What's the Latest Thing You've Seen at the Cinema II

Pete's Dragon

The original was pretty poor IMO, this is a very different film. It is nice to see a film where the director remembers that you don't have to show an event for us to know it has happened. It is also nice to watch a film where there are no sociopaths, the 'bad' guys here do bad things that are plot driven, and we might do if we didn't have the perspective of the director to guide us in our choices.

This is not a film that operates above the child audience to give a different experience to the adults, but what it delivers is In essence an emotional piece about loss, and is pretty effective. 

I much prefer this to the original.

M

On Saturday I went to see a new print of Stanley Kubrick's 1975 picaresque comedy drama, Barry Lyndon. Some wil regard this as sacrilege, but I think Kubrick overrated. OK, he never made a terrible film, apart from Eyes Wide Shut, but his movies are cold, lacking a centre (a fault some of David Lean's later films suffered from), lacking in any kind of levity, and overblown. Too often he emphasises technology and technical virtuosity at the expense of character and story.

It's telling that in his most overrated film, 2001, the most interesting character is a rogue talking computer. Full Metal Jacket has its moments but there are far better pictures about Vietnam; the aforementioned EWS is just rubbish, while A Clockwork Orange is a seemingly deliberately unpleasant reading of Burgess' magisterial satiric novel; The Shining is a bit hammy (as is Spartacus, but at least that movie has a heart).

Kubrick's best pictures were made earlier in his career, before his technocratic tendencies derailed him. Lolita is a brave, if flawed, bash at a very difficult subject, while Dr Strangelove and the brilliant Paths of Glory are superb films.

But Barry Lyndon, adapted by the director from a wonderful 1844 Thackeray novel, might just be his unqualified masterpiece. A three-hour tale of the adventures of a wandering chancer and his eventual fall from grace, it is beautifully shot (with some of the fastest lenses ever made, Zeiss f0.7s) in natural and candlelight. It is slow, but utterly absorbing - and stunningly beautiful to look at, being reminiscent of both the pastoral paintings of Gainsborough and Constable; and of those strange, melancholic pictures of the great French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau.

The cast is brilliant, with a host of great British character actors (Leonard Rossiter, Frank Middlemiss, André Morrell, Patrick Magee, Arthur O'Sullivan with Michael Hordern as the narrator). Ryan O'Neal is a pretty-looking blank, but as the titualar character is someone to whom things happen, as opposed to one who makes them happen, that's OK. And Marisa Berenson is suitably lovely, and sad-looking, as the melancholy Countess who has the misfortune to marry gold-digging Barry.

Ken Adam's art direction is superb, the locations magnificent, and the soundtrack, by Handel, Vivaldi, Schubert and Bach, is utterly splendid. Definitely worth seeing at the cinema. An unqualified 10/10.

 

 

Jason Bourne (SPOILERS)

Hi Ej,

This is coming to the end of it run and so I don't feel bad about going into a few more details.

I loved the original trilogy of films, far more than I enjoyed the books, with the exception of The Bourne Identity which I thought worked very well. The movies had a level of grit that made me willing to believe them in a more real world way; unlike Bond, for instance, which is real world cartoon entertainment.

The original Bourne left much of the methodology unspoken, for instance how did he get in or out of Russia or the US? But it did show him getting picked up on entry to a country, and his subsequent escape. You felt he had the skills to travel surreptitiously, and escape if called upon to do so. This was a gritty world where people were up against budgets and resource pressures; rather than Bond where shiny control rooms were populated by models with gadgets that just gave you the right answer out of nowhere ......Q.

This movie moved Bourne from the grit into the Bond. Here was a man who was deeeeeeeeeeeply off the grid, and yet he did nothing to disguise himself. In the initial scenes he is meeting a former colleague who is highly trained, and does nothing to disguise herself. In the meantime people in a shiny control room use technological 'Magic' to trace these people, aided by their own ineptitude. In the middle of this maelstrom the black magic continues as the control room is able to use 3D mapping of a small part of Athens to determine where to place their man to give him an elevated position from which to fire at our protagonists, based upon a theoretical route mapped out using GPS(?) positions of police vehicles - all in real time.

The denouement for me was completely inexplicable. The antagonist is a highly trained hitman who has missed his target, he simply needs to get away. He walks out of the venue and can now melt into the crowd and contact his people to extract him. But, no - he steals a SWAT vehicle and goes on a vehicle rampage for no reason I can see apart from giving us the audience some action eye candy, I won't go into the physics of the chase and how I think it would have quickly come to an end.

Bond = YES; Bourne = No.

Entertaining? Probably, but for me I was irritated by what I feel was a film that cashed in on the Bourne character by throwing his essential characteristics under the bus.

M 

M, thanks - I don't mind the magical computers, the logic and plotholes so much as there was still enough Bourne for me. However, I do mind the lackluster Vegas sequence. An idiotic set-up with bad guys behaving in idiotic ways, a disappointing denouement with Bourne himself regulated to an extra, and a pointless Fast & Furious sequence. Would have loved to see the film play out in London via a game where Bourne sets the rules.

I have to say there was never a trilogy for me - the first two films make an excellent double feature; the third was already a retread, with some of the fun lost in the process.

EJ

Hi Ej,

As you have probably noticed I am a complete schizophrenic when it comes to details. Some films I will be rather forgiving, just accepting that it is a blast, others I will get rather anal; and I completely get that therefore for many people what irritates me will far more acceptable to them.

M

Swallows & Amazons. A very enjoyable re-interpretation of the book I loved as a ten year old. I had no problem with the elaboration of the plot, so criticised in some quarters.

Sumptuous photography. Good performances all round, no duffers. If you liked the books, this could be for you. Today's helicopter parents are in for a shock.

Chris

Saw this last night. What a thriller. Ron Howard skilfully assembles a mixture of (miraculously restored) old footage with new interviews; but it's not him, or the talking head, that drive this movie forward - itt's the four astonishly charismatic and talented men at the eye of the storm. It doesn't say anything that's especially new, but it's always good to see and hear this stuff.

Completely and unreservedly recommended - with one small caveat. Why the fcuk is Richard fcuking Curtis in this movie? And then he has the gall to say the Fabs inspired his hideous fcuking smug romcoms. Why the fcuk doesn't he take fcuking responsibility for them himself?

Bert Schurink posted:

I just saw Ben Hur last week. On the one hand it was ok due to the nice action and the 3D effect (while not used in an optimal manner), on the other hand my expectation level was quite high (perhaps too)....., so mixed feelings....

I had the misfortune to see this at the pictures the other day. It really is as bad as many of the reviews have suggested ("Chariots of Dire", "A Disaster of Biblical Proprtions", etc).

There are three huge problems with this movie - for a start, it is directed with an extraordinarily leaden hand by Timur Bekmambetov, a hack who does not seem to know how to cut or make his camera move; secomdly, the two leads are complete charisma holes, lacking and kind of chemistry; and thirdly, Bekmambetov's over-reliance on CGI (yes, that again) means that this most epic of movie epics looks tiny - really small-scale, like a poxy video game.The chariot race is laughable, really weedy and unforgiveably dull.

If there is one thing an epic picture cannot be, it's a miniature.

A huge disapointment, and I had very low expectations. It's also completely pointless. There have been three versions of this movie (1907, 1925, 1959), and the last two can be considered near-definitive, if you like biblical epics (which I don't particularly).

Most will have seen the '59 Wyler version starring Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd, which although way too long and rather ponderous, certainly has its moments, and blows this new one out of the water completely.

The 1925 version - the most expensive and highest-grossing silent movie ever made - directed by Fred Niblo, Rex Ingram and others, and starring Ramon Navarro and francis X Bushman - is a staggering technical achievement, even if it looks a bit cranky today. It cost the equivalent of $120m in today's money and grossed many times that before 1930, when people stopped watching silents in America.

The famous chariot race was shot with 42 cameras and 200,000 feet (ie, 38 miles) of film were shot. It is all real, with thousands of extras and dozens of horses. Many scenes were even shot in two-colour Technicolor. This is well worth taking a look at on a properly-restored Blu-ray or DVD, not the woeful '16 effort, which deserves to end the career of whiechever idiot came up with the idea.

Inferno (warning: some spoilers)

As the movie cleverly spells out for us, Inferno is part of Dante's Divine Comedy poem. And the film is, indeed, a comedy although I am sure everyone involved didn't intend it to be (except probably for the assistant screenwriter - who must have had a ball). Everything, from the quest and the clues, to the twists, to the visions of hell, to the militarised world health organisation, to Khan's super secret consulting firm, to Robert Langdon's loss of short term memory which means he can't remember coffee or his middle name, is a joke. The set pieces start off well, decline in quality, until the final scene literally falls in the water. 

Despite the script, the actors give decent performances although Hanks' Langdon remains a wet cypher (it is implied he loves women - nothing in Dan Brown's novels made me suspect that). Cinematography and direction are pretty good, locations excellent in a largely non-functional way. Recommended if you enjoy a good laugh.

 

EJ

I went with my daughter to see The Girl On The Train.

In spite of some rather luke-warm reviews, we both enjoyed this.  I did feel that some of the more graphic scenes were over-done but my 16 year old daughter seemed to think them very tame, so what do I know.  I'm starting to feel like I'm getting old...

Jack Reacher - Never Go Back

I thoroughly enjoyed this. A good action drama. That said there is no unseen twist, you will probably know what the plot is before all is revealed, and guess how the third act will resolve. This is no way spoiled the film for me as the actors and director hand in good performances.

Some young guys walked out of the cinema before me and were stating how they preferred Rogue Nation. As much as I enjoyed that it was pure popcorn, with Cruise being missed by a machine gun as he ran in a straight line as a simple example. This is not free of such tropes but they are not as egregious.

Recommended.

M

Money Monster.

If I have got a message whatsoever from it, it is about media and not about money. It's about how streamed events (you name it) manipulate attention and then litter it the minute the event is not interesting anymore. It's about how immobile and sterile human conscience is becoming. Soulless, cynic finance is just a pretext IMO.

Being a mainstream film, aiming at commercial success, no character is just positive or negative, no ideas are posed without an opposite, equally valid option, no fingers are actually pointed; everyone is as good as is bad, and so on. The world of people is introduced as a huge audience, and all the rest is cause and consequence of this. Julia Roberts is a good actress, George Clooney manages in a moment or two to act beyond his fine looks; but this fact that nobody is really guilty in mainstream cinema (safe, of course, for the currently fashionable standard enemy – curly black-haired, three-days bearded mid-Eastern holding guns and wearing Kefiahs), smells of hypocrisy.

There are a few surprising, non-conventional small turns of events; apart from that, a good one-room thriller in Lumet style.

Dr Strange

Growing up the comics I used to read were the WWII ones, generally based around the North Africa campaign as I remember, Marvel and DC did not figure .....apart from Dr Strange, which I read avidly.

I've got to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and loved it when Dr Strange first appeared in the Sanctorum wearing the clock and levitation.

I will be going to see this a second time.

M

Arrival

Thank you! An intelligent, well plotted and acted science fiction movie with an interesting premise; go and see this. Last year my top pick was The Martian, I suspect that this will be my pick for 2016. I loved the way that this was delivered, I won't go into ANY detail as that may spoil the experience for you, but this is a film that takes you on an interesting journey that I am sure you will enjoy.

If you want an antidote to big blockbusters that have ever larger explosions with a denouement that involves hitting something really hard, or fooling an omnipotent being who then chooses to honour an agreement with something he would consider a maggot, then this is for you.

Highly recommended.

M

Fantastic Beasts

There is a lot to like here, to paraphrase Bilbo the film feels like butter scrapped over too much bread. I think the movie is better when it stays smaller, the bigger set pieces just feel a bit too much and don't really add to the experience, especially as the situation is saved by what feels very much as a deus ex machina.

Glad I went to see it but would have enjoyed it more had it been scaled back and 30 minutes shorter.

M

Mr Underhill posted:

Arrival

Thank you! An intelligent, well plotted and acted science fiction movie with an interesting premise; go and see this. Last year my top pick was The Martian, I suspect that this will be my pick for 2016. I loved the way that this was delivered, I won't go into ANY detail as that may spoil the experience for you, but this is a film that takes you on an interesting journey that I am sure you will enjoy.

If you want an antidote to big blockbusters that have ever larger explosions with a denouement that involves hitting something really hard, or fooling an omnipotent being who then chooses to honour an agreement with something he would consider a maggot, then this is for you.

Highly recommended.

M

Yes, I saw this recently too - it's a good, thoughtful film, with a great central premise and a splendid performance from Amy Adams.

Mr Underhill posted:

Fantastic Beasts

There is a lot to like here, to paraphrase Bilbo the film feels like butter scrapped over too much bread. I think the movie is better when it stays smaller, the bigger set pieces just feel a bit too much and don't really add to the experience, especially as the situation is saved by what feels very much as a deus ex machina.

Glad I went to see it but would have enjoyed it more had it been scaled back and 30 minutes shorter.

M

Saw this on the weekend and probably don't fully agree, although it was a little slow to start with I thought the length was ok.  Really enjoyed it once it got going and some great characters in it too.  The fact that Mrs DayJay sat through the whole thing without falling asleep, whihc is extremely rare, is testimony to how enjoyable it is.  Agree the plot at the end is slightly ropey though. Still looking forward to the next one.

I think it was doing the heavy lifting for what is to follow, and I am not at all sad i went to see it and I will be re-watching it. I take the senior youth group at Church, this week it consisted of seven boys ranging from 11 to 13, they all LOVED it; none of them had seen Dr Strange!

M

Sully

Interesting. I found this film very effecting and effective. I am glad I went and saw it on the big screen .......but, I won't be adding it to my home system.

This is very much a watch once film, I don't feel there are any layers, and it certainly not an enjoyable ride. It is a powerful endorsement of having well trained experts in the right place at the right time.

A friend of mine is an ex-RAF pilot, I remember chatting to him just after the real events took place. His point of view was that the fact that Sully is an ex-USAF pilot was central to his success here. Air Force pilots fly but there primary focus is on the successful delivery of weapon systems, this trains them to have time to think in stressful situations ......in this case it saved 155 passengers and crew, not to mention potentially hundreds of other lives had the wrong decision been made. Thank God.

M

Star Wars: Rogue 1

More like it. Thank goodness the reigns have been wrested from Lucas' death grip.

In terms of the themes and their presentation this is more kidult fare, by which I mean that although more serious ideas are addressed this is are not approached in an adult way; however, I think this is appropriate for a Star Wars film. This is aimed more squarely at 17 year olds, and people who can achieve that age mentally. The darker tones were approximated by Lucas in the prequels but, I believe, in a wildly erratic fashion which was poorly executed.

In this film the team, and that is what it must be called although Edwards retains the directorial credit, have taken the Star Wars mis en-scene and realised in a the richest way yet put on screen. More importantly the characters, their motivations and actions are internally consistent and presented in an efficient and engaging fashion. At no point does this film drag, and when things slow for emotional beats they are earned.

Does the movie avoid tropes and unrealistic 'moments'? Of course not. But I think only the curmudgeonly will criticise the film for this, as there are times when we in the audience need a bit of space within which to fully experience are own emotional reactions.

Highly recommended - if this is your sort of thing; I'm going back for a second look tomorrow.

M

My Star Wars Film Order:

Star Wars > Rogue 1 > Empire | The Force Awakens > Return of the Jedi >>>>>> were there any others?

Star Wars: Rogue One

Mrs , Son and I went this afternoon at our local CineWorld, IMAX 3D. 

We all enjoyed it tremendously, quite breathtaking action, good story, some hooray moments and some tearful ones. New droid K-2SO is superb fast, funny and fearless. Still buzzing.

A fine job of fitting in to the SW timeline Appearances from Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and a period Princess Leia some clever CGI I guess, the princes was slightly more "real", R2D2 and C3PO were fine .

Can't wait to see it again, this time in 2D to get more into the story without being "diverted" by the 3D quirks, focus shifts and aberrations. 

Recommended by the Sanders family too.

So episode 6 next year and a Han Solo stand alone the year after.

Episodes IV,V, VI and Awakens are regularly watched here, the "other" 3 rarely seen. 

 

 

Rogue One

In Odeon on Leicester Square. This film's reason to exist is to explain the silliest plot element of ANH, and it does that in the best possible way imaginable. Lots, and lots, of fan service (including Y-Wing bombers pummeling Star Destroyers), cool lead characters, and a story that hits some true emotional notes. Perfect.

EJ

My Star Wars Film Order:

Star Wars > Rogue 1 > Empire | The Force Awakens > Return of the Jedi >>>>>> were there any others?

Contemplating this... I like ROTJ as much as the others, but in fact have always been slightly bothered by the medal scene at the end of ANH. At the very least, the Rebellion leadership should have been there. The prequels are just dire, on the other hand, I think the Clone Wars and SW Rebels cartoon shows are more than worthy of their place in the canon. The way the show brilliantly retconned Order 66 made me dream about a feature length remake of III using the cartoon's 3d engine and Matt Lanter as Skywalker. 

EJ

I just got back from an early morning showing of Rogue 1, it was enjoyable, some nods to people and names.  It's a shame they didn't put as much detail into Tarkin's voice as his visual.  Also interesting that some of the trailer clips were red herrings and not used in the film.

Guy007 posted:

Also interesting that some of the trailer clips were red herrings and not used in the film.

Good for them I say.

A teaser trailer for GofT season 7 has just been released it will be interesting to see if any of the clips are real or where they actually fit.

Just seen R1 again, in 2 D this time. Just as good second time.

We did the same for Force Awakens and you can concentrate on the acting and dialogue much better without the distractions of the 3D effects. Once you have seen the 3D version  you can kind of fill it in for yourself in the 2D film. Not sure if we will go again, but will wait for the Blu-ray and Sky+  versions.

EJS posted:
My Star Wars Film Order:

Star Wars > Rogue 1 > Empire | The Force Awakens > Return of the Jedi >>>>>> were there any others?

Contemplating this... I like ROTJ as much as the others, but in fact have always been slightly bothered by the medal scene at the end of ANH. At the very least, the Rebellion leadership should have been there. The prequels are just dire, on the other hand, I think the Clone Wars and SW Rebels cartoon shows are more than worthy of their place in the canon. The way the show brilliantly retconned Order 66 made me dream about a feature length remake of III using the cartoon's 3d engine and Matt Lanter as Skywalker. 

EJ

Yes, I agree.

I think the irritations in ANH (original - NOT SE) are far less egregious than the other two of the original films; which have too much schmaltz & product placement for me.

M

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