The Last Film You Saw in the Cinema?


[quote=“John Welles, post:1140, topic:2027”]Sicario (Villeneuve/15)

It’s a very, very fine film. Apart from Emily Blunt’s character, there is hardly an original element to it, but Denis Villeneuve’s direction is so precise, cinemtaograhper Roger Deakins’ work so excellent, that it doesn’t really matter. The film is incredibly relentless and I like how the violence actually pacts a punch: we don’t experience a vicarious thrill from it, but rather feel a mounting sense of dread and tension (most notably during the traffic jam sequence). Blunt operates as a fully moral figure, unusual for the genre: normally the protagonist would be Josh Brolin or Benicio Del Toro (who are both superb), but instead we have a very strong, ethical centre which serves to throw the amoral actions of both the cartels and government forces into even sharper relief. It’s so good that I’d be tempted to hail it as The Hurt Locker of the War on Drugs.[/quote]

Funny, I was just reading the exact same review here: Is that you also John or someone else?

(John Welles) #1142

Yes, the one and the same! It’s a good, highbrow forum although they don’t have the same number of Spaghetti Western experts…

(Stanton) #1143

Sicario is really an unusual film. Emily Blunt seems to be the protagonist, we see the events through her eyes, but in the end she hasn’t achieved anything, she was only a bystander who was used, a naive child in a world filled with terrible adults. In her last scene she accepts the compromise to which she was forced a few minutes earlier under humiliating circumstances.
The real protagonist is, and the film’s title acknowledges that, is Benicio del Toro, one of the terrible adults.

Apart from the directing Sicario has also a first rate cinematography (Mr Deakins) and a first rate score (Jóhann Jóhannsson).

Strong work form one of the best directors of these days. 9/10

(John Welles) #1144

It’s right to highlight the score as it was very important in maintaining the film’s intensity. Often the sound design and the score were interchangeable and all the more unsettling for being so.

(titoli) #1145

The Martian (2015)

Good feel-good SF spectacle.

(John Welles) #1146

The Martian (Scott/15)

An incredibly well-made film - Scott is never less than professional and given as a tight a script as this (by Drew Goddard), it really hits the bulls-eye. The pace never slackens, Matt Damon and the ensemble cast around him are uniformly good and it’s admirable that the film resists over-dramatizing - the dangers inherent in Mark Watney’s situation are enough and no strained crew tension is necessary. It slips in the science with ease and crucially makes it interesting: it’s never just exposition but key to the plotting. It’s an extremely likeable, commercial and (dare I say it) intelligent film, not putting a foot wrong. Part of me wishes that it investigated the existential dilemmas Damon’s character would’ve faced stranded on Mars, but this is not a film of philosophising and thus very different to Gravity or Interstellar (other sci-fi films released at the same time in previous years). That’s fine though and would be a minor trade-off if more Hollywood studio films could be as fine as this.

(John Welles) #1147

The Shining (Kubrick/81)

I saw a special Halloween screening of the US cut (which looked marvellous and better than Warners’ current BD). This is a film that’s already been discussed extensively in this forum (see the first four pages of this thread,2226.0.html) and I won’t try to match the sagacity of Sherpshutter and Stanton’s discussion (and I…I…Idiot! Where is that guy?). Instead here are some thoughts on this over-analysed film: it’s hard to watch this post-viewing Room 237 and not notice some of the symbolism and ‘deliberate’ (or maybe not) continuity errors, such as the geography of the house making no sense. Jack Nicholson’s great, giving one of his last fully-realised performances and his scene with Lloyd the bartender is perhaps the most ‘Jack’ scene ever shot - it deserves to be seen over and over. I’ve always liked Shelley Duvall in her much maligned-role: in her situation, abject, mind-corroding terror would be most of our responses. The redrum reveal still makes me flinch, although today it’s the oppressive atmosphere that is most effective rather than any traditional horror pyrotechnics. Danny being taken over by ‘Tony’ and the former’s interactions with Jack seem to be more disturbing than actual scenes of Jack with an axe. John Alcott’s roaming, steadicam cinematography must take a lot of credit along with Kubrick for establishing the Overlook Hotel as a malevolent character in and of itself. The frequent plot- and visual-references to American history seems to imply that the hotel is America, driving Jack mad by the weight of horrific history, doomed to forever repeat itself (which goes some way to explain the terrific coda). I also like how the climax is not about killing Jack as another, rote horror film would be, but where it’s the ‘labyrinth’ of his own insanity that spells his end.

(Bill san Antonio) #1148

Saw two horror classics on screen yesterday

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
-One of the best horror films ever, so much screaming and chainsaw clattering that after leaving the theater the noise will stay in your mind for long time.

Hills Have Eyes
-Never been my favorite, one of the very few horror films where the re-make is better one.

(John Welles) #1149

A round-up of recent cinema goings:

Chimes at Midnight (Welles/65)
Strangely I didn’t connect with this on the direct, emotional level I have with all of the other Orson Welles’ films I’ve seen (and that includes the cruelly underrated The Trial). Perhaps I need to watch it again, as many aspects stood out - Welles as Falstaff, Keith Baxter as Hal and John Gielgud as Henry IV are all superb and two scenes particularly stick out: the chaotic, muddy visualisation of the Battle of Shrewsbury, inventively employing hand-held coverage and of course, the classic renunciation of Falstaff by Hal, now Henry V. Welles disguises his low-budget incredibly well, intelligently selecting Spanish locations to create a medieval England, but I felt that perhaps the pace was off, the battle scene coming too early and leading to an overly-long second half. At any rate, this deserves another viewing in the future.

The Lobster (Lanthimos/15)
Yorgos Lanthimos’ satire, set in an alternate world where people, if not in a relationship, are sent to a hotel where they must find a partner and if not, get turned into an animal of their choosing, promises Buñuelian fun. Alas, it doesn’t deliver. The opening 45 minutes or so set in the hotel are dryly amusing, with Colin Farrell the empty vessel which constantly denies audience identification. Yet as soon as he leaves the hotel, the film goes downhill - the restrained humour virtually disappears and the surreal hotel setting abandoned in favour of a banal forest. The film from here on in feels interminable, and Lanthimos’ direction, so distant and cold, leads to the talented cast (Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux) seeming to be incredibly wooden and uninteresting. A world defined by whether you’re in a relationship or not sounds like a fascinating premise, but its exploration is disappointingly limited, with none of the implications worked through (perhaps because the wider world remains so deliberately opaque). In other words, a frustrating viewing experience.

Pasolini (Ferrara/14)
A commendably brief (84 minutes) exploration of the final days of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Abel Ferrara has made a film that lives and breathes in the spirit of the European arthouse films Pasolini himself made. Willem Defoe, despite performing in English, is excellent as the director but what’s so refreshing is Ferrara’s refusal to play by the rules of conventional biopics: along with showing Pasolini, he dramatises the novel he’s working on and his plans for his latest, post-Salò film. It amounts to a truly great biography in that it imagines the art as well as the artist, while still remaining resolutely honest about Pasolini’s gay life. It doesn’t indulge in any conspiracy theories around Pasolini’s murder but operates as a finally very moving portrait of a man who was far more than just a film director. Also, it has a great use of the Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There

(Stanton) #1150

[quote=“John Welles, post:1149, topic:2027”]Chimes at Midnight (Welles/65)
Strangely I didn’t connect with this on the direct, emotional level I have with all of the other Orson Welles’ films I’ve seen (and that includes the cruelly underrated The Trial). Perhaps I need to watch it again, as many aspects stood out - Welles as Falstaff, Keith Baxter as Hal and John Gielgud as Henry IV are all superb and two scenes particularly stick out: the chaotic, muddy visualisation of the Battle of Shrewsbury,[/quote]

A great montage sequence, unfortunately marred by the senseless speed up of the action, which looks pretty bad. Destroys some of the scene’s impact.

(Bill san Antonio) #1151

Jess Franco: Count Dracula
-First Jess Franco I’ve seen in cinema. I remembered the film being terrible but it wasn’t actually that bad, it has the same problems as maybe all the Dracula films: it has moody beginning and the scenes in Transylvania and the scenes with Dracula and Renfield are good but other stuff is inferior. Christopher Lee is very good, his monologue about Dracula being the defender of the country through centuries is a great scene. Kinski is the best Renfield you can think of and Herbert Lom as Van Helsing does a good job too. Female beauty is provided by Maria Rohm and Soledad Miranda. But I had forgotten the infamous scene with stuffed animals. Our heroes are frightened by stuffed fox, owl, ostrich and something that looks like mangy ferret or something. Hilarious scene, especially seen in theater where it got huge laughs in the audience.

Wiene: Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
-I must have seen this film for dozen of times but after seeing it for the first time (Caligari was the one film that really made me a movie buff) it hasn’t made as big impact as now seen on the big screen, restored and accompanied with beautiful live music.

Lester: Commando
-Good old campy 80’s action with Arnold.

Batzella: Devil’s Wedding Night
-Johnny Yuma’s stars Mark Damon and Rosalba Neri together again in vampire film with erotic touch. Mark Damon has a double role as twin brothers, that should tell you something about the quality of the film ;D Quite boring stuff but there’s good amount of blood and boobies in the end and we do see Rosalba wearing nothing but blood on her.

(John Welles) #1152

Steve Jobs (Boyle/15)

More of an Aaron Sorkin film than a Danny Boyle one (and all the better for it), it’s a feast of writing and acting. The cast is phenomenal, eating the great script and dialogue up, with Michael Fassbender as Jobs in particular a stand-out. What’s so invigorating is that the film is never afraid to show Jobs to be the unpleasant businessman he was; the three-act structure shows how the times change, but also how Jobs is capable of holding grudges and resentment for decades. Two scenes, in the final act, between Fassbender and Jeff Daniels and Fassbender with Seth Rogan, are likely the best things I’ll see in the cinema this year. Alas, the final scene crucially softens the film’s bite and feels like Boyle trying to get an unearned emotional payoff. Still, it doesn’t torpedo a very, very fine film.

(John Welles) #1153

Carol (Haynes/15)

This is the film I wanted when I saw Far from Heaven - not a pastiche of Sirk, but a film Sirk himself could have made. Haynes has removed the ironic distance he maintained in that film to fully immerse himself in the material, creating in the process a trio of striking characters, played by Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchet and Kyle Chandler. I expected the first two to be good, so it was Chandler who I was most surprised by: the estranged husband of Carol, he could easily heave veered into cartoon villainy, but the script refuses to demean him despite his terrible acts: he’s a complex figure who, as an audience, we can understand if never sympathise with. Edward Lachman’s 16mm cinematography is astonishing, capturing the textured tones of the 1950s perfectly - it feels, despite the gay subject matter (combined with profanity and sex), like a movie from the fifties, as if this is what Sirk or even King Vidor would make without the Hayes Code. Haynes had not won me over before this, but Carol is simply excellent, classical cinema.

(John Welles) #1154

Black Mass (Cooper/15)

This is actually not too bad, but no masterpiece either. The fundamental problem is the script (by Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk): Scott Cooper is shackled to an arc is determined to play out in the most predictable way possible, with Johnny Depp’s Whitey Bulger going through the traditional rise-and-fall parabola we’ve seen done so much better before (and not just by Scorsese, which this is incredibly derivative of). Depp hits, at times, the terrifying psychotic notes required of him (such as his conversation with Julianne Nicholson), yet his character never goes anywhere: we hear in voiceover, after his child and mother die, that he changes, but it’s never evident: he’s always a malevolently cold gangster and Depp, underneath a thick layer of makeup, is occasionally one-note and, surprisingly, not too interesting. The most intriguing tangents - his connections with organised crime in Miami, giving weapons to the IRA - are simply brushed aside and not developed in the script’s rigidity to being a Bawh-shtun crime thriller. In fact, in the film’s second half, it is Joel Edgarton, as the FBI agent covering for Whitey, who is the most interesting. Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon and the rest of a large cast, are largely underused and Cooper reveals himself to be a capable but rather uninspired director. It’s not a complete bust, but it travels down a road well-trodden.

(John Welles) #1155

Bridge of Spies (Spielberg/15)

This is a masterly example of classical narrative cinema at its best. Spielberg’s direction is incredibly assured, ensuring the film never gets bogged down in courtroom drama (and thus making it significantly superior to Amistad), while crafting the maximum of suspense and fascination, despite most people knowing the historical outcome of events. Tom Hanks is very good, and sometimes it’s just a pleasure watching an actor play a genuinely good protagonist, trying to do right (not a superhero) and grounded in reality. Mark Rylance is superb and deserves every award which comes his way; Spielberg’s crucial conceit of having a sympathetic Soviet spy would have failed without the quiet, reserved Rylance. Cinematography, production design and even Thomas Newman’s restrained score are all very fine. It’s an immensely satisfying, complete film, with Spielberg managing to co-opt the Coen Brothers’ dialogue (who co-scripted), such as the ‘my guy/your guy’ screwball exchange, into his wider, cohesive vision.

(Stanton) #1156

Irrational Man - Woody Allen

Reviews were not that good, but it was highly enjoyable film. One of Allen’s “serious” ones, but we laughed a lot.
Message: Killing people can improve your life when you are down, but make sure that your lovers understand. 8/10

(El Topo) #1157

Almost Forget that Allen got 80 years old by now, to me he always going to be that guy that never was young, but never was old also, living in a perpetual middle age crisis

(Asa) #1158

So, has anyone seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Abrams, 2015) yet? What’s the (spoiler-free) verdict from the SWDB? Is everyone excited? Is anyone excited?

I’m excited. Won’t be seeing it this side of Christmas I’d imagine. I’d quite like the crowds at the cinema to thin out a bit. But I’m excited.

(John Welles) #1159

I’m a Star Wars fan (including yes, the prequels) so there was never any question of not seeing this, although it will probably have to wait until after Christmas - which means a long time avoiding large swathes of the internet so as not to be spoiled (Luke marries Leia?* Aarghh!). I’m looking forward to it even though reports do seem to indicate it drawing heavily on A New Hope.

*This is a joke, just to clarify, even if it would make for a leftfield plot twist…

(SourNote2014) #1160

I think it was the last Hunger Games movie. And before that I saw Steve Jobs, which wasn’t bad, but not my thing (I saw it for Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak).