What I Watched

What I Watched, What You Watched: Installment #118

David Fincher's 'Panic Room' was my lone watch this week

Apologies for not having a film to share last week, but this week I sat down to revisit a David Fincher film I had only seen once before and generally remembered not enjoying all that much. Could time heal all wounds?

Panic Room (2002)

Panic Room poster
I had only seen David Fincher's Panic Room once and that was back in 2002 when it first opened and all I remember was not being too impressed. It's the only Fincher film I do not own on DVD or Blu-ray (or HD DVD for that matter), but it was on Netflix Instant and I'd been meaning to give it a second look for quite some time and man am I glad I did.

I still have some problems with it, such as the fact the place gets broken into just as Meg (Jodie Foster) and her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) move in and the idea a cell phone wouldn't work inside the panic room seems incredibly stupid to me. Why would someone develop a safe room where you couldn't use your cell phone? I also think Sarah being diabetic is a bit of a cheap plot conceit even though I do like the way it's used in the story.

However, the one big thing I love about this film on seeing it a second time is the use of sound, the cinematography and the editing. The difference in sound from room to room is very noticeable when Meg is taking a tour around the place before buying it and then it plays into the film from that point forward. The editing is excellent, particularly the cutting back-and-forth combined with the use of slow motion when Meg rushes out to get her cell phone. And the cinematography (which you may as well combine with the effects) is amazing, which is why I've included the following effects reel directly below, which you may not have seen as Fincher uses visual effects to capture the initial break in all in one shot.

Now it's your turn... what did you watch this week?

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  • John PT

    Sunshine - 9/10

    A beautifull sci-fi movie with lots of impressive special effects and intelligente action. I recommend it to everyone.

  • Winchester

    This week -

    In cinemas:

    Anonymous (2011) - A curious one. I didn't feel this film ever quite came to life, but it wasn't something that was a waste of time as long as you don't take it as 'factual' in any meaningful way. The authorship debate I will leave to Oxfordians vs Stratfordians but the film sorta worked as a conspiracy tale of power and greed. Some of the performances were excellent (Redgrave knocked it out the park, Ifans also and even Joely Richardson was pretty good playing her mother as a younger version) and the direction was actually ok. Visually solid (I'm surprised to be reading that it supposedly cost only around $40 million to make, which seems very low). The thing sorta tips way to far into melodrama by the time of the final confrontation between Cecil and De Vere, but at least the actors all deliver the lines with earnestness. I think it was a bit unfair to depict Shakespeare as basically a bumbling horndog though, and I can totally see where some anger might stem from that. Ultimately, it's a silly historical romping diversion through a theory that bends some facts and details to tell itself and shouldn't be taken as anything more profound or meaningful than that. As long as people don't take it as 'truth' then it's actually watchable.

    At Home -

    All that Heaven Allows (1955): TV rewatch - A very sharp and precise melodrama hiding a biting look at social conventions and restrictions of the time. Great to look at as well, and good performances. I could watch this film anytime.

    Far From Heaven (2002): TV rewatch - much like this one as well, as they were paired as a TV double this week. Very much indebted to the film above, it probably feels more like a direct homage when you watch the two together than when you watch them apart. Great performances and production design though.

    Max Payne (2008): TV rewatch - Another late night 'I couldn't change the channel' watch. I saw it in cinemas and never since. There's one thing I like about this film and that's the production design and visuals of the frozen city. The rest of it is a clumsy and stupid attempt at a conspiracy with pretty iffy performances across the board and another blank eyed Mark Wahlberg performance.

    Season of the Witch (2010): Blu-ray, first watch - WOOF! what a howler. I know that Cage wouldn't know quality control if he was slapped across the face with it but this is hysterically awful. It takes itself way too seriously. The effects would be good for TV but for a feature film they are not that great. I just have to see Driv Angry now to find out which is the worst of the two.

    In TV-Land I did a quick rewatch of Cougar Town: Season 1 in anticipation of picking up Season 2 in the near future.

    That was all this week.

    On Panic Room, it's probably one of the films I prefer from Fincher (certainly over Benjamin Button which is down there with Alien 3 for me in terms of his CV) but some aspects (such as the diabetes) do come across as piling on the contrivances a little bit too much. However, the direction and effects work is highly impressive and Foster's performance is a winner. She's of that rare breed (like Angelina Jolie) of actress who can sell you the most crazy stupid idea and make you stay in the film.

    • m1

      Far from Heaven is wonderful. I think the melodrama hurts it a bit, but Julianne Moore is fantastic in it and Dennis Quaid should have been nominated.

    • erhan alpay

      Anonymous (2011) : i didn't see it yet but i m curious about how can it be a topic for a movie that shaekspeare has't write his writings? ... it seems silly to me but roland emmerich is one of my favourite different director since universal soldier :) i m waiting it ...
      Far From Heaven (2002): i have seen it while it was on theaters but neither the cast and the screenplay was suits to me ... didin't like it..
      Max Payne (2008): i like mark wahlberg... italian job three kings fighter these ones are good for me but max payne is too cheap movie it seems like only made for the audience that loves the game not for the movie watchers...
      Season of the Witch (2010): i m realy sorry but nicholas cage is finished for me... i saw the film for the name of director (60 seconds was a good film) but sorry buddy i m done with nicholas cage movies...too bad ..

      and finaly for Panic Room; fincher is a great director nobody can say the reverse but the subject of his films are too easy didnt they? this film is good directed well played but it's onlye about a room that locked over ... soryy but i didint get tensioned or scared watching it... its only a 'not bad movie' for me ...

    • mfan

      Jody Foster is a great actress. But I can't watch her anymore; because, I felt she gave her fans the finger by refusing to do the sequel to Silence of the Lambs. She did some indy film instead. It actually makes me angry to see her on screen as fandom is a two way street.

  • Forrest Gump

    The Dead Zone 9/10 This is now my favorite Cronenberg film

    Another Earth 7/10 Very nice ending but it could've been a lot better

    The Passion of Joan of Arc 6/10 Nice direction but it was very boring

    In Time 4/10 Stupidest film of the year

    White Material 7/10 Depressing

    Ben-Hur 10/10 Best race i've ever seen

    A Separation 9/10 Nice foreign film, i hope this one wins the oscar this year

    Tucker & Dale vs Evil 9/10 One of my favorites this year

  • MajorFilmFan

    A.I.- This is a film that is truly original. That's not to say its PERFECT (the Jude Law character needed a bit more development), but overall, this is a dark, cerebral, and moving tale of life, and the desire to be loved. Spielberg has fully realized the world that I have no doubt Kubrick had envisoioned. 10/10

    Tower Heist- For light, escapist entertainment, this is the film. I laughed HYSTERICALLY thoroughout, and it was a joy to see Eddie Murphy back in natural form. Is it plausible? Hell NO. It doesnt need to be! Is it entertaining? HELL YES. 10/10

    The Way- This is a VERY slow film that never really establishes a pace. Some of the characters seem one dimensional and stereotypical. But, in the end, this is a deep, contemplative drama that tackles religion and faith in a way that most big budgeted studio projects would even TEY to. Is it for everyone? NO. But, I love this type of film, and I wasn't disappointed. 10/10

    • Ugueth

      You give every film you see a 10/10.

      • MKing

        So what Ugueth.

  • Criterion10

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Rewatch) -- This was a film I hadn't seen in a while, and decided to watch my Blu-Ray of it in honor of Halloween. This is a great movie, I feel, one that I'm happy to own. Oh, and Tim Curry is GREAT in it. A-

    Antichrist (Rewatch) -- I actually like this movie very much. It is probably my favorite Von Trier film. Charlotte Gainsbourg deserved an Oscar for this. A-

    House (Rewatch) -- This is a crazy, fun film with all sorts of insane effects. It's a fun ride and trip. B+

    Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom -- This was my first time watching Salo in its entirety, and while some scenes may have been overly excessive, I still feel that there is a message to the film where its graphic nature serves a purpose. The film was very well shot and acted, and the final minutes are incredibly well done. I'm not going to assign this one a rating, as that is too hard to do at the moment. I plan on returning to this film at some point and analyzing it further.

    3 Women -- This was an excellent movie! Surreal and mysterious, it reminded me very much of a Lynch film. Duvall and Spacek were both excellent. A

    Island of Lost Souls (Rewatch) -- Hadn't seen this one in ages, and revisiting it was great. There are some good moments in this film, and it serves as an important piece of pre-code filmmaking. B+

    Zazie dans le Metro -- Watched this early this morning and had a lot of fun with it. I though Zazie was hysterical and the actress who played her did a very good job. B+

    I picked up about 10 films from the B&N Criterion sale, and plan to pick up another few this week, plus Blue Velvet.

  • Mr Stark

    Alien Box set on Blu Ray 15/10. Buy This Now!
    Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas (no Christopher Meloni?! Boo!) 8/10
    X-Files films on Blu Ray (Fight the Future & I Want To Believe) 5/5 Felt like two really long winded episodes with not much of a pay off in either film. Surprised to see a young Lucas Black in the first film. "Lay off butt wipe, this mine."
    Winding's Pusher II-7/10
    Windings's Pusher III-10/10

    Jared Leto in Panic Room...good stuff. "We're coming in from below."
    I wish he'd quit with that insipid band and get back on the Fincher train.

  • Creighton

    Like Crazy 6/10

    Martha Marcy May Marlene 8/10

    Ghost World 5/10

    The Skin I Live In 8/10

    The King of Marvin Gardens 5/10

    Head 7/10

  • Natalie

    MELANCHOLIA-besides Kirsten Dunszt´s incredibly moving performance and that very devastating final shot, the movie´s just plain slow and not even the gorgeous cinematography or score can save it from being just a failed attempt. 5/10

  • C138

    Angel Face - An interesting but somewhat uneven film noir with Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons. It was cool to see this movie on the big screen, and Mitchum is always worth watching. I also liked the ending and thought it was pretty unexpected. 3.5/5

    Suspicion - One of Alfred Hitchcock's earlier movies. I thought it was really terrific and extremely well acted. I was never bored and it held my attention throughout. 4.5/5

    The Four Feathers (1939) - Much better and more interesting than the mediocre 2002 remake with Heath Ledger and Djimon Hounsou. Certain parts reminded me of Lawrence of Arabia with the way it was shot, although it obviously didn't use the same cameras as David Lean's epic to give it a wider scope, which is unfortunate. One of the nicest looking Technicolor productions and a great adventure story, even if it is a bit pro-imperialism. 5/5

    Career Girls - One of Mike Leigh's most interesting (and at times depressing) movies to date. The two lead performances by Katrin Cartlidge and Lynda Steadman were excellent, even if there were a few instances (mostly early on) where you could sort of tell that they were acting. Regardless, I thought it was a pretty moving story overall and an excellent character study. 4/5

    Halloween II (1981) - I find it hard to believe that I'd never seen this film after all these years since I'm a big fan of John Carpenter's film (I try to pretend that Rob Zombie's versions don't exist). I gotta say, though, that I was pretty disappointed with what I got in this one. The dialogue was (mostly unintentionally) hilarious, none of the characters were terribly interesting anymore, and it felt more like the filmmakers just wanted to cash in on the early 1980s slasher movie craze and fill it with as much gory death scenes as possible instead of making it more suspenseful like the first one was. Also, the explanation given for why Michael Myers was targeting Jamie Lee Curtis' character kind of ruins the villain's mystique. And I have to say... after seeing this movie, especially the end, Halloween 4 doesn't make too much sense anymore. 2.5/5

    Re-watches:

    Halloween (1978) - I'd be lying if I said that I watched horror movies often, but out of the ones I do actually like I'd have to say this is my favorite. It does a great job capturing the eerie atmosphere and the time of year that Halloween takes place in. I also love the soundtrack. 4.5/5

    Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers - Arguably the only solid sequel I've seen from this franchise. There are certainly some parts that feel too familiar and overused by this point, but the story is somewhat more interesting than any of the other sequels I've watched. 3/5

    Re-Animator - It had been many, many years since I last watched this movie. I remembered thinking it was pretty entertaining in a quirky sort of way, and I'd say my opinion remains the same. Very bloody with over the top scenes of gore, but the campy tone is what keeps it afloat. It's good to see a movie like this have a sense of humor. 3.5/5

  • Travis

    Devil - There were aspects of the film that were well done (direction, cinematography), but the relatively broad characters, storyline that doesn't go anywhere unexpected. The film is also clearly made for a christian audience, for that reason the film went from a C to a D for me.

    The Proposition - I have to agree with the consensus that Nick Cave wrote a great screenplay, but Hillcoat's direction felt a little off to me, the art direction, costume design all felt artificial, manufactured. A solid low-key western with solid performances though. B

  • David Mikula

    I rewatched The Return of The King and the two towers.

  • JayRam

    Two M. Night Shyamalan films this week.

    I may be one of few movie-goers who still appreciates what he does.

    The Village (rewatch)--Regardless if the twist ending was necessary, every time I watch this movie I find myself completely immersed by its execution. The direction, acting, Roger Deakins' cinematography, use of sound effects & James Newton Howard's score (especially) are all top notch. An under-rated movie I find myself coming back to time and time again. 4.5/5

    Lady in the Water (rewatch)--Wow, did this movie get some flak. I take it for what it is--a bedtime story--and actually enjoy it. Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep is brilliant. The overall theme of finding one's purpose in this world is something I think most can relate to. A shame this movie wasn't well-received. 3.5/5

  • tombeet

    Rosetta (1999) {1st watch} 4/4
    In preparation for The Kid with a Bike, I watched this one. It provides a realistic look of young girl trying to be part of the world. I feel personally connected, it's sad, with a little hopeful note in the end.

    L'Enfant (2005) {1st watch} 4/4
    Also another outstanding work from the Dardanne brothers. It also a work of 'love it or hate it". I understand why many people don't like this movie, but for me it works effectively. Glad I've seen it.

    The Kid with a Bike (2011) {1st watch} 3.5/4
    This little gem contains many of their trademark: raw, emotional. This is their most light-heart and hopeful film. The performances are great. I have no main complain of this one. Totally enjoy it.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) {re watch} 3/3
    It's funny and entertainment, but nothing else beyond that. The best part I found in it was the reference to 2001: Space Odyssey part.

    Le Havre (2011) {1st watch} 3.5/3.5
    It is unmistakably Aki Kaurismaki's work. My heart felt warm after watching this. But I also personally think that the over-sweetness in the end of the film somehow turn me off from its incredible. But overall it's a great work; and the dialogue kills me all the time.

    Drive (2011) {re-watch} 4.5/5
    Watched it again in cinema. Still loved it. One of the best film so far this year.

    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) 3.5/4
    I don't know the reason why many people hate this film (even Spielberg and Lucas themselves) and called it 'dark', but I found it indeed not so dark, but hilarious and contain many excellent action-pack. Short Round imo still one of the best sidekick of Indiana Jones.

    Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade (1989) 4/4
    I still laughed myself out in many scenes from this movie. The chemistry between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery is pure gold. The special effect still good enough until this day, makes me wonder why so few big-budget movies in present can be this good.

    A Separation (2011) {1st watch) 4/4
    A very solid film. The film hook the audience from the very beginning till the very end. In this film, everyone has their own flaws but it is very convincing. The film give a non-objective look to those characters and it's up to us to decide who's right and wrong. Hope this one would win (or at least nominate) for Best Foreign Oscar

    Melancholia (2011) {1st watch} 4/4.5
    I honestly loved this one a lot more that his previous works. (maybe because it's not too DEPRESSING (well, not THAT DEPRESSING). Lars Von Trier certainly has a distinctive look and the film plays out exactly like what he aiming to do. It's a very powerful piece of art. Charlotte Gainsbourg is equally great in it.

    • Grissom

      In response to Temple of Doom, it was those two sidekicks, Short-Round and Willie. All Willie did was scream and cry and Short-Round was just annoying.

  • http://www.mediatwin.me Phil Guest

    American Gigolo (1980).

    The film is just OK but the performances by Richard Gere and Hector Elizondo make this a must-see.

  • Grissom

    Yeah, Panic Roon isn't one of Fincher's finest. I thought the plot was a tad hokey, and i wasn't fond of Jodie Foster's acting.

    • Grissom

      Almost forgot what i watched:

      Courage Under Fire (1996) - I didn't really like how the politics overtook this, but Denzel Washington was great and the war scenes were awesome. 3.5/5

      Fast Five (2011) - It takes over the top action scenes and a new concept for the series and turns this into the best of the franchise. 5/5

      Dragonfly (2002) - I got lost and bored within the first 45 minutes. 1/5

  • Fan

    Bronson (B) - After watching Drive I looked up Nicholas Winding Refn and browsed through his films and found Bronson. Very interesting based on prisoner who been in solitary confinement for 30 years! As he said Britian most expense prisoner. His nickname is from the actor Charles Bronson. Anyways, when I first watched film it was weird the story telling was weird I just didn't get it, until I watched the bonus martials and Refn wanted to tell the story in a 50's, 60's eariler 70's way of story telling. And then when I watched it for the second time I really got a sense of what he's trying to do, and I enjoyed it more the second time. I guess it's one of those films that he have to view several times, cause I remember I didn't enjoy A Clockwork Orange until I kept viewing it and now I love that film. Besides that, watching it for the first time Tom Hardy was great! He was perfected for this character. The opening scene is gritty, brutal! The film starts with Bronson going to jail for a petty robbery and getting seven years. But that's what he wanted, to make a name for himself, to be famous as he said in his the opening scene. But when he get's in jail he cause so much sh*t for the system that no prison wanted him. They move him around prison to prison, until he ends up in a asylum. He gives them sh*t as well until they started to drugging him to keep him calm. Eventually he fights the drugs and strangles a pedophile. Didn't kill him though. Got locked up, until he breaks out and starts a riot and they show actually the footage. Afterward the Queen released him back on the streets where he goes back to his parents. And there's a scene that says so much about being in prison for so long, where he ask his mother where all his things at? His stuff and bed when he was a child. His mother said they couldn't bring it all it's back in Luton. He's been locked up for a long time he's still a child a heart, wanting his things not just his things his things when he's still a child, it's in a almost in a whinning way. So he's not all a brute. That then leads us back to his old town Luton. And it's funny he says he only two things: Luton and his unlce Jack. But he don't know anybody but unlce Jack. And unlce Jack knew everyone. That to me is funny because he's pretty much saying I don't need to know anyone in Luton, I know unlce Jack and unlce Jack knows everyone, so I know everyone because I know unlce Jack. When I thought about it just cracks me up, I don't need to know everyone I just need to know one person who knows everyone else. LOL. He gets into underground fighting trying to make a name for himself... he fights anything one on one, one on two, and dog... a big dog... but he's canned again I believe they said he was freed only 69 days. There's alot more than this obivoiously, even if it only runs 93 minutes. The music plays a beautiful part throughout the film, just beautiful. Nicholas Winding Refn has got to be one of the very best director out there, in my opinon up there with Tarantino, Fincher, P.T. Anderson etc. One critic on the cover of the film said it's "A Clockwork Orange for the 21 century." And I argee. I great film! I loved it personally. I going to check out Refn's other films as well.