Quick Takes – 06.05.11

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Grade: A | 5th+ Viewing

I have shared my thoughts on this wonderful film many times and did so in detail on last week’s edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot. However, after watching the movie another time I want to propose a unique challenge. Try watching Moulin Rouge! with the movie on mute and making any coherent sense of the narrative. Then switch to sound on with your eyes closed. It’s a great way to show how the film is such an aural and visual splendor and the two aspects are completely dependent on one another to make a cohesive vision.

Apocalypse Now: Redux (2001)

Grade: A | 1st Viewing

While I have scene the original version of Apocalypse Now many times, but technically this was my first time watching the Redux. There are 49 additional minutes in the updated version with most of the new running time coming from a series of scenes at a French plantation. These scenes were fascinating as the plantation represented one of the only surviving places of order in the sea of chaos. However, the placement of these scenes was awkward as they seemed to break the descent into madness that each of the soldiers were experiencing.

Nevertheless the film still holds up as one of the greatest war movies of all-time. It perfectly captures the absolute chaos of a war that nobody really understood. Martin Sheen’s performance is dark and often hilarious and Robert Duvall is the undeniable standout in one of the most iconic roles in movie history.

The Way Back (2010)

Grade: B- | 1st Viewing

Peter Weir’s The Way Back joins a common category of films that I would describe as a good story well told, but not particularly memorable. Colin Farrell was the standout performance wise and it was well-filmed and had an excellent score. However, hours after my viewing experience I could remember little of what I had just seen.

There should be a name for movies like this – movies that you generally enjoy, but don’t leave any type of impression. Any ideas?

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  • So you’d recommened the original “Apocalypse Now” over “Apocolaypse Now” redux? I’ve been meaning to watch the film, but I’m not sure which version to watch.

    I believe you already know my feelings about “Moulin Rouge!”. It’s a love it or hate it film, and I fall into the latter camp.

    I saw:

    “The Silence of the Lambs” (A-) – Review is up on the blog, if anyone’s interested.

    “Passion”: Film of the 1994 Production (C) – Review will be up later this week. I’m a huge Sondheim fan, but this was… not very good.

    “Archer”: Season 1 (A-) – I just started watching this show. It’s hilarious, albeit in a rather demented way. Will be doing catch-up reviews of season 2 all summer.

    And I also finished HBO’s “Deadwood” (Series Grade: A). One of the best shows I’ve ever watched, and more proof that the best TV programs are as good (or better) than the best movies.

  • Jose

    Archer is a classic in my opinion

    X Men First Class:
    Well personally I think its a hugely entertaining and is the best film in the series, but I really didn’t find it that memorable. Its ok for entertainment but its not really as deep as it thinks it is. Plus I thought it was rushed, Charles losing his legs and Erik turning into Magneto I felt should be in the sequel because all that happening in the first film speed it up a lot.

    Midnight in Paris
    Its been in wide release here in Spain for a month and has been paying to soldout shows. I decided to check it out since 1) I’ve never seen a Woody Allen film before, and 2) the buzz its been receiving is hard to ignore. The movie was a lot of fun and put a smile in my face throughout, but its unmemorable too. Plus the ending is pretty convenient. I’d still recommend it though
    B (or B+?)

    By the way both films were in spanish and I think hearing them dubbed added a lot to the experience.

  • Asif Khan

    1. I Am Number Four – C-
    2. Me and Orson Welles- B+
    3. Hanna- B+
    4. Valhalla Rising- B-
    5. Couples Retreat- F
    6. X Men 1- A- (2nd time)
    7. X Men 2- A (3rd time)
    8. X Men 3- B- (2nd time)

  • Asif Khan

    and i have seen THE WAY BACK and B- from me too. but dying to watch MOULIN ROGUE :(

  • @Greg I would watch Apocalypse Now first and then watch the Redux version afterward.

    Quiz Show: A
    This is one of those great movies that people have forgotten about. It proves that Robert Redford is better at directing than at acting.

    The China Syndrome: A-
    A good environmental-disaster-thriller if you’re in the mood for it.

  • Not as many movie watching going on this last week. But a few.

    “X-Men: First Class” B+, 1st Viewing

    I struggled with a letter grade for this one. I really enjoyed the movie, and it felt like this was the aborted Magneto origin movie rumored a few years ago as that character had the most compelling scenes and the most compelling conflicts. The chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender was phenomenal and both played their characters extremely well. Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw I thought was a great choice as well, and given his role as the suave villain he did an admirable job. But the X-kids … not so much. Some clunky performances and scenes, many of which felt forced into the storyline, and a rather rushed ending all brought it down for me. I put it on the level of X2 for enjoyment and the promise of future movies, and overall had a great time.

    “Thor” B+, 4th Viewing

    I read a rumor a week or so ago that the Mad Titan Thanos was supposed to be hinted at in “Thor”, or more specifically that the weapons vault of Asgard had a shot of the powerful Infinity Gauntlet. Yes, I am a comic nerd, and this nugget of information was enough to get me to the theater on a matinee showing. FYI, I did not see it in any of the scenes, but I think closer scrutinization on Blu-ray when it eventually gets released. Still holds up in my opinion as a fun, engaging comic book movie whose core big threat was to another magical realm entirely (with the Earth-based scenes arguably the weakest of the movie).

    “Twin Peaks” A, 1st Viewing

    Growing up I enjoyed the X-Files immensely, and the show “Twin Peaks” also came up as a predecessor to Carter’s seminal show of weird happenings and government cover-ups. It wasn’t until I watched David Lynch’s “Dune” a few months ago that I finally decided to watch it, and for the past few Sundays me and a group of friends have been watching the show several episodes at a time. I picked up the gold boxed set the very WEEK Netflix added it to their Watch Instant library, but I don’t feel bad – each episode is prefaced by a Log Lady introduction that is not on Netflix, and these prove to be … interesting, to say the least. We’re only halfway through the series (having watched up to episode 15 out of 30 so far) but the show is masterfully paced, if a bit slow, with a town full of weird happenings and sinister characters. Give it a chance. And enjoy the coffee.

  • @Greg – Definitely go with the original although they are both worthwhile. I got the Blu-Ray set that has both versions and ‘Hearts of Darkness’, the making-of documentary.

  • @Weird Dave – 4 times in theatres for ‘Thor’? Trust me, Marvel doesn’t need your money!

  • Jose

    Weird Dave the infinity gauntlet is there. I remember when I first saw the movie I noticed a glove looking thing and when I mentioned it to my geecky twin he said “holy- you saw the infinity gauntlet!”

  • @Alex – Yeah, it’s just a thing with me. Comic book movies get me excited, and I like to make sure my initial opinion doesn’t change (which it sometimes does) with multiple viewings. These are taking into account different theaters, different attendance situations, different people, different prices, and in general just different experiences. A manifestation of my miserable obsessiveness.

    @Jose – Damn it! No! I won’t see it again. Probably … Yeah, probably. I mean, probably not. Probably not going to not see it again. Definitely. Probably.

  • Midnight in Paris: A
    I loved this movie. Absolutely incredible and for many more reasons than the clever cameos. By far my favorite film of 2011 and my favorite Woody Allen film since ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors.’ Clever, funny, witty, and with a grain of legitimate insight this filmhad me laughing hysterically throughout and thinking about it long afterwards (the genius lies in the simplicity). I sincerely hope Allen casts Owen Wilson again.

    Radio Days: A
    I may be getting a soft spot for Woody Allen after years of denial. This sweet Amarcord-esque montage of nostaligic memories reminded me a lot of ‘A Christmas Story.’

    Belle de Jour: A
    I saw this the day before seeing ‘Midnight in Paris.’ Yay for Bunuel! Stunning imagery, the dream sequences reminded me of the modern adaptation of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.’ Both depict women in need of adventure through the lens of sexuality. This film gives it much more aesthetic beauty and meaning.

    The 400 Blows (Third Viewing): A
    Top ten of all time. This is another montage of nostalgic memories, but Truffaut exhibits a more haunted past without losing genuine love. An absolute masterpiece.

    Wow, I’ve had a great week! I also saw ‘The Tree of Life.’ I’ll get a review up here as soon as I can. But it may take a bit, I’m not really sure how to grade it or write about it.

    Also, I will join the Archer fanbase on this site. That show is genius.

  • Jose

    Davin did you at least enjoy The Tree of Life?

    I’m going to have to wait till July 1st when the film hits wider realese in the country. I highly doubt it’ll be here in Sapin anytime soon.

  • Jose


  • Oh yeah it was a very good film and I will elaborate in my full review. But I would categorize as an experimental film rather than a traditional drama and that makes it very difficult to measure up against more narratively driven films. And I liked ‘Midnight in Paris’ more; but I certainly enjoyed both films.

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