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Films The Official bit-tech Movie Thread - What have you seen lately?

Discussion in 'General' started by knuck, 13 Jun 2010.

  1. IanW

    IanW Grumpy Old Git

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    My opinion on movie series:-
    Kirk-era Star Trek should've ended after movie #4: "The Voyage Home"
    (That's the "Save the Whales" one.)
     
  2. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Merom Celeron 4 lyfe

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    I still haven't seen that, though I have heard a lot of fans remark on how absurd it is that the best ST movie is the one about time travelling to kidnap a whale. It does sound really dumb. I'm getting it. I look forward to finding out how they manage to make it not dumb.

    Also added License to Kill to the list because I never saw that one. I was pleasantly surprised by Dr No being quite a good film in its own right, so perhaps I've overlooked old Bond unfairly (I saw one scene of Roger Moore running across alligators and just noped out of the whole franchise, then came back in time to see Pierce Brosnan windsurfing down a tidal wave and noped out again.)
     
  3. David

    David μoʍ ɼouმ qᴉq λon ƨbԍuq ϝʁλᴉuმ ϝo ʁԍɑq ϝμᴉƨ

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    It's very dear to my heart, but it does require you to turn up your suspension of disbelief to eleven.
     
  4. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    I don't know what you mean

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Merom Celeron 4 lyfe

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    Basic Instinct (1992) - 8/10

    Paul Graham described the 90s as the high water mark of political correctness. Because the 2015-2024 period is so noisy, online, on progressive/regressive issues, it is easy to forget how bad the 90s were for it. If you want to be reminded, simply watch Basic Instinct, which is a roundly excellent boundary-pushing, genre-hopping, psychosexual neo-noir suspense thriller with few if any flaws, then read the Wikipedia article about its contemporary reception. It was lambasted for its explicit sexual content, its violence, its objectification, its depiction of gay people, its depiction of drug use, and probably for its bad language too.

    The premise is essentially "Columbo, if Columbo was a trigger-happy morally questionable coke-and-liquor fiend with a dead wife and furious pent-up sexual frustration, his main suspect was a deadly, manipulative seductress, and she tried to seduce him, and he played along to try and determine her guilt."

    I mean, if you wanted to engineer the perfect tension-building machine, this is the premise you'd construct. At times the tension is unbearable.

    It begins very intelligently, though I didn't appreciate how brilliant the opening is til its purpose became clear later. You start with a dead slow, boring, vague looking credit roll, then a sort of schmoozy, faintly embarrassing sex scene of a beautiful dame (face not seen) riding a rather unattractive, lumpy older man. She then abruptly murders him in a shockingly graphic fashion, with an ice pick.

    This sets you up to feel that you've been duped into watching something rather trashy and exploitative, a feeling some of the discombobulated 90s critics clearly never recovered from, because they missed the point. The rest of the film is dense, highly strung character work, as unpleasant and morally questionable people circle each other and play mind games.

    Our Columbo slips quickly: from absolutely suspecting Sharon Stone's character, Catherine, and resisting the palpable sexual tension between them, to giving in to it, to second-guessing himself and falling in line with her interests and values. Alternate suspects and plausible theories start to jostle, and we second guess our first instinct that she must clearly be guilty, despite strong hints that she is orchestrating Columbo's doubts and ours. Catherine constantly provokes Columbo, as the film provokes the audience, with the doubt: what do you actually know, here? Why are you so sure? Because she acts like a guilty person? What if she just gets off on playing with fire, acting dangerous?

    This is the material we're working with. It's a film about San Francisco hedonists and dirty cops, drug dependencies and promiscuity and the dangers of the amoral pleasure-seeking people who frequent city clubs and shag strangers, coworkers and enemies - a film about late 20th century nihilism and excess.

    So yeah, it's not going to be PG-13.

    In the era of Game of Thrones, the complaints about its sex, drugs and violence feel hopelessly quaint, a parody of social conservatism. It's a story about sex, drugs and violence, and it studies their effects on people very well and very unflinchingly. If you come away from this film feeling that sex, drugs and violence as a way of life have been recommended to you, then you haven't been paying attention.

    The progressive complaints are harder to mock, but just as wrong-headed. The feminists of the 90s alleged that all the constant tits & arse on display was objectifying women; this misses the point so bad that the point ends up in another time zone. Catherine is a predatory person who has learned to manipulate others; that a beautiful woman will use sexuality to do this (while a man will use charisma or bullying) is a fact as old as the sea. Her character objectifies herself to take control of people and situations, and it's devastatingly effective. The men around her objectify her, and it gives her power because she's ruthless and canny enough to exploit it. That's the point.

    The charge of mistreatment of gay characters is particularly ridiculous, and shocked me. There are three bisexual characters in the film; one is a prime suspect, one is a damaged little sycophant, and the other is a brilliant cop coded unambiguously as a good and honourable person. Frankly, I think we just have to remember that this was peak gay activism era, and activist movements get a bit excited when they're on a roll. Calling this film's treatment of gay people problematic is like calling The Godfather's treatment of Italians problematic. These characters happen to be bi. It doesn't shape or constrain their ethics, actions or their value as people in the story.

    One could still object: why so much sex? Why is it so pornographic? Why so explicit? We don't like lengthy candid sex scenes, euqating them with the schlock content in which they so often feature. This is definitely reflected in the slightly low ratings the film received and still receives. Sex, like comedy, is considered unworthy, lowbrow: not a serious subject for real storytelling. But it's an essential dimension of human life, and a very psychologically complex one. One of the greatest fruits borne by the sexual liberation of western culture has been the realisation of this depth: the discovery, through art and fiction and discussion and real study, that sexuality is not just a dirty little secret or a perfunctory shake of the marital bed to make more good Christian babies, not a simple one-dimensional activity like walking or blowing your nose, but a complicated tree with roots burrowed all the way down to the bottom of our psyches, and every bit as diverse and multifaceted as humans ourselves.

    So no, in a psychodrama murder mystery suspense thriller about a murder suspect and a detective locked together in a death spiral of morbid fascination and carnal attraction, the sex scenes can't be left out, or sanitised, or cut in length. Far from being an aspect of the film for which one needs to make excuses or apologies, they are one of its greatest strengths. Sex is really hard to depict well, and to act well, and to film well, and to write well. Proof: almost all sex scenes are bad, at best mediocre. Hundreds of cinema directors and thousands of porn directors have tried to commit convincing, powerful sexual chemistry to film, and almost all have failed.

    So it's worth mentioning just how good the sex scenes are, how good (yet realistic) they look, how well they express the interplay between the characters. They push the story forward and provide much of the drama and suspense, they illuminate the characters and their arcs, they deliver much of the information and misinformation about the mystery plot's suspects, they act as catalysts for major developments in the story.

    They couldn't do any of that stuff if they were mediocre or bad, if they were less than excellent. Good thing they're exceptional. Verhoeven took a risk by taking on a project where so much of the film's structure and workings totally depend on the cast and staff being able to pull off these very explicit, very weird sex scenes at a time when sex was frequently commodified in porn and sex work but rarely treated seriously in storytelling media.

    It takes a film like this to make you appreciate how important sex can be between two characters in a story, and what a disservice most romances and romcoms commit by either omitting them or sanitising them to 30 seconds of shampoo commercial implausibility and suggestion. It's the most intimate two characters can get, in one direction.

    The other two directions of intimacy are emotional connection, or trust, and violence, and part of the beauty of this film's construction is how it starts with all three of these forms of intimacy devalued and slowly knits them together. Our Columbo is a widower, his fling with a coworker has fallen apart, he's flippant and derisive towards notions of attraction or sex and even more so towards emotional intimacy or trust. He rejects emotional openness and mistrusts everyone; he pursues sex as a functional process, with disdain.

    Catherine seems to be in a similar place, though much is deliberately obscured for the sake of the plot. She seems to revel in sex, but as a practical exercise, frankly rating her past lovers and bluntly propositioning men to screw with their heads. She is the broken ex or the abused child of tropes, making sex performative or transactional to take full control of it and obstruct it having any emotional power over her. Anyone who has known survivors will recognise a feminist commentary on past trauma coded in her character that the 90s feminist critics were too blunt to identify.

    Even the unknown killer, who we suspect (but can't be sure) is probably Catherine, seems dispassionate, transactional, impersonal: there seems no motive, or only weak, utilitarian motives, behind the film's murders.

    The beautiful thing is that as Columbo and Catherine become closer, their feigned pragmatism and detachment start to dissolve and the three kinds of intimacy start to meld. Catherine knows he fully believes she's a murderer. So why is he willing to sleep next to her? That's a baffling expression of trust, or fearlessness. If she is a cold hearted killer, why does she give him so much of her time, research his past, learn his story? That seems like more than the scholarly research of a novelist that she claims it to be. It seems like a baffling effort at interpersonal connection. If she is the killer, why hasn't she killed him already? That would be a baffling act of clemency and abstinence. They are tempting each other, goading each other: will you kill me? Will you let me kill you? Will you trust me? Will you be emotionally open with me?

    This moth-like circling of the two characters was captivating, to me. Because you go the runtime of the film being fairly sure - but not certain - that Catherine is the killer, or one of the killers, or at least A killer. You wait for the moment when the film's opening scene of horror will repeat itself, and the tension of that waiting mingles with the warmth and excitement of seeing these characters grow closer and explore their intimacy. It's will-they-won't-they, but on a completely different level. Their romance blends the three forms of intimacy together in one big mess. First sexual intimacy is established, and grows more and more intense. Then emotional intimacy and trust start to appear, creating dilemmas for both people. The threat of the third form, violence, looms over it all, and because the audience don't know for sure whether Catherine is trustworthy, we have no idea which will win out between the incompatible intimacies of violence and trust. In a way, either would be satisfying narratively: there is a sense of Catherine knowing that structurally, she is supposed to kill Columbo. She's a writer. She knows that it makes sense. Is it actually what she wants? Does she crave the kill? We don't know, and can only guess. But either way, we know that the film's finale will inevitably smush together these three forms of intimacy, with one of them being suppressed but still palpably present. The tension is wondering which.

    I'm honestly disappointed by the amount of pigeon holing that this film has been subjected to: most discussion compares it to classic noir, and to other murder mysteries and thrillers, and laments its inferiority, which is all backwards, starting with the genre and then measuring the film's deviation from that form as a negative, rather than measuring the film on its own terms for what it's trying to be. It's not about murder cases or femme fatales or crooked cops or whodunnit. Not in the main. It's about sex and violence in relation to intimacy, and as a study of that subject, it's devastating.
     
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  6. mrlongbeard

    mrlongbeard Multimodder

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    The Flash (2023)
    I thought this was going to be a cringefest, it wasn't, OK so high art it isn't, but it's funny, it's sad, it's another round of hollywood sucking on the teat of a franchise longing to be put down and left to die in peace, but the worst thing I can say about this film, aside from obvious ending being obvious, is that it runs about 30 - 45 minutes too long.

    But Nicolas Cage as Superman, WTF
     
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  7. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    I'm sorry, run that by me again.

    No. Just no.
     
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  8. LennyRhys

    LennyRhys Fan Fan

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    @boiled_elephant that's a superb write-up there - I only ever watched the movie once almost 30 years ago, as a hormonal teen, spurred on by the promise of "that" scene, and I'm sure many young lads like myself got a good kick out of it. I have no memory of the film's narrative (no surprises there) but I am a big fan of Verhoeven's work, especially his earlier stuff, so I'll be checking this out again based on your review!
     
  9. fix-the-spade

    fix-the-spade Multimodder

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    Wait that's real?!? I thought that was a shitpost.
     
  10. goldstar0011

    goldstar0011 Multimodder

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  11. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    Nicholas Cage couldn't even be a convincing SpongeBob Squarepants let alone Superman.
     
  12. mrlongbeard

    mrlongbeard Multimodder

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    Dude, **** I do not.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

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    In terms of TV, The Good Place didn't overstay its welcome. It stayed great (and fresh and interesting) every season and then stuck the landing when they ended it.

    Breaking Bad remains one of the best TV shows ever, also ending when it needed to. I think Better Call Saul is good, but didn't need to exist and has its flaws. It still didn't milk the franchise dry and doesn't detract from Breaking Bad, so it's fine.

    Many limited series are good because they have a planned ending from the beginning. Scavenger's Reign is incredible. Everyone should watch it. I'm going to watch through it for a third time, I think. It's some of the best animation and storytelling I've seen in forever.
     
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  14. boiled_elephant

    boiled_elephant Merom Celeron 4 lyfe

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    [​IMG]

    My wife and I regularly have a friend over for 'shite films' night, this is going straight to the top of the list. We have a special affection for Nicholas Cage and have already watched most of his amazing back catalogue (Ghost Rider 1 & 2, Wickerman and Vampire's Kiss were life-changing.)
     
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  15. David

    David μoʍ ɼouმ qᴉq λon ƨbԍuq ϝʁλᴉuმ ϝo ʁԍɑq ϝμᴉƨ

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    I like Nick Cage, and to hell with the opinions of the haters.

    However, I have NOT seen Ghost Rider. I can't. Ghost Rider was one of my most beloved comics as a kid and I can't do it.
     
  16. mrlongbeard

    mrlongbeard Multimodder

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    Road House 2024
    Out House / 10, a true dumpster fire
     
  17. David

    David μoʍ ɼouმ qᴉq λon ƨbԍuq ϝʁλᴉuმ ϝo ʁԍɑq ϝμᴉƨ

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    Nah, you're mistaken. Road House (2024) doesn't exist. Road House was released in the eighties and there will never be a remake. ARE WE CLEAR???
     
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  18. adidan

    adidan Guesswork is still work

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    I think my opinion changed somewhat when we were in NZ.

    He appeared to be in a film every, or every other, night and it turned out to already be a running gag with my mates living there as in "what Nick Cage film shall we watch tonight".

    I just remember a lot of dire films with terrible acting, beyond that I've blanked it from my memory.
     
  19. IanW

    IanW Grumpy Old Git

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    That's the problem. Ghost Rider is also his beloved comic, which is why he insisted on doing the movie (see his executive producer credit, he was basically paying them to be in it!).
    They reportedly even had to blank out his Ghost Rider tattoo for the role.
     
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  20. DeanSUNIAIU

    DeanSUNIAIU Modder

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    He is in everything.
     

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