go_leafs At the Movies (CLUE- p. 16)

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Post by go_leafs_nation » Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:09 pm

I just recently learned of a movie that takes two of my favourite things, hockey and Jean-Claude Van Damme, and thrusts them together at last. The result is the 1995 action movie Sudden Death, which might as well have been called Die Hard on Ice or Die Hard at a Hockey Game. It is one of those many Die Hard clones, but one of the most entertaining I’ve ever seen.

We know the formula. Here, a group of terrorists led by Joshua Foss (Powers Boothe) strike during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals (which is being played out between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks). They have taken the Vice-President hostage and have rigged the arena with explosives, threatening to detonate them unless their demands (you guessed it, money!) are met. Naturally, the government is reluctant to pay up. The only flaw in the whole set-up is that the terrorists neglected to count on Darren McCord (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who of course goes on a mission to save everyone. It’s a neat little twist here, in that only the people outside the arena, the people held hostage inside the VIP box, the terrorists, and McCord are aware of the situation. The hockey players and fans are entirely oblivious to the situation.

Foss has a busy agenda. His aims include world peace, the end of bigotry, and the eradication of mini-malls. But he’s just after money for now. Powers Boothe is excellent in the role. He doesn’t take it too seriously, and that’s the secret to the entire movie’s success. It enjoys itself. Boothe can be pretty sadistic at times, and really enjoys tormenting his victims, such as when he muses aloud who will die at the next intermission should the money not arrive. He’s got some really funny lines as well, and makes for a really fun villain.

The movie was apparently written originally as an action/comedy (sort of like True Lies, released in 1994). Apparently, only one scene from the original script remained, and that is a hilarious fight in a kitchen between Jean-Claude Van Damme and the Penguins’ mascot (secretly hiding one of the villains inside). I love the scene. It’s a very creative and amusing one, and it is pretty darn detailed. It uses a lot of space and various kitchen tools: a cleaver, a meat slicer, a deep fryer, and an industrial-strength dishwasher (among others). Plus, it’s just a hilarious concept to have Van Damme duking it out with a fluffy team mascot (who has some pretty impressive moves!).

One of the things Sudden Death really has going for itself is its music, composed by John Debney (Recognize that name? He was nominated for an Oscar for his work on The Passion of the Christ, and he wrote the lovely theme tune of Liar Liar.) The score is something of a minor classic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like it’s something unbelievably original and inventive—it’s got the typical ‘exciting’ tone of action-movie music, but it’s highly effective nonetheless, especially when it has to be at crucial moments.

Another surprise is the actual hockey game in Sudden Death. Yes, it does make silly mistakes, such as not having the team go into the locker room when it should, but the action itself is actually surprisingly convincing. Sometimes the goalies look like they belong in the minors, but that’s only to be expected and not particularly bad. It looks like a genuine hockey game, and not something that’s carefully planned out. It’s interesting to see some hockey personalities appearing in the movie, such as Ken Wregget, Luc Robitaille (who has a fun exchange in French with JCVD before the game), and a then-unknown Markus Naslund. Others (like Ed Belfour, Tony Amonte, and Chris Chelios) are mentioned, but one cannot be quite sure whether it’s actually them or not. It’s a fairly complex exercise in recreating hockey action, and as a fan of the game, I appreciate it even more.

Peter Hyams is the director, and he does a solid job. As in Timecop, the effects are solid and the action is pretty good. The direction is reliable. There is only one serious complaint I have about this movie, and it is a serious mistake on Hyams’ part: he shows a character who gets killed in the movie alive and well near the end. This is the source of a lot of confusion, and should’ve been detected and carefully edited. But to be quite honest, the rest of the movie is so much fun I barely care at that point.

Is this on the same level as Speed or Die Hard? Well, as much as I’d love to say so, it isn’t as good as either film, but I love it just as much. It delivers a **** good show, and it’s sad to see it almost forgotten. This is a fun tongue-in-cheek action movie that thoroughly enjoys itself and invites the audience to enjoy it as well. (There’s even a hilarious sequence where Van Damme disguises himself as one of the goalies!) It’s splendid entertainment.

Jean-Claude Van Damme and hockey… together at last! I would’ve never thought of that combination. I'm glad someone else did.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

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Post by go_leafs_nation » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:05 pm

Sir Ian Mckellan is one of the finest Shakespearean actors of our time. While working on an essay on King Lear, I came across the version of the play which was filmed for PBS in which he starred, and although the direction is awful, everything else is brilliant.

When I say the direction is awful, I mean it's just horrible. The camera is static and the most movement it ever does is follow McKellan's face around. None of the settings are very convincing. The director, Trevor Nunn, was also (I think) the director of the stage play. While his direction for the stage would have been excellent, it is just awful on film. Film and theatre are just too different-- theatre-style direction does not translate well at all on film.

Since the direction is awful, everything depends on the actors. Luckily, the acting is truly brilliant. I can't think of a better actor to play Lear than McKellan. He is wonderfully compelling. His wrath, his insanity, his sorrow... everything feels genuine. King Lear is one of Shakespeare's most bitter plays, in which a series of horrible misfortunes fall upon the good while the evil flourish. You can genuinely feel sorrow for McKellan's Lear, and his betrayal by his daughters (both cast perfectly- a shell of sweetness covering pure malice) is one of the most personal and most sorrowful in all of Shakespeare.

Another brilliant actor is Philip Winchester, playing Edmund, the b@stard son of Gloucester, who plots his way into cheating his brother Edgar out of their father's wealth. Edmund is one of Shakespeare's best villains, in the same vein as "Honest Iago": through words and play-acting, he convinces his father that Edgar is evil, and then cruelly betrays him (a betrayal that is even more horrifying, I think, than the one Lear must endure). This guy is brilliant. He manipulates words effortlessly, and when he puts on his innocent act, you get the feeling he'd rope you in too if you didn't know better.

Overall, brilliant performances all round, direction that is suited more to the stage, but a worthwhile performance of Shakespeare nonetheless, even if it runs at 3 hours.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

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Post by go_leafs_nation » Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:17 pm

This is a really great review of Jaws 2:

http://www.jabootu.com/jaws2.htm

I dunno. I wanted this movie to be good, but it just... wasn't. It's sad, because of all the technical problems and so forth that plagued the production, just like on the original movie, and the fights that resulted in a drastically different movie. Some of the original concepts for the sequel sounded like really cool ideas.

But I think we can agree the tagline is brilliant.
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

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Post by WarnerPlum » Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:06 pm

go_leafs_nation wrote:While browsing message boards for Saw III on IMDb (wishing I could throw in my two cents, which I sadly can't), I came across one topic I feel like ranting about here:
The Person on IMDb wrote:Let me preface by saying to everyone who complains about the Saw films being violent and the Saw fans being psychopaths: I have some advice for you in my first point that you should try to grasp:

First:
[content edited out as I don't reckon anyone wants that again]

That's my first major point to people who cry their eyes out about Saw III being too violent, like SouthRules02.

Second: Read between the lines. If you're an *** hole who just likes to ***** about movies being violent because it hurts your virgin eyes or whatever, at least try to use your intellect, should you obtain any, to read between the lines of a film like this. You may see torn-out ribcages, twisted heads, smashed feet, nude ice women and pig guts, but for the rest of us who can really see a film for what it is, this is really an emotionally powerful film about forgiveness, loss and redemption, and really makes you think about how the pursuit of vengeance can change someone. On the same level as that, this film shows what loss can do to someone. And like any Saw film, this movie has a subtext we can all consider, about cherishing your life and the lives of those around you.

Third: Learn what the *beep* the film even is. Now I will grant that I did enjoy Hostel for it's commentary on the darkness of human nature, I will admit that film was mainly torture. Saw films are not torture. There is no torturer. It's about a man who puts people in these situations so that they might appreciate their lives, through painful rehabilitation like his traps, so there is no "torture", let alone "torture *beep*". You wanna have torture *beep*? Read the Bible (I'm a Catholic, too, I just wanted to say that). These Saw films are not about the gore, they're about the story and the characters that fans can relate to, and the story they can follow. I'd say 90-97% of Saw fans see the films for their soap-opera like storyline, and NOT for the gore and violence. Much like Star Wars.

Fourth: It's Just a Movie. Are people really being tortured for the "psychotic" Saw fan's pleasure? No! Is it a snuff film? F_ck no. It's not real, it's a f_cking movie, GET THE F_CK OVER IT, you *** hole haters.

So, I may make one in defense of the other ones, too. But until then whiny "morally-correct" haters who don't like the "gruesome torture *beep*" of Saw films and their "disturbed" fans:

[censored again]

WHY SO SERIOUS?
JIGSAW/HOFFMAN '12
Oooh, that sort of violent outburst just makes me seethe!!!! Image
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Post by go_leafs_nation » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:49 am

Anyone seen the new incanration of At the Movies?

http://www.ebertpresents.com/

I really like what they've done here. The critics chosen, Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, are solid choices who speak their mind, are fair towards the movies they review, and are enjoyable to watch. I personally love how in the Red Riding Hood review, after Lemire praises some aspects of the movie's scenery, lighting, and so on (while giving it the thumbs down), Vishnevetsky counters with "This movie is terrible."
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

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Post by go_leafs_nation » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:18 pm

The Confession, nominated for an Oscar as best short film this year, is truly a beautiful little film that's really worth watching. No words of mine can do it justice.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1687903/
The two women exchanged the kind of glance women use when no knife is handy.
~Ellery Queen
At the Scene of the Crime

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