Jeffrywith1e

What have you been watching lately?

156 posts in this topic

My recent Phillip K. Dick kick has inspired me to want to re-watch Blade Runner and Minority Report, and then watch The Adjustment Bureau for the first time, so I put all 3 films in my Netflix queue.

 

I just finished watching Blade Runner for the first time since the 80s, and this time I watched the director's Final Cut (2007). The restoration was well-done, but my opinion of the film hasn't really changed, even in light of my more mature understanding of the plot and its themes. I get it, but the film still isn't that intriguing to me. The direction and acting are high caliber, but the plot is slow and boring.

 

I really don't understand the movie's "cult" following. Is this a cult of stoners that sit around and ponder what it means to be human all day? ;-) I don't mean to antagonize, and I invite anyone who is a big fan of the film to please speak its merits.

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BLADE RUNNER - Themes (I'd warn about spoilers, but the movie is thirty years old this year...)

 

I'll do my best to answer this, as a long-time fan of Blade Runner (since the summer of 1982, when I first saw it in a movie theater in Springfield Virginia). I don't think it's so much a cult of stoners that have kept Blade Runner on the geek radar so long.

 

The movie is somewhat unique in that the antagonists of the film have a motive that's really not evil. They do some very bad things in pursuit of their goal, but they are essentially escaped slaves, trying to find out what more there is than what they have done all their lives: Soldier, Assassin, Prostitute, Laborer. The "what it means to be human" is certainly important.

 

Early in the film Doctor Eldon Tyrell tells Deckard "Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell; 'more human than human' is our motto." By the end of the film we've had a chance to compare Deckard, Gaff, Holden, Bryant, Hannibal Chew, Taffy Lewis, J.F. Sebastian, and Tyrell (for "team Human") against Rachael, Leon, Zhora, Pris, and Roy Batty (for "team Replicant") and really, unlike many films of the late 70s and early 80s, the humans don't hold up all that well. The Replicants escaped from their servitude to come to Earth (illegally), to risk execution (oh, I misspoke - retirement), confront their creator and find out if this is all they get - is this what my life is?

 

The irony is that Tyrell Corporation has the perfect motto. What they created has hope, and love, and rages against injustice while their "betters" sit around and merely survive on a dying world, where "animoids" are sold in street markets - replicants based on endangered or extinct animals, pointing to an ecological catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. Another irony is that Tyrell Corporation considers this tendency in Replicants to be a bug and not a feature - the four-year lifespan was introduced when the company realized that their product became hard to manage once "it" developed emotions.

 

The implanted memory concept also tweaks the "what it means to be human" meme - in some versions of the film, Ridley Scott added in the "unicorn dream" sequence when Deckard dozes off at his piano. When he finds Gaff's final origami "calling card" at the end of the film, it puts Deckard in the position of having to question whether he ever had an ex-wife that called him "Sushi - cold fish" or whether that was implanted as easily as Tyrell dimmed the sun when Deckard went to interview him. Or maybe it's just coincidence and Gaff was saying "go ahead and enjoy your fairy tale ending with the skin job."

 

Deckard's character arc is also appealing - from "Suspect? How can it not know what it is?" through "The report would read routine retirement of a Replicant - which didn't make me feel any better about shooting a woman in the back" to "I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life - anybody's life; my life. All he'd wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die." - you know that Deckard is through being a Blade Runner, because he knows at the end that they're not "like any other machine; either a benefit or a hazard" - they're people like us. Maybe more than that.

 

For me, I think it's the morally gray "Noir" aspect of the film that appeals. Deckard accomplishes his assignment, but nobody wins. He gets to run off with Rachael, making his own escape, but if he's a replicant he could have had memories implanted a week ago after three and a half years elsewhere. They may have a week or they may have a lifetime. But they have something. They have love; they have hope. They have right now. Gaff's final words to Deckard; "It's too bad she won't live - but then again who does?" are key to the overall theme. You can choose to simply exist or you can choose to live. Deckard chooses to live. The Replicants he hunted chose to live as well. To Gaff's point everybody dies eventually. You don't have to sit and wait for it, and it's too bad if that's all you do.

 

I think the ending of another movie sums it up for me - Morgan Freeman as Detective Lt. William Somerset giving the final line in the movie "Se7en" - "Ernest Hemingway once wrote 'The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for.' I agree with the second part."

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I'd also be remiss in neglecting to mention Syd Mead's visual realization of the setting, and Ridley Scott's success in bringing it to the screen; Los Angeles in November 2019 is one of the quintessential cinematic dystopian settings. The Tyrell Arcology Pyramid, Spinners, the Voight-Kampff machine, the neon and rain of the "tech noir" future... it may have been equaled via CGI in the decades since, but Doug Trumbull's model work in 1982 has never been surpassed.

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Thanks, Lee. I realize that I am likely in the minority for not caring for Blade Runner, and you represented it very well for the fans.

 

I re-watched Minority Report for the first time in 10 years. I still feel it is a good movie, although unecessarily gross in a few parts. The outlaw eye doctor's nasal ejections, and the weapons known as "sick-sticks" which, you guessed it, make someone get physically ill. They don't add anything to the plot, the mood of the film, or anything. Disgusting just for pure shock value maybe? And perhaps strangley, I have no issues with any of the eye ball gore. But there was no need to feature excessive snot and vomit.

 

I felt the movie has a good balance of drama, intrigue and action. I love the ideas and themes presented in this film and the original story. Can someone truly be considered guilty of a crime they haven't yet commited? Is there free will? Or is everything pre-determined? Is knowing a prophecy what gives you the option to change the outcome?

 

The movie is greatly expanded from the original story and makes a lot of changes to the specific plot... Original story spoiler alert if you plan on reading it... In the story, the antagonist manufacturered the set-up to prove to the world that pre-crime is faulty for the sake of the military having more control over society. The antagonist made himself the murder victim of the protagonist, expecting him to not go through with it in the end and eliminating support for pre-crime. So it is the protagonist who faces the choice at the end to commit the murder of the antagonist to support the supposition that pre-crime system is flawless but have to face punishment for the crime, or choose not to commit murder and prove that pre-crime is not perfect. In the story, he chooses to go ahead and murder the antagonist for the sake of the pre-crime system continuing, but gets his sentence reduced to planetary exile. It is explained that knowledge of the future is what gave him the choice to change it, creating a situation in which there were three minority reports based on three successive visions that differed as the protagonist learned more information about the mystery over the course of the story, and the surprise fourth outcome in which he commits the murder was not predicted because there are only three precogs and thus three reports. But pre-crime continues as the protagonist wished. A very different outcome from the film adaption, but I enjoyed them both.

Edited by Whill
Minority Report

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For me the PKD Holy Grail of movies would be if someone made "The Man in the High Castle." It was actually his research for the alternate universe of that novel that inspired him to write "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep."

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I love this movie. I’ve bought it in different format almost as many times as Star Wars.

 

 

The movie does have a slow burn but that’s what makes it good. Watch the movie China Town which is another good Noir film. Same pacing with a good payoff at the end.

 

The Great thing about Ridley Scott movies is that they continue to tell stories after the movie is done. The movies are so layered and textured (Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus etc.) that there are countless stories in the background. You watch the movies and ask “what’s the story behind that?” or who is that incidental character who just walked on screen.

 

By the end of the film we've had a chance to compare Deckard, Gaff, Holden, Bryant, Hannibal Chew, Taffy Lewis, J.F. Sebastian, and Tyrell (for "team Human") against Rachael, Leon, Zhora, Pris, and Roy Batty (for "team Replicant")

The movie hints that Dekard may be an android too. Just as unaware as Rachel is at her status as a replicant.

 

Ridley Scott added in the "unicorn dream" sequence when Deckard dozes off at his piano.

Another scene that backs up that Deckard may(is) be a replicant since the dreams are always the same

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I'm of two minds about Deckard being a replicant; if he is, the movie is much darker (more "Noir") in that the protagonist is just a puppet following the directions of the corrupt humans. If Deckard is a human, then he went from being dead inside to seeing some value in life because of his encounter with these particular replicants - not as Noir but then not all Noir films had dark endings - Casablanca had a lot of Noir influences, but didn't really end like one.

 

On a "meta-level" Ridley Scott told Harrison Ford that Deckard was not a replicant before telling the fans in the Director's Cut that he was one. Both Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer have gone on record as being opposed to the "Deckard is a replicant" angle.

 

As I said, I'm of two minds - both have a certain "cool factor" to them, and since it's not definitively stated in the context of the film, it's just one more little backstory element that makes the film memorable. Still works either way...

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To finish out my recent Philip K. Dick movie kick, my wife and I watched The Adjustment Bureau (2011) for the first time, a few nights ago. I chose only this one out of the ones I hadn't seen because it was the only other PKD-based movie that had a decent amount of critical acclaim.

 

This movie stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt and was directed by George Nolfi. It deals with determinism vs free will and synchronicity vs coinincidence. It's called a "romantic action thriller" but that lable only serves to oversimplify the movie. Sure, there is some romance, action and suspense. It's also somewhat sci-fi or spiritual or both (depending on your interpreation). This quirky movie probably didn't do well finanically because it didn't really have a clear market.

 

The movie never explains the full nature of the titular Adjustment Bureau, and the organizantion's leader (only referred to as "the Chairman") is never even explicitely shown, but the movie suggests could have appeared many times in various forms. The mystery behind the scenes is part of the charm of the film and more condusive to philosophical thinking. The film was personally right up my alley. By the end of the film my wife and I both found ourselves enjoying it more than we thought we would at the beginning of the film. To us, it was worth a single viewing.

 

The PKD short story the film was based on, Adjustment Team, is one of the author's works that has become public domain (because it was legally published in the US before 1964 and the copyright was not renewed). I've moved it close to the top of my reading list. :cool:

Edited by Whill
The Adjustment Bureau

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I watched a matinee of the new Dredd film today. I should preface my comments with the fact that I've never read the comic or seen the Stallone film (see the Expendables discussion above). I can't compare the two Dredd films from personal experience. I've read that this new film is a much truer adaptation of the source material than the Stallone film. Overall the effects of this new film are good, but the 3D is good in some scenes but actually makes some of the darkness in the film look more fuzzy.

 

The new film is a good neo-noir shoot-em-up action flick set in a distopian future. It was worth a single viewing. Karl Urban (Eomer/McCoy) is a convincing Eastwoodesqe bad-@ss as Judge Dredd. Of course he is never seen without his helmet on, which I assume is a gimmick of the character but also makes the performance more credible. Urban has a distinctive (if not completely original) vocal performance, and he has the perpetual frown down pat. The rookie is played by Olivia Thirlby who somehow still comes across as gorgeous even with short blond hair and armor on the entire movie.

 

If anyone has any comments about this film, the previous Dredd film or the comic, I'd be interested in that so please feel free to reply.

Edited by Whill

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Looper is being marketed by Sony as an action movie, but it's so much more. This unique film is hard to describe in a few words, but I'll try. Set in the 2040s, this film is an intense mind-bending time-travel mob thriller that explores the importance of parenting. This so-called action movie is not afraid to slow-down in some scenes for the sake of drama and character development.

 

In the 2070s, people are bio-tagged in such a way that it has become impossible to murder someone without authorities being alerted of the body's location and time of death. The tag works as a beacon for a couple years so it has become nealy impossible to simply dispose of someone's body. Time travel technology exists but is illegal, and the mob gained control of it. So the mob sent one of their own, Abe, permanently back in time to the 2040s, before time travel and bio-tagging existed. Abe (Jeff Daniels) set-up a system of "Loopers" who each have specific designated out-of-the way "work" location. They receive notification of a specific time to be at their location. The mob in the future sends someone that they want to off back in time, alive but tied up with a bag over their head, to that location and time where the Looper is waiting with his gun to instantly execute them. Attached to the victim's back is payment in silver bars. The Looper has a nearby means of disposing the body, and the mob of the future continues to get away with murder.

 

To maintain the mob's system, the Loopers in the current timelines work with the understanding that someday the mob will send them the Looper's own future self ("the Loop") to be killed by their younger selves as a final murder, to "close the loop" with the least amount of damage to the integrity of the previous timeline. This becomes the Looper's final murder with a huge payout in gold or platinum. The younger self then knows he has about 30 years to live it up and enjoy his life, before he will be sent back to his younger self to be killed. Loopers, it is said, are not very forward-thinking people. So time-travel is fairly common in this setting, but ironically, the mob of the future actually works to prevent any significant changes to the timeline.

 

I'm not into traditional mafia movies, but this fascinating sci-fi twist on the genre takes full advantage of the time-travel aspect of the film to feature interesting characters in a complex web of motivations. Old Joe (Bruce Willis) is from a 2070s, and in the second time loop of the story, he was sent back to the 2040s and escapes his execution. Old Joe's motivation is to stay alive long enough to kill the child that will grow up to become the mysterious mob superboss who has his wife killed in the future, but he's not exactly sure which child it is. He hopes that killing the right child will undo his wife's death in the future. The main character is Young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a Looper who suffers from a severe narcotic eye-drop addition. His primary motivations are to kill his older self from the future (Old Joe), to get back into good graces with his mob employers, and to protect a woman he knows (the beautiful Emily Blunt) and her young son. Old Joe can't simply kill Young Joe in defense due to the fact it would erase himself from existance before he can save his wife in the future (see below). Then there are several other mob killers who try to kill Old Joe, and also try to kill Young Joe whose death would take care of both Joes.

 

This is a good place as any to mention that this Rated-R movie is extremely violent, with many loud depictions of people getting brutally blown away. There seems to be little to no gun control in the 2040s. About everyone has a gun and most are quick to use deadly force.

 

And did I mention that this movie also has telekinesis? In the 2040s, probably as a result of widespread use of the narcotic eye-drop, 10% of the population are mutants with telekinetic ability ("TK"). However, most of these can't do much more than levitate coins.

 

Some of the time travel logic is unusual and kind of wacky, yet it seems internally consistent. It is explained that time travellers from the future find that when they go to the past of their own lifetime, their memories of the time period suddenly become fuzzy due to changing the course of their younger selves' lives and history. But some time after their young self does something, the older self suddenly remembers it (even though they are from a previous timeline where things happened differently). Likewise, when the younger self's body is injured, a healed scar may appear on the older self's body instaneously in real time. It doesn't retroactively change anything for the older person from the future - it just changes his body right then and there.

 

In a classic sci-fi twist on mafia torture and mutilation of someone for interrogation or punishment, there is a disturbing scene in which someone else from the future is on the run from the mob and one of his fingers just disappears, then another, then another. These maimings appear on the older self as fully healed. A message appears as scar tissue on his arm to go to a certain address, and as he races there his nose disappears, and he starts to lose hands and feet. He crawls to a door that opens to reveal his younger self on a table with a couple of sadistic mob goons with chain saws cutting off body parts of his younger self but keeping him alive.

 

I wanted to clarify something about the film that was confusing to me as I was watching it. but this may seem like a minor spoiler... The movie portrays two timelines mainly. The first one is where Young Joe executes Old Joe as planned, then lives out his 30-year "retirement" until the 2070s when his wife is killed and he is sent back in time. The second timeline is where Old Joe appears back in time, and this time he escapes his execution and the bulk of the story takes place. However, the beginning of the second timeline is actually shown in the movie first as a narrative choice made by the director. He stated that if he portrayed the timelines completely in he order that one lead to the other, the main character would become Old Joe in the eyes of the audience. To maintain the portrayal of Young Joe as the main character, the movie shows the beginning of the second timeline, then shows what is effectively a "flashback" to the previous timeline and what becomes Old Joe's perspective, then returns to the second timeline focusing on Young Joe for the rest of the film. I get it now, but the film itself it not clear at the time these transitions occur. So you have a time-travel/timeline version of the type of discontinuity of watching Pulp Fiction the first time (Pulp Fiction being the only movie I have ever watched twice back-to-back). I have no doubt that Looper will also make more sense on the second viewing. And keep in mind that logically, even the "first" timeline of the film is not actually the first timeline in the "backstory" to this film's story, because the original timeline would have to be where Old Joe never appeared in the past, for Young Joe to grow older and be sent back in time in the first place. The director has stated that there could possibly be countless timelines that occur "before" the film takes place - it's simply unknown.

 

One thing that didn't sit well with me in this film was Joseph Gordon-Levitt make-up/prosthetics he wore in an effort to make him look more like a young Bruce Willis. I appreciate the effort, but it wasn't that effective overall. I guess it made him look slightly more like Willis. But even moreso, it made him not look like himself, so it just stood out as wrong to me. It's an age-old convention in cinema for two different actors to play the same character at different ages. I think it would have been better to just give him contacts to match Willis' eye color and let us otherwise completely suspend disbelief in that respect. It might have been more effective if the actor playing Young Joe was a completely unknown that I didn't know what he really looked like, but I just kept thinking JGL didn't look right so it was a bit distracting. Thankfully the JGL still had an excellent performance despite the get-up.

 

I could say more about the story's timelines and time-travel logic, but that would give too much away about the ending of the film, so I won't. So far this movie has been critically acclaimed and many movie fans love it, but there is also a good amount of movie-goers that are bashing the film by saying it's is loaded with plot holes due to all the complexities about it they don't understand. This action movie is cerebral. I don't know if I would want to own a copy of Looper to watch repeatedly, but it is one-step higher than my "worth one viewing" rating. Looper is for sure at least in my rarely-granted rating category of "worth two viewings." I will definitely Netflix this film when it's available, to watch it again.

Edited by Whill
(JGL's 'Bruce Willis' get-up)

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Saw Dredd two weekends ago. I have to say I like it much more than the Stallone movie. Didn't see it in 3D, but even without it had some of the best sound design I've heard in theaters in a long time. Great gunfire sfx.

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After a slow set-up, Taken became an exciting action film chock full of vengeful poetic justice. Liam Neeson is so bad-@ss. It's not worth owning for repeated viewings, but it's definitely worth one viewing. I loved it.

 

I just came from a matinee of Taken 2. The name pretty much says it all if you've seen the first movie. The sequel also had a fairly slow set-up and a 1.5 hour total run time. The action of this film takes place in Instanbul. The primary bad guy here (played by Rade Serbedzija) is the father of one of the main baddies in the first film, and his motivation is simple: Revenge against Neeson's character for killing his son and other members of his family's community (of bad guys). I guess that is somewhat more believable than just putting the characters in a simliar situation as the last movie with unrelated villains. And a twist here is that Neeson and his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) are actually the ones that are "taken" in this movie. Using a secret mini-cell phone while captured, Neeson actually helps their daughter (the cute Maggie Grace) alude capture, and then he guides her to his location and helps him escape. Once they're out of trouble, then he has to go back and rescue Famke.

 

There are seemingly no consequences for Neeson shooting an Instanbul cop dead just to remain undetained so they could rescue Janssen from the bad guys. The police of Instanbul are inept idiots who are nowhere to be found when grenades and gunfire are going off around the city, and then get totally defeated in car chase in which Grace is driving her dad around in a manual taxi, without even having her driver license yet. After smashing up the city's entire police force and the American embassy, Neeson is mysteriously freed to go back out into the city alone to find his wife. And maybe I was just tired and missed some things but it seems like the movie's action was poorly edited in parts because I didn't understand how a couple bad guys were defeated.

 

And I'm a bit baffled by the final confrontation between Neeson and Serbedzija. After Neeson defeats the main tough guy, he goes into the next room, and Serbedzija is just in there waiting to be killed by Neeson. Why didn't he have a gun? Neeson asks him if he has any more sons who will seek revenge for his death, and the reply is yes. Neeson says he would have to kill them too, but he wants to end the cycle of vengence and offers him his life in exchange for a promise that he will leave his family alone. Serbedzija nods in agreement and Neeson just drops the gun he has on the floor and turns his back to Serbedzija to leave the room. Then Serbedzija sneaks over, picks up the gun, and tries to shoot Neeson in the back. But the only thing that comes out of it was a click. Of course it was a test - the gun had no bullets. Now knowing that he can't trust the villain to keep his word, Neeson turns around and just puts his hand on the Serbedzija's face, and the villain just falls over dead. Seriously? Neeson just used some kind of real "Vulcan Death Grip" on him and killed him?

 

This movie had a somewhat smaller scale than the previous one and seemed to have a little less action. If you enjoyed the first one, you'll probably enjoy this one. It was an ok Euro-action flick, worth a single viewing, but in comparison I don't think this sequel was quite as good as the original film. I saw Liam Neeson talking about the film on the Daily Show this week, and at the end of the segment, Jon Stewart said Taken 2 opens Friday and then looked over to Neeson and added, "...and Taken 3..." Neeson just made the "cut" motion near his neck. I would think after this film, the characters will stop taking vacations overseas. :cool:

Edited by Whill

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...And the success of Taken 2 has Fox calling for a third film, which Neeson and the director both said would not be made. We'll see if there is enough money to throw at Neeson that could make him agree to do another one.

 

Two words... DEATH RACE

 

And any of the "Transporter" movies. Okay, that's eight words. It's late.

 

It took me a couple months, but I got through all four of these movies. They were all very entertaining, each worth a viewing for sure. Thanks for the recommendations! Jason Statham is awesome. I love all that Jackie Chan stuff he does in his fights, like creative use of objects.

 

I assume that there was a video game for Death Race - At least that's the first thing I thought of when they had to drive over these icons to activate weapons and "shields" (I never understood how shields were supposed to work). Still a great action flick.

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I just got home from a marathon of Liam Neeson movies that a friend hosted. Back to back, we watched The Grey, Rob Roy, Darkman, Taken, & The A-Team. I had never seen any of these films, so it was pretty cool to catch up on them all at once. The Grey and Rob Roy were a bit slower paced, but ok. I actually liked Rob Roy a lot, but it's not really a movie to see with a large, chatty group. For me, Darkman was the most entertaining. I do think the crowd factored into it because of the MST3K effect. Needless to say, my brain is full of Neeson.

 

Other than that, most of my viewing has been focused on Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I watched (and own) the original anime, but I think this one is better because it's sticking closer to the actual source material. i'd definitely recommend it.

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An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution

 

Last week I saw Cloud Atlas, an independent big-budget sci-fi drama film co-directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, and starring an ensemble cast with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant and many others. It is a very complex film, with six different stories each set in different time periods, and the movie's narrative jumping back and forth between the time periods until all the stories reach a conclusion at the end of the film (with a prologue and epilogue that extends from the last story). However, the six stories are all related thematically and continuity-wise. The events of each story in some way lead to some of the events and character choices of the chronologically subsequent story, and each story accordingly refers to the events of the chronologically previous story in some way or another. One young man in 1936 even appears as an older man in 1973. The six stories even vary in genre and tone:

 

"The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing" [south Pacific Ocean 1849]

"Letters from Zedelghem" [uK 1936]

"Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery" [san Fransisco, California 1973] intrigue and action

"The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish" [uK 2012] lots of comedy

"An Orison of Sonmi-451" [Neo Seoul, Nea So Copros (distopian Korea) 2144] lots of sci-fi action

"Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After" [post-apocalyptic Hawaii 2321] some more sci-fi action

Film Prologue & Epilogue [Mars 2346]

 

The quality of the film quickly resolved my anxiety that arose from flashbacks to reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five for Science Fiction & Fantasy class in high school. For me, the most interesting parts of the movie were 1973 and 2144 components, but it's truly fascinating how all the stories were interwoven into one epic cinematic narrative. The 1936 story features a young composer, and the film's title comes from the title of his short life's masterpiece. The film's musical score is consequently an important aspect of expressing the interrelation of the component stories and the film's overarching themes.

 

This is very cerebral film is based on a 2004 novel by David Mitchell. I've learned that the novel's six component stories are set-up relatively simplistically: The first five chronological stories are told chronologically except that they are each interrupted at a key point, then the sixth story is told is it's entirety, then the novel goes back and finishes each of the first five stories in reverse chronological order, thus ending with the end of the 19th century story. The author is reportedly very pleased with the movie adaptation, which is almost completely unheard of in the history of film. Seeing this movie once makes me want to read the novel so I can then watch the film again and hopefully follow it easier and get more out of it. (Why am I interested in so many movies made from books? Add it to the reading list!) After reading the book and seeing this movie again, I'll come back and let you know if I feel it's a masterpiece of cinema.

Edited by Whill

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For the record, besides Star Wars and Indiana Jones, I also own Willow and American Grafitti/More American Graffiti. Red Tails was decent. Tucker and Radioland Murders were ok but kind of boring.

 

For the first time in over 15 years (and only the second time ever), I watched THX-1138 last week. Yes, it's sci-fi. It has a futuristic setting and messages about modern society. I'm smarter now than back when I first saw it, so I really tried to contemplate the meaning. The movie never was what I would consider entertaining, and I still don't find it compelling as some other 'think' films I like. I get it, but I just don't like it. So there, you read it. A Lucas fanboy that doesn't like a Lucas movie!

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For the record, besides Star Wars and Indiana Jones, I also own Willow and American Grafitti/More American Graffiti. Red Tails was decent. Tucker and Radioland Murders were ok but kind of boring.

 

For the first time in over 15 years (and only the second time ever), I watched THX-1138 last week. Yes, it's sci-fi. It has a futuristic setting and messages about modern society. I'm smarter now than back when I first saw it, so I really tried to contemplate the meaning. The movie never was what I would consider entertaining, and I still don't find it compelling as some other 'think' films I like. I get it, but I just don't like it. So there, you read it. A Lucas fanboy that doesn't like a Lucas movie!

 

It's okay, Whill - I'm terribly conflicted on your behalf. ;)

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So, I'll share two things I've seen in the past couple of days that were surprisingly good.

 

First was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I found the retro-lighting a little irritating here and there, but the story was very good and the world was very interesting (an alternate 1939). Apparently it's one of the first films shot entirely in front of a blue screen, and the interesting part about that is... there's a ton of (good) dialog and characters and backstory and all sorts of other things certain other directors totally abandoned in their panic to cram special effects into 2 hours. Very pulpy and different.... DIFFERENT. I wish Hollywood would make fewer remakes of 80s TV shows and movies and make more interesting and different films like this. I've wanted to see it for a long time and never got around to it.

 

Second is Black Death. This cheerful little family film is set during the 14th C and features a band of hardened warriors led by a zealot (Sean Bean) mucking through a swamp to investigate reports of a necromancer that uses unworldly charms to ward off the pestilence. It's a bit overly gory, but very gritty and grim. I have a special interest in the 14th C and a book about it (A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman) and it perfectly depicts the horrors man wrought against man in hysteria as faith, government, and the rest of society approached the brink of oblivion.

 

Two pretty different films, but pretty compelling watches. Check them out!

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I just got home from a marathon of Liam Neeson movies that a friend hosted. Back to back, we watched The Grey, Rob Roy, Darkman, Taken, & The A-Team. I had never seen any of these films, so it was pretty cool to catch up on them all at once. The Grey and Rob Roy were a bit slower paced, but ok. I actually liked Rob Roy a lot, but it's not really a movie to see with a large, chatty group. For me, Darkman was the most entertaining. I do think the crowd factored into it because of the MST3K effect. Needless to say, my brain is full of Neeson.

 

I may have seen Rob Roy, but I'm not sure. I thought The A-Team was entertaining for a single viewing. Based on this post, I Netflixed Darkman last week. As an appreciater of cinema as an artform, it was interesting to see an early Neeson and an early Sam Raime film. But the film was ouitright silly, even for its genre. I watched it alone, but maybe I would have enjoyed the experience more if I watched it with others and had the MST3K effect too.

Edited by Whill

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Due to a variety of circumstances, I didn't see very many movies in the 90s. Being a Bruce Willis fan, I had heard of 12 Monkeys but I never knew what it was about. After seeing Looper and reading about it, I came across mention of 12 Monkeys. What? I didn't know 12 Monkeys was about time-travel?! So I Netflixed it.

 

It was interesting to see how the plot unfolded (but I knew all along that the boy in Bruce Wiliis' dream would turn out to be himself as a child) and that the movie kept you wondering what was real and what was delusion. And Brad Pitt's performance was insane! While it was interesting to experience the slow reveal of the causality of the timeline, pre-destination time-travel stories tend to leave me with a sour feeling in my stomach because there is no free will if time-travellers are destined to travel back in time leading to the present they came from, forming a paradox because the sequence of events has no true origin.

 

I have posited in Star Trek discussions that predestination time-travel stories could be viewed as a subsequent stable loop that is established after an initial time-travel and sequence of events that was different, and just not shown in the story. But that doesn't always logically work out to even be possible, and that is a lot of extra work on the part of a viewer, especially for something like this movie which is a stand-alone story with no franchise continuity.

 

In this story, it is even suggested that the guy who sets-off the virus was inspired by the supposed WWI prophecy of a deadly virus being spread in 1996, but that prophecy was given by a time-traveller from the future where the virus had occurred. But Willis even stated in the film that he can't change anything, he can't prevent it. So although we did not see the final outcome in the future, perhaps information was gained to defeat the virus and return humanity to the Earth's surface. I guess the director just wanted us to think about the movie and draw our own conclusions.

 

Despite being a pre-destination time-travel story, it was a well-constructed film and I felt it was worth a single viewing.

Edited by Whill
numerous spelling errors!

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...my anxiety that arose from flashbacks to reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five for Science Fiction & Fantasy class in high school.

 

After seeing Cloud Atlas, that got me thinking about the Slaughterhouse-Five novel, my first experience with a story that jumped around chronologically.

 

At 16, my immature mind just wasn't ready for that type of story. It was so frustruating that I childishly tore and mangled the book, something I felt very guilty about in college when I developed into a full-blown tree-hugger and avid book reader. But in high school those basic values must have existed deep down inside because years later I stumbled across a manila folder containing the severely-damaged copy of the novel (in two separated halves) that I didn't remember saving, from a time when I owned very few books. I meticulously repaired the book, page by page, even creating a make-shift new spine with a handwritten title for the book. It's loaded with tape and it sure isn't pretty, but I restored it to functionally legible status.

 

Now my personal library has grown to five 2-meter tall bookshelves (including RPG books), and I'm somewhat O/C about the appearance of my library. I'm so fanatical about keeping books in circulation that I am a champion of acquiring used books for my personal library. I've bought a lot of used books and later re-bought them used again because I found a copy in better condition (so I ended up spending as much money as if I had just bought new in the first place). But when I replace a book, the old one goes back into circulation, so it's all good. However, I still proudly display my original destroyed-then-repaired high school copy of Slaughterhouse-Five as a reminder of my one-time transgression against books (never again).

 

ANYWAY, I discovered that there was a movie adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five from the early 70s I had either never known about or long forgotten about the existence of. I know for sure I had never seen it, so I Netflixed it this week. At first I found it annoying and cheesy, but by the end I was reminded of the novel, and compared/contrasted it with how I had imagined everything in the story back in the late 80s when I read it. Now I feel Kurt Vonnugut was nothing short of a genius. The movie was ok, but the great aspect was how it reconnected me with a novel whose story I can appreciate much more now.

 

Sometimes movies (good, mediocre or even bad) can help you appreciate books (and vice versa). Even books you read over 20 years ago and threw at the chalkboard when the teacher was out of the classroom. The awesome powers of literature and cinema!

Edited by Whill
eliminated pronoun reference ambiguity

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Skyfall abandons the narrative of the previous two Bond films (So Mr. White apparently remains at large). Instead Skyfall has an unrelated story, self-contained except for setting up the classic Bond supporting characters for at least the next two films that Craig is contracted for. In addition to the new M being revealed, we are also finally introduced to the reboot's Miss Moneypenny at the end of the film.

 

Q finally appears in the Craig-Bond reboot, but this grittier Bond still doesn't get fancy gadgets as seen previously in the franchise (Q even references their absence in dialogue). The new Quartermaster gives Bond a personalized palm-print-recognizing gun that will only fire when held by him, and a small GPS-radio transmitter. That's it! This back-to-the-basics James Bond is shown to also have access to a non-MI6-issue emergency vehicle stashed away, Sean Connery's 60's spy car with machine guns and a couple other basic special features. Being the Bond film franchise's 50th anniversary, there were several other references to the previous 22 Bond films.

 

The climactic setting is the in-universe source of the film's title: Skyfall, the old Scottish manor where Bond lived as a child. We learn just a couple aspects of Bond's backstory. It is confirmed that Bond is in fact an orphan as suggested in Casino Royale. ("Orphans make good recruits" for MI6.) Bond's parents died in some unspecified tragedy, and their remote estate is now only inhabited by the Bonds' old gamekeeper (Albert Finney from the last two Bourne movies) who seems to be important to Bond's childhood. The film's climactic sequence is action-oriented (with explosions), but still not quite as epic as I expected. It is smaller, darker, dramatic and personal.

 

As a film score aficionado, I have to say I am disappointed by the music. Skyfall director Sam Mendes dispensed with long-time Bond composer David Arnold to instead hire his usual collaborator Thomas Newman. The score uses Bond's classic main motif much less, and the scoring that replaces it was unimpressive to me. Arnold's arrangement of the James Bond Theme is only used in the end credits (and I read that it doesn't even appear on the Skyfall soundtrack). I missed David Arnold. I'll probably still buy the soundtrack someday anyway, but I'll probably wait a while so I can get a cheap used copy. And much less important to me is the title sequence song, but after actually enjoying the last two films' songs, I didn't like this new one. They continues the Craig-Bond standard of having the song based on the Bond theme, but this new song just comes across as regurgitative. (I read it also wasn't on the soundtrack, so no loss there.)

 

I liked Skyfall. If you liked the previous Daniel Craig Bond films, then you will probably like this one too. And you may even like it if you didn't get into the previous two Bond films. The action is superb. The villain is Bondian without being corny. Craig totally owns the role of James Bond. (After a private screening, Sir Roger Moore even went as far as saying that Craig may now even usurp Sean Connery in defining the role of James Bond - Now that is kudos!) Although this is the third film in the current reboot's continuity, this film really felt like an origin story for what is yet to come.

 

I don't like loose ends though, so I do hope that Mr. White reappears in the series, even if just to be killed by Bond in the opening sequence of a future film (à la Blofeld in For Your Eyes Only) to set-up a new mystery/conflict.

 

I'm not sure exactly how much I like Skyfall in comparison to the previous two Bond films yet, but it is worthy of joining my movie collection on blu-ray. (My Bond collection showcases the evolution of the primary home video formats - I own Timothy Dalton on VHS, Pierce Brosnan on DVD and Daniel Craig on blu-ray). I'm really looking forward to seeing Skyfall again.

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Batman Animated Series season 3

OMG - In disc one there are two 2-part episodes. One where Barbera Gorden finaly becomes Batgirl and the other where Ras Al-gol introduces himself to Batman.

I have 3 disks left. What else is in store for this season!?

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I have seen Zero Hour, but am nonetheless determined to enjoy it. I therefore decided that it takes place in Illithicar instead of earth.

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we're watching the Young Indiana Jones series for family film night. Other than that the original Land of the Lost series.

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