The Official Review Thread of 2008

Franz Ferdinand
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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Sat Jul 19, 2008 1:15 am

The Joker telling Batman that they could "do this forever" nearly made me cry for the tragedy of Heath Ledger. What a towering performance, truly amazing.

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Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:59 am

THE DARK KNIGHT
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Monique Curnen, Nelson Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall, Ron Dean, Chin Han, Melinda McGraw, Nathan Gamble.
Dir: Christopher Nolan

I'm one of those rare beings who actually prefer Tim Burton's Batman movies over Batman Begins when everyone was splooging all over it like it was God's gift to cinema. Having said that, I will say that the first hour or so of The Dark Knight, I felt it was more of the same from Begins. I was ready to dismiss it as a disappointment but once the second hour kicks in and the batcycle was introduced, I have to say that from that point on, it IS the best Batman movie ever made. How was Ledger? He was outstanding and managed to outdo Jack Nicholson. Scary and funny. Just like the way the Joker is supposed to be.

Oscar Prospects: Best Supporting Actor for Ledger is all but certain. Also possible: Best Makeup, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects.

Grade: A-

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Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:03 am

--anonymous wrote:A really not bad idea, just could've used better direction and script.

Well, we still have the literate 1959 version with James Mason and Pat Boone that was fairly faithful to Jules Verne's novel.




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Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:55 am

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem, Seth Meyers.
Dir: Eric Brevig.

I saw this on 3D. I'm sort of glad I did (emphasis on 'sort of') because if it weren't for the pretty nifty 3D effects and sequences, this would certainly come off as just your average, run-of-the-mill kiddie adventure story not that much better than the stuff you see on the Disney Channel or even straight to DVD. A really not bad idea, just could've used better direction and script.

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C

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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:55 pm

Good. It shouldnt be too difficult. :)

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Postby Sabin » Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:23 pm

If those are the only things on the list that remove me from godliness, I'll see what I can do Marco.
“This is something, as long as we live in a world where something means anything. I’m not sure we do anymore. It seems serious, but do we live in a world devoid of consequences now? This seems like a seismic event, but it might be nothing.” John Oliver

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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:25 am

Ok, ok. Let's face it - you'd be perfect if you weren't, 1) straight; 2) a big fan of Eternal Sunshine. Please change at least ONE of these two aspects...

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Postby Sabin » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:57 pm

Thanks for implying that I am too old to appreciate this movie! (And I guess that, by American standards, I am.)

I never meant that you were too old to appreciate the movie but that at first contact it might mean something different to me. Most of my argument is rooted in (if there is such a thing) "generalized specifics", but I do think there's something to be said for being a viewer of the film and knowing that in the age of the chimpanzee, you were a FILL IN THE BLANK.

I don't believe that 'Eternal Sunshine...' has a revolutionary structure compared to anything that Resnais has done. I made a very grandiose statement when I said it was the "single most unruly narrative I have ever encountered" but I ended that statement by saying that "it reads" confusing as hell. In the American studio system, having a twenty some-odd minute prologue ending in credits followed by a short first act that exists as the procedure itself occurs is incredibly unruly and in reading the script, it is fairly difficult to follow. It is a traditional narrative in that it bookends the central story (a relationship being erased from the end of the relationship back to the beginning) with a new beginning and a new end to the beginning. There is a symmetry there that isn't anything new.

It IS an emotional approach (a bit like Penelope's equally respectable love of soap operas) but I can't deny that it's very understandable.

I've decided that because I don't watch soap operas, I'm fairly unqualified to comment on this and simply say "If you say so." I think there is probably a difference between embracing a serialized melodrama day-in and day-out as opposed to a piece of film that exists in a more contained fashion. As for it being an emotional approach (by which I think you mean my embrace of the film), I may relate to the film and embrace it wholeheartedly for a connection that I might innately have with it, but I don't think a film I love beyond rationale and blindly, puppy-ish. I didn't really read Penelope's ode to soap operas but I think I've cited enough analytical reasons why I herald the film. Upon perusing back, I see that might not be the case. I think I've said enough about what I like about the film as I wasn't intending on unravelling such a lengthy stream of consciousness piece of writing as I had. I don't much care to revise it or journey back to it. Without denigrating Penelope's love of soap operas, I think they might be slightly different forms of embrace.

What I actually meant, I suppose, is - usually, when a director makes a critically successful movie and then follows it with a series of more disappointing works, one - while still liking that first movie - can look at it from a different perspective, and can sometimes trace previously ignored flaws, which can even make it more interesting sometimes. Good to know that this didn't happen to Eternal Sunshine.

The only insight that Gondry's subsequent features following 'Eternal Sunshine...' has leant me is that the man is a far better collaborator and innovator when he has limitations and structure. Too much in his own head, and he's rather obnoxious. I think I know Woody Allen very well by now and although 'Match Point' isn't the return to form that some claimed it was, I still consider it very impressive, and 'Manhattan' remains in a very special place, untouched by subsequent failures, of which we might get two this year alone.

RE: 'Hard Candy'.

I'd sooner be strapped to a chair and castrated before being forced to watch that one again though. Know that wasn't entirely the point of your comment, but if anything, reading back that I can be quoted as using the phrase "young American love" does fill me with an eyeball-rolling sense of self-loathing.
“This is something, as long as we live in a world where something means anything. I’m not sure we do anymore. It seems serious, but do we live in a world devoid of consequences now? This seems like a seismic event, but it might be nothing.” John Oliver

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Postby Johnny Guitar » Thu Jul 10, 2008 6:31 am

ITALIANO wrote:Resnais's Muriel ou les temps d'un retour...

You should have picked Je t'aime, je t'aime!

Sabin--on 'young American love' ... I personally would feel obligated to see Hard Candy before making any such statements. Have you seen it? It sounds too promising to be ignored.

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Postby ITALIANO » Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:40 am

Thanks for implying that I am too old to appreciate this movie! (And I guess that, by American standards, I am.) :)

But seriously, you make some good points. Of course one could say that this movie's narrative structure, far from being revolutionary, can be considered "unruly" only if compared to standard American movies of these days (it IS gimmicky, true, but it's also very traditional - the logic behind it is quite clear, let's face it, and it's such a "well-made" script that it was given an Oscar by the Academy - and I don't think the same happened to, say, Resnais's Muriel ou les temps d'un retour...). And one could also say that all movies are collaborative efforts - American movies especially.

But you are right, I guess, about Eternal Sunshine being the movie of a generation - yours - whose confusions and contradictions it probably mirrors better than other films. It IS an emotional approach (a bit like Penelope's equally respectable love of soap operas) but I can't deny that it's very understandable.

What I actually meant, I suppose, is - usually, when a director makes a critically successful movie and then follows it with a series of more disappointing works, one - while still liking that first movie - can look at it from a different perspective, and can sometimes trace previously ignored flaws, which can even make it more interesting sometimes. Good to know that this didn't happen to Eternal Sunshine.

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Postby Okri » Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:42 pm

Very well said, Sabin.

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Postby Sabin » Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:17 pm

And my question wasn't a provocative one - I wouldn't do this to you - nor did it implied European superiority

By saying that you could ask people "even in Europe", I think you are a little. Not more than usual or, as I've said, to any degree that I would disagree with.

My opinion of 'Eternal Sunshine...' hasn't changed although my opinion of Michel Gondry certainly has. I think he does certain things well and certain things not so well. 'Dave Chappelle's Block Party', a movie I'm not sure you would have much use for, gives off a buzz of community, music, and ecstasy that's pretty much unrivaled this decade in terms of concert films. It's brilliantly edited and captures something very special and genuine on film. Is it an accident and how much of it can be attributed to Michel Gondry? I don't know about that. It certainly feels like a freewheeling experience that he was fortunate enough to attach himself to.

That's what I responded to in 'Be Kind Rewind'. The movie is not really about remaking these movies but about remaking our history before somebody else gets a chance to. There's this block in danger of gross gentrification and before it's taken down, they make a film about a legend who may or may not have been there. That's the climax of the movie and they screen the film unknowingly for the block. The movie is flimsy and minor but there's a sweetness to it that I responded to.

'The Science of Sleep' had me rethinking Michel Gondry's contributions to 'Eternal Sunshine...' because while Gael Garcia Bernal gives a great performance and the tactile effects are a joy to behold, it's ridiculously indulgent and the kind that reeks of a poser celebrating something he doesn't really develop or understand. It's not a terrible movie but it's painful to watch in more than increments and I was really looking forward to it. My first viewing was a little more substantial but I saw it again and there's nothing there.

The reason I don't just love 'Eternal Sunshine...' but think that it is the best movie of the decade are resultant of personal insights both cultural and deriving from personal experience. To wit: 'Eternal Sunshine...' is the romance of the decade for young Americans. Nothing comes close. There is not a romantic film released this decade that has touched people of my generation like 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' with the possible exception of 'Brokeback Mountain', 'Before Sunset', 'Amelie', 'Lost in Translation'...but I don't think there is a movie that captures what young American love feels like at this moment like 'Eternal Sunshine...'. Romantic comedies are in decline to such a degree that they will not return, not like before, until we get a new Julia Roberts or a new Meg Ryan and that hasn't entirely happened. I'm fine without it happening because most of those vehicles (except for 'Notting Hill') are pretty terrible; however, it means there is a substantial dearth for strong female roles. Kate Winslet's Clementine stands out, even more so than her Rose from 'Titanic', as the actress' great statement of thick, difficult women, this time in a contemporary pastiche that both men and women I know can understand. Jim Carrey's Joel is a fairly traditional Kaufman-esque schmuck but the subversion of Carrey's persona into a mopey sad man (which feels more correct these days than his slapstick-happy goon) and Winslet as the spritelier force of nature speaks to more contemporary relationships that I've experienced first and second hand than any other screen couple in quite some time.

'Eternal Sunshine...' doesn't just fit the mold because nothing else comes close either. Not to incite a defensive rebuke, you can say what you want about American culture or lack thereof but what defines us today is a lack of interpersonal connection bred from myriad sources that 'Eternal Sunshine...' immediately speaks to more clearly than any film I can think of that we need our failures. The American dream is such that we can do anything, we are the best, we will succeed. Without tangenting needlessly into our school systems, our television, our parents...it can be a lonely place in an overly industrial landscape of institutions and patience, improperly utilizing the advent of the internet and new media to launch an immediately successful career as some of my colleagues have...and mulling over a key relationship that ended too soon or not soon enough. 'Eternal Sunshine...' is the therapy piece of my time. I think what put off some people was how insular it can be, the dearth of supporting characters, which I think was functionary for the film to have a clear narrative. Charlie Kaufman has expressed a lot of distaste for the film's final edit which excised: A) futuristic science fiction bookends wherein Clementine and Joel would continue to make up and erase themselves for decades to come, and B) the removal of the girl that Joel was seriously dating when Clementine came along. Simply put: 'Eternal Sunshine...' doesn't need those people in it because it's not important. As I've said earlier, mine is a generation that can lack interconnectedness and the love between Joel and Clementine and their couple friend is all that the film needs to convey the information to spearhead (I'm putting this in caps because it needs to be said and I will use it to tangent into my next paragraph) the single most unruly narrative I have ever encountered, one that I am astonished got greenlit in the first place because it reads confusing as hell.

(the above? all one reason.)

The other main reason I hold it above all other films and Gondry's heretofore disappointing career in the four years since he made the film so I think total reevaluation of the artist as a whole is a mite premature...is that it is a wholly collaborative film, wherein the success of the whole can so visibly be attributed to so many talented individuals doing their job: the in-camera effects Gondry dreams up, perfectly teamed with beautifully naturalistic cinematography Ellen Kuras; Jon Brion's lilting circus score; the subversion of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet's personas; Charlie Kaufman's screenplay which begins at the end of the relationship unknowingly in a memory and ends at the beginning very knowingly; the ingenious editing which took ages as the film was re-concieved (a practice that doesn't denigrate its conception or execution but simply exists as a reality, that films are often times found rather than built from the ground up)...everything that speaks to me of how movies are made by way of conception and happy accidents is present and on display in 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'.

I think to some degree I have to be met halfway by the dismissive elders on this board. I can't remember how many times I've been told that I have to keep certain things in context when watching certain classics. When I watch an adaptation of a book, I do not need to have read the book to fully appreciate the film which is why I think that if Alfonso Cuaron is not directing then there is never going to be anything for me in a 'Harry Potter' movie. By the same token, I will get around to Proust but I don't dare pop in 'Time Regained' any time soon. I love 'Two for the Road' but it speaks to a slightly different mindset than 'Eternal Sunshine...'. I thought of 'Two for the Road' the entire time and there is a glorious refinery even in vulgarity to that film that I appreciated but slightly from afar. With 'Eternal Sunshine...''s admittedly more emo approach, I felt absolutely intimate to the egocentric characters. I don't deny that this is an egocentric film but there is a clarity to what it is presenting that I think has been lost on certain members of the board like Damien, Magilla, and yourself.

I'm going to return to the concept of the movie romance and how in decline it has been for some time. I don't necessarily consider myself a prototypical mouthpiece for my generation but I don't know many people who take many movie romances to heart, let alone bring up in conversation about how much it touched them. I'd say that the only films about relationships to have as close to an impact are 'High Fidelity' (which is basically a counterculture phenomenon, not too terribly deep, but captured something of a zeitgeist in Hornby and Black) and 'Chasing Amy'. The latter isn't a great film but it touched on a sexual ambiguity however convenient in presentation for the film's narrative and audience. With 'Eternal Sunshine...', I think the consistence in relative character cipher allows for the audience (re: twentysomething) to project a little bit more and true to Movie Star fashion Carrey & Winslet's personas carried a great deal of weight. "Oh, it's 'Ace Ventura'..." "Oh, it's the girl from 'Titanic'..." They meant something to us! That they're together is so atypical and oddly fitting.

I think 'Before Sunrise' and 'Before Sunset' are stronger, more mature and consistently insightful portrayals of love and youth and loss, but (again) beyond its glorious execution, what 'Eternal Sunshine...' says about needing our mistakes is so imperative for me and my friends and everybody I know who has seen it that the film to me is as of the moment as anything I've ever seen and Gondry's piffle indulgences in 'The Science of Sleep' don't make it any less a lesson.




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“This is something, as long as we live in a world where something means anything. I’m not sure we do anymore. It seems serious, but do we live in a world devoid of consequences now? This seems like a seismic event, but it might be nothing.” John Oliver

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Postby ITALIANO » Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:09 pm

--Sabin wrote:(Unless, of course I misread you and you did see it.)

I didn't, and I don't think I will. And my question wasn't a provocative one - I wouldn't do this to you - nor did it implied European superiority (the opposite actually, since I know several intelligent Europeans who, unfortunately, loved Eternal Sunshine). I was really curious to know if maybe now, after a few years and after a few not exactly celebrated movies by the same director, your opinion about THAT masterpiece has, not even diminished, but changed. Which happens sometimes - I don't see anything degrading in that.




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Postby Zahveed » Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:42 pm

I don't see the quality of a work itself being diminished due to subsequent follow-ups, but more so the reputation and reliability of those associated - and even so, the cases vary.
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Postby Sabin » Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:15 pm

I ask this to you, but I could ask to many others, even in Europe.

LOL. Perish the thought! Seriously, don't change. I love you.

I do like 'Be Kind Rewind' but because you've made sure to avoid it, I'm afraid we can't have any kind of conversation about it. If I indulge you in my defending the pleasures of 'Be King Rewind' which are real, sweet, and admittedly minor but no less there, then really the only thing you can do in return is respond in well-articulated hypotheticals ranging from European superiority, the innate minorness of American cinema, and...well, several other arguments that I can't entirely disagree with, save the fact that you didn't see the film.

(Unless, of course I misread you and you did see it.)

I don't think that Wes Anderson will make another great film after 'Rushmore' and 'The Royal Tenenbaums'. I think that Linklater's subsequent work after 'Before Sunset' has been mightily disappointment and he has nothing on the horizon that might contend with its beauty. And while there's a grace to 'The Science of Sleep', 'Be Kind Rewind', and 'Dave Chappelle's Block Party' (very much in increasingly measures), their diminished quality does nothing for my esteem of 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' because it is a truly collaborative film, not just Gondry's show. It is as much Kaufman, Brion, Carrey & Winslet, and Kuras as Gondry. An artist may make one work of art and have it not diminished by subsequent frustrations and failures.
“This is something, as long as we live in a world where something means anything. I’m not sure we do anymore. It seems serious, but do we live in a world devoid of consequences now? This seems like a seismic event, but it might be nothing.” John Oliver


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