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tpigeon

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Everything posted by tpigeon

  1. I don't want to read too much into one quote, but Abrams seems resigned rather than excited by the notion of Williams returning.
  2. So long that we're link-sharing, here's a link to an essay I recently wrote about An Unexpected Journey. http://www.slantmagazine.com/house/2013/01/critical-distance-the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey/ Problematic though it is, I quite enjoyed the movie. Ted
  3. To hit on some of the points that all of you have made, THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY is no doubt a disjointed work. There may be a few reasons for this, the most notable to me is that the book it's based on is episodic by nature. I like that aspect about the book, but it doesn't lend itself to an easy cinematic treatment, at least when it comes to balance and story structure and such. The other point that bears mentioning is how the film only covers about six or seven chapters from the book, filling those in with a wealth of other material. Jackson and co. have been criticized for this, but I have no problem with it. As Quint has said in the past, viewers should accept that this is "The Hobbit-plus." To keep consistent with the tone and style of the previous films, this was somewhat inevitable. Now, the extent of their stretching is arguably gratuitous. And that's where this first film summers a bit. The emotional pull simply isn't there to justify such a sprawling work; as these films develop, I have no doubt that Jackson and his co-writers will develop all the thematic and narrative threads they've dutifully introduced here, but whether the arcs we're seeing in this film are truly satisfying is debatable, particularly in light of the somewhat flabby nature of the story and storytelling. Recognizing these issues, I still enjoyed the film quite a bit. I was ambivalent early-on, but I found myself more drawn to the characters as it went on. Once the company arrives at Rivendell and beyond, I felt the movie was beginning to find its footing. It was the Gandalf-Galadriel interaction that finally convinced me that Jackson still had something to say. That's when I begun to feel that I was back in a Middle Earth and that Jackson was going to earnestly give us a more fully realized vision of it. The dwarves plot also begins to pick up after Rivendell. I particularly liked Bilbo's attempted escape from the cave before they end up in Goblin Town. Again, it's not the same kind of emotional pull we had in the earlier films. But that's ok. I think Jackson's only hinting at a larger emotional canvas. I might have more to say about individual scenes or my thoughts on the characters and such, but I just wanted to offer a general reflection now. It's helping as I begin crafting my actual review of the film! As for the score, I was disappointed with the overuse of the Misty Mountains theme and "greatest hits" quality it had regarding older themes. Having listened to the album, I can assume this was Jackson's doing. The theme itself is fine, but I didn't care for the heroic bursts of it (of which there were several). I rather liked its original use to underscore the journey. Shore will probably develop the Erebor material and other motifs, but I should also note that I am disappointed that the new Bilbo/Shire theme was all but removed from the movie completely. All in all, I was disappointed with the amount of re-scoring that took place and would have preferred Shore's original compositions. Ted
  4. I'm not sure I follow the editing argument. Some "tightening" won't result in a significantly shorter movie, unless you're talking about wholesale cutting scenes. The scenes that don't work at the end of RETURN OF THE KING have little to do with duration or editing, but instead with Jackson's confounding directorial decisions. The reunion at Frodo's bedside, for example, has some of most tedious use of slow-motion I've seen. In general, I actually like that Jackson takes his time and let's his shots linger. It may make the weak scenes weaker, but it makes the good scenes stronger to a much greater degree. Jackson's flaws stem more from writing and occasional artificial quality some scenes have, which, I would guess, are the ones he doesn't innately have a sense for how to convey.
  5. I should probably wait for LINCOLN to settle in more before I make such a statement. I'm having trouble finding the words now, but it almost seems to inject a WAR HORSE kind of sensibility into Williams's existing Americana/history mode, which is toned down a bit from its less subtle expressions in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and THE PATRIOT. I'm sure this isn't the best way of putting it, but perhaps I'll find the words as I latch onto this score more.
  6. Avoid the film, but the score is worth listening to. The strings and winds writing in some passages are really beautiful. As for Lincoln, I'm now on my second full listen and I'm beginning to agree with Hlao-roo. This might be Williams' best score in some time.
  7. The major flaw of The Patriot is the extent to which its mainly derivative main theme dominates the score. It's a shame, because there is so much beautiful material elsewhere, such as the bits some of you have already mentioned, i.e. Ann and Gabriel, the action music. As historical Williams scores go, it's still behind War Horse, Lincoln, and Angela's Ashes.
  8. Top Ten (in no order): A.I. Artificial Intelligence Raiders of the Lost Ark Jaws Angela's Ashes The Empire Strikes Back Return of the Jedi JFK The Reivers Jurassic Park E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial Honorable Mention: Hook Seven Years in Tibet Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Star Wars—Episode I: The Phantom Menace Presumed Innocent Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Close Encounters of the Third Kind Images Star Wars Fun little exercise. I wanted to include a list of "The Next 10" because each of them also means a great deal to me and I saw fit to recognize, even though none of them made my final 10. Ted
  9. But 'Tintin' failed to pull a nomination for Animated Feature. The snub of all snubs.
  10. Quint's right. Hoberman is a crank and a predictable one, as well.
  11. The scenes in No Man's Land are easily the best in the film. And the sequence scored by the second portion of the track "No Man's Land" on the OST is one of Spielberg's finest sequences, simply as a moment of pure wonderment.
  12. I saw Tintin last night in 3D. (More on the 3D in the other thread. And for the record, I did see The Hobbit trailer in 3D.) I enjoyed it thoroughly as a kind of old-fashioned adventure. The negative criticisms I've read about it —that it's dramatically shallow and that it's all surface, etc.— don't resonate much with me because, while they are true, they don't detract from the movie. It's supposed to be dramatically shallow and all surface. That's the charm of it. It's a straight-up adventure yarn, cut to the bone. I am more receptive to the complaints of some critics and members here that the movie rarely slows down. It moves through its scenes as well as the overall plot at such a high pace that I wish I could have soaked it all in just a bit more. This is what separates it from a film like Raiders of the Lost Ark, which included among its many strokes of brilliance is its pacing and rhythm. Despite these being a little off-kilter in Tintin, there is something to be said for a movie like this that is succinct and direct, as opposed to so much of the bloated fare representing today's blockbusters. Partially making up for the pacing problems is a flurry of wonderful little moments, ranging from Captain Haddock's mood swings and banter with Tintin to Snowy's expressions and interactions with other animals. But in general, the pleasure in seeing Tintin was simply the movement of it all; from individual shots to scene transitions. Spielberg has so much fun with the medium, which really lends itself to his classical compositional style. This coupled with the superb animation and bare-bones narrative makes for a fun little film.
  13. I was planning to see the film in glorious 2D, but the listing on the web was incorrect and so the only remaining screening available was a 3D screening. I am a pretty vocal detractor of 3D, but I should give Spielberg and co. props for the smoothest 3D film I've watched. Having said that, I still think it is a gimmick and would have much preferred to see it in 2D. With 3D I feel as though I cannot take in the images. It's just such a strain. So while Tintin has some of the best 3D I've seen, I was still incredibly frustrated that I couldn't fully appreciate the atmosphere and geography of Spielberg's compositions. I will look forward to seeing the movie in my preferred format on DVD. Ted
  14. Much will depend on which movie —War Horse or The Artist— has the most momentum going into Oscar night. My feeling now is that the Weinsteins are paving the way for another Best Picture win, which bodes well for the score for The Artist, as well.
  15. Having seen the film and listened to the score over the past couple of days, the War Horse soundtrack is easily one of the best presentations of Williams's music in some time. It leaves out nothing major from the film and it is presented in almost full chronological order. From what I can tell, only one track is spliced together from multiple separate cues ("No Man's Land"). The rest of the album's tracks represent full cues, so do not worry about the excessive comma usage in the track titles. And there is only one place where the album does not sync with the film and it's relatively minor: Track 6 should be swapped with Track 5. Then if you move the dissonant first half of "No Man's Land" to before "Pulling the Canon," the soundtrack would be fully chronological.
  16. I only listen to that track anymore because of this little bit. And you're right, Blume; it sounds like it should be interwoven more into the mystery underscoring in the early-going.
  17. Based on the track titles and what I've heard of the clips so far, I would say that the album presentation of the score is pretty in-line with the film I can say for sure that the last four or five tracks are chronological. I'll check back next week about the first 10 tracks or so.
  18. I found the film only to be syrupy in its final scenes. Spielberg employs vibrant colors, his trademark silhouettes, and John Williams' score for much of the emotional effect. And like Tim said, the level to which it affects you will depend on how much you buy the premise. To me, the Albert/Joey relationship is probably the least compelling thing about the movie, and that's largely due to the shaky first act. Where the movie really takes off is in the episodic mid-section, which gives you so many shades of the war and the fear of those which it surrounds.
  19. That is a good description of the album. Williams really outdid himself in terms of thematic development and each track offers something a little bit different. Having said that, I wish we had an end credits suite or individual tracks for some of the major themes. In short, I want a Harry's Wondrous World or Hedwig's Theme that ties it all together. I really enjoy "The Adventure Continues" in its own right, but I have to wonder why Williams chose this piece to develop into a concert suite and not Haddock's or Tintin's theme. Now, I should point out that I haven't seen the film yet, so maybe you're right and Tintin's theme is better suited to more modest statements throughout the album rather than a grand version like The Raiders March. So maybe there was good reason for Williams' decisions on the suites. But that is my only area of concern on this otherwise terrific soundtrack.
  20. I enjoy the Tintin album very much, but I am puzzled by Williams' choice of concert arrangements. The dueling pirates theme is fun and whimsical but should it close the album? And why not a three or four minute suite for Haddock's theme and Tintin's theme? I know we're supposed to judge an album based on what's there rather than what we wish was there, but I have trouble getting over Williams' decisions, particularly considering that he put so much effort into coming up with so many unique themes. If we're ranking based on albums, I'm putting this behind The Phantom Menace, Minority Report, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. A.I. is a better score and Williams' best in this time period, but the album is awful.
  21. Neither do I. The Red Reckham theme more seems more like the cousin of one of Williams' own action motifs, such as the bit from the Raiders truck chase after Indy gets shot. Williams has always written these kinds of melodies.
  22. Exactly. And good point about the score being front-loaded. There considerably more unscored scenes in the later parts of the movie. But when the themes are restated they seem to have added weight.
  23. Yes, I recall the music being very prominent throughout. As Tim noted, both sections of "No Man's Land" (which are at different places in the film) are perfect. My only problem with the score is that insists a little too hard early-on. Given how much the film covers, it makes sense why Williams and Spielberg saw fit to sell their connection so early with music.
  24. I attended the screening of War Horse last night in Plymouth Meeting, PA. As I noted in the other thread, I'll be working on a longer piece for the film's release in December, but right now is just some of my initial feedback. So forgive me if my thoughts aren't very organized. I'll talk about the film first and then move over to the score. I should first note that I have been skeptical about the premise of this film for sometime. When I first heard about it I liked the prospect of a Spielberg-shot World War I movie but I didn't go for the "boy and his horse" angle. Not that I am averse to these sorts of stories; I simply never saw the dramatic appeal of a kid who bonds with a horse and then goes to fight the war to re-unite with the horse. After seeing the film, I am happy to report that it's much better than I expected it would be. Structurally, it resembles A.I. in how it begins as a straightforward family portrait in the first act and then drastically changes course for the long second act, which is series of episodes with a variety of new characters. The film is actually most effective in delivering the shorter vignettes in its long middle section rather than with the main story established in the opening 30-40 minutes. Spielberg mostly avoids attributing human feelings to animals, though there are a few points that veer close. But to my surprise, the "horse perspective" plot device (which I was very wary about) is what works best about the film. This is because the story remains fixed on the human characters that come in and out of the story. And while it is not especially subtle (which is expected of Spielberg), these smaller stories are quilted together into a larger anti-war mosaic that I found much more effective than Saving Private Ryan. We've all seen countless anti-war movies, but I'd like to think that how a story is narrated and presented more strongly guides how effective and emotionally involving it is, no matter how broad or oft-repeated its central themes may be. On that note, each of the smaller portraits in the middle of the film are delicate and compelling in depicting how various individuals are affected by and participate in the war. Unlike Private Ryan, this film gives us characters on all sides of the conflict who are fearful, caring, and human. In Spielberg's vision, the larger purpose of the war and its politics is not a factor at all. This is where the plot element of the horse plays a key role. The story of the horse becomes involving precisely because it avoids the "horse feelings" for lack of a better term. By framing the story around the horse without diving too deeply into the horse's motivations or emotions, Spielberg tells a story that involved me both cerebrally and emotionally. The human characters in this film are largely all good people who do small things to help each other out along the way. But the film also explore the often dehumanizing social roles we inevitably must inhabit to survive. I won't delve too much farther into this, but I will also note that this film is as much a examination of the relationship of man and technology, as it is man with nature. The technology of warfare is a major thematic point; Spielberg conjures some stirring images of the violent marriage of technology and nature. If the film has a weak point, it's in the main plotline. Spielberg handles the early scenes with uncharacteristic sluggishness, since he usually excels with this material. And he sentimentalizes Albert and Joey's relationship and Albert's relationship with his father to an extent that will be too much for some. Having said that, outside the film's John Ford-inspired ending, Spielberg tends not to dip too heavily into the schmaltz. Nevertheless, this is the main story thrust of the movie and audiences will no doubt be divided over how much they are affected by the notion of a "boy and his horse." But despite my major suspicions toward this notion, the film's gradual unfolding into a larger networked narrative gives it much more dimension that resulted in an absorbing and affecting experience anchored by Spielberg's ever-sophisticated and striking visual senses. Some of his flaws certainly come into play, but War Horse showcases many more of his strengths. Now, on to the score. John Williams really seemed to connect with this movie. As we've heard from the sound clips and the three full tracks from the radio show, the music is gentle and pastoral. As much as I enjoy the Tintin score, War Horse for me is Williams in his prime. His underscore does not feel like filler music but actively helps to create the atmosphere and emotional surroundings of a given scene. The theme from the trailer is used often and is the main idea in the score. So, for those concerned about it not getting much play on the soundtrack, I would guess it shows up more than a few times on the 67-minute album. If there is one flaw with the score it's that it is too present in the early portions of the film. Williams perhaps overdoes a few scenes of Albert and Joey interacting. But these are minor complaints about an otherwise great score. A definite highlight is the action-heavy second half of "No Man's Land," which accompanies a collection of shots that qualifies as some of Spielberg's most beautiful images. And one final note on the score, for those who were curious about the final track on the album "Homecoming". I'm not quite sure why it's given this title because this is actually the suite that plays over the end credits. It's edited heavily, but the credits begin with the start of "Homecoming". I hope I was able to give a good sense of the film and score. I certainly would not have been able to see the film had I not happened upon a thread here by chance two days ago. Ted
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