Film and Episodic Content Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Random Thoughts' started by purr1n, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    (some of you are going to to hate me for this, but here it is)

    NOPE was one of the most confusing, mixed movie experiences I've ever had.

    The good:
    • It's written & directed by a black man with legit black characters not filtered through the caucasian perspective. That's a rare, very good thing
    • The sub-plot involving Steven Yeun was overall strange and compelling
    • His child actor experience on set with the rampaging chimpanzee was straight-up terrifying. Everything about it, especially the child's POV (you're hiding and too small to exactly see what's happening, but know it's bloody & horrifying) was creepy in the extreme. His final scene with the chimp--beyond terrifying. I also like the way his "primal television experience" was threaded throughout the overall narrative, so the viewer couldn't get too far away from it
    • I like all the leads. These are characters I've never seen before; they stayed iconoclastic & individual throughout. My favorites were the taciturn lead, Daniel Kaluuya (so few lines, so much face- and eye-acting) and Brandon Perea as the bleached hair techie who never seemed to belong in any scene (in the story, I mean), but then seemed pivotal in many scenes
    • The on-set scenes with the horse & all the "movie biz" types were laceratingly satirical, very effective (they all look human but are something else again)
    • That scary "We fooled you!" scene with the 3 costumed kids in the barn (really scary)
    • The visual use of/emphasis on cheezy amusement/theme parks (carried in from US)
    • Cinematography of that compelling landscape and the horses, especially at night--spectacular
    • There is directorial skill & "vision" galore here. NOPE is clearly the work of an auteur, an all-the-tools talent to be watched

    The confusing:
    • I couldn't figure out Steven Yeun's adult character in the present. Was he crazy? Mentally scarred by his childhood experience? Or just another marginal guy running a marginal entertainment company on the outer fringes of LA?
    • The monosyllabic, muttered line readings were nearly inaudible to me. It could simply be that I'm an old guy w/earplugs in (parts of this film were crazy loud)...but I missed a lot of words. Even some lines I heard clearly didn't become recognizable dialogue
    • The whole role (purpose, nature of, behavior of) the alien space ship: I couldn't synchronize all the cues about the UFO cutting off power, then power back on, actions of the big colorful air figures vs UFO, wind, no wind. It all blurred for me. Example:
      • guy on a motorcycle suddenly rides through the plain (his function in this story mystified me) on a high-tech motorycle.
      • Apparently we're supposed to know it's an all electric motorcycle. I didn't know that & still don't
      • That scene where he's speeding across the plain w/the others looking on & going (each in his/her own way) "Oh, no, he driving right into (X)." (I'm thinking, "What is X?)
      • Then the bike cuts out & he crashes. More electromagnetic cues I didn't understand
    • Daniel Kaluuya's character seemed to have something figured out about the UFO (don't look up; ride a horse; drag plastic flags & parachute behind the horse) but for the life of me, I couldn't catch up to all of it
    • The UFO didn't look visually impressive or real to me while high in the sky--though it sure as hell did when it got very close to the ground & characters
    • The mixed results of the UFO hoovering up people & things. It's OK w/barbed wire (sort of), but gets blown up by the giant air-filled "Bob's Big Boy" figure
    • The "cinematographer" character (Michael Wincott)--fascinating, elliptical, unpredictable. Also inaudible (all lines muttered). Why was he hand cranking an ancient 70 mm film camera in that hostile, dust-filled environment? Why did he have a second, portable hand-cranked camera (which I'm not sure ever existed IRL)? I mean, What the fuck?
    Maybe I'm not Jordan Peele's audience demographic (too old, too white, too into structure & visual logic). Or maybe he's self-indulgent and willing to leave the audience confused & flailing at times...

    Overall, I'm impressed, but also confused.
     
  2. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    This is actually all explained in the film... the thing about NOPE is that it's an old school film in that many things are subtle, or not emphasized and you really have to be paying attention.... I actually missed alot of things the first time around, but a rewatch confirmed that everything is accounted for.

    I'll do my best to tackle each issue...

    -Steven Yeun is a cautionary tale/stereotype (although as an Asian he's an anti-stereotype as portrayed in the film). You have to remember that the way the monster is a defeated is that a balloon explodes inside of it... just like a balloon exploded on the set of the sitcom, triggering the deaths. When I say stereotype, I mean the way Hollywood doesn't learn from its mistakes and keeps repeating the same stupid shit over and over again in the name of "profit"... Yeun didn't learn the lesson of taking a native beast and trying to profit from it (like the sitcom tried to do) so he and his family paid dearly for it. This "profit" theme goes all the back to the cowboy narrative... as Caucasian cowboys often displaced and took advantage of natives (like the network did with the monkey in the sitcom) for their own gain... using black slaves and Asians to build shit that they profited off of (railroads, towns, etc). The cowboy backdrop isn't random, it's tied into the theme.

    -Yes, some of the dialogue is hard to decipher, it's really Deniro's fault, or rather the new wave of 70s actors that came out of New York and invaded Hollywood with their more naturalistic acting... naturalism also means mumbling apparently, because that's what real people often do. I was watching the Bogart/Becal classic Key Largo (directed by the great John Huston) and you could hear every last word of dialogue spoken, because the actors worked for the audience and the style was more formal. New actors work for themselves, so it doesn't matter to them if the dialogue isn't audible, as long as their acting ego is fed... part of it also comes down to the way sound is now captured and mixed/mastered... it's a very complicated issue that is pissing alot of people off. Inaudible dialogue in movies and shows is common complaint and it's a combination of the tech/methods/acting styles now.

    -The power thing is basically the UFO disrupting electrical signals, pretty much like you see in any movie with UFOs in it these days... I doubt real UFOs actually do this, but it's a clever cinematic technique used to build suspense and present dramatic obstacles. There is actually a line of dialogue (spoken by the techie) that explains the guy is on an electric bike and that he is about to collide with this electric disrupting field, so it's pretty straightforward... you could easily tell it was an electric bike because it didn't have a typical combustion engine/motor sound to it, it was almost silent. The guy's function in the story ties into the theme of entertainment and media like I mentioned before... he works for TMZ, so the connection is pretty obvious there.

    -Daniel Kaluuya knew the UFO was a monster because he knew horses his entire life... the way it acted, the way it sounded, he just put his intuition to use... and the incident on the set where the horse gets agitated (the guy looked the horse in the eyes when he told him not to), made him put two and two together about not looking at the UFO straight on, which is a sign of respect.

    -It didn't like the barbed wire... it just happened to suck it up... it doesn't like inanimate objects, which is why it spit all those random trinkets out in the beginning, killing the father (and after it ate all the spectators). The balloon exploded because that's what happens when pressure is applied (try swallowing a balloon). And it ties into the Steven Yeun character and the theme.

    -The Cinematographer is again pretty straightforward... electrical signals are easily wiped out when the creature emerges, so to get evidence they had to use a capture method that didn't require electricity... hence the hand cranked camera. He probably carried a small one because it's a good idea to have a backup (also in case the other one ran out of film)... there are/have been smaller hand cracked cameras. Dust is a factor, but not enough to stop people from shooting movies in the wind swept deserts for decades.
     
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  3. Aklegal

    Aklegal Almost "Made"

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    I just saw Nope. This was the most entertained I have been in a theater since being surprised by Knives Out a couple of years ago. I am still processing it. Little things keep popping into my head like how the young actress was a victim twice due to the hubris of the beast's handlers. Peele putting her in that crowd was genius. Maybe a comment on how people keep coming back to Hollywood are whatever is exploiting them no matter how much it harms them. She had been exploited by Yeun's character since the chimp attack and willingly so at the end. Or how Wincott's character's career had been about getting as close as he could to the danger he was filming. He obsessively re-watched his greatest hits. I couldn't figure out why he would run toward the ufo like he did until about an hour after the film was over. Then I was like "of course he would".

    Reading the last few posts in this thread has been fun. I am going to see it again next week.
     
  4. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    He also had a line of dialogue about the "dream you never wake up from" about getting the perfect shot/moment or whatever. Peele laid everything out.
     
  5. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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  6. haywood

    haywood Friend

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    Much like The Matrix you can skip all John Wicks after the first one and not really miss out on anything. If you’re feeling the need for the old guy revenge genre then you’d be better off watching Nobody.
     
  7. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    The John Wick movies are worth watching for the stunt work and gunplay. It's the main selling point.
     
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  8. Pharmaboy

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    Still, the 2nd and especially the 3rd John Wick run into certain issues and are less compelling than the 1st, at least IMHO.

    In the 1st JOHN WICK, the purity of JW's loss (of his new/beloved pet--hard for the audience to see) was the fuel and JW's legendary skills were the match. It felt balanced and right that he would mow through every baddie in his path towards paying back the specific offenders all those baddies were protecting. Fair enough.

    In JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 I found myself caring somewhat less. Partly because JW's motive felt less pure (and fun), given that he was essentially blackmailed-by-bureacratic regulation into going on a mass murder & payback spree; and partly because the fate of Claudia Gerini's character (sister of the main baddie & the main reason for the massive kill spree in the castle) mattered little to me. The combat with Common was great, but apart from that, I felt things erode a bit here.

    By the we get to JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3, I'm all tuckered out by the spectacle of this middle-aged action figure mowing down dozens of bad guys. After awhile there's a dull sameness to it. The film does itself no favors by hinting that every other pedestrian on the streets of NYC is a member of the assassins' league, or whatever it's called, and is coming for John Wick. Just too many people gunning for this one man, no matter how good he is. Admittedly it was nice to see Lance Reddick finally roll up his sleeves and get bloody. But all that glass breaking...? (paging John Woo).

    There's nothing left in this series except to A. turn JOHN WICK into Superman; and/or B. have the attackers be zombies. I might get interested again if he met, partnered with, and fell in love with a seriously badass woman mass killer. Everybody needs a significant other, right?

    I've liked Keanu Reeves' acting since I first saw him in MY PRIVATE IDAHO. Buried inside the John Wick action figure is a real actor, a man with feelings that his eyes hint at. But I'm not looking forward to CHAPTER 4. The "natural history" of these mass kill series is that they drop off in impact and quality (see the TAKEN films, for example).
     
  9. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    I don't really agree on the "skip all John Wicks after the first one" part. It's a legit action series and, as the man said, "Attention must be paid." (more comments on that in my other post here).

    I loved NOBODY. It was the first film I saw after being out of theaters ~18 months due to the pandemic. It was easily the best film I've seen since the pandemic and one of the better action films in recent decades. A lot of the credit goes to Bob Odenkirk, who sells the action better than I ever could have imagined. In fact, he becomes the action hero equivalent of the Jimmy McGill character in BETTER CALL SAUL in a parallel film universe:
    • He doesn't look like he can hack it (but he sure can)
    • Everybody discounts him (to their peril)
    • And he succeeds against all odds due to sheer force of will and persistence
     
  10. haywood

    haywood Friend

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    What’s missing is the heart from the original, it’s all just mindless killing for the sake of creating stylish scenes.

    A female assassin love interest seems like it’s just playing to the same formula. What it needs is a real purpose to Wick going ham again, and if it involves something he really cares about all the better.
     
  11. Pharmaboy

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    R.I.P. Nichelle Nichols.

    I was at best a casual fan of the original STAR TREK, but I snapped to attention everytime Lt. Uhura was onscreen. She was beautiful, but there was more to it than that; she was a talented actor with terrific screen presence. The camera just loved her face.
     
  12. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Great story I always like sharing (How MLK dissuaded her from quitting Trek):

     
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  13. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    I need a reality check from any others who saw the "Happy Thanksgiving, Miranda" episode of Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" series on Netflix. Overall I'm a fan of the show, though not all "guests" work out as planned.

    I'd never heard of this online character, "Miranda Sings" (comedian Colleen Ballinger) and was totally unprepared for this episode, which is & Seinfeld doing edgy improv w/her for 15+ minutes. I liked the episode and appreciated how each person took real risks with it: Jerry has nothing to prove (obviously) but hates looking bad, and easily could have here; and Colleen is the nervy unknown pushing an edgy, unlikable persona. So it's a high wire act, and I thought they stuck the landing.

    But then when I googled it, I found this episode in particular was despised and denigrated by many. Colleen Ballinger herself is a divisive online (YouTube) presence. For every admirer there are 1-2 haters. I'll watch some of her videos to see what she's like outside of the Seinfeld episode.

    Anyone?
     
  14. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    In the mid 1990's, I was living in Kentucky and had just landed my last job before breaking into the corp IT world. I was in an HR dept. of a local government institution. The dept. consisted of my boss the who was the dept. head, an older black women, and 4 "employment representatives" - myself and 3 other women a little older than I, also black. This was in a city with significant racial tension, in a dept. where we were responsible for actively enforcing affirmative action unto other dept.'s that sometimes resented it. Let's just say I was a bit of a fish out of water ;)

    About 6 weeks into the job we were all in a meeting and my co-workers were still treating me, well as a fish out of water. It was obvious they did not trust me. Somehow the subject of Sci-Fi television and Star Trek came up and I mentioned the significance of Nichelle Nichols role, though I don't remember if I knew the specific MLK link at that time. Smiles all around, and from that moment forward I was accepted.

    Nichelle Nichols R.I.P.
     
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  15. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Trainwreck: Woodstock '99 is worth a watch on Netflix. I actually don't remember much about this festival, I was 19, but didn't pay much attention to the news during that time, was too obsessed with movies. I was shocked to learn that it was a shitshow and filled with chaos... well not really shocked because nothing really shocks me anymore, but I really had no idea. The big takeaway is that people don't take kindly to be gouged by greedy fatcats.
     
  16. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    I was at the original Woodstock, which became a real shitshow for me (and others). I'm still reluctant to revisit this festival, or even just go to Bethel Woods, the world-class outdoor performance venue erected on the same grounds as the original Woodstock.
     
  17. Pharmaboy

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    Nobody has commented on Netflix' new thriller, THE GRAY MAN. Here goes nothing.

    I'm too familiar with Mark Greaney's "Gray Man" books to fall for an adaptation with a running time this short. Each "Gray Man" book is long, episodic, full of stops, starts, and exposition. The books have lots of action, but also portray a character (Court Gentry, aka The Gray Man) with considerable nuance and a complex backstory.

    Naturally 90% of the nuance goes out the window in a 2 hour film, even one with a budget as big as this. But what we're left with is actually pretty good:
    • I'm not sure Ryan Gosling is a good casting choice for Court Gentry. He's too monosyllabic here and his static face (he does most of acting with his eyes only) could be confused with a standard issue sociopathic asssassin, which this character is not. Still, he's a fascinating actor and I see him whenever and wherever I can.
    • Ana de Armas really anchors this film. She has little dialogue, but she's the through-line. She does action very well (see NO TIME TO DIE) and she's excellent here. Beyond action, she can really act when she has a line to say
    • Julia Butters did a great job as Billy Bob Thornton's wisecracking daughter
    • It's always great to see BBT in a drama, though he isn't given much to do here
    • Action is the star in this film: it's frequent, kinetic, bloody as hell, and very entertaining. The film delivers some major special effects set pieces.
    I didn't buy Chris Evans as the sociopathic bad guy. Sorry--even with a Hitler moustache, this actor is too wholesome and nice. He's a good actor and a veteran of many action flicks, but he's miscast here.

    Net/net: THE GRAY MAN is good for what it tries to do. Maybe the next one will try a little harder...
     
  18. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I thought The Gray Man was the Bourne Identity meets John Wick meets Mission Impossible. As a Gosling fan I was hoping for more story and development but this film took no time for that. It just explodes out the gate and rarely lets up. I don’t know anything about the books but the movie was fun and I enjoyed it, even if I wanted more from it.
     
  19. crenca

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    Say more say more...I can tell it was traumatic but with 52 years are you ready to tell the story, at least a few sentences?
     
  20. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I liked the Gray Man well enough. Nothing amazing, but solid netflix action distraction.
     

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