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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 170

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 2:06 am    Post subject: An off-topic rant. Reply with quote

Tonks_kittygoth wrote:
Um ok, What is with the LotR bashing?
They skiped stacks of stuff in all three movies, granted they added silly orkies scenes but not many. They were way to short if anything.
Sorry but I have to say *Wimps*
also it reminds me of the Austrians emperor's comment on Mozart's music having too many notes.
Modern culture needs to find someway to re develope the concept of attention span.


Did I bash? I said:

Quote:
I did think the LOTR trilogy was too long... I really didn't need some of the cheese at the end of Return of the King. Get on the freakin' boat already, Frodo...

Jackson's version of the Rings trilogy was visually impressive, but I had some serious issues with it.


I didn't say I hated the films. On the whole, I liked the films. I said I had issues with them. Issues like silly dwarf-tossing jokes, Legolas using a shield as a skateboard (!), sentimentality that was sometimes as thick as gravy on a Deep South breakfast (hence my comments about the White Ship's departure taking too long), and a few structural changes to the narrative that lessened the dramatic tension in key scenes.

And long, long battle sequences in the second and third films.

I didn't mind the changes to the novels; in fact, some of the changes were good. And I'm not at all bothered by a director "interpreting" a text. But some of the sentimental scenes in the films went on and on and on in a way that felt like overkill. (The books had a pacing that worked, in this respect; the films didn't.) And some of the "epic" battle scenes dragged, as well. Cool eye candy, but after the camera pans over the armies for the fifteenth time, I wanted a more intimate approach to the combat.

I often have this problem with battle scenes in movies. That I had it with Jackson's LOTR trilogy has a lot to do with the fact that the spectacle of combat sometimes distracts from the emotional impact and sheer terror of such scenes.

A director can insert as many reaction shots from heroes and threatened innocents as he or she wants, but once the camera zooms across a tightly-packed field of troops and keeps zooming across the field, the "wow" response is provoked and the terror is somewhat lessened, the viewer goes "Oh" at the effects or staging, and that seems, well, emotionally cheap (regardless of the technological sophistication and expense) and morally empty to me.

I can think of several films dealing with wartime violence that don't have to dwell on spectacle to convey a sense of awe and menace and dread. And if audiences want spectacle, if they need to see how many vicious foes are attacking our heroes, it strikes me as something like a craving for pornography-- although we're talking about special effects porn, and not sex.

Really, one or two shots of the armies would've been enough. Then we could've followed specific characters. We didn't need to pull away every few minutes for more and even more special effects.

Someone might argue that people want to see fantasy films to "escape" reality, or that spectacle makes for a good fantasy film. That's always struck me as a pretty lame argument. Narrative films have the ability to interrogate reality, to make people think about their lives, their world. Fantasy and science fiction stories have that kind of potential, maybe even moreso than "realistic" films, and I love it when genre films do that. But I don't experience that kind of love often. Instead, I have to sit through ten to twenty minutes of special effects, then I'm back to the story-- until the next twenty minutes of special effects. And sometimes that ticks me off-- especially when the film clocks in at two and half-plus or three hours long, and the actual narrative requires two hours, at best.

Does modern culture need to "develop the concept of attention span"? I don't know. People play video games for hours and hours, and that requires attention, whatever the haters say. Jackson's trilogy and Cameron's Titanic did well at the box office, both domestically and internationally, and the films aren't exactly short.

My problem is the emotional distance effects sequences create in some popular long films.

There's a lot of good stuff in Jackson's trilogy, most of which is taken directly or reinterpreted from the source material. But the sense of wonder one experiences when reading the novels isn't predicated on simple strangeness or lengthy and exotic description, it's built on the sense of a realistic and textured world. (It might seem odd that someone can describe a text with elves and whatnot as realistic, but the author provides the reader with a feeling of place and the sense of a fictional history's hold on a fictional present, and that makes the story more believable to the reader-- if the reader's willing to go along with the author in the first place.)

Even when I find the author's attitudes repellent, I can get into the story, because there's a detailed history behind places and things, and the dilemmas facing the characters aren't just archetypal, they're part of history, an ongoing process.

So what about the battles in the novels?

Tolkien's descriptions of battle don't go on and on, and the passages somehow feel realistic because of their relative brevity. But I watch the films and go "wow" at the special effects in the corresponding scenes-- and realize that I'm basically watching the director play a video game, and I'm being asked to admire the graphics.

And I'm taken out of the involvement that narrative provides.

And I get bored.

I would've liked Jackson's films to have had more of the feeling and texture of history, but instead, I got the spectacle of history, a kind of emotional shorthand signalling me, over and over again. "Oh, our heroes are in trouble!" I got gonzo special effects in too-long battle sequences. And after a while, I began muttering, "The heroes are in trouble? Duh. Thanks for showing me the peril repeatedly. Guess I didn't get it the first time." And the effects sequences started to bore the heck out of me.

I don't mind special effects. But sometimes, I wonder if directors are taking Orson Welles a little too seriously and acting like kids with toy train sets and, worse yet, filming the train sets because, well, toy trains are cool, man.

Jackson can use effects sequences well. He did it in non-battle scenes, he did it in some of the action sequences, and he did it with Gollum.

I sit through three hour, four hour, even longer films, both in theaters and at home. And Decalogue is of roughly the same length as Jackson's trilogy. I enjoy a lot of long films.

But I remain unconvinced that any narrative film with long, long digital effects shots interrupting the story for the sake of showcasing cool special effects is equivalent or analogous to Mozart. Every note of Mozart's is essential to his compositions, and many of Jackson's effects sequences are extraneous to, if not distracting from, his narrative.

As I said, I liked the cinematic trilogy just fine. But I didn't love it.
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Call me old-fashioned, but the above post kind of relates to a barroom conversation I had with a guy in his eighties a while back. The bartender, a good friend of mine, introduced me to the man because the fellow and I have similar tastes in films. The old man and I wound up talking at one point about really old horror fiction and films, and both of us agreed that contemporary horror films are good at grossing the viewer out, but few of them scare us-- because there's no sense of dread for the audience, and no investment in the fates of the characters. You know you're going to get what you've paid for...

The audience pays to see people get snuffed by a monster or a killer, really, and since the people are characters, it's okay. And most of the characters are stupid or vicious or selfish in stereotypical ways that most people aren't, or their sins are pretty darned banal-- but the sins are exaggerated to the point of silliness. Either way, the nature of the characters makes their death even more okay, even more acceptable to the viewer. It's all spectacle, and often it's a terribly realistic-looking spectacle, and it's pretty morally troubling.

Jackson's trilogy isn't anywhere near as bad as the sort of thing the gentleman and I were discussing. But it had way too much "let's make the audience members' jaws drop" in it for my tastes, and I was taken out of the story and away from the characters far too often for my tastes.
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Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison. - Bosola, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi


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Tonks_kittygoth



Joined: 28 Mar 2006
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Location: The dark dark woods where the kitten monsters live....or happy la la land, my summer home.

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ach,
I knew I was gonna get sh## for the Mozart thing as soon as I typed it.
I figured Id leave it in to ruffle feathers a bit..hehe:twisted:

I liked the films, and I liked the giant battle scenes. I thought they were fun and scary. I didnt think they took away from the narative cause the narrative was going on in the middle of them. Also I didnt personly feel like it was a Agrgh the heroes are in danger film (trilogy) every epicy film is like that, and to me thats part of the narrative too.

Actually they reminded me of some Kurosawa battles anyways. (almost on topic!)

Maybe cause I like special effects, and can easily drift into suspension of disbelief special efects are always cool to me, and I easily asimilate them into the story.(I used to love Dr. Who even w/ the rubber suits w/zippers)

I guess I keep hearing people LotR bashin lately, usually with the shorthand of "too long" at the begining in my "too cool for the room" set of aquaintances. I always stand up for them because I loved them, and King Kong, and didnt think any were too long for me.

I also dont think Jackson's movies showcase effects for thier sake. I think
that is why his films are popular. But, if they can make something you have always dreamed of a reality, Im for seeing it, sorry, maybe im a philistine pop culture whore, but I like seeing dragons come to life, and giant moving trees, and King Kong, and and and, and if it takes another cumlative 30 min of my boring ass life to see that, sign me up. I spend that much time watching flowers, and ants too. Im in the stuff is cool camp. I dont get bored easily except at bars, or watching sports. Thats just me though, and im a weirdie.

Titanic, that was a diff. story, That one would have been too long for me if it was 20 min. Yes, I am a titanic hater! (not the real story just the movie) I kept making boats out of straws and hitting them into the ice in my soda, and crunching them up....
If the effects werent so cool I would have fell asleep.
Razz
Sigh, seems like we dont agree on anything lately Al, sorry... Sad
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tonks_kittygoth wrote:
Do you also like Night of the Hunter? Have you seen Odd Man Out? Ive heard it is very good, but cant find a copy to see.


Night of the Hunter's one of my all-time faves. If you mean the Carol Reed film Odd Man Out, it rocks, although I prefer The Third Man and The Fallen Idol. Of course, I dig Terence Young's vastly underrated and sadly neglected Corridor of Mirrors, too...

Elmo wrote:
it's yet another one that's had rumours of a remake from hollywood the leech that we all know and love, I don't know why they are intent on filming inferior remakes of every film in the world but if they touch 'the third man' I'm going to hollywood with a cricket bat and coming home drenched in yuppie blood


Use a baseball bat, drive some really tough, sharp nails through it, and brandish it like a mace if such a thing ever comes to pass. And lecture the execs about the Swiss and cuckoo clocks while attacking them... I'll play the zither to accompany the onslaught, man. Wink
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Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison. - Bosola, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi
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Tonks_kittygoth



Joined: 28 Mar 2006
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Location: The dark dark woods where the kitten monsters live....or happy la la land, my summer home.

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Horray!
Just as I was writing that we dont agree much lately, you were writing about my fav. Topic!

Old Horror Films!!!!!!

I agree very much w/ that. Most horror films dont even try for story/character etc any more... but the old ones Swoooooon!

That is why I sooo welcome
wait for it....on topic coment coming....

The Japanesse Horror film craze!
Finaly, horror with a little bit of interesting subject matter, and substance!

Yeh, pretty disturbing in the no one gets out alive, and doom doom doom
but... No stupid melodramatic silly morals, or slasher stupidity...

We dont need to remake them however, ...

Oddly Jackson's first movies were wonderfuly bad horror movies, but w/ plots! Sorta, Dead alive was pretty low budget.... (anyone catch the ref. to the sumatrian ratmonkey from Dead Alive in King kong?)

Any ways I heart monsters!

*runs out and hugs Karloff and Lugosi dvds*

[/quote]
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one wants to live and not die, so do other
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AlphonseVanWorden



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 170

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tonks_kittygoth wrote:
I knew I was gonna get sh## for the Mozart thing as soon as I typed it.
I figured Id leave it in to ruffle feathers a bit..


Heh. For what it's worth, my feathers weren't ruffled. I was up in my nest, observing the scene like a camera looking at CGI armies of orcs and humans... :wink:

Quote:
I liked the films, and I liked the giant battle scenes. I thought they were fun and scary.


I think that's my problem. I doubt that combat's ever fun-- unless you're mentally off--- and the "scary" thing works for me when someone's in danger. And a bunch of figures seen at a distance don't strike viewers as people, really. Just cannon (or sword) fodder.

I said I liked the films, on the whole. The battle scenes bored me.

Quote:
Also I didnt personly feel like it was a Agrgh the heroes are in danger film (trilogy) every epicy film is like that, and to me thats part of the narrative too.


I can think of a few epic films that don't do this, but it usually has to do with the camera's eyeline. The more subjective the point-of-view, or at least the less godlike or omniscient and the closer to human eyeline level the point-of-view is, the more terrifying the battle sequence becomes. Some of Kurosawa's most impressive battle scenes worked in this way. And even when he used omniscient shots, he didn't cut away from characters every couple of minutes. He used omniscient shots judiciously.

Quote:
I spend that much time watching flowers, and ants too. Im in the stuff is cool camp.


See, I think that's an answer to your earlier question:

Quote:
What do you have that is better to do than watch intensly filmed archetypal heroic cycles?


I'm not being sarcastic, either. Plants and insects are interesting. Smile

And I guess that's the difference to me. I look at those things, I'm in awe of the processes. I look at some special effects sequences, and my awareness of the process-- my focusing on the details of the shot-- takes me out of the story-- which is a bad thing, if it's a narrative film.

I don't mind-- in fact, I quite enjoy-- dragons, aliens, etc. But I kind of like it when they're more than, I dunno, just set decorations.

As I said, Jackson did a fine job with Gollum. But some of the effects shots were just... there for me. I mean, tons of tiny figures running at each other. Folks developed software just to allow each figure to move realistically and individually. Cool. But... Okay, sorry, too many shots. I wanted more emphasis on the characters, and fewer shots of figures seen at a distance.

And I agree with you, Jackson cares more about character than other directors. Heavenly Creatures, which I mentioned earlier, is a great example of his sensibilities. So I'm less forgiving of the man's lapses in taste and style in the trilogy, if that makes sense.

I like his work, but I worry about where his interest in spectacle will lead him. If I didn't like his work, I wouldn't care. <<cough The soulless Michael Bay cough>>

With most films, I just take it for granted that the director lacks something like humanity, and you can't really blame those sorts of folks for being incapable of creating characters with souls and personalities. Laughing

When I say I'm less forgiving of Jackson's faults, I mean I felt let down by whole sequences and scenes. Some of the stuff didn't work for me. That was a personal thing, and it's purely aesthetic, and others will (and do) feel differently.

And I have no problem with others feeling differently. In fact, I'd hate it if everyone shared my tastes.

Quote:
Sigh, seems like we dont agree on anything lately Al, sorry...


We've disagreed elsewhere and often? I must be more tired than I thought... :cry:

If that's the case, no worries. I wouldn't take it personally, anyway.

EDIT: Someone should start a classic movie thread or something. I'd do it, but I really need to attend to real world concerns pretty soon...
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Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison. - Bosola, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi


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Elmo



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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

at least New Zealand looked good.
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sonic
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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
]And the Tony Leung character changes between In the Mood for Love and 2046 is interesting... And I think you'll be able to make more sense of the stuff with the Carina Lau character (and of what Leung's character says about her) if you've seen Days of Being Wild.


I have! But... I don't remember it. I bought the tape ages ago though, so I'll have to watch it again when I'm ready for 2046.

Quote:
My favorite Wong Kar-wai film? Let's see... I love the ones I've mentioned, and I hugely enjoyed Ashes of Time. And I really liked Happy Together; I think that and Ashes are his most underappreciated movies.


You said that Leslie Cheung died? That's awful... I didn't know.

...

...
...
...

Does anyone like Hirokazu Koreeda? I absolutely love "After Life". Don't know if I mentioned that earlier, but it is definately on my top ten films ever list. I wanted to see his other films ("Mabaroshi", "Distance"...) but they are hard to get and very expensive when I found them. Afterlife is one to make you think though... "So, what would you choose? Would you choose to choose?"

"Dreams" sounds good from what you've all said...


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sonic
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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Modern culture needs to find someway to re develope the concept of attention span.
What do you have that is better to do than watch intensly filmed archetypal heroic cycles?


Loads of things. I absolutely hate that kind of stuff. Elf, orc, hobbit, dragon, hero, blah blah blah. I have always hated the idea of Dungeons and Dragons too. It's just not my area. I don't relate well to these kinds of characters. I am okay with this (the elements of it) being used as a setting for really interesting characters with solid, deep personalities (like how they use it in a lot of RPG videogames -i.e. Final Fantasy-, where somehow they just do something with those things or add enough interesting elements outside of this to make it enjoyable), but I don't like it as the sole thing.

But lots of people do, and that's... okay I guess. ^^;


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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sylphisonic wrote:
I am playing a game at the moment where there are tonnes of interesting characters in my party but my main hero is an archetypical bare-bones hero who... well... just goes about being the hero, as though that should somehow make him the main protagonist. The other characters are all so well-developed that he is just... boring. He died and I was supposed to go and ressurect him, but I put it off for ages because I loved just having the chance to be hanging out with the good characters for a while. Eventually I gave in and did it anyway though as all the cast supposedly loves him and misses him terribly, and I felt bad for them. TV often has a main hero guy like that one though; maybe he's supposed to be your indentification point that you put your own self into, but it doesn't work for me and that's why I don't like a lot of it.


It's odd. I never thought of, say, Frodo as an "archetypal barebones hero." I kind of liked the fact that he's not the one who actually destroys the Ring...

Maybe you meant the character in the game is a "stereotypical barebones hero" or "a walking and muttering cliche" or somesuch?

I don't mind archetypal material-- depending upon how (and sometimes when) it's presented...

And I like innovation. Whatever gripes I sometimes have with Tolkien, he did change the genre's rules.

It's a pity that so many authors choose to write according to the rules and churn out six- to twelve-volume series conforming to the rules...

Quote:
I absolutely hate that kind of stuff. Elf, orc, hobbit, dragon, hero, blah blah blah


You and I are basically in agreement. I like Tolkien (the degree of my appreciation for his work varies from year to year), but a lot of post-1960s fantasy writing... It's basically Tolkien or Robert E. Howard fanfiction, with names changed for copyright reasons.

Quote:
The thing is, while most children ould pick up a Tolkien (or a Harry Potter, nowadays), I would have rather picked up a trilogy about a super-genius slug who thinks he's a snail without a shell, contemplates on transmigration of the soul, and eventually decides he's the reincrnation of Pythagoras and starts doing geometry with his slime.


I don't really dig Harry Potter. Lots of folks do, and that's fine. But... I dunno. Not my thing, and no, I won't elaborate on my reasons. :wink:

I preferred Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy to what I've seen of Mr. Potter and Co. If I was a kid, I think I'd love Pullman's stuff.

Whenever I think of Tolkien, I think of Dunsany's work, E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros and his Zimiamvia trilogy, and Peake's Gormenghast books as alternatives or as complementary readings...

I devoured printed work voraciously in my childhood and youth. I can only think of a few things I wouldn't touch...

I really loved certain books. Others, I've completely forgotten-- and I suspect I'm not missing much of a memory.

Maybe I'll post my thoughts on Tolkien and the other writers I've mentioned over on the Science Fiction thread, as I've said I don't mind discussions of fantasy literature.

Quote:
Star Wars for instance has an interesting universe and setting but I didn't care about the characters (besides Chewie!) that much and thus never really became a fan... it's just a little too basic for my taste.


I'm not going into Star Wars. Not unless I'm prompted into doing so.

Some of my best friends are Star Wars fans... :wink:

There's one thing in particular that really, I mean really, bugged me about those films. Mad

<wanders off and mutters to himself>
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Such is the soul in the body: this world is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads, like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge of the small compass of our prison. - Bosola, in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi
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simon's ghost



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PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked Order in the court!!! Asian cinema, people!
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Tonks_kittygoth



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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did bring up J-horror....

*sits up grinning in annoying teachers pettish way*

(psst Al, Ill meet you over in the sci fi thread about Pullman etc.)

Ok, I think I may have gotten everyone off track in the first place but...

Anyways, did anyone see that Audition movie that is supposed to be the scarriest J-horror thing ever. It looked more like a torture film to me... was it?

The thing I like about J-horror films is the feeling of desperation and there being no way to appease the spirits.

I was talking to some people and we were thinking it may have to do with the shift in western story telling in Aeschulus where he has the gods interfere for Orestes and end the cycle of the Eumenedies revenge cycle.

We were thinking that the idea of being able to appease the ghost spirit whatever in western myth came from there, adn perhaps the myths of Japan have less of a chance for forgiveness, therefore the spirits of J-horror arnt about to forgive and forget anytime soon.

Maybe they just need Moroku to stick a post it note on the ghosts forheads with some good spells writen in indellible ink...
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one wants to live and not die, so do other
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sonic
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Order in the court!!! Asian cinema, people!


Sorry Embarassed
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AlphonseVanWorden



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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tonks_kittygoth wrote:
Anyways, did anyone see that Audition movie that is supposed to be the scarriest J-horror thing ever. It looked more like a torture film to me... was it?


Audition was based on a Ryu Murakami story. (I tend to refer to Ryu as "the Other Murakami"... His novels and stories are worlds apart from those of Haruki Murakami, but they're interesting in their own way.)

It's not a torture film or faux snuff film a la the execrable and morally reprehensible Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh and Blood, but it does have some pretty gruesome and terrifying sequences. (The whole sexist idea of women "making dinner for their men" will never be the same...)

I don't think it's the scariest movie ever, but it's one of Miike's more interesting films. I don't think it's just the violence that's upsetting, it's the way the narrative moves... It's like a generational comedy or romantic comedy at first. Then you realize that what you've seen isn't what's really happening. Courtesy of flashbacks, you realize that what a character thought the girl said and what she really said-- or meant-- were quite different. And then the terror takes on meaning...

The film can be read a number of ways, as "just" a scary story or slick and stylized thriller, as an expression of male fears about women, or as a pretty harsh commentary on the ways men mess women up and what the consequences might be for the men who contribute to the messing up of women, in either subtle or obvious ways.

I can't really say anything more without ruining the ending. The film is misogynistic, but in a pretty weird way-- and it's really the men who pay for wanting/constructing a "compliant" image of womanhood. "I can't stand being alone" and "I don't want you to leave me" take on whole new meanings...

Pretty ingenious narrative, but I can see why people get upset by the film, both because of the violence and because of the portrayal of the central female character.
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shadowferret



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw Versus, by Ryuhei Kitamura.....lots of action, but the plot was kinda generic. The actoin, though....was cool.
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