StephenM

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  1. This came to my local community-sponsored art movie program last week, and I was all excited to go. But then I got there and realized I had to pay in cash and hadn't brought any with me. I had to park 10 minutes walk away, and I was on the campus of a university closed for the summer and the weekend, so there were no ATMs anywhere nearby. I wandered around for awhile looking, but the movie had already started, and at best I would have missed the whole first act, so I ended up just going home. Guess I'll have to wait for home viewing.
  2. I don't have much to add, except that this is clearly the cinematic event of the summer, and probably the year. It's clearly not for everyone, yet I really feel like any cinephile who isn't watching is really missing out.
  3. I saw that article, too, and thought it was terrible! They get a literature professor to review the movie in one the 2-3 most important book review publications in the country, and she barely acknowledges the movie is even based on a book?? Not only has she not read the book, she doesn't appear to have done any other research on the story or its historical background, adding in all sorts of assertions about colonialism that have very little to do with the movie. If she had a real historical knowledge of the period and was critiquing both film and novel on their depiction of historical colonial and missionary activity, that would be one thing, but she makes all sorts of assumptions and anachronistic assertions that tell you she doesn't know what she's talking about. She talks as if the priests were sent by the Portuguese political authorities. Is Kichijiro really treated as a "running joke"? Were the priests really thinking about their own "whiteness," and was their any "homoeroticism" about Rodrigues's "attachment to his fellow priests"? More offensive is this sentence and the points that follow it: "Scorsese thus attempts to give Catholicism a philosophical gravity that its flattened popular versions often lack." Because Catholicism doesn't have any natural philosophical gravity built on 2000 years of thought/debate/theological structuring (fed by several of the greatest minds the world has ever seen) and laying the foundation for the Western intellectual tradition which she is writing from/within or anything. (I am confused on the Son/Sun thing, though--some quick Googling suggests that Francis Xavier had problems because the Japanese names for the Christian God got confused with first a Buddhist deity, then with a word for "big lie." Is the Son/Sun thing just an English translation of that? Because that would be a weird and unnecessary dumbing-down that you would think the translator could more easily explain with a footnote or something.)
  4. Saw it on Sunday night. Liked it quite a bit. Doubt anyone not already on board with the series will like it at all, though. As Ryan H. said, the cutting here went absolutely insane. Anderson brought in the guy who cut the Crank movies, and then cut up every fight scene into a million pieces going about as fast the human eye is capable of following. This is in sharp contrast to the other movies in the series, especially the last two, which have remarkably clean, clearly defined action. I hated it at first, and I didn't exactly like it by the end, but eventually I felt like there might be a strategy to it. 1. The movie as a whole is clearly indebted to Mad Max: Fury Road, and the cutting here resembled a few of the sped-up sequences there. 2. The action sequences did appear to be blocked in a coherent way, and the shots all showed different angles on the action clearly, even if they went by in split seconds (the camera here wasn't shaking documentary style or anything). 3. The movie just had so much stuff to get through that speeding it up like that might have been the only option to get it in under 2 hours (it's still by far the longest in the series). Anyway, as an overall story it was actually pretty satisfying. It put all the focus on Alice (and a little on the villains), not on the expendable side characters which never have much personality anyway, and gave her character a real emotional fulfillment and ending, which means that it was probably the most dramatically compelling movie in the series. It also had some religious elements to it: Ian Glen's character (or one of them, anyway) turns out to be an evil religious fanatic--which had never been part of the series before. It's a tired trope, but it kinda worked within the almost Medieval framework of the film (dragons, castles, etc.). He (or another him) also makes the argument that causing an apocalypse and restarting the world with a chosen few worked before with Noah and the Flood, justifying this movie's apocalypse. It's terrible logic, and giving the only religious views in the movie (series?) to villains like this is pretty offensive and stupid, but it does end up putting the villain in a situation of falsely playing God, meaning defeating him is more like defeating the Antichrist than an actually religious or Christlike figure. In fact, Alice herself is given more of a Christlike, sacrificial role, and the whole film seems structured like the testing of a saint or something (which fits in with the Medieval stuff again). Sean Gilman (a terrific blogger and an authority on modern Asian cinema) takes this significantly further than I would here:
  5. @Peter T Chattaway I haven't read through the whole article yet, but apparently Film Crit Hulk agrees with you on that voiceover. Here's the relevant paragraph {SPOILERS AHEAD}: Whole thing here.
  6. I found this incredibly moving. Second most-moving film of the year, for me, after Silence. There's probably some personal qualities that make it so powerful for me--I know what crippling guilt and depression feels like, though thankfully not for anything all that bad comparatively, and I know the pain of trying to put right something that it's too late to fix. I found the Tom Hardy film Locke an incredibly moving film for similar reasons. Nevertheless, I confess I don't really understand Darren's objections to the film at all. They seem to ignore all the little details of place, class, culture, and character that make this film so authentic and insightful. And I did not sense any hint of amateurishness in the directing or editing of the film--indeed, I was struck by it's confidence, smoothness, and sense of mastery. Am the shots of snow-covered sidewalks and rooftops, the quiet choral music, that felt just perfect to me, though I've heard a couple others object as well. The one bum note was that Matthew Broderick scene, which was just kind of terrible. Where everything else had felt so authentic, even when the characters were awkward or uncomfortable, that scene felt awkwardly written/acted/directed. It played into certain stereotypes of evangelicals that are not totally false, but as presented here come off as clangingly inaccurate, and rather mean. But its overall placement in the narrative and thematic importance worked well enough, so I didn't feel it hurt the movie unduly. And that dialogue exchange between Patrick and Lee, where Lee defensively points out to Patrick that "we're Christian, too"--that line has layers and layers of implications, both in personal motives and cultural tensions. Anyway, I really liked this movie.
  7. That looks deeply unpleasant.
  8. @Joel Mayward That's weird. I don't know what you're picking up on, but I thought it had one of the best sound designs of the year, and I read a couple other reviews that thought so, too. If there is an issue, I'm sure they can fix it on the Blu-Ray if they're aware of it. I thought this movie was incredible. Probably the movie of the year for me. I just saw it Wednesday night, and I'm already reading the book as well. It's interesting so far, because while the movie was more immersive than the book's early chapters, the efforts Endo goes to to recreate the historical perspectives of the characters really pays off. There seems to be a much clearer sense of the language and cultural barrier between the priests and the Japanese, and a subtle, unconscious, but clear sense of superiority that the priests have over the peasants. This complicates things more than I was aware in the film, at least in the first 45 minutes or so. I find it interesting that those non-Christians who praise the film--the people at Reverse Shot, for instance--seem so eager to point out the distance we supposedly have from Rodrigues, and how critical of him we should be. While watching, I was identifying with him very closely, imagining my own reactions in his position. Scorsese nearly always pours himself into his lead characters; their pain becomes his, their evil and their tragedy are made real to us by the way he looks through their eyes. I suspect Scorsese has made the story more intimate and immediate than Endo presents it in the novel, though I cannot say for sure yet. I'm not sure what to think of that voiceover at the climax. Presumably it's from the book? I wondered if it was Neeson's voice at first as well, but I quickly concluded it wasn't. Was the cock crowing three times right after that a perfect touch, or was it too much? I'm not sure.
  9. Andrew Sullivan wrote a new piece in New York Magazine titled "I Used to Be a Human Being: My Distraction Sickness--And Yours," about being addicted to the internet to the point of danger to his health. After quitting blogging, he detoxed by going to a meditation retreat center, and at one point he mentions this film:
  10. I'm a big Western fan, but I gotta say, I saw One-Eyed Jacks a couple years back and found it severely disappointing. It is somewhat interesting in terms of the historical development of the Western genre, anticipating the styles and concerns of the movies from the late 60s and 70s, but as a narrative it's just kind of a shambling mess. The characters are all unsympathetic, and the supposed increase in psychological insight isn't very interesting or revealing. It seems to have quite a cult, but I confess I'm really not sure what the film's appeal is.
  11. The Weeping Angels in Doctor Who recur in several other episodes as well. I think The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone two-parter is as good as Blink. And of course the show has a long history of mannequins coming to life that foes back to the Third Doctor's first episode, I believe. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the White Witch turns various people including Mr. Tumnus into stone, and later Asian restores them to life. Not sure if that counts. Hmm. There are many movies where paintings come to life, but that's not quite what you want, is it?
  12. One thing I didn't love was the depiction of the gentleman with the thistle-down hair. In the book he is a much more humorous character, who regards humans with utter selfishness and obliviousness to their feelings, but does not generally go out of his way to be creepy or cruel; he simply is creepy and cruel by the way he treats people. If that makes sense. He's sociopathic, but in a way that's treated with such understatement in the book it becomes humorous rather than horrifying (most of the time). In the show, they worked really hard to make him sinister, and as a result he was much less interesting. You keep waiting for him to hatch an evil plot, but he doesn't because that's not the type of character he's supposed to be.
  13. I'm overdoing it, but I can't stop: 3 votes for Chantal Akerman, 1 for Straub/Huillet, 0 for Lisandro Alonso, 1 for Sion Sono, 2 for Ermanno Olmi, 3 for Eric Rohmer, 2 for Jacques Rivette, 1 for Alain Resnais, 2 for Manoel de Oliveira, 3 for Raul Ruiz, 1 for Thom Andersen, 2 for Hong Sang-Soo, 4 for Hirokazu Koreeda, 4 for Lav Diaz, 4 for Patricio Guzman, 9 for Clint Eastwood--but not one of them made it on the list. Make of that what you will. (And I might take it as a positive, since most of them did get some votes.)
  14. - I like Sicinski and Pinkerton a lot, too. - I agree the lack of those directors seem like major oversights. Unfortunately, I myself have only seen 2 1/2 movies by any of them, and so can't really criticize. I know, I know, they're on my to-see list! -I decided to do some quick searches of the individual ballots. The cut-off for inclusion in the top 100 was 6 votes. The Dardennes had 7, but they were divided between The Son and L'Enfant. Tsai got 5 votes for 5 different films. Jia got 13 votes, but they were divided among 4 different films. Garrel got 1 for Regular Lovers and 1 for Frontier of Dawn. Terence Davies' The Deep Blue Sea got 2 votes, and The House of Mirth got 1. Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale, which I would have loved to see on the list, got 5 votes. Michael Mann got 1 vote each for Collateral and Miami Vice--I would have loved to see the latter get on here as well. Jafar Panahi got 6 votes, for 4 different movies. The Fellowship of the Ring got 2 votes, and Return of the King got 1. Johnnie To and Satoshi Kon got a single vote each, for Sparrow and Millennium Actress, respectively. There were no votes for Isao Takahata. And yet Brian Truitt of USA Today voted for both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens. Yeah, it's a weird list. EDIT: Wait, scratch what I said about 6 votes being the cut-off. They must weight things according to rank on the ballots. Claire Denis's White Material barely made it on the list with just 3 votes, while her 35 Shots of Rum didn't make it but had 5 votes. (The Intruder got 2 votes as well.) So if one or two people had just shuffled the order on their ballots a little, we could have switched out a lot of the bottom of the list.
  15. It's definitely a loss for the film blogging community. Allan saw a ridiculous number of movies, and he had short, insightful reviews on a huge number of them. The decade countdowns he did a few years back, with a new review coming out every day and the commenters all trying to figure out which movie would be number one, were a lot of fun, and almost always surprising. Wonders in the Dark has long been among the most entertaining and exciting amateur movie blogs on the web.