Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

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Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Jan 25, 2020 5:54 am

I initially had a science fiction thread at RT, but after the forums were deleted, I didn't make a new one here mainly due to the fact that I wasn't able to find the right motivation to do so. With some encouragement though, I've finally decided to start one. With schoolwork, I sometimes feel tempted to slack on watching films, but I hope this thread will help to prevent that. Also, here's a small list of films I have saved on my pc which I plan to start off this thread with:

Forbidden Planet (1956, Wilcox)
Greed (1924, Stroheim)
The House is Black (1963, Farrokhzad)
Minnie and Moskowitz (1971, Cassavetes)
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964, Parajanov)
Things to Come (1936, Menzies)
The White Ribbon (2009, Haneke)

I'm about finished with my review for one of them, but I'll probably watch the rest in ABC order.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:23 am

Yay!
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Jan 25, 2020 4:40 pm

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Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964, Parajanov)

I chose this to be the first film I cover in here. Not everything I write in this thread is going to be this long, but since this is the first post, I might as well make it a bit longer than usual. My first experience with Parajanov was with The Color of Pomegranates. While I loved the visuals, music, and the dancing, I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around what the film meant. I'll probably revisit it sometime in the future as my experience with this film makes me wonder if it was even necessary to understand it. My next experience was with this film. Although I saw it a while back, I felt I didn't give it nearly enough credit, which I largely blame on how I was still new to feeling-driven films which relied heavily on the strengths of their visuals, camerawork, etc. I was more used to narrative-driven films. Having obtained some more experience with it though, I decided to revisit this one, leading me to develop a far deeper appreciation of it.

The first thing I noticed upon diving in other than being reminded of how memorable the opening scene is was the camerawork. At times, the camera movement proves to be swift and energetic in a way which I don't think I've seen in film before. It quickly darts from set piece to set piece in an environment, only focusing on someone or something for a couple seconds at a time before it darts off to something or someone new. Nature is also utilized by the camerawork in certain scenes, the most notable of which is of the adult Ivan and Marichka spending a couple moments with each other in the wild as they're surrounded by plants which partially obscure them throughout the scene, causing it to feel all the more tender.

Other stylistic merits include the brief transitions of the visual styles. While the transition from color to black and white may seem fairly obvious in terms of what it's trying to convey (it's brought about due to a notable scene in the first act), this viewing led to me finding more merits with it. The first black and white shot could easily be mistaken for a shot in a horror film. The way the wind repeatedly blows a door open and closed is a creepy image. Most of the black and white scenes after that masterful shot maintain a similar vibe. They mostly consist of showing Ivan in the aftermath of the incident, who doesn't utter a single word throughout this sequence (he doesn't speak that much throughout the remainder of the film as well). Instead, the dialogue consists of voice-overs by a number of characters discussing his current mental state, his loneliness, etc. It's a quietly unsettling sequence, which makes great usage of a few notable concepts. Other notable scenes include the slight visual distortions after the sorcerer strikes him near the final act, signifying the beginning of the end.

While the stylistic merits of this film are certainly strong and varied, I think the music also deserves a lot of credit. I'm not that familiar with this style of music, but it adds so much to the whole affair. I first heard of this film when I saw a segment of the Christmas scene in a youtube video. I was still fairly new to classic films and especially foreign films, but the brief snippet of music in that clip made me want to see it. What's special about the soundtrack is that it doesn't feel like it's just there to exist in the background or that it could be cut without losing much from the film. It's so expressive, so full of life that it feels like an integral part of the film, as if it's a character itself.

The best way I can sum up all the stylistic merits of the film is that the whole affair feels like folklore. Overall, this is definitely a great film and I'm glad that it gets to start off this thread.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Thief » Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:40 pm

Haven't seen any of the ones you listed, but I'm reading... and taking notes.

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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:59 pm

Stu wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:23 am
Yay!
Thanks, Stu!
Thief wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:40 pm
Haven't seen any of the ones you listed, but I'm reading... and taking notes.

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Yeah, I'm trying to get some more obscure films into my film diet as I feel I don't watch enough of them. After I get through these, I'll assemble a new small list of films.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:26 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 5:54 am

Forbidden Planet (1956, Wilcox)
Greed (1924, Stroheim)
The House is Black (1963, Farrokhzad)
Minnie and Moskowitz (1971, Cassavetes)
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964, Parajanov)
Things to Come (1936, Menzies)
The White Ribbon (2009, Haneke)

I'm about finished with my review for one of them, but I'll probably watch the rest in ABC order.
I just watched Things to Come, so maybe you could bump that one up the queue?
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:32 pm

Takoma1 wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:26 pm
I just watched Things to Come, so maybe you could bump that one up the queue?
Yep, I noticed your write-up of it in Thief's thread. I know I said ABC order, but I suppose breaking that rule won't hurt anything. I'll watch it next.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Takoma1 » Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:56 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:32 pm
Yep, I noticed your write-up of it in Thief's thread. I know I said ABC order, but I suppose breaking that rule won't hurt anything. I'll watch it next.
Great! I'd be interested to hear a reaction from a sci-fi fan.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Jan 25, 2020 9:01 pm

I own Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and I don't think I've watched it. I also don't think I've ever seen any Parajanov. Hmmm.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Jan 25, 2020 9:16 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 9:01 pm
I own Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors and I don't think I've watched it. I also don't think I've ever seen any Parajanov. Hmmm.
I highly recommend it. It's really unique and does a great job in establishing its feel. Also, as for my statement on the music, here's the clip I was referring to which got me interested in seeing it: Skip to 11:25.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Jan 25, 2020 9:37 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 9:16 pm
I highly recommend it. It's really unique and does a great job in establishing its feel. Also, as for my statement on the music, here's the clip I was referring to which got me interested in seeing it: Skip to 11:25.
I've been slacking on watching proper films for awhile now. I need to start giving my brain some new meat soon. It's turning into something viscous and unusable, so maybe I will start with this next week. Now that I've got my Twin Peaks: The Return rewatch under my belt I am free.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:48 pm

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As an avid lover of science fiction, I might as well give the genre some coverage in this thread. I'll try to include at least one for each batch of films. Made in 1936, this is one of the earlier science fiction feature films I've seen and I'd say it's a pretty solid entry into the genre.

Starting in 1940 and ending in 2036, this film serves as a timeline as it presents several stages in an apocalyptic scenario, starting off with global war, detailing the survivors of the war struggling to live in the ruins of the world, and the attempts to rebuild humanity and advance science. The film is told in episodic structure. New characters are established in each of the individual parts of the film (often, they're the descendants of the characters in the opening). Due to this structure, many of the individual segments have their own feel to them. Some, like the 1970 segment, are longer and have a bigger scope than others, but even a few of the shorter ones like the conflict involving two wartime pilots work in the way that they feel like vignettes or short films. I wouldn't say anything in the film felt like filler, regardless of how much or how little time was devoted to it. Everything served a purpose.

I figured I'd talk about what I think of each individual segment for this review. The opening takes place on Christmas Day where the threat of war is constantly looming over the civilians. This segment works as an accurate portrayal of how someone would cope with the imminent threat of war. It's Christmas Day, which is supposed to be a happy time, and while the family the film focuses on tries their best to enjoy themselves, they're unable to shake off the looming threat which hangs over them. I like the backdrop of Christmas as it serves as a nice contrast from the horrific moments in this segment and the destruction of the city is visually impressive (I'll discuss the visuals more later on).

The next section details how expansive the war got in addition to a deadly virus which was created throughout the war to be used as a biochemical weapon. While much of this sequence is told via montage, two small vignettes are given focus in it. The first details a brief conflict involving two soldiers after one of their planes is shot down. Though short, it contains some good, thought-provoking dialogue and a layer of dark irony. I kind of love it. The second segment involves a doctor and his family as they attempt to find a cure for the virus. It's a bleak snapshot of what the city in the opening was reduced to and an introduction to the type of flawed leadership which is present for the next act of the film. Although, I think it's the only segment of the film which could benefit with some breathing room and it left less of an impact on me as the pilot segment did. Fortunately, the strongest segment comes after this.

The next segment shows the survivors in the aftermath of the war and the plague. Running at just over half an hour, this is the longest segment in the film. It concerns a conflict between Rudolf, a warlord of a decayed, tribe-like city, and John Cabal, a pilot who has a vision to outlaw war and bring about world peace. I got a pretty strong feeling from this segment that the conflicts between the two groups were really senseless due to how Rudolf foolishly worsened the matter and how all the conflict which Rudolf caused could've been prevented. I think this segment is an effective portrait of a leader mad with power and it lingered with me quite a bit more than any of the other segments did.

The final segment is a conflict between a group of people who plan to carry out a manned flight to the moon and a larger group who want to stop scientific progress. I think this segment has a good premise, but even though the visuals look the best in this section by far, I wouldn't say that the premise was executed in a way which managed to suck me back into the film nor did it culminate in a way which I found to be particularly compelling. It felt like a step back after the section in the decaying city.

Another area I admire are all the visuals as they're quite a blast to look at. While the futuristic cityscapes in the final act still look the best in my eyes, the other visuals remain effective throughout. Many of them from the sets of the various cities created for the film to the montages which indicate time lapses to the futuristic vehicles down to even the text scrolls give each segment a distinct look. They enhance my enjoyment of the film even more and further make this film stand out as one of the better looking dystopian films I've seen. One of the reasons I like seeing futuristic cityscapes from older films is that it can be interesting to see how people from the past envisioned what the future would look like, especially if it's a creative vision like it is here.

Overall, this is a really good film, because even if you don't care for the story in the individual segments (which mostly didn't apply for me), I feel like the visuals should still be strong enough to maintain your attention.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:34 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:48 pm
Image
Overall, this is a really good film, because even if you don't care for the story in the individual segments (which mostly didn't apply for me), I feel like the visuals should still be strong enough to maintain your attention.
I was kind of mixed on the final sequence (the far future), but I really liked pretty much everything that came before it. Maybe predictably for a film made in the 30s I thought that the gender dynamics were garbage ("All I ever wanted was to serve you and make you happy" barf). And of course it's very, very white.

I agree with you that the visual look of the future sequences are really fun. I also appreciated the film's anti-war message--especially the note that at a certain point people don't even remember why they are fighting.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:50 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:34 am
I was kind of mixed on the final sequence (the far future), but I really liked pretty much everything that came before it. Maybe predictably for a film made in the 30s I thought that the gender dynamics were garbage ("All I ever wanted was to serve you and make you happy" barf). And of course it's very, very white.

I agree with you that the visual look of the future sequences are really fun. I also appreciated the film's anti-war message--especially the note that at a certain point people don't even remember why they are fighting.
Yeah, the occasional flawed racial and gender politics is something which I've seen come up in a few classic films. It's one of the areas of classic films which haven't aged well. It's also why I haven't yet gotten around to The Birth of a Nation as I've seen a few people here criticize the film for that reason.

I also enjoyed the anti-war aspects to the film, especially in the scene with the downed fighter pilots.

On a side note, do you know
how Rudolf was killed? I initially thought he shot himself before passing out (offscreen I assume), but according to Wikipedia, he died due to an allergic reaction to the gas, which I don't remember being mentioned in the film (or if that was the case, I find it rather convenient how he was the only one killed from it). This isn't a major detail or anything, but I'm wondering what your take on it is.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:34 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 12:50 am
Yeah, the occasional flawed racial and gender politics is something which I've seen come up in a few classic films. It's one of the areas of classic films which haven't aged well. It's also why I haven't yet gotten around to The Birth of a Nation as I've seen a few people here criticize the film for that reason.

I also enjoyed the anti-war aspects to the film, especially in the scene with the downed fighter pilots.

On a side note, do you know
how Rudolf was killed? I initially thought he shot himself before passing out (offscreen I assume), but according to Wikipedia, he died due to an allergic reaction to the gas, which I don't remember being mentioned in the film (or if that was the case, I find it rather convenient how he was the only one killed from it). This isn't a major detail or anything, but I'm wondering what your take on it is.
Yes, the scene with the downed fighter pilots is really good. I thought that it had some All Quiet on the Western Front vibes in those early war sequences.

As for what's in your spoiler:
I honestly didn't remember him dying, and like you I was really surprised to read that he died of an allergy to the sleeping gas. I wonder if that's in the book and not as clear in the film? I'll go back and watch that sequence and see if I see anything.

EDIT: Just rewatched it. He's swinging his gun around, trying to fire at the invading planes. He's yelling for his men to shoot. He fires his own gun in the air. We then see him coughing and gasping and he collapses. Later, when the gas clears, one of the men turns him over and says "Captain--this man isn't asleep, he's dead!". So it seems like he did just die of a reaction to the gas, though it's never explicitly stated. I don't think he's meant to have killed himself or to have been shot by someone else.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:58 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:34 am
Yes, the scene with the downed fighter pilots is really good. I thought that it had some All Quiet on the Western Front vibes in those early war sequences.

As for what's in your spoiler:
I honestly didn't remember him dying, and like you I was really surprised to read that he died of an allergy to the sleeping gas. I wonder if that's in the book and not as clear in the film? I'll go back and watch that sequence and see if I see anything.

EDIT: Just rewatched it. He's swinging his gun around, trying to fire at the invading planes. He's yelling for his men to shoot. He fires his own gun in the air. We then see him coughing and gasping and he collapses. Later, when the gas clears, one of the men turns him over and says "Captain--this man isn't asleep, he's dead!". So it seems like he did just die of a reaction to the gas, though it's never explicitly stated. I don't think he's meant to have killed himself or to have been shot by someone else.
I went back to watch the scene and yeah, your interpretation holds up. I still find it rather convenient that nobody else had the same reaction to it, but this is a minor nitpick, anyway. I don't mean to imply it matters much.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:12 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:58 am
I went back to watch the scene and yeah, your interpretation holds up. I still find it rather convenient that nobody else had the same reaction to it, but this is a minor nitpick, anyway. I don't mean to imply it matters much.
I mean,
if you want to look at it allegorically, he was "allergic" to the future technology.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:41 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:12 am
I mean,
if you want to look at it allegorically, he was "allergic" to the future technology.
Okay, fair enough.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Takoma1 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:47 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:41 am
Okay, fair enough.
I do think that they wanted
to kill off his character (he's one of those from the film who clearly won't change his ways), but didn't want the Cabal-led group to actually kill/murder him. I think that his "accidental" death is a convenient way to show the end of the old era (as Cabal says "He's dead, and his world dead with him"). His character wouldn't make sense for a suicide. I think that the accidental overdose/allergy is a good way to show the transition without it happening through an intentional act of violence.

I do agree that it's awfully convenient that (as far as we know), he's the only one who overdosed.

Part of me does feel like, watching it again, if he'd just submitted to the gas, he wouldn't have breathed it in so heavily. Like, everyone else just conks out, but he fights it for a good long while. Maybe it was his stubbornness that led to him breathing so much of it in. Like you say, it's not that consequential how he died, but it's an odd moment in the film.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:56 am

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is incredible.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Jan 31, 2020 4:10 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:47 am
I do think that they wanted
to kill off his character (he's one of those from the film who clearly won't change his ways), but didn't want the Cabal-led group to actually kill/murder him. I think that his "accidental" death is a convenient way to show the end of the old era (as Cabal says "He's dead, and his world dead with him"). His character wouldn't make sense for a suicide. I think that the accidental overdose/allergy is a good way to show the transition without it happening through an intentional act of violence.

I do agree that it's awfully convenient that (as far as we know), he's the only one who overdosed.

Part of me does feel like, watching it again, if he'd just submitted to the gas, he wouldn't have breathed it in so heavily. Like, everyone else just conks out, but he fights it for a good long while. Maybe it was his stubbornness that led to him breathing so much of it in. Like you say, it's not that consequential how he died, but it's an odd moment in the film.
I guess
I can kind of see that fighting against the gas could explain how nobody else succumbed to the same fate. I'm not a huge science guy, but I don't think that's how sleeping gas works though. Okay, well it is sci-fi so maybe it's a different type of gas or something. I just wish they would've explained something like this. Maybe I'll revisit the scene again.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Jan 31, 2020 4:11 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:56 am
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is incredible.
:up:
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:37 am

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This is the second and the last science fiction film from the first list I'll be discussing in here. Sort of like Things to Come, it has a few major aspects on its mind. While I enjoyed each of them in Things to Come though (for the most part), my enthusiasm for this film ranged from loving certain areas to not caring much about others.

Without a doubt, the visuals left the biggest impression on me as they were quite gorgeous to look at (the starship, the planets' landscapes, Morbius' residence most of all). Beyond the sense of imagination the film carries throughout, I enjoyed the geometric shapes present in a number of shots, the jaw-dropping sense of scope provided in others such as, again, Morbius' residence, and the camera placements which captured these locations in a really pleasing way. In addition to the creepy design of the monster which looked quite ahead of its time, I also read that some of the backgrounds were paintings. Impressive. In fact, I even had to watch the film again as I was so enamored with the visuals and effects that I forgot to pay attention to the dialogue and the story at certain points.

In addition, Adams is a pretty interesting character who's handled quite well in the film as there's always a subtle, wavy air of mystery surrounding his character. Even after you encounter him for the first time and he provides a brief rundown of the planet, there's still a strong hint that he may still be hiding something from the crew. Then, when it seems like the film answers that question, it doesn't take long for it to establish further doubt and mystery concerning his character. Then, when the film finally answers the next batch of questions you have, it provides a nice dose of interesting insight towards his character that results in an extra, compelling layer of depth. In short, it's the kind of film which gets more interesting as it goes on. While the visuals instantly clicked with me, it took me a bit longer to develop a strong appreciation of its narrative strengths. I think I still prefer viewing it for the visuals (that I have a good understanding of the plot as of now may or may not diminish the mysterious elements upon future viewings), but time may change that.

I think my only reservation would be with the romance sub-plot as I didn't care that much about it. While Altaira's naivety could've potentially made for an interesting dynamic if it was handled properly, I found it disappointing how Adams and at least one other crewman took advantage of her despite clearly knowing about her lack of knowledge concerning romance. To be fair, most of the issues with this occur in the first half, but I think the film missed the mark. It felt quite uncomfortable to watch a number of these scenes play out. As a result, this was my least favorite angle of the film.

Overall, I mostly enjoyed this one, if not quite as much as Things to Come. While I didn't love it necessarily, I did enjoy it quite a bit, and I'll gladly recommend it to other sci-fi fans out there. It certainly lives up to its hype.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:53 am

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The greatest of all early American sci fi films.

Forbidden Planet is okay
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:56 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:37 am
Image
I agree with your review overall, but especially with this:
it's the kind of film which gets more interesting as it goes on. While the visuals instantly clicked with me, it took me a bit longer to develop a strong appreciation of its narrative strengths.
and this:
I think my only reservation would be with the romance sub-plot as I didn't care that much about it. While Altaira's naivety could've potentially made for an interesting dynamic if it was handled properly, I found it disappointing how Adams and at least one other crewman took advantage of her despite clearly knowing about her lack of knowledge concerning romance.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:06 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:53 am
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The greatest of all early American sci fi films.

Forbidden Planet is okay
I think I saw the remake a couple years ago, but other than some disturbing imagery and scenes which left a big impact on me and some trash dialogue such as "I'll stay after school every day if you shut up", I don't remember a whole lot about it. I'll consider the original for the next batch of films.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:12 am

Takoma1 wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 2:56 am
I agree with your review overall, but especially with this:



and this:
Yeah, the scene of Adams refusing to look at Altaira when she was changing after swimming told me that the film was capable of properly handling that sub-plot, which is why it was unfortunate to see it misuse it a number of other times.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:14 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:06 am
I think I saw the remake a couple years ago, but other than some disturbing imagery and scenes which left a big impact on me and some trash dialogue such as "I'll stay after school every day if you shut up", I don't remember a whole lot about it. I'll consider the original for the next batch of films.
The remake is shit
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:17 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:14 am
The remake is shit
Just for the record, my memory of it isn't that strong. I'd rather watch the original than rewatch the remake, anyways.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Takoma1 » Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:37 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 3:12 am
Yeah, the scene of Adams refusing to look at Altaira when she was changing after swimming told me that the film was capable of properly handling that sub-plot, which is why it was unfortunate to see it misuse it a number of other times.
It's just, as you say, unfortunate.

Those kind of moments make you think so much less of the characters. Also, the swimming scene is like . . . it makes you think of men who think of themselves as "gentlemen", but only behave so if it furthers their own self-image.

I also feel like there was something else in the film (not related to the "romance") that made me dislike the main character, but darned if I can think of what it was.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:35 am

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As someone who enjoys using the search function on this forum, I was surprised to see how little this film was discussed here. Granted, it is 4 hours, but this still baffles me. Overall, I really love this one, even though I wouldn't quite call it a great film. I struggled with its run-time at first, but a second viewing helped me to appreciate it a lot more.

My favorite thing about this film is how multiple images in it feel like they're from a horror film. I noticed a number of examples of this such as the framing of certain shots, the alignments of the actors and certain props, and the darkness and shadows which often envelop the screen at certain key moments. All of this causes the film to feel like a chiaroscuro marvel. Also, the state of McTeague's and Trina's relationship and the way it develops throughout the film also helps in this regard. While the recurring clip of someone's shriveled up hands touching a pile of money (which I'll post here after I put this review up) had the biggest impact on me out of all the images in the film, a variety of other ones such as a couple of the colorized shots of people shifting through gold and other treasures, pretty much every single scene of Zerkow, and the incredible usage of foreshadowing during McTeague's and Trina's wedding also impacted me quite a lot. This feel stuck out to me quite a lot while watching the film and, as a result, the 4 hour runtime didn't bother me that much.

I also enjoyed how McTeague was developed in the first couple acts of the film. From one of the opening scenes where he gets into a vicious fight, it was shown that he wasn't exactly the noblest protagonist out there. After this, a couple of his early encounters with Trina such as him forcing himself on her further provided some gray to his character. Knowing that the film would enter into darker territories later on made these scenes stick out as foreboding as I knew that McTeague's questionable treatment of Trina would likely escalate. His treatment of Trina in the later passages is appropriately disturbing, but once you realize that the word "greed" applies more to her and less to him, these passages take on a different feel as, upon realizing that Trina is making the situation worse for herself with how she refuses to give up her winnings, you start to hope that Trina will give her money to McTeague to prevent an inevitable conclusion to their escalating contempt for each other.

As much as I love this film though, I do think it could've been improved at certain points. For instance, while the film does an excellent job at establishing and building up the tension between McTeague and Trina, I can't say the same about Schouler. After he had his fallout with McTeague, he didn't do much in the film after that scene. Most of the remaining film revolved around McTeague and Trina, while Schouler was only significant once very briefly in a middle segment and in the ending. Something like this isn't inherently bad per se, but it felt really off to me considering that the film established a great amount of tension with Schouler's outburst. In addition, considering how much I loved the visuals of the film in how they evoked a horror film, I was a bit disappointed by how the final act consisted mostly of a chase which largely abandoned the eerie feel I loved in what came prior. I found this change in tone to be pretty jarring and I wasn't able to get back into the film during this act, even with the final couple minutes which were probably great.

Overall, while this film could've been great if a couple medium sized aspects were different, I'd still say that it's a really good film that should be discussed here more than what I've seen.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:36 am

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Also, this is the clip I was referring to in my review. It's definitely one of my favorite movie stills ever.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Charles » Tue Feb 25, 2020 4:08 am

The romance in Forbidden Planet makes me wince, it's so gross. I only saw it once a while back but I thought it felt like an overextended short stories. I very much appreciate the visuals though. I think it's the only movie I saw that lives up to those fantastical posters in terms of scale, at least in terms of the scale it hints at through what we hear, like Mountains of Madness, which I believe is an inspiration.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Tue Feb 25, 2020 4:18 am

Charles wrote:
Tue Feb 25, 2020 4:08 am
The romance in Forbidden Planet makes me wince, it's so gross. I only saw it once a while back but I thought it felt like an overextended short stories. I very much appreciate the visuals though. I think it's the only movie I saw that lives up to those fantastical posters in terms of scale, at least in terms of the scale it hints at through what we hear, like Mountains of Madness, which I believe is an inspiration.
Yeah, it's definitely a case of visuals over story. Just a lot of great visuals. It's worth watching, but I don't know if I'll watch it again or just look up stills online.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Mar 06, 2020 4:55 am

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If you click the IMDb link in my signature, you'll see that this short makes my top 30 favorite films of all time. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did when I first saw it considering how poor the quality of the film is (in fact, there are a couple points where I can't make out the subtitles in the film due to how they blend in with the background). Given this, what did it do to impress me so much?

The line "Leprosy is not incurable" is repeated twice throughout an opening sequence which states facts about leprosy, almost as if to make sure the meaning of that line isn't lost concerning the grisly images we see of the people with the disease. Considering how the narrator points out how other people with the disease were cured when treated for it, this monologue also indicates that all the people we see suffering in the film could be cured of this disease. It's just that the government failed to take care of them as, instead of solving the problem, they herded them into the colony documented in the short, leaving them to further deteriorate. Instead of this scene coming off as preachy, this unspoken message is implied rather than directly stated, making for a really powerful scene. Regardless of whether you pick up on this implication or not, it still manages to get under your skin.

Farrokhzad also does a great job at exploring the ironies of the daily lives of the people in the colony, specifically with religion. Multiple sequences indicate that religion is a major part of their cultures. In one scene, a group of kids thank God for giving them hands, eyes, and ears - features which many people in the colony don't have. In another powerful moment, a man holds his withered hands in the air and refers to hands while reciting a prayer. This is followed by a sequence which cuts between a group of people practicing religion and several shots of people with deformed body parts which were brought about due to the disease, in turn creating tension with this editing technique. The viewer can't help but wonder why all these people thank God for giving them gifts which many of them don't have. It seems likely that religion is an abstract concept in their lives and they don't think much about the words and prayers they say.

In addition, a few sequences in the film stick out to me as especially powerful. The first of which shows a couple women putting on makeup and brushing their hair. This scene shows how, in spite of their facial and bodily features, many of the people in the colony still make an effort to look "beautiful", as if their goals are to connect with their past lives or to find light in such a depressing environment. Another scene shows a group of boys playing ball together. Unlike a number of the older people we see in the colony, their mobility doesn't seem to be effected by their disease. Despite this though, the grotesque facial features of a number of them are hard to ignore and, considering how the shot which immediately follows this sequence shows a man with one leg slowly walk down a path with the help of crutches, the short seems to suggest that those boys will grow up with further suffering and that they won't be able to experience moments like this unless they're cured of their disease (one effective shot which occurs earlier in the film shows a man giving his crutch to a boy to play with). One final scene worth mentioning is the classroom scene at the end. Something about this scene, specifically some of the answers the boys give to their teacher, makes it feel staged. It just seems too suited for the messages Farrokhzad wants to send to have naturally occurred. While I usually find staged scenes like this to be jarring in documentaries, I didn't mind it so much in here as it's still able to make for a devastating critique of religion.

Overall, this is a perfect short. Instead of solely raising awareness for the issue documented in it, Farrokhzad has several artistic points which she incorporates into the dialogue and the visuals of the film quite flawlessly as many of them are subtle or implied rather than directly stated. Sadly, Farrokhzad died shortly after this film was released, making this the only film she directed. Who knows what else she could've given us? However, this film will forever stand as a masterpiece to me and, if you can get by the occasional issues with the subtitles, you're in for a great treat with this one.

Watch it for free on youtube:
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Fri Mar 06, 2020 4:59 am

I should definitely rewatch that at some point. I just came upon it one day and put it on mostly as an afterthought. I remember finding it interesting, but not much more.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Mar 06, 2020 5:02 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Fri Mar 06, 2020 4:59 am
I should definitely rewatch that at some point. I just came upon it one day and put it on mostly as an afterthought. I remember finding it interesting, but not much more.
Once you get around to it, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. I don't see it discussed here that much.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:02 pm

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John Cassavetes is a director who I've really been warming up to in the past year. The first film I saw from him was A Woman Under the Influence, which I enjoyed quite a bit but didn't love it. The next film I saw from him was Shadows, which I enjoyed quite a bit more as I was able to get more of a grasp on his style. The third film I saw from him, Husbands, stuck out to me so much as a great film and, since watching it, the more convinced I am that it's one of the best films I've ever seen and that it'll likely make it on my favorites list once I rewatch it. This film didn't hit me quite as much, but I imagine it will grow on me in the future as it also impressed me a great deal.

The first couple acts feel rather scattered and aimless as they follow the two titular characters around as they go about their daily lives. The first 15-20 minutes are a number of scenes which follow Moskowitz as we get a glimpse into his job, his strange interactions with the various people he runs into, and other activities he does in his spare time while the next 20 or so minutes follow Minnie around as we get to see her go about her day, where we see how her personality greatly differs from that of Moskowitz's. These scenes are connected to each other in really jarring and abrupt cuts to different settings which often stop people in the middle of their sentences or even in the middle of their words (most of these cuts are in this section, as the rest of the film is less aimless by comparison). All of this gives this section of the film a type of fragmented style which occasionally jumps around from place to place. While it may come off as boring to some, I found this usage of bloat to be effective not only for providing an introduction into the lives and the personalities of the two titular characters, but also for serving as an accurate representation of how meandering life usually is. And I always like to see this feel in films, as I did here.

While the first couple acts are certainly strong, the film becomes much greater once Minnie and Moskowitz meet as their relationship is really interesting and really complex. That their relationship persists throughout the film can easily come off as confusing for many people, and understandably so. Moskowitz comes off as crazy in a number of his various actions, he loses his temper multiple times, and he sometimes yells at Minnie for stupid reasons. Later in the film, Minnie tells him that she doesn't love him. In spite of all the conflict he causes her though, she continues to date him. One wonders why she continues to do this in spite of his behavior. I wasn't able to think of a reason for this during my first viewing, but with my second viewing, I paid close attention to the conversation Minnie has with her Mom near the beginning of the film where she confesses to her that she finds it easier to give herself up to men as she grows older. I think that this conversation sums up the following film and their relationship.

It's important to note that Minnie started talking to Moskowitz after the failed luncheon date with Zelmo Swift (who behaved in a similar manner as Moskowitz in the way that he attracted attention in public by yelling a lot and how he'd lose his temper for minuscule reasons or no reason at all). Is her decision to stay with Moskowitz influenced by her conversation with her mother and her experience with Zelmo? The overwhelming reaction I had when I watched the film was that it was. I think her decision to stay with him wasn't because she loved him, but because she chose to give herself up to him. Also relevant to this interpretation, I've seen a number of romance films where the two lovers initially despise each other, but slowly warm up to each other the more time they spend together. This is a really common dynamic and while it happens in this film, I had a feeling that the reason this was in there was to show that Minnie was slowly deciding to give herself up to Moskowitz throughout the film, in spite of his consistent outbursts and clashes with her family members and friends, not that she was falling in love with him.

Overall, this is a really excellent film. Although I initially struggled with it to an extent, I warmed up to it a great deal on my second viewing and I now feel comfortable with calling it a great film. The unique feel of the early couple acts and the complex dynamic between the two leads is what made it stick out to me so much. I still think Husbands is my favorite of his films I've seen as its story resonated with me the most, but this one isn't far behind.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:19 pm

Sometimes John Cassavetes is the only director that matters to me.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:34 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:19 pm
Sometimes John Cassavetes is the only director that matters to me.
He's definitely someone who's stuck out to me quite a lot in the past year or so. I'll have to revisit A Woman Under the Influence soon now that I have more of a grip on his style. Well, that and Husbands.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:42 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:34 pm
He's definitely someone who's stuck out to me quite a lot in the past year or so. I'll have to revisit A Woman Under the Influence soon now that I have more of a grip on his style. Well, that and Husbands.
I think it's his best, along with Husband's and Chinese Bookie. And Love Streams. And Faces. And Minnie and Moskowitz.

The one I have never really clicked with is Opening Night. I suppose I should give it another shot one of these days.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:17 am

Did you catch my musings on the internal logic of Blood Simple in the Random Thoughts thread, crumb?

:oops:
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Thief » Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:48 pm

I don't think I've seen a single Cassavetes film. Which film do you, film nerds, think would be a good entry point?
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:41 pm

Stu wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:17 am
Did you catch my musings on the internal logic of Blood Simple in the Random Thoughts thread, crumb?

:oops:
I have not but will check out.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:47 pm

Thief wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:48 pm
I don't think I've seen a single Cassavetes film. Which film do you, film nerds, think would be a good entry point?
I don't think there is really a perfect.entry point. Cassavetes is at best when being excessively loose but that excess is likely to put off first time viewers.

Shadows gives a glimpse of what he would do later, but is a little more tightly structured, but is far from his best work. One could watch it and not see what the big deal is.

Faces or Woman might be where to start. Probably woman because it probably has two or the strongest central performances of any of his movies. It is a movie easier to find empathy with.

Killing of a Chinese Bookie should prob be kept until later. It is likely to frustrate because it looks and feels like a thriller, but refuses to conform to all of the typical emotional releases you might hope to find in those. Instead it just simmers and broods and goes off on long tangents that might feel irrelevant if not acclimatized to what he does.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by BL Sometimes » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:53 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 6:42 pm
The one I have never really clicked with is Opening Night. I suppose I should give it another shot one of these days.
That's the one that doesn't sit right with me, either. I also didn't care much for Black Swan, so I may just have issues with the "woman goes hysterical on the eve of a big performance" subgenre.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:02 pm

BL Sometimes wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:53 pm
That's the one that doesn't sit right with me, either. I also didn't care much for Black Swan, so I may just have issues with the "woman goes hysterical on the eve of a big performance" subgenre.
I don't know what my reason is. I grew tired of all of the performances I think. I also felt similarly to the performance scenes in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. Maybe just don't like actors practising acting on screen.

Knowing that is the deal though, maybe I'd be more accepting of it. It definitely has its legions of fans.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:50 pm

Thief wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:48 pm
I don't think I've seen a single Cassavetes film. Which film do you, film nerds, think would be a good entry point?
A Woman Under the Influence is a good starting point like crumbs says. I'd also recommend Shadows as it should help you to become acquainted with his style without becoming too tired of it.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Slentert » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:59 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:47 pm
Killing of a Chinese Bookie should prob be kept until later. It is likely to frustrate because it looks and feels like a thriller, but refuses to conform to all of the typical emotional releases you might hope to find in those. Instead it just simmers and broods and goes off on long tangents that might feel irrelevant if not acclimatized to what he does.
This was actually the first Cassavetes I ever watched (because it just happened to play at my local rep theater) and I completely fell in love with it. I thought the genre elements were a good way to ease me into his style. But I do understand your point that it might be a frustrating experience when you go in expecting a traditional thriller or any kind of A-B-C narrative (or even character) progression for that matter.
I once described it as "a slowly unspooling thread of post-noir intrigue" and I am kinda proud of that sentence lol.

EDIT: Than again, I only saw the 108 minutes re-cut of the movie, which might make a huge difference.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:17 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:41 pm
I have not but will check out.
Okay; just keep in mind that I do genuinely love the movie, and that I was just playing devil's advocate about its big plot hole because we were in the middle of a discussion about how much holes matter in movies, yo!
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