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Movies i've seen...

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Posted

There were other things that were just stupid with this movie, but you get the gist. The only thing I can think is that this movie was made to set the scene for the coming Ironman franchise. I hope they get better writers.

I saw Ironman the weekend before last. This past weekend we rented Unbreakable. Now that's a great superhero movie! M. Night to my rescue!

You have to admit though, Downy Jr is quite amazing as Stark? Or maybe it's because I'm a Downy fan.

Also, Shayamalan is releasing a new movie The Happaning. I do thoroughly enjoy his movies, but they are a little formulaic. Still, I am looking forward to his latest offering!

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Posted

You have to admit though, Downy Jr is quite amazing as Stark? Or maybe it's because I'm a Downy fan.

Also, Shayamalan is releasing a new movie The Happaning. I do thoroughly enjoy his movies, but they are a little formulaic. Still, I am looking forward to his latest offering!

Yes, Downey, Jr. was good. I've always liked him. I guess I just wished he had more to do than make the suits! ;)

I'm looking forward to The Happening too!

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Posted

My review of movies I've seen recently:

Juno. Quite possibly the most overrated garbage since "Crash." I just didn't get the point of this movie, unless it's point was to just remind you that it's hip with a "witty" Oscar-winning screenplay. The movie had ridiculous amounts of dialog concerning crappy grunge rock and obscure Japanese horror movies...where was the humor? I laughed maybe...2 times? I couldn't even finish the last 10-15 minutes.

Iron Man. For some reason, I thought it was boring the first time. However, I'll admit that it's the best Marvel movie since X2. I loved the character, I just hated the 30 minute 'building-of-the-suit' sequence.

The Incredible Hulk. Okay, once again, I don't understand today's critics. This movie sucked on nearly every level except special effects, and not being as bad as the original 'Hulk.' The acting was just...atrocious. Everything was cliche, the romance was ripped straight out of King Kong, the antagonist's actions were random and didn't make any sense. Not to mention this whole movie was just completely boring in the process. Apparently, Hulk fans liked it, but I thought it was just a train wreck of a movie.

To make up for Juno and The Incredible Hulk, I saw two amazing movies on serial killers:

Summer of Sam. As a Spike Lee fan, I'm surprised this isn't considered one of his finest works. Amazing acting, incredible cinematography, realistic dialog, smart but in no way pretentious symbolism, and best of all, a very original and socially significant story. It's about the 'Son of Sam' murders in NY during the 1970s, and the effect it has an middle class Italian neighborhood. Brilliant movie.

Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer. I saw this two days ago, and it automatically became one of my favorite films of all time. While the brilliant "Silence of the Lambs" portrays 'smarter' and intellectual (Hannibal Lector) serial killers with more precise motives/targets, Henry violently shows sociopaths on the other side of the spectrum: two former convicts who kill civilians just to pass the time. Sometimes the acting felt a bit rushed, particularly the romance scenes, but the characters are original, realistic, and complex. A recommendation for anybody, though it is VERY disturbing on a lot of levels.

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Posted (edited)

Wow. Summer of Sam, in my view, is terrible - choppy film making and uneven storytelling. Juno was not that bad; neither was The Hulk though it was not better than IronMan. Hellboy II and The Dark Knight should surpass it though. Oh, while we're on it: I saw Wanted which is basically a live action cartoon - a different kind of superhero film. It has a certain amount of wit though it is predictable . The studios really are hitting their stride with these films ( most are average to good at the moment) but I'm not sure how many more I can take. I'm yearning for a great action flick ( unabashedly) that is not derivative of comics - Die Hard anyone? Heat? True Lies? In any case, as for films with more substance, I have hit a dry spell and will peruse the thread for some suggestions.

Edited by Hugo Holbling
Fixed tags.

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Posted

I finally got around to watching No Country For Old Men and was of course blown away by Bardem's performance. It was nice to have a chance to point out that I've been calling him the finest actor of his generation for some time now (everyone should see Mar Adentro at least). The scene at the gas station was particularly powerful, wonderfully conveying a sense of dread through gesture and tone. The extras (I saw the film on DVD) made it clear that the movie character was largely Bardem's creation, rather than being explicit - or even implicit - in the book, but I now want to read it anyway.

I also caught Night Shyamalan's The Happening but haven't made up my mind about it yet. I need to see it a few more times, I think.

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Posted

I

I also caught Night Shyamalan's The Happening but haven't made up my mind about it yet. I need to see it a few more times, I think.

In the theater? :p I was anticipating this but my excitement leveled of when it got panned and a few friends gave me weird looks when I asked about its quality. You convinced me about The Village but not Lady in the Water and this seems particularly bad. I'm waiting for the DvD. Shyamalan has sadly fallen of my "No questions asked" before seeing list.

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Posted (edited)

Wow. Summer of Sam, in my view, is terrible - choppy film making and uneven storytelling. Juno was not that bad; neither was The Hulk though it was not better than IronMan. Hellboy II and The Dark Knight should surpass it though. Oh, while we're on it: I saw Wanted which is basically a live action cartoon - a different kind of superhero film. It has a certain amount of wit though it is predictable . The studios really are hitting their stride with these films ( most are average to good at the moment) but I'm not sure how many more I can take. I'm yearning for a great action flick ( unabashedly) that is not derivative of comics - Die Hard anyone? Heat? True Lies? In any case, as for films with more substance, I have hit a dry spell and will peruse the thread for some suggestions.

Heat was magnificent, one of my favorite films. I'm still waiting for Michael Mann to do another masterpiece. I really liked Miami Vice, but still, I'm not impressed with his recent produced works. (The Kingdom and some other movie that I forget right now)

If you haven't seen it, I recommend Thief. It's one of Mann's earliest works, and I like it mainly because it's similar to Heat in terms of deep character development and a strive for realism accompanied by a very atmospheric soundtrack.

I like the uneveness of Summer of Sam, honestly. While I do loathe many films that are self-indulgent (why I'm not a big fan American Beauty) I think the somewhat non-sequitir segments added substance to what could've been a simpler story. For example, I just loved the references to Reggie Jackson's number 44, and the interviews that were given to the black community.

Edit:

I have to disagree with you on films not borrowing from comics. If anything, Hollywood needs to recruit more of its writers from the comics industry. American and English comic book writers are miles ahead of television and film writers (though, of course, they are the same thing sometimes) in originality in all genres. People think 'Hancock' was a creative plot, obviously they haven't read 'Ex Machina' by Brian K. Vaughn or 'Pax Romana' by Jonathan Hickman. Of course, the comics industry has its own less-than-stellar works, however, in comparison to what's being shown in theaters...theres no contest.

Edited by Recspecs

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Posted

I have no problems with that but I also like action films outside the specifically comic. I've already seen Thief. Thanks, though. Good flick. As to Miami Vice, it is my least favorite from Mann. Heat, of course, is one of his best. And I hope you're not talking about not liking Collateral. That was great work.

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Posted

The Incredible Hulk was a waste of time. Liv Tyler looks terrible in this movie. Her lips so full of botox that her profile on camera was comical. They tried to undo the mistakes of a movie that was too action orientated with a contrived love story and weak plot. I honestly couldn't shake the feeling that the movie seemed "cheap". It certainly lacked the epic nature of other comic based movies.

Speaking of superheroes, has anybody given Hancock a watch? I'm looking forward to it. Theron and Smith should be an interesting on screen duo.

I'll definitely be giving Henry: Portrait of a serial killer a watch. I'm intrigued by serial murder, as well as Henry Lee Lucas' altogether strange case (his is the strangest of strange breed).

Hugo, if you enjoyed the pace of No Country for Old Men, you might enjoy another recent oscar winner, There Will Be Blood. Admittedly, I have to give this movie another watch before I attempt any sort of review. What I can say with certainty however, is Daniel Day-Lewis gives an amazing performance as a hard man hell-bent on success, so much so that at times you wonder if he's a sociopath.

Finally, I was given the movie Teeth by a friend with a strange sense of humour. I haven't watched it yet, mostly because the idea of a movie about a woman with teeth where there shouldn't be any, doesn't seem the most believable or compelling of plots. If anyone here has seen it, I'd love to know what you thought. Also, I'd like to know what on earth you were thinking :)

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Posted

Hancock. The biggest disappointment of the year. What should have been an irreverent and loving satire of comic films instead follows all the standard tropes, descending into a hodge-podge of drama and comedy that do not cohere. The premise of a drunk, depressed, superhero causing more havoc by "helping" than he does sitting on the sidelines is fantastic and with more skilled writers and/or director could have been a nice send up of the superhero genre. Instead, this is just an average superhero film with comedic elements that should have constituted the entire running time - the film needlessly strays into the dramatic, playing it straight where it should be ironic or satirical.

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Posted

Wall-E. This is an incredible achievement in film making - a modern dystopia in a children's film with all the tools to make kids like it but thematically quite grown up, critiquing the very thing that makes it charming - over reliance on robots. Wall-E is the last of his kind, a cleaner left behind when humans evacuated the earth. The first portion of the film literally consists of nothing but his daily adventures with unobtrusive and clever indications of all that went wrong - degraded signs inform us of the state of the world and Wall-E himself while commercials play in the background informing us of what went wrong. This being Pixar, the graphics, of course , are stunning conveying in wonderful expanse a desolate and used planet ( the earth has literally become a trash dump) and the wonders of space. In the last half, it picks up wonderfully and closes out nice enough- a rather somber, low-key ending appropriate to both the central story and the large themes surrounding it. Great work.

It reminds me of that other Pixar great The Incredibles which deftly intermixed high quality themes into a film for all ages. Its amusing how deliberate the film is in its contrast - a highly technologically advanced human civilization which has nevertheless clearly devolved - unable to even stand up straight much less walk on their own two feet. Pixar was gunning for far more than the romantic tale that drives the film and for that the writers must be commended.

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Posted

I saw "Mongol", the first in a planned trilogy based on the life of Genghis Khan. Despite occasionally disconnected cuts, the movie is stunningly beautiful, filmed in Mongolia and Russia.

Here's a link to the NYTimes review:

http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/06/06/movies/06mong.html?8dpc

After watching the movie, I felt certain that many of the incidents in Temudgen's early life must have been invented by the filmmakers, so I got PAUL RATCHNEVSKY's "Genghis Khan His Life and Legacy" out of the library, and read it. It's all true! (Or, at least, all legendarily true.)

http://www.antiqbook.com/boox/trylin/B04000067.shtml

Ratchnevsky (a German Sinologist whose book was translated from German) offers little insight into how, exactly, the Mongols conquered their world, despite being unorganized, technologically backward nomads. Instead, he debunks the notion that Genghis was a brilliant military tactician and strategist. His genius was political -- uniting the warring Mongol factions, and organizing what had been self-interested raiders into a disciplined army.

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Posted

Do you think Wall-E's resemblance to the main (robot) character from the Short Circuit movies is coincidental?

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Posted

Do you think Wall-E's resemblance to the main (robot) character from the Short Circuit movies is coincidental?

Didn't even think about it so I'm not sure. I hardly remember the Short Circuit films. C. Thomas Howell right?

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Do you think Wall-E's resemblance to the main (robot) character from the Short Circuit[/i'] movies is coincidental?

Didn't even think about it so I'm not sure. I hardly remember the Short Circuit films. C. Thomas Howell right?

Wall-E also looks quite a bit like a metal ET.

mosaic, I agree that it's a movie that can be watched with pleasure by both children and adults. I think that doesn't happen much anymore because marketers often create their plans around specific age groups, especially in movies since the rating system went into effect in the '60s I think. Rocky and Bullwinkle, Pee Wee's Playhouse, and Sesame Street (at least back in the late 1980s when I watched it with my daughter) come to mind as examples of tv shows that appealed to more than one age group. Another movie that fits this niche pretty brilliantly is To Kill a Mockingbird.

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Posted

I have no problems with that but I also like action films outside the specifically comic. I've already seen Thief. Thanks, though. Good flick. As to Miami Vice, it is my least favorite from Mann. Heat, of course, is one of his best. And I hope you're not talking about not liking Collateral. That was great work.

I loved Collateral. I even think Collateral did some things better than Heat, but I won't go into that.

Concerning action movies, the most impressive action film I've seen to this date is RoboCop. It's finally starting to get appreciation from academia, so I can't it's underrated, but I will say it's under-appreciated by the film school crowd, because they seem to hypnotized by whatever Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarintino does. (Nothing against the two, I'm just speculating :-))

I still have to see "Escape from NY," though. I've heard nothing but things about that film. And after seeing The Thing, I'm very eager.

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The Dark Knight. Words defy me. Incredible. Stupendous. Mesmerizing. Diabolical. It could have easily been called The Joker as the late Heath Ledger inhabits so completely, you're always itching for him to get back on the screen. A fantastic performance. Christan Bale, of course, is superb but the Joker takes the film. Unbelievable. The film more than lives up to the hype, with an opening bank robbery rivaling any great action film and a mid-point where you realize that you're not merely watching standard comic book fare but a criminal saga - an attempt to think and explore the consequences of the Batman character. Here, as in the first film, I dislike the too glossy and message mongering narration of Batman as a symbol but this is a minor quibble, more than made up for by Nolan's direction. It is picture perfect, developing the film at a boil constantly rising the pressure until the explosive finale. The film is quite dark and never relents, only upping the ante as we spiral more and more into the chaos the "agent of chaos" desires. I do not want to describe too much the villainy of Ledger's Joker but he is up there with, if not already surpassed, Bardem's character in No Country for Old Men. Completely diabolical but it is the talent of Nolan as it was the Coen's to use these characters to explore the human condition. Brilliant stuff that I will see again.

And yes, the film thrills as it should and does not short shrift in its action but I'd be shocked if anyone was not more compelled by the Joker and his diabolical machinations. Harvey Dent (two-face) is also in the film, played quite well by Aaron Eckhart to notch another accolade under its belt. The film does not crumble under the weight of having too many villains or characters ( I see you Spiderman 3) but manages, incredibly, to weave them all into its overarching theme and story. See it!

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Posted

I too thought the film was incredibly well done and the most entertaining film of the summer, and depending on how the rest of the year plays out, the entire year. The cries for Heath's Oscar are however, premature and while his vaudeville performance was spectacular, people need patience. The film might as well been named The Joker since Batman does not get much focus in a movie named after him.

Highly recommended! :p

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Posted

The calls for an Oscar are overblown but I won't let it detract from his performance nor should it negatively affect the perception of his performance once they see the film. When something is hyped to that point, it becomes very easy to see flaws and nitpick but there is no real reason to. It is still that good and disturbing. The man is basically unrecognizable considering the many teen pop flicks he has done.

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Posted (edited)

In order to do this review justice I must talk about the roots of the film's adaptation of the comic book hero.

Batman had always been a crimefighter and a detective, but this status had not been examined in great depth until Frank Miller in the mid eighties, and that heralded the birth of the modern age of comics.

Miller brought a psychological and sociological dimension to the black and white world of heroism and villany in his Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One in 1986-87. This changes were initially included in Tim Burton's films, Batman and Batman Returns, but only superficially at the visual level of Gotham as a neo-gothic metropolis and a shallow attempt at psychology: a man has to be disturbed to dress up as a bat and jump buildings. But there's much more to Batman than that and thankfully, the director Christopher Nolan was astute enough to reaflize that.

In Batman Begins, the character's origins included far more than just a traumatic experience of the death of parents (the father being an idealist) it also gave a raison d'etre for a crimefighter who operates outside of the law.

Now, in the sequel, Nolan (also the co-writer) has more freedom to explore the Batman as a symbol that terrorize those who prey upon the citizens of Gotham: its very own underbelly of criminals and corrupt state officials, and he went further in investigating the limits of that symbol with the novel introduction of a villain who lacks all reason or purpose: the Joker. Heath Ledger's Joker is superior to Jack Nicholson's clownish portrayal for the simple reason: the Joker had no back story in the entire history of the comic medium until Burton decided on one in the first Batman, a convenient one that tied to Batman's own origins.

Now, in the Dark Knight, we get pseudo-autobiographical explanations on top of explanations from the Joker himself about his scars and metal state. That made him less of a typical antagonist, and more of a cosmic force of unpredictable energy, an "agent of chaos" that terrorizes all and sundry, including the criminals themselves. He is easily one of the greatest villains of cinematic history, up there with Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter and Bardem's Cirrugh.

This alone makes the film the best comic book adaptation in the genre that began 30 years ago with Donner's Superman. But the movie is more than a comic book adaptation, for it also doubles as a crime drama that rivals the best in that genre as well, with supberb acting and near flawless direction.

Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne seems even more confident in the role of a spoiled playboy, and that includes Michael Caine as his butler Alfred, and Morgan Freeman as his weapons expert, Lucious Fox. Gary Oldman is all but invisible in his role, Lt. Gordon.

Aaron Eckhardt as the noble District Attorney Harvey Dent erased all the disgusting memories of the hammy version by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever. The film is as much about the tragedy of Harvey Dent as it is about Batman and the Joker, and Eckhardt employs his talents as a self-important idealist to the hilt here, and his transformation may have been overdone or undersold, but the film hardly suffers from it.

Maggie Gyllenhall is a superior actress to the doe-eyed Katie Holmes, the previous film's only weak spot, and she presented the movie its tension of conflicted romantic interest.

The only flaws I could detect were the slightly heavy handed dialogue, especially at the end, and the length of the film may have exhausted the patience of many film goers used to the steady diet of summer fluff, but none of them truly detract from this great cinematic experience.

Edited by Campanella
typos/forgot to mention Gordon

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Posted

I saw The Dark Knight last night (which, since it was 2 and 1/2 hours long, left me with little time to re-read the Genghis Khan biography). My friend wanted to see "Mamma Mia!", but I argued for Dark Knight, on the basis of Mosaic's and Campanella's reviews, as well as this very funny review trashing the musical:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2008/07/28/080728crci_cinema_lane

Like Anthony Lane, I love musicals, and deplore the modern movie tradition of starring non-singers and non-dancers in them. "Chicago" may have won the Academy Award, but I didn't like it.

Unfortunately, I didn't think Dark Knight was very good. Heath Ledger, who has been drawing rave reviews from professional critics as well as from Campanella, did a good job as The Joker -- but I would not call him one of the great movie villians. He's not as funny as Jack Nicholson was, and his twitchy insanity, while mildly unnerving, is certainly not as intense as Hannibal Lector.

In my opinion, the movie was too realistic. The surreal characters of Batman and The Joker should inhabit a surreal world that adds to the mood (as they did in the original Batman movie) -- instead, they live in New York. The minor characters were good -- all of them looked as if they could go just as whacked as Batman or Joker at any moment -- but that was insufficient to keep me from glancing repeatedly at my watch. When the Joker was captured for the first time, I hoped and prayed that the movie would soon be over. No such luck. Like the "heads" that come up on the double-headed coin that Eckhardt flips, the remaining hour was inevitable.

There were a couple of scenes of Batman soaring through the night sky that were mildly thrilling, but the action scenes were mediocre. All of the fights were filmed using the modern "quick cut" technique, in which the camera movement rather than the choreography gives the illusion of action.

The movie wasn't bad -- but it wasn't nearly as much fun as "Mongol". Also, I had to listen to my friend complaining that we should have gone to "Mamma Mia!" instead. Unless Mamma Mia! is better than I suspect, I wouldn't go that far.

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Posted

I wonder if anyone here has seen Pulp Fiction. I saw it recently and it was such a great movie...but I didn't catch half the references and allusions that were apparently made.

It was funny, gorey, witty, bizarre...loved it.

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Zeitgeist - I posted this in another discussion, but thought I'd mention it here, since I thought it was eye-opening in some ways. I'm not sure if all of it is available, but I saw at least 2 episodes available on Youtube.

Although I was a bit in awe of this film and what it had to say, it did also reek of a conspiracy theory movie, and at the end seemed to add to what it was rallying against, in some ways. But I do recommend giving it a viewing.

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Posted (edited)

Traitor. This was a medicore film with enough material to be a great one. Don Cheadle plays a muslim, born in Sudan but a U.S. citizen who apparently sells explosives to terrorists and is also one himself. The film is never convincing in the latter potrayal even as Cheadle ostensibly performs terrorists acts - at no point do you really believe he is as his demeanor is too calm, relaxed and mildly conflicted. The performance is odd and something I blame on the director - where Cheadle should be frighetening or at least, impenetrable, he appears just a normal guy with an American accent who happens to be non-chalantly selling explosives to terrorists. And we ready expect from the previews and the film itself that he really is not a terrorist but a double agent. Fine, but in order to engage the audience, we can't think of a man infiltrating a terrorist group as a "nice guy" and that is often the case. It is not till late in the film that Cheadle shows some edge which is very unusual. I'm complaining about the performance because it throws the tone of the film of. However, I say enough is here for a great film because the film attempts a 'balanced' or comprehensive look at terrorism and the 'war on terror' so to speak - the motivations, the politics, and the moral ambiguties that arise. Interesting canvas of ideas but it is not molded into a compelling film.

Burn After Reeading. The Coen's latest. In the vein of the Big Lebowski. It has the trademark Coens humor and is tightly put together. I found the film hilarious though, as one reviewer says, " [ the Coens] could make this film in their sleep."

Edited by mosaic

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I was not impressed by Burn After Reading; it was good for a few chuckles (brought on by Pitt's character), but nothing more. It should now be official: the Cohen brothers are overrated directors. Though they have certainly developed a subtle style of their own, it is not enough in itself to make for a good movie. Perhaps Burn After Reading should have been titled: Burn Before Viewing.

The Dark Knight, I believe, qualifies as a masterpiece. Christopher Nolan has come a long way as a director from his Memento days. 'Knight's' underlying theme is a profound one: how can we defeat intense nihilistic evil (personified by the Joker) without becoming, to borrow from the Joker, "Part of the game." Watching Mr. Batman struggle to face this evil reminded me of Nietzsche's statement about the well gazing back at you when you gaze into it. The movie was the best I have seen in 2008.

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