I made a 2019 thread too

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #50

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sun Apr 07, 2019 4:46 am

Yeah, they were okay. Better than ours. I liked Audition, Pulse, Cure, Ju-On, Ringu, Battle Royale, etc.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #51

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:54 pm

Shazam! - it was okay. I liked the demons chasing the kids in the carnival.


In other news, I am now on episode 3 of the third season of Twin Peaks! I am moving very very slowly!

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #52

Postby maz89 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:11 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:In other news, I am now on episode 3 of the third season of Twin Peaks! I am moving very very slowly!

Well at least that's a show that can't really be spoiled for anyone.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #53

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Apr 27, 2019 4:57 am

Avengers: Endgame -

It was good.

That's my review.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #54

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu May 16, 2019 7:41 am

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Season 2) - It was a lot better. Especially the last three episodes, where it sort of abandoned the main plotline developed over the season and just plunged headfirst into complete batshit insanity. I don't know why, but the entire season should have been like that. This season was a lot heavier on the Satan stuff than the first one was, and it delved deeper into a lot of it - there were pentagrams, there was blasphemy, there was the occult, there were demons, there was witchcraft, there was polyamory/orgies, there was all sorts of crap. One of the stories involved someone inverting/twisting the Holy Trinity as part of a prophecy to bring about the Apocalypse. This was all played as goofy and campy, mostly, which makes me wonder how someone who actually took this stuff seriously would take this show, and just makes me more deeply confused about why Harry Potter, of all things, caused such a mess while shit like this just flies under the radar. This is literally everything they were saying Harry Potter was, and it's right on Netflix. I can never hope to understand how religious nutcases think. Anyway, it's entertaining and fun, which the first season wasn't.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Season 4) - I don't remember if I've mentioned this show here, but it's a romantic comedy musical on the CW starring Rebecca Bloom. It is very fun and entertaining and surprisingly very cynical and smart, much like its emotionally and mentally unstable protagonist. Ultimately it's about coming to terms with having a mental illness, as well as exploring the implications of what that means for moral culpability and responsibility, as well as exploring the gender dynamics resulting from showing a charming and entertaining anti-hero doing horrible things when she doesn't have the benefit/curse of being male. It's smart and entertaining and interesting and funny and it ended strong, especially for a show with no ratings and no budget.

Zombieland - It was okay. Kind of crappy as a zombie movie and just middling as an indie roadtrip rom-com, but apparently if you put the two together you get fireworks. I can not believe the stupid shit that happened in the last twenty minutes. Just stupid decisions after stupid decisions after stupid decisions. Woody Harrelson was funny, though. All in all it left me pretty cold. It was entertaining but I felt nothing.

Snowpiercer - This wasn't as good as I remembered. It's not bad, by any means. It's just not particularly good. I always considered it a heavy-handed straightforward Marxist allegory, but it's not, exactly. It social commentary is a lot more vague than straight-up Marxism. I think it's, at best, a fairly decent blockbuster action thriller, and like most blockbuster action thrillers it's probably a mistake to take it too seriously or analyze it too much, even if its political undertones are as bright as day. The classroom scene was good, though.

Spy Kids - yeah it was all right. Apparently audiences didn't like it very much or something? Whatever. It was fun. I remember when I watched the third one in theaters I wanted to kill myself.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #55

Postby Derived Absurdity » Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:26 am

The Perfection - If you want to watch Logan Browning shit herself, then this is the movie for you. This is some seriously trashy B-grade exploitation horror with some mildly elevated arthouse aesthetics. It was kind of fun at parts, but mostly really stupid. Parts of it were really funny, especially the aforementioned part with Logan Browning shitting herself. This movie has a lot of plot twists, all of which are lazy and could be seen a mile away. Considering that it starred the main character from Dear White People and the evil girlfriend from Get Out in a relationship, I thought race would obviously be a major focus, but it wasn't.Instead it's rape. This was a female empowerment/rape revenge movie written with less than zero sensitivity or nuance towards its subject matter, and with a lesbian sex scene early on shot from the male gaze. In fact, on a deeper level the entire movie is shot from the male gaze, like pretty much all exploitative rape revenge flicks. Logan Browning's character's arc is also somewhat... problematic... if you think about it for a few seconds, which is surprising coming from the main star of Dear White People.

Aladdin - oh yeah I forgot I actually saw this at the theater. 0/10, it was a piece of shit.

John Wick: Parabellum - Keanu Reeves shoots a lot of people in the face in this movie. And stabs people. He stabs a lot of people. This was more mindlessly entertaining than the first two, though I couldn't articulate way. I feel that this series is slowly getting slighly dumber and sillier as it goes on. A bit more jokey, more overtly crowd-pleasing. It was still just as well-made as the first two, but as this franchise gets bigger it's getting a bit less cerebral and more standard blockbuster-ish. But it's the third film and there are no diminishing returns yet, so that's something.

The Blackcoat's Daughter - Very heavy on the Lynchean nightmare-like atmosphere. Very unsettling score. Very ominous establishing shots. Pretty pitch black story. Not a whole lot of emotional engagement on my end, though. Was mostly kind of bored.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #56

Postby Gendo » Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:38 pm

But why did you see Aladdin?

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #57

Postby Derived Absurdity » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:01 pm

What else were we gonna see? Pokemon? Lol.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #58

Postby Raxivace » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:13 am

Lol just fuckin' lol if you don't want to see Pikachu be a detective and solve mysteries.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #59

Postby Raxivace » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:48 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:Zombieland - It was okay. Kind of crappy as a zombie movie and just middling as an indie roadtrip rom-com, but apparently if you put the two together you get fireworks. I can not believe the stupid shit that happened in the last twenty minutes. Just stupid decisions after stupid decisions after stupid decisions. Woody Harrelson was funny, though. All in all it left me pretty cold. It was entertaining but I felt nothing.
I haven't seen this since it was new but with the sequel coming out soon I'd like to revisit it.

Snowpiercer - This wasn't as good as I remembered. It's not bad, by any means. It's just not particularly good. I always considered it a heavy-handed straightforward Marxist allegory, but it's not, exactly. It social commentary is a lot more vague than straight-up Marxism. I think it's, at best, a fairly decent blockbuster action thriller, and like most blockbuster action thrillers it's probably a mistake to take it too seriously or analyze it too much, even if its political undertones are as bright as day. The classroom scene was good, though.
Yeah thinking back on the movie its way more ambivalent than just propping up one ideology over another. I think its sympathies are closer to Marxist than not though.

The real strength of the film though IMO is how imaginative the train itself is, which puts it above most action blockbusters for me.

Spy Kids - yeah it was all right. Apparently audiences didn't like it very much or something? Whatever. It was fun. I remember when I watched the third one in theaters I wanted to kill myself.
It spawned like three sequels, I think audiences liked it alright. It kind of reinvented Rodriguez as a family director for a while there too.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #60

Postby Gendo » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:23 pm

Woah, I hadn't heard of Zombieland 2 until now!

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #61

Postby Raxivace » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:13 pm

There was a TV series as well but I heard bad things.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #62

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:04 pm

There was some weird Internet poll thing that had Spy Kids as the most overrated movie in the world or something. And I guess the Audience Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or whatever for it aren't so good. I don't know. Who cares what people think.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #63

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:11 pm

Black Mirror (season 5) - I think the first episode is one of the better ones this show has had. Not my personal favorite, but in terms of storytelling, emotional maturity, and exploration of themes, it's pretty good. It doesn't answer any of the heavy questions about sexuality and infidelity and identity it raises or even bother to lean in one direction or another, but instead it just kind of presents what happens in a way neutral and ambiguous enough to make everyone watching at home not only question the meaning and interpretation of what they just saw, but even what they just saw, period, and people can probably form extremely different opinions about it. I watched it twice, and the first time I thought it was actually pretty straightforward and clear, but the second time I found out there was a lot more subtletly and nuance that I didn't see at first. This episode is so ambiguous and open to interpretation that it might be seen as sort of substance-less, but it's a matter of opinion on whether that's good or bad. I kind of like it and think it's pretty much Black Mirror in its essence, almost, even though it's at heart an exact inversion of its typical storytelling MO.

That's it. This season was pretty good. It's too bad there's only one episode, with absolutely no episodes after this, but what can you do.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #64

Postby Raxivace » Sun Jun 16, 2019 3:56 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:There was some weird Internet poll thing that had Spy Kids as the most overrated movie in the world or something. And I guess the Audience Reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or whatever for it aren't so good. I don't know. Who cares what people think.
Yeah I don't put any stock into random internet polls, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic etc.

Like the idea of Spy Kids of all things being "the most overrated" is kind of weird when to begin with its not like its ever been super highly regarded or anything. You don't see it on They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?'s Top 1000 or anything like that.



^This did kind of creep me out as a kid though.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #65

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:33 pm

Yeah the creepy parts were the best parts. I also liked Floop's weird little song.



The kid dopplegangers were also kind of cool. I remember being intimidated as a kid when Carmen's copy jumped on the spinning wheel thing at the playground. Lol. It was probably the music.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #66

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:40 pm

I outgrew this guy like four years ago but goddamn if his review of the new Aladdin isn't refreshing as fuck.



I like how angry he got at what a worthless piece of filth it was, and how everyone is just seemingly okay with it. This movie was the most cynical, soulless, worthless piece of shit ever made and apparently no one cares anymore. This is why we're never going to get good mainstream movies ever again. Do people just not care about movies actually being good anymore? I guess we've just kind of given up? Why are all the critics enabling Disney's cynical bullshit by tolerating stuff like this?

I saw it in the theater because I grew up on the original Aladdin and I thought, well, I enjoyed The Jungle Book, so maybe it won't be that bad. Yeah, I'm a dumbass I guess. It wasn't as catastrophic a disaster as Pet Sematary but it was sure as hell trying.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #67

Postby Derived Absurdity » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:08 am

Twin Peaks: The Return - Just finished it.

Well, that was weird.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #68

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:25 am

The Thing - That was also weird. It was good. It wasn't great, IMO. Actually the only parts of it I really thought were good were the special effects, which were amazing. I didn't particularly like anything else about it. I will say that there are two jump scares in it that really, really work, especially because there's no musical cues for them. The first two proper appearances of The Thing are some of the creepiest, most viscerally repulsive scenes I've ever seen in a movie, so... congrats on that, I guess. I appreciated the relentless bleakness and coldness. There was virtually no characterization, so much so that at one point I thought it had to be intentional. I can't imagine the point of that, though. I don't think the actual story was particularly well-crafted or all that dramatically compelling, if I was meant to feel any emotion or investment during the movie besides pure horror at The Thing. A lot of it was just sort of boring. Usually horror movies are "about" something, and I don't think this movie is really "about" anything, which is fine. You could make the case that it has things to say about identity, or free will, or trust, or paranoia, or whatever else, but I think that's seriously a stretch. It's just a movie about an alien with some good special effects. It's hard for me to read a whole lot into it.

The alien itself though is just pure horror made physical. Not only in its mere screen presence, which again is probably the most visually disturbing thing I've ever seen in a movie, but also purely conceptually. It's a good thing nothing like it is physically possible, because if we lived in a universe where a thing like that could potentially exist, I think we should all move to a different universe. Sort of sure even Lovecraft never thought of anything like it. With most Eldritch abominations you go crazy if you look at them, but with The Thing you can go crazy if you even just think about it too hard. It's pretty fortunate it just so happened to land in Antarctica and people around it just so happened to have flamethrowers, because if it landed practically anywhere else the human race would have been fucked after like an hour.

I also think this short story describing things from The Thing's perspective is interesting. http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/watts_01_10/

There's also a lot of similarities between It and The Thing. Just wanted to note that.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #69

Postby Derived Absurdity » Fri Jun 28, 2019 6:28 am

The Haunting - So this is what scared people back in 1963. Good God there was so much goddamn talking here. Almost three quarters of the movie was just talking. Was that considered normal in 1963? It was also much longer and slower than was necessary, due mostly to the aforementioned talking. It was also cheesy as hell, although it is a horror movie from the 1960s, so I guess that's to be expected. There were a lot of clear cinematic tricks here that have become extremely standard in horror movies since, and which were probably considered effective and subtle back then. Seems like it was pretty faithful to the book, to the extent that I remember it.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #70

Postby Faustus5 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:54 am

Derived Absurdity wrote:The alien itself though is just pure horror made physical. Not only in its mere screen presence, which again is probably the most visually disturbing thing I've ever seen in a movie, but also purely conceptually. It's a good thing nothing like it is physically possible, because if we lived in a universe where a thing like that could potentially exist, I think we should all move to a different universe. Sort of sure even Lovecraft never thought of anything like it. With most Eldritch abominations you go crazy if you look at them, but with The Thing you can go crazy if you even just think about it too hard.


The reason I would still have nightmares about this movie decades after I first saw it is that this creature is a metaphysical threat to your very identity. Any old monster or knife-wielding slasher guy can kill you violently. But the thing absorbs you, presumably including your personality and memories. That's far, far worse.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #71

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:32 am

And it's presumably extremely painful, too. So it's both a severe physical and metaphysical threat. And it's unstoppable, basically. And it's always just as smart as the things it assimilates. And we don't even find out what its nature is or what it wants. Like if it's actively malicious or just wants to survive. It's basically like a mega-virus. Evil and malicious from our perspective but ultimately just doing what life does. It's existentially horrifying. Easily the scariest movie monster I've ever seen.

Burning - Didn't do a whole lot for me. I didn't mind the extreme slowness, obviously it had a purpose. It just fell flat. It's basically a mystery/sort-of-thriller where everything is kept ambiguous and open to question, at least for the most part, dependent on different peoples' perspectives and subjective interpretations and perceptions based on limited and perhaps misleading information. Even the few things that you think are fairly obvious and have some compelling evidence for are still shaped mostly on how you view the people involved. It turns out that figuring out what actually happened becomes less of the primary point than the protagonist learning to deal with his own mental hang-ups. Most of this journey hinges on a woman's unseen suffering, and her de-evolution from being a slightly interesting character at the beginning to eventually becoming a (perceived) quasi-fetishized victim and mere plot device, which was disappointing. I don't know, I didn't care for it, I thought it could have been better. Steven Yeun is hot here, though, I'd fuck him, definitely.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #72

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:58 am

Aggretsuko (Season 2) - really unfocused, more individualized, less potent social commentary than the first season until near the end. Not sure what to make of the ideas presented here - Retsuko falls for a rich good-natured post-late-stage-capitalism tech bro who wants to liberate everyone from drudgery through AI, which sounds nice, but at the end she rejects him and stays at her shitty job just because he didn't want to get married (?). It's nice that the only character who explicitly rejects the system the show was supposedly critiquing in the first place is presented as decent, but the ending suggests that his post-capitalist dreams are immature while Retsuko matures by rejecting him and realizing she needs to be a wage slave to have meaning in her life, which is obviously bullshit.

The Master - this movie is just the latest in a lengthening line of PTA movies that enjoy unanimous critical praise, but which I find mostly boring and meaningless. Oh yeah, it has good acting and writing and production and everything else, obviously, but none of that means anything to me if I'm not affected by it and it gives me little to think about at the end. Like every other PTA movie I've seen, this was seriously a chore to get through, and the ending did not make up for it in any way, just dissolving into ambiguity-for-the-sake-of-it and meaninglessness. Made it feel like the entire thing was empty and pointless. Like obviously all movies are "pointless", but you're not supposed to feel that way. I'm getting the impression that filmmakers with pretensions to serious artistry leave their films super-ambiguous just to make the viewers feel compelled to talk about them afterward and ask a bunch of questions, but it usually does the exact opposite for me. Too much open-endedness and ambiguity and I feel like there's nothing even there, there's nothing to grab onto, and thus nothing to talk or think about, at least most of the time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and this time it doesn't. I don't know, I'm gonna give up on PTA, nothing I've seen by him so far has worked for me. It was pretty, though.

One-Punch Man - it was fun. I guess. Chalk it up as yet another anime show I didn't hate.

Jessica Jones (Season 2) - I enjoyed the first season of this show very much, though the only truly great thing about it was the relationship between Jessica and Kilgrave, which was extremely emotionally compelling and very thematically heavy, and it is very much worth watching just for that aspect alone. I wasn't sure how it was going to proceed with Kilgrave out of the picture by the end of the season, as he would be an extremely tough act to follow. Well, it proceeded (wisely) by going in an entirely different direction; there is now essentially no overarching villain, and the themes of rape and trauma have been overshadowed (though not replaced) by other, more diffuse themes, ranging from the allure and abuse of power to the corrupting nature of violence to guilt and self-destruction to (I think what turns out to be the primary one) unfulfilled needs and desires, and how they can destroy and control you if you don't fully acknowledge them and meet them in a healthy way. The season's "villain" is the conflicting desires and needs people have within themselves and how they can mess up their relationships with each other, especially if those relationships are already built on mistrust and secret resentment. I thought it was compelling, at least, especially after the season dropped the idiotic conspiracy plot after the first few episodes.

That's not to say there's not a lot one can dislike about it. Much of the season was really boring, especially the first several episodes which inexplicably choose to obsessively focus on the single least interesting thing about the protagonist before wisely switching gears when the season is about half over; some of it's hokey and the characters often make dumb decisions for obviously contrived reasons; the plot is often shapeless and tedious even in the superior second half since the show seems to think it needs thirteen episodes no matter what and does whatever it can to run out the clock; and it ends on an extremely bleak and depressing note, if that kind of thing bothers you. It's too bad that all this easily noticeable stuff hides some character work and thematic material underneath that is honestly pretty mature and well-done. I enjoyed it well enough, mostly, by choosing to focus on all the good parts and ignore all the bad; there was a lot of both.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #73

Postby Raxivace » Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:12 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:The Master
FWIW I seem to remember the critical reception being a bit more divisive on this one. Certainly moreso than There Will Be Blood at least.

I wasn't hugely thrilled by it either- I think for me I didn't find the central relationship that interesting, which is kind of a consistent problem I have with these late PTA movies where the characters don't actually seem to be all that complex to me. If anything I don't find them particularly ambiguous, especially compared to someone line Kubrick who also did the kind of detached thing PTA is going for in these later movies but still finds a way to make characters I think are interesting but without ever quite letting you fully get a grasp on them either.

One-Punch Man
Did you watch both seasons or only the first one?

I really liked the first season and I thought it worked as a fairly self-contained story of a guy becoming less apathetic to the world around him once again, which I think is a pretty fresh take on superhero stories (It's almost like if Antonioni pitched a premise for one). In addition it had some really dynamic and fun battle scenes- far more than the initial premise of "guy can defeat anyone with a single punch" lead me to believe.

I feel the second season is more unfocused though and the different studio that took over just isn't quite as good as the one that did the action scenes in season 1. It also has the "problem" of clearly being setup for future seasons down the line, which makes it harder to judge in a way that season 1 isn't.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #74

Postby Faustus5 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:08 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:
The Master - this movie is just the latest in a lengthening line of PTA movies that enjoy unanimous critical praise, but which I find mostly boring and meaningless. Oh yeah, it has good acting and writing and production and everything else, obviously, but none of that means anything to me if I'm not affected by it and it gives me little to think about at the end. Like every other PTA movie I've seen, this was seriously a chore to get through, and the ending did not make up for it in any way, just dissolving into ambiguity-for-the-sake-of-it and meaninglessness. Made it feel like the entire thing was empty and pointless. Like obviously all movies are "pointless", but you're not supposed to feel that way. I'm getting the impression that filmmakers with pretensions to serious artistry leave their films super-ambiguous just to make the viewers feel compelled to talk about them afterward and ask a bunch of questions, but it usually does the exact opposite for me. Too much open-endedness and ambiguity and I feel like there's nothing even there, there's nothing to grab onto, and thus nothing to talk or think about, at least most of the time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and this time it doesn't. I don't know, I'm gonna give up on PTA, nothing I've seen by him so far has worked for me. It was pretty, though.


I had a very similar reaction myself, sad to say. Didn't think it was a bad film, it just wasn't for me.

Derived Absurdity wrote:Jessica Jones (Season 2) - . . .I enjoyed it well enough, mostly, by choosing to focus on all the good parts and ignore all the bad; there was a lot of both.


I was kind of meh on season two. It was good enough, but I loved season 3. Can't wait to hear what you think of it.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #75

Postby Gendo » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:12 pm

Faustus5 wrote:
Derived Absurdity wrote:
The Master - this movie is just the latest in a lengthening line of PTA movies that enjoy unanimous critical praise, but which I find mostly boring and meaningless. Oh yeah, it has good acting and writing and production and everything else, obviously, but none of that means anything to me if I'm not affected by it and it gives me little to think about at the end. Like every other PTA movie I've seen, this was seriously a chore to get through, and the ending did not make up for it in any way, just dissolving into ambiguity-for-the-sake-of-it and meaninglessness. Made it feel like the entire thing was empty and pointless. Like obviously all movies are "pointless", but you're not supposed to feel that way. I'm getting the impression that filmmakers with pretensions to serious artistry leave their films super-ambiguous just to make the viewers feel compelled to talk about them afterward and ask a bunch of questions, but it usually does the exact opposite for me. Too much open-endedness and ambiguity and I feel like there's nothing even there, there's nothing to grab onto, and thus nothing to talk or think about, at least most of the time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and this time it doesn't. I don't know, I'm gonna give up on PTA, nothing I've seen by him so far has worked for me. It was pretty, though.


I had a very similar reaction myself, sad to say. Didn't think it was a bad film, it just wasn't for me.


Pretty sure it was also my reaction. And I'm a big fan of Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love. I need to re-watch There Will Be Blood; I'm pretty sure I like it but it was tough because I didn't know what to expect going into it.

*Edit* Yeah found my "review" from 2 years ago:

54. The Master - Not sure about this. Amazing performances by PSH and Joaquin. As always, I like PT Anderson's style. But it felt like the story wasn't going anywhere. I was hoping for more.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #76

Postby Derived Absurdity » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:20 am

I didn't know there was a second season of One-Punch Man yet. Netflix only has the first available. I'll watch it if it ever becomes easily accessible.

Don't think I've ever admitted this before, but I never liked There Will Be Blood either. Thought it was empty and silly. A lot of high production values and overwrought acting and emotionally charged set pieces adding up to nothing. Never saw what people liked in it, especially compared to No Country for Old Men.

Nothing on The Thing, Rax? I think you mentioned it here a few times, though I don't remember if you liked it or not.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #77

Postby Raxivace » Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:38 am

Derived Absurdity wrote:I didn't know there was a second season of One-Punch Man yet. Netflix only has the first available. I'll watch it if it ever becomes easily accessible.
The second season just finished airing in Japan like, a week and a half ago. If Netflix doesn't have it that might be why- they absolutely refuse to do weekly releases of anime episodes (Unlike, say, Crunchyroll, which puts out new episodes series the same day they air in Japan) and only put out entire seasons at once. Naturally this leads to a lot of people just pirating fansubs.

Of course Netflix might not even have the rights to season 2 so this could all be beside the point.

Don't think I've ever admitted this before, but I never liked There Will Be Blood either. Thought it was empty and silly. A lot of high production values and overwrought acting and emotionally charged set pieces adding up to nothing. Never saw what people liked in it, especially compared to No Country for Old Men.
Yeah I've had similar reservations about TWBB as well. I'm definitely in the NCFOM camp when it comes to those two.

Nothing on The Thing, Rax? I think you mentioned it here a few times, though I don't remember if you liked it or not.
It's been a while since I last saw it but I didn't really care for it. The actual creature design doesn't do much for me and the stuff I hear people praise about the film- feeling a sense of paranoia about who The Thing might be possessing, feeling that The Thing is a thinking planning monster etc. has never really been something I felt about the movie. I think I actually prefer the 50's Thing over Carpenter's version, though that was going for a different tone and made in an entirely different era of filmmaking.

Carpenter in general is someone I don't' like that much and his movies fall in a weird grey area for me where they're not trashy enough to work in the way that like any random Friday the 13th sequel works for me but not good enough either to be something smarter like The Shining. Maybe its just something weird about me though, IDK- plenty of others seem to really like his films.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #78

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:25 am

Yeah like I said I didn't feel much from The Thing either outside of the creature itself. That might be enough for enough people.

Spiderman: Far From Home - This is the second standalone Spiderman MCU movie where the villain's actions are catalyzed by Tony Stark being a massive asshole. Except with the first one it was a petit bourgeois small business owner whom the movie pretended was working class by covering him in grease and showing him working in a warehouse, now it's an upper middle management type who resents having his life's labor stolen from him. Nevertheless, these movies have now developed a pattern in making the villains workers fucked over by the one percent. The fact that they're not traditionally working class is beside the point - they were still victimized by the upper class, and for all I know an upper manager and a business owner who can afford a huge fancy house in the suburbs is whom the writers of these multimillion dollar tentpoles have in mind as authentic "working class", as hilarious as that is. This is coupled with a general elision of Peter Parker's whole working class identity, which was always a pretty big part of his character and was the root of a lot of his problems, both as Spiderman and not. No relateable financial struggles to speak of here anymore, or anything remotely in the same vein; now Peter's primary problem is how to properly take up the mantle of a billionaire arms dealer. I guess I shouldn't expect anything else from a story greenlit and produced by DisneyCorp, the exemplar of cartoonish corporate evil, but I still wish I could watch some fun blockbuster movies that don't try to manipulate me into rooting for the one percent. Oh well, I still have the Raimi ones.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #79

Postby Raxivace » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:26 pm

I haven't seen Far from Home yet but I think you're right that MCU Peter Parker not having financial struggles is actually a pretty huge departure from how the character is classically depicted.

Like even a lot of the Spider-Man video games will often have missions where you have to deliver pizzas before a timer runs out or something because lol being Spider-Man doesn't pay the bills, Peter still has to make a living somehow.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #80

Postby Faustus5 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:40 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:The Haunting - So this is what scared people back in 1963. Good God there was so much goddamn talking here. Almost three quarters of the movie was just talking. Was that considered normal in 1963? It was also much longer and slower than was necessary, due mostly to the aforementioned talking. It was also cheesy as hell, although it is a horror movie from the 1960s, so I guess that's to be expected. There were a lot of clear cinematic tricks here that have become extremely standard in horror movies since, and which were probably considered effective and subtle back then. Seems like it was pretty faithful to the book, to the extent that I remember it.


Just saw this for the first time after months of trying to get a rental from Netflix, just to compare it to the far superior TV series. Kind of felt the same way. About the excessive talking--my god, the script went way to far in having Nell do voice over so we understood exactly what she was thinking at every moment, which was unnecessary and a clear example of why showing is always preferable to telling. I understand it is considered a kind of classic, but the only reason I can think why is, as you mention, the unusual camera work. I definitely think Sam Raimi was influenced by this flick when he did Evil Dead 2. . .and not because of the talking.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #81

Postby Raxivace » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:57 pm

Eh while I haven't seen The Haunting "Show don't tell" is not nearly so hardfast of a rule.

Like Shakespeare's monologues immediately come to mind. Those are pure "telling" and some of the most beautiful things ever written in the English language, and those plays would be lesser for not having them.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #82

Postby Faustus5 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:17 am

Raxivace wrote:Eh while I haven't seen The Haunting "Show don't tell" is not nearly so hardfast of a rule.

Like Shakespeare's monologues immediately come to mind. Those are pure "telling" and some of the most beautiful things ever written in the English language, and those plays would be lesser for not having them.


I agree that one should not be ideological about "show don't tell" but this movie is a supreme example of how telling just insults the intelligence of the audience.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #83

Postby Raxivace » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:36 am

Looking up the movie I see it was directed by Robert Wise, and frankly the things you guys are saying about The Haunting really don't sound like any of the other movies I've seen from him at all- even horror films he's directed like The Body Snatcher or The Curse of the Cat People (Though the latter here is arguably just a drama film that happens to be a sequel to a horror movie).

I'll watch The Haunting in a few days here and let you know what I think.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #84

Postby Gendo » Tue Jul 16, 2019 3:34 pm

Gendo wrote:The Haunting (1963) - Wow, excellent. Some really cool camera work that helped it actually be scary. It had a great atmosphere; the horror was very subtle most of the time, which made it more effective when it went all out and in your face. I vaguely remember watching the remake; this was definitely more memorable.


I definitely liked it more than the others here. But sure, I can see how the internal monologue gets to be too much at times. It wasn't necessary, but I think the other parts just overshadowed that flaw for me.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #85

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:25 pm

Derived Absurdity wrote:The Thing -
I really enjoyed this back when I saw it (late teens I think). Besides the special effects and the "relentless bleakness/coldness" you mentioned was just the knife-edge's tension that's maintained throughout. I really think that film is mostly an exercise in suspenseful horror than anything else. I might think differently now, but that kind of stuff tends to hold up pretty well for me on rewatches.

Derived Absurdity wrote:The Master -
Wow, does everyone here agree on this film? My biggest complaint with PTA is that he's always striving for these big, grand masterpieces but it seems the harder he tries the emptier they feel and the more you can see him doing little other than imitating the superficial aspects of his cinematic heroes. The films of his I really like (Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love, Inherent Vice) seem more content with just being these weird, quirky little films without trying hard to say something or be something beyond themselves, and they're much the better for it. There are aspects of both Magnolia and There Will Be Blood I really like too, but something like The Master just epitomizes all his failings as a filmmaker.

FWIW, as far as arty filmmakers leaving their films ambiguous, I think how well that works radically depends on the film/filmmaker in question. If the film has given you enough substance to chew on, then any ambiguity should provoke you to think about it in light of all that other substance so that it makes sense. On the other hand, if a filmmaker has just made a lot of big, empty gestures towards meaning/substance but hasn't really left much actual meat then, yeah, ambiguous endings will feel meaningless/pointless. That's the exact impression I got with The Master; but if you take something like Mulholland Drive, or No Country for Old Men... those are films that leave plenty of substance by which to interpret their endings. They're, IMO, ambiguity done right, just as The Master is ambiguity done wrong.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #86

Postby Derived Absurdity » Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:17 pm

Yeah I've mostly disliked his quirkier smaller films much less than his grander epic-er films. I didn't like them more, just disliked them less. I tried to convince myself that I liked Punch-Drunk Love both times I watched it, but I just don't. Phantom Thread is in a unique space here - it's smaller and quirkier, but it suffers from the same problems his grander films have, possibly even more so.

Good point on substance. I really want to watch Mulholland Drive again. Also No Country for Old Men. Man, those are damn good movies. Maybe even Inherent Vice again! Maybe I'll like it more this time. And if I don't I'm really really really giving up on PTA for real this time, I swear.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #87

Postby Raxivace » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:12 am

I'm gonna add I agree with DA's take on Phantom Thread.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #88

Postby Raxivace » Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:40 am

So I watched The Haunting (1963) and found it to be pretty good. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the horror films from producer Val Lewton (Of which Robert Wise directed a few) that generated horror through ambiguity more than anything.

I don't really agree that there was too much narration here. This is a psychodrama first and foremost- the narration largely keeps this within the Eleanor character's point of view and seems like a perfectly valid choice for this kind of story about deteriorating psychology to me.

Also there's plenty of story information that the narration doesn't tell us. Like the fact that the Eleanor character is some kind of self-loathing bisexual- she clearly had a thing for the married idiot doctor and resented his wife, yes, but she was also pretty obviously attracted to the Theo girl as well (She styles her hair the way Theo told her to. They even share a bedroom together!). She seems to have some amount of self-hate over it though- hence calling Theo a "freak of nature" (She's not talking about the Theo's ESP nonsense- I think they're still dancing around the final days of the Hayes Code here).

If anything you can say the house is just a scapegoat for this unresolved sexual tension from Eleanor. There's even that scene where they read about the sin of Lust from that library book and how it will damn people and cause them to hear screams or whatever.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #89

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:24 am

I wasn't talking about the narration. I was talking about the talking. Like, between the characters. They just wouldn't shut the fuck up for like two seconds. Minutes and minutes and minutes would go by with just endless conversation. Just them standing together and talking. It was annoying.

Most of the narration was lifted straight from the book, or paraphrased. You could excuse the narration as the film being based off a novel where the protagonist's internal monologue does so much heavy lifting, but there's no excuse for all the talking.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #90

Postby Gendo » Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:45 pm

I also had misunderstood you previously and thought it was about the narration.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #91

Postby Raxivace » Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:01 pm

Faustus mentioned the narration as an issue he had with the film at the very least.

As far as normal dialogue goes Idk man I didn't find it very excessive at all. Seemed pretty normal to me.
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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #92

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:52 pm

Yeah I think I was just bothered by the fact that nothing else was going on during all the talking. Like it was just static boring shots of them just standing or sitting around in the house 90% of the time. There was nothing else interesting going on during it. Might have made it seem like there was a lot more than there was. I didn't mention it originally because I didn't really want to seem excessively negative but I thought it was really boring most of the time.

Like I only saw it like a month ago and I barely remember it, but the narration didn't bother me, because most of it was necessary and it gave important story information. But at least half of the conversations were unnecessary and felt like they always just grounded everything to a halt.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #93

Postby Derived Absurdity » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:42 pm

Touch of Evil - my first Welles. The 1998 version. I had kind of a subdued reaction to it. I thought it was fine. It's hard to think of much about it to say in general as opposed to certain specific aspects of it that I thought were interesting. I liked the deliberately anti-racist twisting of certain audience expectations with the Mexican cop being the hero and the American police captain being the villain. Everyone's behavior here was super-stagey and often unnatural and awkward, even for a fifties movie, including the extras. The dialogue was chaotic, with everyone interrupting each other constantly and sometimes multiple conversations happening on screen at once. I am aware that a lot of Welles' work is partly autobiographical, but I have no familiarity with his life, so I can't tell how much of the character he played is meant to be metafictional, if any. Is he really portraying an intentionally ugly amoral murderous corrupt racist as in some way reflective of a part of himself? The motel suplot with Heston's wife was extremely weak and ridiculous, I thought, so much so that I thought maybe it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, that it was meant to be a commentary on certain sexist tropes that were prevalent in noir at the time, but maybe not. I thought the implied gang rape was stupid and sleazy, not to mention borderline racist, unless it was supposed to be a satire or commentary on something. I came in to this movie with a blank slate, knowing very little about the context in which it was made or the story behind it or anything, so I don't know how much of it was played straight and how much of it was referential, or if it was all one or the other or neither or anything at all.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer - This film was funny as fuck. Funnier than The Lobster, I think. I still like Dogtooth more. This movie kind of played itself in the first half. There was supposed to be tension in the story's slowly escalating unnerving weirdness, but the film itself was already weird to begin with in the manner we've all come to expect from the director at this point, so I didn't know where the weirdness I was supposed to just take for granted ended and where the weirdness I was supposed to acknowledge as unnerving began. I generally choose to take this movie as a commentary on the destructiveness of the male ego/male pride. That's all I'm really able to get out of it. There are some noteworthy aspects and motifs, of course, like for example how almost every single relationship in the movie is purely transactional, but they don't signify anything to me. So it was funny in a very mean and bleak way, but toneless and meaningless.

Before Sunrise - I will do the proper thing and watch the whole trilogy before making any grand judgments, but as of right now I feel mildly underwhelmed. Taken by itself, it seems like an indie screenwriter's fantasy - two lost twentysomethings meet on a train, a deep meaningful connection between them instantaneously sparks, which presumably leads to love, and they spend the rest of the day together airily philosophizing about life and trading faux-deep pretentious grad school quotes with each other. The girl is a romantic, the guy is a romantic disguised as a cynic. Felt vey Woody Allen to me. (Important note: I have not actually seen a Woody Allen movie.) It honestly felt contrived, like it was going through conventional steps, even though it presented itself as real and naturalistic. It didn't help that I found a large bulk of their conversations grating, and that I considered Ethan Hawke's character off-putting - jumpy, too intense, way too in-your-face, performative, borderline aggressive. Julie Delpy's character by contrast was just uninteresting. I didn't perceive much chemistry between them at all. I'm probably in the minority, but it all fell mostly flat. I couldn't help but compare it to Lost in Translation, a movie which basically did the same thing but so much better. Of course almost all movies fall flat when compared to Lost in Translation, so that's not fair.

Heavenly Creatures - Well, that was simply incredible, I think. It instantly cemented itself as one of my new favorite movies. I kind of fell in love with every single aspect of it. It's hard to pick what I like most about it - I love the absolutely effortless blending of surreal frenetic vivid energy and intensity with the heavy emotional gravity its subject matter required of it, to the extent that due to the film's relentless subjectivity and sense of empathy they mutually reinforced and complemented each other instead of clashing. This film shows vividly that you don't need to be austere and restrained, or epic in scope, to have emotional maturity. I love the naturalistic way it charted the path its characters took so that it seemed believable; I love the humane and sympathetic viewpoint it took, so that it wasn't judgmental and moralistic but also not exculpatory of its characters' behavior; it clearly sympathized very much with them and strongly identified with what it imagined they were going through. The movie felt completely unhinged in every possible way, but purposely, as a demonstration of the almost unfathomably turbulent and chaotic emotional lives of hyper-imaginative and intensely troubled teenagers being subject to extremely damaging and confusing experiences. I thought this film was incredibly compelling in every way, and immensely impressive considering how experimental and risky it was and what subject matter it took on and how easily it could have failed.

This shouldn't take away from the fact of it being excellent on its own, but it worked strongly on me because there's a lot of parts to it I connected with - being an emotionally chaotic and at least somewhat disturbed teenager who often retreated into imagination and fantasy worlds, who felt incessantly under siege by the outside world and often from my own head and whose only real means of coping was mental dissociation, who was incredibly impulsive and dangerously obsessive, and who had a delusionally high opinion of certain aspects of myself. Peter Jackson evidently felt the same way, as his empathy for the protagonists is at honestly kind of insane levels. It made little attempt at serious psychological depth; by the end we still can't give a clear answer as to why the characters were driven to murder, but that's fitting; even the characters have no idea why they did it, no one else does either, so why should Jackson think he does? This isn't a psychoanalytic character study, more like an intensely expressionistic experiment in radical empathy.

I like it when I have this much of a reaction to a movie. Even the movies I like don't generally make me feel much. I almost forgot what they can do, how much power they can potentially have. That's kind of why I like movies so much; I can barely describe how this one made me feel, it's not straightforward in any way, and it isn't even all positive, as the movie is of course disturbing and violent, but I thought it was compelling and wrenching and I can't get it out of my head.

The Lion King - Yes, this is what we all decided to see in theaters instead of Midsommar. I tried to be nice and forget the original even existed before I saw this, since I knew it would suck in comparison, and just try to see how it holds up on its own. That's kind of hard to do, as determined as it is to remind you of the original at every passing second, but I tried. The thing is, even when taken by itself, it's not good. None of the animals ever have expressions, as I think some people have pointed out. The coloring is all just washed out greens and blues. Nothing interesting is ever happening on screen, visually. The staging is always just complete shit. No visual imagination ever. The pacing is awkward and off-putting. Scenes were added that add nothing to the movie and ruin its flow. Everything feels sluggish and subdued, which is inevitable for making it all photorealistic. And with everything more realistic the authoritarian and quasi-fascist elements of the original, which could be overlooked back then, are very vivid here, even though they tried to explain it away with added dialogue. Anyway, it was bad.

Columbus - It was nice.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #94

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:22 am

Derived Absurdity wrote:Touch of Evil
One of my favorites. I think part of the disconnect some have with this film (and others) is a lack of experience with noir. Touch of Evil is a noir turned up to 11. With most noirs it's best not to think about the content too deeply (this isn't to say they all lack substance, but it's more that that's not why they're primarily appreciated) and enjoy the style first. In fact, I think one of the reasons noirs are so beloved is because they're all "variations on a theme," where the content is typically traditional crime/mystery drama and the "variations" are all about what kind of spin the directors can put on it with their style and vision. That's mostly why Touch of Evil and The Third Man are considered the best examples of the genre, because everywhere you look the style is just overflowing from every shot and cut. They're also an interesting study in contrast, where The Third Man is much more quietly virtuosic and Touch of Evil is much more ostentatiously virtuosic.

I'm not the Welles fanatic that Raxi is (I'm sure he'll comment on this too), but I've never heard/read that Welles's films are autobiographical. If anything, he seemed the classic, consummate stage performer where there was always a distance between him and the characters he played, screenplays he wrote, and films he directed. This makes sense considering he came from the theater/radio and was doing films long before the "method" was popularized. Probably the most autobiographical thing about Welles's films is how they stylistically embody his larger-than-life personality and uncanny cinematic genius. I don't know if your edition of Touch of Evil has the same bonus features my old DVD did, but on the old DVD I had/watched they included a memo that Welles sent to the studio protesting their cut of the film (part of the tragedy of Welles's career in Hollywood is how little control he had over most of his films post-Citizen Kane, often resulting in the studios hacking them into incoherent messes). In the memo, he goes through all the choices he made from the music to the editing to the compositions and explains what he intended with them and how the film would be ruined without them. That memo is a rare and amazing look inside the mind of someone who had a genuine genius when it came to film as an artform.

All that said, I haven't seen the film in years so it would be difficult to offer any substantial or detailed rebuttal. The "stagey/unnatural/awkward" is largely a product of the genre and time. Noirs are highly stylized, and that often applies to the acting as well. The Third Man is a more natural, subdued take, but even it's far from a modern conception of "natural." The overlapping dialogue was actually one of Welles's innovations. The entire soundtrack of ToE (including the dialogue) was far ahead of its time, doing stuff that even the avant-garde directors wouldn't be doing for over a decade, and that you wouldn't see in the American mainstream until Altman in the 70s. Thing is, lots of noirs kinda revel in sleaziness, and that's part of their appeal; they're very much about the dark, perverted, ugly underbelly of America (and elsewhere) during a time when most depictions of American life were much more idealized and upbeat. Given that they started in the early 40s it's possible to see them (at least the American versions) as reflections of wartime, the dark mirrored version of all the pro-war, "support the troops/war effort!" films that were also being made. So as stylized as noirs were, it's possible to see them as being much more truthful about how those times felt as opposed to how we often equate truth with "naturalism" or whatever.

Anyway, didn't mean to text bomb you, but I thought I might help add some perspective to what was, in a way, the ultimate swan song for classic noir (given that by '58 noirs had pretty much disappeared, and wouldn't appear again until the neo-noirs of the 70s). Here's what I wrote on it ~10 years ago when I saw it:
This is where you're gonna die." scowls the corrupt Police Captain Hank Quinlan to the Mexican drug enforcement officer Vargas near the end of the film; it's one of the most bitingly ironic lines of the film marked by its venomous and viciously modern cynicism both in its tone and themes. Welles famously opens the film with a piece of cinematic technical virtuosity in the form of a 3-minute long take which begins with a close-up of a ticking bomb being placed in the trunk of the car; the camera backs off the car and tracks it on the opposite side of some buildings as it enters into the US/Mexican border town where we are awash in the contrapuntal musical themes that will play a major role throughout the film. We're introduced to Vargas (Charlton Heston) and his gorgeous wife Susan (Janet Leigh) on their honeymoon which is destined to be cut short as the car inevitably explodes in a ball of fire and the police force shows up including Welles' Quinlan and his partner Pete Menzies. As this is happening "Uncle" Joe Grandi - the local drug lord - sends someone to fetch Vargas' wife so he can send a message back to her husband who happens to be a key witness in the trial of Grandi's brother. The film soon sets in motion the dueling forces of Welles' Quinland and Heston's Vargas in their opposing methods of investigation in their search for the culprits.

From this electrifying opening scene the film is relentless in its narrative propulsion; rarely taking time to breathe. As the film progresses it increasingly becomes a clash of the titans with Heston a "good cop" to Welles' "bad cop", but the film goes deeper than that to become a piercing character study of corruption and the moral war between cops who plant evidence to ensure the conviction of those they're convinced are guilty versus upholding a law that is often otherwise impotent in dealing out justice to the guilty. But where the film pushes beyond even these very cliched themes is in Welles' most menacing and, paradoxically, most sympathetic portrayal of the world-wearied but physically towering Quinlan; a man stricken by grief and loss and driven to corruption by his failure to bring justice to his own wife's murder. Welles' Quinlan is one of the great cinematic characters not because of his malicious villainy but because we sense that underneath it all he's a hero that's been driven to his current state. Welles himself casts an imposing figure and gives a magnificent performance for an actor often prone to over-the-top theatrical showmanship in the place of truly psychologically genuine and penetrating performances. But here he hits every right note. Staying with him every step is the eminently professional Charlton Heston as the straight-laced Vargas. Heston gives a nuanced performance that slowly begins to disintegrate as the film progresses and not only the case but also his and his wife's life is at stake. It also seems unfair not to mention the charming Janet Leigh who, sadly, isn't given much to do outside her excellent opening scene as a foil to Akim Taniroff's Joe Grandi who is charming in his own right.

If the screenplay, characterizations, and performances are superb on their own its truly Welles' radical and idiosyncratic direction that galvanizes it all. Reading the 58 page memo Welles sent to the studio after watching the hack job they did to the film to make it more "commercial" (this memo actually a "short" version of the earlier one he sent) one becomes painfully aware of how painfully aware Welles himself was of every shot, cut, and narrative thread and how painstakingly conceived and executed they were; not just from a technical perspective but in what effect these were meant to produce on an audience. Having not seen the studio cut it's difficult to say how right Welles was but looking at "his" (or as close to his as we can get) version it's easy to assume he was wholly correct. Though I lack the space to expound on the greater nuances, I will mention the most outstanding features; especially Welles' high contrast and very much noir-inspired lighting (which he himself pioneered in Citizen Kane) which highlights his pervasive use of oblique angles; especially the low-angle mid shot which has these larger than life characters looming threateningly over the camera. Equally notable is his use of over-lapping dialogue despite the impeccable and precise long takes and editing patterns with dialogue that has a contradictory mix of writing that has the feeling of writing from classic Hollywood and yet feels almost improvised.

Ultimately its Welles' genius and vision that dominates a film that could easily have been a terribly cheesy B-movie and yet every element comes together to form a masterpiece. We should be interminably thankful we're able to see it an a form as close as possible to what Welles intended. I've had mixed feelings towards Welles' filmography; infinitely admiring Citizen Kane but not loving it, looking at The Magnificent Ambersons as a butchered potential masterpiece that's incredibly difficult to critique in its present state, and being somewhat bored by The Stranger and Lady from Shanghai. But Touch of Evil is a film I can love as much as I admire. It's truly one of the greatest American films and one of the genuine masterpieces of cinema history.


Derived Absurdity wrote:Before Sunrise -
Awww, another of my favorites. Honestly, if you didn't like Sunrise there's not much reason to watch the other two films because they're just more of the same, the only difference being that the characters are older and have changed somewhat; but they still have the same concept of them meeting and talking over a period of a day/night (or so). I think the reason I loved Sunrise so much is that I did actually have one relationship that felt very much like that. The circumstances of our meeting were entirely different, but the "staying up all night talking about life and philosophy" just rang so true to my experience. Like with Malick's films, I don't think we're meant to take the philosophizing as being deep as opposed to just being expressions of what those characters think/feel. I think your dislike boils down to just not liking the characters, which is fine, but for me it was less about liking the characters and more about relating to the depiction of their relationship. I can't think of another film that's ever presented a romance like that, how a connection blossoms over a night of nothing but conversation. Contrived? Well, as all films are contrived, to that extent yes; but beyond that I don't see it.

Woody Allen and Lost in Translation are interesting comparisons. Woody Allen is far more cynical and his character(s) often come off much more as little more than mouthpieces for his thoughts and comedy. That's great if you like Woody Allen (and I do, a lot), but annoying if you don't. Of his, I'd most highly recommend Annie Hall (the film probably most like Before Sunrise), Manhattan, and Love & Death. Compared to Sunrise, Woody is far more cynical and far more overtly intellectual. Sunrise is a couple of young, naive, idealists (however much they feign cynicism, they can't feign that youthful vigor); Allen always came across as a jaded nihilist/absurdist. Lost in Translation, OTOH, is far more of a visual film, more impressionistic, more about the place and the feelings/mood it evokes. The relationship is part of that film, but only a part. It's more of a catalyst for the experience than it is the experience in itself. Though I initially gave Sunrise a 9.5 and LiT a 9, now I'd have a hard time saying that the former is genuinely better than the latter, especially given how the latter has so vividly stuck with me. It may just be that Sunrise felt more "personal" to me, but LiT is definitely a masterpiece as well and my initial rating probably underrated it if anything.

Derived Absurdity wrote:Heavenly Creatures -
Excellent film, but I was less impressed than you. I thought it a solid 8/10, but I don't think I could go higher. Again, much of our difference seems to come down to how differently we personally connected with the film. Have you seen The Lovely Bones? In a way it felt like Jackson trying to remake Heavenly Creatures. I mean, they're very different story/character-wise, but that mix of vivid surrealism with intense suspense and emotional gravity is similar between both. Heavenly Creatures is the much better film, IMO, but you might dig The Lovely Bones too.
"As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being." -- Carl Jung

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #95

Postby Derived Absurdity » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:31 pm

I haven't seen The Lovely Bones yet, I've heard it's not very good. I will.

I didn't dislike Before Sunrise. I just didn't like it much. I didn't have much of a reaction to it at all. Just felt a bit subdued at the experience of watching two slightly annoying people walk around and act all pretentious with each other. I didn't really think they showed much of a connection or a spark with each other. In fact I thought it was kind of mysterious that they even liked each other's company much, since they seemed so fundamentally different, but infatuation works in mysterious ways, I guess. I think, fairly or not, I get a hint of contrivance whenever I'm shown a couple instantly develop a spark the moment they meet on screen, even though I know that happens in real life sometimes, it always just smacks of fake movie bullshit to me. It really needs to develop first for it to ring authentic. You actually need to deeply know a person before you can graduate past superficial infatuation, and one conversation isn't going to do it. One of the many reasons I like LiT so much; there was no immediate spark, just an extremely gradual build-up, so much so that you can't even pinpoint the tipping point, which is often what happens in real life.. Fury Road's thing with Max and Furiosa is similar.

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #96

Postby Raxivace » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:24 am

I'm gonna +1 everything Jimbo said about Touch of Evil (Well I liked The Stranger and Lady from Shanghai more than he did).

Touch of Evil in particular isn't a film I would call metafictional though (His most metafictional ones are F for Fake and Other Side of the Wind, with Citizen Kane having elements with the News on the March segment which even contains a War of the Worlds joke. Hell now that I think about it in one of his radio plays he had the villain be named Herman Mankiewicz lmao.)- it's Welles doing a straightforward genre story to prove he could still work within the studio system of Hollywood- he's doing "one for them" in other words, but of course its still going to be in his style.

It's hard to even say when Welles even got attached to the film though since there are contradicting reports on how he actually came on board.

Wikipedia wrote:There are two stories about how Welles ended up directing Touch of Evil. Charlton Heston recalled that Welles was originally hired to act in the film only, not to direct or write. Universal was keen to secure Heston for the lead, but he wanted the studio to confirm the director before he signed on. After learning that Welles was in the cast, Heston expressed his greater interest in starring if Welles were directing.

The other story is that Welles had recently worked with producer Albert Zugsmith, known as the "King of the Bs", on a film called Man in the Shadow and was interested in directing something for him. Zugsmith offered him a pile of scripts, of which Welles asked for the worst to prove he could make a great film out of a bad script. At the time, the script was called Badge of Evil, after a Whit Masterson novel on which it was based. Welles did a rewrite and took it into production. After a decade in Europe during which he completed only a few films, Welles was eager to direct for Hollywood again, so he agreed to take only an acting fee for the role of Quinlan.[8][9]


I'm not sure which of these stories is true, or how much they could be true, though both give the idea that this particular project was something he kind of fell into.

Eva Yojimbo wrote:'m not the Welles fanatic that Raxi is (I'm sure he'll comment on this too), but I've never heard/read that Welles's films are autobiographical.
This is a tricky thing to really address based on my understanding (And I'm hardly an expert, so take what I say with a grain of salt). Some elements in his films are certainly taken from his own life- Bernstein in Citizen Kane being an early example since that character was named after a significant figure from his youth, and its sometimes theorized that Welles' common theme of betrayal between a younger man and their role model is probably generated from the particularly tragic relationship Welles had with his own father.

Wikipedia wrote:On December 28, 1930, when Welles was 15, his father died of heart and kidney failure at the age of 58, alone in a hotel in Chicago. Shortly before this, Welles had announced to his father that he would stop seeing him, believing it would prompt his father to refrain from drinking. As a result, Orson felt guilty because he believed his father had drunk himself to death because of him.[26] His father's will left it to Orson to name his guardian. When Roger Hill declined, Welles chose Maurice Bernstein.[27]:71–72


Like that kind of anecdote does make me look at a movie like Chimes at Midnight differently. This isn't to say I think he necessarily intentionally crafted a version of Hal as an analogue for himself and Falstaff as his father, but that type of relationship is recurring enough throughout his films to be notable.

Other Side of the Wind is probably the biggest outlier to address here since despite specifically denying the movie was about him, its still about a classic film director (Played by another film director in John Huston!) trying to make a comeback in New Hollywood whose apprentice is Peter Bogdanovich and uh its kind of hard not to read Welles into that (At least partially, the macho bullshit and likely repressed homosexuality in that character don't really seem to describe Welles at all), especially since Huston's director character and Bogdanovich ultimately have a falling out like Welles and Bogdanovich would shortly go on to have after the shooting of the movie. In that film particularly I don't doubt Welles is expressing a lot of his views on these young kids that claimed to love him and the other classical Hollywood directors and grew up on Citizen Kane but still did not fund his new stuff and put people like John Ford out of work.

(EDIT: Oh and how I could I forget, one character in TOSOTW is very blatantly supposed to be Pauline Kael!)

So you combine what is likely some personal influence (Even if unconscious influence) with the fact that yeah, he wanted to craft good stories and dazzle audiences in his own way and there are absolutely characters that are not meant to be a stand-in for him...it gets tricky to sift through his work and determine what is truth and what might be something he spun up, especially since in the 70's he really started to evolve his approach and style in a radical new direction, no doubt due to the influence of Oja Kodar. And isn't being unable to discern what's truth and what's fiction the most Wellesian aspect of all?
"[Cinema] is a labyrinth with a treacherous resemblance to reality." - Andrew Sarris

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Re: I made a 2019 thread too   Reply #97

Postby Derived Absurdity » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:14 am

Interesting. Anyway -

You Were Never Really Here - manages the uncommon feat of being both taut and tense and yet incredibly dull and unengaging at the same time. For a pulpy noir-ish action film that's not even particularly long, it's remarkable how boring it was. I guess because it focused so inordinately on the main character, whom it gave some degree of depth in the form of random unsettling flashbacks and Joaquin Phoenix's performance, but didn't give us any reason to actually care about him.

Blade Runner (Final Cut) - I hadn't seen movie before. My initial thoughts are very much mixed. The production and art design were vastly, vastly superior to, and much more thought-out than, the character or story work, to the extent that it's clear that the former is what the filmmakers truly cared about, with the latter comparatively tacked-on. 2019 LA apparently has constantly pitch black skies, rain, floating zeppelins, towering monolithic pyramidal skyscrapers, giant platforms that emit huge balls of fire, and hundred-foot high moving billboards with Asian women hawking Coca-Cola. In fact everything is very very Asian for some reason. Taken on its face, the plot turned out to be just a standard detective yarn, only in an unusual setting and under unusual circumstances, but stretched paper-thin. The characterization was virtually non-existent; for a movie which has as its primary theme the question of what it means to be human, it doesn't actually seem very interested in humans. It doesn't compare well with Alien in this respect, which actually managed to make you care about all its characters, despite the fact that it had many more. Maybe that was the point, that the replicants were more human than the actual humans and the divide between the two is artificially imposed by capitalism, but the movie's primary replicant, Rachel, is if anything even less human than Deckard is, looking and acting like a mannequin the entire time. It works better with Roy Batty, the most compelling character and the one most straightforwardly noble and sympathetic, and the one who shows Deckard and the audience in the end that life actually has intrinsic worth, no matter how it was created. There were some vague hints the movie raised that Deckard himself might be a replicant, which adds some overall nuance, but in this narrow respect, at least, ruins Deckard's arc; as the audience's human surrogate, he's supposed to learn the value of all life by the end, but that's kind of cancelled out if he was a replicant himself the whole time. On a higher level, it doesn't destroy the thematic center of the movie as much as it does the character aspect; in fact it just adds to it. Deckard being a replicant deepens the themes of the divide between replicants and humans being artificial, and the fact that we don't really know or can't even tell either way just proves the point that it doesn't really matter.

I take issue with the rape scene; mostly how it was shot and framed, and its context in the story. I have no problem with the protagonist being morally questionable - that's not uncommon in noirs, from what I know, which this movie is - and he didn't consider her to be a person at the time anyway, which mitigates the action somewhat, so that's not really the issue, but everything from the sax music to the lighting to the whole vibe of the scene makes it appear that the filmmakers, like the protagonist, didn't consider the scene to be rape, either. And there's no purposeful re-framing or re-contextualizing of the protagonist afterward, or any other cinematic sign that we're supposed to see him in a different light, or that his actions crossed any kind of line. And furthermore, him and the rape victim apparently fall in love at the end, which raises all sorts of additional issues. It would be something if the rape scene was simply one narrative part of the movie's larger goal of questioning what gives something/someone humanity and autonomy, but I don't think it was, or else (I'd like to think) it would have done the ending differently. And if it wasn't, and it was actually meant to be purely romantic like all the signs say, well, it would of course be all kinds of ironic that a film which has as its primary themes humanity and autonomy (and the denial of such) could accidentally shoot an explicit rape scene and not even realize it. This is also coupled with the fact that all the female characters are grossly sexualized and underdeveloped (and most die in a gratuitously pain-filled and sexualized fashion), which may be par for the course for both noir and sci fi but is still bad.

I think a straightforward reading of the scene shows that Deckard's purpose was to get her to open up, emotionally, by loosening her boundaries and pushing her to where he thought she should go and whatnot, to give in to her new emotions. He does tell her to say things like "kiss me" and so on, which might just his aggressive, coercive way to help her along in becoming more emotionally open. He's dealing with his own ambiguous feelings at this point, unsure if she fully qualifies as human and autonomous, so that might be mitigating. It's still rape, though, and my problem is not that it happened but that the filmmakers and scriptwriters didn't seem to realize it.

(An additional problem is that Rachel is a good example of the "Born Sexy Yesterday" trope, the disturbing and creepy male fantasy that seems common in sci fi, where a woman is physically sexually mature but mentally naive and child-like and needs guidance and support from the protagonist. It's creepy and bad.)

I didn't find the movie as thought-provoking or cerebral as its reputation led me to believe. In fact it was pretty much on the level of a Nolan film in terms of substance - it presents some compelling ideas about humanity and memory, but that's all it does; it presents them, it doesn't go much deeper than that. It doesn't have much that's interesting to actually say about them. And, much like a Nolan film, the story was so riddled with silly plot elements and world-building that it prevents me from taking it very seriously. But while Nolan's films at least are usually paced and presented so well that you're too caught up in the story to notice this the first time, this film was so slow and plodding that it gave me plenty of opportunity to think about them while watching it. I don't want to watch the sequel.

Support the Girls - it was nice. Doesn't fall neatly into any one genre. Screwball comedy, neorealist drama, character study, social commentary, it goes on. It was only "mildly" everything at all times - only mildly funny, mildly entertaining, mildly moving, mildly incisive, and so on, but it was still nice. An empathic portrait of life at the nexus of capitalism and sexism, with labor/female solidarity as its primary theme. It was nice. Did I mention it was nice? Also Haley Lu Richardson keeps getting hotter with every movie I see her in, which I consider it necessary to mention.

The Rider - It was good.

In the Mood for Love - Oh, that was pretty good. Not Lost in Translation good by any means, but good. Was reminiscent of Call Me By Your Name, sort of, to me, in that both felt like they were primarily supposed to be dreams or memories. In the Mood for Love was shot in a way that felt distancing and almost voyeurism, constantly from behind blurred windowpanes and such, so that everything felt blurry and surreal. There were often scenes in slow motion with nothing but music playing. It also jumped around in time a lot, so you could never get a very good temporal handle on things until the end. It was all very dream-like. More accurately, it was very memory-like. Memories and dreams are extremely similar when you think about it. They both have similar structures. Affect and emotional texture dominate. Call Me By Your Name had the impression that it was a wistful idealized memory, and so did this, although not nearly as much. In the Mood for Love was much more melancholic and sad. It had a lot of stuff that really resonated with me about the transience and impermanence of things, of lost opportunities (like tears in rain), of simple random yet fateful mistiming, and of course of loneliness. As one of the main characters outright states, "love can just creep up on you like that", and the movie presents exactly what I said earlier, how love can slowly manifest without your awareness, with no sudden tipping point, no noticeable rupture. It was emotionally subtle and very fine-grained, maybe not layered but still very mature. Near the end the movie expands to more explicitly incorporate history and world events, as footage from said world events and historical locations suddenly interrupt what was before a pretty insular and personal story, but that might be consistent with the movie's whole obsession with memory and whatnot, since it takes place during and at the director's childhood. It was very good. I didn't fall in love with it, but I appreciate it.


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