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Topics - General Sibley

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General Discussion / Leone in High Definition/Plasma
« on: August 22, 2005, 01:31:10 PM »
Finally broke down and got a plasma to get ready for FOOTBALL SEASON!!!!!!

I'm telling you, these things will turn you into a total television zombie.  Was a beautiful weekend weather wise and I was just glued to this thing in a trance, the picture is amazing.  Watched some of GBU and OUATITW, and although it looks beautiful it's filmed in what I believe is 2:35-1, which leaves it letterboxed even on a 16:9 screen.  Was really bumming out, thought it would fill the screen.  You can stretch it out with zoom functions but then you lose detailing and it gets grainier.  Am I missing something here?  I've got the DVD player set at 16:9 so I know that's not the problem.

btw - also saw Sin City, this DVD offers enhanced widescreen and it fills the 16:9 screen.   Loved this movie, some of the most original film I've seen in ages - liked this MUCH better than Kill Bill.  Are all the studios going to reissue DVD's in enhanced widescreen to meet the demand for 16:9 screens now?  Another gold mine.

FAFDM is playing here on Encore, and I just noticed that our friend from GBU who taunts Tuco with a straw hanging from his mouth is also in FAFDM.  He''s one of the poor souls gunned down by Manco during the infamous Santa Cruz diversion.  I believe his character is called Paco - this guy has the chops, he''s got the look of utter disbelief down pat.

Off-Topic Discussion / Seinfeld DVD
« on: December 07, 2004, 11:44:56 AM »
Anyone been watching the Seinfeld DVD's yet?  I started watching them last week, the documentary features are the best part.

There's a lot of aspiring film makers on this board, I strongly recommend watching this just to get an idea of what goes on behind the scenes from a production standpoint.  These guys were so close to getting cancelled so many times that it's a miracle that this show ever saw the light of day.  Through a few twists of fate they managed to keep dodging bullets and ended up creating what is arguably the greatest TV show of all time.  

Trust your vision, and don't ever give up no matter how discouraging things may get.  Ya just never know.

Off-Topic Discussion / Alexander (2004)
« on: November 27, 2004, 06:25:10 AM »
Went to the movies yesterday with my wife, not much to choose from where I am for the holiday in Michigan - so we compromised on "After the Sunset".  Which sucked, but nice Salma Hayek  :P eye candy so it was bearable.

"Alexander the Great" was across the hall at the cineplex, so popped in there and caught the first hour or so (4 hours without bathroom is pushing it, and they wouldn't let you back in without the Alexander stub).   They're really tearing this thing apart in the reviews, but I didn't think it was that bad.  But I left right after the Battle of Gaugamela, and I hear it really goes downhill fast after that.

I always liked Oliver Stone, he's a nut but his movies are always visually interesting.  But they try to set this up in the narrative that Alexander is some misunderstood bisexual pretty boy Prince of Peace spreading joy to the world.  C'mon, this guy's a conqueror as ruthless as Genghis Khan who was out for loot and glory.  Colin Farrell is woefully miscast from what I saw though.  Sorry Belkin, but he's just a pretty boy who can't act a lick - makes Leo look like Brando.

Any movies worth seeing this weekend, it's slim pickin's out there.  Is "National Treasure" worth $8?

Off-Topic Discussion / Guilty Pleasures
« on: November 12, 2004, 08:24:01 AM »
Although I don't really care much for the non-Leone SW's, there's certainly plenty of fans on this board.  I'd consider these a "Guilty Pleasure", bad movies that you still get some perverse enjoyment from - not to be confused with "Worst Films", which have pretensions to being good movies but which flat out suck and make you ill.

So, some of my guilty pleasures are:

"Stone Cold" - screen debut of the immortal Brian Bosworth, co-starring Lance Henriksen as "Chains" and William Forsythe (yes, it's Cockeye!) as "Ice".

"Action Jackson" - Carl Weathers, and screen debut of Vanity as hot & horny junkie mistress of thinly veiled craven John DeLorean played by Craig T. Nelson (aka "Coach").   B-level Sharon Stone as clueless wife.  Robert Davi with heartbreaking scene as strungout DEA agent.

Any early Arnold - Raw Deal, Heat, Commando, etc.  Commando moves up on the list based on one pure line of dialogue, "I like you Sully, you a funny guy...dat's vy I'm going to kill you last"

"Warriors" - Sully from Commando reappears as creepy apocalyptic gang war instigator.  This time he gets the great line of dialogue at the climactic showdown on the beach of Coney Island, where he rhytmically clinks 3 "little Mickie's" bottles on the fingers of one hand while taunting them with, "Warriors...come out to play-ay.  Warriors...come out to PLAY-AY!

And, I think Fistful of Dollars has to fall into this category too :-X

Other Films / Queimada aka Burn! (1969)
« on: October 26, 2004, 06:29:54 PM »
Anyone been watching Burn! on cable?  It's been on TRUE a lot for the past couple months.  You've got to see this is if you get a chance.  I missed it at a theater screening here in Chicago not long ago, I'm really bumming out about that.

Fascinating movie, whenever it's on a watch at least part of it, unfortunately it hasn't been released on DVD yet.  Too bad, the TV version is a poor pan & scan.

Our good friend Alberto Grimaldi produced and Il Maestro Morricone composed a great score.  Marlon Brando stars.  Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo (The Battle of Algiers, another great movie that just got released on DVD).    

As a said, a must see!

Off-Topic Discussion / La Dolce Vita
« on: October 07, 2004, 07:53:38 AM »
Anyone ever watched any Fellini?  He's kind of fallen out of favor, like Bergman.  I've never seen any of his movies all the way through, but finally made it through  "La Dolce Vita" this week - it's just been restored and released on DVD.

I had preconceptions going into this about Fellini, so watching the first hour or so it was difficult viewing.  Since Fellini was such a monumental figure in Italy in the 60's I thought he'd be a strong influence on Leone's style.  But it's actually quite the opposite - their styles are very dissimilar, it's like Leone made a deliberate attempt NOT to be like Fellini.  So this made the first hour of the movie drag very slowly, you keep looking for familiar visual cues and put the movie into a context that you know but you're not finding them.  

His style was very revolutionary at the time, but it hasn't aged very well (my guess is Tarantino's and his legion of imitator's style will also seem very dated in 10-20 years  ;)).  The soundtrack alone is laughable, I'm sure it was the coolest thing imaginable in 1960 but now it sounds like something they'd use for an Austin Powers movie.

Finally watched the rest of it the next night.  Well, how did I like it?  Hard to explain, but it's one of those movies that works on you after you stop watching it.   Probably need to watch it a few more times to appreciate it more, but that would be a chore.
But I would definitely recommend it, but then I'd also recommend eating 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and fish 3 times a week.

But what watching a movie like "La Dolce Vita" definitely does do is it makes you appreciate the art of a Leone all the more.  Leone's movies have this indescribable timelessness, they exist in their own universe in their own time and place and they don't seem to age.  Morricone's genius is a big part of that, nothing will date a movie faster than a soundtrack that is filled with contemporary music.

Off-Topic Discussion / Collateral
« on: September 06, 2004, 05:17:54 PM »
Saw Collateral this afternoon, loved it!  I'm not a Tom Cruise fan but he was really good in this -  it's not his usual "I'm Tom Cruise and I'm a Movie God"performance like Last Samurai.  Nice tight story line.  Great pacing, boomboomboom without your typical MTV-style quick cuts.  Very cool soundtrack.  Highly recommend this, especially on the big screen.   Michael Mann's a real craftsman.

Other Films / Sabata (1969)
« on: August 13, 2004, 07:02:53 AM »
Caught the last half of Sabata on the Western Channel last night (after watching the first half of da Bears exhibition game, blech!).  This was surprisingly decent for a spag, still stupid as hell but at least it was watchable.  Great Morricone score, this is the best non-Leone score from him that I've heard.

Off-Topic Discussion / Michael Mann: NY Times Article
« on: August 02, 2004, 07:45:11 AM »
Nice article on Michael Mann in this Sunday's NYTimes Magazine.  Was in the Style section, commenting how influential he's been - but he makes some very interesting comments about his process as a filmmaker.  He's one of my favorite directors, he's as obsessive about detail as Leone.  I'm looking forward to "Collateral":


Macho Mann
Published: New York Times, August 1, 2004

Though he strenuously resists the notion, Michael Mann, the creative force behind ''Miami Vice'' and the director of, among other films, ''Thief,'' ''Heat'' and now ''Collateral,'' has, through his work, through his sense of style melded with character, created the dominant male aesthetic of the last 20 years. From the glowing pastels, sockless loafers and stubble of ''Miami Vice'' to Tom Cruise's gray hair in ''Collateral,'' Mann has evoked a revolutionary kind of cool. He has a precise instinct for how his men want to dress and live, and that sensibility, that particular code of tough guys who know how to wear a suit, pick a perfect bottle of wine and shoot a gun, has shaped a generation. Mann is prickly about this idea -- he doesn't want his work reduced to shoes and architecture. ''What it looks like is important to me,'' he says, barely eating his lunch of Japanese soup at his office in West L.A. ''But I've worked too hard to just be known as an arbiter of taste.''
Mann, who is 61 but projects a kind of boyish intensity of interest, winces slightly. He is, more than even most directors, obsessive about his work and the universe it represents. If the conversation strays to chitchat, Mann's focus instantly turns inward, back to whatever project is currently occupying his brain. Mann's large office is decorated with mementos from his films -- photographs from ''Ali''; models of sets; a painted poster from Koreatown that was used in ''Collateral''; a stuffed, snarling bobcat that was last seen in ''Heat.'' On the set, he is famously maniacal about details. He insisted on specially designed wire-brushed hangers for a scene in ''Heat'' because he liked the look of them and wanted the hangers to make a certain noise when they banged against one another. He brought water trucks to spray down the streets of Chicago when he shot ''Thief'' because he was trying to recreate the perspective of a Pissarro. On ''Miami Vice,'' he literally painted parts of Miami Beach. ''The whole city was grim; it was beige,'' Mann says, recalling the time he went to South Beach to scout locations. ''It was full of derelict hotels, and I realized the streamlined Deco look was still there, buried under the tan paint. I wanted to show heat, and I came up with the idea of vibrating pastels.'' On ''Miami Vice,'' earth tones were banned (as was red -- Mann doesn't like red), and everything about Don Johnson's character -- from his Ferrari Daytona to his Versace T-shirt -- was customized to Mann's specifications. On his next TV show, ''Crime Story,'' set in his hometown, Chicago, in the early 60's, Mann went retro. The lead detective lived in a Mies van der Rohe apartment with late 50's Egg chairs by the Scandinavian designer Arne Jacobsen and was dressed period perfect in boxy dark suits and skinny ties. As usual, the look caught on. Mann has been known to change a character's clothing three times to get the proper effect. He can spot the wrong tie in a sea of extras and will park a boring white car next to a snazzier baby blue model to enhance the mood. ''Adding white always makes color burn a little,'' he has said. ''I got that idea from a 20th-century British painter.''
This is a rare admission. Mann tends to shrug off any mention of his sense of style. Those hangers in ''Heat''? ''I don't remember,'' he says. The gray hair on Vincent, the contract killer played by Cruise in ''Collateral''? ''That guy is rough trade in a good suit,'' Mann says, almost amused. ''It's oppositional. Tom is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. And so you have to make him Vincent. I use everything -- the bones, the colors, the patterns, the rhythms of the character to end up with what you see. Everything goes into the performance. And then the clothes just fit. It all becomes seamless. I could go through every one of my movies and tell you exactly why everything is there. And maybe that's why the characters have resonance.''
Mann's twin fascination with art and tough guys was honed in lower-middle-class Chicago. ''Al Pacino has a whole theory about the drive that comes from growing up in a lower-middle-class environment,'' Mann says. ''He thinks that's where you find a lot of aspiration and movement.'' Mann's father, who owned a small grocery, supported his son's ambitions as long as he ''did everything full out -- he wanted me to apply myself completely.''
In the late 50's, Mann, who didn't much like movies, had a girlfriend who took him to see French New Wave films. ''I started seeing Resnais and Truffaut and Russian movies,'' he recalls. ''I was an English literature major at the University of Wisconsin and the accidental beneficiary of a good liberal-arts education. So if you know about anthropology and topography, then one day you can figure out how Hawkeye thinks at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in August 1757 when you're directing 'The Last of the Mohicans.'''
He enrolled at the London Film School, and when asthma kept him out of Vietnam, he stayed abroad and made mostly documentaries and commercials, honing his particular mixture of substance and style. After a divorce (he is now remarried and has four daughters), Mann became homesick for what he has called ''the pace and aggression of American life.'' He moved to California in 1971 and started writing for shows like ''Starsky and Hutch.'' When Aaron Spelling asked him to create a show about a private detective in Vegas, Mann's sensibility -- macho plus flair -- was born.
As usual, ''Vegas'' began with a place. ''Vegas was great then,'' Mann says. ''It had a lot of romance to it. I always look for transient zones, and Vegas in the 70's was a transient zone. When people enter these zones, there's a lot of money, a lot of stuff available, and there's an impersonality. Everything is mercenary, and all pretense is gone. 'I'll be nice to you for money' is the attitude of the doorman in Vegas. These kinds of cities are ripe with opportunities for drama.''
Those are also worlds -- sexy, violent, high-low worlds -- that men like to imagine themselves navigating. ''I found a private investigator in Vegas,'' Mann recalls. ''And he was an astounding disappointment. He had a skull ring with pieces of glass for eyes, and he wasn't even working interesting divorce cases. He was the Kmart of private investigators. So I had to make him up.'' That creation -- cool, tough, great car, lots of girls and lots of intrigue -- became the template for most of Mann's TV characters, especially Sonny Crockett, who, as played by Don Johnson in ''Miami Vice,'' combined existential angst and law enforcement without smudging his white unconstructed suits. In films, Mann went deeper with his research. ''Making movies is a license to project yourself into all kinds of different cultures, lifestyles, value systems. I did 'Collateral' because I was intent about seeing into the dark, and I wanted it to be set in L.A.''
''Collateral'' takes place during one night. A cabdriver, played by Jamie Foxx, is held captive by a hit man (Cruise). Although the time is compressed, the plot of ''Collateral'' evolves carefully, through observation and detail. In large part, the film is an ode to Los Angeles, the parts of the city that are never shown in films. ''L.A. is electively urban,'' Mann says. ''The Internet is metaphor for L.A. There are domains here, and there is no limit on capacity or cultural density. In Chicago, there are only so many brick three-story apartment buildings, but in Little Saigon in L.A., there are miles and miles of space. And when you get there, to the Buddhist gardens in Little Saigon, you may as well be in another country.'' Mann pauses. ''L.A., especially at night, has the deep purple glow of possibility. Anything can happen. And that doesn't last. Miami is not interesting now. But Havana is fascinating, and globalism hasn't reached Mozambique yet.'' Mann pauses again. ''You can imagine stories there; those are places where something could happen.'' He laughs. ''Part of my job is to build a vivid world. Any sense of identification is welcome.''

Other Films / Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
« on: July 19, 2004, 11:18:01 AM »
Since we've been talking about Peckinpaugh quite a bit lately,  wanted to give a headsup that Alfredo Garcia is on the western channel tonight.  This is my favorite Peck movie, surrealistic and quite deranged.

Off-Topic Discussion / Fahrenheit 9/11 v. Fog of War
« on: July 09, 2004, 03:12:22 PM »
Saw "Fahrenheit 9/11" Wed & then rented and saw "Fog of War" yesterday.    It's a good juxtaposition as to how a documentary should be made - Moore is ham-handed and clumsy, especially in comparison to Errol Morris.  Fog of War didn't mention Iraq once, but yet it spoke volumes more - and spoke much more eloquently - than F 9/11 did about war.

I'm not a GW Bush fan by any means, but FOW shows that war is waged by men who, one way or another, feel that their cause is righteous.   Robert McNamara in his aged wisdom speaks very sagely about the folly of war.   I highly recommend it, I wouldn't recommend F 9/11 though.  What kept running through my mind while I watched 9/11 was, " With clever (or even not so clever) editing, you can make Mother Teresa seem worse than Hitler".

Sergio Leone News / Leone Film Festival in Chicago
« on: July 02, 2004, 10:04:39 AM »

Guess the pix are too big, here's link instead:

Was in New Mexico recently, and visited some battlefield sites referenced in GBU.  Here's the marker for the scene of the battle at Glorietta Pass.  Glorietta is about 25 miles southeast of Santa Fe.  Park rangers say they're thinking of doing something with these battlefields, but there's not a whole lot to indicate that the war took place here:

Apache Canyon (private property unfortunately, can't enter):

Johnson Ranch, which is in Apache Canyon:

Pecos National Monument is the site of an old Indian pueblo, about 10 miles south of Glorietta Pass.  Amazing place, in a valley surrounded by mountains on all four sides of the valley.  Here's the ruin of an old Spanish mission - you can see Glorietta Pass in the distance, it's the small notch in the mountains on the horizon to the left of the ruins:

Here's some pictures of the valley of the Pecos pueblo - Leone must have visited this area prior to shooting GBU, because it's uncanny how well he matched the scenery in Spain with the New Mexico high desert:

Off-Topic Discussion / Aguirre: Zorn des Gottes (Wrath of God)
« on: May 30, 2004, 03:46:26 AM »
We'll get  this thread out of the GBU board finally.

Watched this yesterday, loved it!  For those unfamiliar it's directed by the German Werner Herzog, about Spanish conquistadors seeking El Dorado in the Peruvian jungle.  Our good friend Klaus Kinski (weirder than ever) leads a mutiny and the jungle proceeds to swallow everyone up.

Beautiful cinematography, shot on location around Machu Pichu - the opening scene is incredible, as the expedition descends a narrow path down a cloud-enshrouded mountain.  Kinski is great in this, and I loved the guy who played the "Emporer of El Dorado".  Leone fans will like this movie, really nasty cynical take on human nature with an absurd, ironic ending to it.  Will have to get more of Herzog'sf, it's a pity his films never get broadcast in the States.  You can't find his work in the video stores either.

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