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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:51 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
Very sad.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:46 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
If you liked the first Guardians of the Galaxy - and I did - Vol. 2 very successfully delivers more of the same. This is a fratboy's vision of a sweeping space opera. It's weirder than your other Marvel movies, as if a horror film, a Tarantino film or an Adult Swim comedy were lurking around the corner somewhere. Not to mention a lot of easter eggs and in-jokes. This is CGI overkill, and in 3D it was a little headache-inducing. There's always a lot going on. Tons of special effects action.

Chris Pratt returns as dudebro space hero Peter Quill, alias Star Lord. He's got Han Solo's swagger and Luke Skywalker's mysticism about him, but hasn't matured otherwise since his last outing. The film gets a lot of chances to make him smarter than your average brick, but chooses not to. Zoe Saldana's Gamora gets the thankless task of being the humorless buzzkill who either admires or admonishes him as he's being alternately a hero or a loudmouthed jerk. It's to the credit of Pratt and Saldana that both remain reasonably likeable in spite of this. For most of the film's runtime you really are on Peter's side.

This is not a film which relates very well to women, but still gives its actresses good material. Much more interesting is Gamora's sisterly rivalry with Karen Gillan's Nebula, who gets more to do here than last time, showing real intensity and giving Saldana something to play off. Gillan doesn't walk off with the movie entirely. That distinction belongs to Michael Rooker as Yondu. A secondary villain last time round, the blue-faced pirate steals the show here. He also gets to look a bit more like the comic hero he's named after. His rough, dirty and grotesque band of Ravagers are here for a lot of in-fighting and a metric ton of violence, but we also find the humanity in Yondu, and Rooker plays it all like the old pro he is.

Speaking of old pros, Kurt Russell turns up as Peter's long-lost father, coming off like the screen legend he is at this point. He's in full Jack Burton mode here, all macho swagger, although this film takes that more seriously than Big Trouble In Little China did. It is eerie how good this choice of casting is, as Chris Pratt's Star Lord is very clearly trying to be a Kurt Russell sort of character, albeit without as much irony. It's worth remembering Kurt Russell was the second choice when casting Han Solo. Star Lord is all about looking cool. That's one thing all the Guardians of the Galaxy have in common. They're all trying to look cool, and they pull it off.

Kurt Russell has been de-aged for a brief flashback sequence to his youth. It's convincing that we're looking at a person, although that person does look a lot puffier in the face than Russell ever was - a sign of age they must have left in.

The production design is lush and detailed, suggesting David Lynch's Dune by way of Kirby and Ditko, for the CGI era. The action is nonstop once it starts.

As with the first film, the movie is funny, though not as funny as it could be. Dave Bautista as Drax has his comic relief role down to a fine science, as well as his action hero role. It's like someone carved an autistic man out of concrete. His best scenes are with Pom Klementieff as Mantis, a welcome addition to the cast who is as clueless about social interaction as he is. The pretty French actress has been given black bug eyes and antennae here. Mantis and Drax recognize one another as kindred spirits, and he alternately bonds with her and insults her appearance. Bautista is at the heart of the chemistry that this team has. He's the rock behind so many scenes and makes it look easy.

This film being balls to the wall CGI, Bradley Cooper's Rocket Racoon gets a lot to do. Actionwise his scenes come off like a live action cartoon, but emotionally Rocket is going through a lot, and for a CGI character he manages at times to ground the film. In some scenes he could pass for the film's stealth protagonist.

Vin Diesel's Groot is now a baby, and more of a minor comic relief character. In the intro he dances to ELO's "Mister Blue Sky" while the Guardians battle a squid monster in the background. That nearly sums up the sort of film we're watching.

As before the film is wallpapered with classic tunes from the 1970s and thereabouts. A climactic battle is scored to Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain." At the screening I went to, you could feel people tapping their feet recognizing each new track that came on.

Sean Gunn, brother of writer/director James Gunn, returns as Yondu's crewman. The Nova Corps don't return. Instead the Guardians face off against the Sovereign, a gold-painted race of people led by Elizabeth Debicki's Ayesha. And there sure are a lot of pretty people painted funny colors in these films. I could call the Sovereign villains but it's murkier than that. The Guardians earn their antihero cred by doublecrossing them. Or Rocket does anyway, and they pay the price.

The film is full of nerdy easter eggs for the Marvel faithful. We finally get a hint on what role Adam Warlock has to play in these proceedings, and there is gearing up to take on Thanos in Infinity War. Howard the Duck (Seth Green) gets a speaking cameo, and another in the credits, and he looks pretty good. The credits also show a photo of Cosmo, dog astronaut from the comics who cameoed in the first film. Stan Lee gets what is probably his most interesting cameo yet, meeting a group of cosmic Marvel characters in two scenes. This was something fans had theorized about and it's made more or less canon here.

The credits find a moment for Jeff Goldblum's Thor: Ragnarok character, and if we're talking cameos, we get Sylvester Stallone, with Ving Rhames and Michelle Yeoh. Oh, and David Hasselhoff as himself.

Yes, it's definitely a quirkier film than other Marvel pictures. Darker too, in some ways. We like these space pirates best when they're showing no mercy. It's macho posturing, and in some ways it's going to fall short because of that. At times it's like a video game, and boy is it fully aware of that.

If you liked the first film you'll like this one just as much. Certainly this corner of Marvel's Universe has carved out its own feel, and that's entirely due to writer/director James Gunn. It's a hugely-expensive production, and that budget is certainly visible onscreen, but it doesn't feel watered down or compromised. It feels like an original and weird and very particular vision, closer to Tarantino than Disney but 100% James Gunn, for good or for bad. That is remarkable under the circumstances, and so is what this movie gets right. Let's face it - the superhero landscape has needed this kind of weirdness since Sam Raimi stopped making Spider-man films. If nothing else you'll have a good time. I am Groot.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2017 4:23 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
It is with a heavy heart American Cinema Editors announces the passing of Wendy Apple on May 4, 2017, due to complications from surgery. Wendy became close to the ACE organization when she partnered with Alan Heim as Co-Producer and Director of the documentary, The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing. Her other credits include American Families and Appearing Nightly. Additionally, she studied at New York University and taught Non-Fiction Filmmaking at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Her drive and passion will be deeply missed but her contribution to ACE and the editing community will endure.

(Disclosure: I was a footage transcriber on The Cutting Edge documentary.)

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2017 12:31 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
"Get Out" is a perfect film for what it sets out to do. Written and directed with surgical economy and precision, it appears to be a slow burn but not a moment is wasted. It's a chilling nightmare rooted in America's failure to take responsibility for slavery, and feel any shame for its racist past as our nation heads slowly into its racist present. The fear here is that black lives don't matter, and are still seen as disposable bodies for labor. That Jordan Peele managed to turn this into the fuel behind a horror film takes a certain kind of genius. Especially since, like so many great horror films, it's deceptively simple and needs to feel inevitable at every turn.

He sets up a situation where a number of things just seem strange, or worrying, or slightly off, often in ways which could be brushed off as mild racial microaggressions. But these add up to something very sinister. At no point does the film preach or discuss racism overtly. You could see it as a powerful metaphor - there is something dehumanizing and deadly underneath the everyday racial tension we might normally just accept. It's likely that tension will always be there because of how our country was built, and what it was built on - because of the failure to heal those wounds and pay back what was lost, and the institutional racism now baked in, with fear of minority revolt. Today America imprisons more black men than it ever enslaved - and uses them for prison labor as well.

Because of that, there is something quietly revolutionary about the violence the film inevitably ends on. Especially since protagonist Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is such a relatable point of view character throughout - depicted simply, without a lot of detail, as someone through whose eyes we see the story play out. Bradley Whitford, who starred in liberal White House fantasy The West Wing, is ideal casting as the head of the household, who, late in the film, looks into a burning fire and asks Chris, "What is your purpose?" It's not a question. He is saying that up to this point, Chris' life could not possibly have had a purpose.

Jordan Peele, who created and starred in the sketch comedy show Key & Peele (with Keegan-Michael Key), which often took on racial issues with a light and absurdist wit, is the perfect hand to take on this subject matter. And there is a little comedy around the edges. Lil Rel Howery is refreshingly normal as TSA agent Rod Williams. And Chris puts up with a lot of awkwardness, grinning and bearing it, before the danger he's in really becomes clear. We feel it before he does, though, like a laugh dying in the throat. The tension, paranoia and fear, present from the start, builds until it can't be ignored. That's great horror filmmaking.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 2:54 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
This comes up once in awhile:

Superman didn't kill Zod, Ursa and Non in Superman II. They were arrested with Luthor (first shot here). Donner shot it, Lester cut it. "Donner Cut" cut it again.

The "Donner Cut" as released is an amateurish hackjob at times. I could fix it if I had access to the "television cut" of the film in high quality.

Dude. F**K YOU.
You have know idea the mountains that had to be moved to get that cut to the screen/video. "Amateurish"?!
I'll give you the work you've done on 'The Thief and the Cobbler" thus far, but as someone who was closely associated w/ the producer of this cut (Michael Thau), I can say that this truly was resurrecting not a film from the dead, but a film that never even got a chance to live. It was years in the begging/planing/convincing Warner Bros. Entertainment that it was worth the money and output, and even then (as always) compromises and budget cuts were made.
"You're out of your depth, Donny."

I've been saying this, usually in more detail, since the Thau Donner Cut came out, and I've never gotten this reaction. The Donner Cut, or something like it, was something every fan wanted. It was a holy grail. And I certainly believe you that it was very difficult to bring to market, and convince Warner Bros to do it, officially.

That doesn't mean that, artistically, and on an editing basis, it is immune from criticism. There are scenes in the Donner Cut fans hadn't seen before in any form - anything with Brando for a start. There are also scenes we had seen before, in the television edits, as edited by the original team at the time.

The problem, and I'll admit this is subjective opinion, is that Thau's edits are worse, and don't work as well. A prime example to me is Lois' goodbye to Superman as he destroys the Fortress of Solitude. This is my favorite scene Margot Kidder did in the films, but not the way Thau released it. And it's odd, as there was already a finished edit of this material.

Throughout, the editing choices, sound design, and effects, are not at the level you'd expect for a classic film of this vintage, and it weakens the overall effect of the thing. He also took out a lot of Lester material just because he could, and some of it is missed.

While the Donner Cut is wonderful to have, it's something of a halfway measure. A hybrid edit with the Lester Cut and a high quality copy of the old TV cut material would be a better film. A high quality copy of the TV cut material has never been released, though.

As for being out of my depth, I have spent many years doing "corrected" edits of unavailable versions of films, like The Thief and the Cobbler. That's what the Donner Cut of Superman 2 is, but with studio backing as an official release. In an ideal world where studios were hiring me to work on releases, that's the sort of thing I'd want to be looking at -- bringing back a director's vision for a film.

But even putting aside that I am a professional film editor and have opinions about things, just being a filmgoer and audience for a film like this means I have an opinion. An informed one, I think.

I respect Thau's intentions and am glad the Donner Cut exists, but artistically I don't feel he got all the way there.

I thought the Donner Cut was very good, but the ending is awful. There's a perfectly good point to end the film on in the Daily Planet office. It leaves the relationship between Clark and Lois ambiguous without using either the dumb "amnesia kiss" or the even dumber time travel. The ending is made worse with a bunch of awkward stock footage and cheap-sounding mixing. I know they put a lot of effort and love into it, but some restraint would have gone a long way.

I feel they shouldn't have repeated the time travel, certainly.

The amnesia kiss is Lester's, the Time Travel was used in Superman 1. The only scene which references the time travel in Superman 2 is awkwardly shot (the bully in the hallway) and well worth cutting.

Thau has a right to his choices, but I disagree with a lot of them, and I think most would agree that the editing isn't nearly as good as what was done for the various versions in 1980. (Which is already familiar, vintage and famous among the fans.) So I think it could be improved on, yes.

Some version of the old TV cut should be released in HD, if only for raw material for this sort of thing. It has the original edits of most of the deleted stuff, though no Brando.

The "right" choice probably would've been to go from the balcony scene to the second diner scene. Ends the film more... elegantly, maybe? On a resolved/unresolved note, with Lois?

We're getting very subjective here, but yes, it works perfectly well to leave it as an unresolved cliffhanger. Donner literally never figured out what he was going to do with the ending, and both Lester and Thau went back to the status quo, which Superman 1 had already done. There's no need. Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, if memory serves, assumed a version of Superman 2 in which that was left unresolved.

Well, they DID have an ending... back in mid-'77. That changed as soon as they decided to move the time-turning scene from II to I. I can understand Donner not wanting to have all that glorious Daily Planet footage for the originally planned ending go to waste, but..

But if he never shot a decent ending, who cares, let's leave it on a high note ... and a cliffhanger.

Technically that gets us into continuity trouble when we get into Superman 3 and 4 I suppose, but neither of those were good films and neither focused on Lois, and neither had any Donner involvement. So consider those like the Schumacher years of Batman. There is a good fanedit called Superman Redeemed which just edits about half of both Superman 3 and 4 together into one movie -- it works quite well, proving that there was about half a good movie in either.

It uses the more grounded character stuff from 3 and the more comic book/cartoony stuff from 4, which makes for a mix that doesn't waste your time.

Hmmm. What's your take on what was released of the Selutron "II", by the way? I don't think we ever really got much of that...

Selutron was clearly doing effects tests on an only semi-professional level, intended for Youtube. I don't know that what he was doing could ever have worked for a complete edit of the film.

I was impressed by his work, certainly, but you wouldn't be fooled into thinking it was shot that way for the 1980 release. We get a lot of pans over still graphics, and obvious rotoscoping and matting.

He recontextualized the villains as landing in Washington. It gives the scenes scope but the seams are obvious and you wouldn't be able to rework every "Houston" scene that way (not without a Hollywood budget and reshooting). What he's doing often only works for Youtube clips out of context (although you could perhaps split the villain scenes between "Houston" and DC as the film already does. Maybe).

A lot of it also feels fannish and pedantic. The screen test "blank bullets" scene has continuity errors in it because it wasn't a finished scene, and is a little awkward. In the Donner Cut, it's nice to watch and you have to forgive it its faults. Selutron didn't forgive those faults and tried to make the scene look more like Lester's version .... making a mess of it in the process. The point of the screen test was to see Kidder and Reeve in character, at their best. This ... didn't work ...

The effects in the Michael Thau Donner Cut also feel too Youtube for my taste. He doesn't composite things in a 1978 kind of way. It's not too bad though, and fixes a few faults here and there.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 9:42 pm
by filmfan94
This will make a nice companion piece to the completion of The Other Side of the Wind: ... lm-1003882

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 1:33 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
Necessary, I think!

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 8:26 pm
by JustinHoskie
I'm a fan of Rumor Flies, and since they want their audience to call them out on mistakes, I decided to go deep into a mistake they made while talking about the Suicidal Munchkin myth in The Wizard of Oz.

I may have overdone it, but my god was this a fun email to write.

When talking about The Wizard of Oz, Greg mentioned multiple times that it was the very first feature-length film shot in three-strip Technicolor. He was sure of it, Adamant about it. He used it to emphasize his points. "This is the first Technicolor film!" he even exclaims at one point.

Now, let's think about this real quick. If true, and if it truly was the first Technicolor feature film, it would be a huge gamble for MGM to make, and MGM was owned by investors in New York who would need to be assured this gamble would pay off. And the production was almost shut down multiple times due to production problems and mounting costs. (Once production has to shut down and all footage scrapped because one of your lead actors almost dies, another actor has to leave production for a while due to a horrific accident, and yet another has to recover due from a severe eye infection from their make-up, you start to question your choices.) The Wizard of Oz was a massive gamble. It was a family film that had to appeal to a large audience. It was a live-action fantasy film, and no one knew if audiences would accept it. And it would be an expensive production. (Brief aside, another myth about the film is that it was a major flop, critically and/or at the box office. This isn't true. It was actually a success in both respects. However, due to the distribution system at the time, when a film would play in theaters for only two weeks, the studio wasn't able to break even on the film. It wasn't until the film was re-released a few times that the studio made back its money.)

With all that in mind, would it really make sense for a studio to look at this massive undertaking and go "Let's also make it the first film shot in three-strip Technicolor!" Chances are, the studio wouldn't have gone for it. They would just be too uncertain about it.

Now, let's ask ourselves, how many feature length film had been shot in three-strip Technicolor before The Wizard-

Like 37. It wasn't even in the first handful. Oz was about the 38th feature film or so shot in Technicolor. There had been musicals, dramas, actions, sports, docs, bios, crime films... All shot in three-strip Technicolor. Many used a broad array of colors. Most had been shot in 24 fps. And though still a fairly new process, the technology had been used in features for about two or three years by that point.

I will admit, it was possibly the first to play with the idea, which is one of the reasons the color left such an impression. This trick had been used before in Oz media (in a 1933 unreleased color cartoon, as well as in the book itself), but I'm sure the moment when a sepia-toned Dorothy opens the door and walks out into this vivid, Technicolor world must have been breathtaking to a 1939 audience. So, it was possibly the first time a film used Technicolor to its advantage to tell its story.

Still, does that mean it was the first film shot entirely in three-strip Technicolor? By no means no.

Oh, and also like the first 20 minutes of the film was shot with black and white film stock so it wasn't even filmed entirely in Technicolor.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 1:25 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
Podcast guy has no idea what he's talking about, part one billion of five.

Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 6:16 pm
by JustinHoskie
In his defence, the claim was made with a few caveats which he admitted in his reply didn't hold up when he researched it himself, and the hosts, like myself honestly, are armchair historians when it comes to film. They know more than the average person, but their knowledge can be incomplete or faulty. Case in point: Another one of the hosts brought up Snow White and when it came out, saying "let's say 1939, somewhere around there," and my immediate reaction was "No, absolutely not. It's because of Snow White that MGM even greenlit The Wizard of Oz and that came out in 1939. Snow White came out in about 1929 or so." It had literally no idea it actually did come out in the late thirties until I looked it up later.

And they're usually better at fact checking during the show and double checking claims they make. This was just one of those big ones that slipped through the cracks. He was probably told it at some point, assumed it was correct and, since he had no reason to, he didn't research it. The entire show is based on those types of claims and beliefs anyway, so anytime they make a mistake like this it becomes a good excuse to bring up the lesson "don't just accept something at face value and research it yourself."