Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 11340Post Garrett Gilchrist »

The BFI held (and Universal still hold) an incomplete/damaged copy of the otherwise-lost epilogue to 1931's Dracula. Cut from rereleases, it's never been on any home video release, but was excerpted in a 1999 documentary.

"Was able to get in touch with David J. Skal. The footage of the epilogue in Road to Dracula is from a copy Universal had aquired from the British Film Institute by the late 90s. It's the only known copy of the footage and, unfortunately, it has several jump cuts and is missing sections of the speech. Quote, "Universal’s quality control people deemed it 'unusable' and refused to let it be used in its entirety, so I came up with the solution you see in my documentary [Road to Dracula]."
"

It's been 20 years. It's time to revisit this footage in full. The film theoretically enters the public domain in 2027.

https://lostmediaarchive.fandom.com/wik ... gue_(1931)

Here's how filmmaker David Skal worked around Universal's reluctance to use the damaged epilogue scene in full, in the 1999 documentary "The Road to Dracula."
https://youtu.be/EXv4Lu0xe5s?t=1975
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 11413Post Garrett Gilchrist »

Art dealer Bernard (Alan Cumming) is having the worst possible Christmas: his lover leaves him, and his conniving boss (Rowan Atkinson) fires him for having principles. But Bernard's luck starts to change when he befriends Josephus the genie (Lenny Henry).

Bernard and the Genie. Richard Curtis-written British Christmas buddy fantasy from 1991, with Alan Cumming, Lenny Henry, Rowan Atkinson and mild racism (almost like an Aladdin panto). There was an obscure, highlight-crushed German DVD (partial source of a recent fan restoration) but hey look, it's streaming. From a very old-looking video master, but better than nothing.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/ ... cf_strg_wb

Apparently it's not on the UK Amazon, unfortunately. Sort of defeats the purpose of putting it up at all. This is definitely the best quality version of this I've seen. (Looks like the 1991 broadcast video master, unremastered obviously. I think all other versions are VHS sourced.)
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 11434Post Garrett Gilchrist »

The Phantom Menace, 1999: Ha ha, did George Lucas accidentally write a screenplay about being in boring meetings for the last twenty years?

The Matrix, 2021: "MR ANDERSON, the agents of Warner Bros will make The Matrix 4, with or without you"


1999: Neo TheMatrix is relatable because they're a nobody with an office job in a functional economy because the War On Terror hasn't happened yet

2021: Neo TheMatrix is a content creator with PTSD


Recommended: The Matrix Resurrections. Brilliantly clever and meta. In some ways it underwhelms and underdelivers, but it also taps into why people liked The Matrix in the first place, and interrogates why we should reboot it now. Reeves, Moss and Neil Patrick Harris are standouts.
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 11443Post Garrett Gilchrist »

"Meet the Hollowheads" from 1989. There was a decent laserdisc of it, and this making-of write-up by writer Lisa Morton. Originally titled "Life On the Edge," before some last-minute reediting unapproved by the director. But it does boast John Glover, Juliette Lewis (in her first movie), and a lot of genuinely weird late-80s ideas. Amazon Prime has it in the UK and US. Someone called it a dark version of The Jetsons and that mostly tracks. Long overdue an HD remaster, but that seems unlikely. It never got a decent release in the US and that was probably on purpose, and as of 2022 that situation hasn't changed.

Matt Shakman starred in this film as a child actor, and later went on to produce and direct WandaVision, which is influenced by this film in certain ways.

https://www.lisamorton.com/edgewiseintro.html
https://archive.org/details/meet-the-ho ... -edge-1989

The "Life On the Edge" title animation (as opposed to "Meet the Hollowheads") still exists and was used in this trailer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PevDFLBtU4
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 11559Post Garrett Gilchrist »

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 (movie): Went to this as a birthday treat for myself. I hadn't seen the first movie. The movie works overall. But it's also a real mixed bag, and often seems like several different movies are competing with one another, none of which make much sense, or fit together well. One of those competing movies is the animated Sonic the Hedgehog movie they should have made to begin with, instead of this. The characters of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are well represented here, enough to please kids and adult fans of the 90s video game characters. That counts for a lot, and is enough for you to forgive the film's frequent missteps. It is a kid's movie, so the fact that it doesn't make much sense can also be forgiven.

It's clear that Sega, the video game company, hopes to create a Marvel-like cinematic universe based on its games, or multiple disconnected adaptations. That's more difficult for Sonic than it is for a live-action superhero. He is always going to be a cartoon character, and they could have embraced that with a fully-animated film, or with less human actors than the first movie had. There is no real need to "adapt" Sonic to live action, and making him the only (leading) animated character in the first movie led to a lot of strange choices which reverberate in this sequel. It feels like executives making decisions based on a vague understanding of the character, and having no interest in the previous successful animated versions, like the very funny Sonic Boom TV series in 2014-17. They could have done something similar here and gotten a better result, rather than putting Sonic into a live action movie.

It's also odd, and telling, that Sonic is actively a superhero here, with speed powers similar to DC's The Flash. He spends the first act of the film trying to be Batman, and says so outright. In the original video games, Sonic could run at a moderately fast pace and roll into a ball. That was about it. He's acquired other powers over time, but making him this overpowered at all times is a big departure for the character, and feels like an attempt to make this "a superhero movie." The ultimate power here is the Master Emerald, which is also the same as the Chaos Emeralds. Those are two different things in the games.

There is the germ of a good idea here, and it feels like the filmmakers are slowly and imperfectly figuring out how to adapt a character like this to film. It's possible that another Sonic movie would nail it completely, or a film of a different video game property. It feels like one of those mid-range superhero movies before Iron Man, where they didn't quite get it right, but got about halfway there.

Comedian Ben Schwartz voices Sonic, and is an excellent choice. He plays Sonic the same way he played Dewey Duck on the 2017 Ducktales series. He captures a very specific kind of fun-loving, immature teenage energy, where Sonic always seems like he's getting into more trouble than he can handle, but isn't bothered about that.

The biggest choice the first movie made is casting Jim Carrey as the villain, Dr. Ivo Robotnik, AKA Eggman. This may be Carrey's last film, and it's also the most profitable opening of his career. Carrey plays the villain as if he's starring in one of his movies from the 90s. You'll be reminded of Ace Ventura, The Riddler, Chip Douglas, and Fire Marshall Bill. Carrey is pretty much always doing comedy schtick in every single shot he's in. It's not clear how seriously Carrey is actually taking this performance, but he commits to what he's doing fully. It's the sort of performance which could derail a movie, but doesn't. Robotnik is still very much the villain of the film, and everything he does is absolutely deranged. He's doing comedy, but he's also someone you don't like or want to be around. We always knew that Ace Ventura was a villain. It's not the pompous Eggman from the cartoons and later games, but it does feel like an appropriate villain for a Sonic the Hedgehog movie.

Idris Elba's animated Knuckles the Echidna is also a very serious character who plays off of Carrey's schtick very well by contrast. It's clever that the animated animal sidekick character is the brooding serious actor in this dynamic, standing next to a human cartoon. It's a more serious take on Knuckles than the Sonic Boom TV series, but has some of the same traits: a powerhouse of strength who is perceived as not that bright in social situations. He's a proud warrior, haunted by the loss of his people, and was probably inspired by Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

The other human actors largely seem disconnected from what Sonic is doing, and the attempts to involve them in the storyline feel unnecessary. James Marsden and Tika Sumpter return as Sonic's adopted parents Tom and Maddie, here to give advice and support the young hedgehog. Marsden played the same role with the Easter Bunny in "Hop." Both are thankless roles- not quite wacky enough to stand out in this movie.

Speaking of wacky, Ben Schwartz's comedian friend Adam Pally plays a dim-witted cop called Wade, and Lee Majdoub steals several scenes as Robotnik's supportive and obsessed sidekick Agent Stone.

The movie spends a lot of time on Maddie's sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) marrying Randall (an often-shirtless Shemar Moore) in Hawaii, at which point everything goes wrong for Sonic-related reasons. Rachel and Maddie also try out secret-agent gadgets and tangle with the military agency G.U.N. (led by Tom Butler).

It's all very silly and over the top, but also feels like a different movie than the animated Sonic is in. It feels like a bone being throne to parents who aren't interested in references to the Sonic video game. Like most of this movie it doesn't make much sense, and its tone is caught somewhere between a kid's movie and an adult movie.

There is a labyrinth zone here which plays out as a knockoff of the booby-traps from the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Carrey's Robotnik even calls it out as "derivative." It is a very common trope, albeit the kind you'd expect to see in a video game.

The "Green Hill Zone" music is used briefly as Tom's ringtone, but in Japan that's the closing theme to the movie, recorded by original artists Dreams Come True, albeit in broken English. We should have gotten that here too, and the snowboarding scene should have featured "Hard Times" by The Jetzons. If they use "City Escape" next time all will be forgiven.

Colleen O'Shaughnessey, who played Sonic's sidekick Tails in the Sonic Boom TV series, and in many recent video games, returns as Tails. The casting is, of course, very accurate, and that counts for a lot. The script fumbles on how it actually introduces Tails, presumably because of how the first movie handled Sonic's origin. Sonic and Tails have no history here, which is a shame. Tails comes from a completely different planet, and has used very advanced technology to locate Sonic, of whom he's a big fan. The script frames this as Tails watching Sonic bathe. It's a terrible backstory for the character, who is otherwise depicted exactly as you'd expect.

This comes out during a sequence in Siberia which is baffling from start to end. Apparently having forgotten that Siberia is a real place, the writers use the trope of our heroes entering an ancient fairytale drinking-house where everyone wants to kill them for no reason. You see this trope in pirate movies, and it's common in animated movies like Klaus and Tangled. But those are fairy tales, and this movie is set in 2022. This would be more forgivable in a fully animated movie, but stands out as the movie regurgitating ideas from other kid's movies, especially as it ends with Sonic and Tails dancing to "Uptown Funk."

There's also the matter of a paper map which also, somehow, contains a hologram like Jor-El's message in Superman the Movie. Most of the right ideas are there but the script is pretty much a jumble which needed another rewrite.

But a franchise movie like this can get a lot of things wrong in passing as long as it gets the characters right. It's not a complete home run, but it lands somewhere in the middle, and delivers what both kids and adults are looking for in a Sonic the Hedgehog movie. There are lots of wink-wink references to the video games and other media, but in a larger sense the movie plays out very much like a Sonic video game, which makes the references feel like part of that rather than an apology.

The characters also feel true to how they've been depicted in games, comics and TV series, while still making some original choices on how to present them. The movie makes good decisions and bad ones, but they blend together after awhile, because this is a kid's movie about a talking video game hedgehog who says "Gotta go fast." The movie just has to entertain kids and the parents who grew up with the character, and make you feel nostalgia for a thirty year old video game. On that level it succeeds.
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 11579Post Garrett Gilchrist »

Everything Everywhere All at Once: With apologies for being shallow about this, a film in which Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan have extended martial arts fights with Jamie Lee Curtis would have been quite a movie thirty years ago. As it is, the film has to settle for merely being the most daringly original film of 2022.

We live in a golden age of sequels which come decades too late, whether it's Bruce Campbell fighting the Evil Dead, the Star Wars sequels or Willow. That's been true for actors as well. Last year's Cyrano starred Peter Dinklage as a romantic lead - something the 52-year-old actor hasn't been doing much in his career.

Ke Huy Quan starred in The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in the 80s but left acting in the 90s when quality roles failed to emerge for him. Everything Everywhere All at Once feels like a well-deserved curtain call for a decades-long Hollywood career that Ke Huy Quan didn't actually get to have, and Michelle Yeoh didn't really have either. A star in 80s and 90s Hong Kong action films, Yeoh earned status as a Hollywood star with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, and such films as Memoirs of a Geisha, Sunshine and Crazy Rich Asians. But it's fair to say that she's been underused in Hollywood films, not having quite the same star status that she obviously does here. The film requires us to see Michelle Yeoh as the legendary screen star that she is, and it's worth interrogating why more starring roles never materialized for her.

At age 59, playing the remarkably unremarkable proprietor of a laundromat, this might be the best role of her career. Yeoh seems game for just about anything in this film, whether it's martial arts action, subtle family drama, or increasingly surreal comedy. This is a movie which takes big risks and gets weird, incorporating all manner of silly nonsense which it also, on some level, takes seriously. It will make you think differently about googly eye stickers, hot dogs and the film "Ratatouille." In the hands of a lesser director this would be a drama gradually devolving into something much stupider. In the sure hands of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert - credited collectively as Daniels - the film is instead poignant and playful, full of wild ideas which sometimes collide to make a real mess onscreen, in the way that an artist makes a mess when painting a masterpiece.

James Hong also turns up, still commanding the screen at age 93, after a long and remarkable career.

The conceit of the film, which almost makes sense, is that someone is leaving a path of destruction across many alternate universes, and this laundromat owner has so many unfulfilled desires that she is the key to saving all of reality. She leaps into different versions of herself, taking on new skills and new heartbreak. In practice this is a small and intimate character study of a family, played off like a huge and absolutely bonkers superhero film. It is appropriate to see Joe and Anthony Russo turn up as producers, with their background in comedy and Marvel films, along with casting director Sarah Halley Finn. This is, however, as many have said, a better multiverse film than Marvel or DC will be able to come up with, even though that happens to be their main subject matter these days.

Much of the film plays out in Mandarin and Cantonese, or English spoken sharply with an accent. It is unapologetic about that. The lead character, when introduced to us, uses her daughter as interpreter when speaking English. At times there are subtitles when nothing is being audibly spoken. Sometimes it's about rocks. There are recurring sequences referencing the visual style of Wong Kar-wai. There's sexual and genital references which almost certainly angered the MPAA.

All of that might make this a tougher sell to some audiences, but I'd still call this a crowdpleaser. An "Eternal Sunshine" for the kung fu crowd. It still conveys the inner state of the characters better than the vast majority of movies.

It is both moving and admirably bonkers, and it's a real compliment to both the directors and cast that they make this work. Ke Huy Quan, as Waymond Wang, is alternately cowardly and comedic or tough-as-nails and suave. By the end her surprises you by being the emotional and moral core of the movie. For someone who retired from acting decades ago, this is a real home run. James Hong also gets to play a range of different sides of Evelyn's distant father, Gong Gong. Jamie Lee Curtis similarly gets to explore a few different versions of Dierdre, the IRS agent whose audit makes the Wang family's life hell. Most of those sides are simply nasty, but there's more to her than that.

Stephanie Hsu holds her own as the daughter, Joy, a role that would have been easy to get wrong. When her mother tries and connect with her and fails, we feel that heartbreak and betrayal from Joy, and we fully understand the character's pain without needing much screen time, or for Joy to do very much. When she does crank it up to eleven and do a whole lot, that's almost just a bonus. The fact that this somehow feels like the same character throughout, when it should feel vastly different, is terrific.

Jenny Slate, Sunita Mani (GLOW), Biff Wiff (ITYSL) and Harry Shum Jr (Glee) also turn up, mostly for laughs.

Mainly this is Michelle Yeoh's movie, and it's a real rollercoaster of a performance. She convincingly plays an ordinary and flawed woman who is out of her depth and in over her head in several universes at once. She is also a glamorous movie star, a martial arts action hero fighting back against unimaginable horror, a romantic lead, and an imperfect mother and wife trying and spectacularly failing to do what's right, and then trying again. It's a strong dramatic role, but she's also very funny when she needs to be. The directors also deserve some credit here, as it feels like the same character even when she's a rock. I would still credit that to Michelle Yeoh if I could.

It's an unusual and original film which genuinely does something different. It takes a lot of big risks and even its sillier ideas work well onscreen. It helps that the characters are so grounded and well-realized that it's eventually hard to tell if the fate of the entire multiverse is at stake, or just the fate of this family - or maybe that's somehow the same thing. For the character of Evelyn Wang, it's both, and this is a filmgoing experience you won't quickly forget.
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Re: Movie Thread: The Dissection Room

Post: # 11677Post Garrett Gilchrist »

Jordan Peele's NOPE (2022) is a tense, worrying, anxiety-inducing and thought-provoking horror film which deserves to be seen in its full scope on the big screen. I have no particular love for the bleak desert locations of Agua Dulce, California, but as shot on 65mm film and screened in digital IMAX the bleached desert visuals lend scale and spectacle to a film which questions the role of visual spectacle in our lives. Jordan Peele became famous for his television sketch comedy with Keegan-Michael Key, on MADtv and Key & Peele. This work often had pointed social commentary in it, which continues to be a hallmark of Peele's work. It is possible to imagine the ideas explored in Peele's horror features also being explored in his earlier sketch comedy. There is, oddly, a haunting monologue in NOPE in which one character describes a nonexistent Saturday Night Live comedy sketch starring Chris Kattan- who does not appear in this film.

Jordan Peele has quickly gained a reputation as probably the best horror director working today, and it's because his movies are not just scary and full of haunting ideas which stick with you, but also because they feel deeply personal. In his sketch comedy days, he once played President Barack Obama with Keegan Michael-Key as his "anger translator," saying the things that an average person might say if confronted with the level of bullshit that the President dealt with during his term. This was, probably, just a fantasy, presenting Obama as more relatable than he was. In these films, Peele seems to serve as his own "anger translator," populating these already terrifying situations with his own frustrations and unease with the state of the union today. All the evidence would suggest that Peele has deep misgivings and trauma from existing as a black creator in Hollywood, and this comes out in his work.

In 2017's Get Out, British actor Daniel Kaluuya played Chris Washington, who visits his white girlfriend's liberal family at their plantation-style home, and gradually realizes that he's walked into a trap. Though there's nods toward a science-fiction premise, the real horror here is how American society has traditionally treated black bodies as disposable. That their lives might not "matter." There is something universally haunting and terrifying about the scenes in which Chris's autonomy as a person is taken from him, and he is sent to the "sunken place"- where his screams will go unheard. The satirical social commentary is impossible to miss, and it's also a well-constructed horror film in which the sense of dread and danger is rising and palpable throughout. In 2019's Us a family on vacation (led by Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong'o) are terrorized by doppelgangers of themselves, who have lived a funhouse mirror life in the darkness, deprived of every advantage that this family had in the light.

In NOPE the filmmaker takes on Hollywood itself, and the idea that our lives are now lived on camera. This is just the background radiation of the film- a Hollywood which is unequal by default, and racist in a casual, unthinking way that the film doesn't dwell on. The Haywood family, who run Haywood's Hollywood Horses on a ranch in Agua Dulce, have been trying to get ahead in a small niche of the movie business for as long as OJ (Otis Jr) and Emerald Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) have been alive. They are already traumatized and broken by the time we first meet Emerald, late for work and doing her energetic hard-sell pitch on the set of a commercial. Steven Yeun, as former child actor and rival horse rancher Ricky "Jupe" Park, is traumatized too, but has learned to wear a smile like a mask and play the part of the carnival-barker showman. He has turned his ranch into a tourist destination, "Jupiter's Claim," selling plush toys of aliens that he would never admit are straight from his own nightmares.

Daniel Kaluuya is again an appealingly languid presence as OJ Haywood. He is not as outwardly energetic and assertive as his sister, but the film is always very much on his side, allowing you to get in his headspace throughout. He underplays it as someone who has seen too much for his young age. The film is equally sympathetic to Keke Palmer's Emerald, even as it uses her to show how destructive it is, to a person, to constantly have to hustle and prove yourself to the media powers that be, or even to be believed. Neither of them are especially good as proving themselves worthy in a rigged system, and eventually it makes them both equally reckless. It's not hard to compare this to the reckless behavior of Jupe, whose childhood trauma is explained in one of the film's scarier scenes. Like many child actors he had big dreams and was trying to prove himself, but when it mattered there was no one there to protect him, or anyone around him. And somewhere out there, there be monsters. Or maybe just animals doing what animals do.

There will be a lot of pages written about what this movie means, exactly. In some ways the film is overt about its themes but exactly what we're supposed to take away from that is up to the viewer. This is the kind of movie that film students love. It's certainly not the pointed statement that Get Out was, but it has something to say about how Americans would relate to an event like this, which makes it a fresh and unique twist on what could seem like well-trodden subject matter. Does it "mean" as much as Get Out? Not really, but it establishes its own vibe and tone which is well worth the time. There is also a level of visual spectacle to the film, which a real-life family like the Haywoods would not have the budget to fake, or to reach a mass audience in the way that this film will. This is a movie about people lower on the Hollywood totem pole, who don't have the platform of a big superhero movie, or a relatively big-budget summer movie like this.

First and foremost it's also a tense and well-crafted thriller, that goes to some genuinely unpleasant places. I heard that in some screenings the film was treated as a comedy. That was not my experience. It certainly has satirical themes which could (and should) seem flippant (one key moment involves the intervention of a "journalist" believed to be from TMZ). I read another reaction in which a large-scale event midway through the movie, as depicted, made one viewer sick for a week. It's not an especially gory sequence- the viewer is left to fill in the blanks from fragments- but there are disturbing ideas in the film which could stick with you and get under your skin. There is also a constant sense of danger. The small audience I saw the film with laughed when it finally occurred to Kaluuya's OJ to lock the car door. I don't know that it actually will stick with viewers in the same way, but there is a level of craft on display here, in a mass-appeal film, that we'd normally attribute to the likes of Carpenter or Spielberg in the 80s. And it's clever.

The iconic Keith David plays the father of the family. Brandon Perea plays Angel Torres, a UFO-obsessed clerk at this movie's version of the UFO-themed Fry's Electronics in Burbank, which closed down permanently in February 2021. Michael Wincott plays filmmaker Antlers Holst, looking weathered and tanned by the Hollywood sun, and using outdated film equipment in 2022.

At one point, OJ, Emerald and Angel have left the ranch, and another movie might have rolled the credits here. When they went to Angel's apartment instead, followed by VR gaming, vaping and shrimp sandwiches, it was clear that we weren't remotely done yet. There's a lot happening here, including enough believable CGI effects to take up a good chunk of the $68 million budget.

There are two brief shots at the very end which change the outcome of the film, and which would have been easy to fake in post or with one pickup. There's also, at least in my opinion, no hint of this outcome in the previous shot's performance, which seemed to be setting up a different kind of arrival if you cut to black there. But that might just be saving it as a surprise, and then wanting to get it over with quickly. It does feel like something Peele would have shot, but maybe an afterthought, or to give himself options. I suspect it was tested with and without those shots anyway. Get Out also had an unused alternate ending which was a bit darker, at the end of an already very dark film, and I'm sure the same discussions were had here. It doesn't make the movie better or worse, but it does leave you on a different note.

The audio was generally well-mixed. I had trouble understanding some of the dialogue, though not to a degree that it affected comprehension. On Twitter, Jordan Peele released an opening sequence for the sitcom "Gordy's Home," with a faux VHS filter over it. Footage from the ALF-like sitcom is vaguely glimpsed in the background of Jupe's scenes but is not directly shown. It easily could have been, although it might have felt too comedic. It does show how much thought was put into the backstory of these characters, and the media that surrounds and shapes them. Early in the film, Emerald misses one word in her sales pitch on the commercial set, and a VHS tape later tells us why.

There's some very subtle stuff going on, and other stuff which is about as subtle as a thousand gallons of blood dumped overhead. I think that's a good mix for a movie to have, and it shows why Jordan Peele is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today.
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