Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3944Post Garrett Gilchrist
Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:53 pm

I finally saw Frozen. For the most part I got the same feeling from it that I got from Tangled - that is to say, this is exactly the sort of film Disney should be making. Disney clearly wants to recapture its success with "Princess" films like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid in the CGI era, and Frozen, like Tangled, can happily stand up proud as a "Disney Princess" film, although with another stupid title change to match Tangled.

The film is flawed. The important thing is that its flaws don't overwhelm it - the film still holds together. It's more flawed than Tangled, though it's also more ambitious in some ways. Certainly it's more ambitious musically. Tangled had about four key songs. Frozen has eight - you could argue ten. Frozen is very much trying to be a full-on musical, something that Tangled only approached tentatively. There are, I'd say, too many songs in Frozen, though the best of the bunch are much more memorable and key to the film than Tangled. "Let It Go" is the killer track here, but songs like For The First Time In Forever, Do You Want to Build a Snowman, Fixer Upper and Love Is An Open Door are also memorable and important to the story.

The film's female leads, Elsa and Anna, have giant alien eyes and look as overly cute and cutesy as the animators could muster without turning into Tweety Bird or a Kewpie doll. Then again, you could say the same about Rapunzel. Their look does feel a bit generic, and lacks the familiar Glen Keane-ish touch that Rapunzel had, but they do look good. Considering the horrifying attempts at humans in early and even recent CGI features, I can't really fault the work done on these likeable and expressive sisters. We're definitely walking a line here, though. What is important is that their personalities come through - the excitable and very physical Anna, with her self esteem issues, and the withdrawn, secretive and anxious Elsa, who famously goes from stiff-backed to sensual in the course of "Let It Go." There is very good acting here on the part of the animators.

The sisters are by far the most interesting characters in the film. There's really no contest on that. And Elsa has an inner anxiety and torment that doesn't get enough screen time. She's a very interesting character, and underused. Much like many recent blockbuster films I could name, the film hints at a more adult and character-based approach to its story, and I wish they'd taken that path. Instead we get a goofy-looking comedy snowman, who I just couldn't get on board with. His part could have been played by a more realistic, less strange-looking character.

This is, of course, Olaf the Snowman, a merchandise-friendly character who launches immediately into his song "In Summer." This takes place 45 minutes into a film that hasn't really put a foot wrong to this point. They really lost me here. I felt we were now in a territory familiar from lesser kid's films like Raggedy Ann & Andy, where the plot of the film has fallen apart in the middle section, filling time with supporting characters who come and go, as if we've got all the time in the world.

A child would have absolutely no problem with any of this, though, and it's fair to say that Olaf would wake a child up at this point.

It used to be something of a rule in screenwriting that you only have one kind of magic in a film. That is, if it's a time travel movie, don't also have vampires or superheroes - it's simply too much. There are trolls here, and living snowmen. The trolls almost work, in that they're presented as a sort of native tribe, who act like a Russian immigrant family, but they're still a bit odd. The snowmen are more so. Elsa creates Olaf, by accident, and a giant snow monster who creates an instant threat, and this just didn't work for me as presented. It's also somewhat lazy writing, in that it removes Elsa of a lot of responsibility. I'd happily have seen much more of Elsa herself filling the antagonist role. The film seems terrified to make Elsa unlikeable, even for a moment, and so in her darker moments we don't get to spend a lot of time with her.

The same is true for Anna as well. She's a light and lighthearted character, but her relationship with Elsa is the key one in the film and the darker aspects of that go largely unexplored. At 54 minutes in the two have a confrontation which ends with Elsa delivering a fatal blow to Anna's heart, but the scene is curiously toothless. It turns into a musical segment, with a reprise of the cheerful "For The First Time In Forver," which is quite pretty but robs the scene of its conflict. Put simply, the two just don't get angry at one another, and are very reluctant to say anything outright or have any sort of argument at all. A poster on Tumblr presented their idea for an alternate version of the scene where Anna actually yells at Elsa.

A quick Google search doesn't turn it up, but does turn up several fanfictions with almost identical dialogue. ... alone-Elsa

Here's how it might have played out:
Don't you dare just walk away again! Elsa! Please don't! Just listen!

You couldn't have trusted me? All these years!

No! You have no idea how lonely it was, Elsa! I spent years bawling my eyes out in my room, alone. You rejected me! I tried to love you! I tried to get back inside your heart! But you wouldn't let me in!

I buried our parents, alone!

And you wouldn't let me in. Not even after that.
By comparison the scene in the film is very watered down. We get Anna and Elsa looking awkward and nervous while singing, and Anna makes a sort of pun where it seems she's going to swear, but says "snow" instead. There's no intense conflict.

It's a kid's film, so the good guys here are just a little too good. When Elsa can't be good, her screen time is limited instead. And that's a shame, because that's far more interesting than good versus evil. Kristoff has a gruff exterior, for a little bit at the beginning, but this is barely touched upon afterward, even when it would help explain his actions - like how he doesn't stay in Arendelle after delivering Anna to the gates. He could have been gruffer.

The bad guys are also a little too bad. The Duke of Weselton - voiced by Alan Tudyk of Firefly, Dollhouse and King Candy fame - gets punished pretty badly at the end, even though it's not entirely clear that he would have fallen out of favor that badly with the kingdom. He did send men to kill Elsa, but as far as we see onscreen, no one is aware of that, even Elsa.

And then there's the

Stop reading now if you somehow don't actually know this yet.

And then there's the heel turn by another main character, who suddenly turns off the charm and goes into full-on James Bond villain mode. It's a little abrupt, and could have been handled more elegantly. The way the scene is played doesn't really build on what we've seen of the character so far. It doesn't repeat character traits we've seen him have previously, but with a sinister bent. He simply plays the scene as evil, with a sneer. And yet his plan isn't well thought-out - he leaves Anna for dead, and announces her death, when she clearly isn't yet - leaving his plan open to fall apart. I suppose anything more wouldn't be a kid's movie, but he has no such qualms about dealing with Elsa.

In truth, he's backed into a corner, and so are the writers to an extent. If he doesn't love Anna, he could have kissed her, with no effect on her health, and I can see that being equally awkward. Having him sneer and explain his plan like a Bond villain is, in many ways, a simple and elegant solution. To do his heel turn in a less abrupt fashion would take more screen time, I suppose. But there could be a lot of ways to do this in a less abrupt way, and get more mileage out of the character. I wouldn't say he turns into an entirely different character - there are plenty of hints about his intentions early on, and both before and after his heel turn he retains the basic character of a charming and very ambitious man who does what he feels he has to do to achieve power, in a skilled and dangerously efficient way. He's a real go-getter, that one. In other hands he might have been portrayed as a sort of Wolf of Wall Street.

I just wish in that moment with Anna, when he revealed his dark plans, it played like he was saying it in the same voice, and for the same reasons, that he originally wooed her. It's easier to do a full-on turn to become a villain. To do it almost imperceptibly, like a passing shadow, and over a course of several scenes, that's more impressive.

Still, it's a twist that certainly worked in theaters.

And, for the umpteenth time, the kids won't mind.

It is a very modern touch to have a Disney princess/queen with crippling social anxiety, and who has to come out of the closet in a lot of ways. But not as a lesbian - that's not gonna happen in a Disney cartoon.

That being said, they did have a gay shopkeeper. A possibly gay shopkeeper.

The scene is ambiguous, and people on the internet have interpreted it both ways. What we do know is that the shopkeeper's "family" is a prominent male character, a less prominent female character, and three young kids.

One of those "could be gay" moments that's pretty typical of this film actually.

Elsa is a character who a lot of people can identify with, for a lot of different reasons. She is a very 2014 sort of character. They tap into a lot of things that could have been explored a little more.

The opening and closing of the film feature native chanting - taken from "indigenous Saami and Norwegian culture" apparently. They're trying to make this sound like The Lion King when it's a movie about white people. It feels a little bit unearned, like it's a copy/pasted shortcut to getting a certain feel out of the film. Also, if you imagine this native chanting alongside that goofy-looking snowman, this whole thing is quite a hodgepodge.

As are the trolls, who are the closest thing we get to an ethnic civilization here. They feel like noisy Eastern European immigrants. They could have been portrayed as natives, but hey, they're trolls, and it works for what it is.

But the core of the film, throughout, is the two sisters. I wish they'd capitalized on that more. A lot more screentime could have been spent on Elsa and Anna's conflict, and its resolution. That's not a huge detriment to the film, though, as what is there works very well, and is clearly the heart of the movie from beginning to end. It's emotionally moving and handled with subtlety, grace and charm.

It feels like certain decisions were made to keep kids (executives) happy and not offend anyone, rather than expand on what really works well in the film. We get just enough of Anna and Elsa, but should have had more.

And who knew Kristen Bell could sing?

There are moments where I felt, this is too generic, and it doesn't go far enough, or have enough conflict. The sharp edges have been scraped off to avoid offending anyone or have the characters be even a little bit unlikeable for even a moment. It's all quite doe-eyed and lovey-dovey. But then, after all, it is a Disney movie.

And it's a good one. It's one of the good ones.

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3945Post Garrett Gilchrist
Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:24 pm

Oscar-nominated song Let It Go from Disney's Frozen is a showstopper. In more ways than one.

Songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez says when the song was originally written, it was meant for a villain.

"Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) was gonna come down the hill with her army of marshmallow snow people and take over the town, but we wrote Let It Go" and we felt differently about her character who had suppressed her magical powers for so long, she said. "And then they rewrote the whole movie around" the new character's identity.

In the final version of the film, Elsa is no longer a villain with a snowman army but a protagonist who sings Let It Go while constructing her own ice castle in a scene that's been viewed well over 100 million times.

Anderson-Lopez said 17 of her songs had to be cut from the film, so it was nice to have Let It Go stay in and make such an impact on film fans of all ages.

"We went to a Frozen singalong, and a saw a whole row of teenage boys sing it," she said.

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3947Post Garrett Gilchrist
Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:34 am

The twist is foreshadowed quite a bit - there's a lot that's suspicious during "Love Is An Open Door," for example, although it's subtle and played off as a joke. This is a character who is curiously unexplored - I think they accepted that he basically had no conscience and was just being who he had to be in the moment. More could have been done with the character.

More importantly --

As noted above, "Let It Go" was originally written as a villain song, and that Elsa would have attacked the town with an army of snow monsters. It's said that "Let It Go" was so charming that it was clear Elsa had to be "good" rather than "evil."

But with her character's dark side minimized in the final film, the showstopping song is strangely pointless in the long run. She is "coming out." She uses her ice powers to create a beautiful castle, and a new look. Her body language changes entirely from repressed to rock star.

But what's the point? She's just isolating herself again, off in a castle of ice. What do these people eat? Will she just be alone, starving to death in an ice castle? Will she make little snow people to keep herself sane, because that's apparently a thing she can do?

She's not "coming out" in any legitimate sense except for subtext. She was alone before and she's alone now. She's not going to purposely conquer her kingdom or assert her rights as Queen. It doesn't seem that she has any plan to do anything at all.

There's no there there.

Thinking about the Duke of Weselton, and him being thrown out as a villain at the end, he led the charge to have Elsa thrown out of her kingdom as a monster, but under the circumstances, with her ice powers revealed, that seemed understandable, as a reaction out of fear. He sent men to have her killed, but again seemingly for the same reason. It's known that he relied on Arendelle as a trading partner, and wanted to claim as much of its riches for himself as possible, but somehow this doesn't all come together to really turn him into a villain, especially compared to that younger fellow.

So they cut him off as a trading partner at the end, and put him back on a ship to home. It's appropriate enough considering his actions, but I just thought, "Oh, yeah, I guess he was a villain too, basically."

The Blu-Ray contains a few storyboard scenes, one with a [very stereotype] villain Elsa, and one with the sisters being sisters. It also contains "Get a Horse," the tribute to early Mickey Mouse cartoons done as an overstuffed "more is more" 2013 3D effects piece for the big screen. The actual old cartoons were a "less is more" affair - here, it's hard to know where to look. The animation team hit a style that's halfway between early Mickey and modern Disney.

The only "Making Of" we get is a half-ironic High School Musical-style musical number with the lyrics "How did we make Frozen?" Which still tells us about as much as an average Disney DVD feature would have - that is, nothing. There's also various music videos for "Let It Go," including the Demi Lovato version which is as terrible as "pop" versions of Disney songs always have been.

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3955Post Shamanic Shaymin
Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:32 am

At 54 minutes in the two have a confrontation which ends with Elsa delivering a fatal blow to Anna's heart, but the scene is curiously toothless. It turns into a musical segment, with a reprise of the cheerful "For The First Time In Forever," which is quite pretty but robs the scene of its conflict. Put simply, the two just don't get angry at one another, and are very reluctant to say anything outright or have any sort of argument at all. A poster on Tumblr presented their idea for an alternate version of the scene where Anna actually yells at Elsa.
I think you'd find the cut song, "Life's Too Short" to be interesting, since Anna and Elsa are pissed off at each other in this:

That said, this reminds me of a rant I made on my journal some ages back. Characters, especially if they're both "good guys," are not allowed to get angry or frustrated with each other. I used the Deoxys Pokemon movie as an example, where a boy named Tory has an intense Pokemon phobia in a world that is practically built around Pokemon. He's also extremely shy and timid and had no friends before Ash & Co. came into the picture. But here's the thing. We never see anybody mocking Tory for being afraid of Pokemon. Ash, May, Max, and Brock and all the other NPCs never get frustrated or impatient with him. ("_____ is completely harmless! What's wrong with you?") The closest we ever get as a reaction to his phobia is mild pity from his (unintentionally unsympathetic, due to his neglect of his son) dad and assistant. True, if Ash got frustrated with Tory, he'd look like a jerk, but good people are capable of doing jerkish things and still being good people. This would be when Ash would get called out and educated by Tory's dad or assistant, then Ash would feel bad and try to apologize to Tory. BAM! Character development for both Ash & Tory as they learn to befriend and trust each other. But hey, that's what most Pokemon movies tend to do; see a potentially interesting idea, then execute it in the worst possible way or ignore it entirely.

Likewise, in TV shows and movies, the most common response a female character would make upon, say, being backstabbed by their lover or having their boyfriend shot by the villain, is to cry or sink into grief. They don't get furious or want to punch the offender's lights out. Nope, cry like the good girl you always have to be.

I'm not saying characters should never react with sadness to something or blow up like timebombs in every situation that puzzles them, but the media needs to learn that anger is a perfectly acceptable and normal emotion for people to have. It's okay for Anna and Elsa to yell at each other if they have to!
Last edited by Shamanic Shaymin on Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3964Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:20 pm

Zack Snyder makes big, dumb films, and 300 is the only one I've liked, because it's not a sacriligeous adaptation of anything or trying to be something it isn't. A bit like Sin City, it's an ultra-violent adaptation of Frank Miller's comic book. It's a bloody visual feast with hundreds of soldiers getting their heads chopped off with swords, with all the attitude of a heavy-metal album cover.

Like Drew McWeeny states in his review, I'm surprised Eva Green doesn't get a lot more work. She's the star of this sequel, which is sure to deliver more blood and action. ... ehXdLZi.01

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3966Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:03 pm

Here's a mediocre animatic of "LIfe's Too Short." ... 1535513463

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3972Post Garrett Gilchrist
Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:47 pm

“Look, I’m glad ‘12 Years [A Slave]’ got made and it’s wonderful that people are seeing it and there is another view of what happened in America. But I’m not real sure why Steve McQueen wanted to tackle that particular sort of thing.

[‘Fruitvale Station’] explains things like the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the problems with stop and search, and is just more poignant. America is much more willing to acknowledge what happened in the past: ‘We freed the slaves! It’s all good!’ But to say: ‘We are still unnecessarily killing black men’ – let’s have a conversation about that.” — Samuel L. Jackson

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3976Post Garrett Gilchrist
Thu Mar 06, 2014 4:14 pm

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Long-delayed sequel. When they filmed the original, people still said "dame." And fought in WWII. And wore fedoras, without additional Rainbow Dash t-shirts.

Several members of the original cast have passed away in the meantime, including Robert Rodriguez' career.


I generally like Jared Leto, but he's getting a lot of praise for playing what seems to be an "outrageous" camp stereotype. I haven't seen the movie, and don't really want to. I get that they wanted the character to be a real contrast, and maybe it works in context, but it's also hardly groundbreaking. We've seen a lot of camp stereotype characters on film, and it's more impressive and rare to see LGBT and especially trans characters portrayed as normal rather than comically outrageous. As a straight guy it's not really my place to be saying this, but then maybe it's not Jared Leto's place either?
Tyler Foster writes: Yesterday as part of a discussion about DBC, a friend of mine looked up the screenplay and it appears the writer doesn't know the difference between a transvestite and a trans person.
Oh dear lord. HAHAHAHAHAHA

(laughs forever, explodes into a thousand stars, ollying out into the sun)

Okay, I'm gonna light that movie on fire now. Shame they don't send me Oscar screeners anymore.
The actual script writes:

Sitting on an examining table, meet RAYON, a cross-dresser in his early 30s, in long eyelashes, earrings, painted nails with a pink scarf tied around a full brown curly wig."

Tyler Foster writes: Dan Schindel also observed the film as produced doesn't actually say "trans" anywhere in it.

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3992Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:24 pm

Someone who has watched very few films asked me for a very general list of film recommendations. Here are a few.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Fight Club
Little Shop of Horrors (1986, "Director's Cut)
Raiders of the Lost Ark / Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Back to the Future
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Star Wars Trilogy
The Matrix
Citizen Kane
The Incredibles
Finding Nemo
Taxi Driver
Enter the Dragon
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut
Seven Samurai (1954, Japan - also try Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo)
It's a Wonderful Life
Dr. Strangelove
The Thing (1982, horror)
Groundhog Day
Kill Bill
The Avengers (2012 - Iron Man films, Captain America films, Thor films)
Apocalypse Now
American Beauty
The Lion King
A Clockwork Orange
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Requiem For a Dream
To Kill a Mockingbird
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Meaning of Life, Life of Brain)
All About Eve
The Third Man
The Seventh Seal
2001: A Space Odyssey
V For Vendetta
Cloud Atlas
How to Train Your Dragon
Sin City
Slumdog Millionaire
The Truman Show
The Mask
There Will Be Blood
Jerry Maguire
Life of Pi
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Young Frankenstein
The Producers (1967)
Blazing Saddles
The Jerk
The Man With Two Brains
All That Jazz
Conan the Barbarian
Jurassic Park
The Little Mermaid
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Born on the Fourth of July
The Fugitive
Men In Black
Shakespeare in Love
Moulin Rouge!
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Mulholland Drive
Lost Highway
Much Ado About Nothing (2012)
Les Miserables
Million Dollar Baby
The Aviator
The Departed
The King of Comedy
Inglourious Basterds
Batman Returns
Pulp Fiction
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
A Fish Called Wanda
Galaxy Quest
Shaun of the Dead (zombies)
28 Days Later (zombies)
Night of the Living Dead (zombies)
Duck Soup
Harold and Maude
Office Space
The Cabin in the Woods
The Naked Gun (and Police Squad! TV series)
In the Loop
Strange Brew
Wayne's World
There's Something About Mary
The Rutles in All You Need is Cash
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Dumb & Dumber
Edward Scissorhands
True Lies
The Wizard of Oz
Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
Army of Darkness
Spider-man (and sequels)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Hero (2004)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Beauty and the Beast
Toy Story (and sequels)
Run Lola Run
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Miracle on 34th Street
Forbidden Planet
Monsters, Inc
The Iron Giant
A Hard Day's Night
Yellow Submarine
Being John Malkovich
The Frighteners
The Fisher King
Good Will Hunting
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
The Muppet Movie
F For Fake
The Maltese Falcon
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Wreck-It Ralph
The Social Network
Gremlins 2: The New Batch

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 3996Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:10 pm

The trailer for this version of "Annie" actually looks sort of good. Very hard to tell from a trailer, but they've changed the story and put some thought into it at least. It's not as if film critics liked the 1982 film. Anyway, here's racism: ... reenshots/

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