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    #61
    Senior Member Batutta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahalpert View Post
    Personally, I was enjoying the debate about Villeneuve's merits as a director.

    I think you're overly harsh on him. He might not be Stanley Kubrick but he's no Ed Wood either.

    But I dont think it's immoral for you to go overboard in your criticism, even if it makes me feel dumb to enjoy something you demean. (But only for a moment - I'm pretty comfortable with what I like of his work and why.)

    I think that when Batutta defined "hack," it was also in response to me saying that Nolan had become a hack. Which is not strictly true, based on Batutta's definition. What I meant was that he makes these splashy high-concept pieces that dont deliver the story fundamentals (for me) and bore me with the rules of the conceit. But I suppose that inasmuch as he tries to sell his self-indulgent mindgames to a mass audience by using outrageous action sequences and tons of stars, you could call him a hack.
    Nah, I could never call someone who tries as hard as Nolan does to do difficult material a hack. I will add to this discussion that my perspective is partially dictated by having to watch movies that actually ARE complete garbage due to my primary occupation. These are the hackiest of the hacky hackwork. Movies that would make you cry with how terrible they are and make you feel dumber for having watched them. I had to cut a trailer for a movie that was at one time the lowest rated film in Rotten Tomatoes history...and that STILL wasn't close to the worst movie I've ever worked on. So this is why I'm sensitive to inaccurate hyperbole when it comes to film criticism, as it rarely matches up to my perception.
    "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog


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    #62
    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James0b57 View Post
    I am assuming that you didn't like the serial numbers on the replicants because it made it too easy to distinguish between replicants and real people.... A hologram is even worse, you know it is fake. I'm just surprised if you think that serial numbers ruin the conceit of the first film for you, then how is spending 25% of the film on a hologram not just as bad or not worse?

    It was also unclear in BR2049 if the hologram was a consciousness or just really good AI. So, we follow this romance with a hologram that may not even be a thinking or feeling thing... Whereas in the originals we are half hoping the replicants find a way because we come to believe their struggle is not unlike our own.
    The original conceit of BR was, as I see it:

    1. Humans have created organic artificial lifeforms that are physically indistinguishable from humans

    2. The only way to tell if they're a replicant is to see if they lack empathy

    3. Replicants have a fixed lifespan

    Holograms are a new conceit. Nothing to do with replicants. I dont need every simulacrum of humanity in BR to be indistinguishable from humanity or endowed with a soul. It's really a separate matter from replicants.

    As to my issue with the serial numbers - aside from the fact that it robbed the film of a fascinating dramatic construction (testing their empathy) with a droll physical struggle ("let me look under your eye!") - my main issue is it makes me wonder why they couldn't have tagged the replicants like that in the first place.

    That question exists without the sequel. It's a bit hard to believe that they had the technology to create replicants in the first place but were then unable to give them distinguishing marks. But I suspended my disbelief.

    It would be as if Jack froze and sank and then Rose rescued someone else and said, "climb onto this board with me until the boats come." You'd be left wondering why she couldn't have done that before. I suspended my disbelief that it couldn't be done because everyone in the story acted like it couldn't.

    And I was willing to go along with the eyeball serials of the sequel. That wasn't a dealbreaker for me. I just thought it was a bit lame.


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    #63
    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James0b57 View Post
    I have bigger disagreements with you here.
    Being true to source material is neither here nor there. Who cares. I liked the book but I liked BR far more.

    I actually felt decently good about the plot and themes of 2049. I think my issues with it were largely about mood, aesthetic, scenework, acting. But I think the framework was decent.

    Robin Wright didn't sell me with her performance. I get what you're saying about her character. But her character was not my favorite part of the film. I actually enjoyed Leto's performance more. So we may have had opposite reactions there.

    Coming back to the fleeting nature of life - any lesson you derive about the meaning of a 4-year replicant life can be applied to a 100-year human life. Both lifespans are a blink of an eye relative to geological and astronomical timescales. Our lives are fleeting as well.

    When Roy talks about what his eyes have seen ("attack ships on fire...") it makes me think of the value of living purely to be an observer. The value or meaning of your life may not come from what you accomplish or what you leave behind, but from what you experience.

    After all - why does Make a Wish go to all that trouble to bring brief joys to terminally ill children?

    I consider life to be like a movie (with smellovision and tasteovision etc...) You watch it for a certain number of years and then it's over.

    There may be a greater significance to observation in physics. According to Michio Kaku, the wave function of a quantum particle does not collapse to select a definite path unless or until it is observed.

    So perhaps the lifespan of a replicant or a human is irrelevant to the significance of their life, which is derived from having the existential intelligence and awareness to observe and marvel.


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    #64
    Senior Member ahalpert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batutta View Post
    Nah, I could never call someone who tries as hard as Nolan does to do difficult material a hack. I will add to this discussion that my perspective is partially dictated by having to watch movies that actually ARE complete garbage due to my primary occupation. These are the hackiest of the hacky hackwork. Movies that would make you cry with how terrible they are and make you feel dumber for having watched them. I had to cut a trailer for a movie that was at one time the lowest rated film in Rotten Tomatoes history...and that STILL wasn't close to the worst movie I've ever worked on. So this is why I'm sensitive to inaccurate hyperbole when it comes to film criticism, as it rarely matches up to my perception.
    Sometimes hyperbole emerges from having higher hopes and standards because the filmmaker wowed you before. Or because they have a ton of money to play with. So, we recalibrate our expectations for different films. But yes - it's worth remembering how difficult it is to make a film at all and that there are far worse movies out there.


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    #65
    Senior Member James0b57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahalpert View Post
    The original conceit of BR was, as I see it:

    1. Humans have created organic artificial lifeforms that are physically indistinguishable from humans

    2. The only way to tell if they're a replicant is to see if they lack empathy

    3. Replicants have a fixed lifespan
    We may need to stop using the word conceit, as it seems you and I are both using it a bit liberally.

    As to my issue with the serial numbers - aside from the fact that it robbed the film of a fascinating dramatic construction (testing their empathy) with a droll physical struggle ("let me look under your eye!") - my main issue is it makes me wonder why they couldn't have tagged the replicants like that in the first place.
    If you didn't like it, and yet liked the hologram, that is fine. You just seemed incredulous that they might add serial numbers on replicants in the future.... like they never had issues tracking down replicants in the first one or anything.... not like that was the conceit of the first film or anything... ;)


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    #66
    Senior Member James0b57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahalpert View Post
    Being true to source material is neither here nor there. Who cares.
    You got me there. Was someone arguing for that?


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    #67
    Senior Member James0b57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahalpert View Post
    Robin Wright didn't sell me with her performance. I get what you're saying about her character. But her character was not my favorite part of the film. I actually enjoyed Leto's performance more. So we may have had opposite reactions there.
    That's fair. But depending what you are replying to, my main point was that all of the characters were all alone, isolated, or literally quarantined. I wasn't saying who was the best actor.

    Will be interesting to see what themes and threads Denis brings to Dune. With ‘Enemy’ and ‘BR2049’ i think he gave a sense of isolation. For a short time in ‘Arrival’ there was that sense with Amy Adams’ character. But i wouldn’t go as far to say it is a theme of Villenueve’s yet.

    Other than some loose sense that he tackles concept of being a parent, and those quiet roaming wide shots, i don’t know that i have found a real pattern in his films yet. I think i tend to mostly just enjoy them. After Dune, i may take a look at his body of work to date.
    Last edited by James0b57; 09-17-2020 at 10:42 PM.


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    Really hard to say with this one. I am hoping for the best, as the original book is IMHO the greatest sci-fi book every written, while also being just one of the greatest works of literature ever written. It is an astonishingly deep & captivating story that, as we have seen, is notoriously challenging to adapt for film. Every version I have seen so far has gotten a lot of things right, while also getting so many things wrong. The 1984 version captured the feel and grandeur of the book, but it threw out / changed too many critical story points / themes. The TV versions stayed closer to the story but lost all of the grandeur.


    Villeneuve's visual aesthetic does seem correct for "Dune," but I have always found his films to be a little too focused on style at the expense of the characters. Maybe that will work for an epic story like "Dune". I sincerely hope so at least.
    Last edited by agcohn; 09-18-2020 at 12:15 PM.


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    #69
    Senior Member James0b57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agcohn View Post
    Really hard to say with this one. I am hoping for the best, as the original book is IMHO the greatest sci-fi book every written, while also being just one of the greatest works of literature ever written. It is an astonishingly deep & captivating story that, as we have seen, is notoriously challenging to adapt for film. Every version I have seen so far has gotten a lot of things right, while also getting so many things wrong. The 1984 version captured the feel and grandeur of the book, but it threw out / changed too many critical story points / themes. The TV versions stayed closer to the story but lost all of the grandeur.


    Villeneuve's visual aesthetic does seem correct for "Dune," but I have always found his films to be a little too focused on style at the expense of the characters. Maybe that will work for an epic story like "Dune". I sincerely hope so at least.
    You know, iíve yet to read it. I should read it before the second one comes out. Then go see a double feature post Covid19.

    Oh, and it looks like someone else looked into which dominant reoccurring theme Villeneuve puts in his film: personal or existential crisis

    https://lwlies.com/articles/denis-vi...rsonal-trauma/


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    I just remembered this article, written almost exactly 3 years ago:

    Dune (1965) borrows "from the midcentury United States' nascent environmental movement, European feudalism, Middle Eastern oil politics, and Zen Buddhism" --- and especially The Sabres of Paradise by Lesley Blanch (1960), a history of the war against the Russians in the Caucasus.

    • Words: "Chakobsa" (a language), "kanly" (blood feud) "kindjal" (knife). Paul Atreides lives at "Sietch Tabr" (both words for camp)
    • Sabres of Paradise: "To kill with the point lacked artistry"; Dune: "Killing with the tip lacks artistry"
    • Caucasian proverb: "Polish comes from the city, wisdom from the hills"; Dune: "Polish comes from the cities, wisdom from the desert"

    --- The Secret History of Dune, by Will Collins, Los Angeles Review of Books, 9/16/2017


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