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 Apex Predator's Film Thread Volume 2.0 
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Watch a Best Picture Runner-Up

Dunkirk (2017)

Don't look for characterization, backstories, or set-up in this film. Director Christopher Nolan plays it like screenplay doctors recommend: lean and mean.

Although it does jump around on narrative (a Nolan trait), it follows the Dunkirk evacuation through three different stories. On the ground level as a pair of soldiers haul a wounded soldier in a boat and have to find various ways to survive as Germans insist on bombing it and shooting it up. A civilian man insists on taking his requisitioned boat to Dunkirk to rescue soldiers (with life jackets) and deals with a son and his teenage friend. And in the air, a pilot tries to make the best of a busted fuel gauge as he and a cohort deal with German planes.

Imagine the entire film being the D-Day sequence of Saving Private Ryan and you get the idea behind this one. Old fashioned derring do and mostly CGI-less effects make for a powerful, enthralling mix. Eyes will be watching throughout and a relatively brief short run-time is another strength.

But there's a bit of a cannon fodder effect. It was hard telling who was who after awhile. I knew Mr. Sign of the Times was in this, but I didn't recognize him at all. There's a mix of newcomers and veteran actors in this and it's well done. But maybe a clearer point of view might have helped at times?

A compelling story brought to life.

NEXT: Now I finish the second film of 2018.


Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:33 am
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Yay, my favorite movie of 2017! Such a brilliantly, viscerally intense experience all-around, easy.

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Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:09 am
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After watching Dunkirk I said to myself now there's a movie I should have seen in the theater. I rarely say that but it was such an intense film. Also kudos to Christopher Nolan for trimming it down to a cool 105 minutes.


Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:39 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Don't look for characterization, backstories, or set-up in this film.

Eh, there was a bit of substance in the film. I feel like Nolan clearly presented the sacrifices of the characters. I also think that the film was arguing it's okay to run away from war (something which war films typically don't explore). I didn't care for this film on my first viewing and I initially thought it was style over substance, but I liked it much more on future viewings. I still wish Nolan would've rated it R though; not only because the PG-13 rating limited this film in terms of how realistic it could be, but because I admire directors who aren't afraid to step outside their comfort zones. It was still really good though, and it's one of my favorite films he's done.

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Fri Aug 31, 2018 12:01 pm
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Eh, there was a bit of substance in the film. I feel like Nolan clearly presented the sacrifices of the characters. I also think that the film was arguing it's okay to run away from war (something which war films typically don't explore). I didn't care for this film on my first viewing and I initially thought it was style over substance, but I liked it much more on future viewings. I still wish Nolan would've rated it R though; not only because the PG-13 rating limited this film in terms of how realistic it could be, but because I admire directors who aren't afraid to step outside their comfort zones. It was still really good though, and it's one of my favorite films he's done.


I'm not calling on these things as weaknesses. And you're correct that this film celebrates survival over other things which is kind of unusual. Such as the scene towards the end on the train where one guy is reading a paper.

I think if I had to pick a weakness in this film, it's that the "characters" kind of ran into each other. Compare this to the unit looking for a soldier in Saving Private Ryan. Everyone had a distinctive character about them. They all kind of bled to each other here.


Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:22 am
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One more film to close out August. And perhaps a new frontrunner for my best of 2017?


Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:23 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

I'm not calling on these things as weaknesses. And you're correct that this film celebrates survival over other things which is kind of unusual. Such as the scene towards the end on the train where one guy is reading a paper.

I think if I had to pick a weakness in this film, it's that the "characters" kind of ran into each other. Compare this to the unit looking for a soldier in Saving Private Ryan. Everyone had a distinctive character about them. They all kind of bled to each other here.

Also, I recommend Nolan's Following if you haven't already seen it. A few people on this forum are mixed on it, but I feel like it's pretty good and worth watching.

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Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:43 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Also, I recommend Nolan's Following if you haven't already seen it. A few people on this forum are mixed on it, but I feel like it's pretty good and worth watching.


I saw this a month or two ago.

It was to cover Thief's list of films and in particular, a debut title. I found it to be pretty good.


Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:32 am
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And it appears I'll have a second film to talk about on Sunday. I have completed 2018's Set It Up (Can't believe I've been getting this title wrong the entire time).

Let me know when Thief's done with his list.


Sun Sep 02, 2018 9:49 am
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My Life as a Zucchini (2017)

Excellent family movie as a little boy who deals with a rough home life with an alcoholic mother who is sent to a foster home after accidentally killing her.

Once there, he meets the other kids there including the dominant boy named Simon and various others. But things start to improve when he befriends a new student named Camille.

Although the film doesn't skimp on the reasons each of the kids are here, it also does manage some lighter moments to ease the mood as well such as a field trip to see snow, a school dance. Everything fits in and it feels great.

Best film of 2017? Yes.

That good luck charm. :P

Set It Up (2018)

Anybody remember 2005's Bewitched? You know the film based on the TV show with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell? No?

Anyway, what the film should have been about was Kidman wiggling her nose and getting hubby Ferrell in all sorts of hi-jinx before they get sorted out. Instead, what we get is the making of Bewitched where Kidman plays an actress who is also a witch who ends up getting cast as Sam Stevens.

All we wanted was a fun big screen take on the series, but we got an additional layer that screwed things up and ruined the fun somewhat.

I was thinking of this as I saw the set up for Set It Up. Two assistants, an Anna Kendrick type (Zoey Deutch) and an aging fratboy (Glen Powell) are overworked and underappreciated. To get a better work life balance, they agree to set up their hardnosed bosses (Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) in a romance, Cyrano style.

But it's possible that the real romance is right in front of their faces, if only they could overcome their differences.

Deutch, Liu, and Pete Davidson as Charlie's gay roomie pull out good performances for the material and Powell isn't far behind. There are some good laughs here and the raunch is fairly minimal.

But this feels like something that could have been done in 80-85 minutes. And it takes a long time to reach the conclusion that is predictable as ever.

It was alright, but A Christmas Prince was better.


Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:53 am
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What I'm leaning towards for September:

A road trip film/Spanish Language film: Back and Forth (2016)
A British film: In Bruges/Love Actually/Dough
A non-Best Picture winner from the 1940s: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1946)
A Japanese language film: Miss Hokusai (2015)
A film about food: Sour Grapes (2016)
A Palm D'Or winner: Dheepan (2015)
A Bollywood film: Dilwale (2015)
A film from the 1960s: The Endless Summer (1966)
A drama film/no CGI or special effects: Moonlight (2016)
A film based on a book/period drama: Madame Bovary (2014)
A Best Picture winner from the 1950s: Ideas, advice?
A film set in Eastern Europe: The Saratov Approach (2013)
A film or mini-series over 240 minutes long: Ideas or advice?
An Italian language film: Deep Red (1975)
A film that was a box-office bomb: mother! (2017)
A cult classic film: Santa Sangre (1989)
An Iranian film: Modest Reception (2012)
A film from Sweden: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch (2014)
A film famous for its twist/ending: Could use some ideas or advice?
A film with a number in its title: 47 Meters Down (2016)
A film by Kobayashi Masaki: I don't have FilmStruck so I can't do this one?
An Alfred Hitchcock film: Dial M for Murder (1952)

Also:
Schoenfeld Boulevard (2014)
Soul Searching: Journey of Thomas Merton (2006)
Frantz (2017)
Joyeux Noel (2005)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)


Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:02 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Eh, there was a bit of substance in the film. I feel like Nolan clearly presented the sacrifices of the characters. I also think that the film was arguing it's okay to run away from war (something which war films typically don't explore). I didn't care for this film on my first viewing and I initially thought it was style over substance, but I liked it much more on future viewings. I still wish Nolan would've rated it R though; not only because the PG-13 rating limited this film in terms of how realistic it could be, but because I admire directors who aren't afraid to step outside their comfort zones.
But Nolan already made 3 R films with Following, Memento, and Insomnia, though...

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Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:28 pm
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Stu wrote:
But Nolan already made 3 R films with Following, Memento, and Insomnia, though...

Those were his earlier films though. All of his films after those 3 have been rated PG-13. While I didn't have an issue with the ratings of his other movies, I think this one would've benefited with an R rating.

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Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:00 pm
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Those were his earlier films though. All of his films after those 3 have been rated PG-13. While I didn't have an issue with the ratings of his other movies, I think this one would've benefited with an R rating.


The only part of this that I might disagree with you on.

I think Nolan was looking for a happy medium between the action of modern flicks and the old fashioned daring do of older war films. I think he pulled it off with a PG-13. Even with that rating, there's some disturbing violence such as characters struggling to overcome the rising waters. Not sure how much more realistic he could have gotten with a R rating.


Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:30 am
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Stranger with a Camera

Second film of September and again, nothing to do with Thief's list, LOL. But I started watching this one Saturday, got intrigued, but I had to leave home for some reason. So when it came on again on Sunday, I just had to watch it.

In the mid to late 1960s, news reporters such as Charles Kuralt and various documentary makers from around the world felt it was necessary to examine places where America's prosperity hadn't struck. One of those places was Eastern Kentucky where coal miners labored for $6 a day, less social security.

But there was a growing resentment in those places when photos and film footage leaked out, particularly among those who thought that that's what the world thinks of us. This rage and resentment would continue to fester until 1967.

Canadian filmmaker Hugh O'Conner and his crew travel to Eastern Kentucky to take some footage. They get permission from a coal miner who had rented a house to take some photos, but the property owner Hobart Ison puts a stop to it by firing a gun three times, once in the air and twice in O'Conner.

There's some pockets of support in the town of Jeremiah where Ison was born and raised. People proceed to help pay out his bail and even baked cakes for him. The trial had to move to a nearby county and those who chose to cover it felt uneasy with the townspeople and their resentment towards outsiders.

Director Elizabeth Barrett tries to go with an even handed approach by getting the majority of players to explain what happened as well as go back in time to see Hugh and Hobart as young men. The line between exploring what happened to some people unable to succeed and exploiting their pain for bucks and ratings can be a bit thin at times.

But an hour isn't quite enough time to explore what happened and the ramifications of the incident on journalism and in fixing the poverty crisis (they give very short shrift to Robert Kennedy's efforts here).

As a way of getting you to want to know more about the story, it's fine. As a definitive take, it falls short.

Next: Argento Take 2.


Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:51 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

The only part of this that I might disagree with you on.

I think Nolan was looking for a happy medium between the action of modern flicks and the old fashioned daring do of older war films. I think he pulled it off with a PG-13. Even with that rating, there's some disturbing violence such as characters struggling to overcome the rising waters. Not sure how much more realistic he could have gotten with a R rating.

It's possible he was going for that, but my issue here has more to do with the unrealism this provides to the film. Take this scene, for example (skip to 1:39). When you get hit by explosives, dirt isn't the only thing which flies through the air. You get blown limb from limb. If Nolan didn't want to show that to maintain this medium, then fine, but it might've been better to either focus entirely on the actor's face with the increasing sounds of the explosives in the background or to simply not show those scenes at all. Again though, I still liked this film quite a lot.

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Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:55 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Those were his earlier films though. All of his films after those 3 have been rated PG-13. While I didn't have an issue with the ratings of his other movies, I think this one would've benefited with an R rating.
Well, for me, while some more blood/gore would've added some gritty realism to the film, it was already such an intense experience that it didn't need any of that to be a great film, and I respect Nolan's choice for a PG-13 if he did it not to stay in his comfort zone, but if he wanted to reach a wider audience with a tribute to the soldiers at Dunkirk who suffered through so much, an audience that an R would've shrunk at least somewhat.

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Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:27 pm
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Stu wrote:
Well, for me, while some more blood/gore would've added some gritty realism to the film, it was already such an intense experience that it didn't need any of that to be a great film, and I respect Nolan's choice for a PG-13 if he did it not to stay in his comfort zone, but if he wanted to reach a wider audience with a tribute to the soldiers at Dunkirk who suffered through so much, an audience that an R would've shrunk at least somewhat.

I do agree it's really good in spite of this minor flaw. However, Nolan did admit that he feels more comfortable with the PG-13 rating, so I feel his reason has more to do with this and less with reaching a wider audience.

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Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:47 pm
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Schonefeld Boulevard (2014)

Covers: See a drama/See a film without CGI or special effects

Um, this was alright.

Although I did kind of cover this in Thief's thread, I'll go through the basics here.

An overweight Berlin girl named Cindy kind of struggles with her life. Her BFFs are indifferent if not cruel towards her. Her neighbor is fatalistic and kind of a weirdo (yet, he is willing to tell it straight to her). Her parents fret over her future and struggle to keep ends met. Her dog proves to be her most loyal companion. She struggles with public speaking and English in school.

But after a near accident involving her mother, she returns some sunglasses to a Finnish engineer and a friendship develops. Later on, she also befriends a Korean software developer. It's those two friendships both involving an international airport being built in Berlin that prove to be transforming to her life allowing her to see things in new ways.

Film moves a bit slow at times and there are some cliches that prove to be too irresistible to director Sylke Enders. Plus, some kind of disturbing things occur in the film that took things away from it.

But lead actress Julia Jendrobek does manage an effortless charm that does make it easy to root for her. Whether it's trying to flirt with the Finnish engineer, playing ping pong with the Korean, or finally dancing in public towards the end, she remains likable for the most part (there's some typical teen moments here and there, but it's at least understandable). And there's some nice contrast between Cindy and neighbor Danny who seem to be going on opposite paths.

Can't quite recommend it, but at least it was something.

NEXT: Finishing up Argento, continuing a controversial 2017 release, and dealing with two :shock: titles for Cinema International this weekend.


Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:33 am
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To sum up my plans for this week:

Finish Deep Red (1975)
Continue mother! (2017) (still seems odd to do an exclamation point AND go in lowercase)
Watch Frantz (2017)
See Joyeux Noel (2006)


Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:35 am
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Deep Red (1975)

Watch a film in the Italian language/Watch a film known for its twist or ending

Arguably one of Dario Argento's more accessible and better films, Deep Red opens with a murder. Although its implications aren't known immediately (and won't be for some time), it does provide a jolt.

At a convention, a Hungarian/German psychic gets an uneasy feeling that she can't shake. At home, she's stalked and killed by a person wearing black gloves who uses dolls in creepy ways. It was a development that she didn't see coming.*

*OK, OK. I think that may be one pun too many as I have tested y'alls patience for the last time. But I did choose to do it here in this thread rather than the Horrorcram or Thief's threads which are more widely read. So give me a modicum of credit.

Anyway, a young British piano composer named Marcus (David Hemmings) is headed home after a late night out when he notices something peculiar. He hurries home and manages to pick the psychic up from her deadly predicament. He notices the black gloves and suspects he's seen a painting at the scene.

So the Italian cops come in and arrest him for capital murder and tampering with the scene of a crime. LOL, no. They let him go without so much as a warning where he becomes the target of a nosy female reporter (Daria Nicolodi) seeking the scoop. So after her beating him at arm wrestling (and multiple complaints on his part), they agree to do separate investigations as to who is responsible. This investigation would take them to several story turns before reaching a surprising conclusion.

The story is coherent for the most part and I even found the ending more satisfying than Suspiria. The score by Goblin is leagues better than Suspiria's and whose guitar riff sounds awfully familiar.

Think Battle Without Honor or Humanity in Kill Bill


The kills may not be the most creative, but they are credible enough. And if you like the red stuff, this film has you covered. If you like creepy atmosphere with dolls and one scene that might remind you of

Saw with its moving, creepy doll


And I do need to add that there's surprising moments of progression in this film as we learn that

Carlo, Marcus's drunk American friend, is revealed to be a homosexual. Film does take a look at him and his crossdressing friend and makes no comment or judgment. Kinda woke for 1975, if you ask me.


But there were issues. The reporter is fairly well written and there was an interesting dynamic between her more modern character and Marcus's traditional character that feels largely unexplored as she seems to disappear for entire reels. Other than the lead's whining about his lack of arm wrestling ability, there's a little girl whose father slaps her at some point for being kind of creepy?

Oh, and although I joked about this a bit before, it seems like the Italian police force is slacking on the job. The film's lead is able to break and enter into several buildings, destroy property, and re-arrange scenes without so much as being questioned. Huh.

Overall, I thought it was a shade worse than Suspiria. But a solid enough entry in Dario Argento's filmography and worthy enough for a recommendation.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:26 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
The score by Goblin is leagues better than Suspiria's

Within the context of the film, I think Suspiria's score is hard to beat. But if I were to sit down and listen to a Goblin CD it would be Deep Red. So I'm both agreeing and disagreeing with you here. :)

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Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:51 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Within the context of the film, I think Suspiria's score is hard to beat. But if I were to sit down and listen to a Goblin CD it would be Deep Red. So I'm both agreeing and disagreeing with you here. :)

I like both as well, but I strongly disagree that there are "leagues" between them in quality. Suspiria is an excellent horror soundtrack.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:45 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Suspiria is an excellent horror soundtrack.

Off of the top of my head, I can't think of any that are better.

Maybe, Psycho? Maybe?


Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:56 am
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At least, I've been consistent on that factor for quite a while.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:58 am
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I listen to the Suspiria soundtrack more often than Deep Red, although as far as Goblin soundtracks to Argento movies go, I listen to the main Tenebre theme way more than is reasonable.


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Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:24 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
Maybe, Psycho? Maybe?

Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a great soundtrack by Wayne Bell and Tobe Hooper, but unless I've missed it in recent years, it was never released on album or CD, excpt bootleg versions using audio sourced directly from the film.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:30 am
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I don't agree with this list at all, but as argument-sparking lists go, I guess this is an apt one for best horror soundtracks. (Yuk, they put Tangerine Dream's The Keep above Herrmann's Psycho? What madness?!?!)

The Shining is another good examplee but complicated. It features all of the Penderecki pieces, but the film actually layered much of them on top of each other, and the film also uses other music pieces simultaneous in so many instances that, as a soundtrack, it really doesn't quite represent what we are actually hearing in much of the film.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:40 am
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Where is The Last House on the Left? :x

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Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:43 am
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Rock wrote:
Where is The Last House on the Left? :x

Hopefully still in shrink wrap.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:49 am
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If you hold a slice of shrink wrap to your lips and blow, you could probably make a pretty mean honky tonk hootenanny out of it.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:51 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a great soundtrack by Wayne Bell and Tobe Hooper, but unless I've missed it in recent years, it was never released on album or CD, excpt bootleg versions using audio sourced directly from the film.


I thought of that one as well. And there are a few others worth considering. But Suspiria is just about the only time I've seen a movie where my mind melted over the soundtrack. It's just about the first thing I think of when I think of the movie.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:51 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
The Shining is another good examplee but complicated. It features all of the Penderecki pieces, but the film actually layered much of them on top of each other, and the film also uses other music pieces simultaneous in so many instances that, as a soundtrack, it really doesn't quite represent what we are actually hearing in much of the film.


I can't believe I didn't think of this one when I was trying to come up with something comparable.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:53 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

I thought of that one as well. And there are a few others worth considering. But Suspiria is just about the only time I've seen a movie where my mind melted over the soundtrack. It's just about the first thing I think of when I think of the movie.

Those trance-inducing tabla drums! It's phenomenal stuff.

That list above also included The Wicker Man, which I also love. But scary? Not even slightly. But every stroke, a bucketful.


Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:58 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
Suspiria is just about the only time I've seen a movie where my mind melted over the soundtrack. It's just about the first thing I think of when I think of the movie.

I saw Suspiria at a theater in the past year and mind-melting pretty much describes it. I can't think of another (horror) score that is such a dominant factor in a film's impact. You've got your classic themes through the years (Exorcist/Halloween), but the Suspiria score is like a character in the film or something. Replace that score and you've got a completely different (and less effective) movie.

But in terms of soundtracks that I'm actually gonna sit and listen to, the clear winner for me is Popol Vuh's Nosferatu. And the Bruder des Schattens album from which a lot of it was taken.

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