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post #15436 of 17124

I just watched Guillaume Canet's Blood Ties. I am a massive James Gray fan (The Yards, We own the night, Two lovers). Gray co-wrote the script for Blood Ties and it's very much in the vein of his films. Unfortunately Canet doesn't have his skill and this is film almost gets there but ultimately falls flat. The script is fine and it looks beautiful. But the casting and direction let it down. Clive Owen can be good, for example in that Spike Lee heist film he did, but he is limited and badly cast here. I would have loved to see Gray's usual duo of Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix playing the leads. The direction and especially the sound track are very clunky. 6.5/10

post #15437 of 17124

Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff (2010). Stars Michelle Williams, Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson, Will Patton. From the opening scenes you know this is not a typical western. There is a scene after about 5 minutes in where the three wagons come toward the camera and just before they run it over they turn to the right, and off the screen's left and all you see is the mountain sloping to the left and the river - then the most amazing dissolve I've ever seen -

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
to the right, "above" the mountain is a far distant rider, like someone is following them, then the dissolve slowly completes and you see the wagons follow and the river dissapears.

There's another scene where the wagons move slowly past a hill and only later do you realize there's someone sitting there in the middle.

 

From the beginning, you see there is more to the women than the usual western film. Michelle Williams (Emily) is Will Patton's (Solomon) wife and walks alongside the ox-drawn covered wagon and looks up and sees a man on horseback at a distance on top of a hill, the wagon passes blocking her view, and when goes by the man is gone. She keeps this to herself. She gets along well with all of the other two families and is the natural leader of the women. Solomon consoles with her before the men's meetings often, and rightly so. She also lets on a key observation about the Indian,

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
calling him a man-child - is he a mentally deficient outcast of his tribe, leading the water starved group into certain death?

Again, she keeps this to herself. What is to be gained by letting them know?

 

Emily's insight into Meek and reaction to the Indian show an immediate grasp of the situation at hand - and you see her instant action when she first comes upon the Indian. This is Reichardt's second collaboration with Michelle Williams after Wendy and Lucy (2008).

 

A gem of a film, Roger Ebert (http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/meeks-cutoff-2011) gave it 3 1/2 stars and sums it up nicely in his opening sentence: ..."Meek's Cutoff" is the first film I've seen that evokes what must have been the reality of wagon trains to the West.


Edited by fractus2 - 4/5/14 at 9:57am
post #15438 of 17124

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - 8

 

I saw the Director's Cut version, where Peter Weir eliminated around 7 minutes of play from the original theatrical release. I read several opinions from people who deplored such move because they judged it harmful to the original quality of the movie, I don't know if this is why I failed to connect or to feel engaged in the experience... a shame. Shame because in retrospective I realise that Picnic at Hanging Rock was one of the most enriching cinematic experiences I ever had, I'll explain why in a bit.

 

Picnic at Hanging Rock reminds me of Caché from Michael Haneke and L'Aventura from Michelangelo Antonioni, 3 films where we are haunted by unsolved mysteries, but each one with a different premiss. The australian film seems to be the one that truly focuses in exploring the emotional and psychological effects that the elements of mystery and the inexplicable have upon the human subject and does it in a very sagacious manner. This movie plays an admittedly manipulative game with the viewer, the less attentive might be led to believe that the depicted events actually happened in real life (like me in the first view). The mystery is about the disappearance of 4 people, 3 young girls and 1 woman, in the whereabouts of a geological formation known as Hanging Rock and the movie depicts, up to a certain point, the efforts that the local community goes through to find the missing ones and the influence the tragedy exerts upon certain characters. But a more careful look reveals that we are in fact observing a work of pure fiction with possibly another layer of meaning underneath the main coating and there are even some prophetic revelations before the impossible disappearance phenomena. Right at the beginning the premiss of this work is conveyed through a voice over citing a beautiful phrase inspired by a poem from Edgar Allan Poe in which the keyword is "Dream", the gist is to make us experiment a surreal universe where the convoluted logic of the reality is reminiscent of dreams with everything it brings as emotional and psychological imprint. This is not done in a literal way à la David Lynch. Instead in a subtly evocative fashion because the bizarreness is not immediately obvious to the viewer, it is suggested and unraveled little by little while the depicted world never departs from its realistic and coherent appearance at the surface even if frustratingly hermetic for those expecting or hoping to see the mystery solved.

 

Until we arrive at the scene which, in my opinion, is the culmination of Picnic at Hanging Rock, it was this instance that made the "click" in my head where I really understood the premiss of this film - the out of nowhere and unexpected collective hysteria in the dance class demanding explanations to a key piece of the mystery that had been rescued alive but makes no attempt whatsoever to clarify about what happened. Seems like Peter Weir deliberately wanted to repress and frustrate our impetus to know the truth throughout the movie so that he could forge this brilliant scene where, in a way, he gives us what we really want to see after so much ceremony but where at the same time he truly assumes the exploitive and dreamlike nature of this work, it's clear to me because what happens here is highly unlikely in reality so there has to be a second meaning. I loved this cinematic execution because it was something new, I never experienced this before in cinema, at least not in this way so subliminally alluded by the plot itself. In this scene (which has made its way to my favorite scenes list and seems carved out of a Lynch masterpiece) the film becomes self-evident to me - here several key characters of the story are developed in ways that allude to the perspectives (role and intent) of the public (us viewers) and performer (director) through their actions and the way they are treated. This is where the film basically tells us that it is performing a perverse exploitation of our own feelings and attention, so it becomes self-evident. What impresses me is the amount of thought and craft put into it to work so well, it's genius. Perverse exploitation because the film makes it clear that it won't give us any satisfaction, this is a game where the director is in dominant position, it's his film so he dictates the rules. One might think that he "plays dirty" because he's only flirting with us and we remain in the blind (as if tied to a wall from where we cannot move) about the mystery leaving us all the more vexed... or not because it's now obvious that the movie is not at all about what happened to those vanishing girls. The game is practically over now, the film ends shortly after this scene. Not everyone will make the same reading as I do since this film is relatively open to interpretation and those who do might not go well along with this exploitive agenda and think that Weir is being unfair and arrogant, but not really because this movie is actually based on a novel and with such reaction one could fail to notice the extraordinary cinematic feat, in my opinion, from Peter Weir. I can't help but grin every time I watch this scene, it's so revealing and even hilarious that I can only contemplate in wonder.

 

There's one or two sub-plots whose significance or symbolism I don't feel comfortable discussing yet, but I believe all of it serves to support (or possibly illustrate) the movie's main perverse agenda. This movie has substantial thematic depth, nature is portrayed as an hermetic and potentially dangerous world to Men, the Hanging Rock, one of the main characters of the movie, is often presented in a sinister and haunting tone, animals are constant appearances even in the most improbable places and yet they are as much strange and oblivious to us as we are to them, plants can move, etc... It's apparent that the intent is to show nature as a world impossible to understand, not governed by the same rules as those of the world which humans have built for themselves to evoke the fear of the unknown and incomprehensible, specially around Hanging Rock. Maybe it could be said that Picnic at Hanging Rock is a Psychological Horror movie, and there are indeed a few creepy and disturbing moments, it has elements of Drama, Mystery and Horror. In my opinion, it's above all a self-evident manipulative endeavour intending to engulf us in a pseudo-dreamlike experience and doesn't reduce itself to any particular genre.

 

So why didn't I feel engaged in this movie? If I see it again (I saw it 2 times before writing these impression) maybe it will have a better grip on me but I doubt... It wasn't the pseudo-dreamlike experience it was supposed to be, I didn't find it boring to watch but I didn't enjoy it either... I think my main issue is with the overall style of the movie and lack of polishment in some acting subjects, it seriously distracts me sometimes. I never manage to extract anything appreciable, or beautiful, or interesting while I watch it (except for that brilliant scene and a few creepier moments), I've seen a lot of praise for the cinematography but I honestly didn't care. The notable soundtrack works to build the singular feel of the movie as much as it does to enervate and distract me often. I will certainly give it another go and try to tune into it, there's a lot to love and admire here and I want to have the complete package by fully engaging in the experience, but I will also search for the theatrical version which many say it's better.

 

Picnic at Hanging Rock is a singular work where Peter Weir performs, in my opinion, a sagacious exploitation of the viewer and for that I admire him. The merit is not all his alone though, this film is based on a novel of the same name authored by Joan Lindsay. This was such an enriching experience that I have included the book in my wishlist, it's the first movie ever to spice my interest for its source literature. I'm taking my chances with this novel hoping to get from literature what I got from this brilliant work of cinema. Picnic at Hanging Rock is mandatory watch for any cinephile!


Edited by kkl10 - 4/7/14 at 2:39pm
post #15439 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by metalsonata View Post
 

The Wind Rises (2013): 8/10

 

 

Well done review; it pretty much says what I wished I could've said :) . 

 

---

 

Pain and Gain: 7/10

 

An over-the-top movie that starts pretty bad; but manages to entertain after the set pieces are put in place. Based on a "true story", it proves that...

 

funny gifs

 

perhaps Florida is as crazy as it seems. The characters are big; both literally and figuratively. The movie is done in 90's saturated color look and it works. It's worth a watch and depending on the mood you're in, a ton of fun.

post #15440 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkl10 View Post
 

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - 7,5

 

Weir at his absolute best. It does my heart good to see someone re discover this gem of a film

post #15441 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkl10 View Post
 

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - 7,5

 

I like your reviews. Love it myself. :)

post #15442 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkl10 View Post
 

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - 7,5

 

One of my all-time favorites. Thrilled to see so many people giving it some love!

post #15443 of 17124

Noah (2014): 7/10

 

Epic, silly entertainment that owes less to the biblical films of old and more to recent fantasy blockbusters. It unfortunately never quite finds the perfect balance that it strives for between Hollywood action and Aronofsky's trademark weird grimness, but winds up landing in some sort of modernist fever-dream version of Noah's story that is kind of wonderful in its own way. Ultimately this is a big, dumb popcorn flick, but there are enough moments of subversiveness and visual brilliance here that people who walked into this expecting an artier film won't come away totally disappointed, as long as they're capable of turning their brain off.

 

Before Midnight (2013): 10/10

 

People who love the first two films for their exquisite romanticism may find themselves utterly destroyed by this installment. Not that it's not romantic--it is. But Jesse and Celine's honeymoon is over, and has been for a while. Here, they're reaping what they've sowed in their time together, and their happiness and love is as frail as it is powerful, and has reached a crisis point. This comes to a head in an emotionally wrenching, masterfully paced clash between the two in a hotel room. Pay attention to the ebb and the flow of their argument--the way they move from room to room and attack and counter-attack. It's a wonderfully realized scene of flawless tragicomedy, and irrespective of who is in the right and who is in the wrong, both have become experts in wielding their words like cruel thorns. As with the previous two installments, this film is very nearly a flawless gem: great directing, great acting, great writing--all calibrated to perform in the service of truth. A remarkable film for director Linklater, and for Delpy and Hawke, in particular, who have invested these characters with deep histories and personalities that feel unmatched in modern film-making. Let's hope that we see them again.

 

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013): 9/10

 

Maybe the only bad thing I can say about this movie is that the much talked-about sex scenes almost certainly drag on for too long, and are certainly far too idealized to really take seriously. It is, also, perhaps a touch longer than it needs to be--or perhaps the length is fine, but intriguing subplots are trimmed away before they are allowed to grow, and one wishes they had been given more time. Everything else is spot on though, from the beautiful cinematography to the acting, which is as arresting as it is uncompromising. For all of its lovely sheen, this is a *raw* movie, and film fans who are looking for an emotionally absorbing experience to lose themselves in should not neglect to give this one a serious shot.


Edited by metalsonata - 4/6/14 at 11:36am
post #15444 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by metalsonata View Post
 

Noah (2014): 7/10

 

Epic, silly entertainment that owes less to the biblical films of old and more to recent fantasy blockbusters. It unfortunately never quite finds the perfect balance that it strives for between Hollywood action and Aronofsky's trademark weird grimness, but winds up landing in some sort of modernist fever-dream version of Noah's story that is kind of wonderful in its own way. Ultimately this is a big, dumb popcorn flick, but there are enough moments of subversiveness and visual brilliance here that people who walked into this expecting an artier film won't come away totally disappointed, as long as they're capable of turning their brain off.

 

From dozens of reviews yours is the only one which calls Noah a silly and dumb flick. On the contrary the majority of critics found it thought-provoking and controversial. I think the only way to approach this film is to turn your brain on


Edited by mutabor - 4/6/14 at 2:21pm
post #15445 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hutnicks View Post
 

Weir at his absolute best. It does my heart good to see someone re discover this gem of a film

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fractus2 View Post
 

I like your reviews. Love it myself. :)

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by metalsonata View Post
 

One of my all-time favorites. Thrilled to see so many people giving it some love!

 

What I really want to know is if you people actually understand my rambling or if you think I'm just full of BS (not asking if you agree, only asking if you understand).

I'm almost convinced that Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of the most misunderstood movies ever made.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by metalsonata View Post
 

Noah (2014): 7/10

 

Before Midnight (2013): 10/10

 

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013): 9/10

 

Always a pleasure to read.


Edited by kkl10 - 4/6/14 at 2:52pm
post #15446 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by mutabor View Post
 

 

From dozens of reviews yours is the only one which calls Noah a silly and dumb flick. On the contrary the majority of critics found it thought-provoking and controversial. I think the only way to approach this film is to turn your brain on

 

Controversial maybe, but not being particularly invested in the Abrahamic religions personally the 'liberties' taken with the story, characters, and imagery didn't amount to anything more than just gussying up the story for a modern age, insofar as I'm concerned. And I did say that it had moments of subversiveness (aka thought provocation), though on the whole I think nearly every aspect of the presentation was tuned to be roughly equivalent to that of your average sci-fi/fantasy action spectacle--though with Darren at the helm it luckily came out being a bit better than above average. Conversely to your statement about turning one's brain on, the more I thought about it afterwards the more it fell apart (both on a small scale and on a larger, thematic one). It wasn't a bad movie though. Someone earlier in this thread called it cinematic detritus--I wouldn't go anywhere near that far.  (Though thank you for the phrase, I'm itching to use it now.) For what it was I thought it was enjoyable. I think that perhaps the only reason it's seeing more critical buzz-words attached to it than something like, for example, The Hobbit, is that it's based on a foundational piece of religious myth. Sever that connection (which I found very easy to do), and it's just another epic fantasy film--better than some (The Hobbit), worse than others (The Lord of the Rings). Maybe it's more psychologically or thematically interesting at a surface level, though I don't think either facet of the film was given the attention and care that Aronofsky is known for in these departments.

post #15447 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by metalsonata View Post
 

 

 

Before Midnight (2013): 10/10

 

People who love the first two films for their exquisite romanticism may find themselves utterly destroyed by this installment. Not that it's not romantic--it is. But Jesse and Celine's honeymoon is over, and has been for a while. Here, they're reaping what they've sowed in their time together, and their happiness and love is as frail as it is powerful, and has reached a crisis point. This comes to a head in an emotionally wrenching, masterfully paced clash between the two in a hotel room. Pay attention to the ebb and the flow of their argument--the way they move from room to room and attack and counter-attack. It's a wonderfully realized scene of flawless tragicomedy, and irrespective of who is in the right and who is in the wrong, both have become experts in wielding their words like cruel thorns. As with the previous two installments, this film is very nearly a flawless gem: great directing, great acting, great writing--all calibrated to perform in the service of truth. A remarkable film for director Linklater, and for Delpy and Hawke, in particular, who have invested these characters with deep histories and personalities that feel unmatched in modern film-making. Let's hope that we see them again.

 

 

 

Nice take...completely agree. 

post #15448 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by metalsonata View Post
 

 

 it's just another epic fantasy film--better than some (The Hobbit), worse than others (The Lord of the Rings). Maybe it's more psychologically or thematically interesting at a surface level, though I don't think either facet of the film was given the attention and care that Aronofsky is known for in these departments.

 

It seems to me that you didn't get philosophical idea behind the film.

post #15449 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkl10 View Post

 

What I really want to know is if you people actually understand my rambling or if you think I'm just full of BS (not asking if you agree, only asking if you understand).

I'm almost convinced that Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of the most misunderstood movies ever made.

 

Your review made sense to me! (Also really made me want to watch it again.)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Focker View Post
 

 

Nice take...completely agree. 

 

Thank you! I'm only sorry that I didn't see this film in theatres last year!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mutabor View Post
 

 

It seems to me that you didn't get philosophical idea behind the film.

 

And it seems to me that you're too impressed by their mere presence. I get it. Aronofsky is being sneaky and he's including some weightier themes here than you're going to find in your average popcorn movie, and some of the audience will pick up on these themes and others won't. It's a noble effort on his part to do so. Where I think you and I differ is on the matter of whether or not he succeeded; you obviously think that he was more successful than I did. Regardless, working with potentially thoughtful material does not mean that a movie can be excused from being dumb or silly, at least not in my book. When it's all said and done, I feel like it was a better big-budget disaster movie than it was a philosophical treatise or a psychological study--that fact that maybe it wants to be in part one or both of these does not compel in me a desire to raise my score of the movie.

post #15450 of 17124
Quote:
Originally Posted by metalsonata View Post
 

 

And it seems to me that you're too impressed by their mere presence. I get it. Aronofsky is being sneaky and he's including some weightier themes here than you're going to find in your average popcorn movie, and some of the audience will pick up on these themes and others won't. It's a noble effort on his part to do so. Where I think you and I differ is on the matter of whether or not he succeeded; you obviously think that he was more successful than I did. Regardless, working with potentially thoughtful material does not mean that a movie can be excused from being dumb or silly, at least not in my book. When it's all said and done, I feel like it was a better big-budget disaster movie than it was a philosophical treatise or a psychological study--that fact that maybe it wants to be in part one or both of these does not compel in me a desire to raise my score of the movie.

 

You never spoke about the idea behind the film which means that you didn't get what this movie was about. You spoke mostly about appearance of the film and never touched the essence of it. Not a single word why Aronofsky made Noah. Yeas, he did a philosophical treatise and a psychological study which seems is not accessible for many. Blockbuster part was a compromise with a studio.


Edited by mutabor - 4/6/14 at 3:35pm
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