Author Topic: Resurrecting the Movies thread...  (Read 527851 times)

Offline MaineWriter

  • Bettermost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 14,042
  • Stay the course...
    • Bristlecone Pine Press
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #270 on: September 19, 2007, 10:57:59 am »

So as a result, it might seem as if people "hate" Titanic. I don't; I think it's entertaining if not great.


Personally, I think it's great.

People seem to forget that Titanic was number one at the box office for how many months? Six? And it won a slew of Oscars. Now I hear people saying, "Oh, Titanic...it should never have won best picture! It is such a soap opera...the dialog is trite, the characters two-dimensional, Kate Winslet was fat..." blah, blah, blah. That's their opinion...I still love it.

L
Taming Groomzilla<-- support equality for same-sex marriage in Maine by clicking this link!

Offline serious crayons

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,801
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #271 on: September 19, 2007, 02:58:47 pm »
Personally, I think it's great.

People seem to forget that Titanic was number one at the box office for how many months? Six? And it won a slew of Oscars. Now I hear people saying, "Oh, Titanic...it should never have won best picture! It is such a soap opera...the dialog is trite, the characters two-dimensional, Kate Winslet was fat..." blah, blah, blah. That's their opinion...I still love it.

You have every right to!  :) Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favorite actors, generally. And anyone who calls Kate Winslet fat deserves ... well, I can't think of a bad enough punishment but it would probably involve brown rice and low-fat tofu.

Personally, I was very sorry that the fabulous LA Confidential didn't win that year. But Titanic was entertaining, moving and had amazing special effects. In any case, to each her own!  :D

Also, I bet the people who dis Titanic and the people who kept it No. 1 at the box office aren't necessarily the same people. Lots of moviegoers probably still do love Titanic, even if most of them aren't Brokies. Though somewhere along the way I recall seeing posts by this very intelligent, insightful woman who loved Brokeback and was writing a college thesis on the psychological-something-or-other in Titanic! So it's not that the two can't ever go hand in hand.





Offline MaineWriter

  • Bettermost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 14,042
  • Stay the course...
    • Bristlecone Pine Press
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #272 on: September 19, 2007, 03:10:24 pm »
Actually, I never meant to imply that the Titanic-bashers were BBM-lovers. I was speaking more in general...for a long time, everyone loved Titanic and then, it came out on DVD. And when they watched it on DVD (probably endlessly), people could suddenly see the mistakes in the sets, and when they listened carefully to the dialog, they said it all sounded so trite, and they never realized just how cardboardy all the characters were, etc. etc.

It was sort of like, "Oh, Titanic...that's so 90s."

And it just irritated me because the movie hadn't changed. It was more like it became fashionable to bash Titanic.

L
Taming Groomzilla<-- support equality for same-sex marriage in Maine by clicking this link!

Offline oilgun

  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • ******
  • Posts: 3,564
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #273 on: September 19, 2007, 03:38:18 pm »
Actually, I never meant to imply that the Titanic-bashers were BBM-lovers. I was speaking more in general...for a long time, everyone loved Titanic and then, it came out on DVD. And when they watched it on DVD (probably endlessly), people could suddenly see the mistakes in the sets, and when they listened carefully to the dialog, they said it all sounded so trite, and they never realized just how cardboardy all the characters were, etc. etc.

It was sort of like, "Oh, Titanic...that's so 90s."

And it just irritated me because the movie hadn't changed. It was more like it became fashionable to bash Titanic.

L

You're right that following it's huge success Titanic became the movie 'everyone' loved to hate.  Lately though, I've noticed that several movie/dvd sites are calling it under-rated so the backlash seems to be abating, lol!

Offline serious crayons

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,801
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #274 on: September 19, 2007, 04:13:38 pm »
Actually, I never meant to imply that the Titanic-bashers were BBM-lovers. I was speaking more in general...It was more like it became fashionable to bash Titanic.

Oh, OK. I haven't talked or read anything about Titanic one way or the other in years -- except on Brokie boards -- I guess I'm just out of the loop.


Offline MaineWriter

  • Bettermost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 14,042
  • Stay the course...
    • Bristlecone Pine Press
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #275 on: September 21, 2007, 01:15:50 pm »
This is for Barb...Barb, your favorite director (NOT!) has a new movie out. Read this review and weep...tears of joy, maybe. LOL. From www.pajiba.com. For anyone who is interested, you might want to dance over there and read the comments. They are funny.



Oh, Haggis. Why Do You Torture Me So?

In the Valley of Elah / Dustin Rowles

Before I begin, let me set the record straight on my feelings toward Crash and Paul Haggis, the director of In the Valley of Elah, who has been a regular whipping boy on this site for the last couple of years. See, there were two Crashs: There was the moderately popular Crash — a ponderous, kind of dumb film, slightly offensive in its simplification of race relations in America, but as a piece of throwaway entertainment, certainly not the worst movie in the world, just another film like Breach or 16 Blocks that no one remembers a year after it leaves the theaters. And then there was Crash, the Oscar Winner for Best Picture — a schlocky, cretinous ham-fisted pseudo-profound film that violently curbed its message into a viewer’s jawbone like he’d hit on Tony Soprano’s daughter.

It’s easy to dismiss a director who attains modest box-office success and the right to make another, hopefully better, film. However, when that subpar effort is not only lumped into the same category as four infinitely superior movies, but is then declared the best, you begin to see why we’ve developed an unhealthy sense of hatred toward the man. On the spectrum of achievements and just desserts, Haggis lands so far off the charts that not even Phil Keoghan would await his return. It’s tantamount to Jimmy Kimmell — a reasonably affable, somewhat offensive talk-show host with the IQ of a dirty jockstrap — not only being nominated for a late-night talk show Emmy, but beating out the likes of Conan O’Brien (Capote), Stephen Colbert (Good Night, and Good Luck, David Letterman (Munich), and Jon Stewart (Brokeback Mountain). It’s untenable, and for those in the business of judging the qualitative merits of film, seeing a criminally undeserving Haggis win an Oscar for Crash rightly inspired some borderline homicidal resentment in many of us. (That said, there was only one The Last Kiss, and it was incorrigibly unwatchable.)

In the Valley of Elah is a similarly ponderous, slow-moving Haggisian effort that may even be modestly better than Crash. In fact, I even reluctantly admire the courage it must have taken for Haggis to direct this film. To be sure, there’s nothing new about the themes of Elah — the dehumanizing effects of combat, the way killing can rob you of your soul, and the difficulties of transitioning from solider to civilian life — but as far as I know, Haggis is the first non-documentarian to transpose them into the context of the current war, and he was even brave enough (or stupid enough) to do it while the war was ongoing. Indeed, depending on just how literally you interpret “inspired by true events” — whether the soldiers depicted were based on actual people or meant to be stand-ins for a larger segment of the military population — you might even find Elah mildly uncomfortable to watch, in the way that learning truths you don’t want to learn can be uncomfortable. Others may simply find the movie aggressively unpatriotic in the way it questions the Iraq war effort and characterizes soldiers after they come home, though I came away with the impression — given the toll that battle takes on the human condition — that it was questioning the value of any war, though perhaps especially one fought to “bring democracy to a shithole.”

I just find it a shame that, given the intended complexities of Elah, Haggis was given the right to adapt the story for the screen and direct it. Because, in more capable hands (I understand that Fred Savage is directing films these days), In the Valley of the Elah might have deserved the accolades and award nominations it will inevitably receive. It is, at times, a powerful film; unfortunately, much of the power comes by way of cheap manipulation and overwrought, in-your-face symbolism. A man with any sense of nuance whatsoever might have been able to create, with Mark Boal’s source material (a piece originally published in Playboy), the definitive movie of this war. As it stands, Haggis has created another more-or-less forgettable film that the Academy is likely to fall all over itself praising.

But, there is nothing forgettable about Tommy Lee Jones’ performance in Elah — it may be the best I’ve seen since Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson or Heath Ledger in Brokeback, a simmering, mournful performance that clings to you like melancholy cologne long after you leave the theater. Jones has always been reliably capable of playing his typical Jonesian cowboy: Full of piss and vinegar, a cocksure shitkicker with or without a gun. But as Hank Deerfield, he turns that bluster and bravado inwards — that same arrogant machismo is an agonizing weakness. He recognizes it as such when he realizes that it’s more or less responsible for the death of his two sons: The first 10 years before in a military helicopter accident, and the second (the subject of this movie) a peach-fuzzed kid (Jonathan Tucker) sent off to fight in Iraq, only to turn up missing, then dead, a week after returning to his base in New Mexico.

Deerfield, a former military policeman, travels from his home in Tennessee to New Mexico overnight (not before pulling over to instruct an El Salvadorian on flag-flying etiquette) to investigate his son’s disappearance. When his son’s body is found burned and in pieces, Elah quickly becomes an old-fashioned genre film — a police procedural, only the lead crime scene investigator, detective, and pathologist is a grieving father. Deerfield pieces together clues from the crime scene, from questioning witnesses, and from videos from Iraq that he discovers on his son’s phone. As one might expect, his son’s time in Iraq plays into his homicide.

He’s aided in this effort by Det. Emily Sanders (Charlize Theron). Theron does an admirable job with what she has to work with, but her character’s involvement in the story is a clear and extraneous nod to conventions of the genre, and her plotline, unfortunately, is where Haggis dumps all his ham-handedness. She’s there so that Haggis can introduce the jurisdictional pissing match between the cops and the military, who seem to be hiding something; so that he can follow the tale of the rookie lady cop who slept her way to a promotion to its logical conclusion; and so he can shoehorn a single-mom who has a kid that likes bedtime stories all into one character (and the title, which comes from a bedtime story Deerfield tells Sanders’ son about David and Goliath, has absolutely nothing to do with anything else in the film, there being no legitimately metaphorical Davids or Goliaths anywhere in the narrative). Additionally, the plot strand involving the dog-abusing husband is particularly preposterous, completely unnecessary, and distracts from the overall message in Elah — but it does allow Haggis to develop a scene so heavy-handed that you can hear knuckles burst from violently dragging on the ground.

But, while In the Valley of Elah begins as a movie about a father investigating his son’s death, it evolves slowly (but not quietly, thanks to Haggis) into a movie about the broader implications of war, ultimately hitting where it hurts the most: The disillusionment of families who have lost sons and daughters in the conflict, seemingly stripping from them the one notion they could cling to — that their loved ones fought and died for a worthy cause. And it could’ve been a great film, if only Haggis had not learned lessons in subtlety from colicky newborns. As it is, however, Elah is a mediocre movie with a strong message and perhaps the best performance by a lead actor you will see all year. And that alone, actually, is reason enough to see it.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife and son in Ithaca, New York.
Taming Groomzilla<-- support equality for same-sex marriage in Maine by clicking this link!

Offline oilgun

  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • ******
  • Posts: 3,564
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #276 on: September 21, 2007, 02:59:16 pm »
Here's another similar review from the Globe & Mail:

Quote
Okay, we see the Davids. But where's Goliath?

RICK GROEN

From Friday's Globe and Mail

September 21, 2007 at 12:14 AM EDT

In the Valley of Elah

Directed and written by Paul Haggis

Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron

Classification: 14A

Rating: ** ½ [out of 4]

Buoyed by the boast that it's “inspired by actual events,” In the Valley of Elah dearly wants to be the Iraq war's counterpart to Coming Home, documenting the tragic domestic legacy of a misguided foreign conflict. Wants to be, but isn't. In his first solo outing since the Oscar-winning Crash, writer-director Paul Haggis falls into a familiar trap, where his lofty social theme fights its own battle against the forces of artifice and contrivance. Once again, there are victories en route – at least one gripping scene and a quietly evocative performance from Tommy Lee Jones – but the broader mission is never accomplished. Blame defeat on a script that charts a steady course along schematic channels – it's way too post-traumatic predictable.

Part of the trouble is that a complex issue is packaged in the marketable form of a whodunit. The iconically named Hank Deerfield (Jones) is a father, a proud American, a Vietnam vet and, on a late November day in 2004, the recipient of the sad news that his soldier son met a violent death, not on the grim streets of Baghdad where he recently served but on his home army base where he just landed. Pausing just long enough to introduce the first half of the clumsy flag symbolism that frames the movie, Haggis takes his protagonist to the scene of the murder, where Hank is made to encounter a further metaphorically charged moment – the authorities of military and civilian justice have reached a Guantanamo-like impasse, the former covering up and the latter absenting themselves.

Luckily, Emily, the local cop (Charlize Theron in another de-glamorized outing), soon offers to assist, even while contending with her chauvinist colleagues (one of several quickly inserted, and often abandoned, subplots). What's more, she's a single mom with a little boy who should never, never have to fight in such an untenable war. Yep, the pat in the picture is starting to emerge.

Proving to be a crack investigator all by his lonesome, Hank appropriates his son's cellphone, which contains grainy video images of a truth that many don't want to face – that once-decent American men, placed in a bewildering urban battlefield, are killing innocent Iraqi civilians. Of course, you know where this is heading: These same men have come home in a state of psychotic rage and confusion. They're loose cannons abandoned even by the military that primed them.

The soldiers, then, are painted as domestic victims of the very carnage they unleashed upon their foreign victims. This could be a sound psychological interpretation but, within the context of the film, it creates problems. Not wanting to erode our sympathy for the troops, Haggis refuses to dramatize the stateside murder (it occurs off-screen) and confines the brutality in Iraq to that grainy cellphone imagery – he literally blurs the atrocities and, in that sense, behaves much like the mass media he's implicitly criticizing.

Also, with no guilty party here, the whodunit stalls, and the additional symbolism embedded in the title – Elah is the valley where David had his Biblical set-to with Goliath – gets twisted and blunted. If the soldiers are manipulated Davids, then who is Goliath? The obvious answer is the war machine and its architects, but surely the warriors are a part of that machine. To exculpate them completely may be politically correct, yet it's dramatically muddled and morally dubious, at least from the perspective of the other victims, those unnamed and countless thousands of Iraqis lying dead in their own soil.

No doubt, Haggis's rationale is that the perspective is deliberately narrowed here, that the tale is designed to unfold exclusively from Hank's all-American point of view. To his credit, he's cast wisely. Jones's near-silent gravitas helps to anchor a film inclined to float away on its liberal sentiment, and his portrayal of Hank's conversion, from committed patriot to perplexed mourner, has real poignancy. So does a sequence that sees the father and the mother (a touching cameo by Susan Sarandon) obliged to stand behind a sheet of plate glass to view their son's guarded remains – it's a potent tableau of grief suffered from an enforced distance.

But these genuine moments are the exception. Too often, artifice rules; too often, the script drops dialogue like the clunker delivered to Hank by a psychically wounded trooper: “We shouldn't send heroes to places like Iraq.” However laudable the intention of that line – and Haggis is nothing if not sincere – its effect is to summon the cynic in me, who promptly calls up a different line, from Elvis Costello, that has more post-9/11 resonance than anything in this well-meaning movie: “They're making heroes out of fall guys/They say it's good for business.”


Offline MaineWriter

  • Bettermost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 14,042
  • Stay the course...
    • Bristlecone Pine Press
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #277 on: September 21, 2007, 03:16:41 pm »
Another scathing review can be found here:

http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=3106

from the concluding paragraph:

...The mind boggles trying to rationalize how this scenario could ever transpire outside a privileged screenwriter's computer screen (or one of Fred Armisen's "I'm just keeeeeeding" SNL sketches), but this wouldn't be the first time Haggis has crapped on common sense (and decency) in the name of cheap bathos. Still, nothing—not even multiple viewings of Crash—can prepare one for the ludicrous bookend this racist sequence receives. It's so predictable you'd think Haggis would have avoided visualizing it—but there it is, stinking up the screen and further confirming Haggis's warped sense of reality.
 
Yowza!
Taming Groomzilla<-- support equality for same-sex marriage in Maine by clicking this link!

Offline ednbarby

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,586
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #278 on: September 21, 2007, 03:52:23 pm »
I'm sorry I'll be having to miss Jones' performance.  As a salve, I'll just re-watch "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada."  Jones directed that one himself, and did a fine job of it.

Thanks for that, Leslie.

(Did you know that whenever I see a preview to this movie in the theaters, which has been several times now, I say out loud, "Screw you, Haggis"?  Once, someone even laughed like they shared in my disgruntlement.)
No more beans!

Offline serious crayons

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 20,801
Re: Resurrecting the Movies thread...
« Reply #279 on: September 21, 2007, 04:00:00 pm »
Another scathing review can be found here:

http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=3106

Ooh -- that one gives Elah one star -- same rating the site gave Good Luck Chuck! Ouch!!  :-X