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Random Movie Thoughts Thread

Doctor Cringelord

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Watched Falling Down (1993) finally. Not sure it aged that well, compared to all the crap going on here.

I'll have to say, it's one of the better directed/shot of Schumacher's films. I normally find his films have an edge of garishness; this one stays anchored in reality visually and is actually shot well. Michael Douglas also is fearless and doesn't care in the least whether you like him after this film. Main supporting cast is decent. I don't really fault the cinematography and filming, or the acting.

There's one issue I don't like about the script (well, an obvious one, and maybe some others); it's feels extremely front-loaded. Everyone D-Fens meets in the first half or more of the film tends to be an asshole. Later, when we see some of these people from other perspective, they seem nicer. It's not clear whether we are literally witnessing them or just seeing them through D-Fens' eyes because Schumacher doesn't suggest it's anything other than a literal portrayal. If these interactions were meant to be more subjective rather than objective, then Schumacher failed at that -- but it's hard to take them as anything but literal. And it's like everyone he runs into is really aggressive/obnoxious, so then he responds in kind and takes it up a notch. It feels like the writer is trying to justify at least his initial response. However, his response always goes much further than the equivalent.



The film is really shifty on the way it seems to waver on whether D-fens is a hero or villain. Some of these scenes paint him as a victim, but the initial conflict always seems a little over the top that triggers him (like, are people really this abrasive and obnoxious to strangers?) and then he always takes it further. As the end gets closer to what seems like an inevitable meetup with his estranged family (who has been trying to get police protection), he seems to be painted as more of the aggressor.

The film is trying to juxtapose this with another white guy, Robert Duvall's policeman who is attempting to retire on the same day but is swept into this ongoing incident. He slowly pieces it all together. The film tries to compare the two and their responses; both are becoming "obsolete," both seem rather passive and are abused/bullied or not taken seriously, both deal with wives / ex-wives who are calling the shots, both have "lost" a kid. In the end, the detective takes a more active approach in his own life and is portrayed overall as the "hero," kind of showing that responses to one's difficulties determine one's moral character, versus the more passive self-victimizing approach that lashes out while blaming others. Still, the analogy isn't perfect, and it's not clear how to deal with the sullen aggressive, "blame others for my unhappiness" person. Both need to utilize active engagement of life to get out of the hole they are in, but one does so by just reaffirming his own boundaries, the other destroys the boundaries and just redirects the threats he feels against other people.
It's one of those clever movies but unfortunately has become a reference point for a certain demographic when they want to talk about how things used to be better. I don't take the film to be wavering on the presentation of Douglas's character, it's just presenting a human character who really doesn't slot neatly into hero, villain or antihero roles, because those roles rarely exist clear cut in the real world. I think it was trying to go for an angle similar to Breaking Bad, making us both sympathize with and fear the main character. It does become increasingly difficult to cheer for D-Fens as the story progresses. The main character doesn't even really seem to have a clear reason for his own anger and sense of obsolesence, it's just a cloud of anger hovering over multiple reasons which have led to a feeling of being beaten down. That's honestly not unlike a lot of real world "angry" people, in that if you asked them why, it might be hard to pinpoint any one reason or cause. It's usually a laundry list or vague mass of various reasons or perceived transgressions and betrayals driving such anger.
 

Totenkindly

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It's one of those clever movies but unfortunately has become a reference point for a certain demographic when they want to talk about how things used to be better.
Yeah, it's been rather subsumed into some kind of klaxon for that particular subgroup.

I don't take the film to be wavering on the presentation of Douglas's character, it's just presenting a human character who really doesn't slot neatly into hero, villain or antihero roles, because those roles rarely exist clear cut in the real world. I think it was trying to go for an angle similar to Breaking Bad, making us both sympathize with and fear the main character. It does become increasingly difficult to cheer for D-Fens as the story progresses.
I'm generally okay with that kind of complexity in a film, I just didn't feel it was written well enough to truly pull it off like BB did -- although Michael Douglas' performance goes a long way.

A particularly good scene was when he ran into the immigrant family having a covert barbecue as he was escaping from the golf course. It was one of the better scenes because you could see from their responses and how he was dealing with them what was so off about him, but he also seemed disoriented himself and not quite able to see himself in the way he was being seen by others. I felt edgy towards him as well as sad in those moments. He had really become a man unmoored from empathy and reality in some ways, even if that was not something he had wanted to do, and didn't quite know how to latch back into reality. Any little mistake on how to speak with him also could have dire consequences. While I felt bad for him, he was also very clearly dangerous and able to flip at a moment's notice.

The main character doesn't even really seem to have a clear reason for his own anger and sense of obsolesence, it's just a cloud of anger hovering over multiple reasons which have led to a feeling of being beaten down. That's honestly not unlike a lot of real world "angry" people, in that if you asked them why, it might be hard to pinpoint any one reason or cause. It's usually a laundry list or vague mass of various reasons or perceived transgressions and betrayals driving such anger.
Yeah, basically there was just this aura of sullen rage and sadness about him, like the world had left him behind and he was frustrated and did not know what to do, hence he had started just reacting and/or acting out in ways that gave him a voice and some type of power even if it was negative voice and power. When asked to articulate his particular grievances, he could not; he just looked about and saw danger everywhere, saw people who were different from him encroaching in his space, leading him to inevitably feel like he was being pushed out... but he couldn't quite get his mental footing back to acquire a more accurate perspective. His inability to deal with loss and change led him in dark directions. I guess that is why they were matching him up with Duvall's character, who also had suffered similar loss, change, and bullying in his life but found different ways to deal with it.

There was also weirdness about Barbara Hershey's character from the film's perspective, in that it was clear to the audience why she had been afraid of her ex-husband (just by watching him now) but she could not properly articulate this to the police or why she had gotten the restraining order, and the police at times seemed dismissive of her like maybe she had gone too far and was at fault in making him angry -- and yet his behavior in the film and also with her at the end of the film made the threat feel very real even if it could not be hung on an easily articulatable incidents. I could see why she was scared of him, with his extremity and obsessiveness coupled with the abstracted grudges he was directing at others.
 

Doctor Cringelord

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The third eagle was there for Smeagol/Gollum. :(

Gandalf would've needed only 2 for himself and 2 light hobbits. In the film I think Gandalf's eagle is even the one to carry Frodo. It's not really made clear in the novel, that I can remember, although I haven't read ROTK in over 10 years, but I like that Jackson more or less confirmed the point of 3 eagles in the film version.
 

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Watched Falling Down (1993) finally. Not sure it aged that well, compared to all the crap going on here.

I'll have to say, it's one of the better directed/shot of Schumpeter's films. I normally find his films have an edge of garishness; this one stays anchored in reality visually and is actually shot well. Michael Douglas also is fearless and doesn't care in the least whether you like him after this film. Main supporting cast is decent. I don't really fault the cinematography and filming, or the acting.

There's one issue I don't like about the script (well, an obvious one, and maybe some others); it's feels extremely front-loaded. Everyone D-Fens meets in the first half or more of the film tends to be an asshole. Later, when we see some of these people from other perspective, they seem nicer. It's not clear whether we are literally witnessing them or just seeing them through D-Fens' eyes because Schumacher doesn't suggest it's anything other than a literal portrayal. If these interactions were meant to be more subjective rather than objective, then Schumacher failed at that -- but it's hard to take them as anything but literal. And it's like everyone he runs into is really aggressive/obnoxious, so then he responds in kind and takes it up a notch. It feels like the writer is trying to justify at least his initial response. However, his response always goes much further than the equivalent.



The film is really shifty on the way it seems to waver on whether D-fens is a hero or villain. Some of these scenes paint him as a victim, but the initial conflict always seems a little over the top that triggers him (like, are people really this abrasive and obnoxious to strangers?) and then he always takes it further. As the end gets closer to what seems like an inevitable meetup with his estranged family (who has been trying to get police protection), he seems to be painted as more of the aggressor.

The film is trying to juxtapose this with another white guy, Robert Duvall's policeman who is attempting to retire on the same day but is swept into this ongoing incident. He slowly pieces it all together. The film tries to compare the two and their responses; both are becoming "obsolete," both seem rather passive and are abused/bullied or not taken seriously, both deal with wives / ex-wives who are calling the shots, both have "lost" a kid. In the end, the detective takes a more active approach in his own life and is portrayed overall as the "hero," kind of showing that responses to one's difficulties determine one's moral character, versus the more passive self-victimizing approach that lashes out while blaming others. Still, the analogy isn't perfect, and it's not clear how to deal with the sullen aggressive, "blame others for my unhappiness" person. Both need to utilize active engagement of life to get out of the hole they are in, but one does so by just reaffirming his own boundaries, the other destroys the boundaries and just redirects the threats he feels against other people.
I feel like the ending of the movie was a sort of a cop-out. "Being trapped in the society that is in near-complete social decay and treats people as disposable tools is a completely normal and acceptable thing, you see!" seems to be the message of the movie. "Blame others for my unhappiness" What is this even supposed to mean? Happiness is merely a measure of goodness of the world. It's like seeing a specific color. Would be stupid to see white when it's black.
It's a pretty weak entry into the rampage genre. I prefered Uwe Boll's Rampage and of course Joker (2019).
Then there are true masterpieces like Zero Day (2003) and Elephant (2003).
 

Totenkindly

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I feel like the ending of the movie was a sort of a cop-out. "Being trapped in the society that is in near-complete social decay and treats people as disposable tools is a completely normal and acceptable thing, you see!" seems to be the message of the movie. "Blame others for my unhappiness" What is this even supposed to mean? Happiness is merely a measure of goodness of the world. It's like seeing a specific color. Would be stupid to see white when it's black.
It's a pretty weak entry into the rampage genre. I prefered Uwe Boll's Rampage and of course Joker (2019).
Then there are true masterpieces like Zero Day (2003) and Elephant (2003).
Well, I think the deal is that it was an early entry, not a later derivative one. So it helped kick-start the genre... I faintly remember it being discussed at the time. Columbine hadn't even happened yet.

I prefer van Sant's Elephant and the recent Joker film as well, in terms of craft; We Need to Talk About Kevin is another well-made film, although it's oppressive as hell to watch and focuses more on the boy's relationship with his mother rather than society and also has no solution.

As noted, I felt the script was off, and Schumacher wasn't necessarily a boon to the production because I feel like he often got in the way of his own films, he had his own fixations when directing as much as the joke about JJ Abrams' lens flares. Sure there is a subtext you describe above, but I felt like the film had multiple subtexts, some seemingly in conflict -- like "society is doing this to people, so they're getting mad" but then tries to slap an "Acting out like this isn't heroic, it's villainous" at the end while not really offering anything else to deal with the situation other than just asserting yourself in ways that don't kill people. Obviously that did not affect many audience members if they even saw the film, because things have spiraled out of control.
 

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Jean Louis Trintignant just died. I'm using the opportunity to rewatch Costa-Gavras' "Z", one of my favorite movies since I was a teenager (which I will not allow the recent abuses of that letter to ruin for me).


Plus I have always loved the soundtrack by Mikis Theodorakis.
 

Totenkindly

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Watched Spiderhead on Netflix.

Basic issue is the script, which is somewhat underwhelming. Not sure how to make it a better adaptation though, since I just read the short story source and it's something that works in that format in writing, not well for a straight adaptation. So there had to be some changes. Not sure how I would have done it, and I get why some of the changes occurred. Also the ending works in speculative fiction but would have bombed on the screen. A lot of the flippancy of the script got pushed onto the scientist character, but then the flippancy seems to be part of his character rather than part of the tone of the film itself. Not really sure what else to say about that.

The actors themselves were pretty decent. Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett, etc.

Not sure about all the yacht rock music, which felt kind of gimmicky. It's really interesting seeing this done by Joe Kosinski, who usually makes very different films. (Then again, who ever thought he would do the sequel to Top Gun -- and apparently make one of the best big films of the year?!) You can see traces of it in the set design, he usually does more scifi related films with a lot of clean lines (Tron Legacy, Oblivion) and that is how the building structure and design appears in this film -- I think he was an architect at one point in his career.

Here's the story it is based on:
 
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Doctor Cringelord

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Saw a fun fan theory on reddit suggesting Mad Max 2 (AKA The Road Warrior) is so much more "over the top" than Mad Max 1 because 2 is told from a child's (the feral kid/narrator) perspective, vs 1 which is mostly from Max's and the Biker gang's perspectives. Following from this logic, it could explain why Thunderdome is even more outrageous and fantastical

My own theory is all of the stories about Max are being told decades after the fact, and each one through different people's perspectives, and that would account for the varying extremes in tone and plausibility. It also explains away any apparent continuity issues between the Gibson and Hardy series. In my mind, they are both the same Max. I would guess Fury Road to occur between Road Warrior and Thunderdome if pressed to fit it all in a timeline. I also guess, based on the state of things seen in all the sequels vs part 1 is that much of the world was already in a lawless dystopia. In the first film, it is finally reaching the remaining cities and holdout zones that had maintained government. That explains why things in the first film seem relatively peaceful and "normal"
 

ygolo

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I had an idea for a sci-fi premise (could work for an Orville episode outside of war because they have a similar species)

Imagine a human like species that lives on high gravity, maybe the Orville's current one (or maybe a new sister species with even more extreme gravity?).

But you see more of how their society was shaped by this high gravity--specifically, their use of time.

Imagine that they do their leisure, spending time with family, and other meaningful life activities in high gravity so that this time is dilated compared to time where they do necessary productive work in lower gravity.

Over time, the incentive to automate necessary work is very high, so they do that do minimize their time in lower gravity where they get older faster. In modern times all subsistence work is automated in lower gravity, so that the society in high gravity feels like they have a lot of time.

But something goes wrong in the automation that will require a group of experts to give up a significant portion of their lives to fix (though relatively little time would have passed on the high gravity surface)

A lot of possibilities for that story premise.
 

Totenkindly

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Watched Thor Love & Thunder today.

I'd probably give it 6/10. I didn't feel like the jokes (which were random) landed well for the first half. Guardians were kind of superfluous and weren't around long. It was better when it got going on its own story. At least they tried to do something with Jane Foster and justified her appearance in the story. Natalie Portman actually got to do a character arc and act, but she tends to be more high-strung than Hemsworth and Thompson and thus can't quite drop into the laid-back groove. (This is why she excelled as Nina in Black Swan, a character who is as high-strung as she is.) There were a few great moments but not as consistent as I had hoped. Raised a bunch of questions it then never dug into much. Long story short, it was fun, just not as much fun as Ragnarok; and it was enjoyable for an afternoon but not something with much rewatch value. But oh yeah, we got potentially one new character from the film itself, and then another character in the mid-credits scene who is well-established in the comics but who I typically never gave a shit about and seemed to just be interchangeable with others of their ilk.

For something unrelated to the overall quality of the film,, at least MCU Disney had balls with portraying unapologetically a bisexual character. The film never rubs your nose in it, it plays it low-key, but it's really clear that Valkyrie is equal opportunity with her romantic partners. It's probably dumb to even bring up, but Star Wars Disney was almost homophobic the way it had to cold-douse the fans shipping TROS Poe and Finn, by slapping them both with female romantic interests that just complicated the film's plot and didn't even make sense / were a total waste of an already over-packed screen time and did not really contribute to the story -- it felt like they were actively screeching "NO THEY'RE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO GAY," yet one more "reaction to fans" in that film rather than just telling a story and not getting hung up either way about it.
 

Totenkindly

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Finally I see others saying it.

Phase 4 is pretty incoherent and I think sucks as the follow-up to Phase 3. It doesn't feel like there is any plan or coherent vision.

They have introduced a lot of second-string folks who most people don't know and/or don't care about. There is no over-arcing threat or BBEG, even if they've suggested a few (like Kang). There seems to be no coherence in character arc anymore. (Note Dr Strange 2, which seems to completely ignore Wanda's character arc and just rehashes it again but in excruciating awfulness, like someone said, "Hey, let's see what Wanda could do if she went full-tilt evil." Which was impressive -- magic is definitely an S-tier power in MCU -- but not conducive to actual meaningful story telling.)

Most of the multiverse stuff has just resulted in nothing having any meaning or just being a bunch of stupid jokes/tricks



I think for me Dr. Strange 2 was the last straw, after a bunch of "eh" releases in TV and film. I think maybe the best of Phase 4 was weirdly Spiderman: No Way Home, which did not start great but found its weight around mid-film. I might watch the films and shows in the future once, but I no longer expect anything to actually be good or to have enduring meaning. Probably the only film I have hopes for this phase is Guardians 3, and that is due to my faith in James Gunn, not Marvel, and it's his last Guardians film. I lost my faith in MCU and its ability to have a coherent game plan -- and this is partly also tied to watching Disney flounder with Star Wars and now with the MCU.

 

Julius_Van_Der_Beak

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At least the trailer looks fun.
I didn't know they were making another one of these. The one with Jeremy Irons is really...something. No villain with blue lips in this one as far as I could tell.

But I admit... it kind of looks like I might enjoy this movie? I like the banter which suggests to me the movie might actually be a good time. Plus there's an owlbear which I know is a real D&D thing. I'm guessing that woman with the antlers who turns into the owlbear is a druid. It seems like they are referencing real lore from what little I do know about D&D.

Well, the Irons movie is a good time too, actually, but not in the way it was intended.
 
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The Cat

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nice to see the trailer keeping the heavy metal aesthetics in tact.
 

Totenkindly

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Watched The Gray Man this morning, by the Russos and McFeeley (from some of the best films in the MCU lineup). it's also apparently a book series (12 books and counting right now?).

I understand the critic assessment out there right now. It was kind of fun, most of the time, to watch if only to see Chris Evans being a total douchebag; and most of the acting is decent; but it falls flat emotionally and from a script perspective. Most of the scenes, I feel like I have seen done better in other films; and it looks like they also dumbed down the first book's plot to something resembling a better production of Schwarzenegger's "Commando" (even down to the villain's cheesy moustache) just with more nuanced jokes.

IOW, it was somewhat forgettable, long-term. Watch it once, rinse, move on.

The only inadequate performance was Rege-Jean Page as essentially the BBEG of the film, even if Evans is out there as the front-line guy driving all the action. Not all of this is Page's fault, his dialogue isn't that great either; but he was essentially miscast and/or not directed well, if they wanted to actually make him intimidating. He just scans as a pathetic pencil pusher who rose above his paygrade without the tenacity and steel intimidation needed to get away with his own bullshit; even with government being incompetent, I can't believe he could actually rise to his position of power. Even with the average dialogue, a good cast in this role could have made those scenes really unnerving; but I feel like Ana De Armas could have snapped his forearm in a game of arm wrestling. Jessica Henwick feels like a weak character as well, who essentially just spends much of the film whining in outrage, although she gets an occasional effective moment.

And yes, Armas carries through on the promise she showed in Bond's "No Time to Die" -- she's pretty badass and competent AF here, with crazy driving skills + she has maybe one of the coolest action sequences that felt unique, against Dhanush (another stand-out performance) where they both play around with cables and a well-positioned table. To be honest, I'm more interested in those two characters than the ones that the film was centered around.

But again, a lot of this we've seen done more memorably in other films, and the dialogue is at best adequate but not enough to craft a really great film. Not sure what happened here, since their work in the MCU was really memorable.
 

Totenkindly

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Saw Jordan Peele's Nope today. Out of his three films, it might be the most consistent in tone (Us was a bit more all over the map and had some oddly disparate stuff in it).

It was pretty enjoyable and kind of lovely at times. Also a pretty crazy turn of events in terms of what it's dealing with. Also goes back to our preoccupation with violence and entertainment/celebrity, how we justify it to ourselves, how we reinterpret events to justify our choice of fixations.
 
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