Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: Movies  (Read 51651 times)
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oilcanboyd23
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« Reply #270 on: May 31, 2007, 03:44:15 PM »

How in the world did Ken Watanbe not even get nominated for his performance in "Letters From Iwo Jima"?  Or the kid for that matter?   I mean, I like Leo Dicaprio and all, and I never saw "Blood Diamond", but come on...

Oh, and I like Ryan Golsing, too, and I liked "Half Nelson" and thought he was great in it, and I don't know "acting" from shinola, but still - all I know is what I see, and after watching "LFIJ", I was blown away by Watanbe and by the kid, much more so than after watching "Half Nelson".
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madupont
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« Reply #271 on: May 31, 2007, 04:19:20 PM »

Had you seen him in -- Memoirs of a Geisha?

There's a lot of "corn" there,and a lot of historicity of a cultural sort throughout Asia, but his is the finer performance  in this divertisement, perhaps when you get really tired of two or three hysterical females.
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oilcanboyd23
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« Reply #272 on: May 31, 2007, 04:19:57 PM »

Oh, and speaking of "should be nominated," look no further than Molly Shannon in "Year Of The Dog".  I know what you're thinking, and I'd be thinking the same thing, but crazy as it may sound, as you watch the movie you can't help but think wow, what a breakthrough for Molly Shannon.  

I guess Mike White just must have seen something in her that no one else in the world saw, gave her a chance and she nailed it.  You don't see too many movies with a female protagonist unless it's something where her child has been abducted or something, so "YOTD" was refreshing in that sense, i.e., you can't really say yeah, I've seen this before, etc.  Or maybe you can, I don't know... all I know is I can't say it was like anything I've seen before, that I can remember.

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kitinkaboodle
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« Reply #273 on: May 31, 2007, 04:33:03 PM »

Watanbe has such a charismatic presence on screen.  Gosling's role and convincing performance (as good as it was) simply doesn't compare to the emotional scope of LFIJ.  So, possibly, comparing the storylines, Gosling carried the movie/vehicle, whereas Watanbe (as good as he was) was carried by the larger vehicle...
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harrie
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« Reply #274 on: May 31, 2007, 04:35:00 PM »

Razz me for saying this, but I've always really disliked Molly Shannon's work on SNL; to me, Ms. Shannon and a handful of others were poster children for why the show sucks.  But a while back she did an episode of Scrubs (yeah, I know), and IMHO actually came off sympathetically.  I was really surprised, but thought she did a decent job. 

So, I am not surprised if Mike White saw something in her, or that she rose to the occasion. I read a synopsis of Year of the Dog, and thought I shouldn't see it, but I don't recall exactly why.  I'll probably rent it some day so I can sob, blow my nose, and do all that stuff in private.
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oilcanboyd23
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« Reply #275 on: May 31, 2007, 04:36:23 PM »

Had you seen him in -- Memoirs of a Geisha?

I did not - that girl is really cute and all, but I just couldn't see myself watching that movie.  Anyways, if you liked KW at all in "MOAG" or anything else, then you will be blown away by "LFIJ".  

Oh, and I was just reading about it, and the kid who played Saigo (who I referred to earlier as "the kid") in the movie, who also gave a great performance, is actually in a Japanese "boy-band" called Arashi.  The movie really gets into the whole nature of the Japanese mindset, the whole "death with honor" thing, and the paradox of how that might require suicide, and yet you're doing the enemy a favor at the same time, etc.  

The kid is the vessel (or whatever the term is) by which we, as outside observers, are shown the complexity of the issue, in that through flashbacks we learn that he's a simple baker with a pretty wife and a baby on the way, etc., and despite his outward compliance with the whole "we'll die with honor here" thing that his commanding officers profess, he's really just like, man, get me off this island so I can go see my wife and baby, etc.

Watanabe's character is the Lt. General in command on the island, and thus the whole death with honor thing is explored through his eyes in a different way [I guess there's no such thing as a SPOILER here, since we all know that the Japanese lost, but it might be a SPOILER coming up in this post if you're spoilable...] in that he's down with the whole death-with-honor thing, but he sees it as yeah, die if you have to, but stay alive long enough to take out a few of the enemy with you, even if this whole thing of trying to keep the island is futile, if we can just hold them off for another day or two, that's another day that the rest of the Japanese army has to win the war on other fronts, etc.  

However, he's betrayed by his subordinate officers who, once it's obvious the US troops will eventually take the island, disregard his orders to have their troops fall back and join other troops, and instead start giving the suicide orders to their troops.  And by suicide, I don't mean running at the enemy and trying to take them out, but actual simple suicide, where you take a live grenade and hold it to your chest.  

Watanabe is pissed when he finds out, and you get the idea that, had they only followed his orders and strategy, they would have achieved a more "honorable" death, i.e., sure, eventually the US was going to take the island no matter what (they outnumbered the Japanese, like 100,000 to 20,000), but had the subordinate officers obeyed Watanabe, they could have held the US off for a few more days.  Plus, Watanabe thought that help from the Imperial Fleet was on the way, so he figured that holding the US off for a few days would give them at least a fighting chance, albeit unlikely, at victory.  But then later he gets the word from HQ that there is no help on the way, Japanese forces on other fronts are already over-extended, etc., and by that time some of his subordinate officers have already screwed him over with the above-described suicide order.

This post is too long already, so I'll wrap it up, whatever "it" is.  I'm not sure what I'm trying to say, other than "LFIJ" was awesome, etc.
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oilcanboyd23
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« Reply #276 on: May 31, 2007, 04:42:45 PM »

I'll probably rent it some day so I can sob, blow my nose, and do all that stuff in private.

It's really not a tear-jerker, even though her dog dies.  That happens pretty early, and sets the story in motion.  I guess if you're a big-time dog person then it might make you sad, I don't know.

I thought the movie was consistently funny (dog dying notwithstanding), with great contributions by every supporting actor.  Regina King takes the whole "friend of the protagonist" thing and just zooms with it - you'll notice that in some of her scenes with Shannon (the typical scene where the friend of the protagonist chides the protagonist, encouraging her to go out on a date with someone, etc.), in the shots of King, King is looking directly at the camera, and then you cut to Shannon, and it's an over-King's-shoulder shot. 

Whatever the intent of that was, the effect was that you get the full effect of King's energy and mastery of facial expressions and body language and whatnot that, as far as I can tell, is what good actors do. 
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oilcanboyd23
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« Reply #277 on: May 31, 2007, 04:49:24 PM »

So, possibly, comparing the storylines, Gosling carried the movie/vehicle, whereas Watanbe (as good as he was) was carried by the larger vehicle...

That's a good point, and maybe one could take it a step further and say that anyone could have played Watanabe's part and been just as good, etc.  I would disagree, but I guess you never know. 

It's an interesting notion, the whole "who else could have done that" thing.  One of the most interesting applications, I think, is in the case of "The Big Lebowski", and Jeff Bridges' performance as The Dude.  The first thought is, so he's a lazy stoner, how hard could that be?  But then you see that every single "uhhh..." and stammer and squint is scripted, and that the whole basis for the humor of the movie is the whole abide-versus-achieve conflict, and you realize that yeah, it took a lot of skill to pull that off.

I read somewhere that, when they were writing it, the Coens specifically had Goodman, Buscemi and Turturro in mind for their roles, but they didn't know who the Dude would be, and then as they were writing, it became obvious that it had to be Jeff Bridges.

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harrie
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« Reply #278 on: May 31, 2007, 04:53:46 PM »

It's really not a tear-jerker, even though her dog dies.  That happens pretty early, and sets the story in motion.  I guess if you're a big-time dog person then it might make you sad, I don't know.

Yup, that'll do it.  I lost a dog to cancer not too long ago, so it's a touchy subject for me.  Even without that factored in, I get all red and sniffly when I'm just flipping by Homeward Bound.  But based on your recomnmendation, I'll be sure to check it out sometime.  Thanks, oil!
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jbottle
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« Reply #279 on: May 31, 2007, 07:10:56 PM »

Does LFIJ seal the deal that Clint is the man, the way yun-fat would confidently assert even in his lesser efforts like that reporter/death row one that so closely mirrored and lampooned hackneyed Hollywood endings as similarly lampooned in "Habeus Corpus" and real actual Hollywood movies, that is, not only is Clint able to make a shitty movie about biting the hand that feeds him where the third act is all a dream and the level of preposterousness is manically comic like "The Rookie's" better moments, but also able to make a straightforward humanistic anti-war picture from the perspective of a once-vilified enemy, basically taking the ability to be funny and serious and in a career embody basically everything you want in a director?
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harrie
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« Reply #280 on: May 31, 2007, 10:15:43 PM »

Well, Clint is the man, at least for today, because it's his birthday.   Many happy returns, Mr. Eastwood.
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jbottle
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« Reply #281 on: May 31, 2007, 10:29:54 PM »

He make 82 look like he should have sex with Jessica Biel in his newest cop feature where he throws his badge on the table, lives on a houseboat, and is investigating the double homicide of Biel's mom and grand-mom, one of which (pick, and your screenplay runs from there, or both), by the way, always turn in your gun before your badge, it makes more sense, or actually, it sounds better to here the shlifffffff of a badge sliding under an under-investigated case, and much more final and terrific to hear the clatter-clatter-clunk, or any variation thereof, of the gun. 

"You ought to keep your gun.....what happens to a turned in badge, do I put it in here with the Tootsie Rolls and Kleenex, or are you still going to work the case, hell, take your gun back at least, I don't like the idear of going back to my car without you packin'"

"Fuck you."

"I wouldn't give you the pleasure..."

"Okay.  I'll keep the gun.  Tell "The Times" I'm on "administrative suspension," and I need a photograph.....

"I'm keeping your badge to play cops and robbers with your ex-wife later..."

"Fuck you?"

[fade to]

Militant Radical Agenda Skate punks POV down every windy locale in the Bay Area...
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oilcanboyd23
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« Reply #282 on: May 31, 2007, 10:47:45 PM »

Does LFIJ seal the deal that Clint is the man...

What are your 3 favorites, in the last 20 years, of any particular director?  For me, with Clint it's now

1 Unforgiven
2 LFIJ
3 MDB

and that's pretty strong.  I can't think of anyone else with a better (in terms of where they stand among my favorite movies ever) top 3 in the last 20 years, outside of the Coen Bros.  I guess Guillermo Del Toro comes close with

1 Pan's Labyrinth
2 Blade II
3 The Devil's Backbone

and you can't deny QT his

1 RD
2 JB
3 PF

Maybe if Mel Gibson can keep it together for one more great movie before he goes completely and irrevocably Heche, he'd be up there with "TPOTC" and "Apocalypto".  I liked "Braveheart" okay, but not enough to give Mel a strong enough top-3 to compare with Coens, Clint, GDT and QT.

I like a lot of Spike Lee's movies, but none enough to make a strong enough top-3 to enter the discussion - same for Scorsese, DePalma, Demme...  Maybe there's someone else I'm forgetting about?

Anyways, applying the top-3-last-20-years test, I'd say yup, deal sealed re: Clint=theman.




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jbottle
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« Reply #283 on: June 01, 2007, 12:05:24 AM »

Which = Yun Fat = The Man

I wouldn't put Scorcese in the last 20 yr. bunch but would have trouble calling his body of work in any sort of contention with Clint's, while Clint could always play the actor card and slum, Scorcese couldn't, and as far as continuing to make films and find financing despite being highly idiosyncratic, I would have trouble eliminating DePalma as well.

In fact, you bring up the interesting point tacitly that DePalma is the sort of medium ground in terms of never relenquishing the auteurist patina, while also not having the actor card to play and not being "loved" in the same way Scorcese is by mainstream critics after "Goodfellas" and Clint was after "Unforgiven," while "Carlito's Way" is almost as interesting a film as those two, or equally interesting if not equally great, all while the influence of "Scarface" gains popular and underground or cult status among the gamer ("Grand Theft Auto") and hip-hop nation, and is arguably the greatest and most audacious film made in the last 30 years...

...so, yeah, but I agree that while the Coen Bros. outside of "Miller's Crossing" have not made a film that I consider "great" on the level of "Scarface," "Goodfellas," or "Unforgiven," and I certainly include MC among those great films, no director or "directing team" has made a body of work that is quite as distinctive or odd as the Coens have, again, possibly outside of DePalma, who is just as idiosyncratic and strange despite having made the popular hits "The Untouchables" and "Mission Impossible," I don't know, I think they all fall along the continuum of art vs. commerce all with the motivation of continuing to work and continuing to make good movies, but I guess the most irascible and frustrated one seems to be Scorcese, who has been seemingly less prolific in terms of making movies and making a big deal about them at the same time.....and Quentin Tarantino is an utter bust on that front seemingly lured by cocaine and the art of "the pitch" in favor of "shoot something..."

Talent and temperment are uneasy bedfellows when you start talking money, but I would put Eastwood ahead because he always makes the donkey move, no matter how dumb, or belabored by unworthy quarry...
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oilcanboyd23
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« Reply #284 on: June 01, 2007, 09:44:39 AM »

I hadn't considered the "talking money" aspect in analyzing "theman" status, and that's a major factor, no doubt.   When asked if "The Hudsucker Proxy" was a case of the Coens trying to sell out, Ethan answered, "Sure... isn't everybody?"

While no analysis of "theman" status is complete without looking at the money, my little game is more fun if you keep it simple - pick a director, then pick your 3 favorite movies that he or she has done in the last 20 years, and then look at where those 3 place in your list of favorite movies of all time.  For me, the game is easy/boring at first, because BF, MC and TBL are my 1, 2 and 3 favorite movies of all time.  But it's more fun after that, and it had not occured to me before last night that now, having seen LFIJ, Clint is, for me, clearly ahead of anyone else in the top-3-last-20-yrs game.



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