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Munich


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The politics I happily leave for others to fight over in this ongoing battle that will never end. All I can say is that as a hardcore atheist, I know what I blame...

 

Back to the look.

 

I won't delve to deeply into specifics, but rather say that I think Kaminski did a marvellous job. My two complaints are that I sometimes think the different looks and gimmicks detract rather than add. There's a system or order to them that escapes me. I also think Kaminski sometimes uses some very edgy, hard and unmotivated sources in strange places. Like on an overcast exterior suddenly a character walks into a hot edge light that casts a hard shadow on the wall - stuff like that. But these are all minor complaints.

 

What absolutely blows me away - and this is perhaps more of a testament to the brilliance of Spielberg - is all the in-camera cutting and playing out of scenes in their complex entirety. The camera pans, dollies, catches reflections, tilts and cranes in very sophisticated ways to tell the story fluidly. I don't think I've ever seen more hardcore and smart solutions with reflections, car mirrors and such. Ever. Must have been a nightmare to block and rehearse. It's an absolute master class in filmmaking. And knowing that Spielberg does all this without storyboarding is even more impressive. He's just got it.

 

My respect for Spielberg grows for every film. We've always known he's good, but the verdict is in - when it comes to sheer technical competence in the mechanics of filmmaking and storytelling, he simply is unique. Nobody can touch him, not Hitchcock, not Kubrick, not anyone. He's truly a visual director.

 

I might add that I often find myself in prep for some short trying to adopt his in-camera editing shooting style (this is nothing new from Spielberg - he's done it since day one). Everyone loves it and we agree on doing it like that, but then invariably what always happens is that on set you find yourself getting pulled further and further away from what you set out to do. "I can't tell my story without a close-up here, Adam", "We need more coverage, man. I need more coverage...", "Can't we just punch in on a tighter lens?", "Let's play in an over-the-shoulder instead", and so on.

 

Knowing how much knowledge, time and guts it takes to shoot the way Speilberg does, it's even more impressive. He leaves himself no safe way out of a scene in editing. Respect.

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Hello,

I thought the movie looked really good. I especially enjoyed the use of the zoom and the reflections in car windows and rearview mirrors. It really put you in that international intrigue mode. I didn't find the lingual inconsistancies distracting in the least. That said I do find the topic very interesting, and I apologize in advanc for this brief digression.

In THE GREAT ESCAPE, if my memory serves me(and it likely may not), weren't Attenborrough's and Jackson's characters posing as French businessmen speaking a language that was supposed to be foreign to them(German) and not native speakers?

I wonder if the American convention of using accented english as a proxy for the native language of the character came out of those war movies of the 1940's where central European actors would often play German characters using their real accents(e.g. Premminger, Von Strohiem, etc). There was a British sitcom of the 1980's ALLO' ALLO' that parodied this technique very cleverly. It was set in occupied France in World War II. All the actors spoke english with exagerated French, German, or British accents representing their character's native language but could not understand the accented english representing the other languages. Bilingual character could swap from one exagerated accent to another. The it was particularly ammusing to see the British characters played by British actors using an extremely obnoxious British accent for a British audience.

The most egregious use of this convention(albeit the inverse effect) was the T.V. show SEAQUEST. The dolphin character Darwin's brain patterns were somehow translated via computer to audible english that was squeaky and throaty like a dolphin's natural voice. It always seemed to me if the phonynms originated with the computer it could have replaced the arrbitrary and irritating dolphin "accent" with, say the dulcet barritone of Michael Lonsdale.

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I remember having a long discussion/argument with a good friend of mine who was studying literature and art history regarding biographical films about famous personalities.

 

I told my friend that I could never understand why screenwriters always changed the facts of a person's life when writing features. My friend truly believed that it was more important to communicate the 'essence' or 'truth' of somebody's life to make a more succint film even if that meant fictionalising certain aspects of that person's life and altering the reality of what truly happened.

 

I still can't make up my mind.

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When Robert Bolt was talking about "Lawrence of Arabia", he mentioned that Claude Rains' character was a composite of four or more historical figures. He felt that one character that appears three or four times in a long movie would be remembered by the audience better than four characters who only appear once in the movie.

 

I was just watching the extras on the DVD of "A Bridge Too Far" and a soldier who fought at Nijmegen mentioned that while Maj. Julian Cook (played by Robert Redford) did lead the near-suicidal river attack on the bridge, he wasn't the first one up the other side, shooting the Germans on the opposite end of the bridge. But the screenwriter felt that the audience needed to follow one character through the whole assault up through the end, so that bit of final action was given to Cook.

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I saw this one yesterday and I thoguht it was quite a boring film, despite the interesting subject matter. Somehow most of the characters and their problems didn't feel truthful to me. I had the same feeling with 'Memoirs of a Gheisha' for instance. Filmmakers trying to imagine and recreate a world that they have no clue about This film wanted to be gritty, but I just didn't buy it.

 

All the assassination setups felt too mechanical. There was always going to be a problem and I find it hard to get interested in killers who nearly blow themselves up because someone switched the label on the plastique. Of course the sex scene towards the end was quite unfortunate, I had no idea what it was supposed to mean.

 

As for the look of the film, I thought there were so many obvious CGI shots in there. When Avner and Jeffrey Rush walk past the sunlit promenade in the begining, the compositing was quite bad. And if I stepped into spaces where there was so much smoke in as the characters did, I'd call the firebrigade!

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The "kids" in the company, those who were born after 1970, were really misled by what Stone did. I remember talking with a few of them after they had seen it and they really believed that there was this whole conspiracy to kill Kennedy. When I tried to explain that the conspiracy theory was just one theory of what really happened, they brought up the newsreel footage (which Stone faked) and other things in the movie to bolster their view. In that case, I felt JFK was strictly Oliver Stone propaganda.

 

-Tim Carroll

 

To be fair to Oliver Stone, he did not create the idea of a conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. his film was based around the book by Jim Garrison, which was itself only one of several competing conspiracy theories.

 

That the kids in your theatre company had no idea about the facts and theories surrounding the killing of their own President says more about the US educational system than Oliver Stones' filmmaking.

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It's interesting to think back to a movie like "Seabiscuit" that did portray mostly accurate facts (maybe not totally) and how many people called it sappy Disney crap. I mean, that really did happen, there are actual films of it. I really dislike how some people seem to feel manipulated by the drama and that somehow offends them. Why do you engage in looking at any dramatic art if you won't allow it to affect (manipulate) you?

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BTW, was anyone else a little confused by the article in A.C? I know you have to read between the lines sometimes with that mag but that article was a little strange. I take it that some of the NEGATIVE had bleach bypass applied and the PRINTS had ENR applied. Is that right? It wasn't exactly clear or I was reading too fast.

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Yep, that's how it was meant to be understood. The bleach-bypass on the neg wa sonly for selected scenes though. Interestingly enough they didn't mention the filter and net use at all.

 

The article didn't mention either why they chose the Super-35 format (to date, all the Kaminski-Spielberg films have been 1.85:1, except "Minority Report", which also was Super-35) or why the Cooke S4 lenses were used for this picture...

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Of course the sex scene towards the end was quite unfortunate

 

Ain't that the truth! Watched "Munich" a few nights ago and thought it was okay, probably the best Spielberg in a long while (which, IMHO, is not saying much... I think his best period of work was the 70's and early 80's, ending with E.T., and only a few exceptions since), but the last five minutes, especially the sex scene, were atrocious.

 

In particular, the shot of Eric Bana orgasming (presumably), with sweat flying off his head and head like water from a wet dog shaking itself off, was downright laughable, quite possibly one of the worst, unintentionally funny moments I've ever seen on screen (right up there with the Terminator giving the "thumbs up" at the end of T2).

 

I wonder if Spielberg thought the intercutting of the sex and the massacre of the hostages was powerful in the manner of the baptism sequence in "The Godfather" or the brilliant intercutting of the on-stage slap dance and the Nazis brutally beating the club owner in an alley in "Cabaret"? Whatever the case, the Munich sex/hostage slaughter sequence just didn't work for me at all.

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I don't know. I think Spielberg isn't appreciated enough. He's unique in so many ways. Not only is he a master at visual storytelling and the mechanics of telling a story, but his absolute most daring feature is that he isn't afraid to be emotional or even sentimental. That's probably the rarest quality in a filmmaker ever.

 

Some people think that's his problem, but I think that's his strenght. It takes so much guts as a filmmaker to allow oneself to be deemed sentimental and up for ridicule - it's every filmmakers nightmare. Coppola devotes a whole speech to it on the brilliant Hearts of Darkness documentary - how he was paranoid about being judged as pretentious on Apocalypse Now. Spielberg goes out on a limb and dares to put himself in a place where he can be pretentious.

 

Ask yourself this - how many directors dare to really do that today?

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I don't know. I think Spielberg isn't appreciated enough. He's unique in so many ways. Not only is he a master at visual storytelling and the mechanics of telling a story, but his absolute most daring feature is that he isn't afraid to be emotional or even sentimental. That's probably the rarest quality in a filmmaker ever.

 

Some people think that's his problem, but I think that's his strenght. It takes so much guts as a filmmaker to allow oneself to be deemed sentimental and up for ridicule - it's every filmmakers nightmare. Coppola devotes a whole speech to it on the brilliant Hearts of Darkness documentary - how he was paranoid about being judged as pretentious on Apocalypse Now. Spielberg goes out on a limb and dares to put himself in a place where he can be pretentious.

 

Ask yourself this - how many directors dare to really do that today?

 

i agree, i think it spielberg gets more flak than he deserves. i found the film compelling; but it seemd to me watching the film, that for all it's historical details (plausible or not), the point of the film was not about munich, but about iraq and afganistan; the issue of israel was really just a cover. the 'OTT' shot of the twin towers just confirmed that to me.

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