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

Reggie W

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He's not really doing billion dollar franchise movies but he's still one of the biggest stars on the planet.

No he's not and I like what he has chosen to do. I just think his name does not "sell' a picture or get enough people to show up that him being in it makes it an automatic hit. DiCaprio seems to be the last guy that can do this. Cruise used to be able to do it but I don't think he can anymore.

I think Pitt is a big "star" in that he is very well known. Can he carry a film in the financial sense, it seems not but then the thing is not many can.

Leo in terms of doing any kind of project and films for adults can and maybe Dwayne Johnson can in terms of carrying big budget pictures. Not sure who else is left after those two though.

That is part of why I was starting this conversation about actors. It is not like the days where they had a list of actors they could go down that all could sell the film Now they do try and take actors that have names people know and package them together to make the cast look big so people will come. However, that one lead actor that had his name on the poster and people would show up to see that guy...I think it may be down to just Leo and Dwayne now.
 

jcroy

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He's not really doing billion dollar franchise movies but he's still one of the biggest stars on the planet.

Wonder if any of these zillion dollar franchises can continue on with computer generated visual "stars", when the day comes where computer generated images/video are indistinguishable from images/video of the real thing.
 

jcroy

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He seems like a perfect leading man type but audiences don't seem to flock to his work.

(On a tangent).

The same can be said of extremely talented virtuoso musicians, which hardly anybody is attending their concerts, buying their cds, etc ....
 

Reggie W

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I think Daniel Day Lewis and Joaquin Phoenix are tremendous actors that bring so much to the parts they play. They should be actors that people will turn up just to see what they do. Lewis is supposedly retired sadly and Phoenix is doing some really interesting work.

Not to do the comparison thing but in many ways Phoenix is sort of the Jack Nicholson of our present day to me as if I were casting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest now, I would give Nicholson's part to Joaquin. He just has that exposed id quality.

Interesting they both played the Joker.
 

Reggie W

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(On a tangent).

The same can be said of extremely talented virtuoso musicians, which hardly anybody is attending their concerts, buying their cds, etc ....

Well, that is a different kind of sadness for me. I think in the same way that interest in actors has greatly diminished so has interest in great musicians or playing at this higher level. As a fan of jazz and classical music, here in the US anyway, there seems not a lot of interest in these genres. There still is in Europe though. I mean even the interest in rock or blues is diminished.

It seems younger generations are less interested in musicians and more into personalities and singers. Beyond that it seems a black hole. I mean when I was a kid we talked about guitarists all the time. I don't think younger generations do that now and they don't much care how the music is made they get into the singer or however catchy the tune is.
 

JohnRice

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There are movie stars and there are great movie actors. I'm more interested in the latter.

Off the top of my head, here are some favorites.

Peter Mullan
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Viola Davis
Gary Oldman
Clive Owen
Tom Hardy
Patricia Clarkson

I need to think of more women.
 

JohnRice

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@Reggie W you were talking about Tarantino. In one way, I kind of feel like he's the 14 year old boy's idea of brilliant, but I just received and watched the new 4K release of True Romance and was thinking of the screen-churning scenes. Of course, the Walken/Hopper scene always gets the attention, but there's the great Slater/Oldman one and what about that brutal scene with James Gandolfini and Patricia Arquette? I mean, that's historic. I'm only scratching the surface.
 

JohnRice

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...and some specific movies coming to mind for me that have become my ideal examples. Now I want to watch some...

Far from Heaven
21 Grams
The Claim
The Station Agent
Lawless
The Proposition (oops, got two John Hillcoat ones in there.)

Again, just off the top of my head.
 

TravisR

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@Reggie W you were talking about Tarantino. In one way, I kind of feel like he's the 14 year old boy's idea of brilliant...
Unfortunately, I think alot of QT fans and non-fans fixate on the violence, the cursing and tough guy-ism in his movies and can ignore the actual great work he's done. It's sorta like how every dumb asshole I've ever known loves Fight Club because of the fighting or bitch tits, etc. and seem to entirely miss the points about society that the movie makes.
 

Reggie W

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There are movie stars and there are great movie actors. I'm more interested in the latter.

Off the top of my head, here are some favorites.

Peter Mullan
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Viola Davis
Gary Oldman
Clive Owen
Tom Hardy
Patricia Clarkson

I need to think of more women.

Yes, there are people I love for their acting talents today.

So, with you there. I do like the people on that list and sure, what I want to see is someone that gives a great performance. I don't want to say that I don't think there are people that can act. There certainly are.

On the movie star thing, basically in the 1970 through the 1990s I think there were actors that could be a movie star and great movie actor. The thing about movie stars, as I said before, is that they could get a film into production by agreeing to do it.

An issue with some movie stars was basically everyone wanted them to be the same in every part. So less acting, more brand promotion. Stars were often not asked to do something different, just do what you did before and the crowd will cheer for you because you are John Wayne. Wayne could act but mostly people wanted John Wayne and so he mostly did not have to show a lot of range.

How would you classify Gene Hackman? Movie star or great movie actor? Both?
 

jcroy

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One niche which I found that movies has largely been deficient, is science fiction. Take away all the spaceships, future tech, ray guns, etc .... what you have left over is mostly a lousy police/military procedural action movie.

This is completely independent of whether there are any proficient actors, directors etc .... (Both past and present, and likely into the near future too).


I found reading classic sci-fi books are much better in the storytelling aspect, than movies.
 

jayembee

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One niche which I found that movies has largely been deficient, is science fiction. Take away all the spaceships, future tech, ray guns, etc .... what you have left over is mostly a lousy police/military procedural action movie.

It depends on what you mean when you say "science fiction".

Spaceships, future tech, ray guns, etc. are staples of what has been called "science fiction" since the earliest days of the genre. Especially in the "classic sci-fi books".

For several decades, I've seen people argue that "Star Wars isn't science fiction, it's just fantasy pretending to be science fiction". And yet, just a few months after the original SW film was released, in a panel about SF movies at that year's World SF Convention, SF Grandmaster Jack Williamson (author of such classic SF as The Humanoids, and the Legion of Space series) said, "Star Wars is exactly the kind of science fiction I've been reading and writing for the last 50 years."
 

Walter Kittel

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Science Fiction is a very subjective concept. To quote Potter Stewart "I know it when I see it". Personally I believe that SF is more conceptual and that a lot of what passes for SF is merely 'dressed up' with the props associated with the genre. Star Wars is kind of a grab bag of genres - Space opera which is sub genre of SF, Fantasy, Adventure, and Western. Not purely SF by any means.

As far as quality SF films there is a lot of schlock out there, but that is true of most genres. Recommended films (in no particular order) :

Moon
Arrival
Ex Machina
Children of Men
Source Code
WALL-E
Inception
Predestination
Interstellar
The Fountain
Donnie Darko

- Walter.
 

JohnRice

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Yes, there are people I love for their acting talents today.

So, with you there. I do like the people on that list and sure, what I want to see is someone that gives a great performance. I don't want to say that I don't think there are people that can act. There certainly are.

On the movie star thing, basically in the 1970 through the 1990s I think there were actors that could be a movie star and great movie actor. The thing about movie stars, as I said before, is that they could get a film into production by agreeing to do it.

An issue with some movie stars was basically everyone wanted them to be the same in every part. So less acting, more brand promotion. Stars were often not asked to do something different, just do what you did before and the crowd will cheer for you because you are John Wayne. Wayne could act but mostly people wanted John Wayne and so he mostly did not have to show a lot of range.

How would you classify Gene Hackman? Movie star or great movie actor? Both?
I'm actually a little baffled by your ongoing obsession with this topic. To me, the "golden days" of the movie star were more restricting than anything, for some reasons you spelled out.

Yeah, there are stars who can get a movie made, both talented actors and not. Increasingly not. Who can get a movie made? Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, but also Jennifer Lawrence. Probably Scarlett Johansson. Then there are ones like Dwayne Johnson, and John Cena seems to be getting there as well as Chris Pratt. I could not possibly give less of a shit about their star power.

Hackman, great actor and I expect there was a day when he could get a movie made. In the Popeye Doyle days, but who was the driving force for Unforgiven? Eastwood or Hackman?
 

jayembee

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Science Fiction is a very subjective concept. To quote Potter Stewart "I know it when I see it".

Or to quote SF writer, editor, and critic Damon Knight: "Science Fiction is whatever I point to and say, 'That's Science Fiction'." That it's a very subjective concept is kind of my point. There isn't a single genre out there in the world that doesn't invite arguments about what does or doesn't apply.

One can say that Minority Report isn't SF, because take away the SF trappings, it's just a police procedural. By the same token, you can say that any Western that involves a Sheriff or Marshal chasing cattle rustlers or bank robbers is just a police procedural with Western trappings. Or any one that involves the U.S. Cavalry fighting Indians is just a military procedural with Western trappings.

Because a given movie, or TV show, or book falls into one genre, doesn't mean it can't be in another genre at the same time. There's no reason it can't be both. Hell, there's a series of books by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) that's in three different genres -- Science Fiction, Police Procedural, and Romance -- all at once.
 

Walter Kittel

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One can say that Minority Report isn't SF, because take away the SF trappings, it's just a police procedural.

Yes, but the SF component of the story (pre-cognitive abilities and the ramifications of how that would affect law enforcement) is the fundamental point of the film. It is much more than simply a trapping. One of the defining examples of SF is the exploration of societal changes due to the development of technology or cultural norms that differentiate it from our current civilization. I would argue that Minority Report does precisely that.

Contrast that with a film like 1981's Outland starring Sean Connery. While it has some technology and an exotic location it is essentially High Noon in space. Don't get me wrong, I really like the film, but it is a prime example of essentially a Western gussied up with some technology. Not really SF.

- Walter.
 

jcroy

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I'm actually a little baffled by your ongoing obsession with this topic. To me, the "golden days" of the movie star were more restricting than anything, for some reasons you spelled out.

Yeah, there are stars who can get a movie made, both talented actors and not. Increasingly not. Who can get a movie made? Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, but also Jennifer Lawrence. Probably Scarlett Johansson. Then there are ones like Dwayne Johnson, and John Cena seems to be getting there as well as Chris Pratt. I could not possibly give less of a shit about their star power.

Hackman, great actor and I expect there was a day when he could get a movie made. In the Popeye Doyle days, but who was the driving force for Unforgiven? Eastwood or Hackman?

I'm somewhat bafffled too. Perhaps this might be due to my ignorance of film history.

When I was young, the purported "stars" were guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, etc ... Though I would not consider them to be great "actors", unless one considers crazy stunts and blowing things up as "outstanding acting".

If I'm reading ReggieW's posts correctly, it sounds like "star quality" is something resembling the international rock stars of yesteryear. Folks like Michael Jackson, Madonna, David Bowie, Ozzy Osbourne, Prince, etc .... which have some untouchable aura of mysteriousness / mystique. (For lack of a better description).
 

Joe Wong

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I think there’s a tradition that stories set in space are lumped into SF and non-historical stories with medieval trappings are “fantasy”.

I do label Star Wars as a fantasy that happens to be set in space. Many of its concepts (Force = magic, Jedi = knights, lightsabre = sword, etc.) are common fantasy tropes.

A true SF often employs scientific ideas that’s feasible but not in current use (maybe because the technology is not available). For example, nuclear fusion, or robots as advanced as those in Asimov’s Caves of Steel (he wrote this in 1953!). Interestingly, Caves of Steel is an awesome mixed genre novel - an Agatha Christie-like detective story set in a future with robots who could pass for humans and cities with domes keeping the outside out.

A film like Gattaca is great SF, where the science “fiction” is plausible and is in service of a story that explores the humanity or otherwise behind the science. (Oh, and there’s also a murder to be solved… but it’s more of a catalyst.)

Just my 2c, of course. 😎
 

jayembee

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Yes, but the SF component of the story (pre-cognitive abilities and the ramifications of how that would affect law enforcement) is the fundamental point of the film. It is much more than simply a trapping. One of the defining examples of SF is the exploration of societal changes due to the development of technology or cultural norms that differentiate it from our current civilization. I would argue that Minority Report does precisely that.

Contrast that with a film like 1981's Outland starring Sean Connery. While it has some technology and an exotic location it is essentially High Noon in space. Don't get me wrong, I really like the film, but it is a prime example of essentially a Western gussied up with some technology. Not really SF.

- Walter.

OK, I'll give you Minority Report (and Blade Runner, too). But as you say, "one of the defining examples of SF" opens up SF for being many other things, and not just that. That's why SF has been so hard to define, because there are too many disparate ideas that are encompassed by the term.

As for Outland, yes, that was the complaint: that it was just High Noon in space, and therefore not really SF. The problem I have with that is that you can make the same argument that The Magnificent Seven isn't a really a Western because it's just Seven Samurai set in the American West.
 

jayembee

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I think there’s a tradition that stories set in space are lumped into SF and non-historical stories with medieval trappings are “fantasy”.

I do label Star Wars as a fantasy that happens to be set in space. Many of its concepts (Force = magic, Jedi = knights, lightsabre = sword, etc.) are common fantasy tropes.
Yes, I've seen that argument elsewhere. People who say, well, Star Wars has spaceships and robots and ray-guns, but it also has princesses and wizards and swordfights, which are fantasy tropes not SF tropes, so it's fantasy and not science fiction. My response to that is that yes, Star Wars has princesses and wizards and swordfights, but it also has spaceships and robots and ray-guns, which are SF tropes not fantasy tropes, so it's science fiction and not fantasy.

It's actually both. Many staples of the genre are. Robert Heinlein, who's pretty much thought of as the standard for "hard" science fiction, wrote Glory Road, which is an amazing mash-up of SF and fantasy. Space Opera is a form of SF that has had a rich and established tradition in the field since Hugo Gernsback invented the term "science fiction" (well, actually, he invented the term "scientifiction", but a rose by any other name...) Military SF is also a part of that tradition, eg. Heinlein's Starship Troopers. And SF/police procedurals as well, such as the Asimov novel you mention, and its sequel, and a whole host of other novels and short stories I could name.

When it comes to genre fiction, the fundamental opposition comes down to the religious argument about whether they should be inclusionary or exclusionary. I go for inclusionary, as the word "genre" comes from the same root as "general" and "generic", and as such bends toward linking things by commonalities than by differences.
 
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