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For the love of movies: The Past, Present, and Future of Cinema and what makes us fans (1 Viewer)

TravisR

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What summer movies will get you into an air-conditioned cinema this summer?
Looking only at the big budget summer movies, I want to see Lightyear (anything Pixar is immediately something I want to see), Nope (I loved Us so Jordon Peele is another solid bet in my mind) and the new Thor movie should be fun since they've got Taika Waititi coming back. I'm sure there will be others that end up entertaining me too.
 

Reggie W

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I started college as a voice major. The first week of music theory class we were given a basic chord progression and told how it was the "right" way to do that progression. When I questioned that saying "If a progression doesn't follow that sequence yet *sounds* good or gets you where you need to be then why do you have to know a "proper" way?" I was told "You have to learn the rules to break them!" I called BS on that - it's one of the (many) reasons I changed my major after a year.

There's nothing I've seen announced that generates even the slightest interest for me.

Sometimes instructors say baffling things. I recall being in a screenwriting class in the 1980s and the instructor said "NEVER write voiceover." that doing so was a mistake and showed a weakness in your writing. I pointed out that Stanley Kubrick was quite fond of VO and used it in several pictures. The response I got was "You're not Stanley Kubrick." which irritated me and I knew was a jackass response.

Basically, sure there can be rules, there can be something that is considered the "right" way, but in creative endeavors the best thing is to follow your instincts and see where that goes. If you box yourself in with rules, you likely won't get out of that box.

I play guitar, primarily self taught. I have a good friend that is a Berklee trained jazz bassist and while I am no match for people he has played with he likes to jam with me because I'm kind of all over the map and he finds that fun. So, I agree, rules are made to be broken and boundaries are made to be crossed.
 

jayembee

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What summer movies will get you into an air-conditioned cinema this summer?

My wife and I are still not comfortable with sitting in a crowded cinema, even if we're wearing masks. So, there is an extremely limited number of movies we will go to see in a theater. Basically, if it's not in IMAX, I'd just as soon wait until I can stream it or get it on UHD. So far, the only movie we've seen theatrically this year has been Doctor Strange, and the only ones scheduled for the rest of the year that we're likely to see theatrically are the next two Marvel films and Avatar 2.

(This is with respect to new films. We've gone a couple of times this year to a local theater to see some silent films.)
 

Keith Cobby

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In another aside, with Memorial Day Weekend generally being the kick-off to summer I had a look at some Summer Movie Preview articles to see what is coming this summer. I thought the new Mission Impossible was coming this summer but had that wrong (it just seems one of those films that has been coming forever as well as the Top Gun sequel) and I thought due to the pandemic that this would be a big summer movie season. Mainly because there was a backlog of movies they had been holding off on releasing.

However, I only found a few films I personally want to see in the previews. Men, which is already out, Crimes of the Future in June, The Forgiven and The Gray Man (which is Netflix so don't know if that will be in a cinema) in July, and I think that was it.

What summer movies will get you into an air-conditioned cinema this summer?

Crimes isn't one for me but The Forgiven will be. The Gray Man will if it gets a theatrical release. I watched Red Notice (Netflix) theatrically, a very small distribution in only 12 cinemas in the UK, fortunately one was near me. Operation Fortune (Guy Ritchie) is another.

The Bond films are being shown sequentially by Odeon Cinemas, so intend to watch my favourites!
 

jayembee

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I started college as a voice major. The first week of music theory class we were given a basic chord progression and told how it was the "right" way to do that progression. When I questioned that saying "If a progression doesn't follow that sequence yet *sounds* good or gets you where you need to be then why do you have to know a "proper" way?" I was told "You have to learn the rules to break them!" I called BS on that - it's one of the (many) reasons I changed my major after a year.

I don't think you have to learn the rules to break them, but I think it's still a good idea to do it. There's generally a good reason why the rules are there in the first place. The problem you had suggests that you had a poor instructor who seems to believe that the rules are the rules because they're the rules, and that's that.

It's similar to the common arguments about math teachers who insist that you "show your work" to show that you understand the process of arriving at the answer, and not just give the answer. That used to frustrate me no end, as I'm an intuitive thinker, not a linear thinker, and more often than not, the answer would just be obvious to me. On tests, I typically came up with the answer straightaway, and then worked my way backwards to show the process. That just seemed like "busy work" to me.

But as frustrating as that was to me, I completely understood the reasoning behind the "show your work" requirement. And also, it's worth keeping in mind that the job of a teacher in school is to teach you nuts and bolts of the field of study you're engaged in. Especially if it's something you're majoring in, because if you're serious enough about wanting to know the subject that you're taking it as your major field of study, you really should know the basic rules. If your only reason for taking the class is that you want to be able to sing better, that's another thing.
 

jcroy

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I started college as a voice major. The first week of music theory class we were given a basic chord progression and told how it was the "right" way to do that progression. When I questioned that saying "If a progression doesn't follow that sequence yet *sounds* good or gets you where you need to be then why do you have to know a "proper" way?" I was told "You have to learn the rules to break them!" I called BS on that - it's one of the (many) reasons I changed my major after a year.

(On a tangent on the other side of the coin).


There are some giant niches where indeed "you have to learn the rules to break them!", are in the hard sciences, medicine, and engineering. Especially medicine !!!


(Without getting heavily into politics).

The primary reason for this is that making "rookie mistakes" from "not knowing the rules" can be absolutely fatal. For example, bridges and buildings which are not designed properly, semi-random medications / procedures which are not tested properly or outright don't work (ie. Theranos, injecting Lysol, etc ...), etc ...
 

jcroy

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I don't think you have to learn the rules to break them, but I think it's still a good idea to do it. There's generally a good reason why the rules are there in the first place.
(On an offtopic tangent).

The funniest cases of folks who "don't learn the rules" in the hard sciences, is stuff like crackpots writing rambling manifestos that "Einstein is wrong" and coming up with "alternative theories" which are completely inconsistent with already existing precise emprical data.
 

Reggie W

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So, another gear shift here to see if we can talk about actors for a bit. This is basically inspired by the recent passing of Philip Baker Hall.

These days I don't much think about actors. Mostly because at this stage I only know a very small percentage of them. I would like to discover new actors and find ones I enjoy watching. I've never focused a lot on actors because I feel actors often can be raised to a higher level by good writing, good casting, or how they are utilized by a good director. So, sometimes a mediocre actor can be great in a role because it was good casting, the writing was outstanding, and the director really understood how to use the actor.

To give a couple examples, I think actors like working with Quentin Tarantino because he is an actor guy. He loves them. He writes with the actors in mind and gives them wild and often extensive dialogue to work with. So, he will bring out good qualities even in actors that may not be great actors. His pictures are specifically designed to make actors look good and to give them something very memorable to do and/or say. So, in many ways for a Tarantino film it does not matter who he hires he is going to get something good out of whomever it is.

Now, there are actors I consider great but they mostly all come from that period of filmmaking I was first seduced by, the 1970s. I miss many of those actors now and they were great unique actors that can't be replaced. Also, this was a time when the "movie star" really mattered and had a huge impact on if a picture got made.

I sorely miss guys like Jack Nicholson and Gene Hackman. Oddball movie stars that were not really hired for how beautiful they were but because the camera loved them and they gave amazing and unique performances. If you had a guy like Nicholson, Hackman, Duvall, Pacino, De Niro, Hoffman you knew something incredible would come of it. Even the "beautiful" guys like Newman, Redford, or Beatty could deliver, not just look good in the wardrobe.

I'm probably whining here but most of the current crop of heavily cast actors do not have the "IT" that those people in the past had. The trend seems to have shifted from the style of acting and casting of the past to just casting because someone looks attractive and hopefully can deliver a wisecrack or a silly line. This seems to be the main standard now and I think it has contributed greatly to the collapse of people going to a film to see an actor act.

No offense to people like Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, or Dwayne Johnson but I just don't think of them as actors. Not so much their fault, in most big pictures they are not asking them to do much anymore. So, if you are not asked to do anything except deliver a wisecrack, a silly line, say where your character has to go next, and sometimes squint your eyes to look concerned...well...that's all you are going to get.

Daniel Day Lewis says he is retired. I guess he was one of the few great actors we have working but he did not work frequently because he felt the number of good roles had plummeted. Phil Hoffman has left the stage. He was another excellent actor. I like Viggo Mortensen.

Probably one of my favorite actors working today is Brendan Gleeson, man does he deliver in everything he does.

So, my questions are who are the actors you love to watch today? Who are the actors you miss? Who are your favorite actors through the years, working, dead, or no longer working?

I define movie star in basically three ways:

1. A person that can get any movie made on just their name and participation. Leo DiCaprio is a good and maybe the last example. I recently saw an article calling Tom Cruise the last "movie star" but the truth is I don't think he can get anything made and now is basically a franchise or sequel actor. These are what works for him.

2. A person whose name in the credits does bring enough people to the theater (or wherever now) to see it that the film is a financial success. Probably Dwayne Johnson is a current example in this way.

3. A person the camera just loves. People like Hackman, Duvall, Redford, Newman, Pacino, that I have mentioned. Even a guy like Philip Baker Hall for this. Literally they could sit in front of a camera reading the phonebook and make it riveting. I don't see many actors like this now but Gleeson or Denzel Washington would qualify.
 
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Reggie W

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One thing I will say about Dwayne Johnson is he has, in my opinion, continued to get better as an actor as he has continued to make a bunch of pictures. I feel like he could expand into other areas if given the chance. The problem is, and I think this is by his own choice, he is pretty much confined to working in stuff designed to be big budget box office product. He does have though, some of the "IT" I think though. He's not shown much range but I find him more watchable than guys like Pratt or Hemsworth. Who seem just to never improve. Hemsworth has had some shots at dramatic acting and sadly, I just don't find him suited to it.
 

Walter Kittel

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So, my questions are who are the actors you love to watch today?

It is such an open ended question that there are simply too many to list, but I will name one individual. For my money, maybe the best actor working these days is Oscar Isaac.


Who are the actors you miss? Who are your favorite actors through the years, working, dead, or no longer working?

These are kind of the same question in some ways. The easy answer is Paul Newman who is arguably my favorite actor of all time. Charm and charisma to burn and he made every role appear effortless. His body of work, particularly in the '60s, includes some of my favorite films - most notably Hud and Cool Hand Luke.

Another favorite (especially from my formative years) was Charles Bronson. Even though his films were uneven in quality I pretty much always enjoyed his performance and screen presence. He starred in one of my top five Westerns of all time - Once Upon A Time In The West.

Once again, there are a lot of actors that I could name, but I'll leave it at those two.

-----

I tend to share your assessment of Dwayne Johnson. He found a niche that works for him and has carved out a very lucrative career for himself. He definitely has a screen presence and I would agree that he has become more polished as an actor. I tend to enjoy his films and I thought he (along with Jason Statham) helped reinvigorate the Fast and Furious franchise.

- Walter.
 

Joe Wong

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Good question about actors, Reggie.

A frequent discussion I have with my wife is the list of "best actors who haven't won an Oscar".

Off the top of my head, and by no means exhaustive:

Stanley Tucci
Edward Norton
Amy Adams
Toni Collette
Robert Downey, Jr
Glenn Close
Joan Allen
Alan Rickman
Don Cheadle
Paul Giamatti
Rachel McAdams

and so on...
 

TravisR

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So, my questions are who are the actors you love to watch today?
Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Tom Hanks, Oscar Isaac and Brad Pitt will generally get me to see any movie they're in. I think the movie star is a dying breed but I think DiCaprio, Hanks and Pitt all still qualify as movie stars because people will see their movies simply based on their being in them.

Honorable mention to Tom Cruise because while he's basically given up acting in favor of making franchise movies and being famous, I do want to see what crazy shit he's potentially going to kill himself trying to do.
 

jayembee

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Difficult question, as I like different actors for different reasons. Even the ones who aren't necessarily "good" actors can have a screen presence that carries the day for them. And the trouble with referring to actors who "look pretty" is that it's easy to dismiss someone's acting abilities just because they are attractive. Brad Pitt is as handsome as they come in the realm of current actors, but I think he's too easily dismissed as an actor because of that. I think he's much better than he's given credit for.

My favorite male actor of all time would be Max Von Sydow. I see his performances in films as disparate as Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters or Bertrand Tavernier's Death Watch or Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal and they all seem completely effortless. He just completely inhabits the character. Even for movies as silly as Judge Dredd and Flash Gordon, he appears to give it his best.

My favorite female actor of all time is Katharine Hepburn (Dorothy Parker's shade notwithstanding). Her range of roles from as silly as Bringing Up Baby to as serious as The Lion in Winter all show a skilled actor at the top of her form.
 
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