What I Watched

What I Watched, What You Watched #161

I'm preparing for the RopeofSilicon Movie Club, are you?

It's hard to express how great the last few days of movie watching have been for me. In preparation for the coming RopeofSilicon Movie Club I watched Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock and Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. I hadn't seen either film and that was the main reason I chose them for the Club, and both should certainly offer more than enough spirited conversation.

That said, if you aren't familiar with what I'm talking about when I say "RopeofSilicon Movie Club," click here for more information as I will have a fully functional homepage for the club soon enough. Picnic and Ice Storm are the first two titles we'll be discussing, beginning October 15.

Then I watched Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate. A film credited with marking the end of the New Hollywood generation of the '70s, ruining United Artists and ending Cimino's career. A restored version of the film will hit DVD and Blu-ray on November 19 and recently played at the Venice Film Festival and will play the New York Film Festival on October 5. I had never seen it, but with its coming release it seems I've read about it everywhere.

Heaven's Gate - Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)Bloggers are talking about it, Criterion restored and is releasing it, it was recently written about in the New York Times and it was the major focal point of Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which I recently finished reading. It was also mentioned in Michael Deeley's Blade Runners, Deer Hunters, and Blowing the Bloody Doors Off, which I also just finished reading. Deeley produced and spearheaded The Deer Hunter and is not much of a fan of Cimino or his ego, which is expressed in the first chapter of what is a fascinating book. Both of those I highly recommend in fact.

Now, I want to read Steven Bach's "Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven's Gate" (hoping I can find it at the used book store down the street), which recounts the making of the film by one of the VP's at United Artists during the making of Heaven's Gate. Yet, I think I gained more than enough perspective watching the 2004 documentary Final Cut: The Making and Unmaking of Heaven's Gate on YouTube (part one here) in which Bach is interviewed along with several involved with the film including Bach's partner David Field, actors Kris Kristofferson, Brad Dourif and Jeff Bridges and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. The doc is narrated by Willem Dafoe, whom I later learned was an extra in the film.

Then I read this piece at Vanity Fair, Vincent Canby's infamous "New York Times" review, which buried the film before the rest of the country got to see the 216-minute original cut, and Roger Ebert's review, which was also none-too-kind. As for my thoughts on the film... More on that soon enough...

In terms of reading, next on my list having to do with Heaven's Gate, is this massive essay that caught my eye. Well, that and I am reading Biskind's Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film.

Biskind and Deeley's books captured my attention in their look at the '70s and Heaven's Gate has pushed me over the edge. Many are declaring the death of cinema, but if you look closely we may be on the cusp of another great movement. I haven't got all my ducks in a row just yet as I have more to explore, but I will say one thing, Megan Ellison at Annapurna Pictures may be the first ripple in a pond of change that will hopefully turn into a tidal wave in the coming years.

With that said, what did you watch this week. What captured your attention and have you been preparing for the Movie Club?

SIDE NOTE: You can catch Heaven's Gate on NetFlix Instant Play, all 219 minutes of it as I did. Also, I joined Hulu Plus to watch Picnic at Hanging Rock and, if I understand it correctly, if you join Hulu Plus using this link you'll get two free weeks instead of one. I've only watched one movie so far, but the large amount of Criterion titles is appealing.

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  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    Some decent watching this week:

    First watch (theaters):

    End of Watch (2012) - Honestly one of the best cop movies I've ever seen. The dialogue and chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena was nothing short of fantastic. Also loved how the story played out so smoothly. Even though I don't know much about cops lives, I got the feeling this was a very authentic story of what it's like to be a police officer. Was not surprised to find out afterwards that the writer/director is the same person who wrote Training Day. One of the best movies I've seen all year hands down. 9/10

    First watch (home):

    The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) - DVD - Some really nice performances given the cast of Damon, Seymour-Hoffman, and Law. Matt Damon's impression of James Rebhorn is awesome. I found this movie intriguing and was shocked this didn't get nominated for a Cinematography Oscar. It's shot beautifully. Well done Anthony Minghella. Glad I finally caught up with this one - very engaging. 8/10

    Chronicle (2012) - Blu-ray - Found this movie to be ok. Some parts were kinda cool, but the story got old to me rather quickly for a movie clocking in under an hour and twenty minutes. Thought the ending was pretty lame. 5/10

    Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - Oh dear. I'll save my full thoughts for when we discuss this movie as part of the club, but let's just say I think I'll have the complete opposite opinion of others from what I've read so far on this site, on RottenTomatoes, etc. I absolutely deplored this movie. Gonna try to watch "The Ice Storm" tomorrow, thinking it will be more promising. 1.5/10

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

      Whoa, we really couldn't have disagreed more on Picnic at Hanging Rock. It'll be very interesting to discuss this one.

    • JN Films

      Chronicle was better than a 5/10. It's a found footage film that actually tells a story, the 3 leads gave good performances, and the camera was integrated into the story so it made sense why they were recording it. 7.5/10 in my book.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

        In all fairness, I could see how people might really like Chronicle. I agree it's a well-made film, and I don't think it's overall bad by any means, just wasn't totally for me. Maybe I'll rewatch at some point in the future and like it more - not uncommon for me.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

          I'll just go ahead and say it: as much as I liked The Avengers, Chronicle was better. It's still one of my top 5 favorite films of the year. Bought the movie on dvd when it came out and seen it multiple times ever since. Why did I like it better than The Avengers? Originality, better performances & great pacing. This to me is one of the biggest surprises of 2012. The performances were surprisingly great: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell & Michael B. Jordan were really good here. Just love the movie.

  • Winchester

    I'm very interested in the upcoming 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' discussion myself as it's a film I've been thinking about a reasonable bit since I first watched it a few weeks back on Blu-ray.

    This week, a possible trip to see 'Looper' was changed at the last minute so nothing at cinemas this week.

    The Bedford Incident (1965): TV airing, first watch - A surprisingly good (if in places dated now) Cold War drama which was directed by James B Harris, who up until the mid 1960s was apparently a producer for Stanley Kubrick for about a decade previously. Around the same time Kubrick made 'Dr Strangelove' both of which raise issues involving Nuclear deterrent. This film is much more straightforward though but still quite good. Sidney Poitier plays a journalist who arrives on the USS Bedford under the command of Richard Widmark. The ship is keeping an eye out for Soviet subs around Greenland. When the ship detects one, the Captain decides to relentlessly hound the sub even though no wartime state exists and his orders from Command are to do otherwise. And things escalate from there into a surprisingly dramatic and memorable ending. Also it has a very small pre stardom appearance by Donald Sutherland for trivia fans.

    The Third Man (1949): TV airing, first watch - I had never seen this before but was aware of it's general reputation and place as a great thriller. And to me, it was, even if it took me about a half hour to decide that I was getting into it. It's a slow burner and it takes a while for enough of the pieces to fall into place to realise how engrossed you are. Excellent direction and photography and a wonderful atmosphere created out of the setting in post-war Vienna. A partly ruined city, split into four quarters ruled by different powers, and the thriving Black Market that drives the plot. Good performances as well. While I was watching this film I was reminded of the recent discussions on things like 'Top 100' and such like tables of great films and the at times rather different opinions people have of what are regarded generally as great films and it struck me that a lot of the time it isn't to do with having a necessarily innovative plot (which The Third Man technically doesn't have, once you've seen it it's actually fairly simple enough) but a lot of these films are films whose directors often simply were so successful in creating such atmosphere (like The Third Man or Laura or Doube Indemnity in the noir genre) or innovating with the structure of how a simple story is presented (like with Citizen Kane) that elevates these films and gives them their greatness. Carol Reed here creates a film that is utterly brimming with atmosphere and tension and also creates some brilliant set pieces, especially towards the end of the film using gigantic sewers underneath Vienna that are filled with shadows, dark spaces, echoes and rushing water as characters run around that it's hugely satisfying to watch for the thriller aspects and also to appreciate the direction as well. I was getting a bit demented by the constant use of the zither however! But that tune that is itself so simple also gets used effectively over several scenes, demonstrating how clever the piece of music is that it can be used that way.

    National Treasure (2004): TV airing, rewatch - As a simple blockbuster aimed at the family market this hybrid of Indiana Jones/Dan Brown (when he was briefly big thanks to DaVinci) is one of those Bruckiemer franchises that starts silly and stays there quite comfortably. But I still find it more fun than his 'Pirates' series. It passed a couple of hours just fine. I've always wanted to play a drinking game in this film when every time someone says 'Declaration of Independence' you take a shot, but I'd probably be in the hospital by the time the film was done.

    National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007): TV airing, rewatch - For some reason both films were on TV this week so I figured may as well watch the sequel as well. Not as much fun thanks to being a good deal sillier and also just mimicking the first film, but again it passed a couple of hours.

    Surrogates (2008): TV airing, rewatch - It's a bit like a clone of 'I, Robot' in some ways and it certainly doesn't give in to bloat running at only about 85 minutes long but this is a semi-generic sci-fi actioner that I kind of like a little more whenever I catch it. The premise is hooky enough and lends itself to some good themes and ideas about humanity and technology. The film never really runs with it, instead favouring action.................but I kinda have to admit to liking it in a kind of cheesy, cheap 'n' cheerful way.

    Black Swan (2010): DVD, rewatch - This is the third time I've watched this film and it appears my reaction to it can differ wildly maybe depending on my mood at the time I watch it. First time I saw it I really liked it. Second time I saw it I really did NOT like it and this time around I kinda settled on somewhere in the middle. I don't think it's AS good a film as the hype around it suggested it was when it became something of a phenomenon around late 2010. I think it's too unsubtle and in places shlocky for that kind of accolade. Obsession and mental breakdown is all well and good when showing an artist in the pursuit of perfection (especially when she's shown as a semi-child anyway and played as such by Portman) but when you still resort to cheap tactics like Arronofsky does along the way let's just not pretend it necessarily has any true psychological depth. It's kinda 'B' movie like at times and as nicely trashy as that may suggest. Visually Arronofsky's commitment to his colour scheme and his insistence on mostly oppresively close camerawork helped to mask the films problems when it was watched in an equally dark and oppressive cinema screen. But open it up in home viewing and it becomes something much less. I don't think now I would get behind Portman for the Best Actress Oscar but it's all done now.

    Iron Sky (2012): Blu-ray, first watch - Hilarious stuff. Really, it has GOT to be seen at least the once just for the sheer hell of it. I'd recommend getting a group together to watch it though and possibly also involve booze though. Like a kind of demented clone of Independence Day and Inglorious Basterds is what the blurb on the disc said and it kinda is.

    In TV Land I also watched the first half of the second season of the reimagined 'V' (2011) which seems about as dumb as the first season so far. At least I didn't spend money buying it but have been renting instead.

    Let's see - I also bought the new The Killers album but haven't listened to it yet and bought a copy of Don DeLillo's 'Cosmopolis' as it was being sold dirt cheap in a store and I'm kind of intrigued in it thanks to the coming film.

    That was all this week.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      For my money, The Third Man is Orson Wells best film (although, he didn't direct it).

      • Winchester

        I've not actually seen a lot of Welles' films. Only The Third Man, Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons (which I believe was heavily interfered with by the studio at the time but which seemed intriguing enough) so far.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Andrew13/ Andrew13

          Touch of Evil is also worth a watch, though I personally do not find it to be quite the masterpiece that many hail it as. Magnificent Ambersons is great, especially the first twenty minutes, but the film's ending was completely altered by the production company while Welles was overseas, which is why the tone changes so severely at the end. More upsetting to me personally is that all the negatives of Welles' original ending were destroyed, so we'll never get to see Welles' true vision, as we are with Touch of Evil.

          • Winchester

            I've seen Touch of Evil in stores but the special edition Blu Ray is pretty pricey so I'll need to get it rented at some point rather than buy it unseen just now.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/VChile/ VChile

          You owe it to yourself to see Touch of Evil. It's on my blu-ray wishlist, but I haven't seen a release date for the US.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            I'll never understand why anyone holds Touch of Evil in high regard. It's way over the top and campy. If it was made today, it would get trashed.

          • Winchester

            Interesting - I just assumed that if it was out in Europe it would also be available in the US as well. It's been out in the UK for probably over a year at the very least.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

      IMHO, Black Swan is a glossy B-movie. Well made, well acted, but light on the story and themes. The film can be pretentious in the different sexual undertones that ultimately add up to nothing and are only there to make the film see smarter than it truly is. It's difinitely entertaining, but shallow.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

      I liked Black Swan a lot but at times it was a little bit over dramatic other than I thought it was really a crazy, mind-messing of a film which Aronofsky is awesome at. Yes, I did think Portman deserved an Oscar and no not because I love her both as an actress and person (my number #1 celebrity crush) which I do but she was fully committed to the role, had to go through a lot (I know she had to use stunt double) & IMO i don't think any actress could have pulled this off. Portman is just good in playing mentally & physically tortured woman. She pulled it off here excellent to an extent.

      I also thought Mila Kunis could have gotten nominated here, she wasn't showy or amazing but she stole each scene she was in with humor and "hotness" of hers.

    • Chris138

      I'm with you on Black Swan. I liked it in the theater, but it kind of fell apart when I watched it again on Blu-ray almost a year ago. It's a fairly well made movie and does a solid job of keeping the paranoia and tension alive, but I agree that Aronofsky uses some cheap gimmicks in the film that make it seem more campy than scary. I do still think Portman is good in the role, although I did want her to win that year because I really didn't care for The Kids Are All Right or Annette Bening's overrated performance. But yeah, overall Black Swan is kind of a mixed bag and in retrospect seems oddly overpraised.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kieran/ Kieran Sturt

    A successful week of movie watching for me.

    Looper: I saw this movie a few days ago and I'm still totally engrossed by it. Easily one of the best science fiction movies in years, with one of the most original time travel plots I've ever seen. I may be a little hyperbolic in my love towards the film, but honestly I adored everything about this movie. Each individual element worked for me, and I think the main reason I love it so much is because of how fully realised the whole movie feels. It's rare that we get a film as well crafted as Looper, and I think we all need to recognise Rian Johnson as one of the most promising directors of our generation. A+

    A.I. Artificial Intelligence: As part of my recent sci-fi indulgence after seeing Looper, I decided to finally watch A.I. after hearing about Kubrick's work on the film before Spielberg took over. I loved certain parts of this movie, in particular the Rouge City and - potential spoilers - flooded Manhattan settings. For me, these sequences were Spielberg at his finest, as each setting is infused with a palpable spirit of adventure and discovery. Where I have problems with the film, however, is in it's early setting with David's "mother," and the climactic scenes - more spoilers - 2000 years into the future. The scenes within the family household feel distinctly Kubrickian. The judgemental mother who can not love her Mecha son, the cruel, adolescent jabs of the rehabilitated "brother" - these are Kubrick's characters crammed into a Spielberg setting and pumped full of sentimentality. I'm not even going to bother discussing the future-future world of life after humanity, suffice to say that it is a maddening shift in tone and presents itself as a frustrating anticlimax. If the film had ended with David under water, it would have carried a much more thought provoking conclusion. B -

    Mirror Mirror: Charming and harmless. I haven't finished it, but a B - seems fitting.

    The Brothers Bloom: I loved this film. Johnson definitely has a habit of self indulgence, and a willingness to accept the logic of his movies are a necessity. This is definitely at its strongest in Bloom, which I think is why a lot of critics and general audiences were put off by the it when it was released. You definitely have to commit yourself to its charms. But this film totally worked for me, Rachel Weisz was adorable, Adrien Brody was perfectly cast. It's one of the most pleasant films I've seen in quite some time. B +

    Sound of My Voice: I liked this movie a lot. It managed to maintain a strong tension throughout its mystery, and Britt Marling was haunting in her portrayal of the (potentially) time-travelling cult leader. Very effective and engaging. B

    Moonrise Kingdom: My favourite Wes Anderson films are probably Tenenbaums and Darjeeling, and my least favourite is easily Life Aquatic. The movie was quite entertaining and the love story between the two characters was very cute. I liked it a lot, although it's not quite Anderson's best film. B

    Cosmopolis: Did not like this film, but not out of any distaste towards its abstract story and characters. It just wasn't my kind of movie, and I didn't really get anything out of it. C

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/IngmarTheBergman/ IngmarTheBergman

      I agree with you on A.I. The film was alright until the last 20 minutes. Kubrick intended for the film to end there, however Spielberg declared that it must end on a happy note.

      • http://nktkomarov.livejournal.com/ Nick

        If you want to believe what Spielberg has been insisting on for years now, the final act of the movie was all Kubrick.

        • Winchester

          To be honest I tend to believe Spielberg for the most part.

          I can think of no particular reason that he would have been so insistent all along the way for years now that he and Kubrick's perceived contributions were actually reversed.

          And perhaps even stranger, it's mostly Spielberg's claimed elements such as the flesh fair that I like about A. I when I watch it.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kieran/ Kieran Sturt

            Yeah, apparently that was how Kubrick intended it to end. But Kubrick had a similarly abstract ending in 2001, and managed to pull it off effectively in my opinion because it was in keeping with the tone of that film. The ending of A.I. just wasn't good in Spielberg's hands, in my opinion, and it could have been much more effective with Kubrick's more clinical style. As it stands I think the movie definitely should have ended with David under water.

        • Brian Zitzelman

          The ending is quite tragic too, befitting Kubrick, if that's part of the discussion.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Kessler/ Kessler

        Here's a quote from the screenwriter of A. I. Ian Watson.

        "Worldwide, A.I. was very successful (and the 4th highest earner of the year) but it didn't do quite so well in America, because the film, so I'm told, was too poetical and intellectual in general for American tastes. Plus, quite a few critics in America misunderstood the film, thinking for instance that the Giacometti-style beings in the final 20 minutes were aliens (whereas they were robots of the future who had evolved themselves from the robots in the earlier part of the film) and also thinking that the final 20 minutes were a sentimental addition by Spielberg, whereas those scenes were exactly what I wrote for Stanley and exactly what he wanted, filmed faithfully by Spielberg".

        On a side note, I don't know how you can view the ending as a happy one. David only had one day with his mother. After that, he will never see her again no matter how long he lives.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      "I think we all need to recognise Rian Johnson as one of the most promising directors of our generation." - Having seen Looper, I would have to strongly disagree with this statement.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/0Freeman./ 0Freeman.

        Idk bout that i just saw looper and at first i was dissapointed leaving the theater but once the movie sunk in and i thought about every aspect it really was a very well thought out movie with alot put into it. I think he will bring some great movies in the future. Brick was an amazing experience when i first saw it and I couldn't get it out of my mind after seeing it. Same with Looper just in a different way. Rian Johnson is rather talented and I think he'll definetly be someone to look out for in the future

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kieran/ Kieran Sturt

        And why is that?

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

          Read my review of it below.

    • JN Films

      Are you kidding me about Mirror Mirror? That could easily get a D.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kieran/ Kieran Sturt

        Eh, to me it was harmless, but I see your point.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

    Seven Psychopaths: I really did like this movie a lot. It's easily the funniest movie I've seen all year. Martin McDonagh's writing here is really great but nowhere near the heights of In Bruges. But that's mostly because this is lighter fare than In Bruges. Farrel, Rockwell, Walken, and Harrelson all give great performances with Rockwell being the standout. B+

    Adaptation: This was my first time watching this and I fell in love. It's funny because Laremy brought up the comparison to Adaptation when talking about 7P and now I understand. Nicholas Cage is one of the most ridiculed actors at times but when you churn out performances like this, people need to forget about the "National Treasures" and "Ghost Riders." This is grade A stuff. The Kaufman script is genius of course and what I thought was hilarious was when he was pitching himself an idea for a script about the creation of the universe...Tree of Life instantly shot into my head. Instantly a favorite. A+

    Picnic at Hanging Rock: I won't say much just not as enamored by this as everyone else it seems. B

    The Man Who Fell To Earth: This one was fun. Such a trip and I loved it. Bowie and Rip Torn's performances were amazing. Roeg is a director who I think has one of the most interesting and entertaining visual eyes of all time. It's a really beautiful movie. What I found most interesting was the way it resonates with the climate of today. A man (Or in this case Alien) comes from nothing and becomes a billionaire only to be shunned for his other worldly self. Candy Clark's performance was pretty bad but it's not that big of a deal. A-

    Tiny Furniture: Lena Dunham is probably one of 2 of my favorite young directors working today. The other being Xavier Dolan. They both have this view of symmetry and perfect shots and just clean photography. She creates these characters who are so awful and worthless and self-loathing that you almost can't watch for too long but something keeps you going. That something is her comedic wit. She's been compared to a Woody Allen and the comparison is apt. A

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

      Whoa, that's a pretty strong rating for Tiny Furniture. Some people really hate that film, and while I don't hate it, it's not particularly very good either. There are many poorly acted and scripted scenes, and sometimes it can just be downright annoying. When the film does work, it has some nice charms. I'd probably give it a C+/B-.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

        It's the annoying aspect that is the point. Dunham writes these characters as awful people. They are funny and charming at times but for the most part they're terrible human beings. It's the way she lets them have epiphanies or lack thereof at times that is so interesting. The people she writes feel like real people. Warts and all. That's why I love it so much. Plus it is a really nicely shot film.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/IngmarTheBergman/ IngmarTheBergman

    I'm amazed you hadn't seen The Ice Storm or Picnic at Hanging Rock before, their trully great films!

    What I watched:

    Mildred Pierce : Overall Mildred Pierce is a good film, however it fails to climb over the boarder separating it from other film-noirs. B-

    Harold and Maude : A quirky and very original film. It will always be a great memory having watched this film. Criterion did a great job with the restoration. A

    The Long Good Friday : This film is dubbed underrated, yet I must strongly disagree. Never in a long time have I seen such over-acting and ignorant direction. The only two things that stick with you from this film are the intense 70s jazz score and some of the camera shots. C-

    Spellbound : Spellbound leaves you... spellbound. Yes, the film does have some dull moments in the dialogue and the acting, and it's views on Freudian analysis are at time inaccurate, but the twists, the mystery, the suspense and of course, the dream sequence make this film stand out like most Hitchcocks. A

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being : Perhaps the reason this film didn't do too much for me was due to the fact that I watched it hoping for a Daniel Day-Lewis performance like no others. His performance was good, however the real award goes to Juliette Binoche. B

    Airplane! : Considered to be among the funniest films of all time, yet I found it doesn't live up to The Naked Gun and Police Squad! However, Airplane! did have it's moments. B-

    Notorious (second viewing) : I have watched the beginning of this film three times now, and I must say that it gets much better what it becomes a spy-thriller as opposed to a romance. This second viewing was not as meaningful as the first, but it's still an excellent film.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Timothy/ Timothy

      I have to agree with you on Harold and Maude, but with Airplane! I disagree. I think I liked it because of the fact that I've seen a lot of the disaster films it parodies, which adds to the hilarity.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      "over-acting and ignorant direction" - Really? I think TLGF is a great film and it contains Bob Hoskins greatest performance.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

      Oh, I love Harold and Maude too. The Criterion transfer is great, really need to check out some of the special features.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Kessler/ Kessler

    I was able to watch Picnic at Hanging Rock on Wednesday, but I'll save my thoughts for the discussion.

    No trips to the theaters this week. School work has just been killing me lately. Luckily, I'll have a 4-day weekend this week, so I might be able to see The Master, Looper, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Frankenweenie.

    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - James Stewart is probably my favorite actor and I haven't seen this movie so I decided to give it a try. Aside from some hokey moments, I thought this movie was really good. The scenes with James Stewart giving his speeches on the Senate floor are very well-written. The passion that Stewart puts in them make his performance even more better. I don't think this is as good as It's a Wonderful Life, which is my favorite Frank Capra and James Stewart movie, but it's still a very good movie.

    The Avengers - This was my second viewing since I saw in in the theaters. It doesn't hold up as well on a small screen, but I still really like this movie. The opening 45 minutes do drag a bit, but the last 100 minutes are a lot of fun.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Timothy/ Timothy

    It's been an interesting three days. I've always thought that Heaven's Gate seemed to be criticized mainly for the budget, and not truly for the film itself.

    Looper- I was really surprised by how entertaining this one was. The cast is uniformly excellent, and it has an ending that I never saw coming. 9.5/10

    The Avengers- I finally saw this one. It was very entertaining, and it was packed full of great lines, and action pieces. I don't think, however, that its one of the best films of the year. 8.5/10

    The Fallen Idol- It's a good film, nowhere near as great as The Third Man. There is some great work by Ralph Richardson, and the cinematography is excellent. But I never really enjoyed it as much as I hoped.

    That's all for now, but I plan on watching The Master later today, and hopefully The Piano Teacher. Having finished War and Remembrance, I'll be moving on to Love in the Time of Cholera. That's all, really.

  • Lewis

    Heaven's Gate is an interesting, very Cimino-esque epic. I actually enjoyed it (being a huge fan of The Deer Hunter). Cimino - with his early films - had a unique talent. His eye for widescreen images and his pacing were unmatched at the time. Very much a product of the 70s, Cimino was unfairly maligned for Heaven's Gate. Yes, there are flaws in the film, however I loved his use of set pieces (another Cimino trademark) - like the lovely Harvard speech opening and the roller skating rink sequence. Lots here to drool on. It's a beautiful picture. Looking forward to the Criterion upgrade.

  • Lewis

    now...to Picnic at Hanging Rock. saw this one years ago. Thought it was surreal, a little slow, weird, hypnotic. Not being a huge fan of this film, I have always admired Peter Weir's work. He's gone on to do other more important, and better, masterpieces (my favorites being The Last Wave, Witness, Dead Poets Society, Fearless)..

  • Lewis

    Saw the Ice Storm like 3 or 4 times when it came out in 1997. Have always loved this film. One of Ang Lee's best (if not THE best).. It's a piercing drama of 70s sexual dysfunction. The look and feel of the film is spot-on, anchored by some stunning acting from Joan Allen, Kevin Kline, and an early Tobey Maguire - who is simply affecting as their oldest son. I thought the film was overlooked at the Oscars. Ang Lee continues to defy pigeonholing in any given genre. He makes a diverse array of films. Can't wait for Life of Pi!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Owen/ Owen

    I'm dying to hear your thoughts on Heaven's Gate. I love westerns, I love long, slow-moving epics and I love Cimino's The Deer Hunter, but Heaven's Gate bored me like no film I've ever seen.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    At the theater (first viewing):

    Looper – Initially, I wasn’t going to see this in the theater. But against my better judgment and in the absence of anything better to do, I went. I regret that decision and that application of $8.50. For the first 20-30 minutes, Looper is interesting and entertaining (despite a questionable performance from Paul Dano and a bad one from Noah Segan). It establishes a new world and some interesting technology. It’s a shame, then, that Mr. Johnson never does anything with it. The plot quickly becomes tedious and dull as Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) must decide whether or not to kill his future self, while simultaneously running from the mob. Once you get past the time travel aspect, this is nothing we haven’t seen before. But the film comes to a complete (and hopelessly boring) halt when Joe winds up at a farm owned by a single mother (Emily Blunt) whose son may or may not possess superhuman abilities. It is at this point that Mr. Johnson drums up some drama and attempts to give the movie some “heart.” The drama falls flat, however, since neither Joe nor Sara are compelling or interesting characters. As a result, we never fully invest in the story or its outcome. While I usually bemoan people who check their watches during movies, I’d like to consider Looper an exception to that rule. I can’t remember an instance when I ever checked the time during a film, but I did it twice during Looper. And before I end I have to say that all of the scenes involving the child are best described as stupid. I wish I could be more articulate on this point, but I think “stupid” really captures the essence of it. The performances? Levitt and Blunt are merely serviceable and Bruce Willis is… well… Bruce Willis.

    2.5 / 5

    TV shows:

    Homeland (Season 1) – Where to begin? Well, first, I’d like to express my disgust at all of the praise and awards this show has won. The show’s wild success is profoundly disturbing on several levels. First off, I’d like to talk about how bland and uninspired the writing, acting and direction is. If you hooked the show up to a heart rate monitor, it would flat line. Visually, the show is completely interchangeable with any number of shows. It has no distinct style or grammar. It feels like a network show that somehow made it onto a cable channel. It’s a show that should have been canceled after its pilot episode, but inexplicably got picked up for a full 12 episodes (and you can really feel every last second). The characters are poorly drawn and wholly uninteresting. Bottom line: it’s one the laziest shows I’ve seen on cable in some time.

    Claire Danes (a good actress) is consistently misdirected throughout the season and suffers under the weight of weak screenplays. The writers throw consistency and believability to the wind as Carrie’s bipolar disorder comes up only when it services the plot. She betrays her own character on the drop of a dime throughout the season, most notably when she sleeps with Brody (again, just to service the plot). Don’t even get me started on how ridiculous a late stage plot twist involving “love” is… Moving on; if any of the characters were actual CIA agents, they’d be fired on the spot (David Harewood is particularly bad). I can’t help but think that the creators of the show have never come within 200 feet of a CIA agent. The show’s authenticity is so laughable I can’t believe it hasn’t come under harsh criticism. The absence of subtly is also notable. At one point in the season, a character has to actually fall through a glass door to show us how much they’re suffering (this won an Emmy for writing….). There’s a cringe worthy scene involving a CIA agent who, after discovering a government cover up, threatens to go to the New York Times… right, we’re supposed to believe that this is the first time (in presumably decades of working for the CIA) that this character has ever come across corruption and cover ups. But don’t worry, he’s easily talked down.

    But now I’d like to address what makes Homeland more than just another poorly produced TV show. It’s downright offensive. So much so, it’s somewhat disturbing to see how much praise this show has received. Homeland is, at its core, racist. No, we’re not talking about racism against black people (although, the only violent terrorist we encounter during the season is black), the show pushes an intense anti-Muslim redirect (with a title like “Homeland,” who would have guessed?). It’s a show Dick Chaney would orgasm over. This should come as no surprise, however, when you consider that this show was produced by Rupert Murdoch’s network. The Muslims are THE ENEMY. No attempt is made to understand why they are doing what they doing, the terrorists are one dimensional bad guys with pathetically simplistic motivations (note: the show was co-created by the creators of 24, another show with a preoccupation with evil brown people).

    The writers show a profound lack of understanding/interest in history and exploring the “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” dynamic between the Middle East and the United States. No, on Homeland the Americans are the good guys and anyone with brown skin must be terrorists. Brody, at one time a proud flag waving American, has now been turned by the “terrorists” after a US drone strike killed 60 some odd children. But just in case you might feel inclined to sympathize with Brody’s motivations, the Governments actions are quickly shrugged off as a “mistake,” because, ya know, sometimes shit happens! Quite whining ya communist! I’ve heard some praise the shows “wonderful” use of “suspense.” As I watched the show, I attempted to seek out such brilliant moments of tension to no avail. Maybe I should have been on the edge of my seat when early on in the season we see Brody walk into his garage and (gasp) pray to Allah. Ya see! He must be a terrorist!! Oh please, The Newsroom’s power outage cliffhanger was more suspenseful than anything on this show.

    But anyway, we have female characters who “just want things to be simple again”… I’m not kidding, that’s actually a line of dialogue. We have terror suspects who kill for love, and are then treated to calm and relaxing drives through the country side as their CIA handlers take a trip down memory lane (I bet the boys up at Abu Ghraib would have something to say about the authenticity of this…). We are subjected to poorly set up interrogation scenes that end with absurd conclusions (episode 10) and wives who used to be opposed to their husbands running for office, but now support them, because… well… it’s really convenient to the advancement of the plot.

    I suppose Homeland has been so successful because it’s so mind-numbingly simplistic and straightforward that any idiot could follow it. It asks nothing of its audience, only that they share the same hatred of the Middle East as the show’s creators. I guess the recent Emmy sweep Homeland enjoyed only speaks to the inherent racism laying beneath surface of Joe American (wait, what am I saying, “beneath the surface”? Turn on the RNC and you’ll see it thrown right in your face. lol, “surface” my ass). Homeland continues in a long tradition of shows and movies that never ask Americans to question WHY things happen. The show exists only to remind us all that despite what some may say, THE TERRORISTS are still out there! Let’s kill em over there so we don’t have to kill em here! Just keep shouting USA! USA! USA! as Mr. Obama and co. bang the drum slowly for a war in Iran, cause, ya know, they have weapons of mass destruction…
    2 / 5

    • Matt

      Wow, couldn't disagree with you more on "Homeland." I mean, for one thing, I found it to be quite suspenseful and well written, and loved Claire Danes performance. But, more importantly, I personally found it to be quite well written in the way they develop the terrorists as characters. Obviously the terrorists are still viewed as the "bad guys" but, in my opinion, I found that the writers did a great job in showing that the American government and the "good guys" are also heavily flawed and do things that the American public would be disturbed by. I don't know, just my opinion I guess, but I really loved the first season.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        "I personally found it to be quite well written in the way they develop the terrorists as characters." - They are so one dimensional I don't how you could say that. And again, the mistakes made by the Govt. are just tossed aside as "collateral damage," a necessary evil that must exist in order to destroy the "greater evil." This show doesn't even attempt to be critical of the government.

        • Matt

          (spoilers for anybody that hasn't seen the first season)

          In my opinion, I found that the writers developed Brody's motivations in a way where his transformation from patriot to terrorist was sympathetic. Obviously what he's doing is still wrong, but Brody's motivations for launching an attack on the government and killing the VP gave his character dimension. If they did not give him motivation than I'd definitely agree with you that his sudden brainwashing was unrealistic and poorly written but, personally, I found his "being turned" to be realistic and much more than just a cardboard cut out of a villain. A perfect example of the writers blurring the lines between hero and villain is when Brody takes his family on vacation and gives his son that speech about, I believe, the fight at Gettysburg. Aside from being a wonderfully acted scene on Damian Lewis' part, this scene clearly shows that Brody is not so much a villain but a tragic figure. I just don't see him as a one dimensional villain in any way. In fact, I'd argue that he's one of the most complex characters on TV at the moment.

          As for the Govt., maybe it was just the way I interpreted the series, but I found the Vice President to be viewed in an entirely negative light. In almost every scene he came off as, frankly, a complete asshole and his actions involving the school children in the Middle East were most certainly viewed as a despicable action, as shown by Saul's disgust. The way I took it, much of the actions by the US government- whether it be covering up that bombing or Carrie's monitoring Brody- were depicted in such a way to allow viewers to debate whether or not they are justified in going to such extremes. That's what I love about the series- aside from being (again, IMO) suspenseful and wonderfully acted, the writing allows for a lot of debate as to who's "good" and who's "bad", as all the characters (except for, if anything, minor characters that are terrorists or even CIA agents) have a mixture of qualities that don't allow viewers to completely categorize them as a hero or villain.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            "but Brody's motivations for launching an attack on the government and killing the VP gave his character dimension." - I'd dispute this. He became disillusioned after he witnessed bombing that resulted in the deaths of innocent children. That's hardly complex. If you want examples of complex characters on television look at Tony Soprano, Walter White, Nucky Thompson, Tyrion Lannister. THOSE are complex and layered characters. You can read Brody like a book. There's nothing interesting about him.

            "his actions involving the school children in the Middle East were most certainly viewed as a despicable action, as shown by Saul's disgust." - As I said above, those actions are ultimately viewed as collateral damage. Acceptable collateral damage.

            "were depicted in such a way to allow viewers to debate whether or not they are justified in going to such extremes." - And the show ultimately concludes that they were.

            "the writing allows for a lot of debate as to who's "good" and who's "bad", as all the characters." - I couldn't disagree more. The writers make it explicitly clear who's good and who's bad. Who you should be rooting for, and who you should be rooting against. The show does for wire tapping and surveillance what 24 did for torture. 24 made the case that torture is ultimately a good tool, as Bauer obtained crucial information through torture, information he otherwise wouldn't have gotten. Homeland suggests that surveillance is a necessary tool to thwart terrorists. Initially, she watches Brody against the wishes of her superiors. She invades his privacy, but in the end she did the right thing, because he's a terrorist. Surveillance is a positive.

          • Matt

            I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. You raise good points, but I just see this differently. And, aside from the characters, I still find the series intense and well acted. So, I guess we just don't see eye to eye with this one.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

      To each their own. I think you and I can agree that we have different tastes, though. I guess you won't be watching the Season 2 premiere tonight the same time I am? :)

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        Correct. I'm no masochist.

    • m1

      I truly hate criticisms about shows or movies being "racist." It's a political drama about terrorism; would you honestly expect those racial overtones to be glossed over?

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        ... but as I said, it's blatantly racist and it should be held accountable.

    • Chris138

      I got back from seeing Looper just a little while ago and I completely agree with your review. In fact, it's spot on, although I liked JGL and Emily Blunt's performances for what they had to work with, where I think the writing was at fault. I also don't like people checking their watches, but I got so bored in this film (especially in the scenes showing people talking to each other... and they have nothing interesting to say).

      Yeah, a huge disappointment for sure.

      • Chris138

        I didn't finish that sentence toward the end there. But I also checked my watch... twice. Never a good sign.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        Yeah, I won't be seeing any of Mr. Johnson's films in the theater again. I thought Brick was interesting, I didn't care much for The Brothers Bloom and I certainly don't care for Looper.

    • james

      @AS

      "Just keep shouting USA ! USA ! USA ! as Mr. Obama and co. bang the drum slowly for a war in Iran, cause, ya know, they have weapons of mass destruction…" Lol I laughed so hard at what you said here, but the Bush administration did so will, right? Uhhh there was B.O.W's in Iraq back then to right...? And Mitt Romney isn't planning this as well. Hmmm. You also mention that you're not a masochist at your response down at the bottom there, so... what you're saying is by watching this show we're masochists? Wow... such a bold statement... "I suppose Homeland has been so successful because it’s so mind-numbingly simplistic and straightforward that any idiot could follow it." You talk a good game about the show being racist, but yet you say something like this, so you're saying that "idiots" as you put it, and I'm assuming you're meaning special needs individual, right, can follow the show... phew... wow...

      umm-umm-umm... as my grandmother would say...

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        "Uhhh there was B.O.W's in Iraq back then to right...? And Mitt Romney isn't planning this as well." Before I respond to this, could you clarify what you mean?

        "You also mention that you're not a masochist at your response down at the bottom there, so... what you're saying is by watching this show we're masochists?" - No, you completely misunderstood what I said. He asked if I would be watching Sunday after I had just trashed the show and I said no. Why would I watch a show I don't like. "I'm no masochist." You're just trying to find things to criticize me for....

        • james

          @AS

          B.O.W's bioweapons... Saddam's biological weapon program that he supposely closed down it down in 1990's. You said "Just keep shouting USA ! USA ! USA ! as Mr. Obama and co. bang the drum slowly for a war in Iran, cause, ya know, they have weapons of mass destruction…" My response to that was "Lol I laughed so hard at what you said here , but the Bush administration did so will , right ? Uhhh there was B .O. W ' s in Iraq back then to right.. .? And Mitt Romney isn't planning this as will." I thought I was pretty clear but I'll explain it to you, you're mocking Obama but look at the Bush administration he claimed there was that Saddam had a biological weapons program going on to create bioweapons and weapons of mass destruction... ugh.. come on it was really because of the oil that's what Bush wanted. Iran doesn't recognize Isreal as a country there's tension between the two country for years now, we are allies with Israel, but I don't remember Obama saying he's wanting to go to war with Iran. And yeah Mitt Romney is also planning to, if he becomes the president, to go to war with Iran, he said it's a mistake to end the war in Iraq, in a speech he said he's implies he's ready for war in Syria and Iran...ugh... just what we need right... I remember Obama said he wants friendship, he wants peace and allies with other countries not war. Yeah I watched his convention. He's not banging the drum as you proclaim.

          I'm not founding things to criticize you, you said it. G-Man said he guess you weren't going to watch the Sunday premiere of Homeland you said "Correct. I'm no masochist." When you say something like that, you're implying that G-Man is masochist... that's what I got from that response. If I watch the show I'm a masochist that's what you're saying... Yeah you don't wanna watch the show then don't watch it, no one says you have to, but when you say something like that... you imply we are because we watch it.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            I thought that's what you meant but I just wanted to be sure before I responded. You and I are in complete agreement about George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. No argument there. The problem seems to be that you seem like you're acting as if Obama is any different. News flash: he isn't. You don't become the president of the United States without completely selling out what you believe in (unless you're a Republican, in which case your beliefs line up perfectly with those of the corporations).

            "I remember Obama said he wants friendship, he wants peace and allies with other countries not war. Yeah I watched his convention. He's not banging the drum as you proclaim." Since this is a movie website, let me quote the upcoming Killing Them Softly: "America's not a country, it's a business." America is indeed a business and you'd be hard pressed to find a more lucrative business than war. In your statement, you come across as being extremely naive. If you think your friend Obama has got your best interests in mind, you're kidding yourself. He's just as much a capitalist as any Republican and he's been doing the corporations biding since day 1. Make no mistake, there will be a war in Iran, whether Romney gets elected or not. Those men are two sides of the same coin. Do you not remember when Obama thought his microphone was off when speaking to Dmitry Medvedev and said the following:

            Obama: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defence, this, this can be solved but it's important for him to give me space."

            Mr. Medvedev replies: "Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you …"

            Mr. Obama retorts: "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility."

            He's just as two faced as Romney. Don't deceive yourself.

            "When you say something like that, you're implying that G-Man is masochist... that's what I got from that response. If I watch the show I'm a masochist that's what you're saying... Yeah you don't wanna watch the show then don't watch it, no one says you have to, but when you say something like that... you imply we are because we watch it." - This is a simple case of you completely misunderstanding my statement. Definition of a "masochist":

            1. A person who has masochism, the condition in which sexual or other gratification depends on one's suffering physical pain or humiliation.

            2. A person who is gratified by pain, degradation, etc., that is self-imposed or imposed by others.

            3. A person who finds pleasure in self-denial, submissiveness, etc.

            The second definition applies to my statement. Again, in my essay, I made it quite clear how much I disliked Homeland. Jokingly, G-Man sarcastically said: "I guess you won't be watching the Season 2 premiere tonight the same time I am? :)" I said: "Correct. I'm no masochist." Meaning that I would not willingly subject myself to a show I strongly dislike since I have no interest in inflicting pain upon myself. I was being dramatic. If you liked the show, and watched it, you would not be a masochist because for you, it would not be a painful experience. I hope this has cleared up your confusion.

        • james

          @AS

          Of course the “war machine” is a profitable business no doubt they’ve been that during WW2 through the Cold War and now. Yes, you have to lie, sell out what you believe in, to get to office I know all that. Indeed politicians are two faced how else will they be in the position there in. “The problem seems to be that you seem like you’re acting as if Obama is any different. News flash: he isn’t.” Maybe, maybe not, but he tremendously helped the middle class. He tried to get his bills pass but is shot down by the Republicans. They didn’t even let him try so how would we know. And would Romney be a better substitute? A man who acts like he does not have anything to hide, yet he will not show us his tax return like he did John McCain... and his history is quite wary... his business with Bain Capital... his offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands... his tax rate was a startlingly low 13.9% that means he paid a lower tax rate than many teachers, firefighters, police officers, above all middle class Americans... and his shipping jobs overseas... Hmm, I don’t know... Is that really what we want right now?

          “In your statement, you come across as being extremely naive.” I’m assuming you’re referring to what Obama said “needing friendship, wanting peace and not war etc.” Uhhh “naive”? I only mention what he said, it’s not as if I believe him, it’s a statement from him to only make my point as to why he isn’t as you put it “Mr. Obama and co. bang the drum slowly for a war in Iran, cause, ya know, they have weapons of mass destruction...” Not until time present itself, you’re saying as if Obama’s gonna Bush and Dick Chaney it like Iraq. That was my point. You’re saying as if I’m ignorant of this, as if I believe what he said, I never said I believe that Obama wasn’t or isn’t going to go to war with Iran. I’m not being naive at all, you misunderstood me.

          But yeah we’ll go to war with Iran eventually no doubt. It’s a double-edgy sword. I never said they won’t go to war, or believe that Obama won’t if time comes, that’s the whole point of me saying “And Mitt Romney isn’t planning this as well.” Meaning just like Romney, Obama will go to war with Iran eventually, but he never said he is until the time comes present itself. Not just as you said, that was my point. My “ugh.. just what we need right...” is only my detest of the “war machine” because I have family and close friends fighting in Afghanistan right now as we speak.

          “Confusion”? Your statement: “Correct. I’m no masochist.” is a double standard as well. It could’ve went either way, meaning if I watch the show, the suffering of the characters on the show I’m a masochist as definition number 1 said: the condition in which sexual or other gratification depends on one’s suffering physical pain or humiliation. Yeah you showed your dislike for the show, but come on, what you said was double standard. There’s a lot of disturbing things that happen in this show so... how was I supposed to know what you meant by saying “Correct. I’m no masochist”. It could’ve meant you dislike the show for exploiting the suffering of others in this show... But... you clear it up... gotcha...

          Since you’re on a path of clearing things up, you should clear up your usage of the word “idiot” as I thinking you’re referring to a special need or handicap person. So please due tell.

  • Matt

    Only one movie this week, as I've been really busy with school work...

    Looper- I really loved this film and the moment it ended I just wanted to see it again. I thought the story and time travel mechanics were fascinating, and was completely entertained throughout. The film definitely went to much darker places than I initially anticipated (a couple in the theater actually walked out after one scene) but I respected Rian Johnson for doing so. I also really enjoyed the performances from all the principal actors, especially Joseph Gordon Levitt and Emily Blunt. This is one of the most entertaining films I've seen this year, but it also has a surprisingly emotional side to it. A

  • Chris138

    Surf's Up - An entertaining animated movie that's the kind of entertainment you would expect the whole family to enjoy. Jeff Bridges was perfectly cast as the old surfer penguin and his character often gets the best lines contained within the entire movie. Not surprised it lost the Oscar (Ratatouille beat it and is much better, IMO) but I could see where Academy members would have voted for it to be at least nominated. 3.5/5

    Hotel Transylvania - I know this film has been getting hit pretty hard by critics, but for what it was I thought it was harmless entertainment. It's got its heart in the right place, although the didactic speech at the end about letting your kids live their life kind of made me roll my eyes. Maybe I was just in that seasonal mood to get ready for October and Halloween, but it was fun seeing these classic Universal monsters again. 3/5

    Gattaca - A really well made and well acted science fiction film that contains a very interesting premise. I've never been a huge Ethan Hawke fan but he was solid here, although I thought Jude Law gave the best performance in the film. The cinematography is striking, as well as the art direction, although I have to admit that the movie didn't totally grip me at all times. Nonetheless it's well worth checking out, even if it didn't quite reach the level of greatness for me as it does for others. 3.5/5

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

    Light week for me, which is somewhat ironic considering I had a lot of spare time on my hands.

    Punch-Drunk Love (Rewatch) -- I meant to watch this again before I saw The Master, but time did not allow. I liked this much better the second time around, not that I didn't like it the first time but that I didn't think it was anything too special. It still is very quirky and silly, but in a good way. A-

    Bully -- I am a fan of Larry Clark's Kids, and so I was somewhat let down by this one. When the film works, it works well with good performances and sequences. But, there are times where the acting is just downright poor and the script is ridiculous, etc. The story itself is interesting, and it is interesting to note that it was based on a true story. There are many interesting issues that Clark tried to explore. Unfortunately, I think that while the issues were interesting, the way in which he explored them were not. C+

    I did get to read through some film books, the first being the screenplay for Kids by Harmony Korine. I also started The Good, the Bad, and the Multiplex by Mark Kermode, which so far is excellent. I picked up a recently released book entitled Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils. Very excited to read that one, it's one of the only books written about the film. I worked a little more on my screenplay (almost done!).

    I'm interested to hear your thoughts about Heaven's Gate. Some say it's a masterpiece, others loath it. I've never seen it but may pick up the Criterion Blu-Ray this fall. The documentary Final Cut is on YouTube and is excellent.

    I'll be renting The Ice Storm from my library and also revisting parts of Picnic at Hanging Rock to refresh my memory. Very excited for the film club =)

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

      I really need to get around to seeing Punch Drunk Love. Been sitting in my Netflix Instant queue forever.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Yeah, I linked to Final Cut in the piece, it was a solid piece, but I really wish they had managed to get Huppert involved and perhaps even some historians to talk about the authenticity or lack thereof in the film.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

        Ah, skipped over the link. Well, unfortunately, it doesn't look like we'll be seeing too much of those types of features on the Criterion release, or really any extensive extras about the film. Since Cimino oversaw the transfer and gave his approval, it looks as if there's not going to be much that paints the film in a bad light. Hence, Final Cut will not be included on there. There's some interviews with Cimino, Kristofferson, and some other crew members, but sadly it looks as if that's about all. Kind of odd for a film that changed the way movies are made.

        Will you be going further into your thoughts on the film in another article? I'd be very interested to hear them...

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mason%20Williamson/ Mason Williamson

    The Master:

    I had unfortunately missed the opportunity to check this one out last week, so I promptly fixed that this Friday. I was lucky enough to catch the film in its intended 70mm format and suffice it to say, that made for a stunning visual experience. In fact, on a surface level, everything here is perfect - the cinematography, the score (though I've heard others disagree), and of course, the performances. Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal is stellar. He makes it nearly impossible to see any shade of an actor behind the role; all I ever saw was Freddie Quell, as if he were a living, breathing person. Adams impressed me with her ability to maintain a prim and proper attitude while also using her anger and frustration to become more than a bit intimidating in a strange kind of way. Personally, I was most affected by Hoffman's performance. mainly because I thought he did a great job of riding the line between calmness and calamity. Whenever someone would question his methods and his face would start turning red, I was just waiting for him to explode. It really is a brilliantly made and brilliantly performed film in most every way, but we've all heard that already.

    What's truly fascinating about 'The Master' is what rests underneath it all. Like everyone else, I left the theater a little bit confused as to what I had just seen. I knew that it was something great, but I wasn't sure of exactly why. I actually don't think it feels like a PTA film at all, which is where some might be having problems with it. It doesn't have the thundering fire and brimstone quality that 'There Will Be Blood' had, nor does it have the exuberant, flashy nature of something like 'Boogie Nights' - it's subtle, quiet, and understated. Those are not words I would use to describe the films of Paul Thomas Anderson, but they're also far from complaints. It's a film that has buried its way into my mind and started to have a greater impact on me in hindsight, whereas most of PTA's films have stellar moments that floored me then and there. With 'The Master', those moments include the jail scene and the early processing scene, but for the most part, it's a much more subdued experience. Personally, I'm fine with that. It's a different film, but one I loved nonetheless. I loved it for its filmmaking, I loved it for its performances, and I loved it for the ideas I thought it presented and the thought-provoking manner in which it presented them. I'd rather a film have longevity and matter more to me days and weeks later than merely be a one-off piece of entertainment. For me, it's the difference between 'great' and 'very good'.

    So, how did I interpret 'The Master'? For me, the film was all about the lie of freedom and how we ourselves forbid its existence. I know that most have discussed the potentially homoerotic love story between Dodd and Freddie (in fact, even PTA described the film as such), but I found that to merely be an element of this much broader theme. I disagree also with those who found it to merely be a film about the roots of fanaticism, as that too is nothing more than a piece of a larger statement. The title says it all: who is the Master? You could make an argument for any of the three leads at the center of the film. It's easy to say Dodd is the Master, as he is the head of this belief system and has power over so many people. It's easy to say Peggy is the Master, as she seems to be pulling the strings behind Dodd's actions. It's even easy to say Freddie is the Master, if only because he is in fact the exact opposite. Freddie is being controlled by Dodd, but in a sense, Dodd is being controlled by Freddie. This is what I think the film is all about - all of us would like to be a master. We seek freedom, but we also seek the power to revoke others of their freedom. It is this contradiction that forbids freedom from ever existing.

    Think about the similarities between these three individuals. Freddie, for as wild and untempered as he is, seems to be able to restrain himself from outbursts until someone questions him. For instance, in the scene where he's taking a photo of the man towards the beginning of the film, the man makes a suggestion about the picture (if I remember correctly). It is from here that Freddie, having had his authority questioned, snaps. Such is evidenced multiple times later in the film as well. Dodd, similarly, can maintain his composure until his power and techniques are put to the test. I never really got the sense that Dodd believed a word he was saying so much as he loved the power his position gave him. This explains a line in the jail scene, when Dodd says to Freddie: "nobody likes you except for me". Freddie is a scoundrel suffering from PTSD. He seems uncontrollable, but then Dodd comes around and manges to be the only one able to control him. Hence, he's the only one who can like him. The romanticism displayed between the two of them throughout is that of a master and his servant - a servant who loves his master, and a master who loves the idea of his servant. This is also a theme I saw in Adams' character as she supposedly loves Dodd, but is also the only who can claim to be above him in the sense that she clearly has complete dominion over all he does.

    Finally, we get to the end of the film. The motorcycle scene to me is another indication of this whole freedom theme. Dodd takes the motorcycle for a spin and we get a shot of him smiling, his hair blowing back in the breeze - he's free. He's free from his servants for a moment, the servants that are really controlling him. When Freddie takes a spin and drives away from his master, he realizes that he loves the freedom too much to go back. He drives away. Where does he go? To Doris' house. Doris, the girl who was 16 when he was with her. It seems to me that Freddie was seeking that sense of power that Dodd had, as it would be rather simple for an adult to control a teenager. This all gets to Dodd's line at the end: "If you ever manage to live a life without a master, please tell us, for you'll be the first person in all of existence." Once Freddie leaves his master, he's actively on his search to fill Dodd's shoes. This explains why he tries to employ his processing techniques on the woman he's having sex with: like Dodd, like Peggy, like all of us, he wants to be the master. The last shot is of him with a woman made out of sand - a woman he has formed and controlled; a woman sculpted by his own hand; a woman who must do whatever he pleases.

    Just a thought. If a film can make me talk that much about it, it stands out to me as something special and personally, I can't wait to see it again.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fan/ Fan

      That was an interesting read. I like your interpretation of the film. I, too, was baffled by the film. But afterwords, I couldn't shut up about it, talked to friends and family about it. Great interpretation.

  • m1

    Before Sunset (2004) (rewatch)-I felt the need to revisit this sensational romance once again and I love it even more (if that's even possible). My opinion on the ending has changed; I actually think it's a beautifully ambiguous scene (although this might be because I know there's a third film in the works). Great dialogue and the real-time filmmaking really puts you into the story. 10/10

    Paranormal Activity (2009)-This was my first time watching this so the hype really washed over me. My main problem with it is that it makes 1 hour and 20 mins feel like 5 hours. I enjoyed the naturalism of the acting and the dialogue, and the night scenes are scary, but the pacing really hurts the film. 6/10

    Lost in Translation (2003) (rewatch)-I was able to watch this amazing movie again and it holds up wonderfully. Definitely one of my favorites. 10/10

    Chinatown (1974)-This is certainly now one of my favorites. Great acting from Nicholson and Dunaway, great directing from Polanski, and a great script from Towne add up to make a classic. 10/10

    We Bought a Zoo (2011)-I was expecting a cliched family drama and got something much more entertaining and charming. Damon and Johansson are solid and all of the child actors are fine too. It's not on the level of Hugo or even Dolphin Tale but I really enjoyed it. 7/10

    The Crucible (1996)-I watched this in English class and despite some over-the-top scenes, I enjoyed it. 7/10

    Safe House (2012)-An example of a solid cast trapped in a lazy movie. There are several silly, illogical, and unexplained things (especially the Brendan Gleeson twist at the end) and the action scenes are edited VERY badly. The shaky cam makes these scenes even more unbearable. The ending is a big fat cliche. Thankfully Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington bring the goods because otherwise this would have been a waste of time. 5/10

    I also started watching the first season of Homeland and I love it so far. It stands out even more when episodes of it are viewed back to back with Safe House.

    • Chris138

      I remember having to watch The Crucible in high school. I hate just about anything Arthur Miller ever wrote on paper, so that wasn't a good starting point. But I couldn't stand the movie; Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't even save it for me. I got weary of the constant screaming very fast and just found the whole thing dreadful from start to finish.

      • Winchester

        I quite enjoy The Crucible as well. But only once in a while.

        It seems a faithful adaption (I suppose it should be since Miller wrote both) of the material and I think the performances are pretty good, especially Lewis and Joan Allen.

  • m1

    I also have to say: why are people writing long essays about The Master?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Elijah/ Elijah

    Didn't get the chance to see too many movies so I'll keep this short:

    The Dictator: Undoubtedly one of the worst, if not the worst film I've seen in 2012 (including Piranha 3DD, which is somewhat sad). To make a film so incredibly unfunny and jumbled is quite an accomplishment, especially with such a good cast. The scenarios in theory are humorous but the execution is lackluster. It's hoping that offensive, easy shots will somehow make us laugh (and yes one of the beheading scenes made me chuckle). I was just hoping the pain would end sooner rather than later, it's pretty sad. 1.5/10

    Looper: Totally blown away how enjoyable and thoughtfully put together this film was. Some shots the makeup on JGL was a little distracting, but my quibbles with the film are few and far between. I know it's not the sort of film to get oscars but I'll totally be rooting for this one ala Drive. Just fabulous all around, and that child actor was so much fun to watch. Here's hoping it makes big bucks at the box office, definitely my favorite so far this year. 9.5/10

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      The Dictator gives new meaning to the word "awful."

  • The Jackal

    Tron: Uprising - Volume 1 (iTunes):
    As a fan of the quirky, but visually striking Tron (1982) and the equally impressive but criminally underrated Tron: Legacy (2010), I was very excited about the new tv series. Simply put, this a great series. Slick visuals, a great soundtrack and engaging performances make for one great show. I can't wait to experience the second half of this cool series. If you like Tron or its sequel, head on over to iTunes, the first episode is free.

    Anger Management (TV broadcast):
    It was late, nothing was on, so in my boredom, I turned to this forgettable 2003 film starring Adam Sandlar & Jack Nicholson. I actually enjoyed this film. Not very funny, but very humorous, this film had an amazing cast: Rudy Guiliani, Sandler, Jack, Marisa Tomei, John Tuturro, John C. Reily. What can I say, it won't ever join my DVD/Blu-ray collection, but I smiled a lot and didn't feel I'd completely wasted my time. I miss the old Sandler, though his films were slight, at least they made me chuckle.

    Slow week for me, but this week I'm checking out:
    Heaven's Gate
    Prometheus
    Dredd
    Boardwalk Empire: Season 2

    Thems the facts

  • The New Guy

    Bleh... missed last week, and I'm going to keep this week short.

    Rewatch:

    Sucker Punch- I liked this film. As a guilty pleasure. There are glaring issues with it, though. 7/10

    Iron Man 2- I'm one of those people who liked this one better than the original. 8/10

    Thor- Seen it a lot. Will see it again. Will post actual critique next time. 8.5/10

    Captain America- Likewise. 8.5/10

    The Avengers- Epic. 10/10

    Tower Heist- Nice to see Eddie Murphy actually try again- 7.5/10

    Well, I'm gonna miss next week because I'll be in D.C. By the time I come back, I'll have more to say about the avengers than "Epic." And I'll actually give reviews of other films next time. But this week, Bleh... is how I feel. Sorry to you people who actually read this comment and wasted their time reading reviews such as "Likewise" and "Epic". =P

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

      Yeah, Sucker Punch is one of my guilty pleasures. So glad that someone at least enjoy it. I tend to like bad movies a lot, this is one of them.

      • The New Guy

        I know. I have a ton of guilty pleasures.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

          Yeah, me too. Have LOTS of guilty pleasures. While I didn't like Tower Heist as much as you did (I gave it a 6), I do agree with you on Eddie Murphy.

          • The New Guy

            Yea, I can see why you gave that movie a 6, but it just resonated with me more I guess, I was in the mood for it, so that could have inflated the score.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

      If Tower Heist was Eddie Murphy "trying," I'd hate to see what phoning it in looks like...

      • The New Guy

        That was the wrong word. If you want to see him phoning it in, please refer to most of his work 1990-present

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    With October coming up, is anyone else planning to watch lots of horror? I'm doing a month-long challenge for another movie website I visit to watch lots of horror titles. What are everyone's favorites?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/VChile/ VChile

      The Vanishing (original version, NOT the American remake) haunted me for a few days after first viewing. Not horror per se, but chilling. Carrie (Sissy Spacek version, of course) is good for a couple jolts. Pontypool had an interesting take on a well-worn genre. Session 9 was pretty creepy. Sounds like a fun challenge.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        Everyone always talks about The Vanishing but it did nothing for me. Maybe it's because I had already seen Buried before watching it.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Aleonardis/ Aleonardis

          Yeah The Vanishing is just alright. Nothing to write home about. The twists never hit and there was no real emotional payoff. I just didn't feel it. It was nicely shot though.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

        Thanks for the suggestions, VChile. I plan to check out Session 9 and will look into The Vanishing and Pontypool. Watched Carrie last year for the first time. It's on DVD Talk Forums if you're interested in participating as well. :)

  • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

    Had a chance to sit down and see 3 films this weekend, 1 in the theater and the other two in the comfort of my girlfriend's living room.

    Looper: A smart, stylish, sci-fi flick. It was great to see Bruce Willis back in action, and I have even greater respect now for JGL. The guy continues to show immense range and continually makes excellent choices for his career. I had a few quips here and there, mostly just small things that I found a bit unbelievable, but on the whole, this movie is well worth a watch at the theater if you get the chance. -- 9/10

    The Avengers: Caught this film twice in the theater, and had a chance to watch it late last night at home on blu-ray. I still think Iron Man is the best movie in the Avengers line-up, but this is a close second because, frankly, it's just a lot of fun. Something that stood out to me that I only sort of noticed at the theater, however, is that the effects used in the scenes that take place in space are quite bad, especially when compared with the rest of the movie. That aside, it's still quite the joyride. -- 9/10

    The Cabin in the Woods: Re-watched this with a buddy of mine this morning in a dark dorm room; forgot how much fun it was! While my second viewing of this film is not quite on par with my first, it was still extremely enjoyable and I had a blast watching my friend freak out and laugh his butt off during his first viewing. After watching just a couple of the special features, I have an even greater respect for what Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon, & Co. did with this movie. Kudos, guys! -- 8.5/10

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    How do you guys mark up text in comments?

    • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

      Here's a little key for you, just be sure to get rid of the spaces when you do it.

      Bold: text
      Italics: text
      Underline: text

    • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

      Damn, didn't realize it would do it like that. Let me try to explain:

      Use a left carat, followed by "b", "i" or "u" (ditch the quotation marks) and then a right carat to begin the markup. Then add your text. To close the markup, use left carat, followed by "/b", "/i", or "/u" (again, no quotations), and then a right carat.

      • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

        Note: is a right carat

  • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

    I give up. Hope everyone enjoys reading my explanation fails!

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

      Think I got it. Thanks

  • Randall McMurphy

    Playtime-6/10

    Jaws-8/10

    2046-8/10

    Gummo-9/10 I watched this twice, it may be disturbing for some but if you look close you can find beauty in it, thats what I liked about it

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

      Gummo! Glad to see somebody else likes this film. I totally agree with your statements, there's beauty underneath all the turmoil.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JoshB/ Josh B

    Saw Looper this weekend, and enjoyed it. Probably one I'll watch again when it comes out on blu ray. First movie I've seen in theaters in what feels like forever.

    In TV land it was a big week with a lot of shows starting up.

    New Girl: I love this show and think that it had a great start to the new season. Schmidt is hilarious and the rest of the cast is great as well. Always has a good amount of laughs in it.

    Modern Family: Another solid premiere that caught us up, and then fast forwarded six months. It'll be interesting to see where they go with this pregnancy and eventually what kind of effect the baby will have on the show, as we already have Lilly.

    Parks and Rec: A funnier episode this week than last. Still one of my favorite shows that's hitting on all cylinders each week.

    The Office: Last season was a weak one, but I've watched it from the start and it is the last season. I like how their giving us some issues for Jim and Pam to deal with, as their life so far has been fairly simple, so looking forward to where that is going to go. Still want to find out what their going to do with Oscar and the senators affair.

    Still waiting for Happy Endings and Community to start, as those are probably my two favorite shows right now along with P&R. At least Sunny and The League start in two weeks which I'm am looking forward to, as Thursday's are going to be packed with shows for me.

  • Winchester

    Is 87 comments a record for this column? I'm curious.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      It has to be, and it has me excited to see how busy the Movie Club conversation could potentially get. These are the kinds of conversations we should be having as often as possible.

      • Winchester

        I think Picnic At Hanging Rock looks like it will have a variety of opinions at least to start things off.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fan/ Fan

    War of Arrows (A) - first time watched - Now this is a film. A very bold film. It’s intense, relentless, entertaining, dramatic, surprising, and very engaging, all blend in one. It’s not at all clutter or cramming, the pacing of the film runs smoothly. The acting and directing is topnotch. Set in Korea in the 1600’s during the Manchurian invasion where looting and enslaving villagers was a lucrative business. Nam-yi is a hunter whose skill as an archer is almost unmatched. When his sister is capture by the Manchurians he embarks on a journey to get her back. But his skills as an archer is tested as the Manchurian raiders’ archery skills are just as impeccable. As Nam-yi looks for his sister he tries to get her before the Manchurian takes her and their captives back to their land, but he is track down by the other half the raiders as they caught wind of him since Nam-yi has been laying their men to waste. The film is called War of Arrows and they let them fly, it is crazy entertaining. The intense arrow combat sequence is astonishing, well directed and choreograph, it grabs your attention. Nam-yi is out man and out arrowed. He is a hunter, they are soldiers, but despite these odds he uses his intelligences and innovate tactics to fight these men that are determine to kill him. The climax is nothing less than gripping. Caught in a standoff as epic as a western, at his crossroad Nam-yi will rely on his archery skill as it can save a life or end it. This is a film to definitely checkout, it’s worth a watch.

  • Good Grief

    Looper - A fantastic slice of sci-fi. Original, ballsy and with some pretty great performances. I felt like the end was a bit of a cop out but, all in all, one of the better movies of 2012, in my opinion

    Grade: A

    The Avengers - A re-watch after having seen it in theaters. Despite loving the film, I do do feel as though it doesn't hold up after repeated viewings. It's still a wonderful, tight superhero film and easily the best Marvel film to date, but it just might not sit too well with me after four or five watches.

    Grade: B+

    Safe - Jason Statham kicks and punches people in the throat...a lot. A laughable plot, tawdry characters and silly dialog make for a pretty difficult watch. The action, however, totally devoid of shaky cam, comes as quite the breath of fresh air! Still...bad film.

    Grade: D+