Movies that DON'T suck.

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Ben

Movies that DON'T suck.

Post by Ben » Tue Jan 28, 2003 3:14 am

Now, a quick note about a couple of movies I saw today -- movies that DON'T suck. You can take these, compare them with the aforetrashed "Signs" (which DID suck) and start to get a sense what differentiates a sucking movie from a non-sucking one.

Movie #1: "K19: The Widowmaker". I even expected this one to suck. In fact, I was sure of it. All I'd seen in the previews was that it was another dumb action movie about another dumb submarine, with one of the lamest names for a movie ever, and with Harrison Ford in the lead role doing a bad Russian accent. Make no mistake about it, Harrison Ford does a bad Russian accent throughout the entire movie. But about 1/3 of the way through, I stopped noticing, and also stopped waiting for the movie to begin sucking, as I was sure it would. But it didn't. It was exciting, well done, compelling, and all-around high-quality. Well done, James Cameron's ex-wife!

Movie #2: "Insomnia". I was forced to BUY this movie from Best Buy because Blockbuster refuses to stock the widescreen version on its godforsaken shelves. Also because (here's a little Pinback trivia for you) this was the Last Movie that David Parrish Liked (TM). And he liked about 1/10 of what I like, and I hate everything, so that gives you an idea. Anyway, it was good, and Christopher Nolan is rapidly rising to god-like status among film nerds such as myself. But more importantly than all that, did anyone else here see this, and if so, during a scene about halfway through the movie, did you jump out of your chair, start pointing maniacally at the screen and shouting "FROGGER!! FROGGER!!!!"??

Really? Me too.

Ben

Post by Ben » Tue Jan 28, 2003 10:42 pm

And here's yet ANOTHER movie that totally doesn't suck: Amelie!

Wow, that's three non-sucking movies in a row. I am on quite a roll!

I'm guessing nobody's seen any of these movies, though, since they are in no way related to 1) Kevin Smith, 2) Gay maggot homos, or 3) Things that suck.

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Post by k. roo » Tue Jan 28, 2003 10:51 pm

Ben wrote:1) Kevin Smith,
I enjoyed "Dogma" - check.
Ben wrote:2) Gay maggot homos, or
I enjoyed "As Good As It Gets" - check.
Ben wrote:3) Things that suck.
It's called "denial," Ben.

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Post by Debaser » Tue Jan 28, 2003 11:00 pm

Never seen Widowmaker, Amelie was wonderful, did see Insomnia and while it certainly qualified as "doesn't suck" it was hardly amazing or thrilling or anything.

And remember, with all this complaining about sucky movies, you were the one who chose to watch LotR (which you pretty much knew you'd despise) rather than Adaptation when they opened the same weekend.

Do me a favor: Watch "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" for me if you get a chance and haven't already. I adore the flick, but I find most people don't share my enthusiasm. As the self-proclaimed authority on everything, I'm curious as to your stance.

Ben

Post by Ben » Wed Jan 29, 2003 12:02 am

Debaser wrote:Never seen Widowmaker, Amelie was wonderful, did see Insomnia and while it certainly qualified as "doesn't suck" it was hardly amazing or thrilling or anything.
It was extremely well made, with beautiful photography, and a nice little metaphor to chew on (light == truth, and so forth.)
And remember, with all this complaining about sucky movies, you were the one who chose to watch LotR
Excuse me? I have done no such thing. I saw the first movie on video, and will do the same thing with this latest CGI-fest.
Adaptation when they opened the same weekend.
I am looking forward to seeing Adaptation once in comes out on video. However, I felt Being John Malkovich was vastly overrated. I've heard nothing but great things about Adaptation, though, so I am looking forward to enjoying it.
Do me a favor: Watch "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" for me if you get a chance and haven't already. I adore the flick, but I find most people don't share my enthusiasm. As the self-proclaimed authority on everything, I'm curious as to your stance.
It sucks. (I haven't seen it, I just wanted to stay in character.)

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Post by bruce » Wed Jan 29, 2003 12:23 am

Debaser wrote:"Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"
Fuckin' <b>RULES</b>.

Bruce

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Post by Debaser » Wed Jan 29, 2003 12:33 am

Ben wrote:It was extremely well made, with beautiful photography, and a nice little metaphor to chew on (light == truth, and so forth.)
I'll agree with you on points one and two, but I'm of the opinion the metaphors are entirely an artificial construct created whole cloth in the minds of the audience or wedged in awkwardly by filmmakers whose reach exceeds their grasp. Or else I'm just irritated that I didn't catch that. But mostly the movie wallowed in itself too much for no real insight other than "cops should be honest".
Excuse me? I have done no such thing. I saw the first movie on video, and will do the same thing with this latest CGI-fest.
Really? I was under the impression that... rechecking the TT thread... ah, you're right, all that stuff about the movie sucking was just inference from your recollection of the first. All apologies.
I am looking forward to seeing Adaptation once in comes out on video. However, I felt Being John Malkovich was vastly overrated. I've heard nothing but great things about Adaptation, though, so I am looking forward to enjoying it.
I agree on Malkovich, more wierd than good. You might possibly come away from Adaptation calling it more clever than good, but I've always liked clever way more than wierd. And, as someone who has failed to write many, many things, the main character's dilemma had more pathos for me than some guy who's too much of a pussy to fall asleep with the lights on.

Ben

Post by Ben » Wed Jan 29, 2003 12:50 am

Debaser wrote:metaphors are entirely an artificial construct created whole cloth in the minds of the audience
Oh, I disagree. Metaphors are one of my favorite parts of film, one of the few things that separates the medium from the mere category of "storytelling." Movies with lots of metaphors, I call "chewy". Plenty of things to ponder for days, months, years after the film's already been seen.
Or else I'm just irritated that I didn't catch that.
I thought it was fairly strong. As the movie goes on, Pacino (Detective DORMER -- get it?!) keeps trying harder and harder to shut out the slivers of light that keep creeping into his room. The best line in the movie comes when the hotel wench comes into his room:

"It's too fucking bright in here." - Pacino
"It's dark in here." - Hotel Wench

That's good stuff.
But mostly the movie wallowed in itself too much for no real insight other than "cops should be honest".
[ ] Agree strongly
[ ] Agree
[ ] Neither agree nor disagree
[ ] Disagree
[X] Disagree strongly
wierd
wierd
Weird.

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Post by Debaser » Wed Jan 29, 2003 1:05 am

Ben wrote: Oh, I disagree. Metaphors are one of my favorite parts of film, one of the few things that separates the medium from the mere category of "storytelling." Movies with lots of metaphors, I call "chewy". Plenty of things to ponder for days, months, years after the film's already been seen.
What's to ponder? You catch the metaphor, say "hey that's neat, the light is a representative of the truth he can't shut out" and either forget about it or bring it up in discussions of movies to make yourself look smart. I suppose there might be a bit of a game in catching them in the first place, but movies shouldn't force me to make my own fun.
I thought it was fairly strong. As the movie goes on, Pacino (Detective DORMER -- get it?!) keeps trying harder and harder to shut out the slivers of light that keep creeping into his room.
Never claimed I wasn't a fucking idiot. But you've actually managed to illustrate my problem with these types of flicks, it's so fucking linear. The detective devolves on a straight line from the moment of the shooting onward, it's a static dilemma with no differentientation between moment one and the moment before his confession other than increasing intensity. So you just sit here under this uncomfortable pressure for an hour and a half until the dam bursts.
[ ] Agree strongly
[ ] Agree
[ ] Neither agree nor disagree
[ ] Disagree
[X] Disagree strongly
With the bit about the wallowing, the bit about the lack of insight, or the bit where I glibly wrote off said revelation as "cops should tell the truth"?
Weird.
See the bit about me being a fucking idiot. I actually caught this afterwards, but couldn't be bothered to edit it.

Ben

Post by Ben » Wed Jan 29, 2003 1:14 am

Debaser wrote:I suppose there might be a bit of a game in catching them in the first place, but movies shouldn't force me to make my own fun.
That's why they make all different sorts of movies. Me, I like movies that *challenge* the viewer. Most people don't, though, which is why there's so few of these anymore.
So you just sit here under this uncomfortable pressure for an hour and a half until the dam bursts.
I like that. Oh well.

[X] Disagree strongly

With the bit about the wallowing, the bit about the lack of insight, or the bit where I glibly wrote off said revelation as "cops should tell the truth"?
Initially just the last of those. But why don't we throw the others in there for good measure.

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Post by Debaser » Wed Jan 29, 2003 1:30 am

Ben wrote: That's why they make all different sorts of movies. Me, I like movies that *challenge* the viewer. Most people don't, though, which is why there's so few of these anymore.
I like that. Oh well.
Me? I figure a movie should either provide me with two hours or so of decently produced escapist enjoyment, or say something moderately profound about its characters (and maybe humanity in general) that couldn't be said more effectively by, say, a research paper. If it can do both at once, than fan-fucking-tastic. I should realize that the entire existance of the horror genre pretty much destroys this as a universal law, though. As you said, oh well.

I know what you're about to say, but I don't really feel like two hours of some schlub's nagging conscience qualifies as moderately profound.

Ben

Post by Ben » Wed Jan 29, 2003 1:36 am

Debaser wrote:I know what you're about to say, but I don't really feel like two hours of some schlub's nagging conscience qualifies as moderately profound.
It wasn't extremely profound, no. But while it was being at least a little bit thought-provoking, it was also being beautiful, well-made, and well-acted.

I'll take it.

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Post by Debaser » Wed Jan 29, 2003 1:42 am

Oh, I understand your stance. And my use of moderate is, of course, a rhetorical tactic. But like I said, primarily the movie made me uncomfortable, which is fine if there's some sort of payoff in the form of pressure release or revelation I wouldn't have been able to come up with watching a very special epsiode of Growing Pains. But there wasn't. So I suppose it comes down to whether or not you enjoy that icky feeling on the one hand, and whether or not you're particularly fired up about it's moral message on the other.

Ben

Post by Ben » Wed Jan 29, 2003 1:46 am

I didn't feel there was a "moral message" to the film at all. Do you think the moral message was, "Always tell the truth, children"? Again, I do not agree. As the hotel wench said, Nightmute is a place you are either born, or you come to to escape something else... it's all a matter of what you're willing to live with.

None of us is perfect. We've all done stuff we're not proud of. It doesn't take a movie to tell us, "You know, you shouldn't do things you're not proud of." Nor does this one. I think it just shows what might happen when someone does something they're unable to live with. Not a moral play, just an examination. An intense, gorgeous examination at that.

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Post by Debaser » Wed Jan 29, 2003 2:00 am

Ben wrote:I didn't feel there was a "moral message" to the film at all. Do you think the moral message was, "Always tell the truth, children"?
Maybe not that simplistic. If I was going to call it anything, I'd call it a study on guilt and the slippery slope of ethical compromise.

The latter is rather ridiculous, because ultimately the situation is, of course, contrived. Not unbelievable, but at every step the situation would have been "fine" if his partner wasn't planning on squealing about Dormer, or if the killer wasn't some sort of unexpected criminal mastermind or if that chick wasn't ridiculously tenacious, or whatever. It read to me as a condemnation of the initial act of framing the killer for his partner's death (and possibly a condemnation on whatever shady thing dormer did offscreen that his partner planned on squealing on), especially given the interplay between Dormer and the girl at the end. Basically a stance in favor of deontological ethics, doing the "right" thing (in this case, telling the truth), rather than the pragmatically well-intentioned thing (in this case, doing what needed to be done to stop the destructive IA investigation). The character is tormented by guilt and misery and it doesn't end until he "confesses" and imparts his hard-won wisdom on his protoge.

Ben

Post by Ben » Wed Jan 29, 2003 3:14 am

Does anyone (and by "anyone", I'm nearly certain I'm just talking to you, Debaser, since nobody else is reading this thread, probably since it has nothing to do with video games or gay maggot homos) know how the ending of the original film differed from Nolan's remake? Maybe it would be a more satisfying ending for you, Debaser. I dunno.

Also, does anyone know if the character's name in the original is "Dormer"? I really like that choice, in any case.

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Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Wed Jan 29, 2003 7:26 am

Ben wrote:I thought it was fairly strong. As the movie goes on, Pacino (Detective DORMER -- get it?!) keeps trying harder and harder to shut out the slivers of light that keep creeping into his room. The best line in the movie comes when the hotel wench comes into his room:
I don't get it. What does Dormer mean?
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Post by bruce » Wed Jan 29, 2003 12:13 pm

Debaser wrote:movies shouldn't force me to make my own fun.
Pee Wee Herman found this out the hard way.

Bruce

Ben

Post by Ben » Wed Jan 29, 2003 3:37 pm

Ice Cream Jonsey wrote:I don't get it. What does Dormer mean?
"Dormer" would seem to me to be a play on the French word dormir, meaning "to sleep".

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Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Wed Jan 29, 2003 3:42 pm

Ah. French puns. Yeah, that movie sounds like a real winner. Which one was this? Amelie? I'll be sure to queue that one up real quick-like.

I did attempt to download Solaris (2002) over the Internet last night. I got it, but I got completely garbled video. Fuck, if the MPAA is going to throw me in jail for this act I at least want a passable picture.

I noticed that the run time for the two versions of the movie break down as follows:

Solaris (1972) 168 minutes.
Solaris (2002) 99 minutes.

Hi, I lived in 2002 and Hollywood thinks I'm a fucking simpleton. DROOOL LLDOROOOL. I know that the Soviet director was quite mad, and I understand that if he was left to his own devices he would have made a movie that fully depicted the ride from Earth to Solaris in fucking real-time, but still. How much did they chop out of the 2002 version? Having made the commitment to pirate it, I'm actually interested now and your words of how good the thing is will not ring on deaf ears any longer. Should I go rent the 1972 version first? (Is the 1972 version available on DVD?)
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