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The Thing (1982)
I think I'm still human - I hope
There are so many comments here on this brilliant movie, yet I've been compelled to also write one for so long, so here we go at last.
You can opt to answer if my comment is useful, well, I guess that depends on whether you've already seen The Thing or not :-)
If you have, perhaps you're in a younger generation (IOW, you didn't see it in the cinema, I think ?). If so, this is an opportunity for you to take a ride back to 1982, as a teenager and the account of it on the big screen. What do you reckon ? If you haven't, no worries, this is not another user comment claiming to not spoil the movie when I think (IMO) it does.... at least to some extent - not plot-wise per se. For example, I read user comments claiming it's not about special effects... you kidding' me ? The Thing's special effects (in 1982) didn't just shock, they truly terrorised (more below on that, stay tuned)!
So, let's go back to 1982. All the masses were flocking to the theater to phone home (ET). A bunch of teenagers about 15-17 - my friends and myself included -wanted to see 'The Thing'. (I personally had no desire to see ET at that time, I'd read the book and that sufficed - for now). In hindsight, I'm glad we did. Sorry - correction, a couple of mates back then didn't, I think. One "friend-of-a-friend" (amongst the bunch of us) came out of the theater looking pale, he felt sick (well, he looked it :-) because of the terror he just went through. Is that good ? Absolutely !
Now, let me digress briefly to the special effects. I've seen my share of horror movies. Some have great special effects, sure. But this is 2009. Terminator 2 presented a quantum leap in CGI. But James Cameron thought it through, as usual. He knew then that CGI is - or should be - the last resort, not the first. The team that ensured The Thing delivered its full impact beyond the nightmare story, using every resource available at that time (CGI wasn't one of them), succeeded too well it seemed. Rob Bottin's (yes, even Stan Winston) willingness to push the envelope - of course with the help and synergy of many other brilliant minds - did something I have/had never seen in a story on the screen : I spent years, stumped ... speculating how on earth the movie's visual juggernaut was conceived and punched into my face... And I couldn't figure it out. (not until the fine day I got my hands on the special edition DVD).
Now, again, consider this is 1982 ! I can't muster another movie title where I've wondered how it looked "fake" in other words, how it was done. All others are fake ; some take little effort to conjure up or accept the story's reality, many need a willing mind and some effort. That's not necessarily bad of course.
Now back to the future, today. It's 27 years on and this movie still manages to either make you think you're human (you hope) when it picks you up and immerses you into the story of this "frozen dozen" characters. They're isolated, exhausted and too terrified to even consider sleeping. But one or several are hoping they're human - I think - but are probably not. Why ? Because something has infiltrated them, or should I write, 'some THING'.
So, if you're still reading and you didn't see the movie then I urge one of 2 things. Rent the movie or buy the DVD movie (I did the latter). OK, now proceed with your favorite ritual (you can get popcorn, I'm not sure if you'll actually remember you have it while viewing:-) and get ready to watch film making that is so brilliant that the audience wasn't fully ready for it in '82, sadly underscored by lack of "box office success". I'm not even sure about 2009. I have flagged this Chef D'Oeuvre to a few younger friends asking to see a "scary movie" when thirsty for more of today's gore entertainment.... most have afterwards admitted they got too scared and didn't see it through :-)
So, are you game ? Ennio Moriconi will give you a taste with his introductory sound score, that this story will finally thrill you as you were promised. If you're anything like me, it'll do so much more. Every line of dialogue is great. The actors' performances are outstanding and utterly convincing. (perhaps save for a single line "What do we do now" by Donald Moffat). But Moffat and all other 11 are discerningly cast near perfection and clearly spilled their blood, sweat and tears, it seems, to bring these outstanding performances.
To close, it's quite hard to fault The Thing when put in its context. The lighting is perfect, the sound and dialogue is, the score is. And a handful of dark humour will make you laugh, but I did it afterward - when I was able to - back in 1982 when I got every cent of my pocket money's worth paying my cinema ticket.
I'm sure you will treasure The Thing's special DVD edition after you've added it to your collection... I did and still do. Finally, in my opinion John Carpenter brings you his best direction and breathtaking camera work in this movie.
(DVD purchased in 2004, watched every 3-4 months or so since, the last viewing earlier tonight).
D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear (2003)
you WILL get caught !
This film came on DVD, and was a good opportunity to see what the general nature of these vicious crimes was. At that time I was quite busy, and didn't get to follow it on the headlines. I found it well directed, very nice camera work. The sound score, although cliche at times, aided in the suspense. I loved Charles S. Dutton, his best acting so far I think.
Most crimes are committed on the basis that the criminal thinks he/she/they won't get caught - thus the severity of punishment is a moot point. However the message is clear here : You can do a crime maybe even 20 times, but the 21st time you WILL GET CAUGHT. Hopefully this might serve as a (unfortunately money making) deterrant. That's the best I can hope for.
Men of Honor (2000)
Does one ever give up ? Carl Brashear never did.
Does one ever give up ? If you did, how and when ? These are rhetorical questions for Carl Brashear, he doesn't. Very inspirational movie, especially because it's based on a true story.
Powerhouse Robert De Niro delivers his best in my opinion - his very best. I could not have seen Chief Sunday cast better (whether he's fictional is irrelevant).
The desegragation in the US Navy by President Truman didn't reach its final destination ! That didn't stop Carl. Determination can indeed make you win people over and gain their respect, even if they (peer pressure or not) are racist.
Funny thing is that I see so many parallels between this movie and "An Officer and a Gentleman". In that movie the instructor is colored, and the pupil is white. Also many wonderful paradoxes. (David Keith's small role I found to be poorly casted, he deserved a bigger role).
The tables are turned on many occasions in this engaging, fast paced movie. This movie has best impact if you have children yourself. Watch it at least twice, if not three times - it gets better again....
Cuba Gooding Jr. is excellent, but I think he can go even further.
Although cliches are inevitably necessary in Men Of Honor, the Script seems to cleverly dress them up and actually seems to set a standard for future movies to become cliche ridden.
Direction is virtually flawless. Continuity seems up to scratch as well.
I give it 9.8 out of 10.
To describe the many intricate themes and how the plot has the 2 main characters exchange roles, but only to converge at the end in the
"12 step" climax, would spoil this brilliant gem.
Have a tissue ready for this one if you're a sensitive person, you'll love it !!!!
The Dish (2000)
A priceless moment in Australian Cinematic History
The Dish delivers the way some of Michael Crichton's best novels do : Take a true story and build fiction around it so you can entertain the reader/viewer with technical accuracy and focus on the fictional characters, and the role they play. And boy, does The Dish entertain.
First credit must go to Rob Sitch's absolutely brilliant direction. On one hand it comes as no surprise that part of the old "D-Generation" line-up (Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy) wrote a comedy full of sharp wit in the tradition of the infamous "Late Show" that ran on the ABC (Ch 2) in 1992-1993. Glen's (Tom Long) question "Who's the guy ?", when Al (Patrick Warburton) volunteers his admiration for Neil Armstrong and that he'll be walking on the moon is on a par with the Late Show "It's academic" 1993 sketch where the Santo/Rob/Tom Ivanhoe College team is faced with the challenge : "How much change do you receive from 7 Dollars if you purchase 7 items at 98 Cents each ?" - Rob's answer " What are the items ? " is unforgettable.
That same team performed at its best yet when The Dish's script was written. The Dish is also quite unique as a movie that can be watched over and over again without the need to skip many parts of the story. This could mainly be attributed to the story's characters, and how we are compelled to care about each and every one of them, no matter how insignificant they might seem.
The core of The Dish revolves around Neil Armstrong's first historic steps on the Moon at 12:56 PM, Monday 21 July 1969 AEST. When 600 Million people (1/5th of mankind at that time) tuned in and witnessed the TV pictures from the Eagle Lunar Module, 3 tracking stations were receiving these signals simultaneously. They were CSIRO's Parkes Radio Telescope, Honeysuckle Creek tracking Station near Canberra and NASA's Goldstone station in California. During the first 9 minutes of the broadcast, NASA alternated between these 3 stations. When they switched to the Parkes pictures, they were of such superior quality that NASA remained with them for the rest of the 2 1/2 hour Moonwalk. Of course the audience knows the good outcome to the events, so the writers can fully focus on the fictional part of the story and remind us how human nature can marvel by putting a man on the moon and safely return him home.
The Dish is so refreshing because it doesn't need to resort to adult themes, violence or excessive profanity to flag your attention to the townfolk of Parkes, their involvement in the mission and how they are "over the moon" about it.
The film accurately portrays the spirit of Aussie people in 1969. I found the camerawork simply stunning at times, capturing the beauty of Parkes : the dusty road to the Telescope, the farmer with dog and sheep, the (empty) Fuel station and Parkes' sleepy shops. The wonderful soundtrack attends to the "missing pieces" with songs like "Good morning Star shine" and "Come on". Dramatization is resourcefully completed by Edmund Choi's composition and direction of The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (under Jane Kennedy's guidance).
The Dish succeeds in a non-pretentious and honest way to convey its great emotion and charm to the viewer. Working Dog excelled itself and surely must face great difficulty to surpass this masterpiece. "Frontline" and "The Castle" were very clever indeed, but The Dish is perceived by me as the best Australian Movie ever made, a priceless moment in Aussie Cine history.
Charles "Bud" Tingwell's cameo appearance as the Priest is the icing on the cake. The amount of research to realize the Dish must have been extensive, to adhere for example to the 2.2825 GHz Apollo 11 frequency, the solid minus 90 dBM signals etc. in the script.
It is worthwhile to note that NASA delayed the Parkes pictures by 6 seconds before its worldwide broadcast, in the event of an accident. Australian viewers saw mankind's giant leap 6.3 seconds earlier than the rest of the world !! (A 300 mS delay for the INTELSAT satellite link from Sydney,Australia to Houston,USA was incurred).
I still watch The Dish regularly and the movie, if nothing, conveys greater emotion than it first did. Highly recommended : great acting across the entire cast, almost flawless camerawork, fantastic soundtrack, fast paced yet non-engaging script, witty comedy. A treat for the whole family. 9.5 out of 10 !!!
10 out of 10 - that is - for the people that actually understood the movie
I have to volunteer that I am so fed up with all these "critics" here giving low ratings and/or putting down brilliant movies like this.
People who actually do program, might have noticed that Gary and Milo look at new stolen code. (in "C") Gary comments "great compression, isn't it ?". Huh, after looking at a C program performing advanced compression ? Don't think so !
Q : Did it ruin the movie for me ? A : No, not at all.
Q : Did that bother all these "critics" here ? A : No, because they are ignorant.
These people should think about about a movie like "The Matrix". Quote : "Ignorance is bliss" Email me the day you FULLY understand this quote.
One more comment for the negative critics : The movie's theme centers around compression techniques.
Many fundamentals of compression are based on HUFFMAN coding. Milo's surname : HOFMANN
Coincidence ? I don't think so. I think that people that don't understand a movie do not automatically acquire the right to rate it badly.............
So the movie has Pepsi splash in it, so what ? Does the movie therefore deserve bad ratings ? I disagree.