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Reviews: "O Brother" And Others

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the -tech-culture-holiday-movie-wrap- dept.

Movies 145

Happy New Year! Lots worse things to be doing (at least in the snowbound regions) than talking movies. How do you think this holiday movie season is shaping up? I've seen three outstanding ones so far: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and Unbreakable. WARNING: Some plots are briefly summarized below -- for those movies I just named and and in reviews of Cast Away, State and Main, What Women Want, Finding Forrester, Proof Of Life and All The Pretty Horses. No endings are given away. (I haven't yet seen the much-ballyhooed Traffic or the Nosferatu-inspired Shadows Of the Vampire, about which we can jaw over the next couple of Sundays).

You won't see a stranger, more inspired or more charmingly off-kilter movie than O Brother, Where Art You? from the blessedly weird Coen brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Hudsucker Proxy.)

This one is making both best and worst lists of major critics, which isn't surprising, since it's utterly bizarre and responding to it requires a particular kind of humor and sensibility. It's title comes from a 1942 Preston Sturges movie, Sullivan's Travels. The opening credits announce that O, Brother is based on Homer's "The Odyssey," but this isn't a retelling of Odysseus's voyage so much as it is a jazzy riff on it, and on some good old-fashioned American "values," like the twin loves of God and country.

Set in Mississippi during the Depression, "Brother" follows three escaped and hotly-pursued convicts (George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson) as they set out to dig up some buried treasure before a new dam floods its burial place or the evil (possibly satanic) sheriff catches up to them. It's a much more good-natured trip than the one Odysseus took, though anybody who remembers the classic will have fun spotting all sorts of familiar characters popping up here, from muses to sirens to the cyclops (in the form of John Goodman.)

The Coen brothers are at their most unnervingly original here, and while they don't appear to be taking themselves seriously, they do have ambitions in this nostalgic portrait of (barely) pre-mass media, high tech, politically correct America, and of the Southern streak of moral and religious high-mindedness that still crops up in American politics and Washington debates over values, morality and culture. Clooney and his two dim-witted associates managed to stop off at a radio station to make a few bucks crooning and unknowingly launch a smash single. T-Bone Burnett deserves kudos too, for assembling a terrific old-time bluegrass/country soundtrack, some of it antique and some contemporary.

Clooney is edgy at first in this strange role, but eventually gets comfortable with it and is terrific as the undeterrable, brave (and yes, innocent) wanderer in search of his treasure and his lost family, getting past one hurdle after another on the way.

Be prepared for a movie that like Crouching Tiger is nothing like traditional Hollywood fare. Bravely inventive, it doesn't move in a straight line. It probably helps to have a strange streak if you go see this film; maybe leave your straight friends behind. But this holiday season, let's give thanks for the Coen brothers, for whom no character, major or minor, is anything less than memorable. Weirdos pop up from every direction all through this movie, including a brilliant Charles Durning as the foul-tempered governor who turns to pop culture to save his political career (a prescient commentary on conventional political hypocrisy and moral posturing about kids).

Crouching Tiger, which we mulled over in this space last week, is one of the most original movie in years, and it held up beautifully the second time around. (Though I offer a warning: you may find when some moviegoers are on unfamiliar ground, they laugh nervously during the eerie choreographed fighting scenes, which are a real surprise).

Unbreakable, also discussed previously here, also holds up as an amazingly dark, well- made movie, true to the superhero comic- book genre which inspired it. It might have Bruce Willis' best-ever acting performance, and it's one of those films that really captures the imagination.

As for the rest of the stuff at the megaplex:

I thought there was something off about Cast Away, even though most critics wet their pants over Tom Hank's Robinson Crusoe scenes. Perhaps it was the pointlessly sappy ending sequence, or maybe I couldn't quite get past wondering if there were still anyplace in the world where a human being could languish unnoticed for four years by people, boats, satellites or other machines (a consequence maybe of working for Slashdot).

Tom Hanks seems stuck in this kind of character, the decent, take-what-comes heroic everyman. Watching this movie -- at times beautiful, even wrenching -- I couldn't get the astronaut, the prison guard and the dutiful soldier out of my head, or remember exactly which one had wound up marooned in the South Pacific Island. If Fedex really had guys like this, we wouldn't even have to wait overnight. But the whole drama for Hank's character isn't really survival, it's getting back to Helen Hunt. For me, this was a monumental flaw.

Still, among it's high points was a nightmarish, skillfully animated plane crash that made you feel as if you were inside the cabin as it hurtled into the sea.

State and Main is David Mamet's biting Hollywood satire, a knowing and unsparing romp in which a beleaguered film crew tries to shoot a movie in what appears to be a hick Vermont town. The L.A. slickies vs. the gullible locals who are smarter than they appear is hardly a fresh idea, but Mamet's skewering of the film industry is great fun. William Macy plays the monomaniacal, manipulative and sleazy director with great enthusiasm.

What Women Want is a vehicle for Mel Gibson to break out of the action genre with the help of the aforementioned Helen Hunt, who really needs to play somebody -- just once -- who isn't in such deadly earnest. It's a solid B movie whose premise is that a macho male acquires the ability to understand women because he can hear their thoughts (a gift bestowed him after he is hit by lightning, perhaps a metaphorical message). To me, this idea is a bit creepy, but the movie was pleasant enough, like eating a vanilla ice cream cone. A painless way to kill a few hours, but it could easily go on the "can miss" list.

All The Pretty Horses is actor/director Billy Bob Thornton's game rendition of the terrific novel by Cormac McCarthy. This is an end-of-innocence, coming-of-age, buddy/road trip movie, the story of an unassuming Texas kid (Matt Damon) who heads to Mexico for some adventure in the late 40s, and finds plenty. The movie is beautiful but hollow; it has an epic feeling, but really isn't very dramatic. The end result is more pretentious than powerful. It's too long, seems to circle around forever without quite landing anywhere. It lacks the edge of the book and somehow, it's tiresome to be reminded all the time that we used to be a purer, simpler nation. We know. So what? Soda used to be a nickel and milk used to be delivered to your backdoor.

I liked Proof Of Life, the Russell Crowe adventure flick, a lot. This movie, about the exploits of an Australian "k & r" (kidnap and rescue) specialist sent from London to save Meg Ryan's husband from South American guerrillas who have kidnapped him and are holding him for ransom is restrained and realistic. The local scenes (shot in Ecuador) are beautiful, and Crowe, as good as he was in Gladiator handles the role of the last ethical hero perfectly.

Perhaps the worst movie of the season so far is Sean Connery's Finding Forrester, a insipid, politically-correct tale about a reclusive writer and a brilliant minority kid from the Bronx. The movie has about every dumb cliche regarding race, class and writing that you could stuff into a movie. Even Connery can't save this woofer, make it worthwhile seeing, or keep you awake for all of it.

So how do you think this season is shaping up? I'd say it's better than average. But notice the strange and atypical absence of natural disasters, war flicks or futuristic Armageddon movies full of computer-generated FX and evil geek programmers spying on us and plotting the end of the world. (Some of you may have already seen those great trailers for next summer's anticipated Spielberg blockbuster about an AI kid. That'll give us plenty to talk about.)

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Re:Yuen Woo Ping (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1425000)

I was also confused by the historical timing of Crouching Tiger. The novel upon which the movie is based is set during the Manchu (aka Qing) dynasty (1600-1900 A.D.). In interviews, the director and actors also refer to this time period as the setting of the film.

But at the same time, the movie's dialogue dates the Green Destiny to the Han period (ending around 200 AD). Maybe they said the Tang (ending 900 AD)? Either way, if I remember correctly, they said that the sword is 400 years old, which would bring us either to 600 AD or 1300 AD, hundreds of years earlier than the beginning of the Qing dynasty. Am I misremembering the chronology of the Green Destiny? I've been doing google searches and I can't find any other reference to the apparent vintage of the sword. Any pointers would be appreciated.

Jeff Hwang

Watchmen (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1425001)


Watchmen is incredible! I've read it many times already and now when I read it again during the Christmas holidays I still find it extremely thought provoking.

Looked at sky through smoke heavy with human fat and God was not there. The cold, suffocating dark goes on forever, and we are alone... Live our lives lacking anything better to do. Devise reasons later. Born from oblivion, bear children, hellbound as ourselves, go into oblivion. There's nothing else.

Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose. This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It's not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It's us. Only us. 209 Streets stank of fire. The void breathed hard on my heart, turning its illusions to ice, shattering them. Was reborn then, free to scrawl my own design on this morally blank world. Was Rorschach.

When I first read that I had to put down the book for awhile to recover. Someone had not only managed to put on paper what I had felt all my life but in such a beautiful language too..

Re:filter by posters - PLEASE! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1425002)

You can already filter Katz.

Re:Crouching Tiger (1)

pez (54) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425003)

When leaving the theater, I strained to come up with a worse movie that I had seen, and failed.

Suspension of disbelief? PLEASE. And Katz's comment about "nervous laughter" -- give me a break. People were laughing out-loud in the theater because of how ridiculously STUPID the final fighting scenes were.

The dialog was uninspired, the acting was nonexistant, the plot was random and yet predictable at the same time.

This was the most boring, predictable, and contrived movies I have ever seen. I'm sorry I spent $9.50 on it.

Why did O Brother get delayed in US? (1)

Howie (4244) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425004)

I saw O Brother months ago in the UK (September-ish?) and really enjoyed it - anyone know why it's only just come out in the US? This is the opposite of what usually happens...

(and as luck would have it, I'm in the US at the moment, so I get to see it on the big screen again :) )

Short Term Memory! Ummm... Hidden Fortress anyone? (1)

HiredMan (5546) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425006)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is, in a nutshell, Star Wars remade as a Chinese martial arts fantasy. It is strange and beautiful and everyone should go see it.

[South_Park_Kyle's_Mom_Voice_On] Wha, wha, wha, what?!? [/SPKMV]

Ummm... no oppressive evil government, no revolution in the making, no central despotic villian, no hiding princess, no ragtag bunch of outlaws... but other than that JUST like Star Wars...
Other than the fact that the book predates SW but decades I also might suggest that you check out an old B&W Japanese flick called Hidden Fortress. Not to give it away but it starts with a tall skinny guy and short fat guy walking together across a vast desert. They quarrel, part but are reunited by when they are both captured by slave traders. It also involves a princess in hiding and an ancient samurai warrior who comes out of retirement to look after her..... but I don't want to give away the ending.... ;)


Just skip it friend.. (1)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425009)

Sorry your censorship software is messed up, but ain't nobody putting a gun to your head..Just skip it, and let people who want to read and talk read and talk. A free site, no? Keep your blood pressure down.

You can count on me (1)

K. (10774) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425010)

Went to see Crouchin Tiger, Unbreakable, and You
Can Count On Me on holidays in Toronto, and YCCOM
was the best of the lot. Crouching Tiger is a good HK movie, Unbreakable is an above-average
Hollywood action movie, but it's nothing special.
You Can Count On Me is just basically brilliant.
If it's still out near you, go see it.


Re:Comics and movies inspired by them (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425012)

Serious comics aren't about superheroes

Alan Moore seems to differ with you on this point. His runs writing several books have been excellent by many reports. Personally, I have only really read Watchmen and his current series Promethea, but they are both amazingly great and VERY serious (but with plenty of humor).

Re:no crouching tiger here in houston.. (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425013)

The release dates are available here [] .

If you're too lazy to go there, Houston opened 12/22. Hopefully it hasn't already closed.....

Re:no crouching tiger here in houston.. (1)

Brento (26177) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425018)

It was showing last week at the Landmark here by the Compaq Center, but it's gone already. You missed it. Gotta move quick. :-D

Re:Three worth seeing (1)

alkali (28338) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425022)

How does the movie bear any similarity whatsoever to Star Wars?

Really? Your response makes clear that you yourself recognize CTHD does bear certain similarities to SW.

Just because it includes a desert and a wise master doesn't necessarily make it derivative, you know.

I don't think CTHD is derivative, at least not in a bad way. I just meant to point out that it uses a lot of the same plot elements and themes as SW. (There's no question that Ang Lee and Jim Schamus, the creative team behind CTHD, have both seen SW.) SW itself recycles plot elements and themes from The Wizard Of Oz. Nihil novum sub sole.

Three worth seeing (1)

alkali (28338) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425025)

The more I think about it, O Brother, Where Are Thou? is the real sequel to The Blues Brothers, except that it's about old-time country music rather than rhythm and blues. If you think about the film that way rather than as the next effort by the people who brought you Miller's Crossing and Fargo, your expectations will be suitably adjusted -- not upward or downward, but sideways -- and you should have a good time.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is, in a nutshell, Star Wars remade as a Chinese martial arts fantasy. It is strange and beautiful and everyone should go see it. (In the unusual event that there are parents reading this, the film is rated PG-13 but is completely appropriate for any child old enough to read subtitles.)

One film JK did not remark on is You Can Count On Me, which tells the story of a single mother in upstate New York and her relationship with her drifter brother. This sounds like a "chick flick," to be sure, but is so well told that it serves to demonstrate the emptiness of the "family values porn" (Entertainment Weekly's description of The Family Man) which Hollywood churns out. For those who are afraid of abject sentimentality, I would note that the title would be more accurate if it were phrased as a question.

Re:filter by posters - PLEASE! (1)

FonkiE (28352) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425026)

sorry, i haven't looked at the prefs for a year, you *can* filter out the non geeks :-)

Re:filter by posters - PLEASE! (1)

jellicle (29746) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425027)

Um, if you're a logged-in user, you can. And have been able to for at least two years.

Re:Chinese perspective? (1)

bokane (36382) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425029)

The movie is set a bit over 2000 years after Confucius' time; he lived during the Zhou dynasty, the movie is set during the Qing dynasty.

Re:Three worth seeing (1)

bokane (36382) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425030)

Well yeah, but pretty much every movie - and every story - contains these elements; that was the whole point of Joseph Campbell's work. Star Wars had a lot of elements from Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress, which in turn had elements from countless folk tales in it. You're absolutely right when you say that there's nothing new under the sun.

Correction (1)

bokane (36382) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425031)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is not Matrix-inspired, Jon. It has kung-fu in it. The kung-fu was choreographed by Yuen Wo-ping. The similarities end there.

Re:Three worth seeing (1)

bokane (36382) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425032)

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is, in a nutshell, Star Wars remade as a Chinese martial arts fantasy. It is strange and beautiful and everyone should go see it. (In the unusual event that there are parents reading this, the film is rated PG-13 but is completely appropriate for any child old enough to read subtitles.)"

How does the movie bear any similarity whatsoever to Star Wars? Just because it includes a desert and a wise master doesn't necessarily make it derivative, you know.

I was cracking up in the bamboo scene (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425033)

And so was everyone else in the theatre.

Was this movie intended as a comedy? (They corny dialog seems to suggest so.) Regardless, I recomend it to anyone looking for a good laugh, albiet perhaps at someone elses expense.

Rick Kirkland

It's ANG Lee. (1)

Spittoon (64395) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425034)

'nuff said.

Re:"Requiem for a Dream" & "Dancer in the Dark" (1)

Taucere (69675) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425036)

Dancer in the Dark is not a Dogme film.

Do one thing..... (1)

yetisalmon (70744) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425037)

"You won't see a stranger, more inspired or more charmingly off-kilter movie than O Brother, Where Art You?

At least get the title right in a review. How can I trust an opinion when the given title is wrong?

Re:Castaway (1)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425038)

LOL! One of the directors I work wth said the same thing.

Re:Castaway (1)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425039)

The United Way [] is a charitable organization that raises money for literally thousands of organizations around the world. The money that is raised locally, though, is used locally. If you make a donation to hte United Way chapter in your area, then you will be helping someone in your own town or possibly in your own neighorhood.

Re:MPAA? (1)

FunkyChild (99051) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425042)

Aha.. Egg on my face.

Well at least it's foreign :)

What about Dracula 2000? (1)

JoeMac (102847) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425044)

Hmm, I don't really want to put in yet another movie into this list, but has anyone else seen Wes Craven's Dracula 2000 and been suitably impressed?

I saw it on Friday and I must say that the plot was well thought-out, the special effects were effective not excessive, and the explanation of Dracula's origins was surprising and fun.

I came out of Dracula 2000 having had a great time, and although it is not typical holiday fare it was very satisfying nonetheless. Admittedly, I've only seen Cast Away out of all the movies mentioned here, so maybe there some real gems, but don't discount Dracula 2000 as just another vampire movie. Well worth your time and money.

Re:reality check (1)

RoninM (105723) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425046)

Bush was elected?! Shit. I stopped watching after they called Florida for Gore on November 7th...

Okay. Kidding. I watched it all the way through. But...

Bush was elected?!

Re:Chinese perspective? (1)

RoninM (105723) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425047)

I remember reading an interview with one of the editor/author who admitted to her efforts to make women appear strong in these stories.

Admitted? Geez, man. Not to challenge any world-views, but it's not like she's committed some crime or done something terrible. She's presented three-dimensional characters. Is it morally or factually wrong to portray women as strong? No. This isn't a distortion of reality or the plotline, only of how you think. And that, dear boy, is a good thing. People challenging your preconceptions is positive. Sometimes you realize you weren't all that smart to begin with. Women are people, just like men, and are capable of strength and weakness, just like men. You see weak women in countries where women are considered inferior and weak. It's a cultural thing, enforced by the environment in which they're raised. It has nothing to do with biology, spirit, or, even, reality. Culture is the mutual fantasy of a sect. It's great, it gives life flavor, but sometimes it's wrong and harmful. Here's hoping that sometime in the future you can look back at you saying the comic having strong women characters is a distortion and see that you weren't quite in tune with reality, yet.

Re:Cast Away questions... (1)

RoninM (105723) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425048)

A year apart, if I'm not dreaming. The movie was shot in Fiji, too (again, if I'm not dreaming). As far as Tom's diet: the pudge on him at the beginning was also for the movie. He's ordinarily a bit between the two extremes, there. The pudge was added because he was supposed to be the every-man, not the well-built hero nor the extremely unlikely, 900 pound hero. They probably shot the end before he gained that weight or during the weight loss, but I don't know for certain; it's hard to tell when he's no longer wearing a loin-cloth (but the fact that he was now fully clothed had its own rewards, such as no longer having to see Tom Hanks not fully clothed). Anyway, yeah, he took about a year to lose the "artificial weight" he had gained for the role to begin with, and then worked-out like mad. So it's not an amazing diet after all: it's the good ol' way of getting things done in the absence of a magic pill. That is, by simply doing them.

What do the Chinese think ? (1)

Feign Ram (114284) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425051)

After reading Katz's first review of Couching Tiger, I went and saw the movie - I was not dissapointed. It is extremely well choreographed and there is a certain dignity about the whole movie, especially when the hero ( it's more about heroines ) accepts his death. But I am most interested in what the Chinese themselves think about the movie ? Does it pander overly to a western audience and the strong potrayal of women - Is it activism gone crazy or was it true of ancient China ? I might go see the movie again. It's really, really worth it.

Re:MPAA? (1)

wunderhorn1 (114559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425053)

Umm, I'm pretty sure at least visiting [] should back up my original point (which was slashdot is being extremely hypocritical).

You'll see (C) Columbia Tristar as well as the Sony Pictures logo, both MPAA members ( It's basically impossible to release a major film nationwide without going through the MPAA. They own the ball and the ballpark, and they'll do anything they can to keep their profit margins up (hence the DeCSS case).

So next time how 'bout doing a little research before you run your mouth, thanks.

-the wunderhorn

Thanks, Jon (1)

Nastard (124180) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425055)

...or the Nosferatu-inspired Shadows Of the Vampire...

Wow, a vampire movie inspired by Nosferatu. I wouldn't have guessed that one. Thanks, Jon, for clearing that up for me. I'll rush right out and see what is so obviously a brilliant and original flick about vampires (and inspired by Nosferatu, no less).

Re:My take... (1)

Aash (130966) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425057)

I was also expecting that when he gets rescued and finally return home that he would be a very different man, that his whole life would have changed because of this experience.

He wasn't? I thought he was. Before he got stuck on the island he was somewhat of a workaholic. He cared about getting packages there on time and little else. When he returned he seemed much more quiet than before, and he had a new outlook on life. He didn't go back to Fed Ex; he knew that his life would never be the same as it had before.

My take... (1)

Aash (130966) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425058)

First of all, let me warn everyone about What Women Want, since it seems to me that none of the critics are doing so. The trailer and commercials make this movie seem like a wacky comedy straight out of the 80's. It is most certainly not. While it undoubtably has some funny parts, it is just as much a drama as it is a comedy, and isn't really wacky at all. Plus, it's over two hours, which is just too long for a movie like this. I would not recommend it.

John Katz didn't mention it, but I just saw Miss Congeniality, and I was very surprised. You wouldn't think much of it from the trailers, but this turned out to be a very enjoyable movie. Yes, it's silly, and it's light, and you pretty much know what's going to happen all throughout the movie. However, this doesn't make it any less enjoyable. I even laughed out loud a few times, which is certainly something I wasn't expecting. I highly recommend this movie if you're looking for a movie where you can have fun without overusing the ol' noggin.

As for Cast Away, I don't have much to say about it, and I don't want to give anything away anyway. But it is a great movie. Go see it.

And of course, Unbreakable is great, if a little slow. So is Vertical Limit (but Cliffhanger is better). But let me warn you now: Stay away from Dude Where's my Car. FAR away. It is painfully unfunny, and not even very entertaining. Ughhhh...

Hopefully soon I'll be seeing Traffic. Now that looks good.

Cast Away overhyped... (1)

Alomex (148003) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425059)

I had head so many great things about cast away from the critics that I ended up not enjoying it.

I think if I had walked in the theatre with no expecations whatsoever, I would have walked out thinking "not a bad movie at all". Instead I walked out thinking "what is all the big fuzz about?".

I mean the movie is interesting, entertaining and well acted, but performances never tower like Hopkins and Foster in Silence of the Lambs. The plot never goes far from a boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets a girl back. The movie goes nowhere with its basic premise (a man driven by time and gadgets who is placed off-line for a few years), almost as if Zemeckis had changed his mind half way through filming.

In short: an ok movie overhyped by the critics.

Re:My take... (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425061)

He seemed changed to me. He makes that statement about how if he had his life do do over again, he knows what he would do differently. Also, before he was stranded, he came off as pushy... Afterwards, quiet and introspective.

Josh Sisk

Re:Three worth seeing (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425062)

I just meant to point out that it uses a lot of the same plot elements and themes as SW.

Which, itself took many of it's plot and theme's from Kurosawa's 'Throne of Blood' (So I've heard, but I've never seen the film) and Joseph Campbell's 'the Hero with 1000 Faces' and other writings (Lucas paid Campbell to come and consult with him about the plot to SW). Not to mention the classic hollywood Space Operas.

Everything is, to a point, derivative.

Josh Sisk

Re:The meaning of art (1)

extar-bags (161628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425066)

Yeah I think there are certain things that make a good movie.

yeah, like *not* having five scenes that yield one simple fact, which is largely irrelevant to the plot. that's a quality that Unbreakable is missing.


Re:Plug (1)

extar-bags (161628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425067)

actually, if you want to save the $8 you would have spent on "Unbreakable," just don't go see it. It's the biggest piece of crap of the year, for sure.


Re:Just skip it friend.. (1)

extar-bags (161628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425068)

katz, i like you, i like your articles, but you gotta learn the first rule of katz-article posting: don't respond to trolls. especially if your name is jon :)


Re:Thanks, Jon (1)

Miniluv (165290) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425069)

It's supposed to take place on the set of Nosferatu, it's about an actor who believed himself to be a vampire.

Re:Castaway (1)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425072)

You mean FedEx do have inspectors that just yell at people to perform better?
I really felt like kicking his butt, it's a good think I don't work for FedEx.

Re:My take... (1)

WildBeast (189336) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425073)

"As for Cast Away, I don't have much to say about it, and I don't want to give anything away anyway. But it is a great movie. Go see it."
What did I miss? During the whole movie I was expecting something to happen, I was also expecting that when he gets rescued and finally return home that he would be a very different man, that his whole life would have changed because of this experience. 4 Years all alone would change someone a lot, Try being 3 days all alone in an island or a desert and you'll see what I mean. You won't look at life the same as you always did. I think Cast Away failed incredibly to portray that aspect. Am I wrong? I really would like to understand what's so great about that movie.

Re:Cast Away questions... (1)

TimboJones (192691) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425074)

I remember hearing that he did something similar for A League of Their Own. In that, he had to play a baseball manager, and the director wanted him to be out of shape and overweight. Hanks said that first he had to avoid staying in shape, then had to push himself out of shape by eating wrong.

I guess the ability to get his weight way up or way down is just an innate talent for Hanks.

Moovies (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425075)

Crouching Tiger is brilliant - hardly inspired by Matrix, though. Oh Brother proves that the Coen Brothers can still be as funny as they were in Raising Arizona & Fargo and as good storytellers as they were in Blood Simple & Miller's Crossing. However, Proof of Life was the most stilted, poorly-directed film in a long time. A lousy film which is only attractive in its trailer. The testy of a well-made film? Try this - put anyone else besides the two leads in it and it would have closed in a week.

About those giggles in Crouching Tiger (1)

Sodakar (205398) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425076)

(Though I offer a warning: you may find when some moviegoers are on unfamiliar ground, they laugh nervously during the eerie choreographed fighting scenes, which are a real surprise).

More particularly, it's not the fighting scenes people giggle about, but it's the gravity-defying acts that the actors are involved in during the fighting scenes that induce these giggles from those unfamiliar to the classical Chinese style of fantasy-martial arts fighting and folklore. I guess many folks are just not used to seeing actors soar 60+ feet at a time while their feet flail around.

This merely proves that there are still a LOT of people who are still unexposed to the Chinese, old-fashioned, historical/fantasy-type movies and TV series where martial arts masters are able to defy gravity.

BUT!!! -- It's okay -- by the time the movie reaches the beautifully surreal fighting scene amidst the bamboo trees, NOT A SINGLE SOUL was giggling. Don't worry about the giggles. Keep watching, and by the time the film is over, you'll easily understand the underlying sadness, struggles, and anguish that these characters have to deal with because of such powers.

Grammar Nazi (1)

The Step Child (216708) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425078)

Should he have used a semicolon?

One, two, three, four... (1)

mkachan (223539) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425079)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and Unbreakable.

That's five movies! Can't you count?:-)

Re:reality check (1)

GStearns (223985) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425080)

I really saw no attack in Katz's comment about the Southern (rural) ideology. He simply pointed out that the Coens show this particular side in their story telling. I do agree that the South certainly doesn't have a monopoly over religious and moral zeal, but there is definatly a reason why they call it the "Bible Belt." But in civics, they tought me that more commonly than not, people living in rural areas are more religios and are more conservitave. He was just stating a fact, and I found it interesting that you took offence to this. Seems more a comment on your personality and belifes than what Katz said or implied.

Dawg (1)

zephc (225327) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425081)

"you're the man now, dog!" haha that sounds so messed up in Sean Connery's scottish accent (which has been geting thicker as the years progress)


no crouching tiger here in houston.. (1)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425082)

if anyone knows of a place showing it, please tell...

Re:The meaning of art (1)

Qwaz (250711) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425085)

Seems as though you've done nothing but assume. You assumed that only stupid people liked Unbreakable. He said there are no absolute rules as to what constitutes good art.

You dont make much sense and I Think you have a hard time understanding what even you are saying.

Show me something better from anywhere else... (1)

roberjo (254325) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425087)

I have to agree with Anonymous Coward here. If you want real 'cultura' without sex, low IQ's, unability *should be inability* to count votes then you should check out Telemundo (Latin American Television), or French Television, or Italian Television. Come on, these elements run through all forms of entertainment. If you took sex, stupid people, and low class humor out of works like "The Odyssey" or Dante's "Inferno", what would you have left?

Your post is simply baseless, tasteless, and rude. Thank god this type of post represents less than 0.00000...1% (cfr. supra) of slashdot posts.

To say that other cultures don't value sex, laugh at people with low IQ's, or have problems with crooked politicians is to create a dreamworld for yourself that has all the substance of the film worlds you critque.

I don't attack Italian films, or French films, or Peruvian films, because I do not understand the culture that has produced them. In fact, I believe that most people from other cultures would not have the lack of manners to post such comments about a film like "O Brother" and for this reason, I assume that this AC is nothing more than a vapid person here in the U.S. trying to seem cultured by posting how he dislikes Americans. How odd... You aren't fooling anyone, AC.

Besides, any member of the proletariat has more class than this imbecile.

So go shovel your snobbery somewhere else, Anonymous Windbag. If you don't understand the culture that produces films like "O Brother" then you do not have a place attacking the comedic genius of the Coen brothers in creating it.

Re:One, two, three, four... (1)

roberjo (254325) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425088)

Haha... I'm not sure if that is supposed to be funny or not, but I am laughing. Hard.

Anyone who hasn't heard of these movies should not be posting on slashdot.

Thank god for Katz filters (1)

roberjo (254325) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425089)

Question: If everyone filters out Katz's completely worthless posts, then do Katz's posts exist at all?

Shouldn't something be done about posters like katz? I have only been on slashdot for a few months, and already I have realized that Katz's posts aren't even worth reading.

It amazes me that someone can keep posting and posting and posting when he knows that there are tons of people who filter his posts out because his opinion sucks.

How sad.

Re:My take on three of 'em (1)

junkgrep (266550) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425092)

I doubt Katz even saw Finding Forrester. This movie has been absolutely scuttled by it's own terrible marketing campaign- which makes it look like it's what Katz thinks it is (it has Connery saying something like "what's up dog" in the preview, which looks stupid and clumsy there, but in the movie is a twist of irony at the end of an intense and well written monologue). Like everyone else, Katz probably just saw the preview, not the movie, and judged it on that.

Re:Three worth seeing (1)

Dr. Stupid (266674) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425093)

I don't think CTHD is derivative, at least not in a bad way. I just meant to point out that it uses a lot of the same plot elements and themes as SW. (There's no question that Ang Lee and Jim Schamus, the creative team behind CTHD, have both seen SW.) SW itself recycles plot elements and themes from The Wizard Of Oz.

The creative "team" behind the movie? The book was written by Wang Du Lu, like, back before WWII. While I will agree that CTHD has some of the same sort of appeal that Star Wars had, let's keep in mind that this movie's development is very distinct from Star Wars.

Re:What do the Chinese think ? (1)

Dr. Stupid (266674) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425094)

Well, I'm no Chinese, but I feel I'm well enough aquainted with the culture to take a stab at this:

Judging from other recent movies from China, feminism is a pretty hot topic. And on top of that, "strong women" have always been an interesting facet of gonfu movies and mythology (I'm thinking of Wing Chun or some stories about Damo's female disciple). So, I really don't think this movie is "pandering" to Western tastes, it's just continuing a tradition that's been building in China. In fact, I'd say Jen's quest to be free from everything that wants to pin her down (Jade Fox, her parents, Lo, and even discipleship under Li) is pretty universal, wouldn't you think?

Then again, I've only watched the movie twice so far, so there might be some deeper stuff I'm not getting at.

Re:Crouching Tiger (1)

daemia (268055) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425095)

You obviously have not seen any other traditional hong kong martial arts fightng movies. The action sequences in CTHD were artfuly done, made into a deadly dance, made even more believable by the skill and athletic grace of the actors. The "flying," which elicited so much "nervous laughter" is supposed to signify the power and control of old fashioned martial artists. Chinese folk tales speak of powerful masters in ancient times who had the will of mind to "fly", who had enough control over their chi to manipulate mind and body, as well as their environment. It is no more stupid than stuff that happens in european fairy tales or fairy tales of any other origin. The fight scenes seemed "stupid" to you because you do not know any other way to categorize something you are unfamilar with. As for the dialogue - I am a native mandarin speaker, and if you watched the english dub, I can vouch that not everything was perfectly accurately translated. This is to be expected from any film translation into a foriegn language. In mandarin, the dialogue made perfect dramatic sense, and had bearing on moving the plot. Perhaps hearing the movie in its native language would make the plot more explicit. I think seeing it in subtitles takes a lot out of the emotion of the acting and the superb way each character was developed. If you can not think of a worse movie, then I suggest you go out and see every other movie that has been released this year, even in recent months (The Grinch, Dude Where's My Car, D&D, anything with a Friends actor in it).

Re:My take...(Dude where's your car? Quasi-review) (1)

scifigod (272546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425096)

As for Dude I've got this to say: First off I would like to warn everyone that I might let slip a few spoilers here....

(Spoiler Space..not much but better than nothing)

Personally I kinda liked the movie IMHO, for the average person to like it they would have had to enjoy the same kind of mindless humor contained in "American Pie" and "Road Trip". While the movie was not as funny such classics as "Spaceballs", or "From dusk till Dawn"(Ok I've got strange movie tastes so lets move on) I am glad to have seen it. On the plot, personally I found the idea of two stoners(p.c.: the Herbally unchallenged) coming into possesion of the most mysterious device in the universe "whose mystery is exceded only by it's power" frightening at best. Once you get past that concept the movie is not all that bad. You can certainly identify at least midly with chester and jesse on the basis of knowing what it feels like to wake in the morning and have no idea where you are or what you did last night. Basically if you found all the movies I mentioned before ("American Pie" ,"Road Trip","Spaceballs", or "From dusk till Dawn") hilarious I suggest you go see this movie, if they were moderatly amusing wait for the cheap theatre or rent it cable etc. , anyone else who found those totally unfunny save your money, you won't get much out of it.

Re:Probably a better movie: Memento (1)

Balck (300643) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425097)

Memento was far and away the most interesting film I saw in 2000. It's a shame it was largely overlooked, but good that at least a film like this did get made and released. One of the few films I plan to buy a copy of. Something like Gladiator was entertaining in a mind off sort of way, but it is beyond me why Hollywood thinks a portrayal of real history would be less profitable. The histories of Greece and Rome (as far as we can know them) contain much more fascinating stories than most from California.

Re:O Brother, Where are Thou = scarce US culture (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425099)

You know, a lot of people eat Hostess Twinkies, but that doesn't make it the best food in the world. Heck, it doesn't even make it food.


Thanks for this post... (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425100)

I don't read comics much anymore, and it's hard to say what a good comic is. Insofar as the movie is concerned, I think the older idea of the Superhero seems to have inspired it, but your point about Marvel is very well taken..Makes me want to go out to get some and revisit the issue. Thanks.

Helpful, but a question: (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425101)

Why the giggles at all? The movie is so clearly not a is a reflex, or genuine confusion, or some kind of a statement..I saw the movie twice, and heard laughs throughout, but not at the ending. It's good, I think, to prepare people for it, so that it doesn' t take away from this amazing movie. But I'm glad it's not just my town..seems to me to be youngish males who are laughing, but I could be wrong.

Er... (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425102)

Isn't this sort of the point of the movie?

Thanks: Should have said it more clearly.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425103)

Yes, it wasn't Matrix inspired, but Yuen Wo ping has said the decision to take off on the Matrix stuff in this movie was definitely inspired by the success of the Matrix and his work there.. That might be a clearer way to put it.

Good to hear this.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425104)

I've heard mixed things about this movie, so it's good to hear this..I think Shadows has definitely overshadowed it..We ought to have a Dracula discussion in a week or two..Nosferatu, Shadows of the Vampire and Dracula 2000 would make a memorable topic..

Thanks Ken..Noted and Fixed.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425105)

Noted and fixed...and you should know. Why would the audience laugh at those parts, though? I left the movie wondering about the ending..I don't want to discuss it here, but did she really make the right choice..

Chinese perspective? (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425106)

I don't have box office stats but I know the movie was successful in China and praised there. I'd also be interesting in knowing anybody's thoughts about this question, but I'm not sure I get how it would be pandering to women, who are portrayed in very different ways. I would be amazed of there were women warriors like this in Confucius's time, but one thing about Slashdot, somebody will know.

Great Art (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425107)

I don't know of any certain absolute criteria for a good film, as it happens, nor do I consider that this is great art. I wouldn't know, for sure. Just talking movies. But you are completely right. There is no right way to interpret art, just conversations about what we like and what we don't. Did I say otherwise?

To me, a very good point..... (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425108)

I think Hanks is over-hyped, and the Hopkins performance is a good one to summon up..There was a grand-slam. Hanks is great to me at playing one kind of probably non-existent character, the everyday American hero that we want to believe exists but have a hard time running across. I think Hopkins is the greatest actor alive, though I'd be curious about other people's nominees...

Some Indian films.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425109)

I've heard a lot about the great films coming out of India, but don't know of any and haven't seen any. Could AC or anybody else name some? I'd be interested. And where in Eastern Europe? This would be helpful. Can't say all Hollywood films stink, but can't disagree with the schmaltzy notion either.

Don't know.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425110)

if it's brilliant and original, but without giving the story away, it's more than inspired by Nosferatu..but to say more would be spoiling, I think, assuming you're struggling to be witty and sarcastic..

Oscars, I assume.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425111)

I don't know this, but I assume they popped it out this week to qualify for the Oscars for the past year, like a bunch of others..anybody know?

You mean "plagiarize?" (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425112)

Naww..the real reason is to get rich..

Once... (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425113)

But a sheep, not a goat...or was it a cow?

Coens and Lee (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425114)

You're right. The whole film wasn't inspired by the Matrix, but Yuen Woo Ping's involvement was, or so he says. It's quite great, though I'm not sure I'd compare it to Drunken Master..

The megaplex.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425115)

. I do go to the megaplex many days of the year, silly. Specially in December. That should be obvious..and a great job it is. You can't get rich from it, but it sure beats commuting ...

Question... (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425116)

This is a great opportunity, and thanks for posting. A question..I wondered why Fedex would cooperate in a movie which shows one of their planes crashing..though I did note that in the movie the crash was specifically attributed to mislabeled cargo..customer error.
Do you think the movie did well by Fedex? The company is sure portrayed as if it cares deeply about its ontime performance...They are also shown as being compassionate re: the accident.

Really? (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425117)

I guess I'd have to respectfully disagree with this. I'd say the movie is definitely out of the martial arts tradition -- apparently a throwback to the original cinematic style. Fight scenes take up an enormous part of the movie, vastly more than romance, I'd guess. The Legend of Drunken Master was great..funny and great fight scenes, but I'm not sure the comparison holds up..Completely different kinds of movies..I can't quite see Yo-Yo Ma doing the score of Drunken Master.

You Can Count On Me.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425118)

Thanks, Alkali for adding this to the list. I did see it a month or so ago, and it is terrific. And I completely agree with's not a chick flick at all but a great movie about family. I also thought Matthew Broderick was terrific and unheralded as the dorky bank manager. I'm figuring on seeing the Family Man this weekend.
I hear many mixed things about it. Family values porn is a great term...

Miss Congeniality.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425119)

Thanks for the Miss Congeniality reference. The trailers were a turn-off, but I'll put it on the list..It really got whacked. Other people like Vertical Limit?

Can you say more? (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425120)

Every movie is subjective, natch. Can you say a bit more about what you didnt' like?

Re:What do the Chinese think ? (2)

Guppy (12314) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425122)

Well, here are some comments from an ABC (American Born Chinese) who saw the English subtitled film with his parents.

The film was well received by Chinese everywhere. However, according to my father, one unintentionally funny feature was the mishmash of accents in the film. Only the actress who played the young girl, Jen, was able to properly speak the classical Mandarin required for the time period. The remaining actors, being from places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, had accents from their respective origins. Imagine if you were watching a Western in which the cowboys had a mix of New York, California, and Southern accents. Still, he said most viewers were forgiving about it.

Another feature was that the subtitles were not an exact translation of the dialogue. My Chinese isn't all that great, but I could tell that in some places, the dialogue was simplified, or rendered into (IMHO) overly-colloquial English. Not a big deal, and anyone who watches Anime will probably be familiar with the transliteration vs. translation arguement.

"Does it pander overly to a western audience and the strong potrayal of women - Is it activism gone crazy or was it true of ancient China?"

There have been strong women in Chinese literature from time to time -- for instance, Mulan (A quasi-historical figure who may or may not have actually existed). Anyway, in this case the film was based on a series of books written sometime in the 1930's or 1940's (?), although I can't say whether or not it was influenced by the mores of that time. One interesting note--the martial arts genre of novels and films was banned in mainland China during the 60's, and its authors persecuted.

BTW, there is more to the novel both before and after the events in the film, and director Ang Lee has suggested he will be making a prequel and sequel to the film.

Re:Cast Away questions... (2)

Royster (16042) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425123)

If I were TH's character, I would have driven off with Helen Hunt and not looked back. This guy was driven to survive and get off the island. Are we to believe that saving the FedEx package for the wings woman was what really saved him? It was the HH character that he obsessed over fro most of the time. The wings were a minor feature but perhaps one that gave him hope for the sail he improvised.

She said he was "The love of my life." But she waited something like a year before she got married and had a kid? I'm sorry, but it seems that she gave up on him too easily and then regretted it. It could take a lifetime to get over the loss of the love of your life, but this culture dosn't want to recognize that. This movie wasn't about to buck that piece of cultural "wisdom".

I saw a bit on HBO on the making of Cast Away. TH was 40-50 lbs lighter for the last bit on the island. Moscow and the first year span on the island were filmed in April 1999. The second bit on the island was filmed in April 2000.

Re:Coens and Lee (2)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1425124)

The whole film wasn't inspired by the Matrix, but Yuen Woo Ping's involvement was, or so he says. It's quite great, though I'm not sure I'd compare it to Drunken Master...

Fair enough. As I said, I haven't seen the film, so I'm not going to talk about influences. I did suspect that the similarity in style may have been the result of Yuen, rather than any hint of hommage[1]; hence my comment

As for Drunken Master: no comparison was intended. I just feel it my duty to mention how cool the film is on every conceivable occasion.

[1]Personally I consider saying hommage instead of homage to be wanky in the extreme, but I seem to be alone in this, and I'm too weak-willed to stand alone.

PS go watch Drunken Master. And Wing Chun. And Magnificent Butcher. &c.
PPS Am I the only one who can't figure out when BR tags are needed, and when they're not?

filter by posters - PLEASE! (2)

FonkiE (28352) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425126)

could you slahdot guys PLEASE let us humble readers not just filter by topic, but also filter by poster.

enough of jon katz for me ...

something on the topic: unbreakable is worse than you might imagine, don't expect a second 6th sense! (it's interesting though, but expect nothing ... the more you may be rewarded :-)

Re:Castaway (2)

levendis (67993) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425129)

I'm glad to hear that. I was a bit uncomfortable paying $7.50 to watch what I perceived to be an extended Fed Ex commercial....

reality check (2)

yankeehack (163849) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425131)

From the O Brother review...[the movie riffs on] the Southern streak of moral and religious high-mindedness that still crops up in American politics and Washington debates over values, morality and culture....

Gimme a break! To assert that folks in the South have a monopoly on "religious high mindedness", is a bit of a stretch, even for a movie review. I can understand how shocking it may be for those of you from big metropolitan areas to see that in much of rural America (Southern or Northern), religion is a huge influence for many people.

And OH MY GOODNESS religion could influence their politics! We're doomed! But why is it so alarming to some of you that religion MAY color someone's worldview??? It is fine to disagree politically with these people, but please restrain yourself from ATTACKING them. When you attack them, it is like shooting fish in a barrel.

BTW {OT}, from the Mamet review, for the record there are no hicks in Vermont (hicks are indeed from the South, which includes anyplace beyond Massachusetts), natives are known as "woodchucks".

Speaking of films (2)

Johnny Starrock (227040) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425133)

The Critic [] is back (kinda).

My take on three of 'em (2)

Private Essayist (230922) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425134)

Oh Brother -- Great, great stuff. The Coen brothers have the gift of writing perfect dialogue and never have I found this more in abundance than in this movie. It's as if they didn't so much try to make a movie set in the 1930s, but actually made a 1930s film. The acting matched the dialogue. If you are a fan of the Coens, sit back, relax, and enjoy as one wonderful scene unfolds after another.

Crouching Tiger -- Probably the best movie of the year. No, not influenced by The Matrix! The Hong Kong influence came first, and this is Ang Lee's exploration and celebration of this school of film. It is a great mix of epic tales, romance, eastern philosophy, and the most lyrically beautiful fight scenes I've ever seen. I'll never forget the fight on the tree tops for sheer elegance and beauty.

Finding Forrester -- I seem to disagree with Katz on this one, for I enjoyed it very much. I especially enjoyed the way they didn't dwell on the usual racial stereotypes, so evidently either I missed something, or Katz saw something that wasn't there. Good acting by all. And probably one of the better movies about writing I've seen (although the ending cops out a bit on that score).

Re:O Brother, Where are Thou = scarce US culture (2)

Lover's Arrival, The (267435) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425135)

I think you are being very unfair indeed. I am not from America, but I do live here, and as far as I can make out they are not anything like as bad as you make them out to be!

I think the rest of the world has a choice of whether to buy American films and TV shows or not. Its not their fault that foreign countries are always avid audiences for American films. Also, AFAIK, these days when Hollywood makes films it does so with the rest of the world in mind. So they are not 'Imperialists' at all! You have a choice, and they cater to your needs.

And to say that they are backward is terrible rubbish (I'm really sorry, but it is). They are actually quite advanced.

American films are the best that sre made in the world, IMO. The same isn't true for their TV programs perhaps, but it certainly is for their films. Otherwise, why would everyone all over the whole wide world choose to watch them? Because they like them, thats why!

Proof of Life - correction (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#1425136)

I just wanted to mention that _Proof of Life_ was shot in Ecuador, not Honduras.

I should know, the movie was based on the kidnapping of Thomas Hargrove, my Uncle, outside Cali, Colombia.

You can read my Uncle's testimony to Congress at

But yes, the negotiation scenes were extremely realistic -- they were based on video that my cousin (who has a film degree) shot of the actual kidnapping negotiations.

The rest of the movie was, shall we say, heavily influenced by the needs of Hollywood.

Interestingly, they had originally planned a much fuller romance between Ryan and Crowe (and had shot love scenes, etc) but in test runs the audiences laughed at these parts!

Ken McKinney

Re:Question... (3)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425137)

That was one of the questions answerd in "the memo". If I remember correctly.. the marketing folks were a little concerend about the fact that the plane crashed.. of course it had to in order to advnace the plot. They did make sure that the crew was portrayed as heroic though- and they made sure that the crash was not caused by a crew error.

Also... since the marketing group was involved.. the benefits of having the company essentially "co-star" in a major film were incalculable. The writers initially selected FedEx because the entire operation of the company is extrememly tine-sensitive. If your priority over night package is not delivered by 10:30 am then you do not have to pay for the shippping and the company does not make any money. I think that played a huge part in the development of Hanks's character.. he's a task master that constantly watches the clock and suddenly he's alone on a deserted island where he suddenly has "inifinite" time. No deadlines... nothing.

I have not seen the film yet, but everyone that I know who has seen it said that the company was portrayed in a "goood light". The operations in Moscow are really not htat bad though.. that was another thing they had to do in order to advnace the story though.

As far as performance goes, the production guys count every minute. The sooner you can get the sort completed, the sooner the truck or plane can leave- and the sooner your packages can be delivered. I have spent some time in the hub here in Memphis and when the sort is going on you do not have much time to think. It's extremely fascinating to watch though... several thousand men and women scrambling around moving packages and all the automated sorting equipment. If you ever get an opportunity to tour one of the hubs (try to do it if you ever make it to Memphis- that one is the largest) take it. You have to go around 1:00 in the morning though :-)

From my experience, FedEx is very "people oriented" and I believe that the upper management does care about the employees. I've been very happy wrking there for the past few years. The majority of the people I work with have been with the company for over 10 years. A few of them have "three digit" employee id's which means that they have been there since the beginning. Several members of upper management started out as handlers in a hub or one of the stations so they know what it's like to be shoving boxes around in the freezing cold or summer heat. If I remember correctly, the current CEO of FedEx Express (the airline & my employer) (Fred Smith is the CEO of FedEx Corporation- the holding company) stated out as a handler in a hub while in college. of course, there are some bad things... it is a huge corporation after all. But over all, I think it's a great place to work.

Re:Yuen Woo Ping (3)

paulplee (258585) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425140)

As a Chinese myself, I can testify that Crouching Tiger was definitely not inspired by Matrix - the fighting style and storyline is typical of Hong Kong TV shows probably since TV programs were produced there. I grew up in Hong Kong in the 70's but as a kid I've seen re-runs with people flying around and where the heros/heroines were idoits when it comes to expressing feelings!. While I do think that the fighting sequence was cool, I found it over done and the film was really lacking in story. I think the movie can be summed up in six words: "it's all about an unpredictable teenager". As far as movies with teenagers possessing destructive powers, I think the X-Men was way better! One last anal observation: I found the historical timing in the film all wrong. The story was supposed to be around 200AD (according to the movie, Green Dynasty sword was supposed to be crafted around the Han Dynasty and then lost for 400 years). But Beijing was nothing more than a village (if even that) until the Mogolian controlled China and made it the capital city(1300 AD). And then the clothing and hair style in the movie was of Quing Dynasty (1700 AD). I know this is a mood point, but I was still rather expecting more from a famed director such as Ang Lee. As a side note, I saw Chocolat the day right after I saw Crouching Tiger. I had a much, much more enjoyable time with Chocolat than with Crouching Tiger, and I am surprised it is not mentioned by Jon at all. It has a great story and the filming was done beautifully. Maybe I'm getting old, but I find myself looking for a story in a movie rather than cool fighting sequence. Just my .02

Yuen Woo Ping (4)

rde (17364) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425141)

I don't think Crouching Tiger was inspired by the Matrix; both films had the action choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping. You might remember him from such films as Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and oodles since. It's not available yet over here, but I'm really, really, really looking forward to it.
On the subject of O Brother Where Art Thou (the only film mentioned to have been released thus far in Ireland), I've got to echo the opinion of millions; the Coen brothers (like Ang Lee) can do no wrong. The only question is whether I'll see all these films in the cinema, or whether the US DVDs will be available first.

Comics and movies inspired by them (4)

MultimanZ (43332) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425142)

"true to the superhero comic- book genre which inspired it." Do you actually read comics, let alone superhero [a which is co-copyrighted by both Timewarner and Marvel Enterprise] comics. Take the popular, and by popular I mean it had a movie and it sells well by comic standards [around 20,000 issues a month]. In UNCANNY X-MEN, X-MEN, and the many biproducts of Marvel trying to oversaturate and waterdown the market with by increasing number one issues for speculator frenzy, the main characters spend half their time explaining their super-powers and their mysterious past and the other half is spent explaining how they defend a world that fears and hates them. Imagine reading a copy of X-MEN, where every 10 panels we hear Storm explain how she was a thief in Cairo when she was a teen working for the devious Shadow King, and how she lived in Africa and was thought to be a god by the local tribes. Storm can be substituted for Wolverine and his mysterious past with Project Weapon X and Captain America, or Rogue's past with Mystique and how she cannot touch anyone. At the end of every battle, Cyclops or Jean Grey will say, "they hate us, yet we defend them!"

Does this sound like a good comic to you? It's called an art driven comic, where they let the artists take the headlines and hire some hack writer to do the job, or sometimes great writers who really aren't that great [See Scott Lobdell and Chris Claremont]. How does a movie get inspired by shit like this? It doesn't. UNBREAKABLE was a slow paced movie with a 'surprise' ending [from the maker of SIXTH SENSE, how could we not expect this]. And Jackson's character tries to tell me those superhero comics are highbrow literature? Fucking christ, those comics he showed me are the FULL HOUSE of comic books. Serious comics aren't about superheroes [few exceptions such as Miracle Man or any of Alex Ross's future stories]. If you want to read the only good superhero comic on the market, pick up AUTHORITY. Don't get me wrong, there are great comics. TRANSMETROPOLITAN and PLANETARY by Warren Ellis are great. POWERS and JINX by Brian Bendis are excellent too. There is also Grant Morrison's INVISIBLES [the comic that really inspired MATRIX [ie. the MATRIX was a blatant ripoff and gave absolutely no credit with the parallel plot], but with better dialogue.

But I don't know, I could be wrong about all this. But I think I am of some authority since I used to buy over 50 comics and month and see about 60 movies a year in theatre.


Castaway (4)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425143)

If you look at my profile you might figure out that I work for the airline prominently featured in castaway. ;-)

Just before the movie was released we got this lengthy memo with detailed annswers to common questions about the movie. Apparantly FedEx did not pay to be in the film but the marketing folks did work closely wth the writers and such. They also pointed out all of the "errors" in the film (such as Tom Hanks's Character drinking wine while jumpseating- you can't get anywhere near a FedEx plane with booze). Many of the extras in the scenes filmed in Memphis were "real" FedEx employees. Fred Smith, the CEO had a brief cameo also.. I gues sit was when Hanks's character returnned home or something. They also auctioned off the clothes that Hanks wore during the FedEx shots to raise money for the United Way.

Anyway, I have not seen the movie yet. I'm just sitting here bored on a Sunday morning and felt like blabbing.

Happy New Year

Crouching Tiger (5)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#1425144)

I must agree that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a good film. It looks like the hongkong martial arts movies are getting better and better, and are reaching a whole new level of technique and artistry that will have a broader appeal. This is very good stuff.

Here are some links to some reviews and interviews on NPR (in RealAudio format) that might be interesting to follow up on:

  1. Here [] and here [] are two 7 minute RealAudio reviews on NPR, with extensive detail, and some conversation with director Ann Lee.
  2. Here [] is about 45 minutes split between the director Ann Lee and the Actress, Michelle Yeoh, a star in the film on the NPR program FreshAir []
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