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Dune (2021)

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    #46
    So you're asking if Dune can stand on its own as a film or if it's only good because we know the story gets finished? I sort of feel like the answer is both. I had a good time but it left me wanting to know how the story continues

    New Hope and Dark Knight did indeed give me a greater sense of completion.

    But I think we're just looking at very different stories. The source material for Dune is long relative to a feature film story. So either you have to cram it in or split it up. Should they have ended part 1 in a different place? I dunno. It could have been cool to end with them seeing the Fremen in the distance before they meet them and do battle. That would have been even more cliffhangery though. I don't remember the book well enough to say if there was a better natural ending a bit later.

    Another question: after the trilogy (or whatever) is complete, will anyone feel like watching pt1 without committing to a rewatch of all the films? I don't know, but I feel like that gives you the answer. I rarely rewatch episodes of a series in isolation but I would watch Empire Strikes Back on its own, no doubt.
    ​​​
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    "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

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      #47
      Dune was trash
      sigpic
      www.silencethevoices.com

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        #48
        Originally posted by reem12 View Post
        Dune was trash
        LOTR was trash. Avatar was trash. Marvel is trash. Dune wasn't trash.

        Let's see...are there any more bears I can poke?
        www.VideoAbe.com

        "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

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          #49
          Originally posted by ahalpert View Post

          LOTR was trash. Avatar was trash. Marvel is trash. Dune wasn't trash.
          kettle meet pot. pot meet kettle.
          Last edited by James0b57; 11-16-2021, 04:17 PM.

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            #50
            I think I'll wait to give this a full critical appraisal until I see Part Two. As is, it's an incomplete narrative that ends in a pretty unclimactic spot. The cinematography is gorgeous and I'm a sucker for this kind of sci-fi world building, and the source material is so rich and compelling. I think the plan is to make two movies but they could have done three, as I still feel some characters like the Baron aren't fully fleshed out. He's a great villain, performed by a great actor, but I feel like his side of things could have been explored with a bit more depth. The casting was mostly spot on. The only actor I felt who seemed a little out of his depth for the role was Oscar Isaac. I like Oscar, and he doesn't give a bad performance, I just think I would have preferred someone with more stature in that part, someone more formidable who could convey the weight of his responsibilities. I liked that they leaned more heavily into the Middle Eastern influences of the source than previous filmed versions. By populating house Atreides with American actors, design choices like the Ornithopters resembling military helicopters, and the racial makeup of the Fremen, you can't help but draw parallels to current geo political conflicts.
            Last edited by Batutta; 11-17-2021, 07:53 AM.
            "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog

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              #51
              Originally posted by Batutta View Post
              I think I'll wait to give this a full critical appraisal until I see Part Two. As is, it's an incomplete narrative that ends in a pretty unclimactic spot.
              It does feel like it will be a 6hour narrative, rather than multiple feature length films following the same characters.













              Story telling is like anything in life, a time commitment, and the structure of those stories and how they can be communicated are an interplay with structure and time. So, in making or analyzing films as art or craft, the length of a film is part of the discipline. Calling something a feature film implies that within 3hrs of your day, you will get a complete idea. Not all art forms are digested in one sitting. Books are a great example of art that is enjoyed over many hours, days, or even weeks. the form and structure might have similar arches or trajectory to movies and short films, but they are ultimately different. It is one of the reasons we forgive screen adaptations of books. So, I find in this day and age where media is readily accessible, that short form, series, features, and long form narratives are possible and at times interchangeable. Feature films used to be the "long form" in the overall film/television craft, but as streaming opened up longer form story telling, where a narrative can go unbroken for 11hours, the feature film begins to lack depth by comparison. So, I find it interesting the tight spot that feature films are in these days, and what aspect of the feature film as a craft is worth preserving? It certainly fulfills that 2hrs attention span in the even that many people want over dinner and rest. Anything longer asks a commitment, anything shorter and entering another world becomes less engrossing. So that 1-2.5hrs range seems to have an important part in story telling and sharing an experience.

              So, for me, while it may seem like a semantic argument, I feel it is important to think about these things as film makers and not just film-goers. Anyone who has made a few short films and then tasked to make a feature knows the difficulty in that transition. The same goes for longer form narratives. A feature film is one thing, but making a perfect 6hour or 12hour narrative is something else. Same principles, but still quite a transition to go from one form to another.

              I've made some criticisms of the movie, but saying it is not a true feature film, is not a negative remark, so much as a film theory or film craft concept. Categorically, it feels like half a story spread over the feature film length. And according to the film makers, and the fact that it is taken from a single book, that would make sense.
              Last edited by James0b57; 11-17-2021, 03:55 PM.

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                #52
                Originally posted by Batutta View Post
                I think I'll wait to give this a full critical appraisal until I see Part Two. As is, it's an incomplete narrative that ends in a pretty unclimactic spot. The cinematography is gorgeous and I'm a sucker for this kind of sci-fi world building, and the source material is so rich and compelling. I think the plan is to make two movies but they could have done three, as I still feel some characters like the Baron aren't fully fleshed out. He's a great villain, performed by a great actor, but I feel like his side of things could have been explored with a bit more depth. The casting was mostly spot on. The only actor I felt who seemed a little out of his depth for the role was Oscar Isaac. I like Oscar, and he doesn't give a bad performance, I just think I would have preferred someone with more stature in that part, someone more formidable who could convey the weight of his responsibilities. I liked that they leaned more heavily into the Middle Eastern influences of the source than previous filmed versions. By populating house Atreides with American actors, design choices like the Ornithopters resembling military helicopters, and the racial makeup of the Fremen, you can't help but draw parallels to current geo political conflicts.
                Baron Harkonnen seemed pretty well fleshed-out to me. Ba dum ching!

                But based on what you've seen so far, how much enjoyment did it give you relative to other things you seen in the last year or 5 years? Average, below average, or above average?

                I enjoy a debate about the classification of feature films, etc, but at the end of the day I'm just trying to experience narrative pleasure. Like if you look at the middle seasons of Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch - all the episodes are the length of short features and I thought they were superbly enjoyable. (As opposed to the first season, which was good but not fully formed and underbudgeted. And the final season which had become thoroughly Americanized--spectacular, violent, overly fast-paced.) I don't know if the Sherlock production design motivates me to see it in a theater, but I enjoyed those episodes more than I've enjoyed most feature films.

                I think Oscar has been better in other roles but my feeling is that it might be the director's fault. But how about his death scene? Super epic, and well-played.

                Middle Eastern influences? I think it's complicated. My wife has told me that there's something of a backlash on social media that they didn't cast more (or any?) Arabic actors when the story and language draw so heavily on Arab influences. The racial makeup of the Fremen seemed to lean in the "anybody not white" direction. Which is common in Hollywood. Bardem is Spanish. (But Oscar in Atreides is Guatemalan.) Some people thought that the Fremen should have been Arab, but I'm not sure that choice would have flattered the Arab community considering the contours of the story (although it would have put more Arab actors to work). I don't feel like the choice to populate house Atreides with American actors was anything other than pandering to an American audience. So, not a thematic choice per se. And of course, it's House Harkonnen who are supposed to be the colonialist resource thieves, whereas House Atreides is supposed to be a "benevolent" colonial power. (Sort of like how Americans identified with the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars just 2 years after the Vietnam war end while the death star seems to me analogous to nuclear weapons, which have only ever been used by Americans... We're always the good guys, historical parallels be damned.) Of course, people speculate that Frank Herbert was already drawing a parallel between spice and oil and that he named Arrakis after Iraq.
                www.VideoAbe.com

                "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

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                  #53
                  Originally posted by ahalpert View Post


                  Middle Eastern influences? I think it's complicated. My wife has told me that there's something of a backlash on social media that they didn't cast more (or any?) Arabic actors when the story and language draw so heavily on Arab influences. The racial makeup of the Fremen seemed to lean in the "anybody not white" direction.
                  It's science fiction and takes place on an alien world so I think they have license to be flexible. Making them explicitly arabs would probably just be too on the nose in symbolism. Mixing in black and spanish and other non white faces is fine for me. It is an entire planet we are talking about, not just one region of it. I think you can go too far with those kinds of complaints. It's not like an Exodus and Kings situation where the casting flies in the face of common historical knowledge. Even though it's also science fiction, I thought it was fair to criticize Blade Runner 2049 for having such a white cast when it takes place in a supposed future Los Angeles.
                  "Money doesn't make films...You just do it and take the initiative." - Werner Herzog

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                    #54
                    Originally posted by ahalpert View Post
                    I enjoy a debate about the classification of feature films, etc, but at the end of the day I'm just trying to experience narrative pleasure.
                    Lol, I can't have a discussion with you about your pleasure. You are the master of that, no discussions or debates necessary.



                    We can have a discussion about film theory. But in order to do that, we have to have some common ground. Giving 'Dune' (2021) the out from being a feature film allows us to discuss the good in it much more freely. I don't see how it has much to do with the pleasure or displeasure of watching the movie.

                    There is an article somewhere on the internet that applies the "Heroe's Journey" to Dune Pt1, which is a bit nonsensical to me. How do we apply the complete heroes journey to half a story?

                    Let me see if I can find a link, oh here it is:
                    https://carminerodi.blog/2021/10/30/...-step-by-step/

                    also, someone did a breakdown:
                    https://arnoldkhan.medium.com/2021s-...e-91cb423a5dff



                    There are plenty of other adjectives and categorizations we can be objectively positive about. Think:
                    "Cinematic Master Piece!"
                    "Theater Experience of the Year!"
                    "Sensorally Overwhelming!"
                    "Epic!"

                    All of those things have a certain kind of truth. But so does "flat ending" or "meandering and lost feel"


                    That is because aspects of the design and aesthetic and scale of the project were very large and well done. But the core narrative and the performance of the actors and the staging and blocking, or the nuances of things.... well all of that is up for debate, because they were not unequivocally engaging to everyone in quite the same way as the cinematography, sets, costumes, and sound design were. (I may have some issues with the cinematography, but it would be insane of me to try and say that it wasn't overall gorgeous )


                    The other aspect we cannot debate, is how good pt2 will complete pt1. We can talk about the concept of making half a film before making the second half and discuss the merits of that. And it does appear they were successful in this. Simultaneous streaming or not.



                    Did the Dune work within the heroes journey, did it genially subvert it, or was it half a film? Sometimes the simplest answer is the write one.

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                      #55
                      Trigger warning.

                      For those that are interested in story structure and going insane, someone did an in depth analysis of George Lucas's work on the prequels. There is certainly something admirable in what he created. Sadly the execution of that world and narrative was heavily weighted down by the technology and directing, so we will need see a version that lives up to expectations and delivers Luca's "perfect" design.

                      I'll just put a link to the short version:
                      https://screenrant.com/star-wars-prequels-ring-theory/
                      ( here is something more in depth: https://www.inafarawaygalaxy.com/201...oves-once.html )

                      There are plenty of other explanations, and even a video somewhere.

                      I bring it up here, because we are talking about feature films and sequels. One can't help but talk about sequels with Dune (2021).

                      What makes's Lucas' theory so interesting is the almost fractal nature of its 3 parts on 3 parts on 3 parts. Each part being complete, but also being a part in the larger group of parts. Bleh, that is a lot of parts.

                      Each story has a beginning middle and end making a complete film
                      Each film is is part of a trilogy.
                      Each Trilogy is part of a greater trilogy.

                      In a sense, Lucas was writing with a logic and structure that might be more like music. But theory does not always make a perfect film, because we can't always perfectly control.

                      Ah, that brings us back to one of the core concepts of Dune: adapting.

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                        #56
                        Originally posted by Batutta View Post

                        It's science fiction and takes place on an alien world so I think they have license to be flexible. Making them explicitly arabs would probably just be too on the nose in symbolism. Mixing in black and spanish and other non white faces is fine for me. It is an entire planet we are talking about, not just one region of it. I think you can go too far with those kinds of complaints. It's not like an Exodus and Kings situation where the casting flies in the face of common historical knowledge. Even though it's also science fiction, I thought it was fair to criticize Blade Runner 2049 for having such a white cast when it takes place in a supposed future Los Angeles.
                        I don't share the criticism that there should have been more Arab actors or that the Fremen should have been principally identified as Arab. But I do find that the racial (mis)understandings of a movie's cultural environs typically get translated on-screen. I don't think that there is an explcit 'european/american colonization of Middle-Eastern people' motif intended despite the references to oil and the gulf wars. And it's interesting to me that the ethnically ambiguous/mixed-race people who basically pass as white (Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa who is part-native Hawaiian, and Chalamet who is half-Jewish and thus partly Middle-Eastern himself) can all be in House Atreides without complicating the racial dichotomy we interpret between Atreides/Fremen. Nor does the fact that some of the Fremen are quite dark, but the lead Fremen characters are a Spaniard (Bardem) and Zendaya who is half-white. Seems like a missed opportunity to advance the career of someone non-European, like Babs Olusanmokun, the Nigerian actor who Paul kills.

                        It doesn't bother me that the Fremen have a variety of skin tones, even though the planet seems to have a homogenous climate and we only meet people in one region. It seems like they arrived there from different places in the not-too-distant past. (But with enough time, you would expect the whole group to evolve strong adaptations to the sun and desert climate considering how difficult they make survival, although obviously there can exist a degree of variation within those adaptations). My larger problem with science-fiction movies (though not this one considering the shape of the society it depicts) is that there aren't more mixed-race people and that humanity hasn't become ethnically blended altogether, which I fully anticipate. But, of course, casting directors are limited by the actors available today...

                        Yes to BR 2049 criticism. One thing I find odd is that sometimes casts will diversify, but only in one direction. I'm rewatching Star Trek: Discovery S3 right now, and there are African-American and African-British actors popping up regularly, but remarkably few Asian actors.

                        Honestly, I don't know if there's a better solution to casting groups like the Fremen in Dune. I wouldn't want them all to be Jordanian or something, that would be strange and probably reinforce ideas of racial difference by being so precise. But at the same time, by perpetuating a vague "black and brown" category and thereby creating some illusion of ethnic accuracy in casting, it feels like they reinforce the "one drop" rule.
                        Last edited by ahalpert; 11-17-2021, 06:56 PM.
                        www.VideoAbe.com

                        "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

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                          #57
                          Originally posted by James0b57 View Post
                          Lol, I can't have a discussion with you about your pleasure. You are the master of that, no discussions or debates necessary.



                          We can have a discussion about film theory. But in order to do that, we have to have some common ground. Giving 'Dune' (2021) the out from being a feature film allows us to discuss the good in it much more freely. I don't see how it has much to do with the pleasure or displeasure of watching the movie.
                          This sort of reminds me of the discussion of what is science-fiction and what is not, what is fantasy or something else entirely. It's an interesting discussion. But at the end of the day, "science-fiction" is just an attempt at description. I call myself a "science-fiction fan" not as a religious principle or a goal but as an understanding of my nature and my preference tendencies. The categorization is not at the heart of the matter, the enjoyment and the process of watching and reacting to the movies is.

                          IMO Dune has already succeeded by generating this discussion. Not every movie motivates people enough to bother, so it must have done something right or at least something interesting. And I do think that your pleasure can be impacted by hearing other people's opinions. They can make you see things in a different way, to the benefit or the detriment of the film. And that's speaking about an honest intellectual debate/understanding before we even get into pure peer pressure.
                          www.VideoAbe.com

                          "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

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                            #58
                            Originally posted by James0b57 View Post

                            In a sense, Lucas was writing with a logic and structure that might be more like music. But theory does not always make a perfect film, because we can't always perfectly control.

                            Ah, that brings us back to one of the core concepts of Dune: adapting.
                            I don't think the structure is the problem. I think he had great structure. And that even though the prequels are crappy and full of flaws, they had redeeming characteristics. It's the other stuff that full flat: the dialogue, the lack of emotional progression in action scenes, the terrible acting.

                            Princess Bride also has great structure which, like music structures or rhyme schemes in poetry, makes it easy for me to recall the sequence of events and also makes it easy for me to digest and process the plot as it unfolds.

                            Of course, the sequel trilogy was not Lucas' writing, so I don't think we can critique it as part of his plan.
                            www.VideoAbe.com

                            "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

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                              #59
                              Originally posted by ahalpert View Post
                              This sort of reminds me of the discussion of what is science-fiction and what is not,
                              Sort of. We were discussing what kind of film maker Nolan was, if I recall. I was saying that Nolan is more obsessed with the concept, experience, and perception of TIME. So, Interstellar naturally took a twist into Nolan's fantasy rather than the fantasy of an ardent Sci-Fi fan. To me it was no surprise, but for you it was a criticism of Nolan. I think you and I agree on what a Sci-Fi film is.


                              Where we seem to be struggling here is that you are mixing words and meaning. I might say "feature film", and then you reply talking about "theatrical release".

                              To me, the feature film is typically a 90min to 2hr movie. It is typically a narrative and a self contained complete work.


                              The feature is contrasted by other forms, known as shorts, or long form, and serial.

                              Among many film makers, the most important aspect tends to be the narrative and story structure. All the other aspects can be a little loose, as long as the story is solid.


                              We can take that as boring information, or we can use that as an opportunity to look at Dennis Villenueve's career and work. Arrival, was by many accounts an unmakeable film. You can't show that language in a film, because it doesn't make sense..... yet, script be damned, they went for it, and overall they succeeded.

                              Sicario had a weak protagonist. That is considered a bad movie. Don't make a movie with a protagonist that doesn't do anything.... yet, script be damned, they went for it and overall they succeeded.

                              Dune is considered the "unmakeable movie", who you gonna call to make the unmakeable movie? DV. Screen adaptation be damned, they went for it, and overall they succeeded.

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                                #60
                                I think I've come to understand your definition of "feature film" (and perhaps the universal definition) as an approximately 2-hour self-contained narrative film.

                                I don't think Dune pt 1 is as self-contained as, say, The Empire Strikes Back. Empire definitely ends on a cliffhanger with the bad guys having the upper hand and one of the heroes encased in carbonite. Yet, I think the timing of the emotional arc allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief getting towards the end and getting some release/satisfaction. Perhaps a bit more so than in Dune, where I personally breathed that sigh a little earlier in the structure, when they survived the sandstorm.

                                That being said, what really makes Empire stick out to me as a self-contained movie is the particular CHARACTER and mood palette of that film, which I distinguish from New Hope and Return of the Jedi. It's the dark one. It has its own soul, its own personality. Watching it is a different experience from watching the other two and hits different emotional notes and gives a different kind of narrative pleasure.

                                Unlike, say, the episodes of Sherlock which I consider to be a generally similar experience. Perhaps I could say each season has its own character.

                                So, in that latter sense, I think we'll have to wait to see the sequel and decide if they're independent films or more like a miniseries. I suspect they will have different character because of the different action in the story, not to mention the long break in working on them for the filmmakers.

                                And, much as I dislike LOTR, I do feel like each of those movies had a particular character, with the first one in the Shire, etc. They weren't a homogenous experience even if they didn't bring me wholly into the story
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                                "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

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