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billyweeds
Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:51 am Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20524 Location: New York City
bartist wrote:
You DO want to see the heads of Anna Kendrick and Gemma Atherton talking and generally doing some pretty amusing, er, tete a tete. In the school of black comedy, they both move to the head of the class.


You mean it's like "The Brain That Wouldn't Die"? (If you've never seen that one, pounce.) If so, I might reconsider. If Anna talks after being decapitated, that adds a surreal quality that I might be able to stomach.
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bartist
Posted: Sat Jun 20, 2020 2:56 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6587
I love TBtWD. It stands head and shoulders above most films in that genre. I love the part where the mad doctor is searching for a new body for his fiancee's head and so of course he checks out beauty contests and burlesque houses in hopes of finding a hot one. So much campy fun there.

In The Voices, both the adorable Gemma and Anna are reanimated, at least within the unusual alternate reality which Ryan Reynolds has conjured. His cat and dog also are gifted with human speech, though it's unclear why the cat sounds like a foul-mouthed Cockney that wandered in off the set of Sexy Beast. As one might imagine, the cat and dog provide very different moral perspectives.

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gromit
Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 10:14 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8739 Location: Shanghai
Rewatched The Spectacular Now, mainly because I remembered absolutely nothing about it. And Miles Teller has since gotten big. I can see why I had no recall. The film is rather generic. The popular class clown accidentally falls in with a nerdy or at least obscure female classmate. And they become an unlikely item. At least they don't use glasses to make the girl look nerdy. But she looks nice and normal from the start. I guess you could call her socially a late bloomer.

Anyway, from the generic storyline to the phony framing device, the film just seems false. It starts with Teller writing his college essay about his great ex-girlfriend including using F-bombs, and how he met this other unnoticed chick. Kind of cute but rather unlikely. Then the film goes back to that at the end and he's writing a different college essay, but because his new girlfriend already has left for college, he mentions that he has no idea if the essay might be too late, to paper over that wobble.

And basically that's the believability level of the whole film. This cool guy has a geeky best friend and apparently no other friends. Which is odd. He was dating this great girl who then goes on to date the school's star athlete and class president, oddly a black kid that looks bout 5'9". And this stud is insecure so winds up asking the cool kid's advice on girls. Sure ...

I did like how Teller meets the unnoticed girl. But that's about it. The actual ending is presented as positive when Teller shows up in Philly where his high school ex-unknown girl is now going to college. In real life this would almost certainly be a disaster, since she's moved on and is in college and in a different world with unlimited possibilities, and he has zero plans, but this is presented as a happy reunion/ending.


Last edited by gromit on Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:59 pm; edited 1 time in total

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billyweeds
Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:29 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 May 2004 Posts: 20524 Location: New York City
gromit--Disagree about "The Spectacular Now," in which Teller and likewise now-big Shailene Woodley create sparks. The ending is not as happy as you make it, and you fail to mention not only Woodley but the award-worthy supporting performance by Kyle Chandler as Teller's deadbeat and absentee dad. Chandler is fast becoming one of our most under-appreciated actors.
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gromit
Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 1:54 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8739 Location: Shanghai
It's a well put together film with a solid cast. Just a formulaic screenplay and a not a filled-in universe.

I liked Teller at work and his relationship with his boss. That interested me. The deadbeat Dad scene was rather overplayed, but I did like the actor.

Really I'm likely to forget the entire film within a month or so. I mean completely. I knew I had seen it, but remembered nada and it wasn't even remotely familiar until 30+ minutes in

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gromit
Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:45 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8739 Location: Shanghai
The Good Shepherd (2006). A strange film, which tries hard to make the foundation of the CIA and the early Cold War as strenuously dull as possible. I don't think I knew it was directed by DeNiro when I saw it over a decade ago. He hasn't directed anything since.

It's a pretty all-star cast, most with nothing to do. Alec Baldwin looks the part, but has little to do. Angelina Jolie is a sex kitten whose husband ignores her. Huh? She gets some very clunky scenes. The costumes are good throughout.

The main character, Damon says little but everyone says he's brilliant and wants him on their team. I dislike films that tell us a character is brilliant without letting us witness that. He's dull. He makes espionage dull. But there's something just very flat and methodical about the whole film.

I think the jumping around in time works against the film, as we don't connect to any character or stay in any moment long enough to invest in it.
Just seems a very workmanlike film that jumps back and forth in time because that was a popular way of dressing up a screenplay then. But the dullness comes through anyway.

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bartist
Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:43 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6587
Don't think I saw it. A film made the same year, The Good German, I did see. For some reason, I thought TGS was adapted from a LeCarre novel, but no. This film somehow made no dent on my brain whatsoever.

RIP Carl Reiner. Died while still young, fresh, and monumentally funny, age 98. An icon. Let's have more statues put up of him -- that Gen. Albert Pike plinth is open in DC.

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gromit
Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:05 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8739 Location: Shanghai
A good long Carl Reiner obit: https://www.msn.com/en-us/movies/news/carl-reiner-multifaceted-master-of-comedy-is-dead-at-98/ar-BB169G69

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gromit
Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:11 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8739 Location: Shanghai
bartist wrote:
Don't think I saw it. A film made the same year, The Good German, I did see. For some reason, I thought TGS was adapted from a LeCarre novel, but no. This film somehow made no dent on my brain whatsoever.


What's odd is I have those two films linked in my mind. I saw those two films I think in the same week back in 2006 or 07. And the Dvd's were stored for a long time next to each other. I popped in the Good Shepard because I remembered nothing about it, but had a vague notion I thought it was okay.

While I recalled somewhat disliking The Good German. I remember Toby Maguire was miscast. The atmosphere seemed there, but too imitative and inauthentic. And nothing really seemed terribly believable or important. I remember thinking the pieces were somewhat there but not put together in any effective manner.

But it's sitting at the top of a pile, and I'll give it a try.

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carrobin
Posted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:38 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7727 Location: NYC
Good obit of Carl Reiner. Recently one of the magazine shows--CBS Sunday Morning, maybe?--had an interview of him and Mel Brooks together, and they were as bright, funny, and charming as a couple of twentysomethings who'd just hit it big. I hope Mel is okay--they seemed to be each other's life support.
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gromit
Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2020 4:05 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8739 Location: Shanghai
The Good German. Well, my memories were mostly on target.

Tobey Maguire is supposed to be a tough little guy punching above his weight. But he just seems whiny and not terribly believable as a rogue soldier. It's the kind of role Sal Mineo could pull off. Maguire is somewhat akin to Dick Powell playing a tough guy in 40's noirs, and maybe that was the counter-casting they had in mind. But babyface Powell pulls it off much better. TM has both the voice and baby face to overcome. It's a little silly when Tobey Maguire with one broken arm beats down George Clooney.

One running joke in the film is that Clooney presents himself as reasonably tough and competent, but he gets beaten up by everybody in the film. It's like the Rockford Files. I did like how a lot of coincidences get stacked on top of each other, and finally Clooney figures out that a number of them were intentional setups.

It's a better film once Maguire is out of the way. And that happens reasonably early, probably around the 25 min mark, I'd guess.

It's a decently involving film. But I think it focuses too much on the plot twists, so you don't get involved too much in what's at stake for the characters. And the stylistic touches come and go. It all comes across as more an homage to an era/.style of filmmaking than something authentic. The insertions of genuine archive clips of Berlin seem odd and ineffective against the film's slick stylized version of post-war noir.

I could see the book working better than the film. Where the central dilemma of Blanchett's survivor character trying to do the right thing after having done the wrong thing for so long, but doing the right thing requires deceiving and assorted sordid crimes. And while Clooney is the detective-ish protag who keeps the plot moving forward, slowly discovering what's what between beatings, it's really Blanchett's story. In some ways this is similar to Fassbinder's great late film, Veronica Voss, where a shaggy detective story is used to reveal the pains of a former Nazi collaborator.

This is a very homage-y exercise from Soderbergh. Some of the odd side characters, the occasional voiceover and the actual post-war footage hark back to The Third Man. There's the aforementioned Dick Powell style casting of Tobey Maguire. And I'm sure there are more references I wasn't aware of. It's interesting that Soderbergh tries his own techniques to evoke old time noir -- especially bleached out backgrounds, almost using light as a form of bright shadow.

Well, The Good German is certainly more involving than the snoozy Good Shepard. It just doesn't fully cohere and the plot perhaps overwhelms character motivation and moral issues.

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