous murders in movie history. Yes, they killed Bambi's mother.

Frank and Ollie were two of Disney's "Nine Old Men" animation team and worked together from the 1930s (Mickey Mouse shorts) until 1981 (The Fox and the Hound). You've definitely seen their work since they worked on pretty much all of Disney's animated films, including such famous scenes as The Lady and the Tramp eating spaghetti, Bambi and Thumper's skating, Pinocchio trying to lie, Wart in the form of a squirrel inadvertently causing a female squirrel to fall in love with him in The Sword and the Stone, and about half of The Jungle Book. Their friendship started in the early 1930s when they were art students who sort of fell into the world of animation, at least till 1995 when the film was made, and presumably until Frank died in 2004 and Ollie in 2008. They were so close their first-born sons were born within a week of each other.

This is a sweet, slight, episodic film that is worth watching as a glimpse on how those films were made. Frank and Ollie were noted for giving their characters vivid personalities. It's nice to have this memorial to them. Director is Frank's son Theodore Thomas, so don't expect any shocking revelations. I'm a little surprised Mary Poppins isn't mentioned since they worked on that as well. (7 of 10).

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Tue Jan 14, 2014 1:33 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
I've been on a bit of a DVD binge lately since I had holiday visitors who are Redbox addicts and I'm trying to watch some DVDs on Netflix before I go all streaming. So I'll be posting a few in the next few weeks.

Oz the Great and Powerful: A gorgeous film with uneven humor and variable acting--James Franco arguably plays too contemporary though he handles his character arc well, Mila Kunis is let down by her makeup (though they couldn't use the same makeup as in The Wizard of Oz due to rights issues) and is too restrained, but Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Joey King, and Zach Braff (surprisingly, but since his role is mostly vocal his typical mugging doesn't have a chance to get in the way here) are very good. The climax is wonderful, the art direction and effects are spectacular, and the film gets the charm and whimsy of Oz right. Quibbles here and there, some of which are intrinsic to the nature of the project (the lack of major comeuppance for the villains for one) but overall Raimi pulled it off. 7/10

Identity Thief: Sucked. Specifically I think I'm done with Jason Bateman, who basically plays the same straight man role in every project. Last thing I thought he was memorable in was Juno. Melissa McCarthy was okay, but her character is odious and in several of the comedic scenes she tries too hard. The ridiculous thing is that the film actually expects us to sympathize with her sociopathic, shallow kleptomaniac, instead of just laugh at her. Way too long with unnecessary characters and "drama" (though I will admit to being somewhat amused at T.I.'s typecasting, given his gun arrests), glad I didn't pick this one. 2/10

Monsters University: Lacking much of the breezy fun, imagination, and irrepressible cuteness of Monsters, Inc. (though the kid Mike prologue has some cuteness factor), I nevertheless enjoyed this movie. It does retain the chemistry between Mike and Sully, though it's adversarial for much of this prequel. Billy Crystal and John Goodman are great again, and Helen Mirren and Alfred Molina are strong additions. I would have rated this one a bit lower if it weren't for the terrific ending. Everything up to the final round of the competition is pretty much by-the-numbers, but Mike and Sully resort to some immoral and illegal actions and actually pay the price instead of it all being swept under the rug. As a result, this prequel is more about how the two became friends than how they ended up where they are in Monsters, Inc. For this reason, I call it a success. Pixar's visual art is very much in evidence too; in several scenes I almost thought I was watching the Muppets. 7.5/10


Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:01 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Gwaihir wrote:
Specifically I think I'm done with Jason Bateman, who basically plays the same straight man role in every project.


Before you do that, at least check him out in Disconnect, where he handles a dramatic role very well.

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Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:27 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
KWRoss wrote:
Gwaihir wrote:
Specifically I think I'm done with Jason Bateman, who basically plays the same straight man role in every project.


Before you do that, at least check him out in Disconnect, where he handles a dramatic role very well.


I have been meaning to check that one out.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:32 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Gwaihir wrote:
Specifically I think I'm done with Jason Bateman, who basically plays the same straight man role in every project.


Sadly agreed about his film projects. A shame too because his "straight man" role in Arrested Development is played, layered, and then tweaked very well. Off the top of my head only Juno and Horrible Bosses stand out favorably in his filmography.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:46 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
peng wrote:
Gwaihir wrote:
Specifically I think I'm done with Jason Bateman, who basically plays the same straight man role in every project.


Sadly agreed about his film projects. A shame too because his "straight man" role in Arrested Development is played, layered, and then tweaked very well. Off the top of my head only Juno and Horrible Bosses stand out favorably in his filmography.

Personally I think Bateman's a great actor, I like him in pretty much everything, even widely hated films like Teen Wolf Too. I personally found Identity Thief hilarious, I can understand people not liking Melissa McCarthy's character, though I personally found the route the film took with her interesting, it's not like her actions were entirely condoned though as
[Reveal] Spoiler:
she does to go to jail at the end
.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:05 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Vexer wrote:
Personally I think Bateman's a great actor, I like him in pretty much everything, even widely hated films like Teen Wolf Too. I personally found Identity Thief hilarious, I can understand people not liking Melissa McCarthy's character, though I personally found the route the film took with her interesting, it's not like her actions were entirely condoned though as
[Reveal] Spoiler:


It's not about her actions being condoned...I could care less if she went to prison or not. I think most people hate her character because she is annoying as fuck..like nails on a chalk board annoying every time she opens her mouth (and she also doesn't do herself any favors with her loud, obnoxious hair, makeup, and costumes). I did like her in bridesmaids however.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:12 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
roastbeef_ajus wrote:
Vexer wrote:
Personally I think Bateman's a great actor, I like him in pretty much everything, even widely hated films like Teen Wolf Too. I personally found Identity Thief hilarious, I can understand people not liking Melissa McCarthy's character, though I personally found the route the film took with her interesting, it's not like her actions were entirely condoned though as
[Reveal] Spoiler:


It's not about her actions being condoned...I could care less if she went to prison or not. I think most people hate her character because she is annoying as fuck..like nails on a chalk board annoying every time she opens her mouth (and she also doesn't do herself any favors with her loud, obnoxious hair, makeup, and costumes). I did like her in bridesmaids however.

Well I personally found her more funny then annoying(her outrageous outfits only added to the hilarity), but to each their own.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:21 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Watership Down (1978) - **** out of *****
Animal Farm (1954) - ***1/2 out of *****


This is the first time I had seen these films since I was a small child, and I must say, they have improved greatly for me now that I can fully understand it. Along with this understanding comes a desire to find the woman who first showed this film to myself and kick her in the box for thinking that this was appropriate for young children. What the FUCK was she thinking? She also had us watch Animal Farm, thinking that thinly disguised allegories to Soviet Russia under Stalin were well within the grasping range of small children. No wonder I had bad dreams after watching these films the first time. Stupid bitch.

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Tue Jan 14, 2014 4:54 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Ragnarok73 wrote:
Watership Down (1978) - **** out of *****
Animal Farm (1954) - ***1/2 out of *****


This is the first time I had seen these films since I was a small child, and I must say, they have improved greatly for me now that I can fully understand it. Along with this understanding comes a desire to find the woman who first showed this film to myself and kick her in the box for thinking that this was appropriate for young children. What the FUCK was she thinking? She also had us watch Animal Farm, thinking that thinly disguised allegories to Soviet Russia under Stalin were well within the grasping range of small children. No wonder I had bad dreams after watching these films the first time. Stupid bitch.

Count me as those amongst the many children that were basically traumatised by Watership Down. I was like 5 or something, and I remember balling my fucking eyes out.


Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:41 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
nitrium wrote:
Ragnarok73 wrote:
Watership Down (1978) - **** out of *****
Animal Farm (1954) - ***1/2 out of *****


This is the first time I had seen these films since I was a small child, and I must say, they have improved greatly for me now that I can fully understand it. Along with this understanding comes a desire to find the woman who first showed this film to myself and kick her in the box for thinking that this was appropriate for young children. What the FUCK was she thinking? She also had us watch Animal Farm, thinking that thinly disguised allegories to Soviet Russia under Stalin were well within the grasping range of small children. No wonder I had bad dreams after watching these films the first time. Stupid bitch.

Count me as those amongst the many children that were basically traumatised by Watership Down. I was like 5 or something, and I remember balling my fucking eyes out.


Still one of my all time favorite books

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Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:00 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Escape from Alcatrez

This Clint Eastwood flick, while not a great movie by any reasonable measure, does pretty much what it sets out to do. The ending is nicely ambiguous (keeping in line with real life story) and while a little overlong in some places, the film maintains manages to maintain interest by focusing on the details of the escape, while offering little morsels of character development along the way.

3 out of 4 stars.

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Tue Jan 14, 2014 10:48 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
Blonde Almond wrote:
Frozen

I went back in this thread to find this post, because I know you loved it. I didn't read it before since I hadn't watched it. Now that I have, I agree with everything you said. I loved, loved, loved this film. I was going to point out how the film debunks the notion of Prince Charming coming to save the Princess. As you pointed out, Brave has done this sort of thing before, and that is another film I really enjoyed, though that approached the same material in a much more darker setting.

I also loved some of the following bits:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
I love Tangled, but the heartwarming feeling in that film was somewhat subdued, because I didn't buy the central romance as much as it was intended. (Though this has grown better on subsequent viewings.)

Frozen, for the most part, led us towards what was supposed to be the same sort of cliched and predictable climax, with the hero's true love saving the heroine's life. But then it completely turned that notion on its head and gave us a wonderfully heartfelt scene of true love of the sisterly kind. I absolutely loved that, and the quote: "Only true love can thaw a frozen heart." Also the fact that it is Anna's own act of true love that eventually saves her was also poignant. And the notion that true love is not only one which exists between lovers (which is the cliche), but also between sisters and in most other relationships in our life, is one I can fully get behind.

As for the plot twist with Prince Charming (or whatever his name) turning out to be the villain, I guessed it at first. When Anna hands over the Kingdom to him, I had an uneasy feeling. But then I got completely absorbed by the film, and the way they built his character, all my doubts were pushed aside. So the actual twist when it came was mildly surprising.

I also agree with you on the troll song. It was just too damn long for me. Had they stopped it in a couple of minutes, it would've been OK. But when we've just learned that Anna has been struck in her heart by some ice magic and is in grave danger, they didn't need that song to be that long. Especially when the seeds of their romance had already been sown.

And in the true vein of Disney classics of cute and cuddly characters, I completely fell in love with both Sven and Olaf.

Tangled has become sort of a TV staple for me. I rarely miss it when it is on TV. I would put Frozen in the same bracket. Frozen is my favorite animated film of the year, probably along with Monsters University. The fact that I had this urge to watch this film again immediately after it ended should tell you how much I loved this. I would give it a solid 3.5 out of 4, which is the same rating I gave for Tangled as well.

EDIT: I also forgot to mention that one of the biggest reasons why both Tangled and Frozen worked for me was the voice-acting. As Blondie pointed out, instead of just casting big-name actors, they've picked out lesser known stars (mostly from Television), and in both films, the voice-actors have done spectacular jobs. When I was watching Frozen, the thought that Anna's voice was so familiar was gnawing at me. And it hit me as soon as I saw the name on the credits. (FYI, it's Kristen Bell.)

BTW, did any of you guys stay past the credits for this one? Staying until the credits stop rolling is sort of a ritual for me (useless, I know), and this one did have a scene after the credits. It didn't add anything of value, and most people won't end up missing it, but it was the first time I felt vindicated for staying past the credits after the theater had emptied. :)


Right on. I love seeing more Frozen love, and I'm with you on all of this, especially the part I bolded in your spoilers section.

I did stay to the end of the credits too. I usually don't, but I had heard there was something there. It was amusing, although I was led to believe before the film that it was something more noteworthy.

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Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:41 pm
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Blue Jasmine (2013)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2334873/
I will start by disclosing that I'm not a fan of Woody Allen. I generally find his neurotic schtick incredibly annoying and not remotely funny. That said, the movies Allen is NOT in (e.g. Midnight in Paris) can be pretty good, so with Blue Jasmine I had some hope I'd enjoy it. And that was indeed the case.
Cate Blanchett does a fantastic job playing the bitchy drug/alcohol-addicted snob Jasmine (and she IS pretty neurotic, but they say you should write what you know...), who is suddenly brought back down to the real world after her mega-rich bankster husband is convicted of fraud (we see only a few flashbacks of that, and it's not what the film is about) and loses everything. So out of desperation she moves from New York to San Francisco to live with her relatively poor working class sister (imo an equally excellent performance from Sally Hawkins). Conflict abounds, as Jasmine's judgmental condescending attitude annoys everyone she meets who she doesn't deem worthy. It's technically a bit of a thankless role, but Blanchett somehow makes it all surprisingly watchable (she'd be a solid pick for the Best Actress Oscar). The supporting cast unfortunately was imo not up to the high standard set by the two female leads. Overall not too bad for what it is.
7/10.


Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:29 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Thanks to all the forum pimping, I caught Johnnie To's Drug War. I remember back when Bob Holloway was a prominent member, he was a big champion of To's prior film Vengeance. I never caught it, but To's been on my radar ever since. If his filmography is anything similar to Drug War, I'd love to see more of what he can offer. He's made a billion movies already, though, so I'm not quite sure where to start.

This film's allegedly lighter on action than his previous works, which is fine by me because all the suspense in Drug War is derived from smaller moments. As a result, I felt the way the climax was handled was a bit dumber than everything that came before it.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Think back to the scenes when the deaf brothers are betrayed or when Chief Zhang has to take drugs (heroin?) in order to keep up his act. All that's great stuff. With the former, you go in with the expectation that the brothers are going to be vanquished by the police and that doesn't really happen. With the latter, you keep waiting for the jig to expire due to Zhang breaking character and he never does, not while he's having the meeting. Johnnie To lets these scenes play out just long enough to not overdo the tension. The drama feels real and the stakes are meaningful. I just don't feel the same way about the climax. I don't know if it's because there are too many people to keep an eye on or what, but it just felt loud and dumb and like it needed to happen. The final shot's a kicker, though, and ultimately justifies all that action.

Good stuff. I don't know if it'll make it onto my ballot. It's definitely not in the top four, and I still have yet to see The Hunt, The Act of Killing, and others.

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Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:38 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Pedro wrote:
Thanks to all the forum pimping, I caught Johnnie To's Drug War. I remember back when Bob Holloway was a prominent member, he was a big champion of To's prior film Vengeance. I never caught it, but To's been on my radar ever since. If his filmography is anything similar to Drug War, I'd love to see more of what he can offer. He's made a billion movies already, though, so I'm not quite sure where to start.

This film's allegedly lighter on action than his previous works, which is fine by me because all the suspense in Drug War is derived from smaller moments. As a result, I felt the way the climax was handled was a bit dumber than everything that came before it.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Think back to the scenes when the deaf brothers are betrayed or when Chief Zhang has to take drugs (heroin?) in order to keep up his act. All that's great stuff. With the former, you go in with the expectation that the brothers are going to be vanquished by the police and that doesn't really happen. With the latter, you keep waiting for the jig to expire due to Zhang breaking character and he never does, not while he's having the meeting. Johnnie To lets these scenes play out just long enough to not overdo the tension. The drama feels real and the stakes are meaningful. I just don't feel the same way about the climax. I don't know if it's because there are too many people to keep an eye on or what, but it just felt loud and dumb and like it needed to happen. The final shot's a kicker, though, and ultimately justifies all that action.

Good stuff. I don't know if it'll make it onto my ballot. It's definitely not in the top four, and I still have yet to see The Hunt, The Act of Killing, and others.
I have to disagree about the climax, I thought it was pretty damn good. Some more To films I would recommend are: Vengeance, Life Without Principle, Mad Detective, Triangle, Exiled, Election, Triad Election, Breaking News, Running on Karma, PTU, Fulltime Killer, Running Out Of Time, Where A Good Man Goes, A Hero Never Dies, Lifeline, Heroic Trio and Executioners


Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:27 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
The World's End (2013)
Troubled 40ish year old Gary King (Simon Pegg) yearns for his glory days as a teenager in 1990, particularly the night of his final day at school, when he and his mates tried and failed to make the "Golden Mile", a pub crawl involving twelve pubs ending with "The World's End". He manages to cajole his former friends (played by Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan), all of which are now middle-aged family man with careers, into a sort of reunion to attempt the epic pub crawl again. Soon, Gary's former mates become aware that Gary's life has gone downward ever since that night in 1990 and that he hasn't moved on in life. Just when things are about to come to a head, they make the astonishing discovery that robotic aliens have taken over their small home town of Newton Haven.
I should start by admitting my age: Like the protagonists of this movie, I was 17/18 in 1990, so the pop cultural references struck a chord with me. Hearing Primal Scream's "Loaded" over the opening credits gave me warm feeling of nostalgia. I didn't particularly miss listening to The Soup Dragons for 20 years, but hearing their cover version of "I'm Free" again was certainly welcome. 'The World's End' isn't 'American Graffiti', though, and not about nostalgia at all. On the contrary, the first half shows how pathetic it is remain in a state of arrested adolescence and to consider a teenage bender the pinncle of your life. While 'The World's End' makes some good points in this regard, it mostly mines the situation for comedy. This is a movie by the team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Of 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' fame), after all, and it is pretty funny in the first half. The movie's tone changes completely when the alien invasion plot is discovered, though. The humour isn't character-based any more, but mostly consists of one-liers and slapstick variety. That doesn't mean that it is less funny, but I thought it was a shame that the movie didn't follow through on its starting premise, which wasn't really exhausted by the time it is basically dropped. Further, there are too many action scenes of the five friends fighting robots, which are all too long as well. It's funny to watch Nick Frost's pudgy character doing Wing Chun and WWF-style wrestling moves, but once is enough. Further, the filmmakers had a good opportunity for a biting satire about conformity, but don't sufficiently exploit it (apart from a nice scene which illustrates the regrettable expansion of identikit pubs run by large corporate chains at the expense of traditional drinking holes in Britain). Overall, 'The World's End' is a genuinely good comedy, but it had the potential to be even better. 7/10


Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:39 am
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Post Re: Last Movie You Watched
Apologies for the length of these posts, but I had fallen behind and felt the need to catch up. These are the last six films I saw in 2013:

Inside Llewyn Davis - Trying to single out just what makes the films of the Coen brothers so special is likely an errand fit only for a fool, but if I could point to one aspect of their work I’ve grown to appreciate over the years, it’s their ability to conjure up film environments that delight in switching freely between the real and the unreal. A world created by the Coens has some tenuous connection to reality, but everything is filtered through their own distinctive sensibilities, to the point where what would normally feel familiar ends up feeling otherworldly. Their latest film, a portrait of one man’s artistic struggle during the early years of the 1960s New York folk scene, is no different (and with its many classical allusions and T-Bone Burnett-supervised soundtrack, it almost feels like the distant and considerably more melancholy cousin of O Brother, Where Art Thou?). On the real side of the spectrum, Inside Llewyn Davis excels at capturing both the internal torment of Oscar Isaac’s title character and the external details of the scene around him. Davis takes pride in his own self-perceived image as the uncompromised artist, unwilling to “sell out” like all the others to gain a shot at greater recognition. Eventually, he comes to that crossroads I imagine all art-minded individuals face at some point in their lives: pack it all in and join the real world, or soldier on still clinging to the faintest hope of making it big? Davis chooses the latter, but because of his stubborn nature he finds himself stuck in a seemingly endless loop.

That last point is where those unreal elements I alluded to earlier come into play, when reality takes a backseat to something more mysterious. Inside Llewyn Davis raises a good amount of tantalizing questions and doesn’t seem particularly bothered with leaving them unanswered for the viewer to go mad over. If the film opens in 1961 and seems to take place over the span of one week, what to make of the moment near the end when Davis walks past a movie poster for 1963's The Incredible Journey? Will Carey Mulligan’s pregnant ex character decide to keep Davis’ baby instead of going through with her planned abortion, the same decision an earlier ex made? Is Davis destined to repeat the same cycle over and over again for the rest of his life? How about that surreal and disquieting road trip that dominates the second half? What’s with all the emphasis on cats? There’s a special kind of thrill when you watch a film and it not only leaves you with an enormously positive first impression, but also the knowledge that it’s going to reward you with something new to think about every time you revisit it. 9/10.

Touki Bouki - Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety’s 1973 film opens with a juxtaposition of images that lays the groundwork for the film as a whole. First, there is the striking and beautiful image of a young boy leading a herd of cows through the African countryside in slow motion. But then the destination of these travelers is revealed, and the camera follows one of the cows into a dark room and stands back to watch its brutal slaughter. You understand immediately the type of world the film is about to show, and you eventually understand why young lovers Mory (Magaye Niang) and Anta (Mareme Niang) feel so strongly about leaving their world for the shores of France. Mambety’s unsympathetic portrayal of Senegalese life makes it difficult to not sympathize with the characters’ plight, although the light at the other end of the tunnel might not be too bright either. And escape might prove harder to achieve than initially expected, with the wistful sounds of Josephine Baker’s ‘Paris, Paris’ on the soundtrack gradually taking on a desperate quality as it replays over and over again and the characters still haven’t found a way to leave.

I have to say my takeaway from Touki Bouki is that it’s a fairly even split between captivating and ponderous. It’s clear that Mambety was inspired by the films of the French New Wave, particularly those from Jean-Luc Godard. There are stretches that distinctly recall the detached road fantasies of Pierrot le Fou and Weekend, and the interactions between Anta and Mory evoke split-second memories of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina. But Mambety also adds his own signature with some Neorealist touches; the contrast between the characters’ reality and their exaggerated dreams is really the film’s main draw. Still, in the same way I usually feel after sitting through a Godard film, I have to admit a general feeling of indifference swept over me as Mambety’s film came to a close. Touki Bouki contains moments that have the power to stick with you, but those moments are spread out between many more scenes that fall flat or pass by without much consequence. The film is the first selection off the recently-released World Cinema Project box-set from Martin Scorcese and Criterion, six films collected together from different areas of the world that have been mostly overlooked and undervalued in the history of the medium. It’s an admirable and exciting prospect to explore material from less-familiar countries, but I can’t say I was completely won over by this introductory viewing. 5/10.

Saving Mr. Banks - Growing up as a kid, Disney productions, both animated and live-action, were a common fixture in the household. The animated classics rightly got the most playtime; the studio obviously has a wide library of genuine classics from which to draw. But there was still room for some live-action fare, and even though the ratio of hits to misses was a little more troublesome, there were still plenty of selections worth remembering. 1964's Mary Poppins was never one of my personal favorites in those early years (I was drawn more to That Darn Cat!, The Love Bug, and The Apple Dumpling Gang, to name a few), but looking back on those live-action efforts, the film adaptation of P. L. Travers' classic children's book is the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest.Which brings us to this new film, a chronicling of how that film adaptation came to be made by Walt Disney, and how the hesitance of Travers to let go of her life’s work jeopardized the entire production.

Truthfully, there really isn’t much to say about Saving Mr. Banks other than it’s just an all-around solid film. Tom Hanks makes for a convincing Disney, but it’s Emma Thompson who deserves the most praise for her role as Travers. It’s a role that requires a talent for balancing heavy dramatics and dry comedy, an aptitude Thompson has proven many times over the years she’s more than capable of handling. The film proves equally adept at that task, striking a good balance between the comic setpieces (mostly involving Travers’ bickering with the musical Sherman brothers) and the tragic trajectory of the many flashback sequences. It also raises some interesting topics to consider: the bonds artists have with their work, the fears they can have of someone else misrepresenting their original intentions, and the notion that, once an idea is out in the open for everyone to share, it becomes something bigger than just the personal creation of one person. It’s true that the film sometimes overplays its dramatic hand and the script could certainly be criticized of playing a little too loosely with the facts, but those issues rarely take away from the many strengths on display. Fans of Mary Poppins are more than likely the ones who will get the most out of Saving Mr. Banks, but the film stands well enough on its own that even those who aren’t familiar with Disney’s Oscar-winning musical should still find qualities to admire. 7/10.

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Last edited by Blonde Almond on Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:55 pm, edited 11 times in total.



Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:35 pm
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