Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

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Captain Terror
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Captain Terror » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:41 pm

I confess I've never heard of Lopushansky. I'll check this out. :up:
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:56 pm

Once you do, I'll be interested to hear your thoughts.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:00 am

Image
Though I've known about this film for a while, I fortunately managed to watch it without knowing its ending. I heard it was surprising, but that was about it. While this film didn't wow me like my favorite Westerns have (which isn't to say I have any particular issues with it per se), I found it to be a truly uncharacteristic entry into the genre, whose themes resonated with me for a while.

This atypical Western film initially starts with many of the mythical pleasures of Leone's Dollars Trilogy. The initial depiction of Silence brings to attention The Man With No Name in the way he seems smarter and faster than his enemies and where the suspense isn't focused so much on "Will he die?" as much as it's centered around "How soon will his enemies die?". Mute due to an injury he faced when he was a child, his character behaves in a way that often makes him feel like a feeling. The way he moves from area to area, always aware of his surroundings and always prepared when he gets into combat, blowing his enemies away with ease and precision, makes him seem like a mysterious figure. Loco, the leader of a gang of ruthless bounty hunters, is initially shown to be intimidating, like a typical Western villain. Though Loco seems better equipped to fight Silence than the other bounty hunters in the film, he doesn't appear to be a match for him. Or, at least, this describes the first act.
What starts out as a homage to Sergio Leone soon develops into something more complex and hard-hitting. Discussing this film without spoiling its ending is a difficult task, because so much of what I love about it goes back to its ending considering the strength of how well it builds to it. The buildup in question concerns the effect the handling of Silence and Loco has on the viewer as they watch the film. The more time spent with the characters, one begins to notice subtle changes in both their demeanors, changes that soon hang on the viewer and reek of an unthinkable dread, like Loco not falling for Silence's taunts or Silence being beaten up by his enemies twice. With Loco though, "reaffirmation" better describes him as "change" implies he grows in intelligence and skill as the film rolls along when, in actuality, these traits are clearly inside him from the start. It's just that these reaffirmations increase in dread throughout the film as contrasting Silence's progressively weakening demeanor to that of Loco's slowly informs the viewer how difficult taking on Loco will be for Silence, giving the illusion that he undergoes significant change and has acquired Silence's initial depiction. Once Silence encounters Loco, his initially impenetrable demeanor is slowly rendered obsolete and is replaced by an unconvincing facade. As the film comes to a close, this subtle dread grows to an unbearable level, leading to one of the darkest, most unforgiving endings I've ever seen in a film. It's a realistic depiction of what probably would've happened in real life.
Overall, I really liked this film. The way it builds to its ending is really unique for the genre and it lingered with me for a while. Though this isn't quite a great film for me, I'll definitely keep an eye out for Corbucci in the future (this is the first film I've seen from him).
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:19 am

Very close to being my favorite western and very close to being my favorite Morricone score
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:24 am

Favorite Westerns:

1) The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
2) The Wild Bunch
3) Unforgiven
4) Yojimbo
5) The Searchers
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by MrCarmady » Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:45 am

Great film, great review. My favourite Corbucci is Vamos a matar, companeros, though.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:46 pm

MrCarmady wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:45 am
Great film, great review. My favourite Corbucci is Vamos a matar, companeros, though.
Thank you. I'll consider that as the next Corbucci I watch.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:57 pm

I'm not even sure what my favorite Westerns would be, but other than Great Silence, I imagine I'd pick Unforgiven, Forty Guns, Red River, Johnny Guitar, Ride in the Whirlwind, Once Upon a Time in the West, McCabe and Mrs Miller, Unforgiven, Dollars Trilogy. There are a number of Spaghetti Westerns I like, but I don't know the names of most of them because they are all mixed up in my head, along with all of the terrible Spaghetti Westerns I've seen.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Thief » Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:32 pm

I haven't seen nearly as much as most people. It's a genre I enjoy, but that I'm still diving into. That said, these are the ones I consider my Top 5...

1. Unforgiven
2. Once Upon a Time in the West
3. Hell or High Water
4. For a Few Dollars More
5. Man of the West
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Macrology » Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:38 pm

I'd have a hell of a time trying to pick my favorite Westerns - it quietly sneaked up on me and became one of my favorite genres. It's also a genre that benefits immensely from wide viewing; as Robert Warshow said, the Western is "an art form for connoisseurs, where the spectator derives his pleasure from the appreciation of minor variations within the working out of a pre-established order."
I think I'd have to split it into two subgroups: classic Westerns and revisionist Westerns.

Classic Westerns:
My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)
Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann, 1950)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1969)

(If I expanded this list, it would mostly include John Ford, Anthony Mann, and Budd Boetticher films, with a smattering of Howard Hawks and a few miscellaneous films.)

Revisionist Westerns:
Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995)
The Homesman (Tommy Lee Jones, 2014)
Decision at Sundown (Budd Boetticher, 1957)

Two entries are a bit odd: the Leone and the Boetticher. The former is a spaghetti Western, which has some inherently revisionist qualities, but it operates in a fairly classical mold. The Boetticher film was made during the classic Hollywood period, but I don't think I've ever seen a more withering condemnation of the Western hero.
Just shy of these lists are: Lemonade Joe, Meek's Cutoff, The Great Silence, The Shooting, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, High Plains Drifter, and several Peckinpah films.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Slentert » Sat Aug 15, 2020 12:47 pm

My list of favorite westerns is very Leone heavy, I have to admit.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Johnny Guiyar
Il Mercenario
Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid
Ride Lonesome
Unforgiven
Once Upon a Time in the West
Red River
Duck You Sucker
For a Few Dollars More
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Wooley » Sat Aug 15, 2020 2:51 pm

The Outlaw Josie Wales
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid
Once Upon A Time In The West
Big Jake
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Silverado
My Darling Clementine
Shane
Blazing Saddles
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
High Plains Drifter
The Shootist
The Proposition
Hang 'Em High
High Noon
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


I really like Westerns.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:11 pm

Ah, man. No other The Wild Bunch mentions :(

Also, how many Kurosawa films count as Westerns? I listed Yojimbo since it was unofficially remade into a spaghetti Western, but what about his other films, like Rashomon or Sanjuro, for example?
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:03 pm

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:11 pm
Ah, man. No other The Wild Bunch mentions :(

Also, how many Kurosawa films count as Westerns? I listed Yojimbo since it was unofficially remade into a spaghetti Western, but what about his other films, like Rashomon or Sanjuro, for example?
I've got no issues with Wild Bunch but it's never been a favourite.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Wooley » Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:45 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 3:11 pm
Ah, man. No other The Wild Bunch mentions :(

Also, how many Kurosawa films count as Westerns? I listed Yojimbo since it was unofficially remade into a spaghetti Western, but what about his other films, like Rashomon or Sanjuro, for example?
I mean, it's great, it's just not a personal favorite.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Macrology » Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:58 am

Wild Bunch is among my favorite Peckinpah films, alongside Straw Dogs and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

I thought about popping it into my Revisionist list, but the ones I chose are much knottier and stranger films. For real, if y'all haven't seen the two Westerns Tommy Lee Jones directed (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and The Homesman), I would consider them essential viewing. They are bar none the best Westerns of the past 25 years, and I'd say they rank with the greatest of all time. Mind you, they are unusual films designed to frustrate expectations, but they're some of the most complex deconstructions of the American mythos I've seen on screen.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:37 pm

crumbsroom wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:03 pm
I've got no issues with Wild Bunch but it's never been a favourite.
Ditto; for me, it's not so much that there's anything significantly wrong with it (although for a movie with such amazing editing during its shootouts, the various flashbacks are still integrated in pretty awkwardly), it's just that it doesn't make a big enough dramatic impact on me on the whole to reach the level of my actual favorite Westerns like Unforgiven or The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, and as far as Peckinpah goes, I've always felt that Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia is the best film I've seen from him so far. All of that being said, however, it's still a very good movie on the whole, one that's grown on me over the years, and while the final shootout used to be the only scene that made a major impression on me, a rewatch last year helped me appreciate the melancholic beauty of the quieter moments, like the Bunch's procession out of the village:



Plus, like I wrote, the editing during its action scenes was incredibly ahead of its time, especially for a genre (the Action movie) that was still so much in its infancy in the late 60's, with the way that the intersplicing of slow-motion shots gave time that wonderful elastic quality, and, like Tom Breihan wrote, it basically invented the "John Woo shootout" over a decade and a half before Woo himself did.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:48 pm

Stu wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:37 pm
Ditto; for me, it's not so much that there's anything significantly wrong with it (although for a movie with such amazing editing during its shootouts, the various flashbacks are still integrated in pretty awkwardly), it's just that it doesn't make a big enough dramatic impact on me on the whole to reach the level of my actual favorite Westerns like Unforgiven or The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, and as far as Peckinpah goes, I've always felt that Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia is the best film I've seen from him so far. All of that being said, however, it's still a very good movie on the whole, one that's grown on me over the years, and while the final shootout used to be the only scene that made a major impression on me, a rewatch last year helped me appreciate the melancholic beauty of the quieter moments, like the Bunch's procession out of the village:



Plus, like I wrote, the editing during its action scenes was incredibly ahead of its time, especially for a genre (the Action movie) that was still so much in its infancy in the late 60's, with the way that the intersplicing of slow-motion shots gave time that wonderful elastic quality, and, like Tom Breihan wrote, it basically invented the "John Woo shootout" over a decade and a half before Woo himself did.
Out of curiosity, did you read my review of TWB in this thread? If so, what did you think of it :shifty:
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:52 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:48 pm
Out of curiosity, did you read my review of TWB in this thread? If so, what did you think of it :shifty:
I did read it, and I felt you had the foundation for a great review, it just needed a bit of re-working to make it flow better, with less unnecessarily short sentences, as well as with some smoother transitions from subject to subject. To show you what I mean, I came up with a version of my own to try to make it flow smoother, as well as trying to inject some more colorful/vivid language to liven it up a bit more:
The Western isn't necessarily my favorite genre out there, but it can hit the spot every now and then; The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly is an all-time favorite, but it's the only Western which makes my favorites list... or at least it was, until I watched this film, which is now the newest addition to that list. You see, what resonated with me the most were the extremely dynamic characterizations, as Pike Bishop proved to be a highly complex protagonist, revealing his personal philosophy early in the film when he says "When you side with a man, you stay with him. And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished". However, as we learn through both flashbacks and the present-day plot as it unfolds, Pike doesn't always uphold this belief, as he abandons a number of people throughout the film, a revelation that lends some shades of grey to his character, and it isn't until the end where he finally upholds his belief, which marks the start of an utterly perfect final act.

Then there's Angel, a member of the Bunch who develops a seething hatred for the wicked "General Mapache" after he learns that his troops have ravaged his village, prostituted his girlfriend, and killed his father, and, although Pike instructs him not to avenge his father, his desire for vengeance against the corrupt General often complicates the Bunch's goals, and puts Angel's own life at risk in the process. Finally, there's Deke Thornton, a former member of Pike's gang who's leading a group of bounty hunters after the Bunch, as he's been ordered by the greedy railroad he "works" for that he has thirty days to kill his former comrades, or else he will be sent back to prison. And, as the film rolls along, he repeatedly expresses his frustration with the "gutter trash" he's been forced to ride with, and after witnessing his reluctance to pull the trigger on Pike when he has him dead-to-rights during the film's opening shootout, we get the sense that Deke doesn't want to kill any of them, but wishes to be accepted back into their good (albeit criminal) graces instead, and without spoiling anything, I found the payoff for this dynamic to be deeply effective, as it resonated with me long after the film ended.

Besides these rich characterizations, another striking aspect of the film were its musings on how the American West was basically disappearing around the gang in real time, as there are a handful of indications that they're in need of retirement, such as when Pike has difficulty mounting his horse at, the way that the members of the Bunch often say that they need to find a new line of work as soon as possible (with one of the men questioning whether he would've been better off running a whorehouse), or how the members of the Bunch comment on how the then-new invention of "automobiles" will be used in upcoming wars, a particularly prophetic remark, seeing as how the film takes place just one year before the start of "The War To End All Wars", World War I.

And of course, the gunfights in the film bear a ridiculously high level of craft, as they're deeply engaging to watch, with their combination of multi-angle shots, montage-style editing, slow-motion, split-second cuts that fire as rapidly out the camera as the bullets out of the machine gun at the film's climax, and of course, the massive body count, which was extremely uncharacteristic for a Western at the time of the film's release. The most notable gunfight is, of course, the infamous "Battle Of The Bloody Porch", a scene that’s brilliantly foreshadowed when the machine gun used in it accidentally fires at Mapache's troops earlier in the film, although it miraculously misses every one of them (very much the opposite of what happens during the actual shootout).

However, looking past the astronomically high body count and the level of pure technical craft reveals the subtext of how the Bunch, by killing most of Mapache's troops in the final shootout, unintentionally help the Mexican rebels with their fight against the country's Army (which actually did disband one year after the events of the film). And, since a central theme in the film focuses on the death of the American West, this shows that the gang actually help to pave the way for a new way of life with the final shootout, as they take the old one along with them to a grave, one that's both symbolic and literal, in the process. Overall, this film is a masterpiece; the character dynamics, central themes, and the gunfights resonated with me in the best possible way, and, as stated earlier, while I'm not the biggest fan of Westerns, I'm still really glad I saw this one, as it left a massive impact on me.
All of that being said, however, I still feel that you have a lot of potential as a film writer, and I think you have a very bright future waiting for you with this hobby, so keep up the good work, man!
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:31 pm

Stu wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:52 am
I did read it, and I felt you had the foundation for a great review, it just needed a bit of re-working to make it flow better, with less unnecessarily short sentences, as well as with some smoother transitions from subject to subject. To show you what I mean, I came up with a version of my own to try to make it flow smoother, as well as trying to inject some more colorful/vivid language to liven it up a bit more:
The Western isn't necessarily my favorite genre out there, but it can hit the spot every now and then; The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly is an all-time favorite, but it's the only Western which makes my favorites list... or at least it was, until I watched this film, which is now the newest addition to that list. You see, what resonated with me the most were the extremely dynamic characterizations, as Pike Bishop proved to be a highly complex protagonist, revealing his personal philosophy early in the film when he says "When you side with a man, you stay with him. And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished". However, as we learn through both flashbacks and the present-day plot as it unfolds, Pike doesn't always uphold this belief, as he abandons a number of people throughout the film, a revelation that lends some shades of grey to his character, and it isn't until the end where he finally upholds his belief, which marks the start of an utterly perfect final act.

Then there's Angel, a member of the Bunch who develops a seething hatred for the wicked "General Mapache" after he learns that his troops have ravaged his village, prostituted his girlfriend, and killed his father, and, although Pike instructs him not to avenge his father, his desire for vengeance against the corrupt General often complicates the Bunch's goals, and puts Angel's own life at risk in the process. Finally, there's Deke Thornton, a former member of Pike's gang who's leading a group of bounty hunters after the Bunch, as he's been ordered by the greedy railroad he "works" for that he has thirty days to kill his former comrades, or else he will be sent back to prison. And, as the film rolls along, he repeatedly expresses his frustration with the "gutter trash" he's been forced to ride with, and after witnessing his reluctance to pull the trigger on Pike when he has him dead-to-rights during the film's opening shootout, we get the sense that Deke doesn't want to kill any of them, but wishes to be accepted back into their good (albeit criminal) graces instead, and without spoiling anything, I found the payoff for this dynamic to be deeply effective, as it resonated with me long after the film ended.

Besides these rich characterizations, another striking aspect of the film were its musings on how the American West was basically disappearing around the gang in real time, as there are a handful of indications that they're in need of retirement, such as when Pike has difficulty mounting his horse at, the way that the members of the Bunch often say that they need to find a new line of work as soon as possible (with one of the men questioning whether he would've been better off running a whorehouse), or how the members of the Bunch comment on how the then-new invention of "automobiles" will be used in upcoming wars, a particularly prophetic remark, seeing as how the film takes place just one year before the start of "The War To End All Wars", World War I.

And of course, the gunfights in the film bear a ridiculously high level of craft, as they're deeply engaging to watch, with their combination of multi-angle shots, montage-style editing, slow-motion, split-second cuts that fire as rapidly out the camera as the bullets out of the machine gun at the film's climax, and of course, the massive body count, which was extremely uncharacteristic for a Western at the time of the film's release. The most notable gunfight is, of course, the infamous "Battle Of The Bloody Porch", a scene that’s brilliantly foreshadowed when the machine gun used in it accidentally fires at Mapache's troops earlier in the film, although it miraculously misses every one of them (very much the opposite of what happens during the actual shootout).

However, looking past the astronomically high body count and the level of pure technical craft reveals the subtext of how the Bunch, by killing most of Mapache's troops in the final shootout, unintentionally help the Mexican rebels with their fight against the country's Army (which actually did disband one year after the events of the film). And, since a central theme in the film focuses on the death of the American West, this shows that the gang actually help to pave the way for a new way of life with the final shootout, as they take the old one along with them to a grave, one that's both symbolic and literal, in the process. Overall, this film is a masterpiece; the character dynamics, central themes, and the gunfights resonated with me in the best possible way, and, as stated earlier, while I'm not the biggest fan of Westerns, I'm still really glad I saw this one, as it left a massive impact on me.
All of that being said, however, I still feel that you have a lot of potential as a film writer, and I think you have a very bright future waiting for you with this hobby, so keep up the good work, man!
Thank you, Stu! Those are some fine suggestions. I've recently tried to make a couple changes to my writing style, as, for one, I feel I can get too hung up on trying to make my reviews long enough, which can make some sentences feel bloated. Recently, I've been trying to cut back on that and not worry too much about the word limit. I trimmed some sentences off my review of The Great Silence to (hopefully) make it run smoother. Also, the short sentences and occasional awkward transitions could be improved, as you say. I'll keep an eye out for that. At any rate, thank you for your thoughts, and I'll definitely keep at writing these reviews! It's a good way to both improve my writing and to inject more obscure films into my film diet!
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by kgaard. » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:36 pm

Macrology wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:58 am
Wild Bunch is among my favorite Peckinpah films, alongside Straw Dogs and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

I thought about popping it into my Revisionist list, but the ones I chose are much knottier and stranger films. For real, if y'all haven't seen the two Westerns Tommy Lee Jones directed (The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and The Homesman), I would consider them essential viewing. They are bar none the best Westerns of the past 25 years, and I'd say they rank with the greatest of all time. Mind you, they are unusual films designed to frustrate expectations, but they're some of the most complex deconstructions of the American mythos I've seen on screen.
I haven't seen The Homesman, but I thought that the Faulkner-inspired Three Burials (Tommy Lee Jones's classical education paying off!) was great. I was slightly surprised it didn't make a bigger impression but perhaps its timing deep in the heart of W's America was not helpful. (Speaking of which, after seeing this at a preview screening that featured Al Gore as a guest, I saw Gore afterward outside the theater surrounded by an absolute phalanx of bodyguard/Secret Service types. What a way to live.) Anyway, yeah, it's a challenging modern western worthy of a larger audience.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:04 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:31 pm
Thank you, Stu! Those are some fine suggestions. I've recently tried to make a couple changes to my writing style, as, for one, I feel I can get too hung up on trying to make my reviews long enough, which can make some sentences feel bloated. Recently, I've been trying to cut back on that and not worry too much about the word limit. I trimmed some sentences off my review of The Great Silence to (hopefully) make it run smoother. Also, the short sentences and occasional awkward transitions could be improved, as you say. I'll keep an eye out for that. At any rate, thank you for your thoughts, and I'll definitely keep at writing these reviews! It's a good way to both improve my writing and to inject more obscure films into my film diet!
Any time man; by the way, did you check out that article on TWB that I shared? Because I'm sure you'd enjoy it, especially if you're interested in seeing that film discussed within the larger historical context of Action movies (since that's what that series of articles, A History Of Violence, is all about), because, in addition to the point you made about the unusually high body count that Bunch had for a "Western", Breihan also made the point that, while the shootouts in previous Westerns tended to be pretty cursory, and it generally only mattered who got shot, Bunch changed things so that it mattered how it happened as well. Besides that, in addition to a couple of shaky handheld cam shots (like the one from Angel's POV when his horse gets lassoed out from under him), I also like to think that it indirectly influenced the Bourne series somewhat and the "you are there" sense of immersion that series would become famous for, what with the way that, besides the endless, deafening chorus of gunfire, and the use of slow-mo for us to better appreciate the outstanding stuntwork (and influencing John Woo so much in the process), it also seems to be portraying the "time dilation" effect that people experience firsthand when in life-threatening situations, and the way it sometimes goes back-and-forth between both tempos by sandwiching a slow-mo shot between two quick shots of normal-speed action, presenting both subjective and objective perspectives on the action in rapid succession, y'know?
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:32 am

Stu wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:04 am
Any time man; by the way, did you check out that article on TWB that I shared? Because I'm sure you'd enjoy it, especially if you're interested in seeing that film discussed within the larger historical context of Action movies (since that's what that series of articles, A History Of Violence, is all about), because, in addition to the point you made about the unusually high body count that Bunch had for a "Western", Breihan also made the point that, while the shootouts in previous Westerns tended to be pretty cursory, and it generally only mattered who got shot, Bunch changed things so that it mattered how it happened as well. Besides that, in addition to a couple of shaky handheld cam shots (like the one from Angel's POV when his horse gets lassoed out from under him), I also like to think that it indirectly influenced the Bourne series somewhat and the "you are there" sense of immersion that series would become famous for, what with the way that, besides the endless, deafening chorus of gunfire, and the use of slow-mo for us to better appreciate the outstanding stuntwork (and influencing John Woo so much in the process), it also seems to be portraying the "time dilation" effect that people experience firsthand when in life-threatening situations, and the way it sometimes goes back-and-forth between both tempos by sandwiching a slow-mo shot between two quick shots of normal-speed action, presenting both subjective and objective perspectives on the action in rapid succession, y'know?
I have not read it yet, but I will check it out for sure. Thanks for linking it! By coincidence, I was looking for a decent "Best action films ever" list a few days ago, but I was unable to find anything I was satisfied with as all the ones I found were mostly 21st century focused with a few established, well-known classics which every film buff knows about. There were also barely any surprises in them. The AV Club article seems more my thing though. I'll also read your post on the Bourne films again. I also like your description of the editing in TWB of "you are there". While I was certainly immersed by that effect, I wasn't able to put my finger on what the exact editing technique was in those scenes, but I think what you said is a good way of describing it. It brings even more variation to the action in the film.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Thu Aug 20, 2020 7:26 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 6:32 am
I have not read it yet, but I will check it out for sure. Thanks for linking it! By coincidence, I was looking for a decent "Best action films ever" list a few days ago, but I was unable to find anything I was satisfied with as all the ones I found were mostly 21st century focused with a few established, well-known classics which every film buff knows about. There were also barely any surprises in them. The AV Club article seems more my thing though. I'll also read your post on the Bourne films again. I also like your description of the editing in TWB of "you are there". While I was certainly immersed by that effect, I wasn't able to put my finger on what the exact editing technique was in those scenes, but I think what you said is a good way of describing it. It brings even more variation to the action in the film.
Thanks, Pops :oops: Are you a fan of the Bourne movies, btw? Cuz I like the original trilogy in general, especially Supremacy, for its emphasis on strong character development for Jason (haven't seen any of 'em past Ultimatum, due to the weaker reviews). As for Breihan's writing on The AV Club, I also like his other restrospective series like Age Of Heroes (on the history of modern Superhero films) and The Popcorn Champs (about the highest-grossing movies of every year since the 60's), but History Of Violence will probably always remain his magnum opus, in my eyes; this guy loves Action movies, and boy does it show!
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Thu Aug 20, 2020 3:08 pm

Stu wrote:
Thu Aug 20, 2020 7:26 am
Thanks, Pops :oops: Are you a fan of the Bourne movies, btw? Cuz I like the original trilogy in general, especially Supremacy, for its emphasis on strong character development for Jason (haven't seen any of 'em past Ultimatum, due to the weaker reviews). As for Breihan's writing on The AV Club, I also like his other restrospective series like Age Of Heroes (on the history of modern Superhero films) and The Popcorn Champs (about the highest-grossing movies of every year since the 60's), but History Of Violence will probably always remain his magnum opus, in my eyes; this guy loves Action movies, and boy does it show!
I haven't seen a Bourne film, but I'll for sure check the franchise out considering your recommendation. I'll also check out the other AV Club articles you mentioned. Thanks!
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:44 am

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Famous for beating Citizen Kane at the Oscars for Best Picture, this is usually considered to be a good film, albeit one which shouldn't have beaten Citizen Kane. To be fair to the film, I went into it without expecting it to be better than Welles' film as I didn't think judging it like this would be fair to John Ford. While I prefer Citizen Kane by a decent margin, I still enjoyed this film quite a lot and I think it has plenty going for it that it's able to stand just fine on its own.

This film does something rare in that it feels simultaneously epic and intimate at the same time. Though it wasn't clear how much time passed throughout the film, many strikes, misfortunes, and conflicts were presented in vivid detail. Something interesting about these occurrences was how so little of them involved Huw; most involved the other characters in the valley, like the protests which drove Huw's brothers away from his father for opposing their decisions to join a union (which also created tension between him and the other strikers), Angharad grappling with her wish to marry Mr. Gruffydd while Evans unwanted courtship loomed over her, or Bronwyn's struggles to earn enough money to get by. Given all these characters and their interlocking storylines, the film acted as a vivid depiction of the valley as Huw's flashback didn't just tell us of the events which shaped him as a child, but also those which effected the people around him. In spite of this scope, the film balanced this out with a strong feeling of intimacy amongst the characters. One could criticize the sentimentality of some of these moments, but I found them compelling as not only did they contrast well with the film's massive scope, but since the adult Huw's emotional state in the opening scene was of mournful nostalgia, it made sense for some of this sentiment to reflect in his flashback, and the occasional sentimental scenes were a good way to represent this.

Amidst the conflicts in the valley, the residents would often find themselves divided with their ideologies clashing against each other. The protests and unions formed is the first instance of this division. This impacted Gwilym's relationship with his sons and estranged him from the other strikers for refusing to endorse their strike, revealing how much their village had broken apart. Mr. Gruffydd, the village preacher, later responded to those actions by condemning the villagers for their religious hypocrisies with how they looked down upon and vandalized Gwilym's house, yet sat in the same church with him, making for a relatable scene which reflected some of my views on religion. While one could despise the villagers though, I don't think contempt hung on the clashes between the characters as much as a tragic undercurrent did since we saw in the opening that they initially got along with each other just fine before the wage cuts. It's just that the wage cuts tore them apart and led to the various factions in the village.

Ford also included some small scale sub-plots involving the villagers, like Angharad's aforementioned attempted courtship of Mr. Gruffydd, which included a handful of compelling scenes and an abstractly beautiful culmination to their relationship in the coda, or Huw's conflicts with a school bully and his cruel teacher, which, in spite of having little to do with the central conflict involving the coal miners, turned out to be a worthwhile break from this premise as Huw's experience there helped to develop and strengthen his character. These sub-plots and the various characters involved in them made the valley seem expansive, yet were used sparingly enough that they never seemed like distractions from the film's central conflict.

While this isn't my idea of a great film, I think it's really good and it definitely doesn't deserve to be remembered predominantly by its "A good film which shouldn't have beaten Citizen Kane" reputation. Overall, it's a strong film, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by crumbsroom » Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:49 am

I remember Valley as being a really beautiful looking film, but I could never invest myself much with it.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:55 am

crumbsroom wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:49 am
I remember Valley as being a really beautiful looking film, but I could never invest myself much with it.
I can understand that reaction, but it worked pretty well for me. While it doesn't stick out to me as great, I did admire it quite a lot for its scope and the clashing ideologies between the various factions of people. I don't know if I'll watch it again, but I will defend it against its "A good film which shouldn't have beaten Citizen Kane" reputation.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:02 am

Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 12:44 am
Ford also included some small scale sub-plots involving the villagers, like Angharad's aforementioned attempted courtship of Mr. Gruffydd, which included a handful of compelling scenes and an abstractly beautiful culmination to their relationship in the coda, or Huw's conflicts with a school bully and his cruel teacher, which, in spite of having little to do with the central conflict involving the coal miners, turned out to be a worthwhile break from this premise as Huw's experience there helped to develop and strengthen his character.
The sub-plot with the terrible teacher was actually the part of Valley I liked the least, as he was just such an over-the-top caricature of a snooty, upper-class teacher that he felt like he was included in the film solely to make us hate rich people, and it felt like Ford was beating us as harshly with his politics as the teacher did to Huw. That being said, besides that I still liked the film a lot, and I'd also say that it did involve me more than Citizen Kane, if I'm being perfectly honest.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:04 pm

Stu wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:02 am
The sub-plot with the terrible teacher was actually the part of Valley I liked the least, as he was just such an over-the-top caricature of a snooty, upper-class teacher that he felt like he was included in the film solely to make us hate rich people, and it felt like Ford was beating us as harshly with his politics as the teacher did to Huw. That being said, besides that I still liked the film a lot, and I'd also say that it did involve me more than Citizen Kane, if I'm being perfectly honest.
While I don't have a strong argument in favor of it, it worked well enough for me. Since Huw wasn't that significant in the film prior to that sub-plot (or, at least, the various sub-plots involved the other characters more than him), I liked how the first major sub-plot involving him developed him as a character so that he'd be better equipped to handle his other struggles in the film. While it isn't my favorite part of the film, I wasn't bothered by it necessarily. As for Citizen Kane, it's been a while since I've seen it, bug I remember it appealing to me a decent bit more.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:15 pm

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This film brought to mind questions on whether you can enjoy a film if you don't know what the director is going for, to which I'd answer yes. For instance, "The Color of Pomegranates" and "El Topo" sailed over my head, but I still enjoyed the mood and feel to them. With this film though, I was frequently wondering whether I was getting anything out of it.

Before I go any further though, I'll state that there are some aspects and scenes which, in a vacuum, worked really well. For instance, I liked that the violence was used sparingly and had a direct, matter-of-fact approach which resisted excitement or awe and how the minutes before the final act made for a strong slice of buildup, with the scenes of the terrorists trying on clothes or listening to music taking on a different feel than they did beforehand. Also, certain scenes stuck with me for a while such as David's nighttime walk through the city which raised a couple implications towards the motives of the terrorists or Yacine wearing a wig and makeup during his rendition of "My Way", which, due to an early conversation where Yacine, thinking he was being treated as a clown, refused to sing for the group, seemed to be masking something deeper. Overall, there's some bits I really like and some competent filmmaking here and there. This potential though was smothered so much in an approach which left me cold and distant.

As said, so much of this film left me wondering whether I was getting anything out of it and the opening 50 or so minutes are a prime example of this. In spite of all the visual and editing techniques Bonello utilized here (cross-cutting, flashbacks, split screen effects), this sequence ultimately failed to connect with me. I found it to be mostly lacking in suspense given it failed to establish stakes or threats which could've potentially disrupted the terrorist plot for a number of the characters involved or by cutting to flashbacks that occurred before (?) the bombing, sacrificing much of the narrative momentum in this sequence in the process (which wasn't even a lot to begin with). As it stood, the sequence really dragged and didn't leave much of an impression on me. Unfortunately, the second half didn't fare much better. One reviewer made a case for it by writing "Why pigeonhole these characters by allying them with a specific political ideology when you can let their actions...speak for them?" Giving the characters a political ideology wasn't what I was looking for. Rather, watching them interact with the various material goods in the department store didn't mean much to me. As stated earlier, Yacine's rendition of "My Way" was effective, but the rest of their actions lacked the interesting motivations that Yacine's sub-plot had and so much of what went on didn't interest me much and felt like filler for something which never occurred.
Finally, the ending felt like brutality for brutality's sake. The only interpretation I have for the ending for it to make sense is that the terrorists carried out their plot as a response to the unethical behavior of the police in the city, except I can't find enough evidence to back up that interpretation. If this was Bonello's intention, this theme would've had to been hammered into the film more for the final act to hit as hard as it could've. As it stood, while I appreciated it somewhat, it didn't seem like it was making a coherent point and left me, like so much of what else happened in the film, cold (I also thought the shootings were portrayed in an awkward way, but that might just be me). Really, a lot of this film felt like a shell of what could've been a great film.
A bunch of other aspects annoyed me as well. For instance, there was a recurring motif of presenting a scene several times from multiple angles and perspectives, and this worked well enough at some points (showing the bombs exploding in this style, for instance), but more often than not, this made for some distractingly annoying editing which seemed kind of pointless. Secondly, the flashbacks were integrated into the film in a pretty awkward manner that took away from the film, like the aforementioned flashbacks in the first 50 minutes or David's flashback after his nighttime walk through the city which seemed unnecessary. Finally, some scenes stuck out as being exceedingly bad, like one of the aforementioned scenes shown from multiple perspectives during the ending sequence, or a randomly placed, tonal breaking nightmare which bordered on the supernatural with how it seemed to blend into reality (which, if that's the case, is even more egregious).

Really, while there's a few quality scenes and aspects mixed into this film, they're buried in such a myriad of flaws that I just can't recommend this. It's a shame, really, because this is such a unique approach to the genre which is rare to come by and Bonello had a good framework to tackle this approach with, but after watching it both times, it just sort of came and went by and, once the credits rolled, I didn't retain much of my experience with it.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Sat Sep 26, 2020 4:55 pm

I'm probably not going to be able to write a review of Swing Time before October as college has been stressing me out like crazy (which disappoints me as I was trying to finish this round before then). To be clear though, this thread isn't disbanded or anything. After my October horror binge, I'll write something on it during November and will then resume posting here. I'm just going to take a month long break from this thread. At any rate, stay tuned for more!
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Stu » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:31 am

Yeah, my forum activity had to drop too back when school got busy, so I totally get what you're experiencing, Pops; I'll be patient waiting for more write-ups, don't you worry!
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Thief » Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:56 pm

Had never heard of Nocturama or Bonello, but now I'm intrigued.
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Re: Popcorn Reviews' Reviews

Post by Popcorn Reviews » Mon Sep 28, 2020 2:13 pm

Stu wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:31 am
Yeah, my forum activity had to drop too back when school got busy, so I totally get what you're experiencing, Pops; I'll be patient waiting for more write-ups, don't you worry!
Thanks. I still plan to have a horror marathon in Horrorcram since the one paragraphs write-ups I plan to restrict myself to for them take much less time to write, but for the time being, I think that taking a one month break from this thread will be a good idea and will help me to relax a bit with my schoolwork. But yeah, thank you and stay tuned for more!
Thief wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:56 pm
Had never heard of Nocturama or Bonello, but now I'm intrigued.
Okay, sweet. Though I wasn't too big on it, I know that more people like it than don't, so you may like it more than I do. It shouldn't be too hard to track down, so if you get around to it, let me know what you think of it!
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