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Old 09-27-2006, 12:07 PM   #16
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Originally posted by Irvine511
i just can't do ultra-realistic violence anymore. i understand it's artistic necessity if it's done with care, and violence should hurt and make you feel uncomfortable because i can't imagine anything worse than actual violence, but that doesn't mean i'm going to want to spend $10 to subject myself to 2.5 hours of it.
I don't mind seeing "the bad guy" get finished off. But you can't help to have an emotional cringe when "the good guy" is getting the crap beaten out of him.

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Gibson probably has much more in common with Pat Buchanan or other nativist movements than the cut-taxes-and-spend evangelical American-ism of the current adminstration.
Apparently so. Pat Buchanan is as paleoconservative extremist as they come. He opposes legal immigration, which is an arrogant stance to anyone who can grasp American history.
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Old 12-02-2006, 01:56 PM   #17
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oh. my.

[q]'Apocalypto' Is More 'Mad Max' Than Mayan

With the subtlety of several thousand flying mallets and arrows, here comes Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto," a two-hour plus torture-fest so violent that women and children will be headed to the doors faster than you can say "duck" when the film opens on Dec. 8.

Indeed, "Apocalypto" is the most violent movie Disney has ever released, with so much blood spurting out of orifices that even Martin Scorsese would blush.

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to see heads and hearts removed without anesthesia, then this is the movie for you. "Grey's Anatomy" it is not.

What it is, Gibson says, is the story of a civilization in transition, as the Mayans 500 years ago fought among themselves until visitors from Europe arrived by ship and spelled their doom.

Unfortunately, though, that part of the movie lasts maybe three minutes and takes place at the very end.

"Apocalypto" really is a video game, a sort of "Survivor" set in what would become the Mayan ruins as we know them today.

The action is often cartoonish, and the dialogue — which is all spoken in some ancient dialect with subtitles — is often preposterous.

In one scene, after what seems like the umpteenth bloody killing, one Mayan quips to another and the translation is, "He's f—-ed."

Gibson directs some of the film like "Braveheart" and some of it like "The Three Stooges." There is little poetry to his imagination, so the hard work has to be done by veteran cinematographer Dean Semler.

Semler saves Gibson over and over, but not by much and not totally. The problem is that, unlike in "The Passion of the Christ," there is no noble goal here. The Mayans are merely fighting among themselves. There's no indication that the triumph by one side over another will achieve anything.

Gibson's reliance on Semler is as odd as his choice of the cinematographer. The pair worked together on "We Were Soldiers." But also on Semler's résumé are Kevin Costner's great work, "Dances with Wolves," which was similar in theme to "Apocalypto," and Costner's monumental flop "Waterworld." Unfortunately, "Apocalypto" falls more on the side of the latter than the former.

Semler's production is so shiny and perfect that his Mayans sometimes seem like they're in a Coca-Cola commercial. Instead of the dusty world of "Dances with Wolves," we get the high sheen of Kodak prints.

Sometimes, the result of this is a vivid portrait of death. For example, a jaguar eats a man's head, and masticates. Half-dressed Mayans are shot through the head, heart and chest with arrows and knifed sometimes without notice and almost always in the most gruesome ways possible. Heads roll and bounce, for real, down the long stairs of the Kukulcan Pyramid, or what we now regard the centerpiece of the Mayan ruins.

Not all of "Apocalypto" is awful. Rudy Youngblood gives an athletic performance as Jaguar Paw, the hero who must save his pregnant wife and child from warring factions after he hides them in a deep pit.

Youngblood is quite literally the only person who emerges from the movie unscathed, somehow not dying or requiring medical attention after sustaining injuries that would kill most men.

He almost succeeds in making Jaguar Paw a completely sympathetic figure, too, by giving him nearly no dialogue. But then Gibson and screenwriter Farhad Safinia let him jump the shark (or the jaguar, in this case) and make hoary proclamations to the artfully designed sky. Even Youngblood seems like he's going to wince with embarrassment.

Of course, "Apocalypto" arrives with a lot of baggage. Gibson — an admitted alcoholic who denies being anti-Semitic despite evidence to the contrary — is kind of a marked man.

He refuses to answer a lot of questions, and he is confining his publicity for the movie to safe havens with Disney and ABC, which the studio owns (I dare Jay Leno to ask him about this summer's incidents when he appears on that show on opening night).

But more than those questions, there are new ones: What kind of man is so interested in making this kind of violent movie? What motivates him?

"Apocalypto" surpasses "The Passion" in every way as a movie about pain, flagellation and wounding. The grotesqueries are almost numbing, and at some point they become laughable.

But all the while, you're thinking, what's the point here? If "Apocalypto" was supposed to be about that transitional civilization, where is it? After two hours and several minutes of squirming and covering eyes, you start to think that "Apocalypto" exists just to show violence for itself. The point is lost.

[/q]



oy.

i was planning on seeing this film; no longer. if i found "The Passion" to be the most violent movie i've ever seen, and ever want to see, there's no question i'm going to stay away from this.

this begs a question, and no, not the usual, "WTF is wrong with Mel Gibson," but the question of why is this movie ONLY rated R? why are we so much more tolerant of violence, but when i went to see "Borat," the horrors of the human penis were blacked out on the screen. there was literally a big black box over the penis, but it's fine to see all sorts of violent human death on screen rendered in ever more vivid ways. wouldn't you rather have a penis in your face than a panther chew your head off?

i don't freaking get it. but i am very, very troubled at society's willingness not only to accept violence and shreik at the sight of male sex organs, but in how we get all upset about the exposure of children to sexual messages but don't get all that bothered by violence.
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Old 12-02-2006, 02:31 PM   #18
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Cannibal Holocaust is funner
OK that thing was just twisted...
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Old 12-02-2006, 08:48 PM   #19
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From Aint It Cool:

"Apocalypto is amazing. Even in its unfinished form it is easily one of the best films of the year, if not the very best. Once again Gibson sets out to put you in another place and time, one which at first seems totally alien – only to brilliantly and quickly endear you to the people you’re following. Within the first 20 minutes of the film you absolutely identify with the tribesman and find quite a bit in common with them. And just as you are completely comfortable and at home with them, bad shit happens. And you feel it.

"From that point on the film is an emotional vice, as you watch the village you’ve fallen in love with ravaged and put through the wringer. And once the emotion has reached its crescendo, one man escapes and the last half of the film is a brutal, bloody chase film through the jungles of Mexico. And it’s pretty fucking amazing. Tense action sequences involving guerilla warfare, dangerous locales and plenty of improvised weapons. Easily as rough and bloody as Braveheart, this film doesn’t pull a single punch. The action hurts in the exact same way – never glorified and always illustrating the true horrors of war.

"Even projected digitally from their work edit, the cinematography showed through as beautiful and sweeping. I have no doubt in my mind that after color correction and a return to 35 that this is going to be one of the most magnificent looking films of the year. And the performances Gibson got out of an almost entirely novice cast is unbelievable. There is nothing about their work that says first time. Perhaps it’s simply the language barrier (which Gibson is smart enough to keep the dialog to a minimum) but even their physical performances are perfect and effecting."

Irvine, are you reviewing these films, or are you reviewing Gibson (and, one might suspect, his underlying religious sensibilities)? Because your inability to contextualize the violence in his films is surprising, given your insistence on context in so many other threads. Tell me, where are your diatribes against "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"? "Kill Bill"? The "Saw" films? Or are you going to argue context in those films (which can be done legitimately), while conveniently ignoring the context of violence in this one?

For example of other reviews the film is getting (and reviewers who seem to get it -- such as Peter Travers from Rolling Stone and Todd McCarthy from Variety), check out Rotten Tomatoes: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/apocalypto/
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Old 12-03-2006, 01:38 PM   #20
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[B]Irvine, are you reviewing these films, or are you reviewing Gibson (and, one might suspect, his underlying religious sensibilities)? Because your inability to contextualize the violence in his films is surprising, given your insistence on context in so many other threads. Tell me, where are your diatribes against "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"? "Kill Bill"? The "Saw" films? Or are you going to argue context in those films (which can be done legitimately), while conveniently ignoring the context of violence in this one?

this could take me hours, but i'll try to condense, and let's note that the film isn't released yet -- but i already don't want to see it because i will choose not to be subjected to Gibson's vision of violence, which i've seen twice, and which i think stands apart from other directors who either use violence in thoroughly appropriate contexts (Spielberg, in "SPR" and "Munich," both extremely violent films) or directors who use violence in deliberately over-the-top, highly *de*contextualized worlds, as movies within movies, like Tarantino ("pulp fuction" and "kill bill").

firstly, i am not opposed to violence, i am opposed to gratuitious violence. i've defended the violence in, say, "Saving Private Ryan" because it was 100% appropriate to the message of the film (and because the film is so much more than violence) as well as "Kill Bill," where the violence is intentionally over-the-top and cartoonish, not meant to be taken seriously.

i don't watch horror movies. i have no interest in them. but when was the last time a horror movie made over $300m domestically, was embraced by Christians across the country, became a cultural moment, and a film where parents took small children to what was widely deemed the most violent film ever released by a major studio.

you're also ignoring my bigger point -- Gibson can do whatever he wants, that's fine, i don't have to see the films. but i find it intensely hypocritical for many voices to rail about sexuality in films, but have no problem with obscene violence. penises are better than guns. breasts are better than bombs. THIS is what i'm getting at, and this stands apart from Gibson. i saw "the passion" on Showtime; i know several people who saw it in the theater, and sat next to small children. how completely fucked up. i'd much rather my child sit through, say, "the pillow book" (where Ewan McGregor is naked for 2 hours) than through a film so devoid of context that violence, pain, torture, and suffering were it's only reasons for being (until the end, when Jesus rises again, and looks like he's going to head out into the world and kick some motherfucking ass)

that is my main point. the fucked-up nature of the American movie goer that views violence as preferable to sex. i don't understand that. i don't understand the fear we have of the human body. i don't understand the fear of human sexuality. i don't understand the willingness to intellectualize violence, or merely enjoy the violence, and the unwillingness to think maturely about sex, sexuality, and nudity.

i also think Mel's pretty crazy, certainly an anti-Semite, clearly homophobic, a follower of a pretty deranged view of catholicism, and also genuinely talented both in front of and behind the camera. since we know so much about this artist, and i do consider him an artist, it becomes difficult to look at his films and NOT see evidence of what we already know. this is how major directors who've earned their artistic freedom work. what is a Spielberg movie without a lost child and an absent father? what is a Tarantino movie without fetishized notions of black masculinity? what is a Gibson movie without torture and either anti-Semitism (the passion) or homophobia (braveheart).

so, of course i have problems with Gibson the artist. i don't doubt his talent, but i fear the fruits of his talents. i've said it before, i'll say it again: "The Passion" is a HUGELY problematic movie, but that's Gibson's fault; it was also a HUGELY problematic cultural event, because Americans spent $300m embracing a positively 11th century vision of Christianity reliant upon blood and gore as means to spiritual exaltation.

and children were subjected to it.

THAT's my problem.
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Old 12-03-2006, 01:39 PM   #21
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i also put very, very little stock in "Aint-it-Cool." but that's me.
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Old 12-03-2006, 04:20 PM   #22
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Originally posted by Irvine511
i also put very, very little stock in "Aint-it-Cool." but that's me.
But you put stock in Fox News? I'm stunned.

How about Variety? How about Rolling Stone? They address the violence you focus on, but seem to see it in a larger context -- namely, that the violence is the point. That any culture begun with violence will see its end in violence. Cultures burn out far more often than fade away.

You point out "Kill Bill" as an example of a film that makes its violence cartoonish and over-the-top. You seem offended however by films which actually try to take the notion of violence seriously. Does "The Passion" shock you? Perhaps the experience of a shocking death makes one realize the value of Christ's death. Does "Apocalypto" shock you? Perhaps you'll be less interested in engaging in war. Say what you will about the prominence of violence in Gibson's films, at least he's trying to get us to experience something in his films.

But at least you make no bones about what seems to be your underlying point -- the fact that you're pissed off that American parents and audiences find male penises are more offensive than violence. However, one only needs to watch "Closer" to realize that the emotional violence we do to each other sexually brings far deeper and more lasting pain and suffering -- and is far easier to emulate.
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Old 12-03-2006, 05:58 PM   #23
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But you put stock in Fox News? I'm stunned.


actually, when it comes to Gibson, i found it more credible after the channel's en masse genuflection to all things "Passion" and their trotting out of various rabbis to deflect the highly credible anti-Semitism charges that were leveled against the film.


[q]How about Variety? How about Rolling Stone? They address the violence you focus on, but seem to see it in a larger context -- namely, that the violence is the point. That any culture begun with violence will see its end in violence. Cultures burn out far more often than fade away.[/q]

i think you're missing something here.

i have yet to see the film, so i don't know how well contextualized the violence is or isn't, but my main point has always been that the violnece in "The Passion" is senseless, gratuitous, and pornographic. i also find it disturbing that people found "The Passion" as representatiave of some sort of "truer version of Christianity and i cannot find anything remotely spiritually exalting about it. i object to children being subjected to that film by their parents. i object to a culture that genuflects to violence, but squeals and acts positively Victorian when it comes to sexuality.

these have been my points.

now, as for the violence in "Apocalypto," as i've said, it seems like Gibson-the-Sadist is rearing his head again. as he's free to do so. and people are free to buy tickets. and i am free to say that i, in general, don't like violent movies, especially pornographic violence that i find in horror films (which i don't see) and also found in "The Passion."


[q]You point out "Kill Bill" as an example of a film that makes its violence cartoonish and over-the-top. You seem offended however by films which actually try to take the notion of violence seriously. Does "The Passion" shock you? Perhaps the experience of a shocking death makes one realize the value of Christ's death. Does "Apocalypto" shock you? Perhaps you'll be less interested in engaging in war. Say what you will about the prominence of violence in Gibson's films, at least he's trying to get us to experience something in his films.[/q]

and, to me, films like "Private Ryan," "Munich," and even "Kill Bill" are quite different films than "The Passion."

the main achievement i found in "The Passion" was a new level of verisimilitude of violence on screen.

the main achievement in, say, "Private Ryan," was, firstly, two of the most technically dazzling set pieces in film history (the opening and closing battles) as well as the demythologizing of WW2, that even "the good war" was very, very, very bad for those that died, and there was something profound in the violence itself -- how machines turn man into meat, how we are helpless in the face of mechanized violence and that we are subjected to the randomness of the ferocity, and the ferocity of the randomness.

"the Passion" gave me nothing of the sort.

what i experienced in "The Passion" was an injection of fire, hate, blood, guts, gore, and suffering into Christianity that i thought had left the church since the Inquistion.

and you bring up a good point.

in "Private Ryan," the violence is condemned. sure, humanity was saved, but does anyone can walk out of that film and agree on the necessity of the severed limbs, caved in faces, and spilling intestines? whereas, with "The Passion," the violence is so central to the story, the reason for the story to be (as opposed to a byproduct of the story), that it does, indeed, celebrate extreme gore as a means of spiritual liberation and exaltation. we have no Christ without gore. relentless gore.


Quote:
But at least you make no bones about what seems to be your underlying point -- the fact that you're pissed off that American parents and audiences find male penises are more offensive than violence. However, one only needs to watch "Closer" to realize that the emotional violence we do to each other sexually brings far deeper and more lasting pain and suffering -- and is far easier to emulate.
a bit confused by this paragraph, but yes, that is my main point, and i thought Closer did a great job at demonstrating emotional violence. though, unlike "The Passion," there was more in the film than violence. the emotional violence was a byproduct of the actions of the characters, their actions resulted in specific consequences.

the problem, i think, with "The Passion," is that its not a very good movie. it doesn't have a dramatic arc. it doesn't have defined characters. it doesn't have a central dramatic tension. it's really not a movie; it's a cinematic rendering of an execution. end of story. the violence is the movie. it's not a movie about Jesus, even. he's incidental to what Gibson is interested in.
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Old 12-03-2006, 10:07 PM   #24
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digging through the (mostly enthusiastic) reviews of Apocalypto on rottentomatoes, i came across this line, which i think sums up my feelings quite well:

[q]APOCALYPTO runs 2:15 but feels much shorter. The film is in Maya with English subtitles. It is rated R for "sequences of graphic violence and disturbing images" and would be acceptable for older teenagers. Given the graphic nature of the movie, especially the scene of a man's face being chewed away by a jaguar, it should more certainly be NC-17, but the MPAA blew it again, rating it R since there isn't much nudity, which is what really upsets the censors.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/click/...=1&rid=1560767

[/q]



i also wonder if Gibson isn't given a pass by cultural conservatives because of his claiming a a "Christian artist" by many Christians; and perhaps the opposite is true as well, those who find many of the tenets of conservative christianity objectionable (however problematic definitions of all these terms might be) are holding Gibson responsible for objectional material in a way that the might not hold Tarantino or Scorcese.

either way, it sounds like "Apocalypto" is visually stunning, and perhaps the most violent movie ever made.

as for the justification of the violence ... i would say that verisimilitude isn't always artistically necessary. one example i can think of is "Black Hawk Down," which i thought was more violent than it needed to be.

but we'll see.

unless Memphis drags me to the film, i probably will not see it because i find violence very upsetting (i've seen "private ryan" only twice, and once in the context of a film studies course) in an existential way (the delicateness of human flesh and how easily it is destroyed freaks me out).

but the raves about the film's production values does have my curiosity piqued.
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Old 12-03-2006, 10:36 PM   #25
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I don't like giving Gibson my money. When I went to see The Passion out of curiousity, I went in on a ticket to another movie because of what I heard he was doing with the profits and because endorsing the antisemetic nature of the movie wasn't something I was OK with. Especially given his recent drunken tirades, if I see Apocolypto in theaters I will also do it on a ticket for a different movie.
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