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Chen G.

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Everything posted by Chen G.

  1. Oh, lots of people (by which I mean people who view film critically) share that view, myself included. It's visual splendor is beyond belief, but it's so lethargic that I'd watch An Unexpected Journey on loop. My confession is that I, a man who loves examining films critically, cannot for the life of me watch "art cinema" - a movie based around an allegory or a statement. To me, film is just not the right medium for that kind of intellectual exploration: that's what books are for. Films are about taking themes, basic themes of humanity, and exploring them in a visceral, emotional way. Not about making a cerebral statement. Because this is my criteria, I judge film by the emotional impact. As such, a lot of famous films mentioned in this thread - Godfather, Citizen Kane, etc - aren't anywhere near what I'd consider "the best films" (which is different to "favorite films") because they're not aiming to evoke a strong emotional response in the viewer to begin with.
  2. No, its hardly an essential. Other succesful films have done that, as well. But as it is, it remains a structural problem in the film, along with the lacking third act.
  3. Interesting. I do recall that section of the film being nigh dominated by Han's charming persona. I do however think that, while Rey, Finn and Kylo were good characters, JJ was concerned with putting the weight of the whole film on their shoulders. And maybe he has a point: maybe we like them because they're given to us in moderation? If you think about the quirks that give them their character, than they are things that can easily be overdone, e.g. Kylo's anger outbursts or Finn's scared-out-of-his-mind demeanor. Which is to say nothing about Poe not-really-in-the-movie Dameron.
  4. I wouldn't say it grinds to a halt. Yes, the Rathtar sequence (from when they are unleashed untill Finn is rescued) is loathsome, and Maz delivers a lot of uninteresting exposition, but Han Solo is charming enough to make that whole part of the movie work very well, to me. As for the score, love it as I do, the general thinking is that when you want to make a visceral fight scene, you take out the music. Music in action scenes works when they're more stylized and swashbuckling (see the Falcon chase) or when its a scaled-back, emotional show-down, see the final duel with Kylo Ren.
  5. True, but you want the film's level of spectacle and action to follow the narrative structure: start strong, hold there for a short while, subside, and than start rising progressively towards the climax. You generally don't want the film to peak (in terms of action) before the climax, although some films can make it work reasonably well.
  6. Right. I know he himself isn't the biggest fan of the Star Wars films: he often said he doesn't watch them outside of the scoring stage, and described some of his scoring choices as "tongue-in-cheek." He probably enjoys more realistic films. But I do think that he acknowledges that Star Wars is his magnum opus on the level of the thematic construction (fifty leitmotives and more still to go!), simply because its by and far the most enduring series of films he ever scored. I think that's why he keeps on doing them. I would want him to score the ninth entry. Closure in important.
  7. That's another issue that I have with the film. I've said before that it copied the original Star Wars' narrative structure, i.e. a long first act and a late-in-the-game introduction to the protagonist. Which, of course, isn't a problem; Lots of films do that, particularly when they want to evoke an "epic" vibe and let you appreciate the world: Braveheart did it, Fellowship of the Ring did it, An Unexpected Journey did it, even Titanic had a long framework story. The first two Harry Potter films tried to do that, too. The thing that made it work in Star Wars (and most of the aforementioned movies) was that, while long, the first act started in an action scene and continued to have action, spectacle and suspense peppered throughout. It did so in the original Star Wars, Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith and now with The Force Awakens. Its true of a lot of good movies, that they don't follow the classic narrative structure or rising tension and action, but rather start with a big action setpiece (a-la James Bond), mellow down, and than start the narrative proper. See Indiana Jones films, for instance. And The Force Awakens does that well enough. The only probelm, and one that adds to the third-act lag of this movie, is that the most exhilirating action sequence happens early on in the film: With the Millennium Falcon flying through the Jakku junkyard. That's always a problem when the biggest action scene isn't the one to close the film. Its not that it makes or breaks the film. Hell, The Dark Knight did it, and its still a critical darling, but it certainly does detracts from the experience, I think.
  8. As for this and for the "EPIC CHOIR!!!!!" option, we know that its the same orchestral set-up (85-piece) but there's been no word on the involvement of the Hollywood Film Chorale. If it were anything major (besides the 24-piece basso profundo choir) I suppose word will have gone out, and it hasn't.
  9. The finale could be interesting. Didn't Johnson say he didn't want to create an "episodic" film, but have a sense of closure to his movie? Surely, the music choice will be informed by that.
  10. Yeah. Unless I'm just awe-struck by the movie upon my first viewing in the theater, I'll usually wait and get it on Bluray and than rewatch it. If its a truly good film, It'll work on the small screen just as well.
  11. Yea, that's one way to go about it. I guess it will depend on her dynamic with Finn. From what I can gather she will adore him, he will try to act according to whatever rose-tinted image she has of him, they'll have a short breakdown when she realized he wasn't the hero she thought he was at all, and than they'll reconcile.
  12. I've always said that to properly critique a film, two viewing are required.
  13. The second time I watched the film was on a plane so the audience was quite docile.
  14. And those moments are very unlike JJ's oeuvre. While its not shot like the original Star Wars, I do appreciate that JJ slowed his camera-work enough for us to take-in more of the world.
  15. That's great. For me, when I think about a character building moment for Rey, its that quiet moment of her wearing the helmet, and looking wistfully at the sky. Also great. But not everything in the movie is like that.
  16. Yeah, but it happens more than once and for me its just a tad too much. Again, not something that really hurts my enjoyment of the film, but a small flaw nonetheless. No, but subtlety is an important element of film language.
  17. Unless she is treated as a romantic interest of Finn, she will probably get a theme that is informed by Williams' grandfather outlook, like Rey's theme is. I wonder if he will also write a proper theme for Finn (not that recurring action motif) or just use Rose's theme as the musical representation of their storyline.
  18. On the one hand, what matters is that Rey herself as a character is filled with doubts and incredulity at her own abilities, which she certainly is. On the other hand, if you make a character too gifted at too many things it can lead not only to problems of relating with the character (first time watching, I didn't react too much to Rey) and it can remove a lot of tension because nothing too bad can happen to a character like that. So it is an issue that I have with the film, but not so much that it really hampers my enjoyment of it. She also has a couple, just a couple, of "in-your-face-strong-independent-woman-character" moments like her insistence of not letting Finn grabbing her hand when he is clearly trying to help. The fact that she also comments on it out loud rather than just shake his hand off - tells us that JJ was trying to emphasize her independence. It doesn't happen terribly often, so its not a big issue, but its still there.
  19. So, can we come up with a list of themes that we think Williams will have written for this film? I say a porg theme, a theme for that Rose character, a theme for Del Toro's character, maybe a theme for one of the unusual planets on display, and possibly a new theme for the First Order itself. Seems about right.
  20. He always tries to write a new catalog of themes for each film which includes a heroic theme, a romantic or youthful one, a menacing one, etc...
  21. That first statement is just Williams taking the opportunity to introduce the main themes of the work as early as he possibly can. In the Asteroid field its clearly used to show the princess becoming impressed with Han's "wizardry of the controls". Besides, it's used with the princess just as often: think about the shotouts in Cloud City, or indeed the finale of the film. When Lucas and Williams talk about "Across the Stars" as the first love theme, they are referring to a very specific, "classic" idiom of love themes and love stories, more like Romeo and Juliet than Han and Leia.
  22. Nah. Adams was just toying with the idea, I believe. I think he was just voicing the bemoaning of fans that, seeing as how Han is the only main character without a theme, are willing to do whatever intellectual blackflips necessary to find a theme for Han in the love theme. Musically, the theme clearly belongs to the princess and it's clearly a love theme. Since Its used to represent the pair and, even more generally, their entire storyline throughout the film, it is sometimes applied to Han himself, but it's certainly not his theme, per se. Take for instance the first statement: Williams clearly just really wanted to introduce this theme as early as possible in the film, so he didn't wait until the Princess showed up on screen but settled for Han. Matessino also called it the Han Solo theme once or twice, but it strikes me just as trying not to repeat the term "love theme" too much, rather than putting forward an argument that the theme is for Han first. Williams did once refer (in an FSM interview twenty years removed from Return of the Jedi, mind you) to music for Han but that still doesn't mean that it's his personal theme. He also said that the interviewe was testing his memory as far as the thematic material goes.
  23. That statement had been thrown around quite a bit, by Lucas, by Williams, etc. I think what they mean by that is that its more of a love story and a love theme in the classical Hollywood tradition, whereas the Han and Leia love story was forged as they were on the run from the Empire.
  24. Neat! A very interesting read, especially for the prequel scores, since they didn't get the Doug Adams' treatment. Thanks for that.
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