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Tales From My Netflix Queue

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Postby Marvell » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:57 am

So - my review of 70's trash cinema continued this weekend with a screening of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13.

While I enjoyed the film, it did underscore what a hopelessly derivative filmmaker Carpenter is. The Napoleon Wilson character is clearly a dress rehearsal for Snake Plissken, while the central premise and plot dynamic was recycled more or less intact for Prince of Darkness (substitute Satanically-possessed zombies for faceless gang members) and the disappearing bodies gimmick would resurface in Halloween.

Excellent performances from Austin Stoker and Laurie Zimmer make this a much better film than its tiny budget and urban action thriller pedigree might lead you to believe. If you are a Carpenter fan, or just have a general interest in the history of American exploitation cinema, this one's worth your time.

Also took a toke off of the John Woo base pipe with Hard Boiled. This is the third Hong Kong Woo film I've seen (along with The Killer and A Better Tomorrow), and I would have to say that this is the best of the three - even if it does overstay its welcome by a good fifteen minutes. Chow Yun Fat is great as always (if only he and Bogie could have been in a film together!), but it's really Tony Leung's performance as Alan that's the heart of the movie; they play off each other beautifully.

I think this is the Woo film that most starkly illustrates the two wellsprings of his visual sense - Sam Peckinpah (especially The Wild Bunch) and Oliver Stone's Platoon. Pretty much all of Woo's flourishes can be traced back to these two sources.

But let it never be said I gratuitously pitched Woo - he's a bit of an acquired taste. If you don't like sappy sentimentality leavened with copious blood splatterings, you would do well to steer clear of Mr. Woo's neighborhood.
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Postby boston_jeff » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:06 pm

Those Woo flicks are all pretty good. Speaking of Asian cinema, check out "Infernal Affairs" and "Infernal Affairs II." Then compare to "The Departed."
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Postby Bucky Goldstein » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:01 pm

Marvell wrote:So - my review of 70's trash cinema continued this weekend with a screening of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13.


assault on precinct 13 is 70's trash cinema?
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Postby Marvell » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:55 pm

Bucky Goldstein wrote:
Marvell wrote:So - my review of 70's trash cinema continued this weekend with a screening of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13.


assault on precinct 13 is 70's trash cinema?


Considering that within the first fifteen minutes a little blonde girl gets blown away in front of an ice cream truck, I would say the answer is "Yes."

I love John Carpenter, but let's not kid ourselves.
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Postby Marvell » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:28 pm

Watched Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm last night.

What I didn't pick up on from the reviews when it came out is how shamelessly the film rips off Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. Gilliam used to be one of the great ideosyncratic directors in film - it's almost as if he didn't know how to make a 'normal' film. So what's he doing punching out knock-offs of other movies?

Plus I still don't care for Matt Damon. Heath Ledger, however, is great; he was a fantastic actor.

What a fucking shame about that dude.
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Postby boston_jeff » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:15 pm

I can understand not liking Ben Affleck, but Matt Damon has done some very nice work, as good as Heath Ledger ever did.
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Postby Marvell » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:54 pm

boston_jeff wrote:I can understand not liking Ben Affleck, but Matt Damon has done some very nice work, as good as Heath Ledger ever did.


Damon's fine as an actor - that's not the issue.

It's him; his physical existence as captured on screen. I find him almost unbearably creepy - like a young Christopher Walken but without the wit and menace.

Ever seen a jerusalem cricket? That's what Matt Damon looks like to me - like something you would find under a rotten log.

Ugh.
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Postby Wesmon » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:32 am

Marvell wrote:
boston_jeff wrote:I can understand not liking Ben Affleck, but Matt Damon has done some very nice work, as good as Heath Ledger ever did.


Damon's fine as an actor - that's not the issue.

It's him; his physical existence as captured on screen. I find him almost unbearably creepy - like a young Christopher Walken but without the wit and menace.

Ever seen a jerusalem cricket? That's what Matt Damon looks like to me - like something you would find under a rotten log.

Ugh.


Meeatt Damon!!
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Postby boston_jeff » Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:02 am

Thats some funny shit, I love that. He doesn't creep me out that much, I do find him slightly unconventional in the looks department.

Netflix throttled me hard this week, I called them up and chewed them a new one. I'm getting this close to canceling.
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Postby TAsunder » Tue Apr 22, 2008 10:29 am

My netflix queue is about to be upgraded so that I can watch as many blu-ray discs as possible before Netflix increases its blu-ray rates (just announced). Any recommendations for films that look particularly good in blu-ray due to a new restoration?
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Postby Wesmon » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:28 am

boston_jeff wrote:Thats some funny shit, I love that. He doesn't creep me out that much, I do find him slightly unconventional in the looks department.

Netflix throttled me hard this week, I called them up and chewed them a new one. I'm getting this close to canceling.


There seems to be a consensus amongst people I know that you have to complain to them once in a while to keep the movies moving. The new customers and the squeaky wheels get the grease I guess.
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Postby boston_jeff » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:39 am

I know, I have complained about 4 times since I've been a member (the dawn of Netflix). This time was really bad. Usually they just throttle me on 1-2 new releases, this week I had 5 at the top and they skipped them all. Livid, and I let the 1800 customer service rep know it. Watching older flicks and TV series is the secondary function of Netflix for me, new releases are the main one. I have a 4 DVD plan largely because I watch so many of the newest films and I set up my queue to get them on Mondays.

She gave me the whole "we can't guarantee..." bs and I just lit into her. There is no way that they don't have enough copies of "Starting Out in the Evening" or the "Orphanage." Throttled plain and simple, "that is not what is going on here sir." I told her one more time and thats it, its too expensive for this to be happening.

On that note, does anyone know anything about the Blockbuster DVD mailing service? I've been far too loyal to Netflix and have been screwed like this every few months. If BB doesn't treat their customers this way, I would consider a switch, even if I hate them.
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Postby Marvell » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:05 pm

Finished watching the 'extended edition' of Dune.

Holy shit.

You know you're in for a bumpy ride when the very first thing you see is a credit announcing, "An Alan Smithee Film."

For those of you who don't already know, there is no 'Alan Smithee' - it's a collective pseudonym used by members of the Director's Guild of America when they want to publicly disown a film. So - not a credit that fills you with a great deal of confidence in the product you are about to see.

And if that wasn't enough, the screenplay is credited to one 'Judas Booth.' Now maybe there really is a guy named Judas Booth running around out there, but it seems pretty likely to me that this is another pseudonym, employing some pretty obvious symbolism - referencing, as it does, the betrayer of Our Lord and the assassain of The Great Emancipator.

The movie itself? It was both much better and much worse than I remembered. I think the film was fatally flawed from the beginning by all the exposition necessary to intelligably render the Dune Universe; it's what The Lord of the Rings would have looked like if Peter Jackson tried to cram the whole damn thing into one three hour movie.

But that's certainly not all that's wrong with the movie. The script is abominable; the editing is frequently clumsy and bewildering (especially in the battle sequences, of which some are as ineptly staged as any I have ever seen); and the performances are all over the map, from poor Kyle McLachlan who seems to have been chosen for his hair and his ability to preen, to Kenneth McMillan who gives an undeniably brilliant performance as possibly the most loathesome character in film history - and yes, I am including James Coburn's character in Affliction).

Bottom line? There's a reason I don't take acid anymore - it makes movies like Dune seem profound.

And it's not. Really - it's not.
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Postby TAsunder » Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:12 pm

The best part about Dune is that Lynch replaced the "Weirding Way" with "Weirding Modules" because he didn't think the martial arts aspect would translate well to the film. Then he had numerous other scenes involving martial arts and knife fights.
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