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Can't wait to hear your responses. The more I think about it, the more I love it.

Excellent. That was very much the sort of experience that I (and, I think, you) had with The Incredibles -- it took awhile for the full greatness of the film to really sink in.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Can't wait to hear your responses. The more I think about it, the more I love it.

Excellent. That was very much the sort of experience that I (and, I think, you) had with The Incredibles -- it took awhile for the full greatness of the film to really sink in.

I'm not convinced that The Incredibles is a great film -- wasn't it was heralded as such from the day it was released? -- but I remain a big fan of "The Iron Giant." So I have high hopes for Bird's latest.

Don't know when I'll see it, however.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I'm not convinced that The Incredibles is a great film -- wasn't it was heralded as such from the day it was released? -- but I remain a big fan of "The Iron Giant." So I have high hopes for Bird's latest.

FWIW, I was thrilled by The Incredibles on first sight, but not immediately convinced of its greatness. The more I reflected on the film, though, the more I realized was going on, until eventually I was convinced of its greatness. Innumerable rewatchings (it's a family favorite) have only confirmed my immense appreciation. It's easily a top contender for my favorite of all Pixar's films. (The Iron Giant, which I've also seen a bunch of times, has also grown on me, if more slowly; in any case, I wouldn't put it in the same category.)

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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My faves: Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Toy Story.

The Iron Giant would take second place if it were a Pixar film.

I don't know if Ratatouille will disrupt this list, but I like it much better than A Bug's Life and Cars.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I'm with Steve. My appreciation of The Incredibles grows each time I watch it.

My appreciation of it grew the second time I saw it, but I've not seen it since -- which might say something, although nothing too profound. However, discussions in which I find myself arguing against a movie that I thought was entertaining and effective unsettle me, so I'll just rest my opinion of The Incredibles for now and will post here again when/if I see Ratatouille.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Wow. Monsters Inc. at least had a fantastic -- and wildly creative -- chase sequence at the end, plus a scene or two that really moved me. Cars had... had... had... hmmm, can't think of anything.

Incidentally, I would REALLY like to get a babysitter for tomorrow night, so that I can see this preview. Anybody wanna come to Vancouver and bail me out?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Oh... oh. What a joyous, enchanting experience. A gift. A delight.

I don't want to write about it. I just want to savor it.

All the same, I understand why the Disney people might be a little nervous. It's not necessarily a Finding Nemo / The Incredibles crowd-pleasing blockbuster. But it's a rich, rich film, and I believe it will connect with families and audiences.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Interesting, SDG -- given your concerns about the normalizing of broken families in family films, etc., I was wondering how you might react to the illegitimate-child aspect of this story. (I have to say the DNA-test bit seemed a bit out of place to me -- not on moral grounds, just on aesthetic or narrative grounds -- since virtually everything else in this film was so timeless, as though it could have taken place at just about any point in the past 50 years.)

(I'm not sure those are really spoilers, since at least one of them comes up within the first half-hour of the film, but I'll black 'em out all the same.)

I enjoyed the first act very much. And the third act very much. The in-between bits... I began to feel my enthusiasm flagging. Not entirely sure why. I think the low point, for me, came somewhere around the point where Remy's dad took him to see the rat-traps; I don't know quite how to explain it, but it was one of those points where I felt my suspension of disbelief, my distinction between real-life and movie-life, beginning to strain.

Appreciated the references to "godliness" and "heaven"; those'll keep the rumours about Pixar's Christian contingent going. Also found myself wondering if any other Disney cartoon has had a tiny-penis joke, no matter how subtle or over-the-heads-of-the-kids it might be. (Evan Almighty has one of those too, but similarly subtle and possibly over-the-heads-of-the-kids.)

I know, I know, I always zero in on the stupidest things ...

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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No time for deep thoughts, but I caught this last night and it truly moved me. I was inspired and even bolstered in my personal calling. The film is an immediate example of its own ideals.

When I become a kid again, I want to be just like Brad Bird.

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Speaking of Bird, just got EW in the mail yesterday and The Incredibles is #25 on the alltime top 25 action movie list. The only non-live action flick. Sorry for the tangent. Not seen the subject film yet.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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Peter, yes, the family issue you mention is a sticking point for me.

Somehow, though, I don't get a "normalization of the broken family" vibe from this film the way I do from, say, The Santa Clause, Zathura or Night at the Museum.

Maybe Ratatouille is less problematic (not entirely unproblematic) in this respect at least partly because the actual character dynamics are much more removed from the situation in question. We don't have onscreen parents as characters who are separated, divorced or never married, or kids who are living with one parent or shuttling back and forth between parents. The issue is further displaced, I think, by having the rat protagonist Remy, not the human Linguini, at the center of the story. But that's not to dismiss it entirely.

Now, here's one thing that did strike me as a possible problem (not a moral one, a storytelling one).

In the scene outside the restaurant, as Colette is storming out and Linguini rushes after her, he's trying to tell her the truth about his "little chef", which Remy clearly regards as a disastrous choice, and manages to avert.

But then, in the press conference, Remy is annoyed at Linguini for covering up the very fact he didn't want Linguini revealing to Colette, and offering essentially the same cover story that came across to Colette. Why does Remy now feel that telling the press what he didn't want Linguini telling Colette would be a good idea? Are there any clues in the story for his change of heart?

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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DanBuck wrote:

: No time for deep thoughts, but I caught this last night and it truly moved me. I was inspired and even bolstered in my personal calling. The film is an immediate example of its own ideals.

I had a similar response, at least at points in the film.

I can totally understand the analogy that Jeff has drawn between this film and the Disney-Pixar relationship, with the eponymous founder of Gusteau's (or the Walt Disney studio) being dead, and his successors churning out mere shlock in his name, and his ardent fan sneaking into the place and trying to "take over" (in a culinary sense, at least) because he has a better sense of what the place's creative spirit was all about, etc.

I also found myself wondering how many of the people who come to see this film as "just entertainment" will wolf it down the way Remy's brother wolfs down good food and bad food alike, indiscriminately. I found the very last scene in the film oddly moving, in the way it was so inclusive; it got me thinking of John Dominic Crossan's remarks about "open commensality", of all things -- though it admittedly isn't QUITE that open. It's the kind of inclusivity that allows some people to think they've got exclusive access... but I highly doubt the filmmakers were trying to make an ecclesiological metaphor, there!

I found myself wondering, though, how Anton Ego could say at the end that even the lowest piece of junk/trash is more valuable than the critique dismissing it as such, given that Remy, at least, is pretty clear that some foods ARE garbage. It seemed like the film was trying to have it both ways, telling the audience not to settle for mere junk (in films, as well as in food!), yet also saying don't trust anyone who tells you that junk is junk because even junk is better than stuff that warns you against junk. With a bit more nuancing, this COULD be a paradox, but right now I think it might be just a contradiction. Might be. Still mulling it over. Anyone else care to mull?

SDG wrote:

: Somehow, though, I don't get a "normalization of the broken family" vibe from this film the way I do from, say, The Santa Clause, Zathura or Night at the Museum.

Yeah, as you say, it's a little more remote from the centre of the story this time. I did find myself wondering if this was being treated as "normal" simply because it was French, though. :)

: Now, here's one thing that did strike me as a possible problem (not a moral one, a storytelling one).

Good point. Another reason why I found my enthusiasm flagging during the second act was because there were quite a few twists and character reversals that either seemed to come from out of nowhere, or they seemed to be too sharp, too sudden, too big. (FWIW, I think having the entire rat clan "steal" from the restaurant during the second act might have diluted the impact of the third act's payoff -- but it's still a pretty good payoff!) I became more aware of plot mechanics than character dynamics, as it were -- and the plot point you raise was definitely one of those "Huh? I guess they need these characters to break up or something, but where is this coming from?" moments.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Wow. Monsters Inc. at least had a fantastic -- and wildly creative -- chase sequence at the end, plus a scene or two that really moved me. Cars had... had... had... hmmm, can't think of anything.

Monsters Inc. had a talkative and relentlessly annoying Billy Crystal, which made it hard for me to enjoy the movie much at all. I did, however, like Sully... and the last moment is one of Pixar's most powerful.

But Cars had several moments that moved me, especially the lament for the loss of the roads that let you explore country instead of just pass through it, the lament for the loss of personable neighborhoods and communities as capitalism promotes the homogenization and acceleration of culture. When we're led to bask in the glory of the Grand Canyon ... I found that breathtaking. Plus, it had Paul Newman and several other voice talents that I found charming and endearing.

Anyway, that's my experience of them.

Now, back to Ratatouille...

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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SDG wrote:

Oh... oh. What a joyous, enchanting experience. A gift. A delight.

Yep.

SDG wrote:

I don't want to write about it. I just want to savor it.

Yep. (But my review's due very soon.)

SDG wrote:

All the same, I understand why the Disney people might be a little nervous. It's not necessarily a Finding Nemo / The Incredibles crowd-pleasing blockbuster. But it's a rich, rich film, and I believe it will connect with families and audiences.

Yes, and yes. It won't be their biggest hit, but it will become beloved to those who spend time with it.

Chattaway wrote:

I enjoyed the first act very much. And the third act very much. The in-between bits... I began to feel my enthusiasm flagging. Not entirely sure why. I think the low point, for me, came somewhere around the point where Remy's dad took him to see the rat-traps; I don't know quite how to explain it, but it was one of those points where I felt my suspension of disbelief, my distinction between real-life and movie-life, beginning to strain.

And yes, I had a similar experience. Here's what bugged me: The story needed a crisis to divide Remy and Linguini, and it felt a little forced. I didn't quite buy that they would become divided so easily. And it was just a matter of hanging in there and waiting for Remy to get his act together and take over.

But once they take over... once Ego shows up at the restaurant, the film launched and reached the heights I hoped it would... and better. Ego's speech about criticism had me cheering. I couldn't help but think about Michael Medved's column about how critics SHOULDN'T spend time discovering and appreciating new things, but should instead spend time discussing what the majority are already consuming (in other words... the trash).

Dan Buck wrote:

The film is an immediate example of its own ideals.

Yep.

Chattaway wrote:

I found myself wondering, though, how Anton Ego could say at the end that even the lowest piece of junk/trash is more valuable than the critique dismissing it as such, given that Remy, at least, is pretty clear that some foods ARE garbage. It seemed like the film was trying to have it both ways, telling the audience not to settle for mere junk (in films, as well as in food!), yet also saying don't trust anyone who tells you that junk is junk because even junk is better than stuff that warns you against junk. With a bit more nuancing, this COULD be a paradox, but right now I think it might be just a contradiction. Might be. Still mulling it over. Anyone else care to mull?

Well, giving a critical assessment of trash is one thing, but the critic should never be so condescending and presumptuous as to say that the lowest piece of trash is worthless and incapable of offering nourishment. I think McDonalds sells crap, but I'm not going to condemn it in such a way as to belittle or condemn those who eat there. It's a difficult distinction to make, and the movie might not have been as clear about it as it could have been... but it's a complicated subject to discuss in an animated film for all-ages, and I am absolutely thrilled that the movie went to the extremes that it did to raise such questions and challenge even the critics... especially the critics... in the audience.

It has its problems on the narrative level, but it is a uniquely eloquent film on the value, the nature, and the nurturing power of art.

By the way, the moment in which Ego takes that first bite of Ratatouille is immediately one of my all-time favorite movie moments.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: But Cars had several moments that moved me, especially the lament for the loss of the roads that let you explore country instead of just pass through it . . .

Um, the roads are still there. What Cars laments is the loss of TRAFFIC down those roads, and the loss of CUSTOMERS to the businesses who stayed on those old roads. The roads still "let" you explore country. And what's to say that the people who were using those roads in the old days weren't just "passing through" themselves? Objections like these are why this was one of the moments in that film that rang really false, for me; I think I said in the Cars thread that I even found this scene somewhat offensive. But we've been over all that before, I'm sure.

(I say this as one who, at the urging of his sisters, frequently drove down the winding, meandering "Telegraph Trail" on the way home from our Oma's place in Aldergrove, rather than make a beeline for the freeway. The "Telegraph Trail" is still there, and it is good. But thank God for the freeway, too. A world with nothing but "Telegraph Trails" is not a world that I want to live in.) (And hey, doesn't the very word "telegraph" suggest a certain acceleration of the culture? A world with nothing but snail-mail is not a world I want to live in, either. Okay, I'm getting carried away with this.)

: . . . the lament for the loss of personable neighborhoods and communities as capitalism promotes the homogenization and acceleration of culture.

And yet the film is all about people who define their worth through their businesses -- through their own entrepreneurial, capitalist enterprises! What's more, the "personable" aspects of those businesses seem, to me, as near as I can recall them, to have reflected a rather generic and homogenized culture themselves, albeit homogenized as of 50 years ago rather than homogenized as of today. And no doubt things were moving as fast as they could 50 years ago, too -- so the "acceleration" has always been a factor, no?

I probably shouldn't say any more until I've seen the film a second time. I do have the DVD, though.

Which reminds me. All through Cars, I kept thinking, "I don't know if I want this on DVD. I'm not looking forward to getting the DVD." But for at least the first half-hour of Ratatouille, I kept thinking, "Wow, I'm looking forward to getting the DVD. I am looking forward to getting the DVD." Like I say, my enthusaism flagged a bit during the second act, but the third act revived it.

: But once they take over... once Ego shows up at the restaurant, the film launched and reached the heights I hoped it would... and better.

Yes, definitely.

: Well, giving a critical assessment of trash is one thing, but the critic should never be so condescending and presumptuous as to say that the lowest piece of trash is worthless and incapable of offering nourishment. I think McDonalds sells crap, but I'm not going to condemn it in such a way as to belittle or condemn those who eat there.

Does it follow, then, that McDonald's crappy food is more valuable than the criticism that McDonald's makes crappy food? I ask this in all sincerity, because I am not sure how I would answer that question myself right now.

: By the way, the moment in which Ego takes that first bite of Ratatouille is immediately one of my all-time favorite movie moments.

Heh. I also rather liked Remy's ride through the sewer -- oddly naturalistic, the way the water gurgles and the sound goes in and out, and none of it seems to have been pumped for dramatic effect (no music, etc., unless I missed something) -- and that wonderful jump cut when Remy and the guy have their first conversation by the river. I think you know the jump cut I mean.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Dave Poland goes Little Children-ga-ga for Ratatouille:

Ratatouille is not only the best animated film of this year and the best animated film to land in American theaters since Spirited Away, it is the best work of Brad Bird's already legendary career, and the best American film of 2007 to date. If that is not enough, there are only a couple of films due this summer that have any hope of matching this film for quality.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I pretty much agree with him... especially since he still hasn't taken Finding Nemo off the pedestal where he placed it upon its release. I'm glad to see such enthusiasm. I hope it spreads.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Alan, I wish we'd had more time to discuss the film, but maybe I needed a night to sleep on it.

This morning, I'm thinking it rates 4.5 out of 5. I wasn't enamored with the film whenever it left the restaurant and dealt with family matters, and, as you know, I missed 4 or 5 minutes because I had to go to the bathroom -- something I never do during movies I have to review, with one exception earlier this year. (Hey, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.) I don't have to review this one, but it's still frustrating to miss any part of a movie.

Yes, the movie is tremendous on a visual level. What made it sing, though, were those final 10 minutes. I need to find a transcript of Ego's review, which was beautifully transformative.

My gut reaction, which may shift with time, is that this film is superior to your favorite Bird film, The Incredibles. That film had a consistent charm, where this one felt a little bit uneven (just a little), but the highs in Ratatouille exceeded the highs of The Incredibles, and of most other Pixar films.

One thing that I found problematic with Ratatouille, and which may prove in time to be an insignificant hurdle, is the way Remy's marionette-like "control" of Linguini, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief ... for the most part.

I'd like to see this film again, and I imagine I'll eventually own it on DVD.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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With all the sneak previews and the huge turn out for critic's sceenings, I wonder if anyone will be left to see it when it hits theater.

I got bumped from the Sat. morning screening (overbooked at Arclight is a lot of people), but rescheduled to see it at screening room on Monday night.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Christian wrote:

: One thing that I found problematic with Ratatouille, and which may prove in time to be an insignificant hurdle, is the way Remy's marionette-like "control" of Linguini, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief ... for the most part.

I actually checked my watch, when that bit came up, to see how far into the film we were. I have a rule of thumb that all essential premises, especially the really-hard-to-believe ones, should be laid out within the first half-hour -- in the first act -- to allow the film time to work with those premises in any sort of meaningful way. Otherwise it begins to feel like the filmmakers are making things up as they go along and pulling plot twists out of their butt whenever the storytelling slows down. But this one got in juuuuuust under the wire -- or at least didn't stretch the wire too much. (I think my watch said 7:48, and the screening started around 7:00, but of course the movie was preceded by the WALL-E trailer and the Lifting short.)

Incidentally, I PAID to see this film on Saturday, at one of the public preview screenings, because one of my film columns has a deadline this week and I wanted to allow for the possibility that this film might be worth mentioning. (The fact that both the column and the film come out in two weeks is a nice coincidence, too.) But then, on Monday, I got an invitation to one of three invitational (i.e. free) preview screenings over the next couple weeks, and the e-mail said, ominously:

By attending these screenings, you are agreeing NOT to run your reviews before opening day, JUNE 29TH. Even though you may be seeing this film early NO REVIEWS OF ANY KIND should run before release date - NO EXCEPTIONS. It is important to note that reviews include any mentions with good, bad or mediochre opinions of a film in any form, whether it be in print, tv, online or any other medium.

Ordinarily, I have no problem with these sorts of dictates, but c'mon. They showed this film TO THE PUBLIC last weekend. I PAID to see it. So as far as I'm concerned, we can ALL give our opinions of it as much as we like. Perhaps I would have to silence myself if I went to one of these OTHER screenings -- that's the contract, at any rate -- but really, why?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Does it follow, then, that McDonald's crappy food is more valuable than the criticism that McDonald's makes crappy food?

Yes. The crappy food still provides nourishment, and in a way that's really delightful for billions of people (most of whom instinctually know that the food is "crappy," even without the brilliant insights of the critic). The critique is largely irrelevant when it comes to the actual purpose of visiting Mickey D's, except as entertainment and, perhaps, education.

Why is this even question in your mind, Peter?

I saw the documentary Show Business yesterday, and New York's theatre critics come off as the most shallow, irrelevant people imaginable -- even more so than Boy George and Rosie O'Donnel, and that's saying a lot. The movie is an interesting companion piece for Ratatouille.

Greg Wright

Managing Editor, Past the Popcorn

Consulting Editor, Hollywood Jesus

Leader of the Uruk-Howdy, Orcs of the West

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Jeffrey, reading your comments, I think we're tracking on the same level on this movie. The things that most captivated me are the things you mention from the third act, especially Ego's speech/review right at the end, which is magical, but which elevates the already good film to greatness, albeit right at the end! Still, what a thing to savor on the way out of the theater. And that favorite moment of yours -- definitely an instant favorite for me as well -- leads into those final moments.

Does anyone remember the exact line from the movie about how speaking the truth can make you sound crazy? I immediately thought of Lewis' "liar, Lord, or lunatic" argument.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: But, in your place, Peter, I'd abstain until the release date/time.

Well, it's too late. I had already posted opinions in this very forum before I got that e-mail -- opinions based on the PUBLIC screening that I PAID to see. As far as this film and my access to it is concerned, I am not a critic, I am just a regular Joe Schmoe.

Greg Wright

: Why is this even question in your mind, Peter?

I have lots of questions in my mind.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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