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Timothy Zila

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  1. Am I the only one who thought this was great? Or that this is pretty clearly Ridley Scott's best film since Blade Runner (with the possible exception of Matchstick Men). Like others have mentioned, this film is considerably more explicit philosophically than No Country for Old Men, though very much in the same vein. The question of evil, which in No Country is explicitly framed by Tommy Lee Jones' opening and closing dialogue, is in almost every scene of The Counselor. And I, for one, loved it. I have a feeling there's a lot to get out of this film, especially with repeat viewings (notice, for example, the use of words like "God" and "Jesus" as quiet expletives when the characters find their plans being shattered. In most films, the usage feels casual, where in The Counselor it feels absolutely deliberate and even eerie). For what it's worth, I feel like any issues to be had with the film are mostly issues with McCarthy's script - which I loved, but there are certainly things one can take issue with. And Cameron Diaz' acting. There's always that. What about Fassbender, though? Before this film I would have never imagined him as a quiet spoken Texan, but he absolutely inhabits the material. His performance seems like real Best Actor material, though I doubt he'll be recognized. And Diaz' final speech, despite her less than excellent delivery, makes a nice addition to Alien, doesn't it?
  2. Everything I've seen, and the screenplay excerpt published in The New Yorker, has me excited. But you guys are right that there's a lack of buzz. In its much more modest way, it feels a little like John Carter. Blame it on the marketing and the fickle public. I almost wonder if McCarthy required some kind of contractual embargo (barring all early reviews, etc.) when he sold the script. Given his reclusive nature, I almost wouldn't be surprised.
  3. I'm in total agreement with you, Anders. I do, however, think there's a difference between saying Malick has a loose and improvisational style and saying "he has become increasingly poor at organizing his thoughts and ideas." I'm in total agreement with the former statement; I respectfully disagree with the second. On something of this note, it strikes me as somewhat unhelpful to say that Malick has moved away from traditional narrative. That's true, of course, but it also doesn't seem particularly helpful. It seems, to me, that Malick stages scenes and sequences much more like, say, Pina staged dances while she was alive. Through a combination of improvisation and extensive editing, Malick makes his scenes dances - the actors (and the camera) circle round and round, rather than hitting their marks and saying their lines. It's more like jazz, to use Ander's comparison. But none of that, to me, indicates disorganization. What we see in Malick is as purposeful, deliberate, and choreographed as Pina's dance. It's just a different style and approach.
  4. Amen, Jeffrey. Amen. Would it be fair to say that Malick's style is moving towards a somewhat stream of consciousness style of filmmakking. I don't mean that entirely literally, but as I think about it seems that the way Malick directs his thoughts is pretty familiar to say, the way Virginia Woolf constructs sentences in Mrs. Dalloway. To say Malick "has become increasingly poor at organizing his thoughts and ideas" is, I think, to miss the point entirely. If you don't like it, fine, that's understandable, but it's not because of a failure on Malick's part to achieve his goal. I'm with Jeffrey: what we see in Malick isn't disorganized chaos. It's deliberate and purposeful, whether you can get with it or not (I sometimes can't).
  5. Some good points, but I think these comments are more valuable as 'descriptive' rather than 'prescriptive' (or prohibitive) notes. And the idea that "sequences, or anything resembling them, are jettisoned in the two latest films" is BS. The Tree of Life doesn't have SEQUENCES? (I can name, quickly and without really pausing to think: the Creation sequence, the sequence where the children walk by criminals and cripples on the street, the funeral sequence, the sequence where the group of boys vandalizes the neighborhood, the sequence where the brothers ride their bikes to the forest, etc. etc. etc.) Dear God. Based on the way he talks about it, you'd think Malick's work is nothing but a random collage of images.
  6. Timothy Zila

    Fight Club

    I'm not familiar enough with Fincher's work to make any sweeping claim, but I'm not bothered with it in general. Social Network is a fine film. I thought The Curious Case of Benjamin Button a rather mediocre film that claimed to have access to some kind of significance that it doesn't actually have (much, in a very different way, like Fight Club). Se7en, The Game, and Zodiac have been on my "To Watch" list for a while, but I haven't gotten around to them. To clarify a little, I don't entirely agree with Ebert. For example, I find his claims regarding the film's level of violence a tad hyperbolic, to say the least. Nothing about the film's violence really _bothered_ me. If anything, it seems a pretty tame movie compared to what, say, Tarantino tends to give us (and I love most of Tarantino's films). I guess what I'll say is this: your analysis of the way the film sets up a counter-cultural hero and then pulls the rug out from under it is all fine and dandy, as things go. The thing is though, for me (and yeah, your mileage may vary), it just doesn't work. I also have a feeling that Fight Club is one of those films that starts to feel disingenuous after a while. How many twists can a two and a half hour film sustain before you stop trusting the director? That, I guess, was my biggest problem with the film. As a bit of counter-culture, I thought the film had the potential to say something actually meaningful, or interesting, about society and social-control, and how something like a "Fight Club" might infuse our lives with some sense of meaning. I liked the fact that the film asks us to think about just what masculinity is (though, as Ebert notes, this notion of masculinity is rather adolescent). So, to "pull the rug" under without offering any particularly meaningful critique of what has come before seems, to me, the very definition of artifice. Also: as an aside, I certainly can't defend all of Lars von Trier, but he's made films I find exponentially more meaningful than Fight Club. Even when his work is repulsive, his work has an 'honesty' to it than Fincher,in Fight Club, just doesn't. I know Jeffrey's described some of von Trier's work as "audience torture" (for which he is, doubtless, sometimes guilty), but it's at least audience torture of a more ANGUISHED sort than Fincher's commercialized vision. I mean, for goodness sake, this is what, a seventy million dollar movie? Here, a Kierkegaard quote strikes me as being applicable: "Of course, a critic resembles a poet to a hair, except he has no anguish in his heart, no music on his lips." Who, between Fincher and Lars Von Trier is the critic? Who's the poet? The choice, to me, seems crystal clear.
  7. Timothy Zila

    Fight Club

    I finally saw this today. The film, in the end, is such a self-indulgent mess it's not worth my time to say much of anything about it. I think Ebert pretty much nailed it, though. Which is a shame, really. I loved the first act - there's brilliance there. And there's great direction, acting, and humor throughout. But the film goes from being absolutely brilliant to being absolutely atrocious in the course of its running time.
  8. I saw the film today. It's exquisite. The phrase that comes to mind, when trying to describe the film, is "a really good melodrama." Because it is that, a melodrama, but also a convincing one. It shares a lot in common with both To the Wonder and Upstream Color, though I'm inclined to say that, as a film, it's better than both of those (as much as I love Carruth and think he has the potential to become a great director). There's a lot to discuss, really, but has anyone seen it?
  9. Well, the initial reviews aren't good. Is it getting too late to hope for another Gilliam masterpiece on the level of Brazil?
  10. Yes. I agree on the distinction between the two - Cuaron uses long shots, but there's some stitching of 'takes' using CGI.
  11. Am I the only one who thought this was, well, sort of fantastic? Props to Peter for pointing out some logic-problems with the film's world building, but those questions are secondary (at least for me) to how the film worked, as a film. And as a film, I thought Elysium was pretty top notch. Coming after the mixed reviews, I was expecting to be disappointed, but I wasn't . . . at all. Especially compared to the current crop of films in theaters, I thought Elysium was working at an entirely different level than, say, Pacific Rim or Wolverine (both of which I liked, and were a good deal better than most of this summer's films). For one, there's the absolutely fantastic production design. There's moments of real beauty and grandeur here. The shots of the ships shuttling from earth to Elysium have a sort of realism to them that puts, say, Star Trek to shame. (Elysium is also much closer, for all its problems, to hard sci-fi than anything else this summer). I also found the 'South African' touch here really fascinating. There's almost a suggestion, at the end of the film, of some kind of shared history between Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley's character. Also, Sharlto Copley! His villain here is almost good, in his own way, as Cumberbatch is in Into Darkness. He almost gives off the feeling of an African warlord. Does Elysium say anything really meaningful about immigration or wealth disparity? Probably not. But, at least for my money, does it deal dramatically with those issues better than most movies (The Dark Knight Rises first among them). More than anything, Elysium is _convincing_ in a sort of fundamental way that Oblivion (which one reviewer, ridiculously in my opinion, compared this to) just isn't. That has more to do with a weighty sense of production design than it does to logic, in my opinion. (I too, had problems with the way Elysium citizens are magically 'scanned' and 'fixed' by machines - but that didn't undermine the otherwise extremely convincing sense of realism in relation to the production design and other elements).
  12. I have a really hard time believing that. I mean, did anyone see Oblivion? It's pretty hard to be worse than that.
  13. Seeing this tomorrow. No doubt I'll enjoy it. This has been my most anticipated summer film. Del Toro does everything with passion and love, and I have no doubt the result will be a good more invigorating, or at least genuinely fun, than say Man of Steel.
  14. I've been on something of a noir kick lately. I'm reading Raymond Chandler, I watched Chinatown a couple nights ago. Any good recommendations? My obscure recommendation is Farewell, My Love. It's mid-seventies, in color and with voice-over, and stars Mitchum in the title role. It's hard to find but it's a great film - I saw it at a noir festival a year ago and it's stuck with me. Hoping to rediscover it via video soon.
  15. Hey guys, I'm up for any del Toro, Kaufman collaboration. And I'd personally love to see Kaufman tackle Slaughterhouse-five.
  16. I just want to put this out there: Superman Returns is my favorite superhero movie, period. And that film is so much more interesting and has so much more going on than Man of Steel. All I could think about during the last half hour of The Avengers was this:
  17. I admired Lost in Translation but wasn't swept away by it. I've seen none of the others. Oh dear. Steven, I hope you'll get around to the others. Her career so far is, for me, incredibly interesting. I love The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, I admire Marie Antoinette, and the more I think about Somewhere the more I like it. I need to see The Bling Ring. Expect to be disappointed. I sure was. It's nothing like Lost in Translation or Somewhere. It has almost none of the quality of her best work, in my opinion. (And this is as someone who went in really excited for the film).
  18. This one didn't do much for me. It feels like Coppola's least personal film by miles (something I wouldn't say about any of other films). All the comments about the objectivity here are right on: Coppola doesn't offer much in the way of condemnation (which is where I'd have to disagree with some of what James writes in his post), but she also doesn't revel in it. The result, I have to admit, is kind of tepid. The character's here are boring - as flat, cheap, uninteresting, and repetitive as the robberies they're committing. Half the film feels like shots of young women browsing through endless mirrored closets full of purses, shoes, and clothes. This is a long way from Somewhere, in other words. Hell, I'd say Spring Breakers is probably twice as interesting and insightful as this - which tells you just how much of a disappointment it is.
  19. Fair enough, I suppose. But to my mind, Singer's never done anything half as good as The Iron Giant or Ratatouille. Hell, even Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Bird's most lightweight flick) is better than most of what Singer has done. All of which is to say: as much as I would have liked Bird to direct Star War, I have a lot more trust in him than I do in Singer.
  20. Yeah, Ender 'saves the world,' but he doesn't know what he's doing. That doesn't seem to be the case here. At least based on the trailer, Ender seems to be aware of his 'messianic' status, and participates with it in a much more immediately violent, less strategical level.. If that's not a betrayal of the book then I don't know what is.
  21. I have to say, all in all this looks pretty bad. I started reading the novel last night, and I can definitely hear Graff'snlines read by Harrison Ford. So at least there's that . . . but pretty much only that. If the trailers are anything to go by, they're turning Ender's Game into a generic 'save the world' sci-fi flick, rather than the the rather involved, philosophical novel it is.
  22. I saw the film tonight (and am planning on seeing it again Saturday, if I get a chance). Some initial thoughts: I like the move Carruth's made here. While Primer has elements of a lot of Nolan's work (in that, most of the 'work' the viewer does simply goes into making sense of the plot), Upstream Color is a really strong move toward filmmaking that's more overtly philosophical. it's about character and meaning - not about making sense of the plot. Though, to my mind (and after only one viewing), I think Upstream Color's 'plot' is probably a good deal more 'parse-able' than Primer Does anyone else think "what is that sound?" would be a good title for a good part of the middle-section of the film. To me, Upstream Color very much seems like an invitation to look and listen. What is that sound that Kris can hear that Jeff can't? A lot of Upstream Color is about paying attention to the things you normally wouldn't. The way a rock dropped against a metal underpass sounds, etc. What about looking at the film as something like an aesthetic search for the 'god-particle.' While watching the film I, like some others, thought of Wings of Desire. Oh, and also: what are we to make about the death of god here? Edit: In response to Jeff: I just saw Stalker in theaters a week or two ago (and I watched Solaris this past weekend). That's an excellent comparison for the kind of thing Carruth's trying here, I think. What a film Stalker is, too. I can't think of another film I've seen recently that's so deeply concerned with God, spirituality, metaphysics and our culture's (both Tarkovsky's and our own) general disregard for those things. Stalker, to me, is structured on a narrative level as a pilgrimage. Which poses an interesting question. What, if anything, is Upstream Color structured as? The film seems to have a lot of the same core concern for spirituality, nature, etc. that Stalker does, but I didn't immediately detect any structural meaning at hand.
  23. Am I the only one that thinks The Terminal is one of Spielberg's masterpieces? I've seen it half a dozen times and I still love it. For what it is, it seems to me an achievement on par with Lincoln (I know this is going to get me some flack) - a beautifully restrained film where Spielberg drops hubris and contents himself to tell a simple story about a man. The subject matter is a good deal less 'grand' and fraught than with Lincoln, but that doesn't make it any less of a film (FWIW, I think it might actually be a better film - it certainly doesn't have some of the flaws Lincoln does). FWIW, it also has one of William's best scores, one that brings out shades of Williams capabilities that he has rarely capitalized on.
  24. Since I couldn't find an individual thread on Blood Simple (and since this post involves the Coen brothers in general anyway), I thought I'd post this here: After watching Blood Simple for the first time tonight (which I loved, btw), I realized something I'd never realized before - namely, the extent to which the Coen brothers movies point at the larger corruption and violence that lies behind capitalism and the exchange of money. Blood Simple, with an opening narration that mentions Russia and communism (a point that is brought up, I think, only once more in the rest of the film), and contrasts that with Texas ("in Texas, you're all on your own"), seems to rather explicitly draw a connection between capitalism and blood. Of course, it's not that the film is advocating communism or anything like that (in the words of the narration, communism is supposed to be for the good of everyone "in theory"), but it is interesting how the Coen brothers films bring attention to aspects of capitalism that we don't like to look at (e.g., the drug cartels in No Country for Old Men, and the extent to which that need is created and mediated by American capitalism). Any thoughts? I haven't seen every Coen brother movie, so I'm sure there's a lot more to be made of this.
  25. True enough. But for my money, I much prefer the way Man of Steel is putting "everything on the line" to, say, the way Avengers tackles the same problem -- that is, with a ridiculous, CGI cut-scene-esque battle scene in a generic, New York-ish city. Man of Steel clearly posits a 'metaphysical' importance (if you will) to what is happening, whereas The Avengers (despite Wheedon's wit) is first and foremost a huge exercise in spectacle and money-making with no substance.
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