The Movie Thread

stugatz

Pelican
Leonard Maltin is a pretty terrible movie critic, in my opinion.
My main issue with him is how far off he can be on modern classics. 1.5 out of 4 for Blade Runner. 2 out of 4 for Taxi Driver. 2.5 out of 4 for The Outlaw Josey Wales. 1.5 out of 4 for Memento (really??) 2 out of 4 for The Shining. 1.5 out of 4 for The Thing. He originally also gave Alien 2 out of 4, and seems to have been pressured into raising that to a 3.5 out of 4. 2 out of 4 for Fight Club.

He has a list of films he gave a 4 out of 4 that are very questionable, mainly a Gene Hackman western called Bite the Bullet that I saw on HBO some time ago and found to be nothing more than pretty good. 1958's questionable best picture winner Gigi, that odd and over-the-top Peter O'Toole moviemaking comedy The Stunt Man, Woody Allen's pretty funny but juvenile and undeveloped comedy Bananas, and that Cher comedy Moonstruck (I mean, it's funny, but it's a bad sign if my mom really likes it) all got this rating.

He occasionally, too, slaps movies that I didn't have much of an issue with alarmingly low ratings. What Dreams May Come, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Brood, Zombi, The Rules of Attraction, The Brood, Where the Buffalo Roam, Constantine, and Frank Zappa's documentary Baby Snakes all had components that I'd criticize, sure, but all got a 1 out of 4 from him.

I mainly admire Maltin because of the sheer scope of movies he's seen - he's seen everything back to the silents of 1914 - and have three versions of his yearly movie guide book. (One from 1994, which are his old-school reviews, one from 2013, which is the most extensive and best organized book he released - and updated many of those reviews, and one from 2015, his final release.) His reviews are very brief, and I like that kind of brevity in a critic.

I think I credit him for getting me into movies even if I don't take him nearly as seriously as I did as a teen.
 
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renotime

Ostrich
Gold Member
See for me I always preferred Ebert. Maybe it's because he was from Chicago, the guy just had a wit about him. He also wasn't too esoteric like Pauline Kael. I started reading his reviews when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and I thought they were great. His crushing review of North is hilarious.

 

stugatz

Pelican
See for me I always preferred Ebert. Maybe it's because he was from Chicago, the guy just had a wit about him. He also wasn't too esoteric like Pauline Kael. I started reading his reviews when I was in 3rd or 4th grade and I thought they were great. His crushing review of North is hilarious.

Kael is kind of hard to read sometimes - she really went out of her way to pan films that other critics unanimously liked (2001: A Space Odyssey, On the Waterfront). Although sometimes she can be great - her review of Sound of Music is hilarious (and I hate that movie about as much as she does).

I think with Ebert, I felt he was too nice much of the time (Maltin's average out of 4 seemed to be 2 1/2 or 2 - Ebert seemed to give out 3-star reviews like they were candy.) His reviews also can go on and on, but he's a gifted writer and I usually like them.

He had a better system than Maltin. He has a "half star" and "zero stars" rating for films that he thinks are unusually terrible or offensive - sometimes he just refused to give a movie stars, like Human Centipede or Pink Flamingos.
 

renotime

Ostrich
Gold Member
Ebert was generous more than most, but you could typically read his reviews in 5 minutes or less. He'd go a bit longer with his "Great Movie" reviews, but I always liked those reviews the most.

Ebert has gone against the grain on some beloved movies. Fight Club and Butch Cassidy are probably the two most famous ones. His poor review of Gladiator is pretty spot on, in my opinion.

Anyways, I just read the book version of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and it was fantastic. Tarantino can write some pretty good pulp. There's a moment with Cliff Booth and his wife that is hilarious. Highly recommend it.
 
Mario Puzo's The Last Don and The Sicilian are pretty good, for lower-budget movies. A little romanticized with its depiction of a modern mafia in The Last Don, there were still a lot of red pill and some God pills in it and its sequel. The Sicilian was an interesting take on how a communist-infested Sicily was in huge turmoil in the 1940s and 1950s. Also throwing in Gotti from 1996 if you haven't seen that, best mafia depiction on screen to date as far as language and how they operated.



 

stugatz

Pelican
Ebert was generous more than most, but you could typically read his reviews in 5 minutes or less. He'd go a bit longer with his "Great Movie" reviews, but I always liked those reviews the most.

Ebert has gone against the grain on some beloved movies. Fight Club and Butch Cassidy are probably the two most famous ones. His poor review of Gladiator is pretty spot on, in my opinion.
He disliked The Usual Suspects, and a lot of movie buffs got butthurt about that one. (I think it's somewhat overrated but very solid and have no problem that it's as popular as it is.)

I actually wasn't aware that he gave Butch Cassidy such a lukewarm review. He gave it 2.5 out of 4, I'd probably give it a 3 (or maybe a 3.5). My problem with it is that it's got that odd feeling of being a buddy comedy that just happens to be a western - so I always found the ending jarring, the tone was very light up until then. (It almost seems like George Roy Hill saw The Wild Bunch and decided OK, I'm going to make the ending to this edgier.)

I like The Sting far better and it's one of my favorites.
 

Maddox

Sparrow
Ebert was a pretty funny guy. It's known that he and Siskel often butted heads when taping their show. Here's a funny clip that stemmed from Siskel's tendency to flub his lines.

 

stugatz

Pelican

Ebert actually wrote one screenplay that I am aware of, interesting as a curio. The movie is pretty trashy and campy (is NC-17, but would probably be R today).

It’s supposed to be a spoof of Valley of the Dolls (which was panned and I haven’t seen). The tone is weird and I couldn’t tell it was supposed to be a spoof when I saw it on IFC.
 

renotime

Ostrich
Gold Member
There was a great documentary on Ebert a few years back. Another movie he gave a middling review to was Full Metal Jacket, which I'm inclined to agree with. The first half was amazing and the second was a standard war movie, minus the mickey mouse song at the end.

Pretty funny argument that Siskel and Ebert got into.


Anyways, I finally got around to seeing Michael Cimino's Year of The Dragon starring Mickey Rourke. This is another one that Tarantino loves. This came out after Cimino ruined New Hollywood with Heaven's Gate. Rourke is a cop trying to clean up Chinatown. Rourke gives a great performance, despite being bogged down by melodrama at times. The story and the plot aren't really all that important, but they don't drag.

And just when it seems like it might start to drag, Cimino hits you with a burst of unexpected violence. The film might be a little uneven with poor dialogue, but it's never boring.

It's too bad Cimino never had a comeback.
 

stugatz

Pelican
There was a great documentary on Ebert a few years back. Another movie he gave a middling review to was Full Metal Jacket, which I'm inclined to agree with. The first half was amazing and the second was a standard war movie, minus the mickey mouse song at the end.

Anyways, I finally got around to seeing Michael Cimino's Year of The Dragon starring Mickey Rourke. This is another one that Tarantino loves. This came out after Cimino ruined New Hollywood with Heaven's Gate. Rourke is a cop trying to clean up Chinatown. Rourke gives a great performance, despite being bogged down by melodrama at times. The story and the plot aren't really all that important, but they don't drag.

And just when it seems like it might start to drag, Cimino hits you with a burst of unexpected violence. The film might be a little uneven with poor dialogue, but it's never boring.

It's too bad Cimino never had a comeback.
I'm a huge Kubrick fan but have mixed feelings on Full Metal Jacket (would probably give it 3 out of 4). As the years go by, I like the basic training half less, and like the Vietnam part more, but definitely think that it feels like two films instead of one - and there's no doubt that the Vietnam half is inferior.

Heaven's Gate I really want to see, mainly because of how infamous it is for ruining New Hollywood (and Cimino was ruined afterward, basically - everything else he came out with was either met with mixed reviews or panned). Have you seen it yourself? I want to see the awful theatrical cut everyone ended up seeing - it looks like that's hard to find outside of VHS. Have you seen the ideal cut? I think Cimino assembled one for Criterion that he considers the closest to what he wanted to go for - it's like the third or fourth cut available.

It looks like movie buffs these days are trying to claim that it's some kind of misunderstood masterpiece, but it looks like it's at best a well thought out mess that's far too long. Even the kind reviews say it doesn't have much of a story.
 
There was a great documentary on Ebert a few years back. Another movie he gave a middling review to was Full Metal Jacket, which I'm inclined to agree with. The first half was amazing and the second was a standard war movie, minus the mickey mouse song at the end.

Pretty funny argument that Siskel and Ebert got into.


Anyways, I finally got around to seeing Michael Cimino's Year of The Dragon starring Mickey Rourke. This is another one that Tarantino loves. This came out after Cimino ruined New Hollywood with Heaven's Gate. Rourke is a cop trying to clean up Chinatown. Rourke gives a great performance, despite being bogged down by melodrama at times. The story and the plot aren't really all that important, but they don't drag.

And just when it seems like it might start to drag, Cimino hits you with a burst of unexpected violence. The film might be a little uneven with poor dialogue, but it's never boring.

It's too bad Cimino never had a comeback.
I somewhat miss the old liberals like Ebert and jews like Siskel, the only good film critics nowadays are based and far-right.
 

renotime

Ostrich
Gold Member
I have yet to see Heaven's Gate and I have apprehension about it. I read Ebert's review and I think he gave it less than 2 stars. Ebert said it's one of the worst movies he's ever seen and he meant visually. If there's one thing I can't stand in a bad movie, it's weak cinematography. For all the faults of a movie like Only God Forgives, at least it was visually stunning.

Maybe if I can get a hold of the director's cut I'll watch it. But there are other better westerns to see that I haven't gotten to yet. Rio Bravo, Shane, The Searchers. Heaven't Gate just isn't a priority.

I watched Escape From Alcatraz last night. Another movie Tarantino really likes. It's pretty thrilling and suspenseful, reminds me of Hitchcock in a way. It's pure entertainment to see a man go up against the system, outwitting the powers that be with a couple of makeshift items. At one point Eastwood is jerry rigging a way to weld inside his cell, collecting items to provide his escape.

There's not a whole lot of dialogue, but it's pretty great. Eastwood has a conversation with a new friend.

Fellow ex con: You don't know your birthday? What kid of childhood did you have?
Eastwood: Short

A black guy also calls Eastwood a cracker, which was pretty funny.

I remember seeing this movie as a kid and it held my attention the whole way through, and if a kid likes it, that must means it's pretty interesting, right?
 

renotime

Ostrich
Gold Member
I watched Dark Of The Sun last night and Play Dirty today. Works great as a double feature.If you're into mission movies like Dirty Dozen and Inglourious Basterds these are both worth watching.

Dark Of The Sun even has Jim Brown in it. Brown plays a native soldier of some African country, but does he bother to use an accent? No, of course not. So Jim Brown and a white mercenary played by Rod Taylor fill up a train with a Nazi and a bunch of soldiers and head to some town to pick up some diamonds. Along the way there are a lot of gun fights. There's even a fight involving a chainsaw. Great flick with lots of violence.

Play Dirty. Michael Caine is a WW2 British Officer in North Africa. He's assigned along with a mercenary along with a bunch of ex-cons to go blow up an oil depot. The cinematography is great and the dialogue is pretty good as well. The final gunfight is also excellent.

If anyone can recommend other movies like this I'm all ears. Where Eagles Dare is a favorite of mine.
 

stugatz

Pelican
Guns of Navarone is kind of a similar one, but you probably already saw that.

I've actually heard some semi-positive thing about Force 10 From Navarone, the loose sequel to it. (This is another film that Maltin gave ONE star to! At worst I've heard that it's nothing special, and forgettable, but not awful. It's an early Harrison Ford role, too, right after Star Wars came out.)
 

renotime

Ostrich
Gold Member
Yeah, Tarantino has mentioned Guns of Navarone. I have yet to see it. Speaking of Tarantino, he's the reason I watched Dark of the Sun. Scorsese also likes it along with my favorite anarchist, Doug Casey.

Maybe I'll watch the first Mission Impossible movie. That counts as a mission movie, I suppose.
 

stugatz

Pelican
Guns of Navarone has a hell of a cast (Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, David Niven, Richard Harris). Definitely make time to see that one.

EDIT: I would also suggest A Bridge Too Far if we're talking about ensemble cast "mission movies". I actually own it on DVD and have never gotten around to watching it because I hear it was made fun of in the late '70s with the mocking title "A Bridge Too Long". Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, Michael Caine, Lawrence Olivier, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, James Caan.

Richard Attenborough directed it, and I usually think of him as "that old guy from Jurassic Park". I forget he directed quite a few good movies in his time.
 
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renotime

Ostrich
Gold Member
A Bridge Too Far was on Netflix and I watched it a few months back. It's very boring. It's too bad because at the beginning of the movie there's a great scene with everyone jumping out of planes, so it hypes you up, but there's nothing to the movie.

Speaking of Attenborough, Guns At Batasi is a highly entertaining movie he was in.

But I think I'm going to have to start reading more books, because movies are basically dead.
 

stugatz

Pelican
But I think I'm going to have to start reading more books, because movies are basically dead.
I'd agree, but keep in mind that you have something like 107 years of cinema to sift through. You could, starting today, only watch pre-2010 stuff for the rest of your life and still not see everything.

You thankfully have a lot less movies to watch pre-1960, seems like the tidal wave really began once TV got big and everything was in color by default. By far, my to-watch list has the most films from 1970-2000. I'm never going to see them all.
 

Thomas More

Hummingbird
Kael is kind of hard to read sometimes - she really went out of her way to pan films that other critics unanimously liked (2001: A Space Odyssey, On the Waterfront). Although sometimes she can be great - her review of Sound of Music is hilarious (and I hate that movie about as much as she does).

I think with Ebert, I felt he was too nice much of the time (Maltin's average out of 4 seemed to be 2 1/2 or 2 - Ebert seemed to give out 3-star reviews like they were candy.) His reviews also can go on and on, but he's a gifted writer and I usually like them.

He had a better system than Maltin. He has a "half star" and "zero stars" rating for films that he thinks are unusually terrible or offensive - sometimes he just refused to give a movie stars, like Human Centipede or Pink Flamingos.
Ha! I remember seeing North when it was new. Obviously it was a long time ago. I think my tastes have become more sophisticated since then, but in any case, I remember liking it. I knew it was a comedy and the idea was absurd, but I had no problem with a comedy that is based on an unrealistic premise.

I never watched Seinfeld back then, so I didn't even know who Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus were. Now I wouldn't be able to avoid see their Seinfeld characters showing through. I recall enjoying the ridiculous characters of the other parents that tried to audition to adopt the kid. I also liked Jon Lovitz as the lawyer.

I think I would hate the movie now, and if somebody insisted on watching it around me, I would just read on my phone and ignore it.
 
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