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Thread: The Best of 2004 - A Future Look

  1. #31
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    Reconstruction

    I am looking for to it, it's a Danish film which won the Camera D'or (best first film) last year at Cannes. From what i've heard director Christoffer Boe has inventively shot the film in order to portray it's fractured narrative.

  2. #32
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    Garden State

    I was disatisfied with the comments made in previous posts regarding Garden State, which did not offer any help in deciding whether I should see it. Maybe some members want to discuss it further. IMDb voters rate the film in third place for 2004, tied with Kill Bill 2 and below Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Before Sunset. Opinion here was wildly discordant. I'll try to recap (please correct me if I'm wrong).
    pmw found it "pre-packaged" and "insipidly boring". The latter being, in my opinion, a highly subjective matter having to do with one's own level of interest.
    Justafied actually walked out early, anticipating the likelyhood that Ms. Portman's character would "have a seizure at some inoportune moment". She doesn't. He also mentions being "leery of characters who have epiphanies".
    H. Tree says Garden State is "great". Actually, his "fave of the year so far". But he doesn't really expound on why he liked it so much.
    Somewhere the word "quirky" is mentioned.

    Since I'm taking Dylan to the UM-FSU football game on Friday (Canes have won 5 in a row by 3 points or less!), I asked Chelsea to pick a film for both of us to watch Labor Day and she chose Garden State.

    The film is too inconsistent in tone and execution to be among the best of the year, with a canned moment here and there and a forced "quirkiness" at times. But I cared about the central character from the get go, and some very funny bits kept me entertained. I've witnessed clients undergo more radical changes than Lagerman's, when going on or off psychotropic medication. So the "epiphany" rang true. And most importantly, even though condensed to four days, the arc of the romantic relationship, the way it developed, was well-conceived. I treasure most the brief scenes involving Lagerman and his father, whose anger and contempt seethe just beneath the surface. On the other hand, the whole quest for a piece of cheap jewelry belonging to the deceased mother is overwrought, even ludicrous at times. But Braff offers ample compensation.

  3. #33
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    Re: Garden State

    Originally posted by oscar jubis
    I was disatisfied with the comments made in previous posts regarding Garden State, which did not offer any help in deciding whether I should see it.
    Sorry Oscar. I'll try to expand on what I disliked about the film.

    First of all, I'll admit I rushed to judgment in assuming that Braff's character would have an "epiphany" after Portman's character suffered another seizure. You've since told us that she did not, in fact, suffer such an epileptic fit, and Braff may not have actually had a moment of revelation. This was a faulty assumption on my part on where the movie was headed. Perhaps I was in a particularly critical mood the day I saw the film; I try to achieve a certain balance/harmony before watching a movie, to see the film as objectively as possible, but it doesn't always work.

    That said, I thought the film was still too cute, or "quirky", for its own good. It gave the film a rather artificial flavor. At times, it seemed like nothing more than a series of cute vignettes. For example, one of the scenes in the film's trailer is Braff standing against a wall the color and pattern of which matched his shirt identically. This scene, and the leadup to it, was completely artificially constructed and had no relevance at all to anything in the rest of the film. Something about Braff's mother wallpapering her bathroom and then her friend making him a shirt, which happened to be from the same material (why?). Then the picture of him in the bathroom, blending right in. Is this supposed to be profound in some way, like Dustin Hoffman floating at the bottom of the pool in The Graduate? To me, it was a pretentious and unnecessarily random moment in the film, a foreboding for the rest of the film. Almost every character had some sort of eccentricity in either his character or his surroundings which was intended to be our primary basis of understanding this character. Braff had been on lithium for 10 years, then he stopped. His father hated him. He had a motorcyle with a sidecar. Portman was an epileptic with her own helmet. Portman had a "brother" (and he was black!) who came to the family via Sally Struthers. Portman had a pet cemetary in the back yard. Their friend invented silent velcro and yet lived alone in an unfurnished house. Their other friend was a gravedigger, and his mom (with whom he shared a bong) was banging some guy who worked at Medieval Times. He wore his armor at the breakfast table. Now you understand the characters, there's your movie. Its quirkiness reminded me at times of Rushmore, but unlike Garden State, the characters and story in Wes Anderson's film had a depth to support the slick layer of quirkiness. There was something below the surface.

    I'm sure that medication, or the lack thereof, can change people's outlooks on life and provide new direction. I don't mean to belittle those effects. It just seemed like Braff artificially inserted this facet of the story to explain his character's change in mindset without needing to look for deeper or more subtle explanations. It seemed like something out of Screenwriting 101, and I found it rather boring.

  4. #34
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    Originally posted by JustaFied
    Perhaps I was in a particularly critical mood the day I saw the film

    How refreshing to read an acknowledgement that one's mood and state of mind are variables impacting on one's response to a given film. I was probably in a generous mood, glad to be at a theatre after they closed for three days due to the threat of a hurricane.

    At times, it seemed like nothing more than a series of cute vignettes.

    There's a core to this film, namely Lagerman, that keeps the film grounded. Lagerman and his relationships with his father and Sam, provide a counterpoint to the often quirky peripheral characters and absurdist humor.

    Something about Braff's mother wallpapering her bathroom and then her friend making him a shirt, which happened to be from the same material (why?). Then the picture of him in the bathroom, blending right in. Is this supposed to be profound in some way? To me, it was a pretentious and unnecessarily random moment in the film, a foreboding for the rest of the film.

    No, not profound; and perhaps ridiculous as far as the character making the shirt for a man she hasn't seen in at least nine years, if ever. But for me, as an spectator, this visual cue conveyed with great economy, how invisible and second-hand Large feels. It worked for me in the same way that the ripped spigot from a gas pump conveys his numbed absent-mindedness.

    Its quirkiness reminded me at times of Rushmore, but unlike Garden State, the characters and story in Wes Anderson's film had a depth to support the slick layer of quirkiness.

    Rushmore is without a doubt a better movie. Both films exude affection for their offbeat characters. I liked Garden State. You've expressed your reservations with conviction and clarity. Thanks.

    I'm sure that medication, or the lack thereof, can change people's outlooks on life and provide new direction. I don't mean to belittle those effects.

    While working at a State Psych Hospital years ago, I noticed an unusual number of discharges of patients that had been there for many years. I learned that most had experienced radical improvement in their ability to perceive reality and communicate with others upon being put on a new type of anti-psychotic medication (Ristaril). Suddenly I was very busy making arrangements to return these folks to community living. Lithium is primarily prescribed to normalize mood, helping avoid the peaks and valleys experienced mostly by "bipolars" (formerly known as manic-depressive illness). Discontinuation of lithium would have quite an impact on an average individual (not necessarily for the better). We are given reason to believe that in this case, his father prescribing lithium and sending Large to boarding school is self-serving.

  5. #35
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    An Almost Final Look At 2004

    Next To Last of Best of 2004 Films
    (The Popular Movies available in the United States)

    1. Dogville. Nichole Kidman offers up a performance in a script that is super rich in acting, a blend of a movie directed stage production that penetrates into the inner core of the human soul. One of the most powerful portrayals of social and interpersonal interactions on film.

    2. (1.) Kill Bill No. 2. This is among the best movies of the year from a script, cinematography, character standpoint. A substantive and deeper as well as more edgy, emotional version than the over the top Volume No. 1 which tended towards satire of a number of genre.

    3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Jim Carrey offers up his best dramatic and strangely twisting relational movies so far. A heartfelt, energizing look into the innerworkings of memory and love and hate.

    4. (2.) Spartan. This is one of the best espionage movies in many years, recalling past Cold War movies with their edgy (less action oriented) more implied emotional roller coaster that depends more of acting, performance, and script handling than special effects and over the top thrills.

    5. (3.) Collateral. A great performance by Tom Cruise focusing on the rarely portrayed badguy with substance. I loved the experience, dialogue, and the flavor of the movie.

    6. The Incredibles. The most delicious, socially relevant and dazzling uses of contemporary state of the art animated movies of the best. The brings home the art of the possible and captures the supreme essence of animation at its best.

    7. (4.) (3.) Spiderman 2. Easily one of the best of the year because it captures both the superhero pyrotechnics along with a solid storyline and character development. A great Jaws - the Movie -renovation that combines many of the psychological elements of good film making.

    8. (5.) (4.) Passion of the Christ. A stirring 24 hour intense and focussed look at one of the most famous characters of all of theater. The emotional tragedy and intensity, the sincerity of character and original language and apparent veracity-looking, sounding film is a brilliant example of movie-making.

    9. (6.) The Bourne Supremacy. The new James Bond of the new century. This less special effects and fly by the seat of your pants spy thriller uses a more personal and emotional approach to the typical espionage movie. Nearly perfect in its execution - it presents the chase in its more human aspect though not as stark and raw as Spartan.

    10. (7.) Little Black Book. A special tribute to romantic comedies with a great, wrenching ending. A great script that the producers or director wisely decided to go with a solid, meaningful production rather than the usual, dopey string of stupid women.

    Honorable Mention.

    Against the Ropes. Meg Ryan performs one of her best roles in a difficult genre of male boxing. She achieves a underrated Demi Moore performance (as in Strip Tease) that was overlooked because of the nature of the male sport. A good look a the sport and the humanity that Ryan brought to a true story, real life character.

    Connie and Carla. One of the more difficult performances of women acting as men acting as women. This movie captured the humorous and sensitive nature of the sexes along with a delightful David Duchovy straight man.

    Day After Tomorrow. The biggest, explosive disaster movie of all time that almost contained a strong human story. A well balanced movie of an epic magnitude without getting lost in the special effects.

    The Terminal. A different and well acted Tom Hanks in a microcosm of a world in an air terminal. An almost independent movie feel along with a more bittersweet ending that allows the audience to focus on humanity instead of fantasy.

    The Stepford Wives. A rather off-kilter horror-comedy movie (a very difficult blend) done well that brings smiles to the more mature audiences.

    Alfie. A great update with a heart to heart relationship movie about a playboy who meets the real world. Jude Law is excellent with a delightful narrative.


    Movies bumped into above average, entertaining but unmemorable moviehood:

    13 Going On 30
    Mean Girls
    50 First Dates
    The Manchurian Candidate
    Hidalgo

    To be fair the movies that I haven't seen:

    The Aviator
    Finding Neverland
    The Garden State
    I Heart Huckabee's
    The Motorcycle Diaries
    The Notebook
    The Phantom of the Opera.
    Sideways
    Vanity Fair

  6. #36
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    Touching The Void - My #2 Pick of the Year

    Just when I think I have my top ten list down, there comes along like a few hours later on PBS the showing of Touching The Void (even on the small screen), this movie ranks 2nd on my list of top movies of 2004.

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