Author Topic: What movies have you seen and anything about movies discussion  (Read 9760 times)


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Re: What movies have you seen and anything about movies discussion
« Reply #120 on: 04 August, 2022, 11:26:54 am »
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    Another six we just saw at home that I will say somethingÖ

    By now most people would have seen The Gray Man (2022) so I will skip the synopsis. It only took Hollywood 11 years to realise Ryan Gosling can be groomed as an action star. Since Drive (2011) I knew Gosling has the chops to become an action hero. If you have not seen that you are going to have a great time and I am afraid a much better time than The Gray Man. It is not that itís bad, itís just doesnít require much brain juice to watch it. This is a smorgasbord of spy tropes and action cliches, done in a somewhat complicated manner right up until the Paris scene where a retired CIA head explains everything and all the pieces fall into place, not that you would be keeping all the globe-trotting and plot details in your head anyway. What scores in the movie is the gravity-defying action sequences. The opening action sequence culminating with a hand-to-hand fight amongst the firework cannons gave my home theatre a great work-out. I just got myself a new subwoofer a couple of weeks ago and I think it was grateful for the exercise and wanted to show off what it can do. It was money well-spent. I wished I could say The Gray Man is time well-spent though. It isnít bad but I wished it had taken some risks like how Chris Evans play a bad guy with so much relish. One other thought: the storyline reminded me of Gregg Hurwitzís Orphan X novels which have a more meaty story and plot to The Gray Man. You want an action movie franchise, look no further than Orphan X.

    After getting traumatised by Robert Eggersí The Witch (2015) and The Lighthouse (2019), I swore to myself that I would watch anything by him. So in went The Northman (2022), a 4K uhd disc. After a laborious 2h 17min out it came. This just feels too indulgent. If his previous efforts have a Bergman-resque feel to them, this one felt like it went all in with its obtuse characterisations, cornball dialogue and manic manifestations. Taken scene by scene this is an incredible Viking revenge film, but taken as a whole it felt simplistic and hollow. It felt like Eggers was using all sorts of trickery just to mask the shallowness of the story. I turned to Choo at one point and asked her what she thought of it. She replied with one observation that it feels very Macbeth-like. She is right with that observation. It is definitely a well-made film but I wonít be watching this a second time.

    Ambulance (2022) gave my subwoofer another great workout with the gunshots and car crashes feeling like the real deal. Since the aural assault is so tremendously excellent I could forgive a lot. This one is about two brothers who robbed a bank and they steal an ambulance when everything goes ape-shit crazy. All the usual Michael Bay aesthetics and trickery are here: the frenetic editing, the chaotic mayhem, the electric pace and that 360-degree continuous shot around two dudes talking rocks. The whole thing feels illogical: how long can an ambulance evade a fleet of police cars? Answer, more than hours. This is a movie of extreme excesses and it was entertaining to see car crashes happen like they are vowels in a sentence. That said the vehicular mayhem can never surpass Mad Max: Fury Road and the bank heist canít even be mentioned next to Heat. I canít believe this got on the criticsí list for best movies from the first half of 2022. It must have been a poor first half of the year.

    Flee (2021) is an animated documentary telling the true story about a man's need to confront his past in order to truly have a future. Amin arrived as an unaccompanied minor in Denmark from Afghanistan. Today, at 36, he is a successful academic and is getting married to his long-time boyfriend. A secret he has been hiding for over 20 years threatens to ruin the life he has built for himself. For the first time, he is sharing his story with his close friend. This one hit me hard, really hard. I have no idea which animated feature won the Oscar but it should have been Flee. This was a sobering and soul-shattering experience and it made me count my blessings. Technically, this is a superb blending of documentary footage and creative animation. The complex and true story gradually expands to become a humanistic story and a history lesson. Moment by moment it breaks your heart as you ponder surely no human being could go through what the protagonist has gone through and then it hits a sublime last act that is the equivalent of cinematic catharsis. This is a must-see.

    The Last Waltz (1978) is widely termed as the best concert film ever made. I have yet to see Woodstock (1970) so I canít make that claimÖ yet. Thanksgiving, 1976, San Francisco's Winterland: the Band performs its last concert after 16 years on the road. Some numbers they do alone, some songs include guest artists from Ronnie Hawkins (their first boss, when they were the Hawks) to Bob Dylan (their last, when as his backup and as a solo group, they came into their own). Martin Scorsese's camera explores the interactions onstage in the making of music. Offstage, he interviews the Band's five members, focusing on the nature of life on the road. The friendships, the harmonies, the hijinks, and the wear and tear add up to a last waltz. An interesting creative choice was to let the camera to only focus on the stuff that happened on stage and the camera captures the band and all the guests in their element. You will see the audience in the background and hear the din they make, but the camera refuses to focus on them, which adds to the mysticism of the performances. There are some standouts especially with Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Eric Clapton, but I donít get the Joni Mitchell number. Granted this is not music I would play in my hifi, but seeing the band and singers giving one last hurrah is quite an intoxicating experience. The Criterion 4K uhd is the way to experience this.

    I have been on a sweet roll with Satyajit Rayís films and I put on the Criterion pressing of The Music Room (1958) and what a masterpiece this is. Biswambhar Roy is a zamindar (landlord) and the last of his kind. With the title, he has none of the perquisites, inheriting diminishing lands that are being eroded by the neighbouring river. But he must maintain the lifestyle of his heritage. This ostentation is most apparent in the grandest room of his mansion, the music room. Here he inports the finest musicians and dancers to perform, and invites the area's most important commoners. His wife's entreaties to control spending are ignored, and the puberty party he throws for his son bring him down to the last few sacks of family jewels. Then, struck by tragedy, he locks the music room and slips into lethargy - until a final grand soiree consumes the last of his funds. Rayís use of music and song is revolutionary here. Prior to The Music Room, music in Indian cinema has been used to smooth out edits and to underscore the emotions the director wants the audience to feel. The Music Room changed all that - Ray employed professional classical music players, singers and a dancer (the lone dancing sequence is one amazing sequence) to perform on screen making the music feel organically tied to the story. The story is wonderfully told and Ray makes a simple story complex and thought-provoking. Biswambhar Roy is spoiled, proud and selfish, but you canít say he doesnít love his family. Chhabi Biswas is mesmerising to watch, you will want to hate him but you will find it impossible to do that, pity him you will. Ray has ever said that once Biswas passed on he found himself not writing roles for middle-aged men anymore. With his passing gone was his muse. The characterís desire to want to one-up his neighbour is painfully funny and feels authentic because I have people in my workplace who behave like him. His comeuppance in the end is poetic and inevitable. When the movie was over I sat in my seat transfixed, my senses all shot up to the high heavens. I then devoured all the special features, including a two-hour documentary, over two sittings. All this because I didnít want the magic to end. I have just one more Satyajit Ray film in my possession, The Big City (1963), and I hope to entice my wife to watch it with me.
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