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The Watching Thread: "I will bring you hope, old friend. And I ask only one thing in return..."

Aragorn the Elfstone
Tol Eressea


Sep 11, 3:21am

Post #1 of 13 (664 views)
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The Watching Thread: "I will bring you hope, old friend. And I ask only one thing in return..." Can't Post

"Don't get in my way."

The original X-Men Trilogy is due for a 4K release this month, and 20th Century Fox has seen fit to update their iTunes streaming versions of the first two films with the new video remasters they've done for them.

...and they are BEAUTIFUL. I watched both films back-to-back and had so much fun. The remasters bring new life to these films - particularly the first one, which has never looked so good. These films are both jewels in the catalog of comic-book cinema, and still stand as some of the best. What remains refreshing about them is that they don't rely on big explosions or massive amounts of CGI to tell their stories (like so many modern comic adaptations).

I only wish the remasters would get released on Blu-ray so I could watch them on my TV screen, but alas, it seems they're only getting a 4K UHD release.

In other watching news, I revisited Andrew Niccol's brilliant science fiction drama Gattaca, which for anybody who hasn't seen it, I highly recommend it. It's hard to believe the film's over 20 years old now. It definitely stands as one of my favorites of the genre.

What are you watching?

"The danger with any movie that does as well as this one does is that the amount of money it's making and the number of awards that it's got becomes almost more important than the movie itself in people's minds. I look at that as, in a sense, being very much like the Ring, and its effect on people. You know, you can kind of forget what we were doing, if you get too wrapped up in that."
- Viggo Mortensen

(This post was edited by Aragorn the Elfstone on Sep 11, 3:22am)


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


Sep 11, 4:55am

Post #2 of 13 (603 views)
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Searching [In reply to] Can't Post

Well done and filled with all sorts of scattered clues so watch carefully.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




squire
Half-elven


Sep 11, 1:51pm

Post #3 of 13 (558 views)
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I finally saw 'Black Panther' [In reply to] Can't Post

I am an occasional visitor to the comic-book movie world that so dominates pop cinema these days. I had read all the good reviews of Black Panther when it came out, but never found time to go see it. This week, convalescing from some dentistry, I watched it on Netflix with my wife.

I found it enjoyable in a surfing kind of way. That is, don't question things too much, assume that plot points will be restated several times so you probably won't really miss them, and remember: this is based on a comic book.

That said, along with all the silly high-tech, special effects, and over-the-top production design, and along with all the fascinating attempts to stylize an amorphic black Africa into a distinct hermit kingdom culture that happens to be more technologically advanced than the First World, there was actually a theme that spoke directly to the African setting.

That is, this film wasn't about super-heroes saving the world. Instead it was about super-heroes saving the black world from the white world -- and the heroes weren't sure it could, or should, be done by the forces of Good, avenging as it would one genocide with a second, more high-tech one.

Needless to say, they didn't delve very deeply into this philosophical and ethical conundrum, which resonates with five centuries of Western history. But the fact that they addressed it at all - that the film admitted that black super-heroes must have a different perspective on the necessity of and meaning of "saving the world" - was impressive to me.

Another fun twist was seeing the film wrestle with how to introduce American characters into a movie whose protagonists and settings are central African. As it turns out, the black American is the villain, but a hip, wise-cracking charming rogue from the 'hood villain, with a pitiful backstory and a golden, sunset-lit redemption in the end. The white American is the softest and stupidest CIA agent ever portrayed on screen, with the excuse that he has been dumped into a world where he, because he is a white American, has no power and no idea whatever of what is actually going on, evidently for the first time in his life.

And of course, Andy Serkis is probably still digesting all the scenery he ate during the first half of the film, as the most over-the-top white South African villain I've seen in half a dozen films where white South Africans have been stand-ins for Hollywood's gold standard for villains, the Nazis.

My final takeaway was to remember, as I watched the final big battle sequence, having read a recent criticism by someone who likes smart filmmaking. He complained (imagine!) that superhero movies are almost universally weakened by the fact that the protagonists inevitably duke it out. Gunfights, major battles, hundreds of people in combat, armed usually with weapons that make guns look like bows and arrows, are all set aside for endless minutes of super-powered beings whomping on each other with fists or other blunt objects. Whomped bodies fly through the air for dozens, sometimes hundreds of yards, and jump up and return to the fight until, for whatever reason (the editor deciding that's enough? all existing footage used up? producer got bored trying to follow which fist-blow was which?) the fight ends with a whomp somehow bigger or more powerful than all proceeding whomps. Granted, sometimes the whomping is replaced by blasting with very bright lights that are supposed to be force fields or force beams or whatever, but that's just high-tech whomping, really, that films do better than comic books can. Anyway, as I was watching this part of Black Panther, I realized the critic was right.



squire online:
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Annael
Half-elven


Sep 11, 5:23pm

Post #4 of 13 (524 views)
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I note [In reply to] Can't Post

that you speak only about the male roles in the film. For me, the great pleasure of this film lay in how important women were to the plot and to the hero. He couldn't have done it without them (just as Jake couldn't have survived a day on Pandora without the help of the women characters). The worth of each male character was signaled by how they treat women. The bad guy shoots his own lover when she gets in his way, while your soft CIA guy literally takes a bullet aimed at another woman - proving he's got the right kind of mojo after all. The climactic moment for me was when the leader of the war dogs kneels before the leader of the women warriors, not the mano-a-mano fight.

But I agree that Marvel needs to find a different kind of origin story that doesn't come down to the hero fighting his evil twin. We get it: it's a metaphor for him conquering his own hubris, that voice that says "sure, I could use these powers for good . . . or I could RULE THE WORLD!" One reason I like "Thor" over the other origin stories is that he gets humbled early on by losing his powers and then has to prove his worth without them. Yeah, pummeling then ensues, but in the end it's not his evil brother he pounds into a pulp, but his own link back to Earth and the woman he loves - for the greater good.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Sep 11, 5:25pm)


squire
Half-elven


Sep 11, 6:28pm

Post #5 of 13 (503 views)
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Yes, the women were important [In reply to] Can't Post

But I think I would have been more impressed with them 1) if I hadn't already seen 'Wonder Woman', with its dynamic female-driven society, isolated from the rest of the world, with battle-tested warriors and gals who take no guff from guys; and 2) if I could have told a couple more of them apart. One was the sister, one was the love interest, and one was 'Q' from James Bond (only her armory was, cleverly I thought, decked out like the cosmetics counter at Bloomies); I may be forgetting someone.

The women were important, but their main role seemed to be to take the prince down a peg, which they did with a regularity that seemed almost a mirror-image of when the he-men used to talk down to the gals in the bad old days. In other words, I remember wondering if the women couldn't have had a bit more, well, depth or individuality of character. But then I realized the men didn't really have any character like that either, and of course then I went back to surfing the film. Sorry I didn't mention that reaction in my first review; I do remember those thoughts while viewing.

It's a comic book movie, and strong warrior women are almost as much a surefire trope as sensitive CIA dudes who'll take a bullet for the girl, as long as you cast Martin Freeman, not the Rock, for the role.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
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Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Sep 11, 7:17pm

Post #6 of 13 (496 views)
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Juliet, Naked - 5/5 [In reply to] Can't Post

What a funny, sad, thoughtful movie about regret and second chances. Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd and Ethan Hawke are note-perfect in this story about a woman who is unfulfilled in her life, her husband who is a mad fan of a former musician who dropped out of the spotlight, and the musician himself who comes into their lives.

Despite it's somber underpinning, the film has a lot of laughs in it and is quite charming. Definitely see it if you get the chance.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 11, 10:37pm

Post #7 of 13 (478 views)
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I can watch “Gattaca” over and over [In reply to] Can't Post

So many powerful scenes and lines in that movie. Never gets old. I wish Niccol made other movies as good as it, but the couple I tried didn’t come close at all in acting or having as tight or compelling a story (one was called “Arrival” or something like that; just ho-hum).


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 11, 10:55pm

Post #8 of 13 (481 views)
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I particularly liked the sister in Black Panther [In reply to] Can't Post

Hollywood is oh-so-slowly realizing that a smart female scientist doesn’t have to wear glasses and have her hair in a bun, nor rip off the glasses and bun and reveal a Playboy-worthy body, you know, to show she’s not just brains.

Shuri was sassy, funny, irrevent, and gusty when she needed to be but still no Amazon like some of the other women, and while pretty, she was no runway model.

The twist they made with T’Challa was that he only barely won his 1st combat to be king and squarely lost the 2nd, so he’s not the best warrior around w/o his suit, & usually comic book heroes have to prove they are.

And ditto about Thor: I think it deviates a little from the usual formulas in welcome ways.


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 12, 6:48am

Post #9 of 13 (461 views)
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The latest season of "Shetland". [In reply to] Can't Post

This season was made up of one story rather than a series of episodes.

Once again I thoroughly enjoyed it. Beguiling setting, well-acted, and a nicely complicated story. The sort of narrative where you get to feel clever by figuring something out ahead of its reveal, and then find that you were partially right but a *lot* more was going on :)


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


(This post was edited by Kimi on Sep 12, 6:49am)


Annael
Half-elven


Sep 12, 4:23pm

Post #10 of 13 (438 views)
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well.. . [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
f I hadn't already seen 'Wonder Woman', with its dynamic female-driven society, isolated from the rest of the world, with battle-tested warriors and gals who take no guff from guys


One movie like that was not nearly enough for me after a lifetime of bands of brothers movies . . .

But sure, let's have more female-led movies that don't follow that trope and instead show women's lives accurately. "Hidden Figures" was a start.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Sep 12, 4:25pm)


squire
Half-elven


Sep 12, 9:08pm

Post #11 of 13 (413 views)
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Yes, indeed. [In reply to] Can't Post

I liked 'Hidden Figures' a lot, though it left me with some questions about what all those white female computers were thinking.

I sympathize about the default gender of war and action films. Yet I don't think inserting tough-as-nails ninja-skilled action figures with busts into those genres is really a major step forward for feminism. It's a plus for women who like the genre, of course, like you (I guess) and others here, but escapism is escapism and cartoons are cartoons. Accuracy about the human condition is the first casualty.

Showing lives "accurately" is a very loaded criterion for film fans. I don't see a lot of films that show men's lives "accurately", really. Generally only the 'art' films do, and in those films, I find, women get quite a lot of space to be themselves as well. I guess that's why they're called art films, and also why they get a small fraction of the ticket sales in the movie biz.

Did you see "The Phantom Thread"? It was a star vehicle for Day-Lewis, but the two women more than held their own against him, I thought.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Annael
Half-elven


Sep 12, 9:44pm

Post #12 of 13 (411 views)
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n fact I wrote a book [In reply to] Can't Post

arguing that making women into kick-ass warriors is not at all true to how women are heroic in real life. "Hidden Figures" is more like it: female heroism usually means persevering despite everyone else saying you can't, if not actively trying to stop you. Most biographies of famous women boil down to "nevertheless, she persisted."

(Although I also argue against the idea of fantasy as escapism. Sometimes we need to step outside "reality" to imagine a better way of doing things, which we can then try to live up to in real life . . . this has been especially true for women.)

I do agree that real lives are rarely shown accurately. Perhaps they're too boring for the big screen? I think of the group of friends I've known and gone on vacation with yearly for the past 40-odd years; as individuals we've experienced and supported each other through pretty much everything life can throw at you, but . . . not very dramatically.

And the real lives of writers, as I've experienced it, are exceedingly mundane. I've never thrown a typewriter out a window, which seems to happen in every movie I've ever seen about writers . . . writers love the tools of their trade!

Haven't seen "Phantom Thread." I have the impression I wouldn't like any of the characters. But without being a fashionista, I'm a fan of "Project Runway," so perhaps I should give it a try.

I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the words begin to move around … The words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young.

-- Gaston Bachelard

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Sep 14, 8:25pm

Post #13 of 13 (250 views)
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A Simple Favour - 4/5 [In reply to] Can't Post

Apart from one plot point that doesn't make sense, I enjoyed this film that is part drama part mystery. What really pulls it through is the acting by Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively - Anna, especially, makes it look easy to portray an ever-helpful woman whom people mistakenly think can be walked over. And Blake's Emily is fascinating in the way that snakes are fascinating: gorgeous creatures who have a distinct air of danger and unpredictability about them.

Worth seeing as a bit of mental diversion.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


(This post was edited by Ataahua on Sep 14, 8:27pm)

 
 

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