Ryan H.

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About Ryan H.

  • Rank
    Riding the crest of a wave breaking just west of Hollywood
  • Birthday 08/25/1986

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  • Website URL http://seenthatmovietoo.wordpress.com
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Profile Information

  • Gender Male
  • Location Philadelphia, PA
  • Interests Christian theology and practice, history, philosophy, and the arts, as well as the intersections between them.

Previous Fields

  • Occupation Nothing special.
  • About my avatar Orson.
  • Favorite movies Hitchcock's VERTIGO is tops. Everything else shifts, but you can always expect to see the following directors featured: De Palma, Kubrick, Leone, Resnais, Ruiz, Welles.
  • Favorite music Classical music, mostly (Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 is my all-time favorite work), but David Bowie, Donald Fagen, and Tom Waits can be heard in home on a regular basis.
  • Favorite creative writing My shelves are dominated by the works of Bradbury, Burgess, Dostoevsky, Chandler, Ellroy, Fleming, Greene, Kazantzakis, Nabokov, Percy, and Poe.
  • Favorite visual art I have a long-standing affection for Rembrandt, but I also admire the work of Dali and Dore and Whistler.

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Ryan H.'s Activity

  1. Ryan H. added a post in a topic David Bowie - Blackstar (2016)   

    For me, "Slip Away" is the highlight of Heathen. That said, I dig Reality's "Bring Me the Disco King" more than any track from Heathen, even if it is a much weaker album overall.
    In addition to "Blackstar," I was very impressed by Bowie's "Sue."
  2. Ryan H. added a post in a topic David Bowie - Blackstar (2016)   

    I'll take "Blackstar" over any single track on Outside, but only by a hair. Outside is definitely the standout Bowie album of the last thirty years.
  3. Ryan H. added a post in a topic David Bowie - Blackstar (2016)   

    This is the best thing Bowie's done in many decades. Truly awesome stuff.
  4. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Alien: Covenant (Was Alien: Paradise Lost / Prometheus 2)   

    I hate to admit it, but the premise for this film sounds cool.
  5. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Spectre (2015)   

    It's been a real delight to read through the series.
  6. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Spectre (2015)   

    On this we completely agree. It's one of the film’s rare grace notes, a brief moment of relief from the overplotted onslaught of the film’s two hours and thirty minutes. Bond soon saves her, and the plot machinery once again kicks into high-gear, but it’s the only moment in SPECTRE that has any humanity. This comes as a great disappointment, given that Mendes’ previous Bond outing, Skyfall, had a few more keenly-observed, human moments. But Skyfall was, plotwise, a much slighter picture, and it allowed for such breathing room. SPECTRE is much more over-burdened.
    The trajectory of the Daniel Crai era of Bond has painted Bond as a fundamentally tragic figure. Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall sees Bond as the product of a series of tragedies—the death of his parents, the death of Vesper, the death of M—all of which have hardened him into a killer and denied him a potentially more fulfilling life. SPECTRE attempts to offer Bond a happy ending of sorts, and in the story arc that Mendes sketched out with SPECTRE’s various screenwriters, Bond reckons with the ghosts of his childhood, of his great failed romance, and of the death of his mentor.
    Each of those ideas gets a subplot. Bond’s childhood is evoked in his conflict with Blofeld, here reimagined as Bond’s foster brother. Bond’s romance with Vesper finds an echo in his romance with Madeleine Swann. Bond further faces the ramifications of M’s death both by responding to her orders—delivered from beyond the grave—and by overcoming the sinister forces that seek to lay ruin to MI6 (the ruined façade of the old MI6 headquarters looms over many of the film’s sequences, a metaphorical reminder of M’s departure). That’s a lot of plot for any film, and the unfortunate thing is that the three strands each seem to choke the other out for attention.
    The Blofeld storyline has been structured around Bond’s recognition of his own past, but is carelessly written. Bond never expresses any genuine interest or concern about the connection (in fact, all the important beats of the mystery are indifferently tossed out as interludes between larger set-pieces). The opening title card boasts that “the dead are alive,” indicating that we might read SPECTRE as a ghost story, but there's little of that ethereal mood in the film itself. Additionally, in characterization, Blofeld feels confused: he’s every bit the traditional villain (Waltz feels like a combination of all the screen actors who have previously inhabited the role), but with a wholly extraneous origin story and motivation attached.
    The core romance with Madeleine Swann is little more than bullet points. Where previous Bond films, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale, took their romances seriously and attempted (at least in part) to structure the story around them, the romance here is relegated to a handful of too-brief scenes that cannot possibly carry the weight. It doesn’t help that Lea Seydoux and Daniel Craig do not have instantly-perceptible chemistry, so they are unable to fill in the gaps.
    The worst of the three storylines, involving the impending demise of old MI6 and the rise of a new surveillance state, lacks any tension or surprise, and largely plays out through very rote scenes involving the MI6 “home team” (M, Moneypenny, and Q). Bond somewhat comes into play during the film’s limp climax at the old MI6 headquarters, but he never feels intimately involved in the fight, even after Blofeld is revealed to be behind it all.
    Sam Mendes, working with editor Lee Smith, moves through all of this material relentlessly, to the point where none of it carries any weight. Even the action setpieces, with all their glorious stuntwork, fall flat (excluding the opening sequence, which is admittedly fun, even if it, too, is too-tightly edited). Given that Smith's other films--particularly his collaborations with Nolan--lack variety of editing rhythm and display a near-indifference to the dramatic undercurrents of scenes, I'm inclined to mostly blame him for this. Mendes' collaboration with Stuart Baird on Skyfall displayed a much keener attention to the performances and characters' internal tensions.
    The one element that remains absolutely impeccable is Craig himself. For the first time since the early sections of Casino Royale, SPECTRE allows Bond the freedom to enjoy himself, and Craig relishes the opportunity. If Craig does not return for Bond 25, SPECTRE has given us just enough of Craig to be satisfied.
  7. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Spectre (2015)   

    It's worth mentioning that Blofeld *was* C in an earlier draft. For those curious about the script development, here is my rundown:

  8. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Spectre (2015)   

    SPECTRE is the most middle-of-the-road Bond movie that has ever existed. Not many egregious low points, but no real high points, either.
    It's like a greatest hits album that's composed of so-so covers.
  9. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Ocean's Eleven: The Feboot   

  10. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Crimson Peak   

    Hah! I'm glad this thread helped me st realistic expectations so I knew what to focus on while watching it. Your review is totally on-the-mark.
    If I hadn't seen it in IMAX, I would have enjoyed it much less.
  11. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Crimson Peak   

    It was a genuine pleasure to meet Darryl. The experience was so positive, in fact, that it's encouraged me to redouble my efforts when A&F meet-up opportunities present themselves in the future; there have been a few opportunities in recent times that I didn't pursue (sometimes for legitimate reasons, but still), and now I deeply regret it.

    Perhaps it was the low expectations fostered by this thread, but I enjoyed Crimson Peak. As Darryl noted, IMAX really plays to its strengths; the lovingly-created production design really sparkles. Sure, the story is thin, and the climax seriously falters (I mean, honestly, all that "The Fall of the House of Usher"-style setup with the house sinking into the mud and your grand climax is a knife fight that concludes with a lame, action film-style quip?), but I derived enough pleasure from the Bavaesque lighting and the environment of Allerdale Hall that I got my money's worth.
  12. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Inspirational Horror   

    I can't join your club, Nick. I think that the novel is no great shakes, either, even though I like King in general. I'd put it and the film on even footing.
  13. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Inspirational Horror   

    My horror odyssey has been going well, though I'm finding I may have wrung all there is to wring out of some of the classics (I revisited The Shining the other day and found myself utterly bored). 
    On the other hand, my love is growing for certain films. Carpenter's The Fog is as splendid as ever.
    The first-time viewing I'm anticipating the most is Magic.
  14. Ryan H. added a post in a topic Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)   

    Loose thoughts:
    *Two things work really, really well: John Williams and Harrison Ford. Their contributions will carry the film, I expect.
    *The film is proving to be hyper-reliant on established STAR WARS imagery (desert planet, forest planet, ice planet, TIE fighters, X-Wings, Millennium Falcon, a quasi-Death Star). I hope the sequels give us some stuff that feels really new and exciting.
    *Baddie Kylo Ren looks weak sauce.
    *For all the promotional stuff about "physical effects," this is still CGI city, and the overall look is *very* contemporary and digital. Additionally, Abrams' dynamic camera movements are much more dramatic than has been the case with previous SW films.