Movies


DavidMcK

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Mike, May I request a Movie room? It would be nice to get some reviews and comments on current (or old) movies. To start it off, I saw 'The Hills Have Eyes'....what a waste of $6...all blood and guts, no plot, just some people you don't much care about being chased by mutants. There was Kathleen Quinlan in it, I like her, thank goodness she died pretty early since I was a little embarassed to see her in this (she was in Apollo 13), and the little baby the mutants kidnapped was a pretty good actor..Ha!

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That would be nice so we can share the movies we've seen and our favorites. Well, if I ever get a chance to watch TV, period, it woud be nice. But my favorites right now are The Edge with Anthony Hopkins, great survival story between the man ruled by his mind, the parasite looter and the man ruled by his emotions. Of course, what's the outcome? You gotta watch to find out.

And another favorite of mine is Cast Away with Tom Hanks. Yeah, kind of slow but another great survival movie.

Sharing movies woud be nice; that is, if I ever get the time.....LOL

Angie

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CNA, (or should I call you Angie?) I like Anthony Hopkins also, I remember when that move came out, but for some reason I can't remember the end.. renting the DVD might refresh my memory. Tom Hanks is amazingly versatile..who would think he could play a gangster like in 'The Road to Perdition'?

David

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Hi, David. You can call me Angie. CNA is Chris 'n' Angie, my son. :D

Tom Hanks is a wonderful actor. Yes, extremely versatile. One of the reasons he is at the top of his profession. I enjoy watching his movies.

Unfortunately I haven't seen Road to Perdition. I don't get to watch movies much anymore. But when I was younger, I was a movie buff. I even know the old B movies from a long time ago; such as Hell Night...that gave me the heebie jeebies. I couldn't have been maybe 12 or 13 when I watched it....no plot, typical B movie, blood, gore, etc. Oh, wait, a young Linda Blair was in it.

Nowadays, my taste in movies are far different and I'm a lot more selective on what I'll watch now. I love the survivor stories or the stories where someone overcomes tremendous tragedies, etc. I don't watch scary movies because my heart can't take the adrenaline pumping......LOL I watched too many horror shows as a kid and they always freaked me out. I don't like watching things that might possibly threaten a life.....Does that make sense? I'll watch it, especially if it gets great reviews. But they are by no means my favorites. They just don't sit well with me.

Angie

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Last weekend I took my son to see The Shaggy Dog. That was one of the Disney movies which I didn't see as the original version as a kid. It was a cute flick and very silly at times. My son digs Tim Allen because he plays his all time favorite superhero, Buzz Lightyear. :D

Yeah, I realize that there was a "business is bad" and animal rights agenda beneath it all, but it was all pure hyperbole and about as far fetched as the idea of a man turning into a sheepdog. From an entertainment perspective, we liked it.

Kat

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I saw Syriana more than a month ago, and I did a review on it. It's kinda long (what else is new ;) ) but I think it's a different type of review than normal. Since I did learn how to make and critique moving (and still) pictures for my first degree, I figured I could use that education to apply it to life... and I think it came out more mature than some reviews I've read.

Here’s a review of Syriana on someone’s blog and it does not necessarily paint it in good light. The comments are interesting also. Also I am not going to blanket the entirety of the movie with one word, first because that kind of reaction is immature, and second because the movie is complex and has multiple story lines that connect. Instead I’m going to use my old media education wherein movie critiquing was required to graduate.

The multiple story lines thing is going to be a wall for those who prefer to have a more linearized movie. Scenes jump between characters and in the beginning one must first figure out who all the characters are and to keep them in mind in order for orientation. And while this is happening, there are connections made between characters in which the structure becomes a network of connections. In general, movie-goers on the whole expect a film to be passive enjoyed– the plots are straight and one thing causes another. In Syriana, one sees multiple causes and multiple effects, where effects are the causes of other effects. This method of plot may frustrate those who seek to see a hard beginning and a hard end. Instead, viewers are met with a complicated individual-groups-corporations-nations-individuals network that has already been chugging along, and at the end, the chugging continues.

Also, the way the camera is used is more as an observer of events, almost in a news like way– yet not quite there. It focuses on the personal as well as the wide ranging; interactions between groups of individuals are done in a way as to encompass the whole web, whereas interactions between 2-4 individuals have a more personal appeal. Encompassing a web of individuals serves the purpose to position certain individuals within the plot, and due to my nonlinearized thinking, allows me to appreciate how this is achieved. Through it all, there is a marked suspense within interactions that were well done by the actors involved; the movie expressed gravity in many different ways, from small familial engagements to political/economic ones.

This is a controversial movie. If one takes it without critical thought, it’s easy to blanket the movie with snap judgements, quick quips, feelings, etc. The trick is to disassociate oneself emotionally while not disassociating the mind; to flip through the images in the brain in or out of sequence after watching it. I saw this almost a month ago; and have been thinking through it on and off since then. In the end, I like it. I like it because it engaged my mind to think and to pull threads out on not just the plot, but all the little messages that I saw inside and outside the movie. It made me think of what could have been done better, what was not focused on, how characters were portrayed, what events occurred, how did they occur, why, what ideas were expressed, postulated consequences of certain choices, and more. I liked it for its depth and ability to call everyone to task, to ask the viewers to really think (or not) about any of the issues the movie dealt with– the issues that went into the making of the movie; and of self-awareness of the state of one’s mind in response to the movie.

Some issues I saw: Choices have consequences. "The ends justifies the means." Personal responsibility. The value of life. The value of establishing an honest capitalistic self-sufficient economy with minimal government involvement (Are we there yet, Papa Smurf?). The weighing of whether life and human progress is more valuable than power and money (false dichotomy). This is applied to all sectors of the movie, from suicide bomber to corporate leaders. I think the main phrase striding throughout the movie, for all characters, is that choices have consequences, and that one must be responsible for one’s choices whether one is an assassin, legal rep., CEO, head of nation, or future suicide bomber. An interesting exercise is to continue the movie after the last scene– to expand the story. In addition, the choices outside of this movie are involved: plot, character, camera use, sequence, style, message, and how the medium is used. How does it all flow together? Do some parts of it stick, or not, and why?

Outside influences/Identity: One must keep in mind that this movie does work on the mainstreamic, generalized opinion of the notion that "corporations are corrupt" or "power and money supercede all other values" or "to work hard one must lie and cheat to come out on top" or "capitalism is bad" or "America is greedy". And these are not necessarily only statements expressed by liberals either– for it were not true, why would some conservatives adopt the very same actions in approaching a goal? Would this movie have been made, the book written, if there were no corruption? In essence, some on one side has descended into apologies while some on the other side has accepted these maxims as a must. Both rationalize them in differing ways, either through talk or action.

Already I can imagine in my mind the blanket statements expressed by various people of different stripes, stating one extreme or another, as they walk out of the theatre. Blanket statements expressed by the movie will perpetuate blanket statements from the viewers; and this is a vicious circle. In a sense, if one looks deep enough, this movie calls for redefinition of identity– of people, issues, values, and nations. It calls for the redefinitions of its own starting point. It calls for the viewer's self-analysis. It calls out for critical thought.

Beef: And because the movie takes this generalized approach to addressing matters, Big Oil executives don’t come out all that great (and they all come from Texas); while the plight of terrorists are downplayed (they are not all poor and lost and young). This is where I have my beef, that just as using an assassin to force a wish is a choice, so is suicide bombing. On differing levels, both destroy progress and to downplay one as a result of another is misleading. Where I would change things is to explore more into the wider web of terrorist activity– those that are independent of corporate activity but more of a direct result of religion. Alternately, I would also explore good and honest corporate work on an international level, without the perceived necessary baggage of corruption. The picture is not wide enough.

The play on "vision": On the other hand, the portrayal of thought-as-vision is played out at several instances. From blindfolds to TV images to darkened conferences to landscape views to eye contact to camera angle, vision is molded. But this correlation is the most profound (I think): the assassin starts to think about his actions while the suicide bomber starts to *stop* thinking. One sees this path happening. The end contrast is interesting: The expanded awareness in the wide eyes of the assassin before he warns of murder and he is killed (along with others) to the closing of the suicide bomber’s eyes before he kills himself (along with others). Lasting images indeed. Choices have consequences: what kind of vision is worth death? Shall we close our eyes and crawl in the dark? Or shall we open them and walk in daylight?

I walked out of the movie contemplative rather than emotional. Afterwards, I had a long mature discussion of how consequences apply to choice, of what things could be possibly done to progress rather than regress or digress. And the one thing that I noted was needed perspective: perspective out of the bounds of the movie, out into the reaches of the world. Perspective outside of ideology, outside of digging oneself into a trench, outside of immediate extremes. These are issues addressed by the movie: the ideology, the trenching, the extremes. And these are things I’ve found outside the movie as well, in reactions: too confusing, too much, too guilty, too liberal, too anti-, too this or too that. Such reactionary statements plead for the linearized thinking that most are not aware that they do. Such statements serve to set up a scenario where the complexity of the world’s systems are subsumed into inaccurate, naked simplicity. Choices of certain thought patterns are choices too; they as well have consequence when brought out into the world– a myopic stand may end up a disservice in the end; one might as well close one’s eyes.

"There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death." –Bertrand Russell

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Jenna, I saw the movie too, and was pretty confused about what they were really advocating, maybe just a better understanding of each other? At any rate, what interested me the most is that the more 'liberal' prince, the one that wanted to bring free market reforms, and a more limited government (or so I interrpreted it) was the one that was murdered. At any rate thanks for your review, a lot to think about here.

David

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Jenna, I saw the movie too, and was pretty confused about what they were really advocating, maybe just a better understanding of each other?  At any rate, what interested me the most is that the more 'liberal' prince, the one that wanted to bring free market reforms, and a more limited government (or so I interrpreted it) was the one that was murdered.  At any rate thanks for your review, a lot to think about here.

The prince who wanted free market capitalism, limited government, and to really make his country into a Western ideal was the sexiest character there. Too bad not many others really saw that and labelled the movie as anti-American. *sigh*

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Michael, here are a few quotes from Anthony Hopkins regarding this film:

"I think this is what the spirit of this film is about - the great passion of life that some people have."

"Burt is the sort of character I've never played before - upbeat. Not like some of those other guys. Most of the parts I have played are troubled, tortured, lonely souls - and I'm not like that at all."

"This is the best thing I've done...the best experience I've had."

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Thanks for the very thorough review of Syriana. I'll have to check that one out. Your review reminds me a lot of Munich (sorry, no highly detailed review here). Not in particulars of plot, but in the 30,000 foot sense of an imperfect yet well-made, stimulating, controversial, contemplative film to which I think many Objectivists and conservatives unfortunately had an oversimplified negative reaction.

That's also about the tenth rave review of V for Vendetta I've heard from an Oist or libertarian, sounds like it's worthy of catching in the theater too. I'm now a little envious of a friend of mine who caught it on premier night at an IMAX.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jenna:

~~ Interesting analysis re Syriana. Read enough other reviews to know 'not my type' (I'll not go into reasons.) Does sound interesting, though, akin to a lot of Robert Altman's story-style in his movies: multiple characters having nothing directly to do with most of the others, but ntl, with 4-degrees-of-separation amongst them re an ongoing conflux of varied agendas that finally coalesces into a...'happening.' (I believe that Crash is similar: haven't seen it.)

~~ I'd be curious if you'd bring the same perspective to another film mentioned, Shrek (and Shreck-2) :D I only mention the movie here because it's been mentioned and, it's been a favorite of my Down S...for a yr or so. It's a rare day we're not hearing them rerun over and over (he's bored with Pavarotti and Barney now) - especially the music segment at the end. It really was a fascinatingly original story...for it's type.

~~ And of course, there's V. Haven't seen it, but, read the p-b novelization-of-the-movie (fantastic, I thought.) Read a lot of the background (Alan Moore, an anarchist wannabee) re the graphic novel, the 'message', Thatcher, etc. --- Interesting. My 13-yr old and I will be catching it this week...after I have him read about Guy Fawkes as a condition of going. --- What is it about these black-clad, swashbuckling cape-wearing masked-men-of-the-night in fiction mewonders? Opera-Phantom, Batman, Zorro...V --- pretty soon someone'll do a 'Shreck'-style story where they all meet up in a 'Matrix'-cyberworld, I'd guess. --- (Now, if only Catwoman wore a cape! [Please, don't bring up 'Batgirl'])

LLAP

J:D

P.S: Mike: re AH: Hannibal is construable as a literal personification of Mr. Death/Joe Black, no? Leastways, if you crossed his...artistic or justice 'sensitivities.' (At least 'Joe' had some respect for 'lesser' humans, though). --- True, Hopkins was mesmerizingly fascinating in both. But, then: when hasn't he been?

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