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Author Topic: Rate The Last Movie You Saw  (Read 1843056 times)
Groggy
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« Reply #10725 on: July 15, 2012, 10:55:16 AM »

Quote
-- Do you think the filmmakers here trying to make a particular (typical) political point, that you never know who is working for whom, how America often, for better or worse, allies with certain people/organizations to achieve certain  foreign policy goals? Or were they simply using current events as the basis of a movie, with no particular political agenda?


I sensed a lot of rote post-9/11 cynicism without much effort put into it. Reynolds asking a colleague whether waterboarding Washington is "legal" - seriously? Nothing really deserving a lot of thought, and certainly secondary to entertainment.

Again I think the movie cribbed very heavily from Three Days of the Condor with a (very few) twists to keep it semi-original. The safehouse being attacked is the most obvious borrowing but also the CIA bosses going behind each others' back, Reynolds' contact trying to whack him, and especially the ending. I didn't think that movie especially profound either, but it was certainly more sophisticated and enjoyable. And Safe House lacks a character as interesting as Max Von Sydow's in Condor.

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« Reply #10726 on: July 15, 2012, 02:08:08 PM »

Ted
Amusing

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« Reply #10727 on: July 15, 2012, 02:59:41 PM »

The Desert Rats - 7/10 - Efficient, old-fashioned WWII flick with Richard Burton leading Aussies in defending Tobruk. Robert Wise provides a crisp pace and exciting action scenes. James Mason briefly reprises his role as Rommel, this time with a regrettable German accent.

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« Reply #10728 on: July 15, 2012, 03:28:15 PM »

The Man from Laramie (1955) - 6.5/10
Not bad but still left me somewhat cold.

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« Reply #10729 on: July 16, 2012, 03:54:07 AM »

D.O.A. (1950) Edmund O'Brien, dead man walking (see reviews on its own thread)
Pitfall (1948) Dick Powell, Lizbeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Raymond Burr, domestic boredom leads to infidelity & murder. Starts out great then sort of fizzles. 7/10
Port Of New York(1949) Scott Brady, Richard Rober, K.T. Stevens,  Yul Brynner, Lili Long, Richard Challee,  and an un-credited Neville Brand. A good policer with some unexpected twists, Brynner is a hoot as a sightly effeminate Drug Czar. 7/10

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« Reply #10730 on: July 20, 2012, 05:44:38 PM »

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Unbearably awful. Anyone seen it?

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« Reply #10731 on: July 20, 2012, 06:21:17 PM »

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Unbearably awful. Anyone seen it?
I've been meaning too (I have the Blu-ray). Maybe I'll get around to it this weekend.

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« Reply #10732 on: July 25, 2012, 09:05:36 PM »

Harry Brown - 6/10 - Death Wish meets Unforgiven, with geriatric ex-Royal Marine Michael Caine waging a one-man war on London's underworld. It's not as fun as it sounds, getting caught up in faux-sociological ponderings (did we really need the riot subplot?) and ostentateous style choices that don't amount to much. It's satisfying to watch Caine blow away chavs but the constant fallback on cliches doesn't help. Still, Caine's in top form and it's much less obnoxious than, say, Death Wish or Taken.

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« Reply #10733 on: July 25, 2012, 09:20:42 PM »

Batman Begins - Pretty good
The Dark Knight - Really good
The Dark Knight Rises - Somewhere between the two

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« Reply #10734 on: July 26, 2012, 08:06:49 PM »

Got through a half-hour of The Dark Knight Rises before our theater's power went out. What I saw was good.

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« Reply #10735 on: July 26, 2012, 09:42:39 PM »

I recorded a whole bunch of movies off TCM last week. Three pretty atrocious ones I saw were THE RECKLESS MOMENT, RUN FOR THE SUN, and HOUSE OF NUMBERS. And those were the three that I made it all the way through; there were several that I deleted after watching anywhere from 10-45 minutes. So was a pretty bad week on TCM. Although I did get to see CITIZEN KANE again (3rd viewing). It's still not the greatest movie of all-time  Wink

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« Reply #10736 on: July 27, 2012, 12:47:39 AM »

Just watched The Battle of Algiers for the first time. I'm sure everything that I feel like saying has already been said. Amazing documentary-style of cinematography. And amazing how relevant these very issues and styles of fighting are relevant today.

I should also mention that I don't know a damn thing about the story of French colonialism in Algeria, so I'm just accepting the movie's version of events. Still, what can you say. Colonialism is certainly evil, as is indiscriminately blowing up cafes in the European Quarter. The ends never justify the means. Torture is often the only successful method gaining intelligence, and following laws of criminal procedure and due process will often render intelligence-gathering impossible in a battlefield. An urban setting can often be no less a battlefield than how we traditionally define the term; in such a setting, the choice for uniformed soldiers can be to either use brutal tactics or face death. In these settings, outmanned resistance fighters can use every possible agent, including children, women, or men dressed as women. I'll stop right there, cuz I'm not saying anything new or anything that anyone doesn't know. It's just amazing how similar these issues are to what's happening in so many other places around the world today. To be sure, I am certainly not saying that the moral issues and the questions of right vs. wrong, are identical in every instance where it's traditional armies vs. civilians/resistance fighters/nationalists/terrorists. Certainly not. The  issues can be very, very different, depending on the circumstances. But some of the main issues have striking similarities.

And I can hardly think of a movie that was this good, yet this difficult to watch. Largely because there really is no side to root for. No good guys. The European families peacefully enjoying an ice cream in a cafe deserve to die no more than the Algerian kids blown up by a bomb set by the police. And the men and women who blew up the cafes are no less evil than the soldiers they are fighting against.

There are conflicts that are clear good vs. evil. And movies about those conflicts are much easier to watch.



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« Reply #10737 on: July 27, 2012, 04:30:32 AM »

Pontecorvo's film in unabashedly pro-FLN, a position which becomes more obvious on rewatches. Its bias is more subtle than grandstanding agitprop. Still, unlike most other pro-revolution films it's least honest about the consequences of their actions.

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« Reply #10738 on: July 27, 2012, 05:21:11 AM »

Pontecorvo's film in unabashedly pro-FLN, a position which becomes more obvious on rewatches. Its bias is more subtle than grandstanding agitprop. Still, unlike most other pro-revolution films it's least honest about the consequences of their actions.

It's interesting you say this: Here is  Ebert's initial review of the movie in 1968, http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19680530/REVIEWS/805300301/1023 ; here is the third-to-last paragraph of that review:

"Pontecorvo has taken his stance somewhere between the FLN and the French, although his sympathies are on the side of the Nationalists. He is aware that innocent civilians die and are tortured on both sides, that bombs cannot choose their victims, that both armies have heroes and that everyone fighting a war can supply rational arguments to prove he is on the side of morality."


Well in 2004, Ebert added this movie to his Great Movies List; here is that review http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041010/REVIEWS08/410100301/1023

In this review, Ebert quotes the piece from his 1968 review that I quoted above, and then comment,

"True up to a point. But watching the movie again on the new Criterion DVD, I believe Pontecorvo's sympathies were clearly with the FLN. The resistance opens with FLN members walking up to French policemen in the street and shooting them dead, often in the back. Bombs are used against police strongholds. These actions are seen in silence, but when the French respond by blowing up the home of a terrorist, the score by Ennio Morricone becomes mournful as survivors pick through the debris. His score withholds sympathy for the dead police."    (Ebert then goes on to say, "Pontecorvo does, however, show the French leadership in a relatively objective light.....")


So it seems like Ebert had the same experience you had, of realizing fully how pro-FLN the movie is after repeat viewings. The reason I mention this: as a first-time viewer, it seemed instantly clear to me that this movie is absolutely pro-FLN. Sure, they depict the atrocities committed by the FLN. And they try to depict the dilemma faced by French officials who have to reconcile the need for due process with the need for immediate and reliable intelligence. But this movie seems, absolutely, positively pro-FLN, from the first (news)reel  Wink However, I have to say that I happened to have recently re-read Frayling's Spaghetti Westerns; (just before I watched TBOA);  there is a chapter in that book on "Spaghettis and Politics," in which Frayling discusses the political culture in Italian cinema in the 60's (even with non Westerns), and he mentions TBOA several times, and it's clear from the book that the movie takes the anti-colonialist perspective. So I was expecting the movie to be anti-colonialist even before I saw it, and I can't say for certain how I'd have felt the first time I saw the movie, if I'd have gone in without knowing what side the movie would be taking  Wink

--------------------------------------------------

As I am writing this, I've come to realize that this is another amazing thing about the movie: this movie is firmly on the side of the FLN, but is still very fair. It depicts the struggle objectively, despite being 100% sympathetic to one side. And that is yet another incredible job. In fact, even though they ultimately basically declare martial law and are brutal, the French are the only side who actually seem to be concerned with the consequences of their actions, and feel qualms about acting this way, necessary as they feel these actions may be; you get the feeling that the FLN, on the other hand, really doesn't give a fuck about the negative consequences/side effects/collateral damage of their actions, such as killing the little kid eating the ice cream (or perhaps they don't even feel that it's "negative,"; maybe they intend to just kill as many Europeans as they can). Didn't seem to bother that female bomber at all. In French headquarters, you see them debating the pros and cons of their actions; in FLN HQ, it's strictly ends justify means, every time. The only debate is over whether the end will succeed in justifying the means.

To be able to firmly support one side, as Pontecorvo does, while not necessarily presenting that side as being "right"; to take the FLN's side, but to present the other side with all their complexities; and to  depict the full measure of dilemmas, moral questions, rights-and-wrongs faced by each side, is simply an incredible achievement. Combine that with the amazing cinematography, and you have a masterpiece. (Albeit a masterpiece that is very difficult to watch).

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« Reply #10739 on: July 27, 2012, 06:38:28 AM »

Very well said, Drink. I'm with you on this one. Afro

My main criticism, having done some research on the period, is that the French side focuses almost solely on the police/military response to the FLN. The pied noirs living in Algeria are only shown as either bullies or victims, when they agitated as actively and violently as the Algerians. Maybe a passing mention that they had been established as a permanent population in Algeria for 130 years prior to the war, and arguably had as much "right" to be there as the Arab Algerians. Or that Algeria was a French state rather than a mere colony. It's much more problematic than, say, India, where British presence was confined mostly to military and government infrastructure.

That said, you're absolutely right that Pontecorvo is honest and fair-minded enough to present a complex depiction of a messy, inhuman war. His Ogro (dealing with Basque terrorism in Francoist Spain) is even more interesting in this regard, albeit not as dramatically effective. A leftist film that isn't bloody-minded agitprop is always welcome.

PS: Ebert isn't entirely correct regarding the music. Sad music does play over the bombed-out café and French civilians being killed. It's definitely a way of differentiating innocent victims from "deserving" ones but more subtly than he suggests.

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