Heroes of the East

Film discussion and banter


    Now watching...

    Share
    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:52 pm

    ewaffle wrote:Brian T wrote:
    ...
    Zombies, though, are almost universally useful and can be dropped into almost any movie one can think of and make it a better viewing experience--other than zombie movies themselves which already have them.

    The flesh-eating undead in "Casablanca", "Singing in the Rain", "Day for Night", "Yojimbo"....the better the film the easier it would be to slip in a few walking corpses. Shocked

    warning nerdy art French director joke ahead:

    Almost every Robert Bresson film is populated by zombies and robots.

    Had to get that off my chest.
    avatar
    ewaffle

    Posts : 55
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  ewaffle on Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:03 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:

    warning nerdy art French director joke ahead:

    Almost every Robert Bresson film is populated by zombies and robots.

    Had to get that off my chest.

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets Stepford Wives, but in French.
    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:49 pm

    ewaffle wrote:Robots are difficult to integrate into a story if it isn't about robots already--either there is all that inventing stuff that has to be covered or the robots are already ubiquitous in the world of the film and then it is (or would be assumed to be) science fiction.

    Ah, but therein lies the genius of Sylvester Stallone circa 1985. His robot, a birthday gift for trainer and brother-in-law Paulie (Burt Young) -- who, as Roger Ebert so aptly put it, "apparently made no friends during nine years as the champ's in-law, and only three people attend his party." -- is also sentient, capable of engaging in conversation and even lecturing Paulie before he accompanies his meal ticket on a trip to Russia to avenge the death of Apollo Creed (Action Jackson) at the hands of a godless commie. Rocky's enemy in this film is Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) a human robot, trained to the peak of perfection and then some in Russian laboratories, but lacking the soul of his gears-and-solenoids counterpart tending the kiddies back at Rocky's mansion. So, you see, it's a metaphor of sorts for the arms race, as the Russians hubristically trying to weld man and machine at the cost of the subject's humanity, while progressive Americans have, almost as an afterthought, more effectively put technology to use getting fat Italian guys a beer, confident in the knowledge that the most effective arms in any battle are the ones with meat hammers on the end of them.

    Or something like that. Smile


    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:warning nerdy art French director joke ahead:

    Almost every Robert Bresson film is populated by zombies and robots.

    Had to get that off my chest.
    Laughing
    I've only seen one of his films so far, but I've read enough to get the joke! clown


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

    Just finished:

    THE PRODUCERS (1968) 9/10
    I worked my way backward to this one. We saw the play (which was great) several years ago. Then I rented the 2005 movie version of the play (which was so-so) a couple of years ago. And now I've finally seen the source material!
    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:28 am

    Brian T wrote: ...THE PRODUCERS (1968) 9/10
    I worked my way backward to this one. We saw the play (which was great) several years ago. Then I rented the 2005 movie version of the play (which was so-so) a couple of years ago. And now I've finally seen the source material!

    Oh my, first time. I love that film and most of Mel Brooks directed films (with the exception of 12 Chairs). I've seen all of his movies at least three times with Young Frankenstein probably past 30 times (Spaceballs is probably up there as well).

    Sometimes in a Robert Bresson film you can tell where the person is going to look and move and it absolutely has nothing to do with the scene (seriously, person is going to look down now and then up now left all in robotic fashion). I do love his films, but sometimes he goes overboard with the actor as an automaton.
    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:40 am

    Brian T wrote:...My advice: assuming you haven't anyways, cut back on the epic co-productions, the both of you! Laughing They're not true Hong Kong cinema anyways, though I do believe they must be included in any serious (or passive) study of the form. Now, I'm not saying don't buy 'em; just leave 'em for a few months (or years) after you do, and instead order up of the more localized productions the city has been cranking year after year in other genres. ...

    Well I didn't quite take this advice, yet, the R1 just came out for Little Big Soldier Tuesday and I had to pick it up and well watch it. Surprisingly it is good (right now I'm having an argument at kungfucinema on why Shinjuku Incident is not good; I'll post my review of that film in the HK thread if I haven't already). Yes the film reminds you of an Hell in the Pacific/Enemy Mine hybrid, but up until the very end different for a coproduction with its black humor and characters. NOTE: the ending is unfortunatly exactly what you would expect in a Mainland related film that it actually aggravated me and also made me laugh (I'm not sure you guys have seen it so I won't say anything except that it dealt with the unification of China). Best JC film I've seen in a while.

    The next day I put in Three Kingdoms and after ten minutes I decided it is best to take a break from any coproduction and promptly watched some silent film.
    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:27 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Oh my, first time. I love that film and most of Mel Brooks directed films (with the exception of 12 Chairs). I've seen all of his movies at least three times with Young Frankenstein probably past 30 times (Spaceballs is probably up there as well).
    THE PRODUCERS is the only Mel Brooks film I hadn't seen, actually, although I was well-acquainted with its storyline from my film books (and having seen its trailer over the years) before seeing the play. The only area where I think the play and 2005 film improve on the original is during the "Springtime For Hitler", in particular the portrayal of Hitler himself as a mincing, giddy "German Ethel Merman" during his big solo, as opposed to Dick Shawn's pseudo hippie in the original. Not that Shawn's take was bad -- it's awesome in its own ways -- but by the time of the play, I think Brooks rightly decided that the character and the number had to be much more, uhh, flamboyant. Laughing

    Of all of Brooks' films, BLAZING SADDLES is by far my favourite (that's my "past 30 times" picture), with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and, now, THE PRODUCERS, tied for an extremely close second. I find things to enjoy in all of his films, though in increasingly lesser quantities as his brand of comedy aged and got replaced by the likes of the Zucker-Abrahams pictures and, ultimately, the low-brow see-what-sticks brand of comedy we're accustomed to today. I think some of Brooks' most enduring moments involve oversized musical numbers, such as "Springtime for Hitler" (obviously), the climactic fight in BLAZING SADDLES (which not only feels like a Old Hollywood musical sequence, but manages to trash an actual musical number during its course), "The Inquisition" from HISTORY OF THE WORLD and even the title tune from ROBIN HOOD MEN IN TIGHTS.


    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:[Well I didn't quite take this advice, yet, the R1 just came out for Little Big Soldier Tuesday and I had to pick it up and well watch it.
    . . .
    The next day I put in Three Kingdoms and after ten minutes I decided it is best to take a break from any coproduction and promptly watched some silent film.

    Sometimes, going cold turkey is the only solution. Wink

    I suspect even Chinese audiences, despite the record numbers who apparently turn up at cinemas for their weekly dose of patriotism, grow tired of one period epic after another, which is why they're so quick to pirate movies from Hollywood and everywhere else, just to they have some variety!

    One benefit (I hope!) of my extended hiatus from Hong Kong cinema is that by the time I actually get back to it with regularity -- gawd willing and the creek don't rise -- I'll be far removed from any zeitgeist surrounding most of the movies I've picked up from the region these past few years. Even when I was watching and writing more regularly, the stacks grew so quickly that it was virtually impossible to stick to one genre or another. I could simply crack the lid on a tote, pull out a disc, any disc, and commence viewing, and then writing. It's a good system for someone like me who tends to fall behind the curve (see: all my recent viewing in this thread Laughing )except during that one week every year when I get to see stuff ahead of schedule at the film festival.

    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:58 am

    Brian T wrote:...Of all of Brooks' films, BLAZING SADDLES is by far my favourite (that's my "past 30 times" picture), with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and, now, THE PRODUCERS, tied for an extremely close second. ...
    I suspect even Chinese audiences, despite the record numbers who apparently turn up at cinemas for their weekly dose of patriotism, grow tired of one period epic after another, which is why they're so quick to pirate movies from Hollywood and everywhere else, just to they have some variety!

    One benefit (I hope!) of my extended hiatus from Hong Kong cinema is that by the time I actually get back to it with regularity -- gawd willing and the creek don't rise -- I'll be far removed from any zeitgeist surrounding most of the movies I've picked up from the region these past few years. ...

    I Love BLAZING SADDLES as well, probably only seen it in the 20s amount.

    Well I always have older HK films to watch (and those are the ones I still prefer) from Shaw Brothers on and I will never be on an Asian hiatus, well technically I have been a bit, but that means 4 for the month or so (I always feel like I'm catching up on something). But yeah taking a break from HK means more Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Japanese films to watch.

    I don't like watching back-to-back films that are of the same genre or director. I try to mix it up. It really does help viewing. Though to be honest I really am sick of the Mainland/HK coproductions. I will watch Johnnie To's romantic comedy co-production. I hope they don't have anything about unifying China in that movie. You know Stephen Chow could really make something funny about these trends.
    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:11 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I will watch Johnnie To's romantic comedy co-production. I hope they don't have anything about unifying China in that movie.

    I just ordered (and hopefully will receive) tickets for a TIFF screening To's next picture, LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE. As far as I can tell, and according to the fest listing ( http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/tiff/2011/lifewithoutprinciple ), it's a Hong Kong-only production, built around a subject -- Hong Kongers' unique obsession with money -- that will resonate more in the city (and indeed western markets) than it ever will across mainland China, though I'm sure the latter will gladly screen it if it in any way portrays capitalism in a negative light, or if it can at least be (mis?)read to do so! Laughing


    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:08 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:GRAPES OF DEATH is of course the sequel to GRAPES OF WRATH.
    Tonight's viewing:

    THE GRAPES OF DEATH (1978) 4/10
    Boooorrring! But I really should've known better. I tend to think Jean Rollin is only mildly less overrated (and usually by the same people it seems) as Jess Franco. Someone named Nigel Burrell calls the film "fast-paced" in the liner notes. He also tells other hyperbolic fibs about the film and its characters -- and goes nutty drawing comparisons to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and its sequels that barely apply, or don't at all. GRAPES is about a young woman who returns home to the family vineyard only to discover that a new pesticide has turned everyone there and in the nearby village into contagious pseudo-zombies with waxy clumps plastered to their faces. Then she has to escape. Slowly. In an interview included on the DVD, Rollin discusses one of his earlier films, a vampire picture whose name escapes, noting that he felt no need for crosses, religion, "superstitious things" or even fangs! He claims vampire movies should be poetic, but I think he was just cheap and lazy, claiming that all he needed were pretty girls, a pretty cemetery and a pretty castle. He basically stirs these same ingredients in GRAPES and adds zombies in chintzy make-up (not uncommon in late-70's euro-horror, but certainly not ubiquitous either, as some European horror filmmakers had moved beyond the smooshy wax appliqués). Still, as has been noted here earlier, zombies do make everything better, although in this case only a little bit.

    Also:
    DATE NIGHT (2010) 6/10
    RIO (2011)
    Another case of gorgeous animation disguising a dearth of screenwriting originality (executive: "Fish-out-of-water! A rescue mission! Believe in yourself! The kids'll eat it up!"). Further proof that only Pixar seems to do these things right on a more consistent basis. And the original songs are awful!

    avatar
    Admin
    Admin

    Posts : 74
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Age : 46
    Location : Between a rock and a hard place

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Admin on Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:37 am

    Funnily enough, I've watched Blazing Saddles again recently. I used to watch it very frequently as a kid. I went through a spell of not liking it, or rather thinking that it has not aged well, but I found I still like it an awful lot. I did think it was strange that Gene Wilder wasn't it it nearly as much as I remembered though.

    I am tempted to have another look at some of Brooks' earlier films such as Young Frankenstein and The Producers. I'm not even sure I've ever sat through the latter all the way through.
    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:43 pm

    My favourite Gene Wilder moment in BLAZING SADDLES is probably this one:




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

    Just finished:

    THE POSTMAN (1997) 6/10
    I've always kept level expectations for this when the day came that I'd actually bother to watch it. Going in I was aware of all its "bad" reputation, but I knew the talent involved certainly wouldn't guarantee an outright turkey, and I was right. Granted, the film has MAJOR issues, but it has much to make it worth at least one viewing, and I suspect time might even be cautiously kind to it.


    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:51 pm

    More sign-outs:
    SMOKIN' ACES (2006) 6/10
    CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) 7/10
    No interest in the newer film. This was put in my queue several months ago, actually. I saw big chunks of it on TV decades ago, but this was the first complete run-through. Not bad.
    THE EAGLE HAS LANGED (1976) 7/10
    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:46 am

    What do you guys think of Beast Cops? I just finished it yesterday and remembed that for the longest time it was top 25 at HKMDB. The reviews are all over the place (like usual), though with a huge amount of tens. I liked the film though not top 25 material (though really don't understand the 4/10 review).
    avatar
    ewaffle

    Posts : 55
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  ewaffle on Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:30 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:What do you guys think of Beast Cops? I just finished it yesterday and remembed that for the longest time it was top 25 at HKMDB. The reviews are all over the place (like usual), though with a huge amount of tens. I liked the film though not top 25 material (though really don't understand the 4/10 review).

    I thought it veered from excellent to mediocre. Thinking about it, the first and last paragraphs of my HDMDB review still sum it up for me:

    “Beast Cops” is a cop/triad/buddy movie with some strong performances from key actors, excellent set design and decent action direction but it ultimately founders due to the by-the-numbers script and the dramatic limitations of Michael Wong.
    ...............
    There are a lot of terrific performances in addition to Anthony Wong and Roy Cheung. Patrick Tam was perfectly villainous, Kathy Chow was delightfully sexy, her character grounded just enough so that it was easy to empathize with her, Stephanie Che lit up the screen in a small and oddly written role and Dick Tung was so sleazy that it was a pleasure to see his character dispatched. The film looks great—the squalor of Tung’s apartment was captured flawlessly and the cinematography, which included a lot of handheld and steadicam shots, was close to impeccable.
    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:49 pm

    ewaffle wrote:
    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:What do you guys think of Beast Cops? I just finished it yesterday and remembed that for the longest time it was top 25 at HKMDB. The reviews are all over the place (like usual), though with a huge amount of tens. I liked the film though not top 25 material (though really don't understand the 4/10 review).

    I thought it veered from excellent to mediocre. Thinking about it, the first and last paragraphs of my HDMDB review still sum it up for me:

    “Beast Cops” is a cop/triad/buddy movie with some strong performances from key actors, excellent set design and decent action direction but it ultimately founders due to the by-the-numbers script and the dramatic limitations of Michael Wong.
    ...............
    There are a lot of terrific performances in addition to Anthony Wong and Roy Cheung. Patrick Tam was perfectly villainous, Kathy Chow was delightfully sexy, her character grounded just enough so that it was easy to empathize with her, Stephanie Che lit up the screen in a small and oddly written role and Dick Tung was so sleazy that it was a pleasure to see his character dispatched. The film looks great—the squalor of Tung’s apartment was captured flawlessly and the cinematography, which included a lot of handheld and steadicam shots, was close to impeccable.

    Thanks (of course I did read all the HKMDB reviews Very Happy). I'm writing a little something up for my site (not a full review) while doing a little bit of research on it.

    Sam Lee Chan-sam annoyed me a bit. Very Happy

    Hmmm, come to think of it in The Godfather drugs was also a no-no for Don Corleone.

    LoveHKFilm also highly (overly) raves on it: http://lovehkfilm.com/reviews/beast_cops.htm



    avatar
    ewaffle

    Posts : 55
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  ewaffle on Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:11 pm

    Thanks (of course I did read all the HKMDB reviews Very Happy). I'm writing a little something up for my site (not a full review) while doing a little bit of research on it.

    LoveHKFilm also highly (overly) raves on it: http://lovehkfilm.com/reviews/beast_cops.htm

    I have been thinking a bit more about "Beast Cops" and the reactions to it since reading your initial post. The two reviews at Love HK Film are a good example of how hyperbolic some responses seemed. A good article--by someone with a lot more training in critical theory and knowledge of the sources than I--would be an analysis of the popular and critical response to "Beast Cops". When I finally watched it I was expecting a distillation of "Hard Boiled", "Bonnie and Clyde", "Le Samouraï" and "The Conversation". At least.
    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:07 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:What do you guys think of Beast Cops?

    I recall enjoying it quite a bit, actually. Not to the degree that "Kozo" did at LoveHKFilm.com, but at least in the same ballpark as the more favourable HKMDB reviews (around the 7/10 zone). Frankly, Kozo's site continually reminds me of the importance of maintaining a certain distance from one's initial reactions to any particular film. Considering he has liked almost nothing made in the city for many years now tells me that he's long since lost the ability to do that, if he ever had it. Yet another case of an web reviewer who will probably flip-flop on his earlier opinions if given the opportunity. Sigh.

    I saw BEAST COPS at some festival here in Toronto. I doubt it was TIFF, so it was probably the short-lived Toronto edition of Montreal's Fantasia Film Fest in 1998. At the time, I was rather enamoured of Gordon Chan's previous police procedurals FINAL OPTION and FIRST OPTION, which I felt took an altogether more mature approach to telling cinematic Hong Kong police stories in Hong Kong, very much in contrast to the tendency of local filmmakers of the period to revolve their stories around "supercops" of one sex or another with lots of acrobatics, hand-to-hand combat and/or Danny Lee hauling out his trusted ball-peen hammers and phone books (not that I'm complaining about any of that stuff). In fact, I think this realistic, character-driven aspect of BEAST COPS paired with a much seedier milieu than was seen in the first two OPTION films-- all of which was pretty novel in Hong Kong cinema circa the late 90's and was largely the domain of Chan at that point -- was what led to the film's various awards. Granted, there were probably more deserving shows out there at the time, but I think this has to be considered in any review. It was a culmination, of sorts. In the U.S., a film like that in 1998 would've seemed old hat, but in Hong Kong, it was definitely a shift from the norm. Still, it isn't perfect . . .

    The DVD is still in my revisit pile, actually, as my seeing the film predated my decision to write a review for every HK film I saw by only a few months, so it'll need a quick spin in the future so I can give it some closure! Laughing Having watched bits of it online over the years, I'm confident my opinion of it is unlikely to change.

    Going by the release dates of the pictures in Sam Lee's filmography, it appears that BEAST COPS was only the third-released film of his career, and certainly his highest-profile role at that point, so perhaps the "annoying" nature of his character has something to do with that? Just a guess, though . . .


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

    Another round-up of recent viewing, mostly from the library's collection, as usual:

    MICMACS (2009) 8/10
    ROAD TO PERDITION (2002) 9/10
    COOGAN'S BLUFF (6/10)
    HELLBOY II (2008) 8/10
    I thought this was Just as good as the first one.
    THE HEROES OF TELEMARK (1965) 7/10
    THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS (1967) 6/10
    VANILLA SKY (2001) 7/10
    DR. STRANGELOVE (1964) 9/10
    Saw this when I was far too young to appreciate it entirely, so this was a welcome revisit. Just waiting on my last Kubrick film from the library, BARRY LYNDON, but I'm already confident in purchasing the Blu-Ray collection of his films if it hits a nice sale price.
    MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969) 9/10
    ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959) 9/10
    Although this is avowed classic for any number of reasons, it's particularly fascinating in its drive to incite public acceptance and casual usage of just one word: "panties". Evidently, the very mention of a lady's unmentionables was verboten in movies pre-1959, and Otto Preminger was having none of it, as he crams the word down the viewer's throat as many times as possible (pardon my visual) in an effort to literally normalize it in the public consciousness. In the long run, it was a typically progressive move on Preminger's part, but at the time, it must've raised quite a hubbub, and obviously it plays rather silly today. In fact, when the word is first mentioned in the courtroom scene, he even has the judge (played by real-life attorney Joseph "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" Welch — the film's only weak link) shush the tittering spectators (and presumably the audience) with a short lecture delivered as one might to a classroom full of children.
    BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE (2009) 5/10
    Picked up the HK version of this down in Chinatown, which apparently includes a fight between Saya and a bair of Afro-Vampires -- hulking black dudes with monster afros. Which was interesting.

    And now, a rather shameful confession:

    HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 (2007) 5/10
    HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 (2009) 7/10
    If nothing else, I'm now fully-equipped to see HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL CHINA. Frankly, I can't imagine how they could've pulled it off; the whole concept of the original trilogy is so utterly, wholesomely, diabetes-inducingly American that it seems an unlikely candidate for cross-cultural consumption even in "modern", "progressive" China. I mean, seriously a movie about kids dreaming of possible futures in . . . musical theatre? Yeah, that'll fly. Granted, the American HSM kids did head off to decidedly un-musical university majors at the end of HSM3, but you just know their itches could only be scratched on the Great White Way, or the dinner theatre circuit, or some such, and undoubtedly with the full support of their families. Wink Word is (via Variety, if I recall) that the remake tanked in China, but Disney just released it stateside on DVD this week, so I suppose it will make its way to the library here eventually . . . Embarassed

    Full U.S. DVD trailer:
    http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi3970276377/

    or the shorter Chinese version:



    avatar
    ewaffle

    Posts : 55
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  ewaffle on Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:14 am

    DR. STRANGELOVE (1964) 9/10

    "Dr. Strangelove" and "Young Frankenstein" are an interchangable first and second on the list of the funniest movies I have seen and the best comedies. "Dr. Strangelove" is an exceptionally well constructed movie with perfect pacing from beginning to end while "Young Frankenstein" has more sheer outrageous moments.
    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:51 am

    ewaffle wrote:...I have been thinking a bit more about "Beast Cops" and the reactions to it since reading your initial post. The two reviews at Love HK Film are a good example of how hyperbolic some responses seemed. A good article--by someone with a lot more training in critical theory and knowledge of the sources than I--would be an analysis of the popular and critical response to "Beast Cops". When I finally watched it I was expecting a distillation of "Hard Boiled", "Bonnie and Clyde", "Le Samouraï" and "The Conversation". At least.

    I was hoping to find David Bordwell write about it in his latest version of Planet Hong Kong, but unfortunately it is not there (and released after Stephen Teo's book On HK cinema). I will have to email him about that film.

    I think when you see so much hyperbole on a film you are bound to be dissapointed (like with many watching Citizen Kane for the first time) especially with a combination of those stated (three of the four in my top 100 films). It doesn't help when some of the reviewers state best film of the year, save Hong Kong cinema etc... But it is a good film with some obvious flaws (archetypes used, uneven plot ...).

    It is always interesting (to me) to gauge the critic/fan popularity of a film when it is released and its current state. What do you guys think it's current state is now?

    Personally at minimum I have it at 7/10 with a possibility of going to 8/10. A secondary viewing would further my opinion one way or another (7 to 8 range). I do think it is a worthy watch and certainly of interest for that time period of HK cinema. I like a lot of what it attempts to do. What a horrible title though (can't believe the Chinese title is pretty much the same or at least what the characters at HKMDB state).

    Sam Lee's character was used as the playboy who at the end doesn't have anybody. Can't quite imagine him as a cop (though a couple scenes like the condom scene with Anthony is pretty funny).

    Is this Michael Wong's best role? Anthony is pretty cool in this film though.

    But as you might have noticed that after a string of reviews of 9/10 on HKMDB, you get a backlash and feelings on the film tend to even out (reminds me a bit of The Dark Knight where a string of fanboys called it the greatest movie ever made; yes even on the criterion sites but later cooler heads would prevail; this is also quite reminscent on IMDBs top 250 if any of you guys pay attention to that where a new film rockets into the list to slowly go down in the ratings).
    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Fri Sep 09, 2011 1:34 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Personally at minimum I have it at 7/10 with a possibility of going to 8/10. A secondary viewing would further my opinion one way or another (7 to 8 range). I do think it is a worthy watch and certainly of interest for that time period of HK cinema. I like a lot of what it attempts to do.

    Looks like you came to it at the right time! And you're right; it is a film that could do with a little appreciation from the likes of Bordwell or Teo.


    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Is this Michael Wong's best role?

    One of them. In the hands of the right directors, he's a half-ways decent actor, even three-quarter-ways sometimes. Laughing I think his work in the OPTION films (mentioned earlier) was also above par, and he certainly parlayed the good notices he received for those pictures into playing essentially the same character in a surfeit of product that ranged from agreeably entertaining right down to direct-to-VCD awful. For me, his most ideal casting was in CASE OF THE COLD FISH. He's also good in LOST AND FOUND and THEFT UNDER THE SUN. But one can't ignore all the lazy, seemingly improvised performances he's given over the years.


    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:31 am

    thanks for the suggestions and comments Brian, I will seek them out.

    HKMDB reviews are always all-over-the-place for every film. I just finished Wu Yen (2001) this morning and just wanted to get it over with (starting last night). For me this is towards the bottom of Johnnie To's filmography (no not as bad as Lucky Encounter (1992)). It was overlong, irritating, I couldn't take several of the female actresses like Anita Mui as male nor could I understand calling Sammi Cheng ugly with a small red mark (they call a mole). It feels, looks and acts like a TVB movie (seriously feels like a few outside scenes are taken from another film). However, the HKMDB reviews are all over the place (now most are very low, but a few are quite high).

    This, so far, is the worst Milkyway production I have seen. I might scribble up a small review.

    What are your guys worst Milkyway film?

    EDIT: holy crap LoveHKFilm likes it


    Last edited by Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:52 am; edited 2 times in total
    avatar
    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:36 am

    Brian T wrote: ...
    HELLBOY II (2008) 8/10
    I thought this was Just as good as the first one.
    ...

    I have seen this several times including when a theater watch (which I would have highly recommended because it comes off quite well there). I'm a fan of the two and looking forward to the third (and what happens to the characters). No idea when that will come out though. I loved the world this movie inhabits and this one especially seemed like Guillermo del Toro mixed in some ideas he got when he filmed Pan's Labyrinth.

    According to IMDB, Pacific Rim will be his next movie
    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:47 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:What are your guys worst Milkyway film?

    Not sure I have one yet! I haven't seen the entire Milkyway oeuvre, but I've seen about 90 per cent of it, and I've yet to find a "worst". Mind you, of what I have seen, I'm sure there's some that rank lower than the others, but I don't recall ever going lower than a 7 on the pictures I have seen. Perhaps WU YEN will be my first? Laughing I also have one in the to-watch pile called LET'S SING ALONG which looks worrisomely silly. I've also long-wondered if MY LEFT EYE SEES GHOSTS is to be approached with caution. Wink


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

    The Toronto Film Fest is in full swing here. I've got 20 tickets (including 2 tickets for one show), so I'll be seeing a total of 19 this year, a personal record. Depending on how the week goes, I may add to that. Once you're downtown, in the thick of it, it's soooo tempting to jump in the rush lines and see something with no foreknowledge whatsoever. So far, I've seen four shows, all quite good, but this one really popped:

    THE RAID (Indonesia; 2011) 9/10
    In the future, when someone tells you a movie it wall-to-wall martial arts and gun-fu action, you should have no choice but to ask them how it rates against THE RAID. This show has so much gunfire and brutal martial arts action -- all of it stunningly choreographed in ways more refreshing than I'd ever have thought possible in this world of peak-performance Donnie Yens and Tony Jaas -- that I literally nearly lost the hearing in my right ear. Granted, my hearing is hyper-sensitive (probably to make up for my status as a four-eyes), and Colin Geddes' Midnight Madness presentations always have the sound cranked to 11 (which is rather cruel), but usually I can take an extended donnybrook or three without having to plug my ear. No such luck with THE RAID, which had me kicking myself for not bringing an earplug or two, so relentless is its onslaught of combat action.

    Star Iko Uwais is the real deal: wiry, lightning-fast and evidently the leader of a team of experts that truly takes martial arts choreography into new territory with this film (and, to a lesser extent, MERENTAU before it). If there's a downside to his inevitable celebrity because of this film, it's that Indonesian cinema in general will fare no better than Thai cinema has in the wake of Tony Jaa. Like Jaa, anything Uwais makes from this film on -- especially if he keeps teaming with writer-director Gareth Evans, as he should for at least a couple more pictures -- will gain instant and welcome interest from the west, while the rest of Indonesian cinema (such as it is!) will remain the domain of low-brow entertainment that caters largely to the locals, with the exception of the occasional horror movie that can be scooped up for exploitation by "Asian Extreme" DVD labels in the U.S. and Europe.

    What really separates this picture from the hordes of martial arts films from the region is its heavy use of Silat, the native martial art of Indonesia. I've seen a billion martial arts pictures over the years, and a million "styles" to go with them, but I'll admit my knowledge of Silat was absolute zero, and this movie turned out to be one hell of a wakeup call. The key thing about Silat is that it involves knives, lots of 'em, and the film's heroes and villains deploy them with extreme predjudice for almost the entire duration. One stab won't do, but ten capped off by a throat slashing is a good way to gauge whether you've won the battle. By way of example, picture the exemplary alley-fight-with-sharp-weapons between Donnie Yen and Jackie Wu Jing in SPL (a personal favourite scene). Now, double the speed (!), and make the ultimate goal to stab, slice or otherwise eviscerate your opponent into oblivion, and you've got most of the hand-to-hand combat in THE RAID. Hero cop Iko Uwais has this neat little trick where he stabs a long blade deep into your upper thigh, then yanks that sucker clean down to you kneecap. Friggin ouch! This thing is Bloody with a capital B, but it's so exceptionally well choreographed, photographed and edited that you never lose sight of the geography surrounding the combatants or feel like you've missed a single blow or puncture as each new pair (or group!) of fighters grinds each other down. The editing in particular here is a standout, and it largely isn't used to hide little bits of phony business or make the fight participants look more skilled than they really are, such as it often is in so many action pictures these days (both in western, and, sadly, many Asian cinemas; CHEN ZHEN I'm looking at you). Evans' actors know their stuff, and his editing does more showing than telling.

    As to the picture as a whole, if you thought the final 40 minutes of John Woo's HARD BOILED were collectively one of the greatest pieces of action cinema from anywhere ever, imagine that self-contained bliss expanded to feature length, and with virtually no unnecessary padding. The movie starts with a team of elite cops attempting to covertly secure a maze-like high-rise slum apartment building run by a merciless drug lord (when we first meet him, he's executing five bound and gagged men in his office, but he runs out of bullets for the fifth guy, which causes him to casually grab a hammer out of his desk drawer). WIthin literal minutes, though, the baddie' goons -- who populate every floor of the building like cockroaches, fight like rabid dogs and spontaneously appear around every corner and out of every doorway -- turn the tables and wipe out most of the fleet in a monster battle of guns, fists, feet and the ubiquitous knives, trapping just a precious few of our heroes on the sixth and seventh floors with little hope of escape. Aside from a couple of quiet moments where allegiances on both sides of the field shift, not unexpectedly, that's pretty much it in terms of plot, and it obvious the filmmakers would have it no other way. This is a showcase, for Silat, for Indonesia and for Iko Uwais, who is very much the "next Tony Jaa" (as I'm sure he'll be labeled far and wide), for better and, somewhat regrettably, for worse in terms of his country's film industry, for he may very well come to represent it around the globe. Not that I'm complaining after having been winded by such an audacious effort as THE RAID.

    Trailer, just released Sept. 9


    I also shot the Q&A, in case anyone's interested:


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

    Other TIFF screenings so far:

    FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (2011; Japan) D: Goro Miyazaki 8/10
    URBANIZED (2011; USA/UK) D: Gary Hustwit 9/10
    From the director of the fantastic HELVETICA, this exploration of urban development, and how it often fails as much as it succeeds, should be required viewing for anyone who lives in or near a city.
    http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/tiff/2011/urbanized

    And finally, one that Shawn in particular will get a kick out of:

    THE ARTIST (2011; France) D: Michel Hazanavicius 9/10
    This is by far the finest love letter to Hollywood's silent film era that I've ever seen (not that there's too many to pick from, but still). In a nutshell, it's about a silent movie idol (Jean Dujardin) whose stock plummets with the advent of talkies, while the career of starlet Bérénice Bejo skyrockets thanks to an inadvertent photo op at the premier of Dujardin's latest blockbuster. Utterly charming throughout, and the period recreation -- and the era-specific techniques of filming -- is impeccable. For most of the duration, the film doesn't explain why its leading man is afraid to make the transition to talkies, and I confess that the lack of an explanation irked me throughout the film (as did the excessive time spent on Dujardin's down period), but the clever stinger at the end made me realize what a complete dupe I'd been. I suppose it was the casting of all those familiar American actors (John Goodman, James Cromwell, Malcolm McDowell, Penelope Ann Miller, many more) and the legitimate Hollywood locations -- that completely threw me off, much to my own delight when it was all over. Smile I also can't wait to get my hands on Ludovic Bource's beautiful soundtrack.

    avatar
    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:29 am

    More TIFF viewings. Not so lucky today.


    GOON (Canada; 2011) D: Michael Douse 6/10
    Random, unfocused thoughts: The slickly-made GOON focuses almost wholly on the ugly side of Canada's national pastime, hockey, mining it for profanity (some of which is priceless, mind you), brutality and promiscuity for the easiest of laughs. Mind you, there isn't really any side of hockey that isn't ugly and low-class, which makes me think the filmmakers behind Goon simply have big hard-ons for the violence of the sport (sorta like those who watch car racing solely in anticipation of spectacular crashes) and perhaps a small amount of contempt for the people who play it, the people who watch it (with bloodlust, apparently), and the women who'll give it up to either of them for the price of a few drinks, regardless of marital status. Who knows, maybe they're right, because the film does nothing to change one's thinking if one already has HUGE issues with Canada's national pastime (as I sorely do), nor will it alter the mindset of those who revel in its violence and gore and debauchery when such elements inevitably raise their heads on the ice or behind-the-scenes. Sure, all of that's accurate to a degree, but I'm not convinced a whole film needed to be made about it. Or maybe it did, if the typically over-zealous TIFF audience reaction to the film was any indication (I'd wager that most of 'em got precisely what they were expecting—UFC on blades; any subtext was low-key enough to fly under their radar). This will initially make it hard to gauge whether the film will have any staying power or whether it says anything that really should be said -- or even anything new -- about the brutality and sleaziness it glorifies throughout (almost all of it played for big laughs -- some earned, some incredibly easy). At the TIFF screening, the director paid lip service to the various goon suicides in recent months, but the movie by necessity ever-so-barely touches on the darker issues of my country's national sport. For example, a promising subplot involving the hero's parents' reaction to his rising fame as an enforcer is literally dropped after a single scene (and the characters never show up again). Elsewhere, we get a barely-there sequence of a player smashing another players head into a rink window, while a little girl on the other side gives him an eager thumbs up for doing so, at which point he does it again and sends a stream of blood smearing across the plastic, seemingly to her delight. But Douse makes no attempt to tell you how you should feel about it, which is only right (even though the issue HAS been raised many times here in Canada, at least). It's just there, you draw your own conclusions, he seems to say, yet it certainly felt like most of the TIFF audience thought it was hilarious. I'm still not sure what to think of that; perhaps these (scant few) kinds of reflective moments will stand out better on home video, where they can be appreciated without the adrenaline high of a theatre crammed with a thousand people, many meathead hockey fans among them, with utterly predictable expectations. I'll admit I laughed my head off many times throughout the picture -- and was elated to see Canadian mainstays Nicholas Campbell and especially Kim Coates given ideal roles -- but the longer I thought about it afterward, the more troubled I became that GOON will probably stand as an accurate reflection of the sport, and that so many people will have so little trouble with that.

    MONSTERS CLUB (2011; Japan) 5/10 D: Toshiaki Toyoda
    Boooring navel-gazer about a recluse who spends his time making bombs in his remote cabin in the mountains and shipping them to various CEOs and other power figures. The director was inspired by the manifesto of "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, whose killing and/or maiming of some 26 innocent people should've been enough to have his "manifesto" burned as though it never existed, and yet here we have a movie that owes its existence to the document. And if I'm reading the film correctly (which wasn't easy when it could barely keep me awake) the main character's delusions, including family members both real and spectral, as well as the "monster" of the title -- which is really just a doppelganger with a face coated in creepy white vegetable shortening (or something) -- convince him to re-enter society scot free. I think.

    YOU'RE NEXT (2012; USA) D: Adam Wingard 4/10
    The director and writer of the lacklustre A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, which played in TIFF's "Vanguard" programme last year (how it did so is beyond me), were apparently so envious of the more uproarious reception afforded Midnight Madness pictures like INSIDIOUS that they vowed to throw something, anything together for the next year's festival. By their own admission, this was done fast and cheap just so these clowns could experience huzzahs from a crowd that's far more forgiving that those who'd normally attend screenings under the Vanguard umbrella. So basically, they cobbled together a bunch of friends, a few TV-grade (and worse) actors, a few fellow indie directors to work AS actors, and evidently rented a big mansion in the secluded countryside and filled it with realtor staging furniture that isn't convincing in the least. Worst of all, they lured REANIMATOR'S still-smokin' Barbara Crampton out of semi-retirement to add yet another dog to her resume. Then they tossed every horror cliche imaginable into their script, quite possibly assuming that Midnight Madness crowds would lap it up in spite of the unscrupulous nature of the whole project. The story is beyond tired -- a dysfunctional bourgeoisie clan is set upon by seemingly random home invaders who are anything but random -- and the dialogue is beyond awful. "Hey don't do that!" says one villain as another removes his boot to examine the hole he received in his foot from stepping on a nail. "You'll get your DNA on the carpet!" It actually got laughs from the TIFF crowd -- possibly because of it's seemingly audacious badness -- but as written, shot and, especially, performed, it's just awful dialogue. Earlier, when everyone's cell phones mysteriously stop working, a character actually takes pains to explain the kind of device the villains "might" be using to jam the signals. Good GAWD! Even dumber is the scene in which the surviving members of the first crossbow attack gather in the foyer and decide who among them is the fastest runner, and volunteer that character to make a run for the cars in the driveway, or the neighbours house, or the road, or something. Anyways, it's a dumb idea that no one would even consider in real life, especially when they know nothing about their assailants (like how many there are, what other weapons they're carrying, WHERE THEY ARE, etc.), but the filmmakers compound the idiocy in the name of a "cool" sequence by having their animal-masked villains anticipate (!) such a dumb move by stringing razor wire across the doorway at just the right height to slash the throat of precisely the person who comes running out. There are maybe three unpredictable scares in the film, plus an amusing bit of left-field bad taste involving the family matriarch's corpse, and they're decent gags, but the rest seem designed (and telegraphed a mile beforehand) solely to make less-experienced audience noobs jump rather than actually make sense in the context of story and character.

    avatar
    ewaffle

    Posts : 55
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  ewaffle on Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:34 am

    Brian T wrote:
    Who knows, maybe they're right, because the film does nothing to change one's thinking if one already has HUGE issues with Canada's national pastime (as I sorely do), nor will it alter the mindset of those who revel in its violence and gore and debauchery when such elements inevitably raise their heads on the ice or behind-the-scenes.

    Looks as if you had a dreary day of movie-going at TIFF--perhaps there will be another Carrie Ng type sighting to make it more worthwhile.

    One of the many small but crucial ways in which the USA and Canada differ is hockey--even in hockey mad Detroit, an area with a minor league teams and huge youth hockey programs as well as the Red Wings--hockey is just another sport, something to obsess about in the winter and spring but no more than the Tigers, Lions or big college football programs. The trope of "hockey as the great unifier" of Canada, cutting across racial, linguistic and sectional/linguistic differences is sold pretty heavily, the only thing that can unite the rock bound coasts of the maritime provinces with the sweeping grandeur of the western plains, the one language that French and English speakers have in common. Which means that a lot (too much) is imputed to the wonders of hockey.

    In the U.S. the national pastime is sucking down sufficient products laced with high fructose corn syrup to keep us in the upper reaches of the international obesity league tables. pig

    ----
    "The Raid" sounds amazing. I thought Thai stuntmen had it rough but Indonesia must take it to a new level of on-set brutality.

    Sponsored content

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Sponsored content


      Current date/time is Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:39 am