The Movie Bracket! - Winner announced!

  • My votes:

    The Martian vs Yojimbo: This is an interesting matchup, because they both follow the trials of two men being crafty and trying to survive in completely unfriendly environments; two very different breeds of badass. The Martian was a great return to form for Scott; a far cry from the more forgettable self-serious, star-addled works he's been churning out for the past decade or so. It's an infectious, optimistic hard-ish sci-fi film with a really great lead performance from Damon. I think it gets a little scattered at times, splitting its perspective between ground control, Damon, and the departed crew, but it's up absolutely up there in Scott's work. Maybe even top 3 for me.

    Yojimbo on the other hand is similarly charming, funny, and harrowing, but man do I love the pulpy samurai angle. Mifune gives what I might consider his best performance, free from the 'loose cannon' characterizations he was previously known for, this is 100%, reigned in badass. More than just a smart, well-paced crime flick, it's also a pretty effective portrait of the end of an era, with the wandering ronin having to deal with not just an unhinged, capitalistic society, but the new morality (or lack thereof) by way of a gunslinging Nakadai. This is a close one (and I have a feeling it could be a close vote), but Yojimbo has my heart.

    The Hateful Eight vs In the Mouth of Madness: This is a tough one to type out, but man, I didn't like The Hateful Eight. There are absolutely things to appreciate. I like the setup, and the carriage in the snow. I think Russell and Jackson are fun in it. But once the film enters that impossibly spacious and spot-lit cabin, I just couldn't jive. It has your Tarantino tongue-wars and head-tilting, it has your over-the-top bloodletting and broad commentary on the American condition; but it didn't have the joy of Django Unchained (its closest cousin), and Tarantino's pacing has become both predictable and uneven in time.

    In the Mouth of Madness is probably the weakest film in the Apocalypse Trilogy but holy shit is it good. It's practically abstract, with such little regard for making 'sense' that it becomes a mounting, dread-filled odyssey where any awful thing feels like it could happen. The Thing says evil comes from what we can't see in other people, Prince of Darkness says it lives parallel to our own existence, and In the Mouth of Madness says that it's something we made up and now it runs the goddamn world---which seems like the scariest, most upsetting theory. In the Mouth of Madness gets my vote. It's a wild ride.

    Ali: Fear Eats the Soul vs Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Two movies with 'Fear' in the title. Neither horror films. Well at least not in the conventional sense. I feel like any viewer could feel any number of ways about either of these films. They're both stylistically very unique, and seem pretty ambivalent about whether or not the audience is on board with what they're doing.

    Ali is basically a deadpan melodrama inspired by old Hollywood high-color stuff from the 50's, but it has a hollowed-out, European, odd-ball quality that I like a lot. These two people are so alone in society, and so bewildered by their love for each other, and yet everyone around them is so upset by them being together---it's heartbreaking. I think it's a beautiful film, one that can feel cold and distanced while still being deeply sympathetic and weirdly humorous. There's a short scene that always stuck with me, where she looks into the bathroom, off the mirror while Ali's showering and tells him he's beautiful and he huffs out a laugh. Anyways, I think it's pretty gorgeous.

    Fear and Loathing gives me a headache. I don't mean that in a bad way, exactly. It's a gonzo, exhausting head-trip with off-the-wall performances and characters that seem like they emerged from the floor screaming. Depp's since made a career playing nutty characters who do weird things with their mouth and eyes, but I think of all of his silly performances Fear and Loathing takes the cake. He does a wonderful job ring-leading the film. Overall this matchup just comes down to vibe. I'm voting Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. It's more my speed and has a cultural specificity that's more appealing to me.

    I've never seen Tomorrowland! I actually sorta forgot it existed. I'm going to check it out in the next couple days so I can cast my vote on that matchup too!

  • @Ringedwithtile said in The Movie Bracket! Round 1, Q3 Voting!:

    I've never seen Tomorrowland!

    Honestly, it is Brad Bird uncharacteristically falling flat on his face repeatedly as a storyteller. Without checking, I can probably guess that it's only on this list because Brad Bird has only directed 5 full features?

    Boogie Nights is actually a good movie. It may not be PTA's absolute best, but in my opinion it's pretty close. I cannot help but think of characters in Boogie Nights when I see the actors in other films. Heather Graham will always be Rollergirl to me.
    This is a CLEAR win for Boogienights for me.

    The Martian made me reconsider Ridley Scott being washed up and gave me a small inkling of hope for the new Bladerunner and Alien movies. even though Tony Scott was my favorite Scott brother (RIP) I thought it was very well put together, and quite likable. It is not Blade Runner, or Alien, or Black Hawk Down, or Matchstick Men though, so It's not a clear favorite of mine. I do appreciate it trying to make botany and science awesome tho.

    Yojimbo, on the other hand - is maybe my fifth Favorite Kurosawa film after High and Low, Seven Samurai, Ran, and Throne of Blood... It's influence is clearly felt in the many Westernized adaptations and remakes, A Fistful of Dollars, Django, The Warrior and the Sorceress, Last Man Standing, etc. I think this is an iconic Mifune role, and really helped to popularize (through inspiring the previously mentioned films) the rogue wanderer badass coming into town, followed by death. So,
    Yojimbo, Baby.

    I also did not like The Hateful 8. I made the mistake of seeing The Revenant the week before I saw Hateful 8 - and to me the setting and costuming and behavior of everyone in H8 just rang especially hollow and manufactured to me after that. Now, that's sort of a Tarantino hallmark - but usually he creates (or adapts) characters that are so cool or fun that you are willing to overlook how unbelievable their dialogue is. I didn't find anyone in H8 that relateable or interesting, let alone cool. It didn't help that you didn't know the motivating factors behind anything in the movie until the last few minutes. I think Tarantino is at his best when he's restrained - either by budget (Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction), or by writing but not directing (True Romance) or by directing an adaptation (Jackie Brown) I feel like H8 was much less satisfying than Django Unchained.

    In The Mouth Of Madness is quite possibly the best Lovecraftian horror film ever made. I picked it so you can watch it. Enjoy!! (also I'm voting for it)

    Going to watch Ali:Fear Eats The Soul later on this week and I'll get back to you on the last one.

  • @TokyoSlim said in The Movie Bracket! Round 1, Q3 Voting!:

    Yojimbo, on the other hand - is maybe my fifth Favorite Kurosawa film after High and Low, Seven Samurai, Ran, and Throne of Blood...

    It's funny. That's not my top 5, but you are going to be pretty happy with my picks.

  • Who would have guessed Scorsese would be out the first round and I come here to find Tarantino down by two votes. This is turning out unpredictable, nice.

    Should be able to vote in 2, maybe three match-ups this time. I've already watched 5 films thanks to this, so cheers to some more!

  • Ack, three pairs I've only seen one of, and one that I haven't seen either. And most of the ones I haven't seen, I have no interest in.

    However, if things start to look bad for Yojimbo, I will go see The Martian, just to give Yojimbo a boost.

  • Lots of movies to watch this round!

    I could have sworn Tomorrowland was streaming somewhere.. guess not

  • Ali: Fear Eats the Soul vs Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

    I feel pretty mixed about this film. There's a lot of good here, some great shots, a dire commentary on racism and how far prejudice really spreads, and what love is like, especially if it's unconventional. The pace just felt a little scattered, with a decent amount of events occurring right at the end and other parts of the film having a little too much room to breathe. A lot of the characters in this film frustrated me - but I don't mean that in a bad way. They show that dark side of humanity that exists but is aggravating to confront. The shopkeeper especially deserves a slap for his lemonade/butter "mix-up".

    Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

    I've seen this movie twice in my life. The first time I was barely entering into high school and hadn't even touched a drop of alcohol in my life, much less any sort of narcotic. I can say I really enjoyed my first viewing - the bright lights, the surreal feel that creeps into every shot, quotes from Hunter S. Thompson laying the atmosphere on even thicker. My second viewing was several years later, "celebrating" 4/20, having lived through more years and experimented more. It rang a little more hollow that time but I still didn't have a bad time. I realize the movie is criticized for being pointless but much like Seinfeld - that's kinda the point. I don't think I'd ever seek to watch it again but I'd recommend everyone watch it at least once.

    So who gets the edge here? The sometimes heartbreaking movie analyzing some grim parts of the human psyche or the trippy, spastic joyride that splatters pieces of the human psyche across every surface it can find? Both films certainly set entirely different moods and tones but I'll have to give my vote to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This was before Johnny Depp was goofy in every film he touched and he really does an admirable job of making everything more bizarre here, yet somehow Benicio del Toro exceeds even that level.

    I'll be working on the Paul Thomas Anderson/Brad Bird match-up next.

  • Well it was a rainy day so I watched Tomorrowland and Boogie Nights lol

    This might be a tad spoilery for those who haven't seen it. I have to say I really enjoyed Tomorrowland. Maybe its just because I'm a big Disney fan but I though it was cool to create a sort of lore for the Tomorrowland name.. I didn't even mind the Small World and pin trading product placement. Although I enjoyed it, I don't think it was a great movie. It was pretty silly at times, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but I don't think it worked well with some of the more serious subject matter (which got a bit darker than I was expecting). I get that its a family/kids movie but I still think it could have been handled better. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't get to spend much time in Tomorrowland.. but I suppose that's just my fault for assuming based on the trailer. Finally, the storytelling isn't great.. it feels a little tossed together and doesn't meet the expectations I had based on the premise. Overall I still thought it was a fun and enjoyable movie, great for a rainy day.

    I have less to say about Boogie Nights because I thought it was great. Once I got over the creepiness of Dirk being recruited for porn I found it to be a pretty fun movie. You can really see the beginnings of a great filmmaker in it as well. I forgot Philip Seymour Hoffman was in it.. he really did a fantastic job with a small part. Also, I loved the Raging Bull reference at the end.

    My vote goes to Boogie Nights. I had fun with Tomorrowland, but there's no question that its the weaker of the two.

  • Ok this one's gonna be tough

    The Martian vs Yojimbo

    I'd never seen Yojimbo before and absolutely loved it.. so thanks :D You can plainly see how much this film influenced western filmmaking. Almost to the point where this basically feels just like a western film. I really loved the character with the gun.. its interesting given how almost every action movie today features guns prominently and usually unrealistically to the point where they don't feel dangerous or important. Though one character with a gun in a movie where battles are fought with swords feels a lot more serious. He also strikes me as one of the only intelligent people in the film, which is maybe why he sought out a firearm.. though it still doesn't compete with the raw skill and experience of the protagonist. Last I just need to say that I think the protagonist might be the most badass looking hero of any movie I've ever seen.

    Now The Martian is another movie that I really enjoy every time I see it. The book was basically a love letter to NASA and space exploration and as a lifelong space fan myself I loved it. I think the film did a great job at adapting that book and retaining a lot of that excitement and passion which was important to me. Maybe I'm crazy but I also feel like it kind of boosted interest in space and science a bit, or at least coincided with an increased focus on those subjects.. it definitely gets me excited every time I watch it haha. It certainly helps that its just a genuinely fun movie, well put together and with a good cast that gave good performances.

    I'm torn because I want to see more Kurosawa (I've only seen Seven Samurai).. but I don't feel too bad because it has 2 votes already... I think I need to give my vote to The Martian

  • I feel a little dirty for picking Kurosawa. If I had realized that Japan was already represented by Miyazaki, I probably wouldn't have. He's a very easy director to choose and pick for.

    But then you might not have watched Yojimbo for some time, so I feel it was worth it!

  • Never feel dirty for picking Kurosawa. I'm personally just fine with having 2 Japanese directors nominated. There's a whole bunch of American directors on the list, after all.

    I mean, we don't want to get into a whole "token Japanese director" situation. :p

  • I was just thinking of another country or culture that could have been represented in his stead is all. Also Kurosawa has probably the best chance out of all my picks for going deep, and I didn't choose any of my directors hoping they'd make it far, but to bring some different kinds of movies from different places into the conversation.

    I mean, we could easily do 32 Japanese directors if we wanted, but I don't know how many people would be on board with that!

  • I think both Miyazaki and Kurosawa are great directors to have included. They're different enough based on subject matter, years active and the fact that one makes animated films imo.

    I'm curious which director or culture you may have picked instead? I considered Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Luc Besson but neither had 5 films I wanted to choose

  • @Ringedwithtile said in The Movie Bracket! Round 1, Q3 Voting!:

    I was just thinking of another country or culture that could have been represented in his stead is all

    I don't want to be that guy, but that also applies for every non Japanese director you nominated. Innaritu could have replaced John Ford. Etc. It's nice we're thinking of getting more diverse, but that isn't accomplished by just saying "oh, we already have a Japanese director on the list" when we also have like 20 American directors on the list. Just wanted to be clear on that.

    Diversity isn't a checklist. I went into this not trying to fill out "slots" I didn't nominate the only female director on this list because we needed a single female director to meet quota or to meet some sort of diversity threshold... Kathryn Bigelow is legit one of my favorite directors.

    I'm not saying that's what you're saying, only that what you're saying could be misinterpreted and it's best to be super clear about this stuff.

  • This week and next week are finals for me, so I'm going to take a little while to get my votes in (as usual, sorry). Here's two I can do now, though:

    Boogie Nights vs Tomorrowland: Boogie Nights
    I don't know how much more there is to say on this matchup that hasn't already been said. If it wasn't already clear, I have a real weakness for films that balance out a glitzy, glamorous surface with a dark and seedy underbelly, and this dark take on the porn industry during the heyday of the disco phenomenon is one of the strongest examples to date. The scenes of drug use are well-shot, and the film is at once sexy (it's a film at its core about Mark Wahlberg as a porn star, so of course it would have moments of intense sexuality) and utterly revolting in a proportion that makes the film fascinating to look at and think about. As for Tomorrowland, despite having a great score, amazing visuals, and some of my favorite actors (George Clooney and Hugh Laurie alongside, inexplicably, ... Tim McGraw? What?), the script falls short in a big way. I don't know if I would dislike his other films because overall this was good, but I feel like no amount of good directing could save this bomb of a screenplay.

    Ali: Fear Eats the Soul vs Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
    Boy howdy am I ever a sucker for well-shot intoxication scenes, and Fear and Loathing has some of the most famous examples of all time. To be up-front, I like Hunter S. Thompson a lot, and being familiar with the subject matter was definitely a hook for me. That said, though, I think that Fear and Loathing would still be my pick even if I had no familiarity with Thompson. Its uniquely comedic tone and drug-fueled romp is as entertaining and fun as it is a gritty and no-holds-barred examination of gonzo journalism's history and practices (even if I thought that naming a character Dr. Gonzo was maybe too much of a wink to the audience). In the case of Ali, there's some weird discrepancies between what the film seems to want to be and do. So much of the film is a cold, unrelenting look at racism and xenophobia and how they function and self-perpetuate. Yet, at the end, Ali reconciles as if nothing had ever happened in the span of a single scene during a shared dance. Are we supposed to assume that his love for her is so strong that he's willing to overlook the times that she decided fitting in with her friends and society writ large was more important than standing up for him? Perhaps the weird thing is that, if the movie hadn't tried to clean things up so nicely at the end, I would have liked this movie more. As it stands, though, the film refuses to take its own premise to its logical conclusion and suffers in my eyes as a result.

  • @TokyoSlim I'm not trying to bring up an actual conversation about diversity and tokenism in a forum game, here. There's only 32 spaces available and cinema is a lot larger than that, clearly. I just wanted to contribute to as wide a selection we could get.

    I didn't pick favorites, exactly. Like Godard is very, very far from my favorite French filmmaker, but I think he makes a good point of conversation, you know?


    I really like the last act of Fear Eats the Soul, but you're right that it isn't an easy thing to parse. I feel it's a little more 2-sided than you, though. I really love that scene where she approaches him at work, trying to apologize, and he just lets his coworkers insult her. I think the guilt is felt on both sides pretty strongly and they clearly aren't happy apart from each other. I really like how cold and empty the scenes feel when he cheats on her. A lesser filmmaker would have made that tantalizing. And hey, depending on who you are, you might feel that cheating on someone you're married to is a greater injustice.

    But I like that about the film, that it presents things in a matter of fact way and allows the audience to make the moral call.

  • @Ringedwithtile said in The Movie Bracket! Round 1, Q3 Voting!:

    I'm not trying to bring up an actual conversation about diversity and tokenism in a forum game, here

    Your intent was undermined by your actual words, then. Just pointing out that it's problematic and something to be aware of.

    That's why I've been trying to clarify what you meant.

  • @TokyoSlim just trying to share some of my over-thought feelings about running this thing while also participating (which I initially didn't want to do) :):):):);(

    @Faaip said in The Movie Bracket! Round 1, Q3 Voting!:

    I'm curious which director or culture you may have picked instead? I considered Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Luc Besson but neither had 5 films I wanted to choose

    Eastern Europe, South America, or Africa. It's a little tougher to pick a director with 5 standouts from those regions given the amount of political turmoil or outright silencing of artists, though. I was thinking about Tarkovsky, but I tried to make all my first round picks pretty accessible, and I don't know if there's a good entry point for him. You just gotta jump in.

  • Boogie Nights vs Tomorrowland

    Boogie Nights

    THE TRACKING SHOTS IN THIS MOVIE! Sorry, they're incredible and need to be shouted from any rooftop available. There's so many memorable ones and they give this movie so much life. The ensemble cast here is also fantastic. Don Cheadle's character and William H. Macy's persona aren't really important to the story at all, yet they are so vibrant here. Even when the eventual fall from grace occurs, this movie doesn't lose its style and still remains fun, despite us seeing some characters suffer. The scene where Dirk is talking about the inspiration for his name and you suddenly see how he imagines it in his head - too good. The celebration of excess and its effects are proudly on display here. Despite all my praise, this still isn't my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson film but I get the feeling this isn't the last we've seen of him on this bracket...


    I know this movie means well. Its core message is that determination and imagination can get you anywhere, you just have to believe. Maybe I'm too cynical of a person but I feel like that message falls flat here, several times. It also plays really hard into the 'geniuses with no common sense' trope but to an alarming degree. Frank as a child is intelligent enough to make a nearly working jetpack but doesn't know where 5 o'clock lands on a clock. Casey asks how Athena is able to drive a car in the middle of a conversation, after having witnessed her driving for quite awhile now. There's a scene where Casey is asking Frank basically how any of this works and his response is along the lines of, "Shut up and just be amazed." I feel like that was directed more at the audience more than anything, as if you begin to actually think about the movie for any amount of time, it falls apart. We're meant to shut up and look at the pretty colors. Even though the film seems to be at least 90% CGI, it doesn't become overbearing and the color palette is quite nice. Overall though, this just feels like a mess of a movie.

    No contest here. Boogie Nights, you got my vote.

    I'll try to watch In the Mouth of Madness here in the next few days, as I actually do like The Hateful Eight and want to give it a little love - if it ends up being worthy of my love, at least.

  • I also watched Tomorrowland, and I also have to give a vote to Boogie Nights.

    Tomorrowland is a weird one. Not terrible. I appreciate its earnestness and its legitimately imaginative trimmings, but it feels like the attention put into this movie fell into the wrong places. Like so much care was put into making sure that these effects looked real that the film that's supposed to be holding them all together doesn't really stick together. There are some fun, interesting sequences, but these characters just sort of get carried around, starting gizmos, going here, going there---it was hard to be invested in any of the pathos or urgency. It seems like something that might have benefited from less money, which feels weird writing. It might have led them to strip things down to the basics a little more, because I think that's where the film's hurting.

    Boogie Nights is fun! Lots of forward momentum, very fun performances, and exuberant craft. It always struck me as a bit pointless, but hey, like a lot of pointless things it's a good time