Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 9495Post Garrett Gilchrist
Tue May 22, 2018 5:06 am

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a solid effort in the series, good rather than great. It's not dissimilar to Rogue One, building its entire story around throwaway lines of dialogue from the 1977 original. It's less successful than Rogue One was, but not by much. It's a movie where Han Solo pilots the Millennium Falcon and tells Chewie to "punch it" as they jump to light speed. For good and for ill, this is probably what people had in mind when the Star Wars prequels were announced in the 90s, rather than what we actually got - a movie which uses a few familiar characters and fills in the backstory.

In the 1977 film, Han Solo had a pair of metal dice on his dashboard - barely visible. There were throwaway lines about droid slavery in the "spice mines of Kessel." We knew Han was in debt to a Tattooine gangster named Jabba the Hutt, and later that he'd won his ship, the Millennium Falcon, from Lando Calrissian - "fair and square." So here, for what it's worth, is a whole movie about that. And it works.

Most of that is due to the cast, who are mostly excellent. It's a film that doesn't quite make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, but it does make it in less than thirteen (and encourages you to round down). It's an origin story for Harrison Ford's charismatic smuggler that mainly suffers from the fact that it doesn't star Harrison Ford.

The cast is very human-heavy, although for CG characters Jon Favreau voices Rio Durant, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge nearly steals the entire film as robotic Social Justice Warrior L3-37, who is convinced that Lando has a crush on her, and on Han as well. In both cases, the film neither confirms this nor denies it. It's all very 2018.

That would be Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian, who does steal the entire film as an only slightly updated Lando Calrissian. While it's not hard to imagine Glover's Lando as a 2018 metrosexual Youtube star, he is also quite clearly the same character played by Billy Dee Williams in the Empire Strikes Back. It also, immediately, becomes impossible to imagine anyone else playing the part. Glover makes a perfect Lando, having correctly judged that he should impersonate Williams' voice when possible, and his charm and charisma when it's not.

Fans always knew that Lando lost the Falcon in a high-stakes game of Sabacc. We get to see that play out here exactly as advertised. It's like the lava fight at the end of Revenge of the Sith, which more or less matched what fans had expected from the start.

Paul Bettany, fresh off Infinity War, is Dryden Vos, a wealthy and powerful villain. We learn a bit about the Star Wars world of organized crime, a battle which for once has very little to do with the Empire and the Rebellion - or at least only exists in its margins, with the only goal being money and power.

Woody Harrelson is solidly good as Tobias Beckett, a pirate and thief whose motto is to trust no one - except for his partner Val (Thandie Newton), who is an unfortunate victim of the film cliche of putting a woman in peril so the man can feel pain. That will happen a few times here. It's no surprise that Han Solo would have an untrustworthy father/mentor figure here, which Beckett vaguely fills. As good as Harrelson is, it's hard not to recall how Guardians of the Galaxy did this better with Yondu and Starlord - a Han Solo imitator if ever there was one, and a franchise which retained its sense of humor much more than these "Star Wars Stories" have.

Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones fame is Qi'ra, Han's lost love who turns up in an unexpected way. She's very good, and it's worth sticking around to see why, exactly, she's not around for Star Wars 1977. But it also tends to feel like she's carrying all the scenes she's in, actingwise, as Han Solo himself doesn't make as strong an impression.

In one episode of AMC's Mad Men, the advertising agency decides to copy an Ann-Margret performance from Bye Bye Birdie. It sells the product, but fails because, well, it doesn't have Ann-Margret.

28-year-old Alden Ehrenreich steps in as a slightly younger Han Solo (who is about 34 in the 1977 film). Alden has Han Solo's smirking smile, and his capacity for bluffing and getting himself over his head in trouble. Apart from that, there's no particular resemblance in his very generic performance, and this Han Solo could be the star of any film. As a Star Wars hero he's closest to Daisy Ridley's Rey - a former scrapper scraping for "portions" and determined to do the right thing in a world where "the right thing" isn't very clear. The film's focus on finding fuel sources also feels more "Last Jedi" than "Original Trilogy."

Anthony Ingruber, whose performance in Age of Adaline was an accurate impersonation of Harrison Ford, was rumored for the role. I'm guessing they didn't want to do an impersonation but that was probably what they should have done. When I saw Rogue One I was seated next to Jamie Costa, who also impersonated Harrison Ford fairly accurately in the short "A Smuggler's Tale."

Harrison Ford's performance in the 1977 film wasn't exactly Oscar-worthy, but as a character Han Solo was instantly iconic and recognizable, arriving fully formed. Charismatic, but not as much as he thinks he is. Able to talk his way out of, and into a jam with equal frequency. Bluffing, pretending to be more impressive than he is, while still being fairly impressive. Rough around the edges and on the wrong side of the law, but ready to do the right thing when it counts. Always, always, in over his head and acting like a high school kid in the presence of Princess Leia. He's a comedic character, a charismatic mess, and probably the most beloved character from the original Star Wars trilogy. He's also a character we didn't really need to know more about.

But, okay, so we don't "need" a Han Solo film. But maybe we want one, and maybe this film tries very hard to give us what we want.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) is a great film with a curiously bland prologue, in which River Phoenix plays the young Indiana Jones. During a fast-paced few minutes, most of the iconic traits of the character click into place, winking at the audience. Here's the hat, here's the whip.

Solo is an entire film's worth of that, although thankfully less blandly done. Here's his gun. Here's his name. Here's Chewbacca. I'd say this is "for the fans" but pretty much everyone knows enough about Han Solo to see all the familiar stuff referenced here. If you are a hardcore fan, this is a movie that bothers to namedrop Bossk and the 1997 Playstation 1 game, Masters of Teräs Käsi. It's also a movie that either directly sets up or makes impossible the events of the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special. I'm not sure which.

Rogue One did a lot more of this, bringing back minor characters and even footage from the 1977 film. But by the end here, we know that certain old villains are around, maybe even to set up another "Star Wars Story," once again in the margins before the 1977 film. As with Rogue One, the result is something that feels familiar, but isn't shot like the original films were. I watched it in 3D, so the projection was inevitably too dark, but it's really just a dark film overall. Often the creatures and locations are just hard to see, and the result is dark and muddy rather than having much of a sense of wonder about it. There are plenty of new creatures and droids, and the design echoes the 1977 film's aesthetic accurately without simply duplicating it.

You will spot Warwick Davis, Clint Howard, and (if you look closely) Anthony Daniels. There's Chewbacca (now played by Joonas Suotamo), and a big cameo by a familiar face you didn't think you'd see again (albeit with a new voice).

As with Rogue One, Lucasfilm wasn't happy with the first cut of the film and ordered that most of the film be reshot. On Rogue One they kept the same directors but changed the script significantly. For Solo, it appears that writer/producers Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan wanted their script filmed exactly the way they wrote it. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, known for the Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street series, were rumored to have approached the film from an improv comedy standpoint, possibly using shakier handheld camerawork.

We can only speculate, but it's quite an insult that their names don't appear on the final film, except as producers. Ron Howard directed the reshoots, and is credited as sole director. The Willow and Apollo 13 director, who won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for A Beautiful Mind, was seen as a solid but very "safe" choice to take over the film. And that's exactly what you get here. The film isn't particularly weird or challenging. It takes less risks than any Star Wars film since The Ewok Adventure, and has much less of a sense of humor about itself than it really ought to.

The film works, as a character piece. It works as advertised. It won't have people declaring it the best or worst Star Wars film ever, as Empire and Last Jedi did. It's that rare Star Wars movie that really is "just another Star Wars movie." But there's nothing wrong with that.

Apart from the fact that it doesn't star Harrison Ford, there's not much that Solo: A Star Wars Story actually does wrong. It zips along at a real pace, ending scenes quickly when you might expect to linger on a joke instead. It ticks along like clockwork, delivering more or less exactly the sort of movie you might expect from a Han Solo origin story.

Like Rogue One, it works much better as a film than the actual Star Wars prequels, but to their credit the prequel films were chock full of new and strange ideas and constantly pushed boundaries which this series of films don't bother with. Even if they didn't fully work as movies, they represented a creativity on the part of George Lucas and his team and a desire to take risks which we haven't seen since, for good and for ill.

So many fans were angry with the Star Wars prequels because they all had their own vision of the origin story of Darth Vader (and other characters). They had imagined that lava fight and how Anakin betrayed the Jedi, and it all seemed a lot cooler and less stupid in their heads than how George Lucas rendered it onscreen.

By contrast, I would expect that fans who have thought about Han Solo's origin story will watch "Solo: A Star Wars Story" and say, yeah, that's about right. That's kind of what I expected. Except it had a young Harrison Ford in it. And it was funnier.

But that's good enough. Go see it.

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 9517Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:31 am

Incredibles 2 delivers. A sequel that pretends no time has passed since the last film in 2004, or indeed since 1963 or so. It's still obsessively retro and old-fashioned. It doesn't have the emotional resonance that some moments in the original had, but it's a zippy good time and exactly the sequel you wanted back in '04. It functions almost as a loose remake of the original, with some more impressive visuals and action.

I kept thinking that Mr. Incredible, 50s-style hero, would be 90 today, and it shows, in the film's old fashioned view of gender and family roles, which he's not called out on. If you like the 60s aesthetic at all there's lots of eye candy here. It's big, bold and brassy, and once again a better Fantastic Four movie than we've seen otherwise (though I doubt Brad Bird would admit that).

I should also say that the short Bao, about an Asian mother and her "dumpling baby," made me cry. And had more to say about family than the feature, perhaps.

Those who worried about the vague right-wing or Ayn Randian subtext of the first film will be happy to know that there's nothing as obvious this time, apart from what's built in from continuing the storyline of the first film (and being about a 60s-style family). Although there is the slogan "Make Superheroes Legal Again." Phrasing! (And Frozone's wife is given nothing to do.)

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 9518Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:31 am

Recommend for Blindspotting. Daveed Diggs (of Hamilton fame) and Rafael Casal with a very personal story of the black experience in Oakland, self-penned and ten years in the making. It's tense, following Diggs' character's last three days of parole, when any infraction or encounter with the police would put him back in jail. And he's hanging out with Casal's character, who is a walking time bomb.

A timely film for the Black Lives Matter era, and a snapshot of Oakland with lots of well drawn characters. It proves that both can write and play leading roles. The ending might be love it or hate it material for people. It landed in the middle for me. It takes a big risk, as Diggs' character raps his emotions during a key scene. And the final ending, which is understated and just another day.

A quality indie from a talented duo I expect to see more from.

During the Q&A Diggs revealed that much of this was based on true stories and people they'd known, and the original ending was based on a friend who wound up back in jail just for failing to clean the bathroom at his apartment - Diggs' character is threatened with that here, but they felt that after so many near misses the audience would hate them for doing that. The film does show how the prison system is a trap.

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 9537Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:44 pm

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a thrilling, funny little adventure that's small scale by Marvel standards, but also that rare sequel that's a tiny bit better than the original, and grows its world in ways that embiggen even the more minor characters. #AntManAndTheWasp

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 9543Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:56 am

"Intentionally savage and casually racist, Sicario: Day of the Soldado is exactly the movie we’d expect – and dread ­– from Hollywood during the Trump administration. It feeds right into a large swath of the country’s xenophobic fears. Those who listen to the president’s racist rants or heed his taunting tweets will be further persuaded by this sadistic action thriller that the U.S. border is plagued by bad hombres on both sides."

"White-bro-fantasy franchise – ripped straight from Call of Duty and Alex Jones’ daily tirades ... depicting nearly all Latin American, African, and Middle Eastern people as criminals."

"The film cares not a whit about the suffering of anyone with brown skin ... Virtually all the Latino characters in the film are portrayed as clichéd villains – drug dealers, dirty cops, or greedy kids taking advantage of hapless immigrants ... Soldado serves only to amplify stereotypes, encourage fear-mongering and intensify racial tension." ... o-critics/

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 9580Post filmfan94
Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:14 pm

A Lost Stanley Kubrick screenplay (written around the time Paths of Glory was being filmed) has been rediscovered: ... cret-found

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 9585Post filmfan94
Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:26 am

I'm not sure if it will be considered its premiere, but The Other Side of the Wind will be screening out-of-competition in Venice this year.

Here's the full list of what's screening at the Festival August 29-September 8 for those who are curious:
First Man – Damien Chazelle (opening film)
The Mountain – Rick Alverson
Non-Fiction – Olivier Assayas
The Sisters Brothers – Jacques Audiard
The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs – The Coen Brothers
Vox Lux – Brady Corbet
Roma – Alfonso Cuaron
22 July – Paul Greengrass
Suspiria – Luca Guadagnino
Werk Ohne Autor – Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck
The Nightingale – Jennifer Kent
The Favorite – Yorgos Lanthimos
Peterloo – Mike Leigh
Capri-Revolution – Mario Martone
What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire – Roberto Minervini
Sunset – Laszlo Nemes
Freres Ennemis – David Oelhoffen
Nuestro Tiempo – Carlos Reygadas
At Eternity’s Gate – Julian Schnabel
Acusada – Gonzalo Tobal
Killing – Shinya Tsukamoto

Out Of Competition – Fiction
Una Storia Senza Nome – Roberto Ando
Les Estivants – Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
A Star Is Born – Bradley Cooper
Mi Obra Maestra – Gaston Duprat
A Tramway In Jerusalem – Amos Gitai
Un Peuple Et Son Roi – Pierre Schoeller
La Quietud – Pablo Trapero
Dragged Across Concrete – S. Craig Zahler
Shadow – Zhang Yimou

Out Of Competition – Non Fiction
A Letter To A Friend In Gaza – Amos Gitai
Aquarela – Victor Kossakovsky
El Pepe, Una Vida Suprema – Emir Kusturica
Carmine Street Guitars – Ron Mann
Isis, Tomorrow. The Lost Souls Of Mosul – Francesca Mannocchi, Alessio Romenzi
American Dharma – Errol Morris
Introduzione All’Oscuro – Gastón Solnicki
1938 Diversi – Giorgio Treves
Your Face – Tsai Ming-Liang
Monrovia, Indiana – Frederick Wiseman

Out of Competitions – Special Events
The Other Side Of The Wind – Orson Welles
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead – Morgan Neville
My Brilliant Friend – Saverio Costanzo
Il Diario Di Angela – Noi Due Cineasti – Yervant Gianikian

Sulla Mia Pelle – Alessio Cremonini
Manta Ray – Phuttiphong Aroonpheng
Soni – Ivan Ayr
Ozen (The River) – Emir Baigazin
La Noche De 12 Años – Alvaro Brechner
Deslembro – Flavia Castro
The Announcement – Mahmut Fazil Coskun
Un Giorno All’Improvviso – Ciro D’Emilio
Charlie Says – Mary Harron
Amanda – Mikhaël Hers
The Day I Lost My Shadow – Soudade Kaadan
L’Enkas – Sarah Marx
The Man Who Surprised Everyone – Natasha Merkulova, Aleksey Chupov
As I Lay Dying – Mostafa Sayyari
La Profezia Dell’Armadillo – Emanuele Scaringi
Stripped – Yaron Shani
Jinpa – Pema Tseden
Tel Aviv On Fire – Sameh Zoabi

Blood Kin – Ramin Bahrani
Il Banchiere Anarchico – Giulio Base
Il Ragazzo Piu Felice Del Mondo – Gipi
Arrivederci Saigon – Wilma Labate
The Tree Of Life (Extended Cut) – Terrence Malick
Camorra – Francesco Patierno
L’Heure De La Sortie – Sebastien Marnier
Magic Lantern – Amir Naderi

Venice Classics
They Live – John Carpenter
The Night Porter – Liliana Cavani
The Naked City – Jules Dassin
Brick And Mirror – Ebrahim Golestan
Street Of Shame – Kenji Mizoguchi
Il Posto – Ermanno Olmi
Last Year At Marienbad – Alain Resnais
The Place Without Limits – Arturo Ripstein
Adieu Philippine – Jacques Rozier
The Ascent – Laris Shepitko
The Killers – Don Siegel
The Killers – Robert Siodmak
The Night of The Shooting Stars – Paolo & Vittorio Taviani
Love, Thy Name Be Sorrow/The Mad Fox – Tomu Uchida
Death In Venice – Luchino Visconti
The Golem – How He Came Into The World – Paul Wegener
Nothing Sacred – William Wellman
Some LIke It Hot – Billy Wilder

Venice Classics Documentary
The Great Buster – Peter Bogdanovich
Women Making Films: A New Road Movie Through Cinema – Mark Cousins
Humberto Mauro – Andre di Mauro
Living The Light – Robby Müller – Claire Pijman
24/25 IL Fotogramma In Piu – Giancarlo Rolandi, Federico Pontiggia
Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast – Bruce Weber
Friedkin Uncut – Francesco Zippel ... 202433056/

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 9596Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:09 am

Deleted scenes for Infinity War in the digital release are:

Longer Tony & Pepper opening. A comedic moment with Jon Favreau's Happy Hogan driving a golf cart, angry at paparazzi.

[Background replacement effects in the first shot are unfinished (including roto around Tony's head), but finished in the final film. They may have intended to replace green parts of the background during Happy's shots. I would assume they didn't reshoot this for the final film, but it's hard to tell as the deleted scene cuts out early before we get back to final-film territory (Tony restating that he had a dream, with a slightly awkward cut in the final).]

Midnight and Glaive stalk Vision and Scarlet Witch. Long "suspense" take, drawing out the moment (pounding their staffs, shining light). [CGI on the villains doesn't have its final look at all. This is true for the other deleted scenes and suggests that Midnight was blue originally.]

Thanos, at his throne, shows Gamora a flashback where she is still loyal to him and has conquered a planet. Thanos and Gamora have a long conversation (as he seeks the Soul Stone) before he shows her the tortured Nebula.

[This may have been written by James Gunn. Some sections are identical to the final film, but this scene was heavily rewritten/reshot. The pacing and structure of the scene is a bit odd and they must have realized that the strongest section was Thanos leaning in and accusing Gamora of lying, since that's retained as the scene's ending in the final film. But what leads up to it is different. There's much less emphasis on Gamora being complicit in Thanos' crimes. Instead he discusses his evil philosophy about scarcity of resources and she expresses her disgust at him. Still a long scene but one that holds our interest better. Here, the rough Thanos has no lipsync but his body movement is fairly solid, if a little shaky in closeup. All FX are temp looking. What appears to be Josh Brolin's body is visible at times.]

Here's the big one - a fairly long Guardians section, after Knowhere (Reality Stone) and before they attack Iron Man. First, Nebula sends a message. [Unfinished FX including tracking on her detached eye, which is finished in the film. They may have reshot this later, as it's different footage where she does not mention Mantis and simply does some eye acting, although it could just be a different take. The music makes this a 'cooler' moment for Nebula.]

Then, Quill and Drax fight after the apparent loss of Gamora. Quill has been playing "New York Groove" by Ace Frehley on repeat. Drax shuts it off. Mantis sees the message. Quill checks the increasingly irate messages from Nebula. [This was probably written by James Gunn. FX look nearly finished here. There's a space map, some spaceship shots (without final polish), and roughly greenscreened-in space backgrounds and set extensions. Mantis is missing her antennae.]

Special features have a Making Of, and a Roundtable with most of the Marvel directors (Taika Waititi Skypes in).

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