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Uni

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Everything posted by Uni

  1. Which, since I taped the movie off T.V. back in the early eighties, was the version I grew up with. I was aghast many years later when I watched the original version on cable; I couldn't believe how much was left out. Made it feel hollow. The full version is the real masterpiece. Star Trek V was an awful groaner, to be sure, but Jerry rose above the mayhem as usual and delivered, if not perhaps the best score of the franchise, at least a very noble attempt and some fantastic new themes. To begin with, this is where he first introduced the new, four-note motif he included in all his subseuent Treks; add to that the wonderful Mountain theme (yes, it begs for a concert version), "A Busy Man" - one of the gems of the whole series - and some good action cues, better even than is normal for Goldsmith, and you're left with a more than passable score. Good stuff. - Uni
  2. They crossed those boundaries....and suddenly, the show stopped being funny. - Uni :mad:
  3. Like anything else, there's good and bad CGI. I can deal with just about anything, though, except for when they attempt to mimic human movement. They can pull off animals and aliens better; for instance, in everyday life, we don't see large animals like elephants (upon which many of the JP dinos were based) on a regular basis, and we never see aliens. It's easier to portray new and unfamiliar movement as being realistic. However, we're intimately familiar with almost every aspect of human physical behavior, and every attempt to fool me with an animated person has been worse than bad, it's been awful - especially if there's a lot of movement. (Say, a hormonally distraught Jedi teenager trying to surf the galaxy's fattest cow.... :roll:) And I was less concerned with who was trying to curse Harry's broomstick than I was with who was transmogrifying him and the other kids into flabby blobs of gelatinous goo. The other big hangup I have is with this new trend toward updating classics with new graphics. CGI is, in many ways, fast becoming the Colorization technique of the new generation. Fifteen years ago, we grimaced as we watched our favorite old-time actors struggle with jaundice and pastel fashions; nowadays, if we want to partake in the wondrous experience of watching E.T. in the theaters, we have to swallow his "new and improved" makeover. That project failed, I think, for the same reasons they have such a hard time with humans. After 20 years, we're as acquainted with the little guy's facial expressions and movements as we are with our next door neighbor's. The original animatronic puppet didn't look completely real, no - but that's a tremendous part of what made him so endearing. He was an alien; he wasn't like us, so we could accept that he didn't move like us. The occasional jerky movement, the awkward flexibility of the fingers, the stiffness of the lips, all of it was just what made E.T. who he was. Giving him etiquette lessons so he can move with the smooth grace of a swan takes that away from us. He also got a facelift while they were at it, and if anything, that was an even worse trial to endure. The ol' pulsing lobes and sweaty wrinkles reminded us that he wasn't just another stuffed toy in Elliot's closet, in spite of his success in fooling Mom into thinking so. (A local sportscaster put it best, I think, when he called him "our little bacon-faced friend.") In the new version, he looks like a walking product placement for Oil of Olay; all the wrinkles are filled in with a pasty, white substance, the worst makeup job Hollywood's seen in years. Then they go and digitally add a series of mini-trampolines to make his jog back to the ship look like a Summer Olympic tryout for the long jump. Sheesh. Every time we observe this nonesense going on, we can see the computer nerds poking their heads in and grinning at their own cleverness. They may as well just have digitally created a thumb at the edge of the lens. You wanna deck out the ship a few extra Christmas ornaments, fine; but please, please leave our favorite characters alone. As the movie proceeded, I had a growing sense of dread that they were going to redo E.T.'s face again in the forest scene, when he looks down at Elliot and smiles. When the scene arrived, I was overjoyed to learn the makeup artist had taken that day off....and my reasoning was reaffirmed. You simply cannot improve on poniagncy that runs that deep. I have only one more gripe with CGI, though it's a slight one: I miss the days of being amazed at the creativity of SPFX - not just at what we saw, but at how it was accomplished. Each of the middle films in the two SW trilogies has an asteroid sequence; while I was enthralled with the content of the one in AOTC, I was much less impressed with its craftsmanship, because I knew it was pushbutton. Back in 1980, they had to film real rocks - one at a time - and then film real ships dodging around nothing, and then put it all together later. They had to plan it out in detail, they had to painstakingly endure the process, and when it was over, the first dailies were met with raucous applause. Somehow I don't think the effects wizards took the time to clap when the most recent sequence was complete; it was just another computer program, one of countless others in that film alone. I think the days of true effects wizardry are over. The Microwave Generation has taken over Hollywood, and things will never be the same. :confused: - Uni
  4. Seems like familiar territory to me.... :roll: Precisely. This point of view would have us believe that if someone saw Battlefield Earth and liked it, then they have some sort of deeper insight or more advanced understanding of artistic expression than we do (the guy's gotta be a friggin' genius, man....I mean, there's only three or four people in the world like him, right...?). That's nothing short of inane. Hey, you enjoyed a particular movie, great; but that doesn't make you better, that just makes you you. Agreed, for the same reasons. Right again. In all but a few cases, people don't "miss" anything (unless they're off getting popcorn). Everything hits them; it's how it hits them that makes the difference (and there are no right or wrong answers on that one, either). Nope....gotta call you on that one. Denying someone's creation the label of "art" isn't in your pervue any more than rejecting someone's opinion because it isn't yours. Spielberg, Kubrick and the whole gang got together and expressed an ethical, emotional, and intellectual concept through storytelling, dramatic performance and cinema. That's art. Great art? Your call. "Great" is a subjective modifier, so that's up to you. But saying it isn't art at all simply because you didn't like it is on the same level as the gripes listed above. And along the same lines, anyone certainly can feel free to "put it with Spielberg's best" if they so choose. Frankly, I would include it in the list you've provided, because I found it far superior to one of Spielberg's real duds, Always (my opinion, of course.... ). You just proved my point. However, to pick up on another subject in this thread....Close Encounters is in fact a masterpiece from beginning to end....and anyone who says otherwise has MISSED THE POINT and is DEAD WRONG!!! ROTFL Amen to that...! Perhaps the wisest point proferred in this thread. - Uni
  5. All right....this seems as good a place as any to drop my comments on A.I., something I was planning on doing shortly anyway. As usual, given my time crunch and finances, I'm waaaay behind the times when it comes to the JW Experience (AOTC was a rare exception). At long last, I finally saw A.I. for the first time the other night (ordered it on PPV), then watched it again, with my wife this time, a couple of evenings later. I've had to spend a year avoiding spoiler-ridden posts and discussions on the movie - something that has frustrated me to no end - and now at last I can finally throw my own battered hat into the pile filling center ring. (It's probably not necessary, given that this whole thread has dipped pretty liberally into the story, but it's become customary policy to forewarn of plot giveaways before going any further. Just in case.) As the film began, I was ready for anything....ready to love it, ready to be dourly disappointed, ready to experience any one of the wide range of reactions expressed by the frequenters of this forum - or maybe even something new. So what did I think? :roll: I thought it was wonderful. I was captivated from the first scene on, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, this is a film that challenged me to think, not just intellectually but morally and ethically, and that alone earns high marks any day of the week. I was enthralled by visuals that were as extraordinary as any I've seen (there is a major difference between CGI painting an entire landscape before our eyes and having it inserted into landscape with which we're already familiar). The performances were outstanding - for the most part, anyway. I think Monica was misplayed to some degree, and that did a bit to undermine the emotional hub of the story. But Jude Law found a part that was his for the taking and creating, and he made a secondary character as fascinating and compelling as anything in the story. And as far as I'm concerned, Haley Joel Osment can do anything he sets his mind to. I was already sold on him in The Sixth Sense; here he hit a mark that few adult actors could find, the ability to navigate a set of dramatic circumstances that were stacked against him from the beginning (the movie's central question - can a human love a robot back - was answered early on, leaving him to weave a new premise for himself). William Hurt found just the right note for the scientist whose stands cheerful and exultant in the face of his own unwitting betrayal, having not searched the ultimate ramifications of his experimenting; it would have been easier and less responsible to portray this character as a cold corporate type interested only in making money. I loved the poetic and symbolic mode of both the visuals and the screenplay. This was one of those movies that's almost a new experience the second time around, as we catch the setup of significant symbols we didn't understand or remember upon the initial viewing. Countless threads are spun out and reattached later, and each time I heard or saw a significant line or image repeated, I nodded my head and grinned. Some people find this technique redundant and trite; if done well (and I think it was here), I find it exhilarating. Stories just aren't told like this often enough any more. We've come to look for pure action or simple character observation in our films, and I think we've lost something in Hollywood's near inability to awe us with storytelling style. Still, I could easily see why people were polarized on the topic of this film. This is the sort of story that will draw a certain sort of person; anyone hoping for the simple magic of E.T. or looking for sheer entertainment will be at best disappointed, at worst repelled, by its fablistic qualities. It's the difference between the old, forgotten fairy tales and nursery rhymes and their newer, Disneyized manifestations. Despite their children's-fantasy packaging, stories like this were once written to express fairly deep philisophical conundrums, and they didn't always opt for the happy ending or pat answer. They often left the story unfinished, leaving the reader to work out the issues on their own. (Nowadays, especially in America, anything less than a happy ending leaves the audience unsatisfied and usually in a foul mood.) That's the direction the movie was taking as the second act came to a close. This would have been just that sort of fable's conclusion if the end credits started to roll after the camera pulled away from David's underwater captivity (anyone else notice the ol' Spielbergian ferris wheel mishap?), and I would have been satisfied if the film had ended there. It would have opened up an entirely new venue of thought concerning David's programmed desires, and would have answered very differently the question of his wishes coming true (though I daresay it would not have done any more to mollify those who already disliked the film). But Kubirck being who he was, that's not how it ended, which brings us to the divisive issue of the third act. This part really made me think, and I'll confess that not all my thoughts were positive. While I'm a sucker for grand-scale sci-fi business like this, and though I thought the aliens looked really cool, the story took such a jarring left turn that I was sure to wear a neckbrace the second time through. There were compelling moments here, and a few more interesting questions arose, but ultimately the last act doesn't work. After considering it for a while, I think I figured out why (at least for me). The format, look, and feel of the film to this point struck me as reminiscent of fantasy on several literary levels, at least three of which took the fore: The Quest, Fairy Tale and High Romance. Now, there's nothing wrong with taking several approaches like this - as long as each is fulfilled properly. Unfortunately, none of them were. Each had a fatal flaw that undermined its success and resulted in a very awkward ending. Take the story as a Quest, for instance. It fell short because the essential purpose of relating such a story is for us to follow the deeds (and misdeeds) of the heroes all the way to the journey's fulfillment, to see how the ends they reach justify their means. Here, the hero reaches a stopping point - and then waits while the end of the Quest is brought to him. We don't see him overcoming; we see him overcome, and then given all the answers anyway. No fair. We're all subconsciously familiar enough with the millieu of the Quest for this to come across as cheating, and somehow we just can't buy it. The context of Fairy Tales is fraught with magic, and when we enter that arena we're told to leave our disbelief at the door. Most often we'll concede, and from that point we'll gladly believe whatever we're told, no matter how unrealistic the circumstances. The rules are just different in Faery; here the most insurmountable problems can be solved by the most incredible creatures by the simple waving of a wand. However, the Blue Fairy in A.I. fails the test for the very reason that the answer doesn't come by magical means. Any wish-granting that requires a two-thousand year waiting period and the intervention of alien lifeforms has to be highly suspect. We can see the strings being pulled by the man behind the curtain. It's a botched coin trick. We'll believe in pure magic, yes, but mishandled slight-of-hand is another story entirely. That leaves High Romance - which suffers nothing for the fact that the protagonist's true love was his mother. The genre pivots on a single person being the object of all the hero's desires. Good enough for me. However....I don't think it's too much to ask that at least one of the participants be the real deal. Here we have an artificial being pursuing the love of his very real mother....and what does he get? An even more artificial version of his mother, a woman who looks half drunk in her inability to show any authentic reaction to the events that have been crucial in the development of her son. And I completely agree with Rogue Leader, who cried foul at the whole "bring em back for a day" business. This is plot manipulation working overtime. Better to just make a clone, who will last long enough for the warranty to expire and who can eventually be taught to love in return (given the fact that there's no one else around to love, if nothing else). So if the third act was such a dud (which it was, despite all the nifty graphics and a few more of those promising symbols thrown in), why did I love the film so much? Good question. I guess the rest of it was so good, a sour ending couldn't even spoil it. Regardless of how the story stumbles on its way to the finish line, the questions it asks (even though it gets the answers wrong for itself) were compelling enough to linger, and have stayed with me in the interrim. What Kubrick forgot, and Spielberg in his stead, I suppose, is that some of these questions are in their finest form when the solutions elude us. In spite of what the alien said, that's the truest demonstration of our genius: that those answers we can't find in the back of the book motivate us to search them out for ourselves, to expand our thinking and to grow to whatever extent will allow us to come to that essential realization. That's what makes us who we are. David started out on that path; it would have been nice to see him grow beyond his programming to find some of those answers for himself. But that was the storyteller's choice, and I for one am no less satisfied that I got to hear the story, regardless of how it ended. - Uni
  6. THIS TIME, HE'S BRINGING HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW.... -Uni
  7. I heard this as a listener-participation bit on a local radio station, but I didn't get to hear any of the responses. I thought the concept was a kick, so I figured I'd try it here, see what sort of ideas you folks can come up with. Ever heard comedian Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be a Redneck" bit? Starts off, "You might be a redneck if...." and has a thousand possible punch lines making fun of rednecks (you fill in the blank). Well, in light of the new Star Wars release, this station amended the game and made it, "You Might Be a Redneck Jedi If...." Like I said, I never got to hear what were probably some hilarious endings....so I want to see what kind of creativity you folks have in reserve. I'll get the ball rolling with a couple of my own: You might be a redneck Jedi if: - You have a rusty landspeeder, AT-AT chassis, or X-Wing on cement blocks in your front yard. - Your lightsaber doubles as a bug lamp. I could keep going, but I don't want to exhaust the pot. I'm hoping for some good stuff here, so don't disappoint me. (If we get a bunch of entries, maybe I'll post a poll later and we can choose the best one.... ) Good luck, everyone.... - Uni
  8. [Warning: This is really for those who have seen the film. Spoilers abound.] Well, this is my verdict, anyway. I had an extended session with the portable Discman the other night, and listened to the AOTC score several times over. To sum up....I'm pleased. Very pleased. TPM never really got off the ground with me; I still feel somehow distanced from it (not that the Ultimate Sedition did much to bridge the gap). Oh, I thought both new themes were great ("Duel" and "Ani's Theme"), and I still do. But it seemed to be missing....something. And I'm still looking for it. AOTC, on the other hand, seems much more like a real Williams score, a return to more familiar SW styling and pace. Not so much thematically, I suppose, since there's really only one new, major motif that pretty much takes control of the score, but in its organization, its presentation, and its execution. And as for the central theme itself....well, I think I'm gonna hafta change my vote on the (sort of) recent poll asking which love theme we liked the most (too late - the old MB's gone). The new Love Theme does everything it should and more: it invests the space opera with a properly epic aria, one that goes on to imbue the rest of the story with added breadth and meaning, a feat the last score failed to accomplish. As a matter of fact....it's almost too good. More than the film, or the love story anyway, deserves. I think that's part of the problem I had with the central sections of the movie. Once again (as I've claimed he did with Hook), Williams chose to score the underlying elements of the story rather than their specific presentation. This is meant to be the tale of how Momma and Poppa Skywalker met, mutually wooed, and changed the fate of a galaxy; that their reunion and subsequent courting has the effective dramatic weight of a middle-school class play doesn't alter the historical significance of the event itself. I think that's why the score didn't make as much of an impact on me until I listened to it apart from the film. There are scenes where its heady Shakespearean-tragedy, Russian-ballet gravity doesn't match at all with what we're watching on the screen. "The Meadow Picnic" is the most obvious example of this. Williams is here masterfully coaxing the orchestra into a passage that might better reflect romance on the scale of Romeo and Juliet, but the characters aren't paying attention. They're busy making a Mentos commercial. We see Amidala come running up through the high grass - and I swear, given Lucas's tendencies toward "traditional" storytelling, I half expected Anakin to come running toward her from the other end of the field (I pulled a muscle trying to stifle the rising laugh). I was spared that image, however, only to be treated to the worst CGI shot in the film - I know they could have used a stuntman and a bluescreen for this one - followed by the ol' "I-pretend-I'm-hurt-'n'-cop-a-hug" bit (last seen somewhere in the region of third grade). The incongruity between the music's depth and the scene's lack thereof made for some pretty awkward cinema (if the kids are gonna play, wait until the composer's taking a break). There was, however, a point where the score and the movie finally met and made the appropriate, vastly moving impression: the final wedding scene. At that point it no longer mattered how they met, or what-all they gushed and frolicked their way through to get there; if you really wanted, you could go ahead and make up your own love story to precede it (I did; it was kind of fun). Right then and there, they were Anakin Skywalker, future Sith Lord and father of two, and his beautiful bride Senator Amidala the of the Ageless Face; and with a vow and a kiss they sealed the destiny of millions of people. That was an epic event, one with lasting significance, and upon my second viewing - much to my surprise and in spite of the cartoon romance that heralded it - I found myself welling with tears as the score burst in transition from the Imperial Theme into the broad and gorgeous rendering of the Love Theme. I was witnessing history, from the viewpoint of one who has seen its culmination, and it was stunningly effective (thanks again to JW....Jedi Williams). A few other thoughts on the rest of the score: - The lone appearance of "Duel of the Fates" was excellently rendered and placed; my only complaint is that it vanished too soon. I would have liked seeing it rear its horns again as Anakin exacts his revenge on the camp (the scene itself could have been longer as well; we would have better gauged the intensity of his wrath by seeing it, rather than listening to him whine about it later). While we're on it, I had another thought: With its appearance here, the scope of the theme seemed to change a bit, at least in my mind. Now, by attributing it to Ani, it seems to broaden, ellucidating more than one single encounter or character. Dare we call this theme illustrative of the apprentices - knowing or otherwise - of Darth Sidious? - Maybe this is just me, but it seems that Williams has latched on to a certain four-note phrase that he's used recently to emphasize dark or evil circumstances or characters. It was used as Tavington's theme in The Patriot, and it appeared again in Harry Potter. (I heard it on the Ep. II CD; I don't recall where it pops up in the movie.) - It would have been nifty to hear a childlike version of Boba Fett's trembling theme (or was it there, and I just missed it?). - While I found the music for the Coruscant traffic chase a little pedestrian (no pun inten--well, maybe a little one), I was fascinated to hear electric guitars being used this way in a Williams score. The man is always full of surprises. - Finally, there have been quite a few complaints about the rehashing of old themes, particularly in the last act. I dunno....I kinda like hearing them again. There's a certain comfortable familiarity about hearing Yoda's Theme at the right moment, and certainly the Emporer's Theme belongs here. Actually, I may be one of the few who wishes there were more references to the classic scores. This is the second film wherein the end credits suite finished on a quiet, dark note; it was novel the first time, but I was sort of wishing for the old codas that reminded us we had just watched a Star Wars film. (I know; those finale themes were representative of the Rebels 'n' all, and that hasn't come about yet. I still miss them.) On the other hand, I found that a single, variagated theme after the Main Title burst (as opposed to two or three) gave it a more unified feel. So I can live with it, I guess. Well....I'd better stop, I suppose. I didn't mean for this to be a full-fledged review. I just wanted to say I liked it. (I should know better than to trust myself with a keyboard....) - Uni....who still makes up in wordcount what he will always lack in post quantity.... :oops:
  9. For what it's worth: 1) You-know-who 2) Jerry Goldsmith 3) James Horner 4) David Arnold 5) Alan Silvestri 6) John Barry 7) Basil Poledouris 8) Randy Edelman 9) Bruce Broughton 10) Michael Kamen - Uni
  10. Yeah, you know those Ewoks....always gettin' drunk and causin' trouble at all those New York film premiers. I'd love to see something like this happen (the meeting, I mean, not a Ewok riot in Times Square). I do think a JW concert would make a better forum, but I'd be open to anything. On a similar note....sadly, I won't be able to attend the concert in Cleveland this July. At one point some of us were thinking about a gathering there. Not that it can't still take place, but I'll be absent, I'm afraid. Anyway, we ought to keep thinking on this, at least on some regional level. It would be nice to meet some of you in person.... - Uni
  11. "Kept the peace for a thousand generations we have....and the thanks we get this is." - Yoda, from an undisclosed early draft of Attack of the Clones - Uni
  12. Uni

    James Horner

    Interesting....Horner scores you love, followed by the ones you don't care for because of his tendency to return to familiar thematic grounds. Interesting, because one of scores on your "favorites" list is The Rocketeer....which is like a "best hits" list from his scores of the 80's. There are direct quotes from Willow, Cocoon, Field of Dreams, and his Star Trek scores, just to name a few. Not that I consider this a bad thing, necessarily; in fact, The Rocketeer happens to be one of my favorites as well. Just a curiosity.... I haven't yet heard A Beautiful Mind yet, but I'm astonished to hear that he used the Gayne Ballet bit yet again! That's one of the few thieveries of his I've never been able to reconcile with. It's not so bad that he used it in Aliens, mind you....but that he repeated it again in Patriot Games, and then again in Clear and Present Danger....well, that was just inviting criticism. I guess he figured it was time to dust off an ol' standby once again.... Incidentally....Willow is definitely worth the time, one of the best fantasy scores of the decade. Not as good as Krull, but certainly a great one.... - Uni
  13. Well, not exactly the Waltons, but.... :? Actually, there are too many new people here that I still don't know yet to really feel comfortable calling it a "family." However, it's still a pretty tight community, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. And you're right: this is by far the most intelligent and civilized MB on the 'net. To recall an ancient metaphor....the coffee shop is still open. - Uni
  14. I picked this one, although there were plenty of other references to the dialogue in this thread to chose from. In answer: there can't be any denying there are whole truckloads of awful dialogue in all five films. Most of this stuff is right out of the Flash Gordon school of dramatic writing (Lucas may have made vast improvements on the sparklers stuck to the backs of the phony ships, but he forgot to update the phony dialogue stuck in the actors' mouths). The worst of it in this last installment tends to congregate around the love story (and that a forgiving label at best). "I've died a little every day since you came back into my life"? "I truly, deeply, madly, PAINFULLY...."? Oh, puh-lease. The only lines to outdo the mooning of Ani and Ami are the astonishingly anochronistic groaners we get from C3PO (Lucas ought to be fined by the Screenwriter's Guild for resurrecting puns that were already petrified back in the 60's). But that's all par for the course in a Star Wars film, really. Lucas has never been much of a writer (and if you think the film versions are bad, you should see the rough drafts of the original films....holy cow), but that's never really been a problem, has it? All that laughable bantering brings a sort of cheerful, mythological spirit to the whole enterprise. It recalls the heroic days of true melodrama when every other sentence was voomped up with an exclamation point (and a sword raised in the air)....the days when a man's love for a woman was measured by the quiver in his lips....the days when everyone "musted" everything ("We must stop them!"). We know how much Lucas was influenced by those old Saturday-afternoon cliffhangers; influenced so much, in fact, that he has apparently transferred them part-and-parcel into the modern era of cinema. While we ought to be thankful that he's had people around to help add spice, humor, and real drama to his awkward attempts at scripting, at the same time the spirit of these films we adore so much would be regretably diminished if the characters didn't wear their gushing hope on their sleeves, and if Darth Vader didn't verbally twist his mechanical mustache every now and again. So I can certainly forgive the films' penchant for silly lines, even as I twist a grin into my hand at them. In answer to the thread's original question: I gave it an 8, simply because it was fun (something the last film wasn't). It loses points for a painfully contrived "love story" (Lucas can be pardoned for overdramatizing war, but romance is a tricky business) and, again, for Threepio's intolerable, punny jaunt into the well-forgotten past. But the movie remembered something that the original films had down to a "T": that if the story can't carry the day (and, in these cases, let's be honest - it usually can't), then for heaven's sake, don't take it too seriously; throw it at us a mile-a-minute, and make us laugh along the way. It's amazing how much milage you can get out of speed, humor, and cutting-edge special effects. - Uni
  15. All right....since I know you're nearby, Stefan, I've got another query for you: I'd like to use one of my old avatar images for this board. Unfortunately, one of the shortcomings of this new location is that it won't shrink the source image to the correct size (like the old one did); it insists that I do it myself. Do you have any idea how to go about such a task? - Uni
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