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Tyler

Movies Everyone Except You Loves

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FWIW, my fondness for both Two Towers and Return of the King has diminished considerably since they opened. Fellowship remains fairly high in my estimation for pulling off some of the most difficult parts of the epic brilliantly, but it has some sequences that I'd be happy never to see again.

Still, they're all far superior to the Star Wars prequels and that lamentable fourth Indiana Jones film.

I don't disagree with any of that per se (although I can't think of any sequences I'd be happy to never see again), but in my minds the trilogy, warts and all, is actually better than the original Star War's trilogy. I'm sure that's a contentious claim, but it's almost manifestly true for me personally. (Empire is the only film in the trilogy that really ever matches the better parts from Jackson's trilogy.)

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I think Jackson's trilogy is better than Lucas's in many ways -- especially when it comes to performances. But they're comparable in the weaknesses of their third installments (both directors compromising what came before by giving in to their own weakest impulses).

Still, to borrow Nathaniel's terms, Star Wars too was a film of its moment. It's almost impossible to compare the series considering how different filmmaking was in the '70s, and considering how much of Jackson's series stands on the shoulders of Lucas's.

Edited by Overstreet

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"Kubrick is a machine, a mutant, a Martian. He has no human feeling whatsoever. But it’s great when the machine films other machines, as in 2001." - Jacques Rivette

Couldn't resist.

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I think Jackson's trilogy is better than Lucas's in many ways -- especially when it comes to performances. But they're comparable in the weaknesses of their third installments (both directors compromising what came before by giving in to their own weakest impulses).

Still, to borrow Nathaniel's terms, Star Wars too was a film of its moment. It's almost impossible to compare the series considering how different filmmaking was in the '70s, and considering how much of Jackson's series stands on the shoulders of Lucas's.

I agree. It's not impossible to compare them, though. I recognize, of course, that Jackson is standing on Lucas' achievement, which is one reason Jackson was able to, in some ways, surpass what Lucas did (he also, might I add, had better source material to work with - even if he did mutilate it at points).

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I do think we've seen big epic films from the past decade that are better than LORD OF THE RINGS, but none with a fantasy component.

Do tell. I'm just trying to get a feel for your cinematic values here.

The first one that comes to mind: KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (Director's Cut). Not a great film, by any stretch, but generally better-made than the LORD OF THE RINGS films.

Subsequent visits haven't been as rapturous. The last time I watched them in full ('09, I think) I was surprised by how bland a lot of the camera staging was - just the basic coverage patterns for getting all the performances.

This was my experience, as well. Jackson's direction can be astonishing when he sends the camera wheeling over mountains and towers and into caves, but when he has to film an actual conversation? It's terribly dull. He has little sense of how to make use of LORD OF THE RING's wide frame.

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My appreciation of the LOTR films has dropped dramatically as well. I saw them in the theaters upon release and liked them a lot (though the obsession some of my college floormates showed weirded me out). I tried reading the books but got bored — I remember trying to read The Two Towers on a lunch break when I worked at Wal-Mart during my summer break and dozing off in a patio swing on display.

Anyway, my interest in Tolkien was piqued again after getting the Lord of the Rings card game from 2010, so my wife and I revisited the movies. While I generally like Fellowship, I found myself groaning during the other two films. A lot. (I'm also slowly working through the books again and absolutely loving them this time. I guess it just took a little bit of patience and some maturity.)

Edited by Jason Panella

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I really like The Lord of the Rings up to the point when the Fellowship is formed. All that world-building is pretty impressive. But then it becomes battle, "precious," battle, Gimli joke, angst, battle, battle, Gimli joke, battle, battle. So boring. For a great fantasy-ish blockbuster of the past decade, see The Prisoner of Azkhaban.

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I really like The Lord of the Rings up to the point when the Fellowship is formed. All that world-building is pretty impressive. But then it becomes battle, "precious," battle, Gimli joke, angst, battle, battle, Gimli joke, battle, battle. So boring. For a great fantasy-ish blockbuster of the past decade, see The Prisoner of Azkhaban.

Yeah, absolutely. I really dig the portions in Moria (there's a nice dread-building aspect to it that I like), but I feel like the movie goes through the same formula from that point on.

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I really like The Lord of the Rings up to the point when the Fellowship is formed. All that world-building is pretty impressive. But then it becomes battle, "precious," battle, Gimli joke, angst, battle, battle, Gimli joke, battle, battle. So boring. For a great fantasy-ish blockbuster of the past decade, see The Prisoner of Azkhaban.

Yeah, absolutely. I really dig the portions in Moria (there's a nice dread-building aspect to it that I like), but I feel like the movie goes through the same formula from that point on.

How can you ignore the brilliant character complexity of Smeagol? Or the incredible performance and depth of Aragorn? Sure, the massive scale of the battles may be what make LotR 'epic', but it's the excellent execution of character development that enriches the story.

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..I recently watched Clockwork Orange for the second time recently and pretty much hated even more then I had the first time. I've actually never been able to really appreciate anything by Kubrick. Someone please tell me what they see in his work, besides his high standard for technical perfection..?

Well to start with, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE may be my second least favourite Kubrick film (after FULL METAL JACKET). I would say that for people who find it off-putting, try the brilliant black-humour of DR. STRANGELOVE or the sublime of 2001. There's far more than technical perfection there. I find them as full of life and/or wonder as anything in cinema.

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I really like The Lord of the Rings up to the point when the Fellowship is formed. All that world-building is pretty impressive. But then it becomes battle, "precious," battle, Gimli joke, angst, battle, battle, Gimli joke, battle, battle. So boring.

True enough. The limited range becomes even more apparent if you stack the films on top of each other. I almost didn't make it through a director's cut marathon. I actually got depressed.

For a great fantasy-ish blockbuster of the past decade, see The Prisoner of Azkhaban.

Good one, Darren. Cuaron is easily the best director to have touched that franchise. Unfortunately, my interest in the Potter saga was so minimal it interfered with the enjoyment I got from Cuaron's inventiveness.

Kingdom of Heaven is one I keep coming back to with slightly disappointing results. So much ambition, yet so many flaws. I can sorta see where Scott's filmmaking might be deemed stronger than Jackson's, but in the end it's the same atmosphere-choked, slow-mo infatuated stuff. Isn't it?

Edited by Nathaniel

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Sure, the massive scale of the battles may be what make LotR 'epic', but it's the excellent execution of character development that enriches the story.

Actually, it is the character work that I find to be the most disappointing about the LORD OF THE RINGS films. The way they're written and directed, the characters are turned into cartoonish caricatures. Most of the character work consistens of brief, signposted "character moments" awkwardly shoved in-between interminable battle scenes.

Well to start with, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE may be my second least favourite Kubrick film (after FULL METAL JACKET). I would say that for people who find it off-putting, try the brilliant black-humour of DR. STRANGELOVE or the sublime of 2001. There's far more than technical perfection there. I find them as full of life and/or wonder as anything in cinema.

Well, I'm not as in love with DR. STRANGELOVE as you are--I think it wears on too long--but I do agree with you that A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is not the finest entry in the Kubrick canon, even if I do appreciate its unique point-of-view on human dignity and free will (we defend those so easily when we speak of decent folk, but A CLOCKWORK ORANGE attacks our tendency to treat our monsters as somehow less-than humans). And, of the Kubrick films, it's one of the strongest in terms of its grasp of iconography.

But yes, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is transcendent. And if you seek "emotional" Kubrick, look no further than PATHS OF GLORY, which overflows with righteous anger and genuine sadness.

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How can you ignore the brilliant character complexity of Smeagol? Or the incredible performance and depth of Aragorn? Sure, the massive scale of the battles may be what make LotR 'epic', but it's the excellent execution of character development that enriches the story.

See Ryan's post above. I think Smeagol and Aragorn are wonderful characters as Tolkien wrote them, but much less so in Jackson's hands. And I think Andy Serkis and Viggo Mortensen are good actors; I just feel like their portrayals are OK in spots, and any time that could have been spent on nuance was given over to shield surfing and the like.

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How can you ignore the brilliant character complexity of Smeagol? Or the incredible performance and depth of Aragorn? Sure, the massive scale of the battles may be what make LotR 'epic', but it's the excellent execution of character development that enriches the story.

See Ryan's post above. I think Smeagol and Aragorn are wonderful characters as Tolkien wrote them, but much less so in Jackson's hands. And I think Andy Serkis and Viggo Mortensen are good actors; I just feel like their portrayals are OK in spots, and any time that could have been spent on nuance was given over to shield surfing and the like.

I'd have to go along with this general trend. I enjoy the story that LOTR tells, and I think Jackson has captured some very fine moments, but when I recently had the chance to catch the director's cuts (which I've seen many times) on the big screen, I felt incredibly let down. I actually felt claustrophobic during certain conversations in Fellowship, because of all the extremely tight close ups that Jackson uses. The expansive nature shots were a breath of fresh air, but they also gave the movies a visually wobbly feel, IMO--you're either looking at a tight close up or an extreme long shot with very few medium shots in between to balance it out.

I also had a difficult time with some character moments that hadn't previously bothered me. There were just too many speeches, and some of them came off a bit laughable.

That said, I wouldn't give up on the trilogy all together, but I'm in no hurry to watch it again.

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How can you ignore the brilliant character complexity of Smeagol?

FWIW, I don't. It's what makes Two Towers worth watching.

Or the incredible performance and depth of Aragorn?

I wasn't particularly impressed with either the performance or the depth of Aragorn. His "I don't really want to do this" angst is pretty boring stuff, and completely contrary to the inspiring figure in the books. I'm never convinced by his rallying speeches. Considering the fact that Viggo took over for Stuart Townsend very late in the game, I'm grateful they found him... it could have been much worse... but the character on the screenplay page is quite a letdown to me.

Most of the great character work happens in the first film. They peaked with Samwise and Boromir in that film. After that, it was letdown after letdown... with Treebeard being the biggest letdown of all.

Edited by Overstreet

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I actually felt claustrophobic during certain conversations in Fellowship, because of all the extremely tight close ups that Jackson uses. The expansive nature shots were a breath of fresh air, but they also gave the movies a visually wobbly feel, IMO--you're either looking at a tight close up or an extreme long shot with very few medium shots in between to balance it out.

I agree 100%.

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I actually felt claustrophobic during certain conversations in Fellowship, because of all the extremely tight close ups that Jackson uses.

Wait until you see Hunger Games.

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I actually felt claustrophobic during certain conversations in Fellowship, because of all the extremely tight close ups that Jackson uses.

Wait until you see Hunger Games.

I wasn't bothered by the close-ups there, but if I saw it again I might be. What I couldn't stand was the constant shakiness. Would it have killed Ross to use a steadicam?

Edit -- I take that back. I do remember a few moments where I was dying for a medium shot. The scene with Katniss and Gale at the beginning stands out. There's a moment where Ross cuts to a great two-shot of them with the mountains in the background, and I practically sighed with relief. You could actually see something!

Edited by andrew_b_welch

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I actually felt claustrophobic during certain conversations in Fellowship, because of all the extremely tight close ups that Jackson uses. The expansive nature shots were a breath of fresh air, but they also gave the movies a visually wobbly feel, IMO--you're either looking at a tight close up or an extreme long shot with very few medium shots in between to balance it out.

Sure. But if we're talking about the photographic aspects of LotR, we must also consider the frequently ingenious trickery (e.g., the forced perspective, deep focus, etc.).

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I actually felt claustrophobic during certain conversations in Fellowship, because of all the extremely tight close ups that Jackson uses.

Wait until you see Hunger Games.

I wasn't bothered by the close-ups there, but if I saw it again I might be. What I couldn't stand was the constant shakiness. Would it have killed Ross to use a steadicam?

Edit -- I take that back. I do remember a few moments where I was dying for a medium shot. The scene with Katniss and Gale at the beginning stands out. There's a moment where Ross cuts to a great two-shot of them with the mountains in the background, and I practically sighed with relief. You could actually see something!

Surely you're kidding?

So much of Hunger Games was filmed in close-up it's almost unwatcheable. The film could be twice as watchable in the hands of a director who didn't bet all their money on one trick.

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I'm not too concerned about how SCHINDLER'S LIST matches with history event-by-event, I'm more concerned with how it is structured as a whole, how it is designed as a comment on the Holocaust; Spielberg's film does not seem so much as an account of one man's true struggle as it seems an attempt to reckon with the Holocaust entire, which is why the film falters.

I’m not sure it is so much about the Holocaust entire, but the damage of the Holocaust in human terms, particularly in the lives of those who were transformed by it.

Simply put, Spielberg's SCHINDLER'S LIST is the Holocaust made palatable for audiences. Kubrick's famous quote, which Gilliam references above, hits it on the head: "Think that’s about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. Schindler’s List is about 600 who don’t."

I think Kubrick was wrong about this since I don’t think it was really about the Holocaust - it was about surviving the Holocaust.

But what especially irks me about the shower scene in SCHINDLER'S LIST is not that it couldn't have happened, but because Spielberg plays it like any suspense film from his previous movies. It becomes a thrill, a bit of titillation, along the same lines of the suspense sequences Spielberg played in JAWS, but dressed up in Holocaust imagery. I can appreciate that kind of roller-coaster manipulation in Spielberg's more popcorn fare, but in a serious treatment of the Holocaust, I find it a definite misstep.

I haven’t seen the film in years, but I remember the scene. The issue for the characters in the movie was the question of whether they were going to live or die horribly. They simply didn’t know. They didn’t know from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment whether they would live or die. What kept them going was hope. What kept them enslaved, to some degree, was also hope. If there was absolutely no hope, the people could rebel en masse and potentially win their freedom... however small the possibility.

Hope kept the passengers relatively passive on the jets that hit the towers in New York City and the Pentegon on 9/11 because they had hope that the hijackers would negotiate for demands and they would eventually be released. But when the passengers on the fourth jet (Flight 93) learned the fate of the other three jets, they lost hope that they would survive by being relatively passive. There was absolutely nothing to lose at that point.

It is no accident that the Nazis posted “Work makes you free” at the entrances to their camps. It provided hope and helped them maintain control.

The scene in the shower room (or was it a gas chamber) was a vivid example of the way people lived. And for many who survived the Holocaust, there was intense survivor’s guilt and shame that they had somehow made it through that experience with their lives but not their dignity.

Kubrick is right: it’s about people being saved. But why is that a flaw? Why should it not be that way?

It wouldn't matter if SCHINDLER'S LIST had not been hailed as the Great Chronicle of the Holocaust. Which, in part, is hype, and I suspect that's mostly what Kubrick is responding to.

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Apparently, people are still going to the theater these days and enjoying/liking/loving newly released films?

I have yet to see a single good widely released film in the months of January, February, March and April of 2012. Nor have I heard of one, and have found myself sticking to 2011 late releases at the local art house theater in town. (I suppose The Secret World of Arriety might count, but technically it's really a 2010 film.)

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My only question about this thread is: are we supposed to list movies that everyone loves but we downright dislike; or movies that everyone loves and we admire or like, but don't love them?

I've got some winners in the first category:

Cool Hand Luke - most boring/painful two hours of my life. Watching someone run head first into a brick wall, because he's too stupid/arrogant to know when to yield and bide his time for success is not inspiring; I just found it pathetic.

The Last Picture Show - did all that sex and nudity have a point, or the film itself? I found all the characters so off-putting, I was wishing they would all die to end the miserable stories. And I didn't think the film had anything insightful of meaningful to offer.

Bonnie and Clyde - just cinematically a mess; although, I think enough other people dislike this one that it may not qualify.

The Social Network - well made movie, great acting, editing, cinematography, etc. Except, it had the worst. score. ever. As a composer, I thought it was a perfect example of everything not to do in scoring a film. I found the music so irritating that I could not concentrate on what was happening on screen.

Fantasia - a brilliant concept, but horrifically executed. The program makes no musical sense, and the re-orchestration of The Rite of Spring is borderline sacrilege, as well as only doing half of it. That piece musically blows away every other piece in the film, which means musically it needs to end the film, not be placed in the middle as an awkward middle child. I get so mad during that sequence that I start ripping apart all other small complaints about the film that I would normally let slide: one movement of Beethoven 6, sloppy orchestration of the Bach, etc.. Sorcerer's Aprrentice, Night on Bald Mountain, and Ave Maria are really well done, but they can't save the film.

Dumbo - just really boring.

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..I recently watched Clockwork Orange for the second time recently and pretty much hated even more then I had the first time. I've actually never been able to really appreciate anything by Kubrick. Someone please tell me what they see in his work, besides his high standard for technical perfection..?

Dear god, I said this just over a year ago? Remind me not to so hastily form such brash opinions about that which I simply don't yet understand.

PATHS OF GLORY is phenomenal. EYES WIDE SHUT is beautiful. DR. STRANGELOVE is hugely entertaining. And 2001 is... well, beyond words. Consider me a very recent Kubrick convert. So glad I decided to give these films second and third chances.

Still can't quite connect with CLOCKWORK ORANGE.. in fact, I'm still repulsed by the thought of it.. but that's probably just me. Who knows what my opinion will be next year. ;)

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