Author Topic: What's the Last Movie You Watched?  (Read 527986 times)

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Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2760 on: September 19, 2018, 04:19:21 PM »

Offline greece666

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seen recently:
- Proud Mary - meh.  formulaic in the storyline.  you can see how it will play out in the first 15 minutes
- Darkest Hour --  excellent.  well worth the time.  Gary Oldman gave a performance of a career in that movie.

Oldman is magnificent indeed, and it is without a doubt a well made movie.

But as a historian, I have two issues with the film. The first (and less important) is that it feels like it is whitewashing a man responsible for lots of terrible decisions and suffering. But in so far as  the movie is dealing with a very specific time in WWII I can live with that.

The second and more serious concern, is that the film exaggerates the importance of Churchill in continuing the war. The suggestion that without him the UK would have capitulated is bogus. See more here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkest_Hour_(film)#Historical_inaccuracies

I know your post didn't touch on any of these. I just wanted to get it off my chest.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 02:35:51 PM by greece666 »

Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2761 on: September 22, 2018, 08:35:00 PM »

Offline greece666

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[Apologies in advance: I'm several movies behind, so I'll be making separate posts instead of putting them all together.]

Man with a Movie Camera (USSR, 1929)

Early Soviet avantgard cinema. Urban life in Soviet cities from dawn to dusk. No script, no professional actors, no soundtrack. The way this film was made was long hours of shooting followed by painstaking editing.

The Athens cinematheque got burned down while screening this one, in an evening I was fortunately busy doing something else, back in 1996. No wonder it took me more than two decades to revisit it.

It's a very intellectual film, and one way of putting is: imagine how would a movie made by an intelligent machine would look like. It's not like the director, Dziga Vertov, is absent. Just the opposite. But the kind of perfection he is striving for is very much unlike the perfection you'll find in the movies of Buster Keaton or F.W. Murnau. It's about bringing it all together, looking at the same object (the Soviet city) from all possible angles in one totalizing view.

It now is a universally acclaimed masterpiece (Sight & Sound has it in it's top 10), but it got bad reviews when originally released. The film's editing was (and still is) incredibly faster than what viewers were accustomed to see. And to be perfectly honest, skimming through the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes I felt some of the authors praised it because they felt they had to rather than because they genuinely enjoyed it. Radical in the 1920s and stil radical in 2018, that's quite a feat to accomplish, Mr Vertov.

Personally, if I consider this one well worth watching today it's because it makes you think about what cinema ultimately is and also because it offers lots of interesting insights about life in the USSR in the 1920s that you won't find anywhere else. It's a highly artistic film, but deep down it remains a documentary about Soviet cities and the new Soviet man.  A documentary about Soviet cities in the 1920s might sound tedious, but (and this is IMO the film's ultimate salvaging quality) it does manages to move you by displaying common, universal themes of human life.

« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 02:33:39 PM by greece666 »

Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2762 on: September 22, 2018, 08:56:54 PM »

Offline greece666

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The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (UK, 1927)

Silent horror film. The film that created Hitchcock's reputation.

Loosely based on the story of Jack the Ripper, it's about a mysterious man who rents a room in London and draws suspicion on him. While watching I thought that Hitchcock had "stolen" ideas and images from The Invisible Man and from Lugosi's Dracula. I was ofc wrong as they both were filmed as talkies (the former in 1933 and the latter in 1931). This is just a sign of how ahead of his time Hitchcock was in this film. I'd easily take this one over the overpraised Cat People, as a fine example of horror in pre-war cinema.

Notice also that Hitchcock at the time was under the influence of Murnau and this shows in the expressionist imagery often at display. He also wanted a different, darker ending for the film, which the producers unwisely declined.


Hitchcock's cameo
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 02:31:58 PM by greece666 »

Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2763 on: September 22, 2018, 09:15:12 PM »

Offline greece666

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The Student from Prague (German Empire, 1913)

Silent horror film loosely based on the Faust.

Like "The Man with a Movie Camera" this is an innovative film. But consider this: while Vertov seeks innovation in claiming cinema as a radically modern form of art, "The Student from Prague" is after technical innovations. This is a form of cinema that stays very close to theater in its narrative and expressive forms but is also very proud to boast it can do things that would have been impossible in "regular" theater, mostly visual effects. In other words, it was doing in 1913 something very similar to what Avatar did in 2009.

Remains important mostly for historical reasons, although it is for the most part an enjoyable watch. I can only wish the stunning Lyda Salmonova had received more attention from the camera.


Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2764 on: September 22, 2018, 09:30:31 PM »

Offline greece666

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Terms of Endearment (USA, 1983) [contains spoilers  :-X]

I really enjoyed this one, but I also have to sleep some time. More about it tomorrow.

Comedy/drama about the relation of a mother and her daughter over a period of thirty years. I won't get into details about the characters because it makes zero sense unless you've actually watched the movie. Suffice it to say, this movie is all about character development, which is superbly done thanks to a synergy of great acting, smart dialogues and a director (James L. Brooks) who knows exactly what he wants as final result.

What made me wonder is this: how come a movie that was a success back in 1983 is forgotten today. To be clear, this movie was not simply a success, it was arguably the best Hollywood movie of 1983: a commercial and critical success with lots of star power (Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito), it won five Oscars [Best Picture, Director, Writing (Brooks), Actress in a Drama (MacLaine) and Supporting Actor (Nicholson)], and received six more nominations.

Looking back at other movies that won Best Picture in the 80s, several are still celebrated today: Amadeus, Platoon, The Last Emperor, Rain Man. Instead "Terms of Endearment", if remembered at all, it's because of the love story subplot between MacLaine and Nicholson - mainly due to Nicholson fans uploading clips on YouTube. So, what is it that turned a success into a minor movie?

To my mind, the main reason is cinematography. This is what often separates  the wheat from the chaff in terms of cinema history. The Man with the Movie Camera has little emotion in it but lots of innovative cinematography and editing, and  is still highly regarded. Even those who dislike Sergei Eisenstein's communist politics watch his movies for his montage. Similar things can be said about the movies of Werner Herzog or Jean Luc Godard. Unlike them, Terms of Endearment has nothing innovative or artistic to show off in the cinematography department. Brooks  is a television man and uses the camera in ways that many of us identify with  television.

The same goes for the soundtrack, the aesthetics (the haircuts and clothes of the 80s are unmistakable)  as well for the way that the plot reaches its climax: turning within a few minutes from a light comedy into melodrama. Brooks uses tropes that come straight from 80s soap operas: a beautiful and wealthy but lonely woman, her conflicts with her daughter, the everyday difficulties of marriage and children. Personally, I would not blame him one bit for any of that - he wanted to go for a mother-daughter melodrama with a distinctly American flavour and he achieved his aim to perfection. He made an enjoyable movie with realistic characters, emotional significance, and some clear messages to take away - this is nothing to scoff at. But modern audiences might protest that if this were the kind of entertainment they wanted they might as well rewatch a season of Dallas.

« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 01:07:15 PM by greece666 »

Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2765 on: September 25, 2018, 02:11:23 PM »

Offline greece666

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Contempt (France/Italy, 1963)

Nouvelle Vague film about a playwright who abandons his trophy wife and a well paid job in cinema to return to theatre. It contains several of Godard's tropes: anti-Americanism, sex, problematic gender identities and references to film noirs. The plot works at many levels as you have a movie about filming a movie about Homer's Odyssey. Godard is getting very playful with this as he goes from the way the writings of the protagonist affect the way we understand the Odyssey to how the Odyssey helps the protagonist understand himself and his social situation. It is all very smart and masterful but you also feel it is annoyingly pretentious.  NYT's Bosley Crowther (an otherwise vocal advocate of European Auteur Cinema) gave it a negative review back in the 60s, but since then the critical consensus has moved towards universal acclaim.

Personally, I found many things worth admiring in the film: the wit of the script, the cinematography, the acting of Michel Piccoli, but I did end up wondering why did it have to be so goddang boring. Godard doesn't give a dang about creating realistic characters and he uses the protagonists as puppets to convey his own messages. He forces a theatricality upon the way the movie progresses (the characters discuss the future of their relationship in the most bizarre locations such as an ancient theatre or the shower, and deliver melodramatic phrases in a deadpan manner): the scene where Piccoli "argues" with Brigitte Bardot about the future of their relationship could be easily turned into a one act play for Eugene Ionesco or J.P. Sartre (although Godard is nowhere near Sartre's talent when it comes to making philosophy through art). While watching, I often got reminded that having brilliant ideas is one thing, being a philosopher is quite another. This is a distinction that Godard purposefully tries to erase.

Personally, I don't think much of Godard's philosophy and politics: his genius lies in creating powerful images, which yes, can render themselves to a deep reading, but they are not philosophical per se. His certainty that he has deep messages to convey about the human condition leads to a narcissistic approach to film making, where the viewer constantly has to labour upon the intentions and hidden meanings of the film making genius.  In short, unless you are willing to approach him as a guru, his movies will be a difficult watch.

He summed it up for himself when he criticized other French filmmakers for taking "craft over innovation, privileged established directors over new directors, and preferred the great works of the past to experimentation". The irony is that he has long ago created a tradition of his own that shuffled the development of new forms and that the single salvaging quality of his films is his divine cinematic craft.



Fritz Lang directing Odyssey based on a script by Piccoli: displaying the film's multi-layered references.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2018, 07:33:34 PM by greece666 »

Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2766 on: October 01, 2018, 11:37:11 AM »

Offline Big333223

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Terms of Endearment (USA, 1983) [contains spoilers  :-X]

I really enjoyed this one, but I also have to sleep some time. More about it tomorrow.

Comedy/drama about the relation of a mother and her daughter over a period of thirty years. I won't get into details about the characters because it makes zero sense unless you've actually watched the movie. Suffice it to say, this movie is all about character development, which is superbly done thanks to a synergy of great acting, smart dialogues and a director (James L. Brooks) who knows exactly what he wants as final result.

What made me wonder is this: how come a movie that was a success back in 1983 is forgotten today. To be clear, this movie was not simply a success, it was arguably the best Hollywood movie of 1983: a commercial and critical success with lots of star power (Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito), it won five Oscars [Best Picture, Director, Writing (Brooks), Actress in a Drama (MacLaine) and Supporting Actor (Nicholson)], and received six more nominations.

Looking back at other movies that won Best Picture in the 80s, several are still celebrated today: Amadeus, Platoon, The Last Emperor, Rain Man. Instead "Terms of Endearment", if remembered at all, it's because of the love story subplot between MacLaine and Nicholson - mainly due to Nicholson fans uploading clips on YouTube. So, what is it that turned a success into a minor movie?

To my mind, the main reason is cinematography. This is what often separates  the wheat from the chaff in terms of cinema history. The Man with the Movie Camera has little emotion in it but lots of innovative cinematography and editing, and  is still highly regarded. Even those who dislike Sergei Eisenstein's communist politics watch his movies for his montage. Similar things can be said about the movies of Werner Herzog or Jean Luc Godard. Unlike them, Terms of Endearment has nothing innovative or artistic to show off in the cinematography department. Brooks  is a television man and uses the camera in ways that many of us identify with  television.

The same goes for the soundtrack, the aesthetics (the haircuts and clothes of the 80s are unmistakable)  as well for the way that the plot reaches its climax: turning within a few minutes from a light comedy into melodrama. Brooks uses tropes that come straight from 80s soap operas: a beautiful and wealthy but lonely woman, her conflicts with her daughter, the everyday difficulties of marriage and children. Personally, I would not blame him one bit for any of that - he wanted to go for a mother-daughter melodrama with a distinctly American flavour and he achieved his aim to perfection. He made an enjoyable movie with realistic characters, emotional significance, and some clear messages to take away - this is nothing to scoff at. But modern audiences might protest that if this were the kind of entertainment they wanted they might as well rewatch a season of Dallas.



I think the modern trend has been that a good movie is a "dark" "serious" "gritty" movie. Brooks made a handful of brilliant movies but they were not the kind of gritty movie that critics have fawned over in recent years. A movie like Terms of Endearment or Broadcast News are great in their subtleties and embracing of humanity.

I think there has to be room for that among the dark, downer dramas.
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Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2767 on: October 01, 2018, 12:18:06 PM »

Offline kraidstar

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seen recently:
- Proud Mary - meh.  formulaic in the storyline.  you can see how it will play out in the first 15 minutes
- Darkest Hour --  excellent.  well worth the time.  Gary Oldman gave a performance of a career in that movie.

Oldman is magnificent indeed, and it is without a doubt a well made movie.

But as a historian, I have two issues with the film. The first (and less important) is that it feels like it is whitewashing a man responsible for lots of terrible decisions and suffering. But in so far as  the movie is dealing with a very specific time in WWII I can live with that.

The second and more serious concern, is that the film exaggerates the importance of Churchill in continuing the war. The suggestion that without him the UK would have capitulated is bogus. See more here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkest_Hour_(film)#Historical_inaccuracies

I know your post didn't touch on any of these. I just wanted to get it off my chest.

Churchill got very, very lucky at Dunkirk. The Germans had them dead to rights and should have annihilated their entire army. They were cornered against the sea with literally nowhere to go for several days.

Hitler strangely ordered his troops to hold back - perhaps out of belief that a British surrender was imminent - or perhaps he was overconfident or just froze (choke job?) - internal politics in the military might have played a role as well, according to some accounts Goering wanted his Luftwaffe to get the victory. Either way it was one of the most catastrophic mistakes of the war, as the vast majority of the British escaped and then regrouped.

Churchill very nearly lost the war right near the beginning of it; his plans to defend France were borderline delusional, and the Nazis trounced the British just as badly as they did the French (it should be noted that the French very bravely held the lines and covered for the British at Dunkirk, giving the British more time to escape). The war might have gone very differently if Hitler had won at Dunkirk and then reevaluated his plans for invading the USSR.

Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2768 on: October 01, 2018, 01:06:16 PM »

Offline greece666

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seen recently:
- Proud Mary - meh.  formulaic in the storyline.  you can see how it will play out in the first 15 minutes
- Darkest Hour --  excellent.  well worth the time.  Gary Oldman gave a performance of a career in that movie.

Oldman is magnificent indeed, and it is without a doubt a well made movie.

But as a historian, I have two issues with the film. The first (and less important) is that it feels like it is whitewashing a man responsible for lots of terrible decisions and suffering. But in so far as  the movie is dealing with a very specific time in WWII I can live with that.

The second and more serious concern, is that the film exaggerates the importance of Churchill in continuing the war. The suggestion that without him the UK would have capitulated is bogus. See more here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkest_Hour_(film)#Historical_inaccuracies

I know your post didn't touch on any of these. I just wanted to get it off my chest.

Churchill got very, very lucky at Dunkirk. The Germans had them dead to rights and should have annihilated their entire army. They were cornered against the sea with literally nowhere to go for several days.

Hitler strangely ordered his troops to hold back - perhaps out of belief that a British surrender was imminent - or perhaps he was overconfident or just froze (choke job?) - internal politics in the military might have played a role as well, according to some accounts Goering wanted his Luftwaffe to get the victory. Either way it was one of the most catastrophic mistakes of the war, as the vast majority of the British escaped and then regrouped.

Churchill very nearly lost the war right near the beginning of it; his plans to defend France were borderline delusional, and the Nazis trounced the British just as badly as they did the French (it should be noted that the French very bravely held the lines and covered for the British at Dunkirk, giving the British more time to escape). The war might have gone very differently if Hitler had won at Dunkirk and then reevaluated his plans for invading the USSR.

Personally, I'd say the Germans got very lucky in France. Dunkirk was the first instance of bad luck on their side. Adam Tooze's Wages of Destruction has a chapter on the German victory in France, and I found it quite convincing myself.

I'm also skeptical of what German military officers wrote in their memoirs after the War because they tend to blame all bad decisions on Hitler. Dunkirk is one of those cases.

As far as movies go,  I liked Nolan's Dunkirk emphasis on ordinary people better than what you got in Darkest Hour. Even if you focus exclusively on the politicians who made the crucial decisions, Attlee's (and others) importance has been completely neglected to put all the emphasis on Churchil. Again, I think the Wikipedia section quoted above is spot on.

I'd be happy to continue the historical conversation either on another thread or throught PMs.

Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2769 on: October 01, 2018, 01:23:35 PM »

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Hostiles. I bet it was cr*p historically but good acting and cinematography.

Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2770 on: October 01, 2018, 02:05:01 PM »

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The House With The Clock In The Walls

6.5/10

Loved Jack Black, Loved Cate Blanchett. Everything else was meh.

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Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2771 on: October 01, 2018, 03:41:20 PM »

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Stephen King's movie adaptation of "The Mist".

Probably my 2nd favorite from him, with "The Langoliers" being the 1st.

The Mist had a screwed up ending....wish the guy would've had a little faith that, but anyways very good movie.

On an off note I'm guessing that Danny Ainge threatened Robert Williams with The Langoliers - if he kept on being late. ;D :)

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Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2772 on: October 01, 2018, 04:02:01 PM »

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Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2773 on: October 05, 2018, 06:49:11 PM »

Offline greece666

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The Party (USA, 1968)

A goofy Indian (Peter Sellers) destroys a lavish Hollywood dinner party.

The jokes don't come from the scenario, instead Sellers has to imrpovise his way through the film. More than a genre film, this is a succession of set pieces built around Sellers jokes.  At times this works perfectly and Sellers exhibits his gift for making jokes out of tiny situations - like having to seat on a stool or losing a shoe. At other times, however, Sellers runs out of ideas and the whole crew has to wait until he comes up with another joke. The end of the film (the scene at the pool) is such an unfortunate plateau: Sellers decides to disappear from action and Blake Edwards continues filming despite p much nothing happening.

The alcoholic waiter (pictured below) is a nice secondary character, but other than that Sellers doesn't get help from the rest of the crew in this movie.






Re: What's the Last Movie You Watched?
« Reply #2774 on: October 05, 2018, 07:51:59 PM »

Offline greece666

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The Elephant Man (USA, 1980) [contains spoilers  :-X ]

Biographical drama about a severely deformed man in 19th century Britain. David Lynch's second film, part of a remote time in his career when he still made mainstream films (Dune, Blue Velvet).

I rly enjoyed this one, and part of the reason is that it very accurately captures the Victorian feeling of its topic. The main source for the life of Joseph/John Emerick (the "elephant man") is the book written by the surgeon who took care of him, Frederick Treves (portrayed in the film by Anthony Hopkins). Treves and his contemporaries were much more aware of social differences than modern doctors are and rarely thought of medicine as a good that should be accessible to all. Treves most important professional achievement was taking care of Edward VII's appendicitis in 1902 - an achievement for which the King made him a baron.

This is why the "Elephant Man" was such a controversial topic in Victorian times: permanently granting a hospital room to a deformed working class man was privileged treatment- wouldn't the public think that was a waste of money? Other doctors argued  that Emerick was more of a natural curiosity than a patient and therefore he did not belong in the hospital. The debate went on until the Victoria herself interfered: the "Elephant Man" was to remain in hospital as a display of the royal family's charity.

In the film, the "Elephant Man" turned out to be a model patient. He never questioned the doctor's authority, not even he had to bring him terrible news: his deformity could not be cured, and all he could hope for was a less painful life. And while nurses and doctors grew accustomed to Emerick's ugliness, the outside world continued to look at him with disgust. It was particularly working class people who would only see in him a freak: they would actually break in the hospital so as to enjoy from close the thrills that his deformity had to offer. The upper classes calmly understand, whereas the boisterous populace acts on its emotions: Lynch kept the disturbing elitism of his sources, and created a recreated a world according to their ideas and prejudices. At times I felt that if the movie did not have sound, it could have passed for a silent from the 1920s.

Emerick himself turned out to be a cultivated man. He proved that he could speak by reciting Bible verses he had memorized, he had read Shakespeare, and demonstrated extreme gentleness. He was sad, but never angry, an examplary depictionof British dignity at the face of adversity: another Victorian theme that Lynch respected. The only time that Emerick rebelled against his condition was at the very end of his life when he decided to lie down on his bed (something he knew was dangerous due to his condition). Even then, Emerick acted quietly, without melodrama or self-pity. This is why I found the protests of some critics the film was overly sentimental absurd. Lynch coldly pictured what his sources gave him. If the end-result is sentimental it is because the story of Emerick is tragic, not because Lynch forced a melodramatic depiction of it.



Emerick (John Hurt) with his doctor,  Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins).

 

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