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What are you watching? 2019 edition

Had a 7-hour flight from Manchester to New York this morning, which I filled with viewings of Us, Glass, and Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse. All in all, a very fulfilling flight.


It’s interesting to compare VICE to Oliver Stone’s W. At heart, VICE is more about an idea than a character or story. The development of the idea of Unitary Executive Power from Nixon to Bush-Cheney is the protagonist of the story. Cheney is a cipher for that.

Now, ironically, that is more in Oliver Stone’s wheelhouse than McKay’s. However, W. is more about Bush’s character and how the contrast between his own “averageness” and his father’s “greatness” drives him into a position that he really is not competent to fill.

They’ve re-issued ‘The Matrix’ with a polished up 4K “restoration”, it looks fine in most places but perhaps it’s been pushed a little too far in others?

But what matters of course is that it still works as a first class action film, and it does!

Twenty years have been less kind to some of the VFX but many more still kick ass, as do the stunts and fights, which remain a benchmark.


Can you please expand on this a little more? Have you seen the restored version yet, or are these just your immediate thoughts after seeing the footage in the trailer?

I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m always interested in “retouches” and new transfers in old films. Like Michael Mann changing the colour grading in a blu-ray release of Heat, or Cameron putting Terminator 2 in 3D. All of the restorative work that had to be done on Star Wars for George Lucas to hide R2 behind some CG rocks. You all know what I’m talking about.


It’s unquestionably a better system (and site). RT is worthless.

And @anders Dr Alban was a hit here too - I think “Sing Hallelulah” was the bigger success.

Saw HOTEL ARTEMIS again at home. It’s not really comparable to John Wick though the trailer certainly tried to sell it that way, but it is fairly enjoyable. However, for a b-movie siege thriller, it is quite a bit underdone. The events don’t really build toward a strong climax and the character turns are as messy as the plot.
Still, strong actors giving good performances on a script that shortchanges nearly all of them.

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I’m going to see both The Matrix and Pulp Fiction on the big screen in August. Can’t wait.


Yeah, I saw The Matrix in an open air theatre in Prague a few years ago, and it was still just an awesome movie and didn’t feel very aged at all.


We saw the whole movie, at The Prince Charles Cinema, in a 4K Digital theatre.

The film feels like it’s been subtly regraded so the whole thing has been sharpened and the skin tones have been pushed a bit. The Matrix sections are a little greener, then in the real world sections people look a little healthier.

But, the film is 20 years old and I haven’t watched the DVDs for a few years either. I may be mis-remembering how it looked?

I did notice some clipping in a few scenes, and some crawling in some highlights and over-exposed areas, but not all the way through.

As far as I could tell, all the VFX are the same, nothing has been replaced or re-done there. Some of them are a bit soft, but the VFX work was originally done at 2K not 4K, so that’s to be expected. The technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today and it’s still amazing what they achieved in 1999.

All this is subjective as I say.

Most importantly, it’s still great fun.


It’s been remastered a bunch of times. The DVD and blu-ray versions were much greener than the cinema version, but the latest 4K remaster apparently dials that back a lot.


That’s interesting. I always felt like the green/blue distinction between the Matrix and the real world was more pronounced in the sequels, so I wonder whether they’ve tweaked the first one to bring it slightly more into line with those.

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Here is another of my chronological rewatch posts of all the film I own physical copies of. The latest five.


The Shining- When I was a teen, everyone revered movies like 2001, Dr. Strangelove, and Clockwork Orange. Now, it appears all affection for and interest in Stanley Kubrick has been distilled to this one film. We’re not far away from this being the only Kubrick film that anyone but dedicated cinephiles has seen—if we’re not there already. As such, it’s become a little overrated, and it’s hard to look at it through eyes that aren’t jaded by Simpsons spoofs and endless tired variations of Halloween costumes of the twins (Conor, 11 years old, did watch it with us and said it was the scariest movie he’d ever seen, though I don’t think he was strongly affected). Never my favorite, I side with Stephen King and feel the film is hurt by Jack’s performance, who chews too much scenery from first reel to last over servicing the story. Still, the hotel, the set and costume design, and the photography remain singular, and you’ll have a hard time finding a film with a better sweater game.

Superman II - This was one of the ultimate movies from my childhood that hasn’t held up as well into adulthood. The potency of all the lead actors remains, I still love how Superman’s red costume looks incandescent against the trippy arctic backgrounds, and the city battle is still tremendous. However, the script takes too many goofy shortcuts around the edges and several scenes always look a little cheaper than I remember. Despite the imperfections it’s still one of the 3-5 best superhero movies ever made.

Zigeunerweisen- Lush, dreamlike, supernatural, more felt than understood, if I had the talent and resources this is the kind of movie I’d most like to make. It’s predictive in a sense of some movies I love, from Mulholland Drive to Synechdoche New York, while remaining a Japanese ghost story at heart.

Blow Out- I really hate this movie’s third act, but there isn’t a boring scene in the first hour or so—bursting with color and stuffed with so much to look at, even the boring scenes aren’t boring. De Palma didn’t make a pedestrian creative decision in this entire film.

Clash of the Titans - Another one that was a major movie of my childhood and hasn’t really held up, due in part to the fact that it’s always way slower than you remember. It came out four years after Star Wars yet feels 30 years older, which is both feature and bug. The special effects remain eternal and I’ve long been impressed by the way they casually slipped some T&A into a kids movie, and the Medusa scene is still God tier (no pun intended).


That’s a depressing thought. I was very into Kubrick when I was younger and it’s crazy that The Shining could be his one immortal movie - like you say, it’s not his best, probably not even in the top 3.

There are still some very haunting moments and images though, which stay with you a lot longer than the more visceral shocks (and I’d argue are a lot harder to pull off).


Did you watch the original cut or the Donner cut on that DVD? The Donner cut reused as much unused footage as possible. So some of it was outtakes, audition and unfinished footage. That may make some of it look cheaper than you remember.

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I watched the Donner cut this time but I’ve seen the theatrical cut in the last year or two. I actually like all the silly Eiffel Tower stuff.

The stuff that looks cheap to me is all the scenes with the bad guys on Earth prior to them meeting Superman.


Ya. That stuff does look very dated. Was it in the original cut?

I need to rewatch Superman II. I haven’t seen it since the Donner Cut first came out. I tried watching Superman:The Movie again a couple years ago. Reeve was perfect but the film was just boring.


I feel like it’s more relaxed and expansive. :slight_smile:

Certainly a bit slower-paced than modern superhero movies, but I don’t see that as a bad thing.


‘Spartacus’ still get shown on regular TV, ‘2001’ gets referenced a lot so it’ll continue to gather fans, the rest are probably in the art house now though and destined to stay there, even ‘Dr Strangelove’ (still very clever and watchable) and ‘Paths of Glory’ (stagey, but very well staged).


It may be my own personal bias but I always considered 2001 his magnum opus and the one he would be most remembered for. It’s had its fair share of homage and parody, probably more than Shining. 2001 is my personal favorite with A Clockwork Orange right behind it with Dr Strangelove filling out my top three.


I can’t really watch the Reeve movies seeing him like that given what he went through later on.

I still like the film release where he tricks them into losing their powers. No need for brute strength just guile…