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Wow, I didn't think Man On Fire would be number one in box office sales this week.

I went to see it and liked it but my theater was pretty empty for a new release. I never thought it would do that well. Guess people like the latest tales of revenge.

"Whos more of the fool,the fool or the fool who follows". Obi-Wan Kenobi

Brent M.

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I saw the flick.  As David Spade would have said in his "Hollywood Minute",

"I liked this movie the first time I saw it, when it was called Ramborolleyes.gif

Oh good--another reason I don't have to see this movie cool.gif

Seriously--though I'm grateful to Sylvester Stallone for publicizing the previously obscure family name, I've also never seen any Rambo movie. I preferred it when people asked "Are you any relation to the gospel-singing Rambos?" (not really) or "Dack Rambo" (distantly) or "Dr. Victor Rambo" (yes, thanks). Generally, real-life Rambos are non-violent.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Beth, so THAT'S what the "R" stands for!

Brent_Dude33, you're in Canada, right? I imagine the film was a bigger hit in America than it was in Canada. It did have the highest per-screen average of any film in the Top 20 (it actually played on less screens in North America than 13 Going on 30 and Kill Bill Vol. 2, which were #2 and #3 respectively), so your theatre must have been somewhat anomalous. (And FWIW, apparently this was the biggest opening weekend of Denzel's career.)

"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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Beth, so THAT'S what the "R" stands for!

It's not really a secret--all you have to do is click on my WWW rolleyes.gif

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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They're brothers?

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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  • 2 weeks later...
Their brother, Scott, died at birth.
Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I mean, its certainly better than Lara 2 was.

Well, there's a ringing endorsement for you. Not sure I agree though. Lara 2 was just stoopid and incompetent. Man on Fire is ugly and distasteful. Man on Fire I would actively try to avoid seeing in the future; Lara 2 I would regard as a waste of time. I would probably rather waste my time with Lara 2 than subject myself to Man on Fire again. And I would much rather catch Pirates of the Caribbean for a third time (I caught it a second time on a flight awhile back).

it shows more acceptance of subtitles in general

I could give a fig for acceptance of subtitles. I do care about acceptance of foreign language cinema. Subtitling an actor who's already speaking perfectly lucid English has nothing to do with foreign language cinema.

Who can describe a theme in one sentence for Man on Fire?

“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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SDG wrote:

: I believe our esteemed Mr. Overstreet has already pointed out that the film itself

: offers a one-sentence summary of its theme, in a ludicrously deadpan

: plagiarization from a pop-culture source: "Revenge is a dish best served cold."

Actually, if memory serves, I believe Creasy says "meal", not "dish". "Dish" is what it says in the ancient Klingon proverb quoted by Khan Noonian Singh (and hey, when did HE have time to research Klingon literature, given that he was a 20th-century Earthling who went into suspended animation and then got stranded on a barren planet almost as soon as he woke up in the 23rd century?) and at the beginning of Kill Bill. But I have heard that the saying goes back to other, real-world cultures too -- which, given that ST2:TWOK director Nicholas Meyer is notorious for plagiarizing or borrowing phrases from other sources (he especially indulges himself in this regard in ST6:TUC), sounds perfectly plausible to me.

"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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I too saw this last weekend, and agree with several here that thought it was no good. I thought a few of the moments between Creazy and Pita were nicely done, but overall I felt that this movie was trying to make me ADD. I was also more than disturbed at the last hour or so. The cold and calculating way in which he picks off victim after victim, causing intense suffering for them in the process, was outright cruel. Making it worse were the several people in the theater laughing during these scenes, as if this was somehow great entertainment. I'm sorry, but watching some guys fingers get sliced off and enjoying it is simply sick and twisted. Ugh.

spoilers1.gif

One comment on a recent post by SDG:

What I DON'T buy for a second is the big heavy demanding that Creazy sacrifice himself -- "A life for a life" -- when Creazy has his brother and family hostage. "Okay, you let your hostages go, and I'll let mine go -- and then I get to kill you"? Yeah, right -- like he's in any position to make any such demand -- like he has any reason to think Creazy will go along with this, as opposed to playing hardball.

While I would hate to place myself in the position of defending this movie in any way, this made sense to me because of one other factor. When Creazy makes that deal, he has already been shot in the chest by the brother, so I think he knows he is going to die anyway. And instead of dying in the presence of the newly freed Pita and her mother, maybe he just thinks it's better to go off with the bad guys and die there.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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Peter T Chattaway wrote:

Actually, if memory serves, I believe Creasy says "meal", not "dish".

Yes, I noticed you calling out that distinction (or rather variation) in an earlier post in which you slashed "dish/meal" (or perhaps it was "meal/dish"). Didn't remember which it was (and didn't really care). Whatever cultural precedents the saying might have, in OUR culture it inevitably recalls TWOK, dish/meal variations notwithstanding.

“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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John wrote:

While I would hate to place myself in the position of defending this movie in any way, this made sense to me because of one other factor. When Creazy makes that deal, he has already been shot in the chest by the brother, so I think he knows he is going to die anyway. And instead of dying in the presence of the newly freed Pita and her mother, maybe he just thinks it's better to go off with the bad guys and die there.

John,

Actually, I specifically distinguished the question of whether Creazy would agree to the terms (which under the circumstances I'm willing to concede) from whether the bad guy would demand such terms (which is what I consider ridiculous).

The bad guy doesn't know that Creazy has been mortally injured (if indeed he has), and there is just no way he is going to think he can get Creazy to agree to a deal that says "I release my hostages, you release yours, and then I get to kill you." Creazy might agree in fact, but given the bad guy's information at the moment Creazy's agreement is so far-fetched that he would never demand such terms in the first place.

The ONLY reason he demands those terms is that the screenwriters want a "redemptive" ending to paper over the brutality of the preceding hour. (But how "redemptive" is it if Creazy's dying anyway?)

I was also more than disturbed at the last hour or so. The cold and calculating way in which he picks off victim after victim, causing intense suffering for them in the process, was outright cruel. Making it worse were the several people in the theater laughing during these scenes, as if this was somehow great entertainment. I'm sorry, but watching some guys fingers get sliced off and enjoying it is simply sick and twisted. Ugh.

You said it, bucko.

“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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SDG wrote:

: Whatever cultural precedents the saying might have, in OUR culture it inevitably

: recalls TWOK, dish/meal variations notwithstanding.

Heh. Maybe I'm just insecure in my Trekkishness, but I would never have assumed that mainstream culture ("OUR culture") would recognize a stray quote that may or may not have come from a Star Trek movie.

"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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Actually, I specifically distinguished the question of whether Creazy would agree to the terms (which under the circumstances I'm willing to concede) from whether the bad guy would demand such terms (which is what I consider ridiculous).

Gotcha, I read over things a bit too quickly. I agree it makes the ending less than satisfying, not that I cared much about it by that time anyway.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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D'oh!

I just ran across a fact I certainly knew at one time, that the line "revenge is a dish best served cold" is found in the classic 1949 Ealing Studios black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets! I have seen the film, but long since forgot that line.

The presence of that line in a film of this magnitude does dampen my perception of an obvious association of the line with TWOK. However, I find that it does nothing to dampen my perception of the line in Man on Fire as "ludicrously deadpan," since the line has comic force also in Kind Hearts and Coronets. I'm not sure if I can consider the line abstractly from its movie associations, but I can't help seeing it as over the top, and a movie that uses it is either going to recognize it as over the top and capitalize on that fact to humorous effect, as in TWOK and Kind Hearts and Coronets, or else it's going to sound silly, as in Man on Fire.

“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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Of course, Tarantino doesn't just quote the line -- he actually attributes it to an "ancient Klingon proverb", which itself is intended as a humourous pop-culture reference, etc.

SDG wrote:

: . . . a movie that uses it is either going to recognize it as over the top and

: capitalize on that fact to humorous effect, as in TWOK . . .

Eh? Khan quotes this line during a suspenseful build-up to his first space battle with Kirk -- and he follows it up with the menacing line, "It is very cold ... in space." Now, of course, Khan HIMSELF is over-the-top, and Trekkies like me will quote his dialogue and his mannerisms to humourous effect (my favorite: "I've done WORSE than kill you ... I've HURT you ... and I wish to go on ... HURTING you"), and he is clearly amusing himself with the thought of his imminent revenge against Kirk, etc., etc., but I see nothing "humourous" about the way the film handles Khan's recitation of that line. The audience is not supposed to groan or say to itself, "Ha, ha, that was a good one." Instead, we are supposed to tremble at the thought that Kirk is walking into a trap, and the person setting that trap is enjoying himself.

"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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It's not a guffaw moment in Kind Hearts either. But you're clearly meant to enjoy the over-the-top villainy of it. Ditto TWOK. Or are you saying, Peter, that you don't think Khan's dialogue is over the top, only Ricardo Montalban's line readings?

“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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I do not question that Khan is over-the-top and amusing himself, but I do question that the film "capitalize on that fact to humorous effect". FWIW, having not seen Kind Hearts and Coronets in over a decade, I could not compare the two films' uses of this phrase.

"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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do not question that Khan is over-the-top and amusing himself, but I do question that the film "capitalize on that fact to humorous effect".

While I don't think that's quite what I said, and I don't think you quite answered my question, I think we're pursuing the issue past the point of diminishing returns. I'm content to say that I think that in giving the line an over-the-top reading rather than a serious dramatic reading, Montalban gave it the right reading, and that Denzel Washington's reading comes off as ludicrously deadpan.

“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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SDG wrote:

: While I don't think that's quite what I said . . .

Eh? It's a direct quote. That's what the quote marks are there for.

"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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(as you wrote it, it seemed as if there were some larger point about Montalban's performance at issue, rather than this one line, and possibly as if there were a distinction to be cut between "amusing" and "humorous," which was never my intent. never mind. not important.)

The only point I've been trying to make all along is that the line is, and is meant to be, amusingly over-the-top in TWOK, Kind Hearts, and Kill Bill, whereas in Man on Fire it is meant to sound cool and dramatic, and therefore sounds ludicrously deadpan.

“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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  • 8 months later...
His initials are J.C.

He's got scars on his hands.

He's your security and help in trouble.

And he's going to try to pay the ransom to rescue the one he cares about, the one who is being held by devils.

He keeps God's Word close by and looks heavenward searchingly.

He's called "Creezy," as in "Jeezy Creezy."

Boy, he's some kinda Christ figure, all right. The kind that carries a grenade launcher.

Denzel Washington is strong and intense here, and his bond with Dakota Fanning is sympathy-earning.

But Tony Scott's hyper-style is just out of control here. The twitchy, schizophrenic editing becomes distracting and annoying. Remember the opening credits of "Se7en"? Imagine an entire film playing out that way.

The movie aims for the lowest common denominator of the audience, constantly reminding us with visual flashbacks of who people are when their names are mentioned, and subtitling the most obvious Latin American dialogue... and THEN subtitling clear-as-day English dialogue... why? Because it looks cool, I guess. The subtitles glide across the screen, flicker, fade, twitch, cast shadows. They underline any line that the director wants to give extra punch to, as if the actors aren't good enough with their lines. When Denzel's torturing one of his captives, he shouts, "WHO'S YOUR BOSS?! WHO'S YOUR BOSS?!" and so do the subtitles. Distracting, off-putting, ridiculous. Worse is the way they keep giving us flashbacks of the big kidnapping, the screaming, the panic, as if we could forget the pivotal crisis of the film. Reminded me of 21 Grams in that way.

And speaking of torture, here's a timely story: An American barges into a foreign country, overturns law and order on his way to root out terrorists HIS way. When he finds them, he tortures them Tarantino-style (cool radio music playing and all) and then kills them. He also tortures and kills those who have "sheltered" them. Then he blows up whatever structure he found them in as he walks away. Yes, this is your Christ figure... destroying all in his path for his own vigilante justice, and then claiming the right of Christ figure. He's so Christlike, he'll torment a bad guy in front of a statue of Christ on the cross, until the exchange ends in a truly unholy fashion.

The Lisa-Gerard-clone soundtrack pushes that style over the edge. It's now been overdone, and should never be used again. "Whale Rider" was its last healthy breath. Here, it's just another element of self-importance.

It's THIS kind of film: "Kill Bill" quoted that old Klingon proverb, and got the intended laugh. This film uses it again... and it's meant in all seriousness.

Christopher Walken was the highlight of the film for me, but he mysteriously vanished from it 2/3rds of the way through and never returned. Probably because he was forced to say the line, "Creezy's art is death. He's about to paint his masterpiece."

Tony Scott, on the other hand, is not an artist. He's a stylist. And this is far from his masterpiece.

Jeffrey, this post is awesome.

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It occurred to me today why characters in this movie kept saying "I'm a professional..." "He's a professional..." etc. It was a code the cast developed and implemented improvisationally to continually remind one another that they were doing all of this for a paycheck.

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It occurred to me today why characters in this movie kept saying "I'm a professional..." "He's a professional..." etc. It was a code the cast developed and implemented improvisationally to continually remind one another that they were doing all of this for a paycheck.

laugh.gif

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Jeffrey--

The Lisa-Gerard-clone soundtrack pushes that style over the edge. It's now been overdone, and should never be used again. "Whale Rider" was its last healthy breath. Here, it's just another element of self-importance.

1. Clone nuthin'. Lisa Gerard did the song 'Creasy Dies.' wink.gif

2. I beg to differ on the 'should never be used again.' Lisa's great. Can we say TONY should never use her again? I'm looking forward to her score for 'A Thousand Roads...'

[iNSERT SIGNATURE HERE]

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