Film and Episodic Content Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Random Thoughts' started by purr1n, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Just watched Episode-1 of Netflix' new horror/thriller series, ARCHIVE81. Very creepy, involving several shocking twists I never saw coming. Hard to tell much about a total series based on a single episode, but so far, so good.

    The lead actor is Mamoudou Athie. He has a remarkable face (if I were a sculptor I'd beg to sculpt it) and real presence. That's a good thing, since much of his onscreen time is alone, reacting to things he's seeing. This man is totally up to the challenging of face acting/silent emoting.

    The female lead is a Saudi actress, Dina Shihabi, who made a big impression on me in Season-1 of Amazon's JACK RYAN. And she's making a big impression here.

    One of the show's producers is James Wan (SAW; INSIDIOUS; CONJURING). People are talking as if this is a James Wan show. Maybe yes, maybe no. But the writing and the directing no doubt contribute to the quality I'm seeing so far. The writer of Episode-1 is Rebecca Sonnenshine, who wrote 4 episodes of Amazon's THE BOYS. The director of Episode-1 is Rebecca Thomas, who directed at least part of Season-1 of STRANGER THINGS. All good.

    I'm onboard for the creepy ride of this new show...
     
  2. YMO

    YMO Scatologically ribald obsessive

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    I tried to watch Foundation on Apple TV+. Couldn't get into it after 25 minutes...and this is coming from a guy who read the five main novels (not the prequals)....it felt less of Foundation in spirit and more like a Sci-Fi story that just stole some idea from the books. Also felt that they were pushing diversity too hard just cause, since that was never a thing from the books. Might be too harsh in my criticism for the show, but some stuff like this is why I don't watch too much Western made stuff nowadays.
     
  3. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    "Rubber stamp diversity". It is just Hollywood trying to appear less racist, when it's one of their biggest problems.
     
  4. YMO

    YMO Scatologically ribald obsessive

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    Honestly I'm getting sick of it. Don't get me wrong, diversity can work great if it is done right. Ted Lasso was the perfect balance of having characters from different backgrounds without making a big deal of it at all. Characters felt legitimate.

    This of course on top of raping the original source material (Foundation).
     
  5. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Diversity is also story dependent. Not everything should be diverse. Trying to shoehorn black people into Middle earth (especially in the upcoming Lord of Rings tv show) when Tolkein was making a very old world myth for white Europe when he wrote those books, that's the kind of stuff that reeks of twitter mobs bullying Hollywood and hijacking storytelling. Because we all know you need to be the exact same race/gender as the character in order to relate to the story! /sarcasm.

    I didnt need to be white to relate to Ferris Bueller or Luke Skywalker or Elen Ripley.

    On the flip side Hollywood will devote time and energy to "diversity" but still (whether consciously or not) undermine the characters like they did with Finn from Star Wars by making him a janitor with very little story development. Boyega complained about it in some article I cant remember the name of. Basically rubber stamp diversity.
     
  6. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    @YMO Pretty eye opening article from Barry Weiss on the topic we've been discussing, interviews with insiders who are terrified of losing their jobs if they speak up.

    Hollywood's New Rules - Common Sense (substack.com)

     
  7. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Let the word go forth to all fans of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books* that their long wait for a quality, representative film or television adaptation is over.

    Prime Video's new 8 episode production, REACHER, is an adaptation of Childs' first Reacher book, KILLING FLOOR. I'm only 1 episode in, and we all know the pitfalls of commentary at that early point in a series. But let's get the obvious stuff out of the way:

    1 - The 2 Reacher movies starring Tom Cruise were OK, in a generic, Hollywood thriller way...but they had little to do with the Jack Reacher character fans of these books admire so much. Specifically, Tom Cruise is too short, too light, not a sufficient mesomorph to convincingly portray Reacher. These movies got made only because Cruise was attached--not because they convey this character with any accuracy or authority

    2 - Prime Video's REACHER totally redresses this wrong. Alan Ritchson is 6'2", not the 6'5" of the books' Reacher. But in every other way, he looks and acts the part.

    Something that's a bit creepy about the new series (at least for me), is how totally Ritchison conforms to my mental image of this character's face. And one must imagine the face, since nowhere does Child actually describe it. But Ritchson nails it.

    Critics are already having fun savaging the series, and I don't disagree with comments like "robotic" or "soulless." The Reacher character as written by Childs is widely thought to be so reliant on inner thoughts/calculations as to be unfilmable--indeed, the real appeal of this character isn't simply his strength or fighting prowess: it's his inner resolve to do the right thing, regardless of risk to himself.

    I'm not alone in liking this series & feeling relief to see the character well represented: IMDB's rating for it is already 8.9, which I do believe is the highest I've ever seen.

    Truthfully, the series isn't all that good. This isn't deep material. But it's entertaining as all hell. The Variety review (link below) nailed many of the pro's & con's of REACHER:

    https://variety.com/2022/tv/reviews/reacher-amazon-prime-video-1235171424/

    *There are 24 Reacher books written by Lee Child; plus 2 more written by Lee Child + his brother, Andrew Child. Those 2 are rather different from the 24 books that precede them. I found the 1st of these collaborations, THE SENTINEL, quite disappointing. I'm currently reading their 2nd collaboration, BETTER OFF DEAD, and finding it somewhat better than the 1st, though still not equivalent to Lee Child as sole author.
     
  8. Tchoupitoulas

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    I agree entirely about Reacher. I watched the first episode last night on the strength of the trailer, which was pretty funny. The show looked like good silly fun. (I've not read the books). It is indeed entertaining as all hell. There's a good enough balance between suspense, comedy, action, and witty interactions between characters to keep me going. And I've now got a crush on the character Roscoe Conklin, played by Willa Fitzgerald (who I now recall having seen in The Goldfinch).

    While I can see the criticism of it being a bit soulless, it at least does the audience the courtesy of not explaining every mystery right off the bat. The Variety article notes that Reacher is made by the same outfit that developed the Jack Ryan series. The first season of that show was decent enough but the second was a train wreck. It started poorly: you know you're in trouble when the title character, giving a lecture at the CIA - that serves as a point of entry to the season's plot - asks the assembled agents, "What would you assume is the most major threat on the world stage?" "Definitely Russia!" He then asks for a show of hands for those who agree. "Who else?" "China!" Up go the hands. "North Korea!" Oh boy. Thank goodness the spooks are so smart. Here's hoping that Reacher remains less stupid than Ryan.

    --

    Another decent Amazon show I've just started watching is Hanna. It's been out for a couple of years. I'm half-way into the first season. The first episode is worth pushing through. What follows is exciting and action-packed, part thriller, part Bourne movie, part coming of age story. I could do without some of the latter, but the plot, while being preposterous, is fun enough to get on board with. Oh, and it has the actress from the English-language version of The Killing, Mireiille Enos, who here manages to add a rictus smile to her arsenal of facial features. She now has two, alongside her glum poker face.
     
  9. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Just 2 comments:

    1 - You really should read at least a few of the Reacher books by Lee Child. They are something special, a sui generis depiction of mortal man as paramilitary, strategic superman...yet weirdly likeable and good company (if you're not his enemy, that is). I love these books. The series, REACHER, will only convey a fraction of what any one of these books gives you.

    2 - I'm 4-5 episodes into HANNA and liking it. The acting is top-notch. I'm somewhat stalled out at the moment, but that may be an artifact of stretching this story over so many episodes. I came in primed from the excellent film of the same name starring Saoirse Ronan and Cate Blanchette.
     
  10. roughroad

    roughroad formerly mephisto56, Rando

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    Sorry, but there are other shows rated much higher on IMDB than 8.9 including The Wire, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad to name just a few.

    If you want a fun, and yes unbelieveable but entertaing series, watch Banshee. It has all the goodies you could ask for such as blood and guts, violence, great characters (my favorite is Brock Lotus), sex, and dark humor.
     
  11. Kernel Kurtz

    Kernel Kurtz Friend

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    The Wire is probably the best TV show ever made to date. Sorry, OT I know. Just sayin.
     
  12. roughroad

    roughroad formerly mephisto56, Rando

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    I binge-watched Mike Flanagan's Midnight Mass (MM) in its entirety last night. Liked it much better than his earlier work The Haunting of Hill House (HH) even though the latter is rated significantly higher on IMDB.

    For me, the time investment in HH was not worth the build-up to the finale that was not that overwhelming. By contrast, and maybe I just like more simply laid out story lines with neatly tied-up endings, MM was more satisfying. The characters were also more easy to identify with in MM.

    Many reviewers of MM complained of it being very slow-paced and having too much exposition. One could say this was common to both of these works but I did not find it excessive or detract from the pacing of the story.

    Overall, I would recommend giving MM a watch.
     
  13. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Interesting comments. I got ~1/2 through HH and despite the occasional uber-creepy scare, my attention flagged.

    Midnight Mass is in My List. I'll have to start on it.
     
  14. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    For me, THE WIRE is the show that got away. It's exactly the material I like so much.

    But my freelance career was taking off just when this show hit, and all through its run. I worked crazy hours, sometimes commuting, the whole time it was on. Never had time to sit down at a certain time & watch, which is what you had to do back then.

    Now it's all streaming. I'd have to subscribe to HBO Max just to see it. I saw about 30" of an episode at somebody's house back in the day...a true OMG moment.

    So many people rave about the show. It's a legend in the industry as well as in the public eye. I keep tripping over amazing actors who were in this thing (Lance Riddick/BOSCH; Wendell Pierce/JACK RYAN; Idris Elba/Everything; Michael Kenneth Williams/R.I.P.).

    I keep hoping it will show up on Prime or Netflix.
     
  15. Kernel Kurtz

    Kernel Kurtz Friend

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    I don't miss that either, but release schedule is still a thing even now. I can time shift and binge like crazy, but still can only catch up to this week's episode.

    Find it wherever it may be. You won't regret a minute of it.

    Edit: Also, Idris Elba rocks in this.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2022
  16. roughroad

    roughroad formerly mephisto56, Rando

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    I made the mistake of watching The Wire before watching Breaking Bad (still watching, btw). I was absolutely riveted by The Wire, so much so that I fear it has spoiled me for many other highly rated shows. In fact, I may or may not finish Breaking Bad (2/3 through Season 2) as it's just not pulling me in. The Wire grabbed me by the balls from the 1st episode through the season 5 finale. Next up for me is The Sopranos, hoping for better things there.
     
  17. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    You'd be making a massive mistake.

    BB does not reveal its true genius until Seasons 3-5. And you have to look at the show as a whole and not worry about not being "riveted" early on... you're not supposed to be... BB rewards patient viewers, because early stuff is setup for what unfolds later on. And it is not until you go back and watch it again do you realize just how brilliant the early seasons are, because you have context now... the early seasons of BB seem deceptively "normal", but there is way more going on under the surface that new viewers can't really see because it's about the whole, not the individual parts, although those parts are brilliant, just not as obvious at first. That show is all about building blocks and creating a singular story arc. It is kind of anti-television in a way, because television is usually about putting all the eggs in one basket season by season, trying to keep viewers from tuning out, and it's why most shows run out of gas, because they blow their wad early. BB doesn't care and is more about the slow burn... creating a rich stew ingredient by ingredient until it becomes irresistible. Stick with it and you will be rewarded. It does pick up considerably in season 3 but its just the tip of the ice berg. It's my favorite show so I can't say enough about it. I love the Wire, but Breaking Bad is just on another level for me personally.
     
  18. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    I think Idris Elba rocks in everything. I'm still pissed he's not the next James Bond.
     
  19. Pharmaboy

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    Finished episode-3 of Prime Video's REACHER last night. This series is really growing on me. It's a rare thing when a new series starts to come together narratively and technically, and that's what I saw last night. 3 episodes in and this thing is starting to cohere and convince.

    The excellent acting is one factor. So is the home run the producers hit by casting Alan Ritchson as Reacher (the 1st time a physically suitable actor played this role). Another thing I'm liking is the cinematography and pacing of the production, believe it or not. They figured out ways to frame, shoot, and place Ritchson in space that highlight his size and Mt. Rushmore physical vibe. I read about a particular lens they use just inches from his face during closeups, a very hard thing he had to learn to "act with," and surprise, it works.

    There was a scene last night that really lit me up because it was unexpected, kinetic, and so in service of action about to happen: Reacher has left a roadhouse cafe after brutally beating down a large man who confronted him. He gets in his borrowed car and sees headlights behind him in the parking lot. He instantly puts together who they are and why they're in that place (before the audience knows any of it). Then, apparently by impulse, he gets out of the car, re-enters the bar (where they're kind of shocked to see him again so soon), steps over the unconscious man he beat down, then walks through several doorways and a passage into the kitchen, where he grabs something off the sink (I didn't realize 'til a few minutes later it was a pair of big yellow rubber gloves of the kind dishwashers use), then exits the way he came, getting back in the car and driving off with the men in pursuit.

    That shot (it may have been one continuous traveling shot--I have to rewatch it) totally worked for me. It dragged the audience into the frame & into Reacher's typical advance mental imaging/rehearsing of action he's about to take part in. That's a hallmark of Lee Child's writing of this character--this character always has a plan--and they found a way to show it to us here completely visually, with no words.

    REACHER is going well for me so far...
     
  20. Pharmaboy

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    I just saw a video that confirms it: Meryl Streep has acting superpowers. In this case, improv.

    Of course she's a spectacular actor--but improv this good from a non-standup comedian? No way. Watch this:

     

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