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Zorral

Watch, Watched, Watching : Series or Stand Alone? Home or Theater?

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Finally have caught up to the most recent season of Lucifer. It's always been a ridiculous show but boy they really jumped the shark. The musical episodes are silly but work well enough. The, um, different art direction used in one early episode caught me completely off guard. What the hell?!

I suppose it's just going to continue to ramp up both the absurdity and the cosmic stakes going forward. It's a tricky balance but at this point the whole series seems more like fan service than an evolving show.

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Voyagers

This can be best described as sort of a Lord of the Flies only set on a long distance space voyage.

I enjoyed it, could've easily been a much longer movie.

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16 hours ago, Argonath Diver said:

Finally have caught up to the most recent season of Lucifer. It's always been a ridiculous show but boy they really jumped the shark. The musical episodes are silly but work well enough. The, um, different art direction used in one early episode caught me completely off guard. What the hell?!

I suppose it's just going to continue to ramp up both the absurdity and the cosmic stakes going forward. It's a tricky balance but at this point the whole series seems more like fan service than an evolving show.

:agree:too much of Lucifer singing and playing the piano accompanying himself.  The actor loves doing this, but in terms of the show overall, rather than a value ad, it's kind of a 'when will we get back to things happening' sort of interlude.

OTOH, I am highly admiring (haven't finished it yet, due to time) their production techniques (turning half at least of an episode into animation!) to keep as few people in close proximity on screen as possible, while keeping up the tone and sheer bonkersness of the previous seasons (though the previous sagged in rhythm and timing, clearly due to pandemic) -- and then, through it all, actually grappling with matters that matter spiritually and morally.  There's never quite been anything like this, or hardly ever.

The sheer bonkers of this show has been, for me, its main attractor, oddly enough.  Because, you know, I am the serious, sjw, superior sort.  Ha!  :rofl:

Edited by Zorral

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On 10/15/2021 at 5:49 AM, Veltigar said:

I went to see Ridley Scot's The Last Duel yesterday. Easily the best film Sir Ridley has made in twenty years and a strong contender for best film of the year in my book. The fights and battle scenes in this film are amazing, with the titular duel in particular being incredible exhilarating. Based on my initial reaction, I think this duel belongs in the same league as the final fight in Rob Roy, which is a longwinded way to say that it is one for the ages.

The film's other riches include incredible performances from everyone in the cast. The three leads (in particular Driver and Comer), but also the entire supporting cast are giving some of their career's best performances. The directing is exciting and clear, which of course is what enables us to have these great fights. The film is also relatively historically accurate, which is always surprising in a Ridley Scott film. I can't speak to the specifics of the case, as I have not yet read the non-fiction book which inspired this film, but the way people dressed, behaved and went about their lives felt more accurate than most of the works set in this period. 

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I particularly enjoyed minor touches, like the rash charge of Matt Damon's French knights after English provocation. A problem that the French encountered time and time again in that phase of their war. Or the hints of madness in the young Charles VI, the emphasis on the lack of captives and plunder in the Scottish campaign and so on...

One unintentional source of comedy for me personally came from the fact that Matt Damon looked more like Chad Damon, truck driver than a stereotypical knight, while the look of Ben Affleck's character seemed to be inspired by early 2000s Limp Bizkit. I assume that the fault lies with me and the brainwashing I have achieved from previous Hollywood films. Truck driver Chad Damon is probably the closest modern equivalent to a realistic low-level knight like Jean de Carouges in that violent age.

The final thing I really loved about this film is the screenplay. I'm guessing this film will be rather controversial among the usual suspects online as there is a strong message about women's rights in there. Not only do I personally think that what this film has to say is relevant for the modern day, but I also think that the fit between the historical source material and the message is readily apparent. On top of that, I believe this film is incredibly skillful in making that match between the source material and its message.

The film uses a particular framing device to tell its story. We're presented with several POV's throughout the film and while that is nothing new, I think the screenwriting trio has rather expertly used this format to tell a very surprising story. I'll have to continue in spoiler tags, because I feel like diving into specifics for this one.

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The film uses three POV characters. All three characters are the ones you would expect for a story like this:

  1. Jean de Carouges (aka Chad Damon)
  2. Jacques Le Gris (aka Rape face Ren)
  3. Lady Marguerite de Thibouville (aka the voice of truth)

When a work of fiction deploys a framework like this, you know you are going to get the same scene from different viewpoints. Normally you then have to puzzle the pieces together to get as close as possible to the real truth.

The first thing I liked about the way this was handled here, was the recognition of Marguerite as the voice of authority. If her factual recollection of events clashed with that of the others, she was right. That position of authority is a great compliment to the message of this film, as Marguerite always had more trouble controlling her destiny throughout the film than the other two, who had far more options available. It's a sort of vindication of the historic Marguerite that she's put on a pedestal here.

The second thing I liked was how the screenwriters played around with the veracity of the accounts of our two male leads. Or rather the feeling of veracity. When Chad Damon's POV start, I was immediately suspicious of him. It is readily apparent that he's presenting himself in the most favorable light possible and even then he isn't able to help come across as petty.

When LeGris POV starts then, you get an entirely different vibe. In the scenes where his recollection clashes with that of Chad Damon and isn't contradicted by Lady Marguerite's POV, I actually believe his account of events to be more truthful. Throughout the entire film you get to see the sharp contrast between LeGris easy-going nature, his intelligence and ambition on the one hand and Chad Damon's boorish behavior. That makes it extra shocking when we get to the moment of the rape from his perspective. He clearly believes he did nothing wrong, but even in his perspective, the most favorable representation of the events for him, it is clearly rape.

This all leads to the final duel, where you are rooting for Chad Damon (who is by far the biggest debby downer in the film) against the pleasant LeGris, because for all his faults Chad Damon at least isn't a rapist. The stakes in the fight are then raised up incredibly high, as you find out that Marguerite's life is on the line, callously put on the line by Chad Damon which makes the whole thing even more morally grey.    

 

 

If all the above doesn't convince you to give the film a try, then I would say you are missing out. Give yourself a treat and go and see this film people!

 

I have just seen it. It was indeed a well-made, strong film. I have some criticisms, which I'll get to, but there is way more good than bad. I, too, thought that the way the story was presented worked pretty well, and it was nice to see the small differences, in some cases, significant differences between perspectives. I have no idea if the book was written in a similar manner considering it's non-fiction.

The one thing Scott has always done well, and it is by far evident in this film, is to put to screen a world that people live in. There are so many little details that immerse you in late 14th century France. I do wish the movie had been more brightly lit to better admire the excellent costumes. But I understand the lighting choice - this is a France in the midst of the Hundred Years War and the Black Death. It is a grim world, but there are a few great shots of Comer than indicate she is a bright light in this world - until the rape happens. And wow, but he does love horses. Sooo many horses, so much riding. I was beginning to chuckle at one point, imagining what Screen Junkies will do with it, but it was the only means of land transportation then, and Scott did not shy away from showing it over, and over, and over again.

The acting was good, especially Comer and Driver, like you said. The only one I found somewhat ridiculous was Affleck, mainly because he was trying to do this weird pompous accent. But I suppose he did play an asshole with almost no redeeming qualities. But of course, he co-wrote the movie.

The pivotal duel was, indeed, magnificent, slightly marred only by the stupidest helmets I've seen in a medieval tale. I can only scratch my head at that choice.

My two biggest criticisms:

  • The movie fails to establish the reason for its title. There is a quick exchange between the king and Damon about the legality of invoking the trial by combat, but not that things started to change due to its duel (even though I believe there was one more duel in the 16th century)
  • Some of the scenes deserved more time, instead of quickly cutting away to advance the timeline.

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Started Season three of Better Call Saul. So far, I'm not feeling it as much as the earlier two seasons. I still have over half of the season to go, but I'm not sure what is missing for me. 

Spoiler

I thought Giancarlo Esposito was one of the best things about Breaking Bad and I have really liked him in everything else I have seen him in since then, so not sure why the story doesn't click

Also watched the first four episodes of Ted Lasso's second season. It is still a very nice show, but the lightning-in-a-bottle feeling I had watching its first season has so far not re-established itself.

On 10/15/2021 at 6:01 PM, Zorral said:

Could one say this is the antithesis film to The Green Knight from earlier this year?  While reading your review it came to mind that the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a composition from the late 14th century, i.e. from this same period of the 100 Years War.  The Sir Gawain poem reflects the British fantasy-fairy tale games of chivalry so popular at the courts of both Ed I and III, whilst this historical case reflects certain aspects of French life in the same era. Eh, blithering! :dunno:

Not sure whether you could go anywhere close to describing the two films' as each other's anti-thesis :) As far as I can tell, they exist completely next to each other. They are so different and to the best of my knowledge, the makers weren't aware of each other's projects so there is no conscious or even sub-conscious attempt at responding to one another. Apart from being made in the same year, about men fighting with swords they don't have much in common.

 

On 10/15/2021 at 7:00 PM, Heartofice said:

Wasn’t sure what to make of the trailers so it’s good to hear Ridley Scott might be back to making good movies. I’m still highly dubious because he’s been god awful for a while now and I’ve been let down by any number of historical movies in the past, especially by him.

I don't want to raise anticipations to high, as that has a tendency to come back to haunt you, but I have no problem underwriting the bolded. With the exception of The Martian (and potentially Body of Lies which I haven't seen yet), Sir Ridley hasn't made a decent film since American Gangster. His last great film was Gladiator (I'm discounting Kingdom of Heaven, which I'm very attached to, but I think enough criticism of it is justified to merely count it as a very good film instead of a great one).

A really difficult question for everyone here. If forced at gunpoint, would you rather watch all of Sir Ridley's sci-fi efforts of the last twenty years on repeat or his historical films (I'll count Exodus under the latter category)? I think this is a dilemma tough enough to fry the brain of a malevolent AI.

On 10/15/2021 at 6:55 PM, Spockydog said:

I thought The Green Knight was terribly overrated. This looks excellent. 

Really? I must admit I disagree here. The Green Knight is a horrible, horrible adaptation of its source material, but it is a great film in its own right. The tragedy of course being that the poem on which it is based itself is brilliant and the film version will muddle the water for at least a generation of lazy students.

For me, this cinematic year has overall been pretty great with the best films I have seen this year so far being The Last Duel, The Suicide Squad and The Green Knight. I think all three could lay a claim to the status of modern classic.

13 hours ago, Corvinus85 said:

The one thing Scott has always done well, and it is by far evident in this film, is to put to screen a world that people live in. There are so many little details that immerse you in late 14th century France. I do wish the movie had been more brightly lit to better admire the excellent costumes.

It's also one of the dangerous things about his film imo. He's so good at creating a mood that feels authentic, that you do not realize how much bullshit he's feeding you. I love Gladiator, but I can't imagine how many history/classics teachers have had to deal with completely wrong interpretations of Roman history because of it.

Interestingly enough, sometimes his attention to detail works in his favor. For instance, you mention the helmets of the final duel as particularly stupid and I agree with you. It's not something any knight would wear in battle, but I'm not sure whether they might not be historically accurate and specifically designed to be used in judicial duels. With Sir Ridley you cannot be sure, so in this case I'd give him a pass.

13 hours ago, Corvinus85 said:

The acting was good, especially Comer and Driver, like you said. The only one I found somewhat ridiculous was Affleck, mainly because he was trying to do this weird pompous accent. But I suppose he did play an asshole with almost no redeeming qualities. But of course, he co-wrote the movie.

I thought his take on the character worked, but then I don't have much trouble imagining Affleck as a pompous douche XD

 

13 hours ago, Corvinus85 said:

My two biggest criticisms:

  • The movie fails to establish the reason for its title. There is a quick exchange between the king and Damon about the legality of invoking the trial by combat, but not that things started to change due to its duel (even though I believe there was one more duel in the 16th century)
  • Some of the scenes deserved more time, instead of quickly cutting away to advance the timeline.

Hmmm, both valid points, but I do think it is a showcase of how brilliant the film is that these are your biggest criticisms as I would say that:

  1. For the title, I can't help but think of the "That's the title of the movie" line the Pitch meeting guy utters every time the characters twist themselves into a knot to mention the title of the film they are pitching. Perhaps they should have elaborated more on the text screens at the end of the film, but it is a fairly minor point.

    As to the history, the duel in this film was indeed the last judicial duel of its kind in France (emphasis on the bolded). There were judicial duels outside of France up until at least the 16th century (1583 in Ireland) and of course other types of duel (for honor, etc.) took place until the 20th century (the last official duel in France took place in 1967 between two French MP's, although it wasn't to the dead). The 1386 duel was uniquely influential however, in the sense that it came to occupy an important place in the national consciousness. 
  2. I would also have wanted more film, but the format of a film does have its limits. I think they did a great job of keeping the tempo up and moving the story along.
On 10/15/2021 at 6:32 PM, Ran said:

Ridley Scott has made his Rashomon. Sounds excellent.

While the chances are high, I hope that it is not the case, as Sir Ridley still has a lot of films scheduled and I would prefer those to be in the same league or even better than The Last Duel :) 

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44 minutes ago, Veltigar said:

For instance, you mention the helmets of the final duel as particularly stupid and I agree with you. It's not something any knight would wear in battle, but I'm not sure whether they might not be historically accurate and specifically designed to be used in judicial duels. With Sir Ridley you cannot be sure, so in this case I'd give him a pass.

The source for The Last Duel, Eric Jager's book of the same title, recounts that De Carrouges struggled to kill Le Gris, fumbling with the lock on his visor to lift it up so he could stab him in the face with his dagger. So a definite change from the source...

Of course, Jager's account is not strictly accurate. Locking pins or mechanisms for visors did not appear to exist at the time, and the reliable contemporary accounts just indicate that De Carrouges killed Le Gris with a sword, but "with great difficulty" because of his armor. But all that said, there's neither archaeological nor pictorial evidence of the helmet designs seen in the film. They are a a bit of Hollywood.

Edited by Ran

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There hasn’t been this many movies I’ve wanted to see since before the pandemic. Already saw No Time to Die, and this month alone there’s The Last Duel, Dune, The French Dispatch, Last Night in Soho…

I really want to see Dune on the big screen, but with it being available on HBO MAX, I might have to stream it so I can use a trip to the theater on one of the others…

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Three episodes into Only Murders in the Building (Disney+ in the UK, I believe Hulu in the US). Outstanding so far, with a great cast.

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Squid Game:

Spoiler

Why is it that all these awesome miniseries that have come out recently end in a complete fart in the wind? Much like White Lotus and Mare of Easttown, this show sucks you in, but the finale is just terrible. Bah!

 

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Yesterday I went to the cinema for the first time in over two years. That time I saw John Wick 3, this time I saw The Last Duel. It was great and I pretty much agree what everyone else has written about it. Good acting all around, I don't think I've seen Jodie Comer in anything else before this but she was absolutely fantastic. I appreciated the subtle differences in characterization depending on the viewpoint.  Titular duel also was a solid piece of movie fight to, brutal and hard hitting, really driving home how much of tank you could be in full armour.

Although I do wonder whose idea it was to style Affleck like was the year 1999 and he was fronting a nu-metal band.

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