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What MOVIE(s) have you been....seeing? watching?

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09 Jul 2020 08:58 - 09 Jul 2020 09:01 #311809 by Sagrilarus

Erik Twice wrote: Perhaps like other Marvel films, there's too much fighting towards a foregone conclusion. It doesn't matter how many blows a character lands on another, it won't matter by the next cut.


Marvel's mantra for decades through all of their super-hero comic books has been "don't go more than five pages without a fight scene." It's what their intended audience pays for. Nobody picking up X-Men or the Avengers is looking for 30 pages of clever banter. They've spent years selling violence. That's fine, I'm not all whiney about it. But it's what they do. It's their core competency.

The idea of a Big Gun as the leading lady is the norm in American film and television. Scrolling down through my recommendations in Netflix is just surreal, especially since in theory they're catering to my tastes, and I don't watch shows with Big Guns in them. There's something called Spy that has a man in a suit with an assault rifle in his lap. Spies don't carry assault rifles. They kind of draw attention to you. There's another with a guy in one of those lime green suits that garbage men wear pointing two huge handguns at me. Apparently garbage men need handguns now, and with no pockets I'm wondering how he picks up the garbage. In informal surveys of that list I'll regularly get 25-50% of the images showing firearms of one sort or another, and not little revolvers.

So, not meaning to go all philosophical on you, but I haven't seen Black Panther or any other of the Avengers movies for the past few years because they're all the same movie. Marvel sure knows how to execute a big project, but they're very rigid in story and structure. Good guys and bad guys fight, the good guys win, but . . . not completely. Tune in next week!

On top of that they're working in an environment where the firearms in the story have as many lines as the actors. That's what sells. As best I can tell any movie with a budget over $20M more or less needs to stick to this formula or risk losing money for its investors. We can't have that.
Last edit: 09 Jul 2020 09:01 by Sagrilarus.
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09 Jul 2020 09:25 #311810 by hotseatgames
In 1998, Matrix was pretty mind blowing. I do recall that after I saw it, I then saw Ghost in the Shell and thought, ah... the Wachowskis obviously saw this film and loved it.
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09 Jul 2020 09:40 #311811 by jason10mm
Yeah, the Matrix is a product of it's time, where the 'reveal' was kept secret and really did surprise viewers. So the longish intro helped set up the unreal reality of the matrix versus the real unreality of actual human existence.

I agree with you on Black Panther. The whole film is "where the hell was this super state when the world was being threatened!?!" combined with a presumed meritocratic utopia saddled with an incredibly anarchic and simplistic leadership ritual. The final all CGI fight scene hurt as well, BP is an IP that should have real visceral fights, not cartoon battles IMHO. Guess they spent all their choreography time on the Korea fight.
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09 Jul 2020 12:47 #311817 by Shellhead
From the very start back in 1965, both the Black Panther and Wakanda were a difficult mix of contradictory elements. Everybody is running around in primitive, nearly naked garb, except for the highly educated Black Panther who improbably wears a full-body suit and is frequently crouching like an animal. And yet they have this vast, underground technological wonderland and manufacture Quinjets for the Avengers. And their king runs off and joins the Avengers and is on the team for like six years, back when Marvel comics had a 1:1 ratio with real world time instead of their modern sliding scale. It wasn't until the early '70s that writer Don McGregor tackled the implications of the absent monarch and really dived into the contradictions of both the king and the society. That storyline introduced Erik Killmonger in the comics, and serves as a significant inspiration for the movie.

So the movie has some conceptual issues. Wakanda has this fantastic technology and beautiful city, and they hide it all away from the rest of the world, including all the poverty-stricken nations of Africa. And for all their advancement, they have a terrible system of government featuring trial by combat. But the movie wrestles with this mess and at least makes it interesting.

I agree with some of the complaints about Black Panther. He has the least personality of any of the MCU heroes. The CGI could have been better in the big final battle, and doesn't quite work satisfactorily during the last fight between BP and Killmonger. In a general sense, the story is overly familiar, and I'm still disappointed that they hired Martin Freeman to play a comic relief character and then decided to not have the character do any comic relief.

But I am still very impressed with the villain and the ending of the movie. Killmonger is definitely a bad guy who is pretty casual about killing innocent people. But he had some solid points to make about imperialism and discrimination, especially in that early museum sequence. Who really cares if they used the right name for the museum, the point is that it displays items plundered from all over the world by the British Empire. And while the hero of course wins in the end, it's very interesting that the villain actually won the philosophical argument, and the hero carries on the more positive aspects of the villain's agenda at the end. Also, it was neat to see their final battle lead to a quiet and serious discussion while the villain died and they both watched the sun set.

It's also possible that we as white men were not able to fully appreciate this Black Panther movie because we weren't the primary target audience. My girlfriend is a woman of color who is not particularly into comic book superhero movies, but she loved this movie. In particular, she was very favorably impressed that there were several strong black women presented: the fierce warriors, the brilliant scientist, and the wise mother of the queen. Sure, maybe each of those women weren't much more than typical Hollywood stereotypes, but the fact that they were black and female made this a movie a more welcoming experience to my girlfriend.
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09 Jul 2020 12:53 - 09 Jul 2020 12:54 #311818 by Shellhead

Sagrilarus wrote: So, not meaning to go all philosophical on you, but I haven't seen Black Panther or any other of the Avengers movies for the past few years because they're all the same movie. Marvel sure knows how to execute a big project, but they're very rigid in story and structure. Good guys and bad guys fight, the good guys win, but . . . not completely. Tune in next week!


If you haven't seen it, you might find Captain America: Civil War to be an interesting exception. It's not the same movie as the rest. Good guys fight good guys, because of a genuine and crucial disagreement about the proper role of the superhero that arose due to the high civilian bodycount of the two Avengers movies. And unlike the clumsily-executed comic book Civil War storyline, this movie treats both viewpoints with respect and doesn't give either side a decisive win, philosophically or in battle.
Last edit: 09 Jul 2020 12:54 by Shellhead. Reason: initial post ended up inside the quote
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09 Jul 2020 19:31 #311834 by Erik Twice

Shellhead wrote: Who really cares if they used the right name for the museum, the point is that it displays items plundered from all over the world by the British Empire.

It's not that they got it wrong, it's that they changed the name on purporse. They were afraid of calling out the real British Museum. For me it's rather telling.

And while the hero of course wins in the end, it's very interesting that the villain actually won the philosophical argument, and the hero carries on the more positive aspects of the villain's agenda at the end. Also, it was neat to see their final battle lead to a quiet and serious discussion while the villain died and they both watched the sun set.

For me that's part of the political cowardice of the movie. I feel the villain is forced to "commit suicide" so as to not have to address him. And I don't mind just the ending, but how he is shown to be an imperialistic hypocrite himself. T'Challa doesn't even have a position, he's gone for half of his own movie and yet he "wins".

It's also possible that we as white men were not able to fully appreciate this Black Panther movie because we weren't the primary target audience. My girlfriend is a woman of color who is not particularly into comic book superhero movies, but she loved this movie. In particular, she was very favorably impressed that there were several strong black women presented: the fierce warriors, the brilliant scientist, and the wise mother of the queen. Sure, maybe each of those women weren't much more than typical Hollywood stereotypes, but the fact that they were black and female made this a movie a more welcoming experience to my girlfriend.

I'm just tired of movies giving us sex-segreated groups as if it were progressive. There's only one movie in the whole MCU where male and female mooks fight together (Doctor Strange). Blergh.

I know it's a pet peeve, but this kind of "diversity" just puts me off of a movie. It's such an obviously calculated move that I'm taken out of the screen. Same with games, actually.

I don't know, I'm being way too serious and radical about a movie with "Vibranium" as a focal plot point.
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09 Jul 2020 20:36 #311835 by OhBollox
Dragged Across Concrete. Despite a considerable runtime of 160 minutes, there's really no better time to rewatch this vicious crime film. Two racist cops suspended for racism rob some criminals who just pulled off a heist. Mel Gibson as one of the cops lends some extreme verisimilitude to the acted racism. The laconic dialogue ("This is just excessive." Gibson grumbles, under fully automatic fire) is delightful, and the coldly brutal violence is compellingly visceral.

Sea Fever. Watchable horror film, does what it sets out to do, some very effective moments, with a minimum of dodgy CGI.
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10 Jul 2020 23:38 #311900 by Jackwraith
I'd only vaguely heard of Dragged Across Concrete but was reminded of it when you mentioned it here. We still have HBO running, so I figured I'd try it.

Hrm. I made it through 30 minutes. So, first off, describing the dialogue as "laconic" is one way to put it. I would've gone with "plebeian", personally, since most of it sounded incredibly artificial and stilted. "She's becoming more womanly"? It sounded like most of the characters were written as archetypes without consideration as to whether they were, y'know... people. Gibson's character has been married to his wife long enough to have a teenage daughter and they've clearly lived in that place for some amount of time, yet he exclaims that he "forgot" when she reminds him to take his shoes off at the door? Those aren't real people. That's a staged moment where the writer thinks the audience is too stupid to not realize that they're not real people.

Speaking of stilted, the entire premise of the film is like a raging meme: Bad cops with a victim complex act out after being persecuted by the public they're trying to save from the utter social breakdown of the streets. I mean, the bad cops with the victim complex is a real thing, as we've seen repeatedly out here in the world. But the dissolution of the neighborhood is reinforced by the daughter having orange soda dumped over her head? Horrors. And these two guys are suspended without pay- instantly -for restraining a suspect who may have been armed and was actively attempting to evade arrest... just because he's Hispanic and they're White? Wow. I don't think the writer could be dog whistling harder if he was hyperventilating. It's the most Facebook of "thin blue line" perspectives ("We can't even touch the criminals without being persecuted!") I have both been arrested and seen many. Nothing about the action on the fire escape was extraordinary and not even the "librul media" would portray it as such, except within the minds of cops who think the people they're "protecting" won't let them do their jobs. And this writer, apparently.

Plus, the pacing was dreary. There is such a thing as thoughtful cinematography. This was tedious. What's the point of having five second reaction shots if there isn't a reaction? We spend a long take on Gibson ruminating on his boss/former partner telling him "You weren't always like this. The streets are eating you up, man! You're going down a dark road that you can't come back from!" (OK. Those last two were what emotional, and yet still wholly cliched, dialogue would've sounded like.) Except that Gibson has no reaction in that long take. And we have no reason to believe that he should be having one. You ever see The Station Agent? It's about an emotionally wounded man who lives in an old switching station. The director, Tom McCarthy, had several long takes on Peter Dinklage as we watched him try to deal with his inner demons. Gibson, in the first 30 minutes of this film, doesn't have demons. In fact, he doesn't have much of anything other than heavy sighs and apparently boredom with everything. And yet we spend long takes on him doing nothing. Oh, and with incredibly poor lighting such that, even if these characters had human reactions, we would've had a tough time seeing them in many of the shots.

For that matter, why are there conversation scenes that take sixty seconds when they should take 10? Or when they're between two "old friends" who talk about the upcoming job they're going to do like they're reading an instruction manual to each other after meeting for the first time, five minutes ago? This, to me, is a sign of a screenplay that doesn't have characters. It has placeholders. Mel Gibson is a solid actor. But he's got nothing in the first half hour of this film. Vince Vaughn is not a dramatic actor (I ranted about this repeatedly during the miserable second season of True Detective), so it wouldn't have mattered even if there was something for him to work with.

So... yeah. Sorry. I just dumped all over a favorite film of yours but, man. I just could not see it. The way you described it made me think it was going to be something like Payback, which is not a great film, but a movie that knows that it's not taking itself too seriously and still has some emotional moments and some real grist for Gibson to mill in a few scenes. This film took itself way too seriously and pretty much bogged down any kind of energy or dynamism that the story may have had (but, again, since it was basically a meme, probably not.) And, even with everything shot through a blue filter, Payback still has much better lighting than Dragged Across Concrete.

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10 Jul 2020 23:53 #311902 by hotseatgames
I haven't seen Dragged... I do remember liking Payback. Gibson is a grade A douchebag but does have some decent films. Conspiracy Theory is another one.

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11 Jul 2020 03:55 - 11 Jul 2020 03:56 #311904 by OhBollox

Jackwraith wrote: Hrm. I made it through 30 minutes.


Then your judgement is rendered moot. I understand if it's not for you, but you can't really judge something without having watched it. The rest of your comments are superfluous as a result, but I'll point out a few things.

So, first off, describing the dialogue as "laconic" is one way to put it. I would've gone with "plebeian", personally, since most of it sounded incredibly artificial and stilted.


Naturalistic dialogue is just one approach, it's not the better or ultimate one. The dialogue is stylised to be unusual. It's a deliberate choice.

Gibson's character has been married to his wife long enough to have a teenage daughter and they've clearly lived in that place for some amount of time, yet he exclaims that he "forgot" when she reminds him to take his shoes off at the door?


He didn't forget. He just tried to break a little domestic 'rule' (no shoes on in the house) because she wasn't right there to remind him with her presence.

Nothing about the action on the fire escape was extraordinary and not even the "librul media" would portray it as such, except within the minds of cops who think the people they're "protecting" won't let them do their jobs. And this writer, apparently.


I think these days standing on someone's neck is seen as excessive, actually. Whether it's good drills or not is another matter, but I don't think it makes sense from a practical perspective compared to other restraints. The film does a great job of showing things from the perspective of the cops; they're not interested in people beyond the extent to which they obstruct or enable them, they despise the media, they're massively racist, they think they're above the law themselves because they often effectively are.

Plus, the pacing was dreary.


The film as a whole has a slow pace. That's not a flaw, but if you're not enjoying it, I'm sure it makes it difficult to watch.

What's the point of having five second reaction shots if there isn't a reaction?


What makes you think that cops are somehow emotionally available and are going to display any emotions they're having, when they're famous for being impassive? Gibson isn't conflicted at all ("There's a lotta imbeciles out there." is all he says when confronted over his behaviour), and it's a mistake to think he should be shown as somehow struggling to cope with what he's doing, when he firmly believes he's correct, as a great many cops do.

Oh, and with incredibly poor lighting such that, even if these characters had human reactions, we would've had a tough time seeing them in many of the shots.


Quite happy for another film not to commit the standard Hollywood crime of not overlighting everything, to the point characters in night scenes look like it's daylight.

Sorry. I just dumped all over a favorite film of yours


It's not. It's an interesting one with an idiosyncratic style, and despite some so-so effects, it has some violence that is as shocking as violence should be. Although the writer/director Zahler may actually be racist, but that only reinforces how well the film displays racism, sometimes fairly clearly (Vaughn's girlfriend, later than you bothered to watch, turns him down), sometimes by accident (the local teens picking on Gibson's daughter, as if a cop couldn't just roll by and find a justification to beat the living shit out of the lot of them). That said, Tory Kittles has arguably the best role and does the best acting in the whole thing.
Last edit: 11 Jul 2020 03:56 by OhBollox.

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11 Jul 2020 12:02 #311910 by hotseatgames
Speaking of movies starring people who wound up being a bit notorious, I showed my kids Usual Suspects last night. They really enjoyed the ending, but spent a good part of the film confused. It is a fairly complex story, I suppose.

Coming from 1995, I can confirm that while the movie is still good and holds up, some of the humor does not age well. A lot of it is very homophobic.

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11 Jul 2020 12:39 #311912 by Jackwraith

OhBollox wrote: Then your judgement is rendered moot. I understand if it's not for you, but you can't really judge something without having watched it. The rest of your comments are superfluous as a result,


Well, you may think so, but what I'm detailing is what happened in the first 30 minutes and which made it basically a waste of time for me. You may call it "idiosyncratic" but that's often just a metaphor for "bad". It's like trying to explain to people why "Big Trouble in Little China" is an awful film. It is, but the fact that no one working in it, from Carpenter on down, meant it to be anything but a B-level fantasy movie. Dragged was intended to be more and really isn't.

That said, I agree with you that Tory Kittles was the highlight of what I watched. His opening moments with the woman he knew from school and the scene with his mother and his younger brother were well done. You can see how angry he is, even through the shadows on his face. That's what I meant about Gibson's scene. It's not about being emotionally accessible. It's about delivering something and not looking like you're at a first read.

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15 Jul 2020 11:02 #312077 by jason10mm
The Old Guard on Netflix is pretty forgettable. It has minimally competent action scenes in the oft imitated John Wick style but REALLY falls down on the world building. Highlander did more with one music montage than this film did in its entirety. It is so obviously using a TV pilot script that is 100% set up that it fails spectacularly as a film. Every beat in the film is 100% predictable and entire conversations can be anticipated verbatum. Charlize does her best but I don't think she had enough to work with. The rest of the cast are one note cardboard cutouts straight from the Netflix algorithm.

Unless they've announced 3 more TOG sequels in production already, I'd give it a pass. I'm willing to give it a slight nudge only because I think it got hurt in post with some dodgy CGI and music choices.
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15 Jul 2020 16:12 #312092 by Gregarius
Thanks for that. I was mildly interested due to some other reviews, but what you've said makes it clear I shouldn't waste my time.

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16 Jul 2020 12:42 #312125 by jason10mm
Well, I've since listened to the comic creator and script writer (Greg Luskas?) on a podcast so this isn't a TV pilot like I thought. But it definitely 100% build up and, for me, very unsatisfying as a film because it doesn't lean into any kind of 3 act structure.

Plus it doesn't really have a lot of fun with the "I'm not super strong but I heal really fast" idea in the fights. I think they could have been much more creative.

Netflix has a Jaime Foxx flick called "Power Trip" or somesuch in the pipe. I suspect it will feel very similar as a half baked project that traditional Hollywood would pass on until it got refinement or it would be a 5 million dollar straight to DVD project. We'll see.

Streaming services are injecting a lot of cash into film making but I'm starting to see why (good) projects used to take so long to get developed in the first place.
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