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Jeremy Ratzlaff

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Everything posted by Jeremy Ratzlaff

  1. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Transcendence

    Since when are Inception and Space Odyssey in the same vein..?
  2. I can easily see a prequel to the Bughuul story. Also, I almost walked out in the middle, because I swear to God the image of Bughuul awakened a childhood nightmare of my own. I was genuinely terrified. So uh, congrats Mr. Derrickson.
  3. My list would basically be comprised entirely of P.T. Anderson, Fincher and Kieslowski. Oh, with an honorable mention to Weir.
  4. Thread bump. This is my new favorite website, and I'm glad it's being used by other A&Fers. I wasn't sure what to do with it initially, but then discovered that you could directly import your IMDb lists, saving the time and effort it would take to collect all your films from scratch. Now, it's a way for me to post brief, personal reviews for every movie I watch, allowing for past reflection as my artistic taste continues to evolve down the road. Who knows: maybe it'll even be useful for its social networking aspect, if I ever find people willing to take such a place seriously!
  5. I'm pretty much with the general consensus on this one. ARGO consistently felt like it could be more then a typical rescue mission thriller, but never really was. And the fact that it tries so hard to confirm its historical authenticity (the credit 'behind the scenes' bonuses and what-not) is rather off-putting, I found.
  6. Count me in as an avid admirer also. Everything about this film felt so refreshingly original and fun. I'm looking forward to picking up the DVD.
  7. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Melancholia

    I think the key for me was understanding the planet itself. Why does it seem so alive, magnificent and even glorious in nature? Claire says to her husband, "It looks friendly." And as it grows closer, the film itself seems to grow more graceful. We, as the audience, are never scared or intimidated by it, nor are we supposed to be. This is no red, fiery, explosive planet of doom; it's a blue, serene and gentle planet that even looks as though it could support life of its own (now THERE'S an interesting thought). Two other movie scenes came to mind as I watched the final scene of MELANCHOLIA. One being the penultimate scene of KNOWING (my 'guilty pleasure' film), as Nick Cage embraces his family during earth's last moments, and his dad reassures him, "This isn't the end." Nick responds, "I know." They are then swept away by a similar apocalyptic destruction. The other scene that came to mind was the final scene of INTO THE WILD. As Alex gasps his dying breaths, he looks up at the sky and in that moment, the sun shines through the clouds and a smile appears on his face. No word is spoken, and yet it's one of the most blatantly redemptive conclusions I've ever seen. MELANCHOLIA's final scene unfolded with similar magnificence. I watched it twice, then a third time, paying close attention to the character's faces faces. Claire is doing her best to stay brave, yet she breaks down into sobs at the end. She's tried so hard to cling to hope, only finally realizing that it's all been in vain. Justine is simply calm, because of course she's resolved that earth is evil and nobody will miss it. But wait, she seems to be puzzling something out in her head. She looks at Claire, then at Leo, who is strangely lost in a sort of meditative peace. Then a smile pushes the corners of her mouth, probably the first smile we've seen from her since the beginning. She understands something. She closes her eyes, and the oh-so-glorious color of blue washes over everything, overwhelming all the fear and doubt, delivering the final word to life and our experience of it. Understanding the nature of the planet is the key to understanding any kind of bigger purpose: a greater meaning beyond the depression. In the face of the increasingly growing blue planet, Justine's little pout about the meaninglessness of life seems insignificant and trivial. Her apparent clairvoyance, which is only ever mentioned once, seems even silly. I don't think Justine has the final say in the film. Melancholia does. I sound like I'm reaching, but I guess when it comes down to it, it's simply something I 'felt'. A combination of the colors, the music, and the reminiscent echos of those other, similar scenes washed over me with such a sense of hope and peace. I won't pretend to know why.. it just did.
  8. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Melancholia

    I noticed this right away. For me, though, Hole 19 seemed to jump out proclaiming, "There is more. Hole 18 isn't the end, after all." I had avoided this film until now because I had decided awhile ago to simply avoid von Trier, but eventually I gave in and sat down to watch the one I felt like I might be able to appreciate the most. And I did appreciate it. It was an odd experience, actually, because usually I go into films prepared to seek out the redemptive message. With MELENCHOLIA, I expected a meaningless conclusion, but instead the redemptive tone of the film seemed to overwhelm Justine's nihilistic perspective. It was the colors. The first half is almost distractedly yellow and bleak. As the second half progresses, the overall feel of the film becomes warm and serene, and very, very blue. And if I've learned anything from THREE COLORS: BLUE, it's that blue is a color of grace and hope. For me, the final scene seemed to utterly overwhelm every single hopeless utterance from the mouths of the discouraged and confused characters. Just as the existence of Hole 19 proves that there is more then John and all his scientific thinking can even realize, the 'magic cave' scene seems to prove that melancholia -- and indeed, Melancholia -- rings with a final note of transcendent hope.
  9. So, it took me a third viewing to finally catch a lot of the thematic symbolism that reviewers like Jeffrey Overstreet and Craig Detweiler managed to peg on initial observation. I hope that I either learn to become better at film criticism, or simply stop caring for everything to 'make sense'. (Even though it always seems so rewarding when an analogy 'pops out'!) One thing that still puzzles me. The Slow Boat to China moment. Christopher Lake, I would love to hear your 'strong thoughts' concerning this scene. Many of the reviewers I've read seem to understand it some sort of subtle confirmation to the homosexual overtones that I myself don't see taking place anywhere, and I really find it hard to believe that it would be anything so *obvious* as that. No, there was something of a profound statement in the way Dodd delivers the song to Freddie, as well as Freddie's reaction, indicating that Dodd is not singing to him but for him. For his benefit. Almost as a sort of parting gift; "This is the final advise I want to leave you to think about. I'm going to communicate it through song." Almost as if Anderson himself wanted to give a last parting note of catharsis concerning the film's central relationship, even though the ensuing scenes indicate that Freddie chose to leave and be done with it all. It simply can't be something as disappointingly shallow as a confession of homosexual attraction. Nicholas, thanks for the review! It's incredibly enlightening!
  10. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Finding Nemo

    ...but not outside the US.
  11. Just got back from my second viewing. It was almost scary how I found myself making completely different observations about many of the same things. I cannot stress how absolutely essential it is to watch films like this more than once before making any kind of judgements. I think I was somehow more disturbed with Freddie's character then I was the first time. His compulsive animal behavior is relentlessly shoved in our faces, as if the movie is constantly screaming "F@#K YOU!" like both Freddie and Dodd scream at each other in the jail cells. I think that might have actually been one of the most profound scenes for me. It seemed to illustrate that Dodd, despite all his sophistication and stature, is really of the same animal nature as Freddie. In exercising the same compulsive anger, Dodd unfortunately reveals his religious ideals to be a self-deceptive hoax. I don't believe he was making up The Cause to deceive others as much as he was building an appealing religion in order to deceive himself; to convince himself that "man is not apart of the animal kingdom", while the film seems to be telling us the contrary. If it weren't for the few threads of redemption that seem to be weaved into the story, I would probably write this off as a bleak and hopeless pile of manure, Anderson fanboy or not. But maybe it's because I'm an Anderson fanboy that I know to look for the same redemptive themes that come across so strongly in Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love. The Master is obviously quite a bit more difficult, but it's those reoccurring spliced-in scenes: The ocean wake. The sand woman. And that one cut-away during the wall/window exercise where Freddie is trying to rebuild the sand woman, only to have it washed away by the ocean wake. These shots are trying to communicate something. I wish I was a lot better at pinpointing metaphorical symbolism in cinematography, but alas, hopefully someone from here can help me out. Because I'm really finding it hard to believe that Freddie's final sex scene is anything special or profound. If anything, that scene appears to be saying "screw character development, here's proof that Freddie hasn't changed at all, just in case you were thinking otherwise." I'm more interested in understanding the final shot. What did the sand woman mean to him in that bizarre moment of affection? Is it Doris? Does she somehow represent the only ounce of saving grace in this movie? I know I'm like.. really behind on any of the conversation. Maybe I'll just go and read all the reviews that I haven't been reading for some reason.
  12. I finally had a chance to watch this as part of a spontaneous double feature last night along with Looper, which I was somewhat hesitant about at first, not wanting to dilute either film experience by watching them back-to-back like that... but needless to say, when I awoke this morning it was The Master that was replaying itself through my head. I was engrossed entirely throughout the whole thing. I hadn't been great at staying away from reviews, so I think subconsciously I kept waiting for that 'slower second half' of the film.. but I never really noticed it, because it never seemed to slow down too much for me. Looking back on it now, I can see how the pacing of the film may be perceived as awkward; it does seem as though the 'big' scenes are more towards the beginning, with nothing near the end to quite match up. It definitely didn't have anything like the grand finale of There Will Be Blood. But I enjoyed it. It felt a whole lot more redemptive than TWBB, even though there really was no moral center present.. I think the characters manage to scramble their way along just enough to find some redemption on their own, even if it is only 'laughter' that they understand for now. That's a good start. Still, I miss the unmistakable and explicitly redemptive ending of Magnolia. I can only hope PTA returns there one day. Although this film shares similar threads with every single one of PTA's films, I found myself reflecting back more on Boogie Nights than anything else. Maybe it was the sexual obsession. The makeshift family that nobody on the outside seems to understand. The confused protagonist who returns to his 'adoptive' father after he realizes he needed something that his father figure had to offer. And both films seem to find concluding catharsis in some form of sexual identity. I'm still not sure what to make of the ending of The Master.. I didn't like it at first, and my mind has been trying to justify some sort of redemptive reasoning to it, whether it's the laughter or the lightening of the mood or something else.. but maybe I just don't like it.
  13. This assertion pretty much applies to all of Anderson's films, Magnolia in particular. "I wanted to put this epic spin on topics that don't necessarily get the epic treatment." That's what I love about Anderson's direction. His ability to draw you into the most corrupt, unique, and objectively uninteresting character dilemmas and have you care deeply about them. I can't wait to see The Master.
  14. It's probably been an interesting balance for Jackson.. because the book itself is so much more lighthearted and 'fun' when compared to the later depth found in the Lord of the Rings books, yet the studio is probably pushing to market this as a 'sequel' and there's a high standard of expectation for the Hobbit to be as large-scale and 'epic' as the Lord of the Rings was. And given all the rumors regarding everything Jackson has done with the Return of the King appendixes and Gandalf's character, I fear that this new trilogy will spend far more time trying to tie itself into the Lord of the Rings cannon and less time letting itself simply be the fun, exciting stand-alone that it was originally written to be. Still excited for it, though.
  15. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Finding Nemo

    Working at a theater, it's become very apparent to me that the majority of people simply dislike 3D. And many of those who may not mind 3D dislike the high ticket price. The rest will tolerate it passively ("oh, it's in 3D? I didn't even realize that. Oh well."), and only a very small minority will actually shell out the extra money so they can don their dark glasses with pride. So it really doesn't surprise me at all that Finding Nemo had a relatively small opening weekend. People who went back to see The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast weren't those who wanted to see it in 3D, it was those who wanted to see it re-released on the big screen. Finding Nemo, on the other hand, is a relatively recent release. Many of the younger generation who were willing to pay the high ticket price to see the early 1990s films that they didn't have a chance to see on their original release probably DID have the chance to see Nemo during its original release. The whole 3D aspect simply doesn't play nearly as much of a factor as the film industry would like it to play.
  16. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Finding Nemo

    I used to own Finding Nemo on VHS. Then I watched it twenty thousand times, and I'm not sure if I can even enjoy it anymore.. I found out that it IS possible to overplay a film, no matter how great it is. I am going to see it on the big screen though. And who knows.. the 3D might even be worth the ticket price!
  17. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Ruby Sparks

    What a fantastic film! It came to the theater I work at, and after watching the trailer, I went in expecting a fun romantic comedy or something.. but ended up being struck by its.. honesty. It still retains somewhat of a fairy tale feel, especially during the last scene, yet there are moments that become so dark and uncomfortable that I was thrown back to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for all its authentic introspection. Darrel, I love your review. That moment at the typewriter struck me with the same revelation (though I didn't make the connection with Calvin's name), and it was mesmerizing.
  18. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Savages (2012)

    There was a novel? Why is there always a novel? Anyway, I hated this film. I think the only reason I went to see it because the 'artsy' poster made it look like it would something along the lines of Tree of Life or Babel. Time to start looking into films more carefully before I spend my money on them.
  19. I haven't read many other reviews or even really thought much about it up until this point, but I finally had a chance to watch it recently and -- without expectations of any kind -- found it enjoyable but, as previously noted, forgettable. I was mostly bothered by the fact that the movie was clearly trying so hard to be a loyal adaptation that it hardly felt like a film, because I felt like I was constantly being reminded that what I was watching was originally a novel aimed at young adults, and my mind was constantly trying to work out whatever 'gaps' must have been left behind for the sake of a film adaptation. So, I guess there's not very much to appreciate about this film unless you're already familiar with the story via the books. Which I'm not overly concerned to start reading any time soon.
  20. I live in Canada as well, so my hopes of seeing this film in the near future were very low.. until I started browsing my local movie store just trying to kill some time and stumbled upon a single copy of the DVD by sheer accident. My heart almost stopped from surprised excitement. Incredibly, on the next shelf over sat a copy of The Mill and the Cross. Thank God for Mongrel Media's distribution. I really enjoyed Blue Like Jazz. It's probably not one I would quickly recommend to everyone I meet ("omg you guys, this movie is a 'Christian' movie that doesn't suck!"), because it does immediately come off as amateurishly earnest and slightly naive. But being previously educated as I was in light of the controversy and reviews, and having a good idea what to expect from Steve Taylor, my expectations were ideally matched. Even surpassed, to my pleasant surprise. I proudly add this film to collection, and look forward to Steve's future endeavors!
  21. Jeremy Ratzlaff

    Looper (2012)

    I stopped trying to 'figure out' time travel movies a long time ago. I just willingly accept the paradoxes and enjoy the flick. Concept films hold little interest for me.. which is why I have a hard time appreciating Twelve Monkeys or Primer, which seem to be far more focused on unraveling an intricately coherent plot structure with as few plot holes as possible (although as far as I can tell, there will always be plot holes). Accepting the concept of time travel is to suspend your belief to at least some extent, which is why I prefer Donnie Darko, which allows me to simply accept the paradoxes without insisting that everything make sense, allowing me to focus on Donnie's spiritual journey. From what I can tell, Looper looks primarily focused on JGL vs. his older self and the philosophical implications of that concept, and less concerned with the time travel system itself.. which is why I'm looking forward to it. ..also, I dislike the trend of dubstep in movie trailers. >_>
  22. Carl's unlikely fatherly role in Pixar's Up is quite endearing, although perhaps not what you're looking for the the category of actual fathers fulfilling their roles. It certainly holds strongly to a high standard for father-son relationships, as we see Carl slowly learning that Russell has become the child he could never have, and embracing that role.
  23. Ooh, great thread. Permit me to revive it! I'm still fairly young to have watched films in excessive amounts over multiple years, but I can foresee myself shattering triple digits on some of my favorites. As a rule, if a film resonated with me in any way (so like 50% of the films I see), I will revisit it immediately. By the end of the second viewing I'm able to tell if I've uncovered a treasure, which guarantees three or four more immediate viewings as I unveil my 'discovery' to friends, family, and whoever else is willing to sit down and experience it with me. I love repeated viewings. That being said, at the top of my list is Donnie Darko. ​It was the very first film that opened my eyes to the spiritual transcendence accessible in art, back when I was.. seventeen.. and it's become solidified as an all-time favorite because of its dramatic long-term effect on my entire worldview. I probably revisit it once a month or so. Though I sometimes worry if a film really can 'wear out'. I was young when Finding Nemo came out, and I remember watching until I was sick of it. Recently my obsessions have included Amadeus, Magnolia, Tree of Life and Seven. Each of those have been viewed at least 5-10 times, with plenty more repeated viewings in the near foreseeable future. Perhaps it's my adolescent eagerness that would rather sit down with a familiar film again and again rather than watch new ones. I hope I haven't 'ruined' the 'effects' of these films by the time I'm thirty!
  24. IMHO, I still believe 'dainty' - charged with emotional distress - suits the character more than otherwise. But agreed with the general consensus: Hathaway was probably far from the ideal choice. Has Tom Hooper given any insight into his casting methods for this film? Was he looking for actors first, talented voices second?
  25. I disagree. Hathaway's voice isn't terrible by any standard, and the emotional vulnerability in her pitch sent more shivers down my spine than would have if her voice had been substantially perfect. Perhaps not for musical theater, but for film such 'weaknesses' can become strengths.
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