Author Topic: Antares' Short Summations  (Read 153599 times)

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #450 on: April 15, 2016, 01:16:30 AM »
Spotlight (2015) 88/100 - I thought I'd never utter or type these words...I've lost my love for films. I've spent a lot of money amassing a large collection of DVDs, which mostly sit in folders, unwatched. Over the last few years, I've bemoaned the fact that a majority of the films coming out of Hollywood are complete crap. A couple of nights ago, I was searching through the Redbox website, and after meandering throughout all the cinemuck, saw Spotlight. I've been pretty much out of the loop as to what's been coming out over the last year, but I knew that this had won the Oscar for Best Picture. I grew up in Massachusetts during the time frame of these atrocities and having attended Catholic schools for 12 years, thought this film might be the one that restores the fire in the dying embers of my film flame... it did. I love a good "journalist investigation" film and this has to rank up there with some of the best. After I finished the film, I went on Criticker and read some of the reviews there. I was surprised to see so many people trashing it, from what I felt, was a misunderstanding of what the film was made for. It's purpose wasn't to make a groundbreaking, technical masterpiece, nor was it made to stir up the crimes of the Catholic church. It was made to show how important a Free Press is to OUR freedom and security. We live in a world where everything is being crammed into either a 15 second sound bite or a 140 character Tweet. It's all disposable information and that's what the corporations, who have taken over our country want. If it's disposable, it's also desensitizing and an apathetic and passive populace is easy prey.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #451 on: April 19, 2016, 02:13:06 AM »
Concussion (2015) 64/100 - How do you take such a fascinating subject, one which deals with a huge corporate entity trying to smash an individual and his reputation, and make such a boring movie? The moments when the film is dealing with the science and Omalu's search for the reason for retired NFL player's dementia is riveting. But either the producer or the film company decided that women wouldn't probably go to see it, so they focus over half of the film's length, dealing with Omalu's romance to his number one supporter. It's a shame that Will Smith's outstanding performance, is mired in this muck of a meandering subplot. If you want to learn more about this subject, watch the PBS Frontline episode League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis. It tells the story, from beginning to end, how, not only Bennett Omalu, but Ann McKee charted all the head trauma being inflicted upon NFL players during their careers. It's a fascinating documentary that every parent, who wonders, whether or not to allow their children to play football at a young age, should watch. Oh, and one more thing... Luke Wilson to play Roger Goodell? Wilson had maybe six lines of dialog in the whole film, mostly at press conferences or when they're holding the concussion summit. They couldn't find an actor with blondish hair instead, I mean, Goodell's character is pretty much a minor role in this screenplay and they couldn't even get that right.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #452 on: August 15, 2017, 03:58:51 AM »
The Magnificent Seven (2016) 40/100 - How do you take a screenplay written by Akira Kurosawa, which many consider to be the story for one of the greatest films of all time, and spawned a re-working in Hollywood, that is nestled in many people's top ten westerns of all time, and make it so vacuous, cartoonish, predictable & mind-numbingly boring? I was about 20 minutes into this film and a dilemma was developing in my mind, do I continue, or just cut my losses now, before I waste another 2 hours plus on a bad film? I made the wrong choice. This was, basically, a comic book superhero film, set in the 19th century west. Absolutely no character development, the building of the team, takes less than 15 minutes of screen time. What made the two classic films of the past so great, was the initial indoctrination of each member of the seven. What made each man good enough to be included in this small team, in such an adventure. Here, for example, a Comanche warrior named Red Harvest, states that "The elders have said I'm on a different path", and he's accepted. The classic knife versus gun duel, from the original western, is over in a blink of an eye, so there's no suspense to the scene at all. In the original, James Coburn barely speaks, yet you know he's one badass, and you probably shouldn't mess with him. Here, his character is an asian ninja, dressed in Levis, and wielding more mini-swords and knives than you could imagine, and he has a propensity to mumble the few words of dialog given to him. But the pièce de résistance on this pile of pig vomit, has to be the performance of Peter Sarsgaard. I couldn't tell if he was drunk, high or just completely disgusted that he agreed to be in this film. Usually, he's a really good actor who can seize upon something in the characters he plays. But in this role, he's almost seems like he's screaming at the director, "Cut!, that's good enough, mail the check to my agent."

If you want to watch a film that takes the theme of robber baron - vs - homesteaders, then just find Kevin Costner's Open Range. It's a longer, more detailed film, that manages to fly by much faster than this train wreck.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Piffi

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #453 on: August 15, 2017, 04:31:34 PM »
Great to have your reviews back! Keep'em coming! :)
We'll Always Have Paris.


Thomas

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #454 on: March 05, 2019, 08:06:11 PM »
A Fistful of Dollars (1964) 74/100 - I do find it difficult going into watching this film, without comparing it to Kurosawa's Yojimbo. But this time, I made an effort to view it with a clean slate, as if I'd never seen that film. But as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t do it. At this juncture in their respected careers, the two directors are very far apart in level of artistry. There are moments where Leone shows signs of the brilliance that would come to the forefront, in the next few years. But here, the screenplay kind of just plods along, and it does come across as a pale version of Kurosawa’s seminal film. One scene that really doesn’t work is the cemetery scene. All these bullets are flying through the air, yet the two soldiers just “sit” there calmly, as if nothing is going on around them. At what point does either side realize they’ve been duped by Joe? But on the other side of the coin, the scene with the exchange of Marisol and the Baxter’s son, plays out more tragically in Leone’s film, while Kurosawa played the similar scene comically in Yojimbo. When you get down to it, it’s a great place to begin the ascension of the spaghetti western over the next few years. And Leone will set the bar higher and higher, with each successive release. I did find myself, raising my review by a few points over at Criticker.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #455 on: March 10, 2019, 04:57:08 PM »
For a Few Dollars More (1965) 77/100 – I’ve always felt that this was a worthy sequel to Leone’s first outing A Fistful of Dollars. But whereas, that film was “adapted” from an outstanding screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Leone’s first attempt has troubles with pacing and some murky plot lines. A few changes here and there and it probably would be considered a bonafide classic of the Spaghetti western genre. But what holds it back is its length, which could have easily come in at less than 1:50 minutes. A better choice to play the villain, as Volonte is almost cartoonish at times. I can understand why he wasn’t around again, for the next Leone outing. A few less double-crosses, and finally, the ridiculous theme of Indio and the marijuana cigarettes, which kind of got annoying when repeated for the umpteenth time. So that’s about all the complaining I’ll do because when it shines, it radiates. Lee Van Cleef steals every scene when his character is onscreen. I firmly believe that if he had played the main Baxter role in Fistful, that film would have been better. He just exudes badassery in every glance, smirk or motion. And you can almost sense that Eastwood sees this, and will emulate a lot of what Van Cleef does in this film, on the next one, when they are paired up again. Morricone’s score is once again, every bit as important as any of the characters. It’s fluid, and when the need arises, subtle in its conveyance of the atmosphere and mood of the story. One thing I did notice this time, which I never noticed in my previous viewings, was one mistake Leone made in the screenplay, concerning the El Paso bank robbery. When Mortimer uses the acid to open the safe, and opens the heavy safe door, Leone goes in for a close up of the contents. If you look closely, most of the paper cash is Confederate notes, which would be worthless eventually. There’s no time frame associated to any of the story, so I can’t understand why Leone chose to do this. There’s no mention of the American Civil War in the plot, so it seems out of place in the screenplay.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #456 on: March 10, 2019, 04:58:41 PM »
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) 90/100 – If I only had to rate the first hour and fifteen minutes, plus the final fifteen minutes, I would be hard pressed not to give it a perfect score. On this viewing I really paid attention to Leone’s gift for framing his shots. He was only rivaled by Kurosawa, as both had vision that transcended other directors, and made them in my eyes, artists. It’s true that the western was a dying genre, and for the most part, it was on life support. But I do believe that it was accelerated along in its demise due to Leone making the two greatest westerns back to back. There was never going to be anyone else talented enough to reach the strata that could attain peer level on either of those two masterpieces. This being a re-watch, probably my fifth or sixth time, I did notice the vast difference in the added vocal tracks of Eli Wallach & Clint Eastwood, on the re-inserted scenes which found their way on the cutting room floor, for the American release. I’m kind of amazed that whoever did those tracks, didn’t added a bit of bass boosting to Wallach’s, and the opposite boost in treble to Eastwood’s. They both sounded aged in the delivery of the lines, and both could have used some equalization help to make the tracks less haggard in sound. On this re-watch, I did have a bit of a problem with the pacing, as I found myself fast forwarding through some of the film’s middle section. This section has always been an issue with me, because there are two scenes, which really don’t add anything to the story, and always slow the action down to a crawl. The first is the scene with Tuco’s brother, the priest. It should be there to add some exposition to what made Tuco become the man and outlaw he grew up to be. But it just serves as a way for the brother to admonish him, for not being at their father’s side at the time of his death. The second scene, is probably one of the favorite scenes for most viewers, but has always made me yawn, the bridge. First, Blondie and Tuco get off their horses, and Tuco looks at his tattered map, proclaiming that they only need to cross the river, to get to their destination. It’s quiet; they start to walk a few paces and are then halted by Union soldiers. They are then taken a few more steps, past a small tree to the left, and the shot opens up to reveal an entire army of soldiers and artillery over the expansive vista of the river. They’ve taken maybe twenty steps from the dismounting of the horses, to this spot, and should have been able to see the army ahead of them. They’ve both just spent time in a Union prisoner of war camp, they know the Union army is nearby, and they don’t tread warily at this point? What follows is about twenty minutes of exposition, by a Union captain, as to why both armies are there, and why it would be beneficial to both armies, if the bridge wasn’t there anymore. All, just so Leone can blow up the bridge, which as a special effects scene is dazzling, but not necessary to the storyline. I still love this film, but with each successive viewing, it tries my patience more and more. Ironically, the next film, Once Upon a Time in the West, another investment in extended personal time, just seems to breeze by.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #457 on: March 11, 2019, 02:23:33 AM »
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) 100/100 – This film is perfection for me. I’ve watched it at least ten times in my life, and this time, because I watched it on an ultra 4K television, was the best. This is where Leone hit his high water mark in his directorial canon, be it story, dialog or cinematography. There are so many outstanding shots in this epic, that if you blink, you might miss them. One of my favorites is this shot, showing Jill McBain (Claudia Cardinale) heading out by horse carriage to Sweetwater, and the family that awaits her.



As of yet, she doesn’t know the tragedy that has befallen that family, and what that tragedy portends for her future. In the above shot, you see the famous Twin Mitten buttes, plus another butte to the right. All three buttes are cast in shadow, with the one on the right, with just a touch of sunshine on top, and her carriage is basked in brilliant sunshine. Now either this was one of the luckiest coincidences in film history or Leone was such a gifted artist, that he waited for this shot to materialize. From an allegorical viewpoint, you could see this as Jill heading into the darkness of her future. She will meet three larger than life men, who will alter her destiny. All three are dark, mysterious, foreboding and ominous in scope. The small amount of sunshine on the third butte could also signify that that only one man will survive by the end of the film, which is what happens. I’ve only heard this shot described as Leone paying homage to John Ford and his famous trilogy of westerns with John Wayne. But I’d like to think that what I see in this frame is what Leone intended.

I think the reason that this film resonates more strongly to me, as opposed to its predecessor, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is that GBU plays out solely like an action western. Once Upon a Time in the West is the closest any western ever came to an operatic experience. It’s Wagner’s Die Walküre with guns and horses, or Bizet’s Carmen in a desert train station. And it works because you finally have a strong female lead as one of the major roles in the story. It’s what is lacking in GBU, and what makes this the much more rounded film in Leone’s canon. And you can tell that Leone knows it’s probably his last western, and he meticulously crafts every scene like it’s a portrait, leaving no one a chance to surpass his brilliance. At times, I was reminded of the famous Remington paintings, depicting the west in all its sagebrush glory.

If I could change one moment, one small thing, it would be in the closing moments, after the final duel.
(click to show/hide)
It would have bled irony, and given more time for Frank to realize who Harmonica was, as he fell forward into the dust of eternal darkness.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is
« Last Edit: March 12, 2019, 10:20:16 PM by Antares »

Offline DSig

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #458 on: March 11, 2019, 04:59:01 PM »
you are right all around ... this is a brilliant film
Thank you
David

Offline Achim

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #459 on: March 13, 2019, 04:29:10 AM »
Strong agreement from me as well. Especially the near silent (almost no Words spoken) opening scenes are wonderful; and then that introduction to Henry Fonda...