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The Fall

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Phil Florian, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Well-Known Member

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    I was blown away by the trailer on HDNet for Tarsem's "The Fall" a few months back and have been chomping at the bit ever since. It turned out it was a capstone for a banner month of summer movies starting with Iron Man and moving through Speed Racer, Indiana Jones, Prince Caspian and Son of Rambow. It was my busiest month in going out to movies in many years.

    It was a great capper, too. In an odd way, it captures what many of the previous movies tried to do in their own ways. It was more visually interesting and arresting than the bombastic and hyper-colored Speed Racer. It was more intriguing fantasy storytelling than the solid yet safe Prince Caspian. Unlike the green screen special effects of Indiana Jones world tour, this movie actually did tour the world being shot in India, South Africa, Egypt, Greece, Italy, and Spain (and much more, I am sure). It even takes a bit of the Iron Man's fall and redemption themes for a ride. And like the sweet Son of Rambow, it relishes the power of storytelling.

    But comparisons aside, I was in awe of this movie. The visuals were certainly the treat and the icing on the cake but by far the glorious draw to me was the relationship between the charismatic Lee Pace as a early 20th century stunt man and a little immigrant orange tree harvester played by Catinca Untaru. I have read a bit about how they did this but this was one of the best screen relationship I have seen in a long time. The director and Pace found the best environment to pull every possible ounce of wonder from this young actress. She is at once cute without saccharin or self-aware, believable without coming off as forced, and invested in telling this story and responding to the world around her in a way most actors of any age have a hard time doing. It was a magical romance of sorts with real warmth between the two actors. To me it was one of the most endearing screen performances by a child actor going way back.

    I am kind of surprised at the wealth of negative reviews this film garnered. It is epic in scope by not length (2 hours for a vanity movie like this? P. Jackson couldn't come in under nearly 3 with his last vanity project). It is a feast for the eyes with the director boldly declaring not an ounce of computer graphic special effects and it is better for it. This movie actually celebrates the early days of movie making and there is even a wonderful montage of silent era stunt men at work and it makes you shake your head with wonder that any of them lived to tell about it.

    I really was drawn into this movie and if it never left the hospital room I would have been happy. But they did and it was great. The fantasy story being told to this girl (and imagined by her...this is her version of Pace's story) and the visual is amazing to behold. What is great is how the story elements are mirrored in the real world and vice versa. Very much a "Wizard of Oz" sort of moment with people popping up in both stories as well as little touches beyond just personalities.

    I could go on (and have!) but I really want to recommend this film to anyone who can get out and see it. It is said a lot but this is very much a "big screen" movie that, while wonderful on a nice HD set, no doubt, just can't be beat when on a gigantic screen. Get out and see it before it disappears under the deluge of more CGI-fests and remake-o-ramas. This one is an original.
     
  2. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Well-Known Member

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    I watched the trailer. It looks interesting. I haven't seen up in my neck of the woods. Was it given only a limited release?
     
  3. Thi Them

    Thi Them Well-Known Member

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    It was given a limited release. Around here, it's pretty much gone from theaters. Despite the many negative reviews, I was going to give it a shot but already left my local theater.

    ~T
     
  4. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Well-Known Member

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    Yah, it was opened limited on May 9th and then wider on May 30th. It only made it to our local art house theater. None of the big guys would pick it up (have to have room for "What Happens In Vegas" or whatever).
     
  5. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Well-Known Member

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  6. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the link. Great article. I had wondered about that montage they speak about in the article. What a perfect way to make a movie! Shoot it where you are paid to shoot your commercials. Brilliant! This article will make a lot more sense after folks see it. I hope it comes to a theater near y'all.
     
  7. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I saw it, enjoyed the visuals from the amazing locations/scenery and in-camera effects (CGI was only used sparringly to clean up some shots in post), and the use of natural light cinematography and the interesting angles. Director Tarsem does a lot with a little with his penchant for visual flair in filmmaking over the course of many years in making this film.

    The story itself lacked a little narrative weight for me to invest as fully as I had hoped in the main characters of Roy and Alexandria, who meet as patients in a hospital in 1915. Roy (Lee Pace, then unknown, but has found steady work of late as an actor) is injured and paralyzed in the lower extremities, and Alexandria has a broken arm, both of them suffered their injuries from a fall (one of many nods to the film's title). The performance of Alexandria, played by 5 year old (at the time) Catinca Untaru, is really endearing, and captured well, as the passage of time has a way of layering on bits of self-awareness that would have made her performance a little too self-aware had she had been older in the role.

    It can be a polarizing film, but I did admire the attempt to create a somewhat timeless look to the film that can be appreciated ten, twenty years in the future without it losing a sense of it being dated or a project found in a time capsule.

    I give it 3 stars or a grade of B.

    P.S. From what I've read so far, I think the making of this film would be the subject of a very interesting documentary as well.
     
  8. L. Anton Dencklau

    L. Anton Dencklau Well-Known Member

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    ..

    Edited by L. Anton Dencklau - 7/9/2009 at 09:39 am GMT
     
  9. Thi Them

    Thi Them Well-Known Member

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    I finally had the chance to see this after all this time.

    From the opening sequence, you know you are going to be experiencing something special visually. Truly breathtaking. One of the best visuals in the history of movies. This will still be talked about hundreds of years from now.

    However, the visuals aren't enough to make the movie great. It comes close to being a masterpiece, but to me, it ranges from being good to very good. I didn't feel the weight of the relationship between the stunt actor and the girl was enough. There was something there that was missing, and it may have to do with Lee Pace's acting at times. The little girl's acting was really good, and like how it was very natural.

    There is a crucial scene near the end involving the two main leads. and it just didn't work. Pace wasn't believable but also the editing and pacing just made it drag more than it needed to. I think if this scene alone worked as well as it could've, I would consider this to be a great movie.

    I loved the ending montage. Just wish it had me more invested in the two characters up to that point.

    I agree with the previous poster, that it is very much like Northfork in tone.

    If it's still playing in theaters, I recommend it for the experience of seeing Tarsem's imagery on the big screen.

    ~T
     
  10. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    I thought it was a solid film, if just short of really being excellent.

    9/10
     
  11. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Well-Known Member

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    While the film might have fallen a bit short of excellent (and I agree with that), it was exactly what it wanted to be, and was truly unique and original. Which is doubly valuable to me during a summer where the four major releases so far have all been sequels (or a remake/sequel).

    I had been wanting to see it for some time, but did not want to blind buy the Blu Ray. I got it from Netflix about three weeks back, but hadn't found time to watch it. I remedied that this evening, and discovered something quite special.

    The main draw is clearly the visuals. And they deliver on a scale few filmmakers could conceive, much less achieve. Some very natural and manmade beauty is harnessed in support of a story about the importance of stories. The film has some slow moments, but it never drags.

    Lee Pace gives an exceptional performance, basically shepherding Catinca Untaru through their scenes. I agree with Thi that the relationship at the end doesn't carry the dramatic weight it could, but I believe that is the script more than the performance. There is a bit of distance between the characters there, and I believe it is intentional. Until it becomes her story too. At which point, it totally works.

    I was NOT a huge fan of The Cell, though I admitted Tarsem had some chops. And he does. This film looks great (and I mean staggeringly great), and the movie is good, too.

    Folks who love all sorts of movies should give it a go.

    9/10,
    Chuck

    P.S. The Blu Ray is great as well, I'll be purchasing the film soon.
     
  12. Guest

    I know what Brandon means, and I think the only area where it could have been improved was in the performance of the crippled storyteller; I just didn't think he was well-cast, or good enough of an actor. However, he managed to play along with a girl who was basically improvising the whole time, and be convincing enough to give her material to create surely one of the best performances of all time.
     

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