Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Affliction (1997)
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 1h 54min

Synopsis:
Based on the novel by Russell Banks. Affliction tells the story of a small town cop (Nick Nolte) who suffers from anger issues and is recently divorced. He finds himself investigating a suspicious hunting death, while events begin to occur that cause some to question his stability.
I'm not a fan of Nick Nolte but he's perfectly cast here. I can't say why, without spoiling the ending...so I'll just say, watch it and you'll know why.

What impressed me most was the use of actual outdoor settings, which added to the believability. I loved the snow, the film looks really good. The cinematography is skillfully done as the camera is 'quiet' and doesn't zoom or jump around. Instead there's a quiet poetic look to the film with it's many wide angle outdoor shots. This gives the feeling we're an observer from afar and I liked that.

I wasn't keen on the spoken narration by Williem DeFoe. The narration could have been reduced to only a few lines. But it wasn't a deal breaker. Affliction is an interesting movie, beautifully shot and much different than the average film.




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G...A...T...T...A...C...A

Director: Andrew Niccol

Writer: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 1h 46min

Synopsis: A man born through 'natural means' is considered to be genetically inferior to those who are enhanced at birth. He dreams of going into space but society only allows him menial jobs. So he assumes the identity of a genetically superior man in order to pursue his dreams. And in doing so has committed a crime.

Uma Thurman sure looks good in this film. But what's really impressive is how her (and the other characters) are handled by the director. She's coldly dispassionate and emotional controlled. All the genetically superior employees of Gattaca are like that.

That photo I used really conveys well the 'perfect world' of those who have superior genes...they're almost dehumanized by their superior conformity. And that's just what the corporations want.

The director plays on this perfect genes-equals cold as ice theme with other character pairings:

Vincent (Ethan Hawke) is the natural born child, who's full of spirit but with crummy health...In contrast is his genetically superior manufactured brother Anton, who's icy.

With the two police investigators pairing, there's: Alan Arkin who's eluded to being a natural born child, full of personality but not as bright as his younger but superior partner, who's got the personality of an machine.

Gattaca
is an awesome film and one of the best examples of existential Sci-Fi. The director expertly down plays any sci fi elements in the film, which gives it credibility. The cars are old models, the clothing is sedate, there's no high tech CG props...in fact the film starts off by saying it's set in the very near future.

The sets were stunningly reserved elegance, done in a mid century modern retro look. Damn beautiful. I can't think of another film that makes such striking sets. I loved the choice of the old Studebaker Avanti cars and other classic car models. And one of the best looking refrigerators I've seen in a movie is the one in Vincent's parents house. The vastness and use of negative space in Jerome's apartment is way cool! What a great looking film.

I thought Ethan Hawke was excellent. The huge amount of effort that he was willing to undertake so that he could go on a space missions, said a lot about the human need to overcome obstacles. And that's what the film is really about.

Jude Lawe as his counter balance was a perfect metaphor for having it all and being miserable. He too did a great job in this.






Punishment Park (1971)

Director: Peter Watkins
Writer: Peter Watkins
Cast: Interrogators,Cops National Guardsmen,Hippies,Anarchist,Revolutionaries
Genre: Pseudo-Documentary Action Thriller


Punishment Park is a pseudo-documentary claiming to be an authentic film by a British news team that is sent to cover the sentencing of a group of Hippies, Anarchist & Revolutionaries... and their punishment at the hands of cops and National Guardsmen at the desert known as Punishment Park.

Review: This has to be the most unique film I've ever seen. It's not like a typical movie. Back in 1971 this was pretty cutting edge stuff.

I loved the documentary style of film making, especially as much of the story is told through the eyes of a British film making team, who are filming the events that we see in the film. There's something about a British narrator that lends credibility to the film.

This was for it's time a very hard hitting look at the social class struggle that took place in the late 60s-early 70s between 'the man' (the older embellishment) and the younger protesters (the baby boomer generation). Some of the things the accused agitators say in this film might seem outlandish, but there were young people at the time who thought that way. Especially over Vietnam and the carpet bombing campaigns in Indochina. Likewise the older generation who were represented by the government, were leery of young anarchist and of the communist threat.

This film is a time capsule of how the two sides felt about each other. This was during a time when America had seen the rise of radicalized militant groups like the Black Panthers and mass protestors, and feared violent overthrow of the government.

In today's world such events might seem preposterous, but in 1970 this film and it's subject matter was quiet relevant.

Punishment Park looks homemade, that's by design. The actors aren't polished, they look like people off the street, and that's a strength. Any serious film buff should watch this.




Affliction (1997)
[size=2]Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 1h 54min

I wasn't keen on the spoken narration by Williem DeFoe. The narration could have been reduced to only a few lines. But it wasn't a deal breaker. Affliction is an interesting movie, beautifully shot and much different than the average film.




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I agree about the narration in Affliction. I didn't think most of it was necessary, and some of it, (at the beginning), might have even been detrimental to the movie.





The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959)
Director: Ranald MacDougall
Cast: Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens, Mel Ferrer
Genre: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
Length: 1h 35min

"A miner trapped in a cave-in resurfaces, and upon discovering mankind has been wiped out in a nuclear holocaust, sets out to find other survivors."


This is an introspective film that studies the effects of racial discrimination as it existed in the 1950s, in an abstract way. It follows a Black American man (Harry Belafonte) who was trapped underground in a mine shaft during a nuclear disaster that kills the human race (or so he believes). Belafonte emerges to find he's in a new world, void of people, but will the demons of the old world follow him?

I should say this is not really a sci fi film. There's no zombies, this is not I Am Legend. It's not a sci fi film in the usual sense of the word, we don't see what destroyed the world, nor do we see rotting bodies. It's not that type of film.

One caveat, the final shot at the ending, is not so much about the character, it's more of a message to the film audiences of the 1950s.

Harry Belafonte,
is perfectly cast as a man with many doubts and suspicions, but also with a need to reach out and find other humans. He's complex and yet seems like a real person and not an actor.

Inger Stevens, plays the girl but she is so much more than just window dressing. She is the dynamic that causes the tension and allows the movie to explore racial and personal themes.

Mel Ferrer, is the constant professional actor. He's the unknown element in the story and a interesting character.

The World, the Flesh and the Devil
a fun film but also a serious one.





The Lion in Winter
(1968)

Director: Anthony Harvey
Cast: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Length: 2h 14min


Synopsis: In Britain in the year 1183, King Henry II is an elderly King with three sons, all who want to inherit his throne. Henry has a favorite son to succeed him but he won't commit on his choice of an heir. His estranged wife, the Queen also has a favorite son she wishes to place on the throne. The two monarchs use their sons as pawns in a power game for the throne.

Review: One caveat: this is NOT a film that you can set back and vegetate to. It demands your full attention as it's dialogue rich and very complex with interwoven plans to get one of the three sons onto the throne.


A young Timothy Dalton (King Philip II of France) and two of King Henry II sons,
Geoffrey (John Castle) and John (Nigel Terry).

The two leads, Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn are amazing. These two thespians are masters of the theater and give vivacious performances. It's amazing to see them together.

One thing I noticed was how real the sets looked. The castles looked real, they should, as they were real! The sets gave a cold and austere atmosphere, which matches the hearts and motivies of the King and Queen.

It must have been cold because in one scene with Hepburn and O'Toole I could see Hepburn's breath. They did a lot of on-location shooting for both interiors and exteriors. They shot the film in France, Wales and Ireland. All this attention to detail and realism, made the film seem...well, real.

The Lion in Winter is not an easy film to watch. I found if I didn't pay close attention I would miss bits of dialogue and lose my place in the ongoing, plans-within-plans. The dialogue is very stage like and reminded me of a modern adaption of a Shakespearean play.

I do love historical period pieces but this film is really about cleverly written verbiage. Really the things they say are very witty and roll of the actors lips like fine tuned prose.

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Forbidden Planet (1956)
Director: Fred M. Wilcox
Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen
Genre: Sci-Fi


Synopsis: A starship is sent to investigate a human colony on a distant planet. The colony has ceased all communications with Earth. When the ship arrives they find only two survivors: an older, egotistical but brilliant scientist and his stunningly beautiful, yet naive daughter...Lurking somewhere on the alien planet is a deadly secret.



Nah, my review isn't going to be all about Anne Francis, though it could be! This is about how Forbidden Planet became one of the most important sci-fi films to be made and literally changed the future...Not only the future of sci fi films, but the future of women's fashions...I'm talking the mini skirt! I just didn't make that triplicate panel of Anne Francis for window dressing you know...Look at what she's wearing in 1956, a mini-dress, a very short mini-dress! Women in the 1950s would never have dressed like that, but in a futuristic sci-fi film they were able to show that. A decade later and women all over the western world would be wearing super short attire and thanks in large part to Forbidden Planet.

Of course the biggest contribution this classic 1950s sci fi movie made was in directly influencing the most iconic of sci fi TV shows, Star Trek. One can't help but notice how much of Star Trek was directly lifted from Forbidden Planet. Such as:
  • As soon as the title credits in Forbidden Planet rolls we see a wide angle shot of a star field and then one of those stars grows bigger as it comes closer to the screen, then the 'star' comes close enough for us to see it's a ship...Star Trek did the exact same shot in the opening title credits.
  • The story of mankind spreading out into space, exploring and colonizing it in the 23rd century, sounded just like Star Trek's mission. In Forbidden Planet they travel to a distant planet to rescue a Earth ship that had crashed 20 years earlier. When they get there they find aging scientist and one of them has a beautiful daughter who's highly cerebral and educated, but ignorant of men..as she's never seen one. That's very much like the original pilot for Star Trek, The Cage.
I could go on but let me just end this by saying Forbidden Planet broke new ground by including deep scientific techo-talk and giving the world a more adult story of existentialism in a sci fi story. This moved sci fis from kid movies, to more serious films thus allowing films like 2001 A Space Odyssey to be made.

A few more photos to show the influence of Forbidden Planet on sci fi. See if you recognize these.




Forbidden Planet
is the granddaddy of modern sci-fi and was one of the very first big budget, 'A list' sci-fi films. IMO it's the best sci-fi to be made during the Atomic Age...aka the 1950s. It heavily influenced many sci fi films, including the original Star Trek TV series.




The movie was a big budget, cutting edge effects film for it's day. It used for the first time a Moog synthesizer for the sound score. This lent the film a creepy, alien feeling to it. The sets looked like a 'real' alien world. In comparison most sci-fi films at the time were cheap and cheesy looking and made for kid matinee audiences.

Walter Pidgeon is Dr. Morbius, the intelligent, mysterious colonist who seems almost superior to the star crew. Pidgeon is perfectly cast. His daughter Anne Francis is good as the beautiful ingenue who has never seen a man her own age before.

The deep underlying them of the darkness inside of all of us is one that lends itself well to this movie.




Great review of Forbidden Planet. I like that you included the comparison to the original "Star Trek" because this movie was definitely an influence on the original TV series.

I'm hoping to see this movie show up on the upcoming Top 1950's Movies Countdown.



Thanks GBG, and a bigger thank you for posting here I haven't had much activity lately. That's probably because I'm posting films that I've already talked about elsewhere. Soon I will be caught up and back to reviewing newer films.

I don't know if Forbidden Planet will turn up on the Top 1950's Movies Countdown. I hope so, and it will be on my list! But there's not a lot of fans of older sci fi. Maybe if Captain turns in a voting list, hint-hint...but come to think of it he doesn't like the Moog synthesizer score I guess well see. Maybe it's turn as the Movie of the Month will help.

About the similarities to Star Trek. I was going to post a montage of comparisons to scenes from Forbidden Planet and Star Trek (maybe I will do that latter) The similarities are more than close. I view Forbidden Planet as a older pilot movie for Star Trek.



Thanks GBG, and a bigger thank you for posting here I haven't had much activity lately. That's probably because I'm posting films that I've already talked about elsewhere. Soon I will be caught up and back to reviewing newer films.

I don't know if Forbidden Planet will turn up on the Top 1950's Movies Countdown. I hope so, and it will be on my list! But there's not a lot of fans of older sci fi. Maybe if Captain turns in a voting list, hint-hint...but come to think of it he doesn't like the Moog synthesizer score I guess well see. Maybe it's turn as the Movie of the Month will help.

About the similarities to Star Trek. I was going to post a montage of comparisons to scenes from Forbidden Planet and Star Trek (maybe I will do that latter) The similarities are more than close. I view Forbidden Planet as a older pilot movie for Star Trek.

I've been pretty busy recently, so I haven't had much time to post, but yeah, I think the lack of replies is because we've already discussed these movies in other threads, so there's not much more to say.

Hey Capt., did you get the hint about the 50's list? We want you to send in a list, even if Forbidden Planet doesn't make your top 25.

Den of Geek had an article about the influence that Forbidden Planet had on science fiction movies and TV, not just "Star Trek", but they have a whole section about "Star Trek". It's an interesting article. Here's the link:

http://www.denofgeek.us/movies/forbi...-and-star-wars



Yeah, I noticed you've been busy...it's always good to see ya. Me, I've been under the weather with a cold so the only thing I've been doing is hanging out at MoFo, that's why I had the time to post reviews.

Cool thanks for the link, I'll check that out



Yeah, I noticed you've been busy...it's always good to see ya. Me, I've been under the weather with a cold so the only thing I've been doing is hanging out at MoFo, that's why I had the time to post reviews.

Cool thanks for the link, I'll check that out




I hope you're feeling better soon, CR.

I don't think much of Forbidden Planet, but then I don't care for The Tempest either, so that obviously isn't helping it with me. It does look good, though.

I watched The World, the Flesh and the Devil because you nominated it for Movie of the Month and I enjoyed it. I didn't really have anything to say about it that hadn't already been covered in the thread, so I didn't bother posting.
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5-time MoFo Award winner.



I've not seen any of them. I saw some of the Derek Jarman version (which obviously isn't the most mainstream way of experiencing it) but I've seen the play, watched a BBC adaptation and tried to read it a couple of times. It's never worked for me. I just can't engage with it at all so it bores me. I think I even tried The Animated Tales version and still couldn't go with it and that's only 30 minutes.



My mistake HoneyKid, I don't know why my brain thought you had seen The Tempest. I haven't seen it either for the same reasons you haven't. But I did like Shakespeare in Love (1998).



My mistake HoneyKid, I don't know why my brain thought you had seen The Tempest. I haven't seen it either for the same reasons you haven't. But I did like Shakespeare in Love (1998).

I still haven't seen Shakespeare in Love. It's another movie that's been on my watchlist for a long time, but I just haven't found the time to watch it.

Maybe someone will nominate it in a HoF someday so I can finally see it.



Hey there - I haven't commented here lately simply because I haven't seen some of the films that CR has reviewed recently.
But I loved the review of Forbidden Planet - a movie I'd also give a 5 to if it wasn't for that damned Moog "music"!
Visually, it's probably the best sci-fi of its age.