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Author Topic: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return  (Read 880 times)

J. Kashmir

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #40 on: June 25, 2017, 04:55:42 pm »
My review for Beatriz at Dinner is up. I think this was one of my best, to be honest. Hopefully it'll make it to the highest-voted reviews for the movie and discourage others from seeing it.
Your scathing movie reviews are often your best ones, and this is no exception. Nice work.
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Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #41 on: July 10, 2017, 01:21:04 am »
Alien: Covenant review is up. Some spoilers are present, but honestly, it's probably nothing you couldn't guess just from seeing the trailers/being familiar with the franchise as a whole.

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #42 on: July 18, 2017, 11:39:06 pm »
Just a nine-paragraph review of The Circle. I had a lot of fun with this one, given how much I hated the book.

Full text:



You know, this is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and it's still many orders of magnitude better than the book it was based on.

Dave Eggers' The Circle was utterly embarrassing. The characters were inconsistent. The dialogue was among the worst I've ever read from a professional author. The man should be ashamed that he even submitted such sloppy tripe for publishing. But ignoring all that, the book frustrated me because I agreed wholeheartedly with the message it tried (and failed) to convey. If there's anything worse than propaganda, it's bad propaganda-- preachy, intolerable moralizing supported by flimsy straw-man arguments and ridiculous exaggeration. When someone on your side puts out bad propaganda, it reflects badly on you. That book made me feel like an idiot for agreeing with Dave Eggers.

The Circle (the book) was met with widespread critical acclaim, for reasons I cannot fathom. So now that the film adaptation is an absolute disaster in every sense of the word, I ask fans of the book to answer one simple question: In what way is this movie significantly worse than the novel? In adapting his book to the screen, Eggers did make some changes-- he trimmed off a lot of fluff (including more-- yes, more kayaking scenes), and he altered the ending of the story in an attempt to give his main character some semblance of an arc. These are positive changes.

Aside from this, The Circle (2017) is just as bad as the novel that spawned it. The film stars Emma Watson as Mae, a woman whose friend gets her a job at a company called the Circle, which is headquartered somewhere near San Jose. As a character, Mae is the biggest problem with both the film and the book-- the Circle is clearly invasive and authoritarian from minute one, yet she spinelessly toes the corporate line, grovelling to her bosses and voluntarily engaging in wanton acts of privacy violation. Eggers fails to create any sort of slippery slope here, and instead of seeing a naive young woman get slowly sucked into a brainwashing machine (an approach that would parallel how real cults operate), we are presented with a main character who seems to willfully submit herself to her corporate overlords within a few short weeks. Mae's first scenes at the Circle are filled with obvious warning signs, to the point that it's almost comical she doesn't notice them. The result is that we do not respect her intelligence, and we certainly don't cheer for her.

It doesn't help that the character is horribly written as well, though she is not unique in this regard. The writing in this movie has been compared to the prose of Tommy Wiseau, and I must say that the comparison is earned. Every single character is inconsistent, serving only to push the plot forward-- most of their motivations can be explained by "this needed to happen in this scene, and so it did." One scene, where Mae is confronted by her childhood friend Mercer (Ellar Coltrane), is exceptionally poor. The pair exchange a string of generic, flat dialogue ("I can't be a part of this world you're creating!" "Look at these people! Something's wrong with them!" "We used to go on adventures and have fun, and you were brave and excited!") before Mercer offhandedly says "Bye" and walks out of the frame. During this supposedly heated argument, both actors stand rigidly, with their arms hanging limp at their sides. It looks like a production put on by a middle school drama troupe, and that's not an exaggeration.

Though the subplots have certainly been trimmed down for the film adaptation, they're still numerous and wholly uninteresting. John Boyega plays Ty, a former head honcho at the Circle who has decided to go underground (literally) and fight his company's invasive technology. This is where the story could have really lifted off, with a tech-thriller suspense tale about Mae and Ty teaming up to bring down the corporate powers-that-be. Instead, Ty is given so little screentime he hardly qualifies as a character, and he instead makes most of his appearances shaking his head disapprovingly in the background while a new product is being discussed. Meanwhile, even after he tells Mae the dark truth about the company and its plans for the future, she continues to passively go along with the Circle's plans. He literally shows her the underground vault where the company plans to store all the data in the world and warns her of the imminent danger of corporate surveillance, and then she goes back to work and the vault is never discussed again. I have no idea what the significance of that scene was, or what Eggers was trying to accomplish with it. It only serves to make his main character even less likable.

It's impossible to overstate how terrible of a character Mae is. She has no convictions or moral compass whatsoever-- if a character is telling her that the Circle is bad, she agrees. If a character tells her it's good, she agrees to that as well. When Ty asks her what she thinks of one of the company's stunts, she says "It was a bit much." A few scenes later, she voluntarily chooses to do the exact same thing. Her friends warn her about the company's invasion of privacy, and so instead of doing something about it, she goes to a board meeting and proposes the most invasive, borderline fascistic idea she can think of. Mae seems to go wherever the prevailing winds are blowing, and when she finally takes charge in the end, her transformation is rushed and sloppy. It only serves to make her character more inconsistent.

This waffling, bland character becomes a complete contradiction later in the film as she ascends the ranks of the corporation for no clear reason. The CEO of the company (Tom Hanks) seems to see something in Mae that we don't, and allows her to speak at board meetings, pitch ideas, and run seminars. Didn't this woman just join the customer service department about two months ago? Does she have any experience in the tech world at all? Mae's marketable skills essentially amount to blogging and "live-streaming" her daily activities, and once you realize she's no better than those idiots on YouTube who tell fake personal stories, it makes her incredibly easy to hate. And yes, while all of these problems were present in the novel as well, a good performance might have saved the film (well, maybe not saved, but at least lessened the damage). Emma Watson is not capable of giving that performance-- she's no better in this than those kids in the Divergent movies. Granted, she has zero material to work with, but it's still extremely embarrassing,

But aside from all these wonderful aspects that made the movie work so well-- terrible characters, a ludicrous plot, and clunky dialogue that sounds like it was run through Google Translate a half-dozen times-- the premise and message of The Circle don't even remotely cohere. It's not a film, it's a lecture, and not even a particularly good one at that-- it delivers its thesis with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. It would be very interesting if, some years from now, an aspiring writer or director created a film similar to this one, using humor, likable characters, and dramatic realism to craft a convincing argument against technological surveillance. But this is not that film. It does a disservice to its own message, and its climax is hypocritical to the point of idiocy. If anything, it will cause its viewers to create Facebook accounts out of pure spite.

With his novel, Dave Eggers tried to remake 1984 for the modern age. What he created was more akin to Birdemic: Shock and Terror. And while he may have made some smart editing decisions in transposing his literary bowel movement to the silver screen, all he's managed to do is remove minor parts of a massive, pulsating tumor. But if nothing else, it's lent some credence to a suspicion I've held for a long time-- not one person who showered Eggers' book with praise actually read it from cover to cover. I say with all sincerity that no thinking person can read that novel and find it to be anything less than an absolute disaster of biblical proportions. And there is no truth whatsoever to the claim that the book was ruined (or even significantly altered) in its journey to the big screen. So what really happened here? Did America's book critics hear about a new novel that criticized Silicon Valley, and they decided to hop on the hype train without actually reading it? Or do all of these paid professionals lack basic critical thinking and English skills? It's up to you to decide. But while it might have been difficult or time-consuming for even the most dedicated critics to sit down and actually slog through the book, it's been very easy for the rest of us to sit for two hours and watch as Eggers is exposed for the hack he is. This movie has been very vindicating for me, and for that... it has my deepest thanks.
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Plague Cutler

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #43 on: July 18, 2017, 11:43:04 pm »

Kale Pasta

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #44 on: July 18, 2017, 11:54:46 pm »
Just a nine-paragraph review of The Circle. I had a lot of fun with this one, given how much I hated the book.

Full text:



You know, this is one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and it's still many orders of magnitude better than the book it was based on.

Dave Eggers' The Circle was utterly embarrassing. The characters were inconsistent. The dialogue was among the worst I've ever read from a professional author. The man should be ashamed that he even submitted such sloppy tripe for publishing. But ignoring all that, the book frustrated me because I agreed wholeheartedly with the message it tried (and failed) to convey. If there's anything worse than propaganda, it's bad propaganda-- preachy, intolerable moralizing supported by flimsy straw-man arguments and ridiculous exaggeration. When someone on your side puts out bad propaganda, it reflects badly on you. That book made me feel like an idiot for agreeing with Dave Eggers.

The Circle (the book) was met with widespread critical acclaim, for reasons I cannot fathom. So now that the film adaptation is an absolute disaster in every sense of the word, I ask fans of the book to answer one simple question: In what way is this movie significantly worse than the novel? In adapting his book to the screen, Eggers did make some changes-- he trimmed off a lot of fluff (including more-- yes, more kayaking scenes), and he altered the ending of the story in an attempt to give his main character some semblance of an arc. These are positive changes.

Aside from this, The Circle (2017) is just as bad as the novel that spawned it. The film stars Emma Watson as Mae, a woman whose friend gets her a job at a company called the Circle, which is headquartered somewhere near San Jose. As a character, Mae is the biggest problem with both the film and the book-- the Circle is clearly invasive and authoritarian from minute one, yet she spinelessly toes the corporate line, grovelling to her bosses and voluntarily engaging in wanton acts of privacy violation. Eggers fails to create any sort of slippery slope here, and instead of seeing a naive young woman get slowly sucked into a brainwashing machine (an approach that would parallel how real cults operate), we are presented with a main character who seems to willfully submit herself to her corporate overlords within a few short weeks. Mae's first scenes at the Circle are filled with obvious warning signs, to the point that it's almost comical she doesn't notice them. The result is that we do not respect her intelligence, and we certainly don't cheer for her.

It doesn't help that the character is horribly written as well, though she is not unique in this regard. The writing in this movie has been compared to the prose of Tommy Wiseau, and I must say that the comparison is earned. Every single character is inconsistent, serving only to push the plot forward-- most of their motivations can be explained by "this needed to happen in this scene, and so it did." One scene, where Mae is confronted by her childhood friend Mercer (Ellar Coltrane), is exceptionally poor. The pair exchange a string of generic, flat dialogue ("I can't be a part of this world you're creating!" "Look at these people! Something's wrong with them!" "We used to go on adventures and have fun, and you were brave and excited!") before Mercer offhandedly says "Bye" and walks out of the frame. During this supposedly heated argument, both actors stand rigidly, with their arms hanging limp at their sides. It looks like a production put on by a middle school drama troupe, and that's not an exaggeration.

Though the subplots have certainly been trimmed down for the film adaptation, they're still numerous and wholly uninteresting. John Boyega plays Ty, a former head honcho at the Circle who has decided to go underground (literally) and fight his company's invasive technology. This is where the story could have really lifted off, with a tech-thriller suspense tale about Mae and Ty teaming up to bring down the corporate powers-that-be. Instead, Ty is given so little screentime he hardly qualifies as a character, and he instead makes most of his appearances shaking his head disapprovingly in the background while a new product is being discussed. Meanwhile, even after he tells Mae the dark truth about the company and its plans for the future, she continues to passively go along with the Circle's plans. He literally shows her the underground vault where the company plans to store all the data in the world and warns her of the imminent danger of corporate surveillance, and then she goes back to work and the vault is never discussed again. I have no idea what the significance of that scene was, or what Eggers was trying to accomplish with it. It only serves to make his main character even less likable.

It's impossible to overstate how terrible of a character Mae is. She has no convictions or moral compass whatsoever-- if a character is telling her that the Circle is bad, she agrees. If a character tells her it's good, she agrees to that as well. When Ty asks her what she thinks of one of the company's stunts, she says "It was a bit much." A few scenes later, she voluntarily chooses to do the exact same thing. Her friends warn her about the company's invasion of privacy, and so instead of doing something about it, she goes to a board meeting and proposes the most invasive, borderline fascistic idea she can think of. Mae seems to go wherever the prevailing winds are blowing, and when she finally takes charge in the end, her transformation is rushed and sloppy. It only serves to make her character more inconsistent.

This waffling, bland character becomes a complete contradiction later in the film as she ascends the ranks of the corporation for no clear reason. The CEO of the company (Tom Hanks) seems to see something in Mae that we don't, and allows her to speak at board meetings, pitch ideas, and run seminars. Didn't this woman just join the customer service department about two months ago? Does she have any experience in the tech world at all? Mae's marketable skills essentially amount to blogging and "live-streaming" her daily activities, and once you realize she's no better than those idiots on YouTube who tell fake personal stories, it makes her incredibly easy to hate. And yes, while all of these problems were present in the novel as well, a good performance might have saved the film (well, maybe not saved, but at least lessened the damage). Emma Watson is not capable of giving that performance-- she's no better in this than those kids in the Divergent movies. Granted, she has zero material to work with, but it's still extremely embarrassing,

But aside from all these wonderful aspects that made the movie work so well-- terrible characters, a ludicrous plot, and clunky dialogue that sounds like it was run through Google Translate a half-dozen times-- the premise and message of The Circle don't even remotely cohere. It's not a film, it's a lecture, and not even a particularly good one at that-- it delivers its thesis with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. It would be very interesting if, some years from now, an aspiring writer or director created a film similar to this one, using humor, likable characters, and dramatic realism to craft a convincing argument against technological surveillance. But this is not that film. It does a disservice to its own message, and its climax is hypocritical to the point of idiocy. If anything, it will cause its viewers to create Facebook accounts out of pure spite.

With his novel, Dave Eggers tried to remake 1984 for the modern age. What he created was more akin to Birdemic: Shock and Terror. And while he may have made some smart editing decisions in transposing his literary bowel movement to the silver screen, all he's managed to do is remove minor parts of a massive, pulsating tumor. But if nothing else, it's lent some credence to a suspicion I've held for a long time-- not one person who showered Eggers' book with praise actually read it from cover to cover. I say with all sincerity that no thinking person can read that novel and find it to be anything less than an absolute disaster of biblical proportions. And there is no truth whatsoever to the claim that the book was ruined (or even significantly altered) in its journey to the big screen. So what really happened here? Did America's book critics hear about a new novel that criticized Silicon Valley, and they decided to hop on the hype train without actually reading it? Or do all of these paid professionals lack basic critical thinking and English skills? It's up to you to decide. But while it might have been difficult or time-consuming for even the most dedicated critics to sit down and actually slog through the book, it's been very easy for the rest of us to sit for two hours and watch as Eggers is exposed for the hack he is. This movie has been very vindicating for me, and for that... it has my deepest thanks.
I'll know it's time for me to leave this website when I don't enjoy reading you tear into a piece of shit. Fortunately, now is not that time- great review.
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Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #45 on: July 23, 2017, 05:19:00 am »
Wonder Woman review is up. Not pasting it in, 'cause spoilers, but I think I was pretty fair with this one (Danny might say otherwise).

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #46 on: July 29, 2017, 03:50:42 am »
Lady Macbeth review.

Full text:



Just how dangerous is an overly attached girlfriend? If Lady Macbeth is to be believed, the answer is “very.” This gleefully mean-spirited film is among my favorite movies of the year, not in spite of how unlikable all the characters are, but rather because of it. Nearly all of the people in this film are unwaveringly repugnant, and there’s something refreshing about how willingly the movie wears that trait on its sleeve. Part of the fun in moviegoing is spending time with interesting characters, and in that respect Lady Macbeth succeeds handily. It’s a bleak, moving portrait of the ugliest side of humanity.

Lady Macbeth tells the story of Katherine, a young woman trapped in a horribly mismatched arranged marriage in 1800s England. Unsatisfied with her husband, she finds a lover in the form of a stable boy, and goes to great lengths to keep the relationship working. I didn’t know much about the plot going into this movie, and I expected a fairly straightforward story of two soulmates separated by circumstances in the vein of Romeo & Juliet. It was surprising, therefore, to find that Katherine is just as unlikable as her father-in-law and husband (and her lover, for that matter).

Still, the audience does take some vindictive pleasure in watching Katherine navigate each new challenge and obstacle that stands between her and the object of her lust. I say “lust” because there is no real love connection between Katherine and the stable hand. She’s sexually deprived, he’s willing, and that’s about all there is to it. Nevertheless, in a movie populated by cruel and indifferent characters, their relationship fast becomes the most recognizably human part of the film. That may be why we ultimately root for Katherine despite everything; her very real sexual needs stand out when put against the backdrop of puritanical 19th century England, and she does gain some of our sympathy, even if she proceeds to immediately squander it.

Florence Pugh is just magnificent in the title role, giving a performance that’s layered, witty, and cold, all while displaying deep sexual vulnerability. She’s a character who is simply fun to watch as she moves through a scene; her reactions, expressions, and body language invite endless analysis. Every time a problem confronts her, we watch in rapt anticipation as the gears turn in her head, and she never fails to choose the most outrageous (yet intelligent) solution. From what we see of her, she does not appear to have much of a conscience, but we nevertheless enjoy her dispassionate, logical approach to life. It’s akin to watching a documentary special on a great white shark-- you don’t question why the shark does what it does. It’s a shark, it has an appetite, and it needs to be sated. That’s all the motivation this character ultimately needs, and it’s extremely compelling in its simplicity.

This film will benefit from rewatches, as there are too many details to notice all in one viewing. It has a keen sense of visual humor that undercuts the twisted escapades that transpire on screen. Disturbingly sexual or violent moments will end with a cut to a perfectly innocuous teatime scene, or to a shot of a cat sitting at the table. One montage near the beginning of the film is especially effective, interspersing passionate scenes from Katherine’s love affair with quiet indoor shots. Here, the camera does a lot of the storytelling, and while it moves jerkily and freely during the sex scenes, it sits still in the dinner scenes, symmetrically framing the subjects with a surgical precision. It adds a lot to the contrast between the freedom Katherine feels with her lover and how confined she is in her duties as the woman of the house. There are also dozens of beautiful landscape shots of the fog and the moors, which serve to underline the untamability of nature. Wuthering Heights comparisons are certainly earned.

Lady Macbeth is a masterpiece of visual storytelling and an excellent character study. Pugh may not receive much awards recognition, but she’s certainly earned her place in the annals of movie antiheroes-- I’d be hard pressed to find one wrong note in this performance, or in the way the character is written. There’s something chilling and malevolent in her that really has to be seen to be understood. I recommend this film wholeheartedly to anyone who can handle a certain level of depravity. You will not be disappointed.
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Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #47 on: August 01, 2017, 04:57:24 pm »
Dunkirk review.



As many of you probably know by now, I’m not the biggest fan of Christopher Nolan. While his visual style is impressive, his movies generally lack emotional heft, and his characters are often underwritten-- while the concepts he explores are memorable, his characters... not so much. That said, with Dunkirk, Nolan has found a genre that plays to his strengths, and the result is something very special. This concise, tense war epic isn’t perfect by any means, but as a documentation of historical events (and an examination of human desperation), it hits all the right notes.

One of the persistent problems in Nolan’s past films has been an overabundance of exposition, which, to be fair, was sometimes necessary given the complex sci-fi concepts his movies usually deal with. But Nolan always had trouble balancing this out with character development, and in movies like Inception, the characters ultimately became exposition vessels with no discernible personalities. It’s clear from the first five minutes that Dunkirk is not a typical Nolan film in this respect. The movie opens with a tense, elaborate sequence in which a British soldier runs through the streets of Dunkirk, ducking into alleyways and narrowly avoiding German gunfire. There is no exposition here-- in fact, there’s no dialogue whatsoever. The actions speak for themselves, and because the audience is already familiar with the events, there’s no explaining to be done. It’s infinitely more compelling than technobabble-laden narration.

This is why the war genre lends itself to Nolan’s style. His scripts have never quite lived up to his visual mastery, but in Dunkirk, very little dialogue is necessary to get us invested in the characters and their plight. It’s not just their situation that makes them empathetic, it’s how they react to it. The movie has been compared to 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which was similarly sparse in dialogue, but the two films really couldn’t be more different in execution-- Dunkirk blows Fury Road out of the water. We learn about these characters through their actions and decisions, and their dilemmas are moral, not strategic. I find the themes of self-sacrifice in Dunkirk to be far more interesting than questions like “Which way should we drive on this road?”

Dunkirk’s characters shine especially when they make decisions that are morally dubious. The movie does not portray every soldier as a hero, and instead it examines the types of decisions people make when trapped in an impossibly bad situation. In this battle, survival is victory, and the characters in the film go to great lengths to win that battle. Yet despite this, the film has a deep empathy for its characters even when they do terrible things out of self-preservation-- it does not shame them for wanting to live, and at the same time it does not paint them all with the same brush of nobility and heroism. There’s a level of nuance found here that is simply not present in a lot of war films, and the movie becomes thematically richer for it.



Because the dialogue is so limited, the actors are given a lot of freedom, and they work wonders with this material. I’ve said in the past that Nolan is not an actor’s director, and he often boxes his actors into roles that feel sterile, wooden, and forced (often due to the stiffness of his expository dialogue, which doesn’t lend itself to dramatic acting). Here, he seems to have given the actors a lot of creative leeway, and the result is often nothing short of magnificent. Mark Rylance gives a memorable, touching performance as a civilian ship captain, and Kenneth Branagh is excellent as the evacuation’s commander. The one weak link is Cillian Murphy as a downed fighter pilot-- his performance is one-note and not particularly malleable. Still, the ensemble works, and they sink into their roles to the point that they’re virtually unrecognizable.

What dialogue there is in the film, however, is often unintelligible. Between the British accents, Hans Zimmer’s punishing score, and the loud sound effects, I think I missed at least half the dialogue in the movie (and I know others had similar complaints). The same problem was present in Nolan’s 2014 film Interstellar, but fortunately the dialogue here is not as fundamentally important as it is in Nolan’s sci-fi movies. Still, even though the cacophony of sounds adds greatly to the movie’s chaotic tone, it’s very distracting at times. The music in particular is not among the film’s assets; it plays near-constantly throughout the movie and there’s very little variation in it. A Gone Girl-esque soundtrack with quieter, more ambient moments might have worked better.

Visually, the movie is simply spectacular, making extensive use of practical effects and era-appropriate costumes. The sweeping shots of the beach are awe-inducing, and the fact that Nolan actively avoids showing the faces of the German soldiers is particularly clever. As with all of this director’s films, there’s not much to fault in the visual style, but the sheer scale of the production really contributes to the aesthetic of the film as a whole. The spitfires, the ships, and the uniforms all look authentic and appropriately dirty.

Dunkirk isn’t necessarily my type of movie, as I do tend to prefer films that are more dialogue-driven. Still, the sheer power of the filmmaking on display here is undeniable. The movie succeeds for a myriad of reasons, but a big one has to do with tone-- while Dunkirk does have the dark, gritty, morally grey elements of Nolan’s other films, it ends with a sense of hope and optimism that is completely absent in a lot of the movies made by Nolan’s imitators. It’s a seamless blend of dark and light that works beautifully for this particular story. I do hope that now that Nolan has found a place for his particular skills, he’ll put it to good use. I’d have no objection to seeing some films about Dresden, the Battle of Stalingrad, or the bombing of London from Syncopy Studios a few years down the road.
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Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #48 on: September 29, 2017, 02:26:37 am »
I wrote a review for the Ken Burns Vietnam War series, since it ended tonight and it apparently has a Letterboxd page. I won't dare recommend this to anyone, since it's 18 hours long, but it was pretty amazing. I love really detailed historical stuff like this.

The review:


=======================


I'd seen a few Ken Burns documentaries before I immersed myself in his latest magnum opus. Of them all, Prohibition was probably my favorite, but the one that stuck with me was The Civil War. It was expansive, moving, and resonant, but it did have some problems that nagged at me for a while. The documentary's emotional impact was lessened by the lack of witness testimonials-- in their place, letters written by Civil War soldiers were read by the narrator. The result was somewhat dry, and it deadened the blow of what was being said. There was no working around this problem, and it was clearly not Burns' fault. But part of me wanted more.

With The Vietnam War, that particular complaint is nonexistent. In his desire to show the human side of a war brought about by a messy geopolitical divide, Burns presents us with one installment of cathartic testimony after another. Vietnamese soldiers from both sides talk about the war much in the same way that the Americans from the Civil War documentary did. One man describes the shame of losing a country, a feeling he says no onlooker can truly understand. The story of Vietnam mirrors America's story in the worst ways, from its bitter overthrow of the colonial government to the bloody years of brother fighting against brother. The irony is breathtaking.

Throughout the film, there is a palpable undercurrent of frustration on both sides. For the Americans, it is the gradual realization that they were fighting and dying for nothing-- only nameless hills that would be abandoned and recaptured by the enemy within days. An American soldier states that the US government knew before he even set foot in Vietnam that the war was unwinnable. His anger is plain and justified. It is a feeling of betrayal that, coming off of victory in WWII, was unimaginable in this country. For many Americans, Vietnam ended the era in which the president always told the truth. It began the era in which all politicians are liars-- the one we're in today. John Kerry's damning indictment of the war is poetic and profound. "How do you ask someone to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

On the Vietnamese side, the devastating realizations come in successive blows. As the war escalates, it becomes clear that neither side is worth fighting for-- the merciless and collectivistic Communists of the north and the corrupt and incompetent puppet government of the south manage to let their people down in their own unique ways. Just as the American government failed its people, the two Vietnamese governments fail theirs, in a series of war crimes, coups, and power grabs that even the most sadistic fiction writer could not create. Another hard blow comes after the war, when Vietnam becomes embroiled in its own unwinnable war and the Communist farming system collapses. For the NVA soldiers in the documentary, the unspoken question becomes "What were we fighting for?" The answer: Economic ruination and untenable idealism.

As the documentary progresses, it expertly captures the muddying of the black-and-white view of the world Americans often have. Communism is clearly evil, but can we truly say that our side in the conflict was significantly better? Peter Coyote narrates the details of the My Lai massacre, Kent State, and the fall of Saigon in a sorrowful tone, describing shocking war crimes and multiple failures of five administrations to find a peaceful end to the conflict. Somehow, the most shameful chapter becomes the election of Richard Nixon, who committed treason by deliberately sabotaging the peace negotiations in order to win the presidency. His election-- and subsequent re-election-- adds an extra layer of betrayal, hopelessness, and cynicism to a morass of moral repugnance. In painting this picture, the documentary balances the military and political aspects masterfully.

It is a heartbreaking thing to see former Vietnamese soldiers describe the pain of watching their country come apart at the seams. The senseless bloodbath of the Tet Offensive clearly still sits with them, as do the most famous images of the war-- the South Vietnamese chief of police executing an enemy official in cold blood, and the napalm strikes of South Vietnamese planes melting the flesh off of a screaming little girl. The knowledge that one's own countrymen committed such crimes is an impossible weight to lift. It's another piece to the overall theme of betrayal, and possibly the one that cuts deepest. One soldier remembers returning home and not daring to celebrate his survival with his family. Every other man in his building who fought in the war had died.



For the Americans, returning home was no easier. The social unrest in the US is given its due attention, from the chaos of the 1968 Democratic convention to the war protests under Nixon. The veterans coming home are treated horribly, in some of the most shameful chapters in American history. Painted with the brush of the My Lai Massacre, they are forced to live in silence, not discussing the war with their families or even fellow veterans. I have never cried during a documentary before this, but two moments brought me to tears-- once, when disgusted soldiers threw their medals onto the steps of the senate building, and again when the Vietnam War Memorial was erected. Even if you think that the war was a case of US capitalist imperialism, that doesn't make Vietnam veterans at all culpable for what happened. If anything, they are victims-- first of an authoritarian draft system, then of brutal treatment by the enemy in POW camps, and then of unwarranted vitriol from their countrymen upon returning home. The things these men had to endure are staggering.

I had feared going into this documentary that the focus would skew too heavily towards the American soldiers in Vietnam, but that is not the case. The narrative takes on multiple perspectives, from the US and Vietnamese governments to the Viet Cong soldiers fighting in the south. Despite the stupidity of the cause they fought for, no one can deny their bravery. The famed Ho Chi Minh Trail is described in backbreaking detail, and the north's desire to free itself from colonial rule will strike a chord with American viewers. Ultimately though, a sense of pointlessness descends on both sides. "Only those who did not fight argue about who won," one soldier says. Perhaps it's this knowledge that allowed veterans from both sides to come together many years later. I won't pretend to know what war is like, but I can imagine that after years of silence, meeting someone-- anyone-- who shared such a nightmarish experience is a liberating feeling.

This documentary is extremely long and extremely detailed. I watched it because I enjoy history, but I think nearly everyone will be able to get something out of it if they choose to tackle it. I can honestly say that I learned more about the Vietnam War watching this than I did in all my years of public schooling, and the film is especially important for those of us who were not alive at the time. Future generations will never fully understand what life was like for the thirty years of the Vietnam War, but this documentary does a damn fine job of educating us about it, both from factual accounts and emotional perspectives. The Vietnam War is a triumph. If only we could say the same about The Vietnam War.
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Diego Tutweiller

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Tho Master Fie

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #50 on: October 06, 2017, 08:29:51 am »
Review for Raw.
I just watched this last night.  Was pretty funny.

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #51 on: October 06, 2017, 01:23:08 pm »
Review for Raw.
I just watched this last night.  Was pretty funny.

It definitely got a few belly laughs from me, though that might've just been to ease the tension.

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #53 on: October 15, 2017, 05:14:32 pm »
My October horror marathon is about halfway completed. Reviews include Suspiria, The Thing, Martyrs, It Follows, and Deadly Friend.
I've been reading these every day on Letterboxd; haven't seen many of the movies but they're always fun to read.

Kinda seperate, but I just put up a full Requiem for a Dream review on Letterboxd if anyone's interested.

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Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #55 on: October 15, 2017, 06:46:47 pm »
My October horror marathon is about halfway completed. Reviews include Suspiria, The Thing, Martyrs, It Follows, and Deadly Friend.

How the hell is It Follows better than Halloween? 

I was way too kind to Halloween in that review. If it wasn't so objectively influential, I'd kinda hate it. I have never been so bored during a horror film.

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #56 on: October 15, 2017, 08:10:43 pm »
My October horror marathon is about halfway completed. Reviews include Suspiria, The Thing, Martyrs, It Follows, and Deadly Friend.
I've been reading these every day on Letterboxd; haven't seen many of the movies but they're always fun to read.

Kinda seperate, but I just put up a full Requiem for a Dream review on Letterboxd if anyone's interested.

I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was the Paasche's Paaschillating Reviews thread.

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #57 on: October 15, 2017, 08:12:18 pm »
My October horror marathon is about halfway completed. Reviews include Suspiria, The Thing, Martyrs, It Follows, and Deadly Friend.
I've been reading these every day on Letterboxd; haven't seen many of the movies but they're always fun to read.

Kinda seperate, but I just put up a full Requiem for a Dream review on Letterboxd if anyone's interested.

I'm sorry, I didn't realize this was the Paasche's Paaschillating Reviews thread.

but nice review

Plague Cutler

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #58 on: October 15, 2017, 08:41:07 pm »
y u delete the halloween comment?

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Tut's Tutillating Reviews™: The Return
« Reply #59 on: October 15, 2017, 08:43:58 pm »
y u delete the halloween comment?

Decided against stirring the pot on that one.

 

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