Author Topic: Jon's Random Reviews  (Read 65421 times)

m.cellophane

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Re: Singin' In The Rain
« Reply #180 on: April 10, 2011, 01:29:52 AM »
Due to an interesting thread on another forum, I had the... erm, "opportunity"... to watch this supposedly glorious film. I’ve never been a fan of musicals, but any such generalised opinion can lead you to blinker yourself. All genres have different styles within so you should always be open to trying them. I’d never seen Singin’ In The Rain, so maybe this one was different. After all it tops the AFI 100 Years of Musicals list and is regularly seen to be a definitive example, so maybe it wasn’t ridiculously cheesy and entirely false.

Of course it was; it was a bloody musical, what did you expect? ;) Topping the AFI list just proves they have low standards in this category because Singin’ In The Rain is so typical of what I have come to dislike. I say “category” rather than “genre”, as I really don’t see what artistic rules it can possibly have when the films so often use the songs as a crutch or padding. They’ve always been made this way. At least The Sound of Music had a story worth following and one that largely allowed for spontaneous bouts of singing at the drop of a hat. You see, that’s the thing that has always infuriated me. The way one actor starts singing and dancing while his or her co-stars just grin at them, politely waiting for them to finish. It’s ridiculous!
Musicals are a blend of music and film. Music is not a crutch or padding in a good musical. It's part of the mixture just as comedy is part of a comedic film or thrills are part of a thriller. Musicals are false in terms of reality but within the context of the conventions of the genre, they are true. Truth in reality belongs to other genres. That doesn't mean that musicals are cheesy. One can experience high art in a musical just as one can experience high art in a drama, comedy or the latest film festival discovery.

Singin' in the Rain tops the AFI musicals list because it's tops in the genre and not because AFI has low standards for musicals. The 2002 Sight and Sound poll puts Singin' in the Rain as #10 of all films, for example. The 2002 Sight and Sound poll of film directors puts Singin' in the Rain at #19 overall.

I don't cite these statistics to prove anything about Singin' in the Rain, but it should make you (and Antares) wonder why you have such outlier opinions instead of agreeing with each other and dismissing Kathy with fart and Barney jokes.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 08:37:08 AM by James »

Offline Antares

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Re: Singin' In The Rain
« Reply #181 on: April 10, 2011, 02:24:21 AM »
I don't cite these statistics to prove anything about Singin' in the Rain, but it should make you (and Antares) wonder why you have such outlier opinions instead of agreeing with each other and dismissing Kathy with fart and Barney jokes.

I'm so sorry Kathy that I dismissed you so harshly, I hope you weren't overly-traumatized by my sophomoric stab at humor?   :weep:















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Offline goodguy

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #182 on: April 10, 2011, 07:54:04 AM »
If I had to write a review of Singin’ In The Rain, it would be much more friendly and positive, but I would end up with roughly the same rating as Jon. The movie is funny, charming and joyful, and of the old Hollywood musicals I've seen, I probably like it the best.

Anyway, I don't really feel compelled to argue with Jon because he simply seems so far out of reach here that I can only shrug and move on. Plus, James already addressed the most baffling argument re the "realism" of characters bursting into song.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 09:56:08 AM by goodguy »
Matthias

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #183 on: April 10, 2011, 10:10:10 AM »
As you know, I am a musical fan. And even though I enjoy "Singin' in the Rain", I don't count it as one of my favourites. For example I like "My Fair Lady" better.
In a good musical, the songs are important to move the plot along or address the character's emotion more deeply. As far as I remember, in "Singin' in the Rain" it is more like they tried to shoehorn in as many songs from previous musicals as possible. For this it is well-made.
I like it more in musicals, that when a character breaks into song, the other character's do not really notice. Either because it is a inner monologue or thoughts, or because to them it is like there a talking as usual. Also when passerbys join them in dancing, they are not really aware of this. It's hard for me to explain, so I hope you get what I am getting at.
Bollywood movies usually follow this. Except if there is a party scene and everyone joins in in the dancing.
"Singin' in the Rain", like many Hollywood musical's at the time, is set in the show business and they used this as an excuse for the characters to sing and dance.



Najemikon

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Re: Singin' In The Rain
« Reply #184 on: April 10, 2011, 12:16:48 PM »
I don't cite these statistics to prove anything about Singin' in the Rain, but it should make you (and Antares) wonder why you have such outlier opinions instead of agreeing with each other and dismissing Kathy with fart and Barney jokes.

I'm so sorry Kathy that I dismissed you so harshly, I hope you weren't overly-traumatized by my sophomoric stab at humor?   :weep:

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That was a good post, James, until the last line. I think you were more offended directly than worrying about Kathy? I'm sure I made it clear, I accept I'm in the minority and cannot review the film fairly because I can't get past the basics. In this case, our opinions are not even that way off. Singin' In The Rain does feel overproduced and thin, and that last Broadway number is very long, and the view of Hollywood is romanticised at best, bordering on propaganda at worst (there's some irony in how real life reflected the plot in a case of who-is-dubbing-who). I've sat through Sound Of Music enough times to recognise that has a much more honest intention, and the real exception to my musical problem is the oft mentioned Mary Poppins which is wonderful. I can at least recognise a good film and I'm sorry if I'm treading on a favourite of yours, but Singin' is average.

If I had to write a review of Singin’ In The Rain, it would be much more friendly and positive, but I would end up with roughly the same rating as Jon. The movie is funny, charming and joyful, and of the old Hollywood musicals I've seen, I probably like it the best.

Anyway, I don't really feel compelled to argue with Jon because he simply seems so far out of reach here that I can only shrug and move on. Plus, James already addressed the most baffling argument re the "realism" of characters bursting into song.

I just can't make sense of it! By realism, I simply mean this: Hollywood formula, as an author I am currently reading puts it, is "Closed Romantic Realism". It's a Closed universe that doesn't usually acknowledge we are watching them (the characters can't see through the fourth wall, so to speak); a Romantic one because the plot is contrived to create certain situations and ideals that regular people may fantasise about, but rarely if ever happen in real life; and Realism, because these are normal people we're watching, who follow the same rules we do.

By the way, that last point can still extend to a robot or an alien. It's more about the logic of what they do and why.

So, in a musical such as this one, you can have a typical scene such as when Cosmo is talking to Don and they are being Realistic in their Closed Romanticised world. We, the audience, do not exist. Suddenly, Cosmo bursts into song ("Make 'Em Laugh") and is expressing his emotion to Don through the lyrics and slapstick dancing. Ok... But then Cosmo is clearly dancing and singing for our benefit, as by now Don would surely have interacted in some way.

So the impression I'm left with, because the film set me up in this world, is that Cosmo is insane and talking to people who aren't there, or he knows it's just a show and Don is nuts for trying to ignore us!

Weirdly, that Morecambe and Wise sketch demonstrates perfectly what I mean, because we are shown Eric's reaction in normally editing fashion, taking our attention from Ernie (when he's under the drainpipe). He then tries to interrupt Ernie: "What are you doing? I'm all wet!". He then, typical of their setup, turns to us and complains, "I'm wet through, ladies and gentlemen!".

Basically, they're being honest. This is a sketch and they know we're there watching them. If you tell me this is a closed off world, I expect it to stay that way, regardless of what happens within.

Mary Poppins does very well to show characters performing to one another and them reacting properly. They recognise songs are being sung and no-one selfishly gets their own set-piece and then pretends it never happened. This seems to be what Tom describes...

As you know, I am a musical fan. And even though I enjoy "Singin' in the Rain", I don't count it as one of my favourites. For example I like "My Fair Lady" better.
In a good musical, the songs are important to move the plot along or address the character's emotion more deeply. As far as I remember, in "Singin' in the Rain" it is more like they tried to shoehorn in as many songs from previous musicals as possible. For this it is well-made.
I like it more in musicals, that when a character breaks into song, the other character's do not really notice. Either because it is a inner monologue or thoughts, or because to them it is like there a talking as usual. Also when passerbys join them in dancing, they are not really aware of this. It's hard for me to explain, so I hope you get what I am getting at.
Bollywood movies usually follow this. Except if there is a party scene and everyone joins in in the dancing.
"Singin' in the Rain", like many Hollywood musical's at the time, is set in the show business and they used this as an excuse for the characters to sing and dance.

Exactly. Stress that it's an inner monologue, or react to each other. Either is better than this weird dimension Don Lockwood inhabits!  :laugh:

My next problem though, is that I simply prefer a solid piece of acting and well written precise dialogue to demonstrate what someone is feeling. But that at least is a bridge to be crossed on better films than this one.

« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 12:19:00 PM by Jon »

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #185 on: April 10, 2011, 12:21:06 PM »
As you know, I am a musical fan. And even though I enjoy "Singin' in the Rain", I don't count it as one of my favourites. For example I like "My Fair Lady" better.
Somehow I mainly remember the first half of it. "Es grünt so grün wenn Spanien's Blüten blühen." (to this day I still don't know what the English original for this is...).

Offline Tom

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #186 on: April 10, 2011, 12:52:52 PM »
As you know, I am a musical fan. And even though I enjoy "Singin' in the Rain", I don't count it as one of my favourites. For example I like "My Fair Lady" better.
Somehow I mainly remember the first half of it. "Es grünt so grün wenn Spanien's Blüten blühen." (to this day I still don't know what the English original for this is...).

"The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain".
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 12:54:49 PM by Tom »



hal9g

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #187 on: April 10, 2011, 03:25:08 PM »
Somehow I mainly remember the first half of it. "Es grünt so grün wenn Spanien's Blüten blühen." (to this day I still don't know what the English original for this is...).

Literally it means:

"It's so green when Spain's flowers bloom"

I'd say they took considerable poetic license translating "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain" to "Es grünt so grün wenn Spanien's Blüten blühen."
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 03:30:25 PM by Hal »

m.cellophane

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Re: Singin' In The Rain
« Reply #188 on: April 10, 2011, 07:53:28 PM »
That was a good post, James, until the last line. I think you were more offended directly than worrying about Kathy?
I was trying to compose my thoughts on the matter before Kathy posted. As I previewed my message, I could see that the conversation was taking a turn for what I considered the worst. I was a little frustrated by that but it seems that the thread is back on to a decent discussion. That's good.

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #189 on: April 11, 2011, 06:43:13 AM »
I'd say they took considerable poetic license translating "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain" to "Es grünt so grün wenn Spanien's Blüten blühen."
Well, yes. The key is the way she ends up pronouncing those words :laugh: Extemely funny; now I want to see the original to hear her say that (will go hunting on YouTube later).

lyonsden5

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #190 on: April 13, 2011, 05:41:33 PM »
Singing in the Rain is one I have yet to watch. Musicals aren't my favorite but I can appreciate them and do enjoy the good ones. I respect Jon's opinion but he has completely missed the mark a few time IMO (like here).

I think I'll have to bump this one up in the what to watch next pile and see for myself.  :tv:

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #191 on: April 13, 2011, 08:46:05 PM »
...I respect Jon's opinion but he has completely missed the mark a few time IMO (like here).

I was wondering what that would be!  :laugh: The difference with that review is quite clear though: I was right.  :tease: What I mean is, I was following the herd. It's recognised as a gem and contributed to a very fine year in American cinema. It's a very highly respected film. With this review, it's a genre I don't enjoy and you should know the film was watched somewhat under duress! :-[ I'm more than willing to accept I'm wrong on this occasion, but it's up to those who enjoy musicals more than I to explain why...  ;)

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #192 on: April 13, 2011, 08:55:06 PM »
I was wondering what that would be!  :laugh: The difference with that review is quite clear though: I was right.  :tease: What I mean is, I was following the herd. It's recognised as a gem and contributed to a very fine year in American cinema. It's a very highly respected film.

That is a film that needs to be seen more than once to appreciate its greatness. I too, thought it was slow the first time I watched it, but after my second and third viewings, I found it to be an amazing film.

Offline Achim

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #193 on: April 14, 2011, 06:13:01 AM »
That is a film that needs to be seen more than once to appreciate its greatness. I too, thought it was slow the first time I watched it, but after my second and third viewings, I found it to be an amazing film.
There are films though, that grant a second viewing to find out what was going on, and then there are those that were so boring or terrible the first time, we have no desire to go back.

Najemikon

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8½ *****
« Reply #194 on: May 02, 2011, 11:36:38 PM »
8½ (Otto e mezzo) *****

Year: 1962
Director: Federico Fellini
Rating: 15
Length: 133 Min.

A film director (Mastroianni) is struggling to find the creativity required to deliver his next movie and consequently is being hassled by industry figures as well as his wife and his mistress. In order to escape his tormentors, the director retreats into a world of memories, dreams and fantasies. The result is a dazzling array of themes and images which make 8 1/2 the quintessential Fellini movie. It also closely mirrors his own problems prior to getting the project off the ground.

Reviewing a film like is quite tough. Easy to recommend, hard to say why, and impossible to say whether you’ll like it, regardless of how much you appreciate it. Suffice to say it is an intensely personal film for the director, Federico Fellini, and it might just be one for you to. Its beauty is intoxicating whatever your conclusion, so dive in, embrace it and let it simmer on your mind.

It has such a varied and playful structure, that scenes can differ wildly, verging on a collection of set-pieces, yet they flow effortlessly together between Guido’s (Mastroianni) present, his fantasies, and his past. His memory of the exotic Saraghina is a stunning moment in particular. There would be a tendency these days to make the memories and dreams overly romantic and strange to emphasise their place in the story, but here the moments in Guido’s reality can be just as theatrical. There is no signposting between them either, challenging your own perception of the events. What I’m trying to say is that there appears to be no design, when of course there is. In fact, it is astonishingly clever as the self-referential dialogue relates to us the difficulty Fellini is having while making his eighth and a half film, within the film we are watching! Phew… I’m reminded of Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation screenplay. He had been asked to adapt a novel and the film is about his attempt and failure to do so. While it bends your mind, it boils down to the writer having a block and working it out on screen. Fellini is doing a similar thing.

Mastroianni is marvellous as Guido and he has a great cast to support him, especially the women. The wonderful Anouk Aimée is his long suffering wife, and may be his and the films anchor, while he is teased in his own mind at least by Claudia Cardinale. Barbara Steele also pops up and her entrance is a real wow moment! I’ve often said I think Hitchcock gave Grace Kelly the best entrance of any actress in Rear Window. I’m tempted to put Barbara’s introduction a close second!

Here in these elements is where the film can easily divide an audience. Guido is exhausted, as much from his affairs as from a previous film, but because we are so focused on him and he is suffering from essentially being too successful, it is easy to see it as pretentious self-pity, which he is suffering at his own convenience, you might say. And the film is clearly so personal to Fellini that it may be auto-biographical, so you can’t help but wonder if he is coming to terms with his own addictions and shortfalls by making . So at the end, he feels better and self-satisfied because he shared it with us? If the film wasn’t so bloody good, its self-serving nature and cheap treatment of women could be offensive.

It does have a light and cheeky sense of humour throughout from the first moment to the end and in truth, you are not forced into sympathising with anyone, things just move along as they would naturally. You see his dreams and fantasies, but it is not some sentimental inner voice relating them to us in retrospect, dictated by a narrative. Indeed it entirely avoids committing to having some sort of focused resolution. We see them as they happen and all his neuroses, faults and ambitions are laid bare. Guido is a hard character to dislike, regardless of your perspective (oddly the same problem his wife has!) and it is possibly the most honest and pure film ever made.

I have recently watched three Italian films from the early 60s that demonstrated how Neo-Realism had evolved. Il Posto, La Commare Secca and Mamma Roma (also 1962). That last one, an early film from Pier Paolo Pasolini, demonstrated how the director was seeking such realism in his work that he didn’t want the audience to entirely forget they were watching a film. As such, there is a brief moment where a young actor stumbles during a dance scene and, embarrassed, his eyes look straight at the camera. Passolini left this ‘mistake’ in as part of the experience. The barriers between the film-makers and their audience were being broken down, even while the film still had a poetic and important story to tell.

Fellini took this to a natural end-point in. There is no story as such to tell as it is merely a snapshot within the film-making process. So it’s an enigma because while it could be the purest expression of realism, but there’s surely nowhere else for it to go. And does it even have a point? Well, it is at least a fascinating demonstration of what film can achieve and should be required viewing for everyone. So I suppose it makes its own point, which just sums up the whole, wonderful, infuriating genius of the thing!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 01:36:20 AM by Jon »