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What did you watch this week?
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.11.2004 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Afterwards, I assumed it was simply bad dialogue. But maybe the convoluted language is an attempt to strike out "bad words," i.e. words with negative connotations?[/color]


This is exactly what I thought, too. Watching it, the dialogue struck me as poorly written and laughabe. But it made sense thinking about the movie because the specific time that the elders wanted to live in reflects the type of dialogue with no possibilities of using slang, any bad words, etc. While awkward, it is surely natural dialect.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 08.11.2004 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
But maybe the convoluted language is an attempt to strike out "bad words," i.e. words with negative connotations?[/color]


Yes, because since all words usually generate hate. Primitive as it may sound, "You're a dumb one, you" doesn't exactly have the same meaning as "You're a fucking asshole," even if the latter doesn't exist.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.11.2004 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not entirely convinced. Their possible desire to strike "bad words" from their speech doesn't explain their shift in SYNTAX, a change that has no relation to connotation.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.12.2004 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
I'm not entirely convinced. Their possible desire to strike "bad words" from their speech doesn't explain their shift in SYNTAX, a change that has no relation to connotation.



Well, not curse words, but negative words. Insteading of saying, "I hate lima beans," you'd remove the "bad word" hate and say, "Lima beans parry with my sense of desirable flavor." I'm not sure I remember the syntax being off; rather, the sentence construction sounded unnecessarily complicated. It's been over a week since I saw the movie and may be misremembering. I'd have to listen to the dialogue again.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 08.12.2004 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Well, not curse words, but negative words.


Well, I think the same goes for both, because they represent valid, often generators of hate, itself. If they could remove, or at least minimize, the emotion through the language (after all, how do we address our feelings if we can't communicate with ourselves?), why wouldn't they try?
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.12.2004 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, that's exactly what I was trying to get at. They were attempting to remain sort of emotionally neutral, linguistically. When I used the term "bad words" I meant it as analogous in concept to the "bad color."
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.12.2004 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand what you mean by "bad words," but what I meant is that much of the syntax changes are unrelated to specific words or emotions. For example, how do we explain the usage of "What is your meaning?" rather than "What do you mean?" or "What are you getting at?" Those last two phrases would be much more natural for these citizens, and the script's forced shift in syntax has nothing to do with connotation or "bad words"--instead, it exists solely to force the illusion that the story is set in the 19th-century, which seems disingenous to me.

Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.12.2004 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I honestly couldn't remember much of the dialogue, so I hunted down some of it at IMDb and in script reviews (the script itself, apparently, does not exist on the net yet). In short, even looking at the little bit I found, the "bad words" theory doesn't hold. Much ado about nuttin'.
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Danny Baldwin
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PostPosted: 08.12.2004 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still think we're on to something; I guess we can't really prove anything without the entire script, though.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 08.16.2004 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

8/9 ? 8/15/04

New this week:

A Story of Floating Weeds (Ozu, Japan 1934)

The Village (Shyamalan, USA 2004)

Archangel (Maddin, Canada 1990)

The Leopard (Visconti, Italy 1963)

Collateral (Mann, USA 2004)

Chess Fever (Pudovkin, Soviet Union 1925)

My Voyage to Italy (Scorsese, USA 2001)

Just Neighbors (Lloyd and Terry, USA 1919)

Are Crooks Dishonest? (Pratt, USA 1918)

His Royal Slyness (Roach, USA 1920)

Bumping Into Broadway (Roach, USA 1919)

The Living End (Araki, USA 1992)

13 Going on 30 (Winick, USA 2004)

The End of St. Petersburg (Pudovkin, Soviet Union 1927)

L'Amour Existe (Pialat, France 1960)

Le Chant du Styrene (Resnais, France 1958)

French Cancan (Renoir, France 1955)

The best of the bunch is probably A Story of Floating Weeds, which compares favorably to Ozu?s color remake in 1959. I also found Collateral deeply satisfying. Its detractors cite Mann?s refusal to transcend genre?as if genre conventions are automatically suspect, as if respect for genre automatically undermines Mann?s authority as an artist. When a genre picture is made with this amount of skill, craft, and integrity, I?m reminded of Walsh, Hawks, and another Mann, Anthony.

I wish The Village had embraced its political ideas, especially in terms of fear-mongering, hysteria and isolationism. (Does it condemn rampant cultural violence, or the hysteria surrounding it? Hard to tell.) At this point, I?m unconvinced that Shyamalan?s visual command is enough to continue forgiving his increasingly lame dialogue and twists.

I hated, hated, hated Gregg Araki?s The Living End.

Neither Pudovkin picture changed my longstanding opinion that he ranks merely as a minor Soviet master. Since he reduces montage to an act of mathematics, his movies are like textbooks that emphasize jargon in place of everything else. To me, all of Pudovkin?s films feel too much like equations that don?t add up to much, and The End of St. Petersburg?which recounts the 1917 storming of the Winter Palace?stifles its emotional core by assuming the power of the story rests entirely with the editing rather than with the humanity of two rural men who are sent to fight in World War I and return prepared to engage in revolution. To expose Pudovkin?s limitations as an artist, simply compare Petersburg to Eisenstein?s thematically-similar (and equally innovative) October.

Finally, the Frenchmen: Jean Renoir?s musical drama French Cancan might be a relatively minor work, but I enjoyed it immensely, particularly for its frank discussion of how sex plays a major role in the arts, both on stage and behind it. The short documentaries L'Amour Existe and Le Chant du Styrene were the first films by Maurice Pialat and Alain Resnais, respectively. I especially liked the Resnais movie: The title translates into "The Song of Styrene," which is an apt description of how Resnais' color poem masquerades as a documentary about a plastics factory. It begins as a celebration of the versatility of plastics, starting with the presses and molds, and their bottomless shapes and sizes. Then the film pulls backs, encompassing more and more of the factory and its place on the landscape, both geographic and social. The camera never stops gliding, soothingly capturing the wonder of these technological transformations that amount to a revolution: Here is a product that uses malleable elements to manufacture mass-produced items that will, of course, profoundly alter how we all live.

And I would watch 13 Going on 30 a second time, just to catch Mark Ruffalo joining Jennifer Garner for ?thrilling,? irony-free dance moves.

Eric
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smarty
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PostPosted: 08.16.2004 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dr. Stranglove (Kubrick, 1964)

Collateral (Mann, 2004)

Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Tarantino, 2004)

The Game (Fincher, 1997)

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Hughes, 1986)
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matt header
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PostPosted: 08.16.2004 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I also found Collateral deeply satisfying. Its detractors cite Mann?s refusal to transcend genre?as if genre conventions are automatically suspect, as if respect for genre automatically undermines Mann?s authority as an artist.


I liked Collateral a lot as well, but I think that the bristling intelligence of the first several acts diminishes into an overbaked reliance on routine at the climax. I liked it because it does abide by action/suspense/crime conventions so strongly while elevating it to an intense battle between two combustile personalities: for a while (as he often does), Mann infuses action thriller plotlines with intelligence and elegance. The climax, I think, is an action thriller showdown where the intelligence and elegance suddenly fall through, especially when Vincent boards that train with the ludicrous menace of Terminator 2's T1000. Despite the ending, though, I was deeply impressed.
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PostPosted: 08.17.2004 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After seeing these two trainwrecks, I decided to dedicate the week to repeat viewings of my favorite movies ever:

Little Black Book (Hurran, 2004)

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (Marshall, 2004)

I wanted to cover my eyes in both. I've linked reviews, simply because I really don't want to write more about them than I already. These next two weeks will be full of movies; gotta preserve the summer while it lasts.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 08.17.2004 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

matt header wrote:
I liked Collateral [...] The climax, I think, is an action thriller showdown where the intelligence and elegance suddenly fall through, especially when Vincent boards that train with the ludicrous menace of Terminator 2's T1000. Despite the ending, though, I was deeply impressed.


I thought Collateral was fantastic, too -- I'm sure it'll easily make my top 5 this year -- and while I was let down by the fact that the third act headed into convential thriller territory, I didn't mind it so much because a) the character and dramatic arc had been completed, b) Vincent and Max remain Vincent and Max, i.e. Max doesn't suddenly become an action hero and Vincent doesn't turn into an idiot, and c) it's just an amazingly craft action sequence.
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HoRRoRFaN
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PostPosted: 08.17.2004 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I liked COLLATERAL quite a bit, too. My thoughts:

Got lots of excellent things going for it, but falls short as a great film in the end. Heightened stylistically by Mann, he breathes life into a rather bare-bones, simple plot that opens with the well-dressed Vincent (Tom Cruise) walking past groups of busy people in the L.A. International Airport, looking seriously determined from the moment that we first come in contact with his focused eyes. We then observe Max (Jamie Foxx) inside his cab, where most of the movie will take place in. Here is another man that has an agenda, quiet in his task and seemingly bored by this job as a cab driver, a job that he has been working for over ten years but says is only temporary. Whenever he is feeling stress during the day, Max takes time to gaze at a photo of an island that he keeps in his sunvisor, losing himself in its beauty and the very idea of a getaway. When Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith), a federal prosecutor, enters Max's cab, she also is in the middle of handling her business on her cell phone. Max and her make a bet to see which of their directions will get her to her destination quicker. He wins, and offers her the photo that he uses to personally ease himself. Their dialogue is not based on sexuality, though the two clearly like each other because of the kind and sweet words spoken, and she even gives Max her number. Vincent is the next person that needs a ride, but he needs Max to make five stops, offering him $600. I won't go on any further in revealing rest of the plot because you will be surprised how closely observed these people are. Although Stuart Beattie's screenplay is very predictable, the film works as the gripping character study that it is, as Mann's vision thankfully doesn't pretend to be more than that. Mann relies heavily on visuals, which are the most impressive when they mirror a characters thought process, beautifully blending its colors within the city where the hitman and his hostage occupy: Los Angeles. The film is much more immediate and tense because of Mann's smart decision to shoot on digital video; as a result, his vision of L.A. is quite remarkable. At night, L.A. is a desolate landscape that is still alive, with a dark and gritty noir look that elucidates how our protagonist is alienated completely and no one is going to help him. The detectives, including Fanning (Mark Ruffalo), are onto Max after they discover a trail of dead bodies and their connection. All of the cops except for Fanning in the movie think that Max is the killer and no one notices Vincent, which goes along with story that Vincent tells about how no one in L.A. riding the train notices the dead man. We learn that Vincent is haunted by demons, and uses his personal philosophy on life as a cover, a way of living with himself. One of the most interesting scenes in the film transpires in a jazz club, where Vincent is clearly moved by the Miles Davis story that he is told by the owner, but he does not let his emotions overcome his work. While he is new to L.A. and is unsettled by its grim reality, Max has been living in the city for a long time now and is exposed to its dangerous world when he meets Vincent, by chance -- they were destined to meet. I don't remember the entire speech word for word, but Vincent mentions improvising and adapting and there actually are scenes where his actions represent each step of his plans. A scene of symbolism late in the film is placed perfectly with the atmosphere and tone when two coyotes pass in front of Max's taxi cab. Mann did not get carried away with symbolism in the movie, but in revealing two animals roaming through this urban decay is amusing to me, especially when Max and Vincent react to it and are mesmerized by the sight. Max pinpoints his incapability of controlling his life and how Vincent developed his mechanism that is cool, composed, and professional. He is motivated from the second fox and this is a quiet moment that draws a parallel to an earlier scene when a nervous Max tells the police that he ran into a deer. Mann's themes of L.A.'s solitude are dealt with here, as are Vincent's revelations on his life and how the environment (the cruel outside forces) has shaped him as a person, justifying the way that he treats others. Cruise vanishes in this cool but sadistic character that plays off Jamie Foxx, who is undoubtedly the biggest surprise. Even before Vincent sets foot in the cab, we care about Foxx's character because of how real of a person he makes him. It is an intelligent, thoughtful performance that consists of no stereotypes whatsoever, just realistic touches that present Max as awkward like when he does not know how to work a gun, when he doesn't know how to tell the truth to his mother, etc. Jada Pinkett Smith is good with what she has to work with in only beginning and end sequences, but the complaint that I had with her is simple: you just know how the movie is going to end since it is telegraphed when she tells Max that she is a federal prosecutor working on a big case. Speaking of the ending, I was let down and predicted it right from the film, hoping for a stronger conclusion. I liked how it ends abruptly and how the last shot made the movie seemed as if it ends on this happy note, but it didn't exactly end that way because the police and crime kingpin Felix (Javier Bardem) are after Max. Still, the end chase is out of place, belonging to another movie, and I thought that the coincidences were silly, unable to be believed. What came close to diminishing the realism of Mann's world were these coincidences that existed to make the story work. But then again, maybe I shouldn't pay attention to these implausible scenes -- the great performances, insight into the characters, and the visuals were enough for me. There are elements of Mann's HEAT in this movie in the way that we manage to feel sympathy for the villian and the hero. Vincent, who is a dead ringer for De Niro's Neil McCauley wearing an identical suit, may be the cold, vicious man he appears to be, but the world around him has fully corrupted him and pieces of his plagued soul grant sympathy surprisingly. Even in the exhilarating action sequences (the club scene was awesome in its Wooish violent chaos), Mann doesn't lose sight of the characters and their actions.
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