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Captain Spaulding's Cinematic Catalogue

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I couldn't before, but now I can. Nice reviews as usual, didn't notice your review of Greed before. That one looks great and a must watch when I decide to explore silent cinema a bit more, so far my favourites off the top of my head are: Sherlock, Jr., The General, City Lights, Sunrise, The Passion of Joan of Arc, but I've generally only seen 1/2 films from each of the important directors.



Thanks for the input, guys. Apparently I have a hard time attaching images, so I'm just going to upload them to my photobucket account from now on and link to them from there.

They're working fine for me. Shame about the films.
What is it about westerns that you dislike so much, honeykid? I'd say maybe it's a British thing (you are British, right?), since westerns (or at least the traditional ones) are so inherently linked to America, but Daniel isn't American either, and I've seen him admit to liking westerns.
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What is it about westerns that you dislike so much, honeykid? I'd say maybe it's a British thing (you are British, right?), since westerns (or at least the traditional ones) are so inherently linked to America, but Daniel isn't American either, and I've seen him admit to liking westerns.
I love Westerns, especially certain Spaghetti ones (Once Upon a Time in the West is my favourite too), which HK specifically hates. You'll soon realise that HK just hates a lot of things and has crazy tastes that are difficult to explain



Yeah, I don't think you have to be American to like "American" things. Quite the opposite is true a lot of the time, I find - I adore a lot of American culture (never been a big fan of Westerns, though) and Anglophilia is a huge thing in America.



What is it about westerns that you dislike so much, honeykid? I'd say maybe it's a British thing (you are British, right?), since westerns (or at least the traditional ones) are so inherently linked to America, but Daniel isn't American either, and I've seen him admit to liking westerns.
I can't really put my finger on it. I have a problem with the colour pallette, but that doesn't matter with the B&W ones, of course, which are often the ones I usually dislike the most. While there are westerns I like, and films that were Westerns in another life, such as Assault On Precinct 13, as a genre they just don't interest me. They never have, though. I can say that. Westerns, cowboys, they've never been something I enjoyed or had any interest in. Even as a small child. Never wanted to be one, never thought they looked cool.



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Well, my grandma said the same thing. I've got it - that's who you remind me of.
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It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page



Everyone has different criteria for their ratings. Some reviewers are way too generous. Others are way too strict. I try to rate movies based on quality and not personal enjoyment, although it's often difficult to separate the two.
I gave up on that a couple of years ago. The "objective" criteria I guess would be trying to see in the film qualities that are considered good or bad by large groups of people, but since that varies from group to group (types of fans) and from culture to culture (since taste varies given cultural inclinations), I reached the conclusion that there is no such thing as objective quality. So now the only criteria of quality that I think is acceptable is how much I enjoyed the film.

: Masterpiece
: Excellent
: Great
: Very Good
: Good
: Average
: Below Average
: Bad
: Mannequin, which is a synonym for Terrible
: I'd Rather Be Sodomized By a Rusty, Ten-Foot Steel Pipe Than Re-Watch This Movie
: Mannequin Two: On the Move, the deepest level of Hell, where Hollywood Montrose sodomizes me with a rusty, ten-foot steel pipe while Sexy Celebrity stands to the side and spouts the brilliance of Mannequin for the rest of eternity.
I am I bit more generous and I think that an average movie is still enjoyable so the usual score I give it
and excellent movies would be
already. For masterpieces I usually praise it like crazy and put
or ++ on the rating.



I can't really put my finger on it. I have a problem with the colour pallette, but that doesn't matter with the B&W ones, of course, which are often the ones I usually dislike the most. While there are westerns I like, and films that were Westerns in another life, such as Assault On Precinct 13, as a genre they just don't interest me. They never have, though. I can say that. Westerns, cowboys, they've never been something I enjoyed or had any interest in. Even as a small child. Never wanted to be one, never thought they looked cool.
I only appear to enjoy very much spaghetti westerns. While the John Ford's movies I watched put me to sleep. Though I find some modern westerns entertaining like 3:10 to Yuma Django Unchained and the True Grit remake.



Fruitvale Station
(Ryan Coogler, 2013)
(Starring: Michael B. Jordan; Octavia Spencer; Melonie Diaz)





I've always wondered if the people whose lives are cut short due to some unfortunate accident, be it a car crash or a shooting or some other unpleasant scenario, wake up on the day of their death with an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach. Do they experience doubts about their future course of action? Does a sixth sense cry out unheard? Or are they completely oblivious? When Oscar Grant III, in Fruitvale Station, suggests to his girlfriend that they stay home on that ill-fated New Year's Eve, is it because he's tired? Or is his subconscious trying to warn him?

Fruitvale Station opens with the real-life footage of the fatal 2009 incident between Oscar Grant and police, so viewers, whether familiar with the story or not, are immediately aware of Oscar's fate. This adds solemnity to every scene. A visit with a friend or family member carries extra weight, because we know, unbeknownst to the characters, that this is the last time that they will see Oscar alive. Same goes for the added poignancy in the scenes between Oscar and his daughter. Or the "Oh, no!" gasp from viewers when Oscar's mom encourages him to take the subway. Life is fragile. Time is fleeting. Death is approaching. When a dog, seconds after Oscar stops to pet him, is run over and killed in the street, we want to warn Oscar that the dog has just foreshadowed his own impending doom. Hey, Oscar, don't get on the subway, dude!

Any time "based on a true story" appears at the beginning of a movie, you should know that liberties have been taken with the story. Characters from real life may be added or subtracted; situations dramatized or omitted; details tweaked or forgotten. Fruitvale Station isn't a documentary. If you want to know the facts, read up on the incident yourself, but the movie deserves to be judged on its own. The Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station isn't a martyr or a flawless individual. He's a troubled young man trying to turn his life around. He's been in prison; he's cheated on his girlfriend; he has a violent temper; he's been fired from his job due to excessive absences. Everyone makes New Year's resolutions, but rarely anyone keeps them. Sadly, we'll never know if Oscar would've stayed true to his promises or not.



Everyone but me seems to be impressed with Michael B. Jordan. He shines in the scenes with his daughter, and he captures the earnest naivety of the character, but I found his performance to be unconvincing in other parts of the movie, especially in the scenes where he tries to be tough. (Although maybe that's the point? Maybe the director is implying that Oscar was caring and gentle and only pretended to be a tough guy in certain moments as a defense mechanism?) Something about Jordan's delivery felt forced to me, though, just like the annoying "bruh" that gets tagged onto the end of so many lines of dialogue. Octavia Spencer, on the other hand, is excellent in the movie, fully embodying the spirit of her character. Late in the movie, when things turn tragic, she gets to do the heavy lifting, capturing the pain and heartbreak of the moment. I wouldn't have objected if she had been nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Fruitvale Station gets a little too emotionally manipulative toward the end, using Oscar's daughter to tug at people's heartstrings. Even when the movie ends and it shows footage from the real-life protests and remembrances, the last image before the credits is of Oscar's real-life daughter. I understand that the director is trying to illustrate that there's a little girl who will now grow up without a father due to this tragic incident, but something about it felt cheap and heavy-handed. I was also annoyed that every time Oscar texts someones--- which happens frequently throughout the movie--- the "text speak" comes up on the screen. Maybe it's because I'm one of three people in the world who still doesn't own a cell phone, or maybe it's because I'm annoyed by the butchering of the English language, but I hate when movies pretend that texts are worthy of their own subtitles. That's not a criticism, just a personal pet-peeve.

Like the character of Oscar Grant III, Fruitvale Station is well-intentioned, but heavily flawed. The director succeeds in putting a face to the tragedy. The movie illustrates the senseless loss of life. And the subject matter is important and timely. However, it's not a movie that I have any interest in revisiting. I say that not because it's depressing or infuriating or difficult to watch, but because, with the exception of the last twenty minutes, the movie isn't particularly interesting or engaging. The movie should be powerful because of the script and the directing and the performances, not just because it's based on true-life events.






Finished here. It's been fun.
Great review, not so great film. Fruitvale Station is decent, but it is very,very heavy-handed. It was trying way too hard to make the viewer emotional. Michael B.Jordan is an excellent actor though, I've been a fan of his ever since The Wire.



Stalker
(Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
(Starring: Alexander Kaidanovsky; Anatoly Solonitsyn; Nikolai Grinko)





As we get older, the magical tint of Disney fades, diminishing our childish sense of wonder, our idealism, and our optimistic belief that anything is possible, thus resulting in a pessimistic shift in our perspective of the world. It's like going to bed on Christmas Eve when you no longer believe in Santa Claus. Where's the magic? Where's the excitement? While watching Stalker, I experienced a similar shift in perspective. The mysterious power of the Zone held me within its grip and kept me enthralled until, like the characters in the film, I began to lose hope. Doubts persisted and grew until I no longer believed in the magic of the Zone. I scoffed at Stalker's claims of hidden dangers. I laughed at the notion that this room, located deep within the decaying remains of a wet and mildewed industrial building, could contain the power to grant a person's innermost desires. It's all in Stalker's head, I thought. The Zone is just a metaphor, a symbol, and although that might make the subject ripe for analysis, it's much less exciting within the confines of the film.

When the characters venture into a room filled with sand dunes, we see a bird fly halfway across the room, only to disappear into thin air. Then another bird (or is it the same bird reappearing from a different angle?) flies across the room and lands safely on the other side. Is this a trick of the camera? Or is it proof that the normal laws of physics no longer apply inside the Zone? Just like a kid, on Christmas Eve, convinces himself that the sounds on the roof are only tree branches scratching against the shingles, not Santa Claus and his sleigh of reindeer, I shrugged it off as a strange coincidence. The final scene of the film, however, leaves no doubt. What first seemed like a science-fiction film only because of the questions it asks, not because of its content or its execution, is flipped on its head with one gut-punch of an ending. Suddenly, an array of extraordinary possibilities is revealed, and my hope and faith in the mysterious power of the Zone and in the world of Stalker was renewed.



Stalker is brilliantly shot, with a great eye for detail and an almost Kubrick-like composition. Every frame of the movie, with its dirt and grime and rain-drenched settings, is like a grotesque painting of malnourished beauty. The world outside the Zone is filmed through an oppressively thick sepia filter, as if the entire world, with its apocalyptic, Chernobyl-like aesthetic, has rusted into decay. This makes the Zone, with its blue sky and fields of green, almost heavenly by comparison. Or at least it feels that way until the characters travel deeper into themselves and into the Zone, where the grime and slime accumulates on their skin, and the grass and clouds give way to subterranean tunnels of crumbling concrete and debris. It's no coincidence that the sepia filter returns just as the characters sit hopeless and defeated outside their destination. And it's also no coincidence that Stalker's handicapped daughter is the only aspect of the outside world viewed through color, as her special gifts hint at the hope of a brighter future.

Stalker, just like the mysterious realm inside the Zone, is loaded with ambiguity, asking more questions than it answers. This will turn some off some viewers, but, in my opinion, any work of art that asks important questions can be much more powerful and hard-hitting than a work of art that pretends to have all the answers. After all, what's more important, the belief in something or the proof? Does it matter if the room inside the Zone really exists or is it only the idea of the room that matters? Must the room really grant people's wishes for them to have hope in a brighter tomorrow? Or is it only the symbolic nature of such a room that serves as a catalyst for change?

Like the works of fellow Russians Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Tarkovsky's films are dense, stuffed with meaning and rife with symbolism. They can't be fully digested with one viewing, so I feel at a loss to try to write a review for this film when I've only just watched it for the first time. Stalker is a Master's thesis of a film, one that deserves to be watched multiple times and analyzed and dissected and written about at length. This is a long movie, divided into two parts, and, with its slow, meditative pace, you can certainly feel the movie's length. But regardless of its difficult nature, Stalker is an absolutely awe-inspiring, thought-provoking work of art, frustrating at times, but hugely rewarding. I can't wait to watch it again.






Stalker is one of the great masterpieces of cinema, in my opinion.



Finished here. It's been fun.
Outstanding review. Stalker is an incredible film.




The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
(Ben Stiller, 2013)

Outside of a few interesting visuals, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a boring, hollow, cloying piece of rubbish. It tries so hard to be life-affirming and enriching in a you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to sense, but it lacks any emotional resonance, substance or depth to make it effective. Ben Stiller wears a blank expression on his face for the duration of the movie. He shares zero chemistry with Kristen Wiig and his daydreams quickly grow tiresome and annoying. The script is weak and contrived and eventually dissolves into a montage of Walter Mitty's ridiculous "adventures." Not funny. Not interesting. Not entertaining. You can watch a "Be All You Can Be" or "Just Do It" commercial and get the same quality and message in a fraction of the time.


Runner Runner
(Brad Furman, 2013)

Runner Runner was lambasted by critics and general audiences, and deservedly so, since this is easily one of the most half-assed attempts at a movie that I've seen in quite some time. Everything about Runner Runner, from the script to the editing to the directing, feels scribbled together, as if the people involved with the making of the film feared that the studio would realize that they had been cheated out of millions of dollars and would demand that their budget be paid back in full. Since the plot of the movie revolves around a Ponzi scheme, it's basically art imitating life. I assume Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake agreed to star in the film just because they wanted a paid vacation to Puerto Rico. That and the paychecks are probably the only reason anyone allowed themselves to be involved with this piece of crap.


47 Ronin
(Carl Rinsch, 2013)

Quality-wise, 47 Ronin is just as bad as the other two movies in this post, but I found it to be marginally entertaining. Keanu Reeves, for obvious reasons, sticks out like a sore thumb. Performance-wise, though, he's no more stilted or wooden than anyone else in the film. 47 Ronin is supposedly based on true events, but I doubt that the real story of the 47 Ronin involved dragons and giants and CGI creatures. Considering the $225 million budget, it's stunning how poor the special effects are in this film. (And considering that 47 Ronin now ranks as the second biggest box office bomb in history, I imagine whoever thought it was a good idea to invest such an obscene amount of money in this film is now seeking employment elsewhere.) If 47 Ronin hadn't taken itself so seriously, this could've been a fun, albeit ridiculous, adventure story. Instead it feels like a bigger-budgeted Season of the Witch, but with more samurais and less Nicholas Cage.