The Movie Bracket! - Winner announced!
Coming off of Goodfellas right now and I'll save full impressions for when I finish Strange Days, but I wouldn't consider it Scorsese's best film. I'd put Wolf of Wall Street, The Departed, and possibly even Casino before it... but it was still a damn good movie.
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@Faaip I need my crime movies to be 3 hours long to be respectable.
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@SabotageTheTruth Haha I suppose that's a valid sentiment
I have to say though.. Henry Hill is a pretty shitty person, but somehow I hate Jordan Belfort more
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@Faaip @SabotageTheTruth I feel like The Wolf of Wall Street has oddly become an underrated movie and I don't understand why. Maybe because it's just about a more present topic, but I think Wolf is also my favorite Scorcese movie. For a movie that's about 3 hours long I never felt like it was dragging. It's one of the most consistently entertaining movies of all time (though I suppose the same could be said about the rest of Scorcese's filmography). It's been a while since I watched Goodfellas though so maybe I should go back to that and see how it holds up...
Didn't realize Strange Days was also 2 and a half hours, whew, some long ones this round. I won't be able to squeeze it in before work today but I've got tomorrow off.
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The responsibility of being a tie-breaking vote is certainly a heavy one. I'll start off by saying I definently enjoyed both movies.
Goodfellas vs. Strange Days
What hasn't already been said about this movie? I know I won't be able to shed new light as the movie always seems to make its way into "best of" lists but just a few takeaways - I'm admittedly not a fan of Ray Liotta but he does a decent job here. I've gotta say, Joe Pesci steals the show by being extremely over the top and having some great lines. Scorsese is basically the king of showing us the criminal underworld and this is no different.
This movie has been the most pleasant surprise out of all the ones I've watched for this bracket so far. Some of the issues presented in this have become even more rampant (or at least more well documented) so this movie feels poignant and extremely forward thinking. Contrasting Ray Liotta, Ralph Fiennes just oozes charm with every role he's in and it's no different here. Angela Bassett also knocked it out of the park and Juliette Lewis was... well herself, I guess. I quickly became invested in the world and characters and loved the slight sci-fi spin added to everything.
Not only does being the tie-breaker make this a difficult decision, but the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed watching both makes it all the more of a challenge. Had Strange Days been up against nearly any other Scorsese movie, I would have given him the win but... I'm going to give my vote to Strange Days. No disrespect to Goodfellas, I just felt the pacing was more urgent in Strange Days, it was better acted, and the plot kept me more interested. Now I need to enter the witness protection program to avoid being whacked.
So we have leaders in all matchups now. I think I'll leave this round up until tomorrow in case any other shocking last minute votes come in. I'd also like to hear alexwhiteplays' thoughts on their votes before we move on if possible!
@Ringedwithtile lol noooooo close it now!
@SabotageTheTruth You may sleep soundly knowing you voted correctly.
Hey, the second rule is you have to write a reason why your vote is the way it is! I'm willing to move on without this, but I'd like to hear alexwhiteplays' thoughts while they're still relevant.
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Whoops, forgot to revisit this thread! Sorry for the delay.
Full Metal Jacket vs. A Bug's Life: I think that selling a film short because of its medium or target audience is to do it a disservice, but I realistically don't think that A Bug's Life reaches the same level of complexity and interest for me as Full Metal Jacket. It was one of the first Kubrick films I ever saw, and I immediately fell in love with the ways that he manipulates time, perspective, and the relationship between visuals and audio to make the audience feel uneasy. The second half of the movie is a prime example of this, and the scene posted earlier in the thread is one of my favorite single scenes that he's ever produced. A Bug's Life is entertaining for what it is, but I think that Full Metal Jacket captures a great balance of entertainment and depth.
Pi vs. Seventh Seal: To be honest, I liked Pi so much because it felt like if The Da Vinci Code was actually good. The plot twist at the end is well-presented, and the loss of knowledge as the key to attaining peace was an interesting way to conclude the movie. The extended vision sequence was also reminiscent of another certain movie that might be appearing here eventually if the director moves on far enough, which lead to my own personal enjoyment of it. And oddly, while I know that it's considered one of the capital-G Greats of cinema, I found myself not enjoying Seventh Seal very much. Its attempts at covering such a broad subject as death, mortality, and the afterlife are admirable but ultimately inelegant and with little in the way of window-dressing. The overtly philosophical nature of the film isn't a problem on its own, but for me it personally felt as though I was being bashed over the head with its lack of symbolic depth (Death is death, who could have guessed) and there wasn't enough enjoyment for me to cling to otherwise.
Strange Days vs. Goodfellas: This was one of the big ones for me, since I knew that my vote would matter here more than in other places. In many cases of my voting, my choice was made easier by the fact that I liked one movie and disliked the other, and so I could make my decision based off of which I preferred and why. This time, though, I really enjoyed both movies greatly, but I ended up deciding that I like Strange Days slightly more. Robert DeNiro does a great job in Goodfellas with communicating the violence that comes with a criminal lifestyle combined with the opulence that makes it appealing in the first place. One of the things that the film does best is exploring the constant volatility of a criminal lifestyle, risking it all for the ephemeral promise of wealth and having to constantly adapt to changing situations. Where Strange Days pulls ahead for me is its use of an innovative sci-fi futurism to explore contemporary social issues as well as a Blade Runner-esque infusion of film noir influences. The SQUID discs were a compelling way to access various points of view as part of the reconstruction of the mystery, and the camera manipulation during those sequences is nothing short of remarkable. Angela Basset as Mace really seals the deal for this decision, this is one of my favorite roles that I've ever seen her in and she carries the plot incredibly well. The race-conscious casting also lent a lot to my understanding of the political messages of the film, as Mace carries the full weight of Black womanhood in a story centered around rape and racism.
Amarcord vs. Drag Me To Hell: To be completely honest, I find it difficult to say much of significance about Drag Me to Hell. The film sets itself up to be the story of a woman whose greed leads her to act unethically and pays for it with her life, but what frustrates me is how little attention this is given. Most of the film's attention goes towards Christine's attempts to atone or to otherwise remove the curse, whereas relatively little is given to her motivations. I also hold the "mysterious g*psy curse" (which, as it happens, is a slur against the Rroma ethnic group) suspect as both an origin that is too easy in some regards and too dangerously stereotypical in others. Amarcord holds up well as an interesting examination of a year in the life of its town, and it takes aim at both fascism and conservative religious sexual morality in a refreshing and often amusing way. I did find it somewhat hard to follow at times and I walked away feeling fairly neutral about it, but I didn't actively dislike it and that by default makes it my vote over Drag Me to Hell.
Thanks for your thoughts!
So I've decided that concludes the second quarter, because I can (and we probably aren't getting any more votes)!
Kubrick, Fellini, Bigelow, and Aronofsky are moving onto the second round.
The next quarter and my votes should be up in the next hour or so!
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Damn.. I thought Goodfellas was the safe pick for Scorsese lol
For the record, here's my ranking. I recommend them all once the game is finished!
1st Round: Goodfellas
2nd Round: Hugo
3rd Round: Raging Bull
4th Round: Mean Streets
Finals: Taxi Driver
It's funny, I would've saved Goodfellas for later on for Scorsese! It was almost too good a pick for first round!
Quarter 3 matchups are up!
I'm gonna be honest, when I saw Strange Days going up against Goodfellas in the first round I was 90% sure Goodfellas was going to win. I'm glad that some other people appreciate Strange Days as much as I do though!
I honestly think Strange Days might have beaten Hugo too. That's one of my least favorite and I feel least consistent and most self-indulgent of Scorsese's films... But I guess we'll never know. :)
Holy shit at that Fassbender/Gilliam matchup. That's gonna be a weird one. I did NOT see that one coming! lol
FYI Ali:Fear Eats The Soul is available in full on Youtube
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!
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,
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.
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!