Which films have you seen lately? Vol. 21: Now in CinemaScope!


Time flies.
I'm a fan of Ridley Scott's work, but I have to admit to having next to no interest in Napoleon. Now that I think about it, Scott and I have been on a real skid lately. I skipped The Last Duel (2021) because I've seen all the films about rape that I need to see; I skipped House of Gucci (2021) because I don't appreciate camp as much as some people do; and I skipped All the Money in the World (2017) because the real-life story behind it didn't interest me (although if somebody insisted that no, really, it's a good movie, I might give it a shot). So I guess The Martian (2015) was the last Ridley Scott movie that I really got on board with. I do still want to see Alien: Covenant (2017) and somebody recently convinced me that The Counselor (2013) is good fun, if not actually good.
Last Duel was a meh movie, at best. What it tried to do, has been done far better before - it actually didn't even try to present it as multiple povs which all are distanced from the truth, since it had to implicitly present one of them as the "real" one.
There was a logical inconsistency too (made someone have to lie to their own self, consciously), but I don't recall the part now (had posted about it on CFC at the time [IMG alt=":p"]https://forums.civfanatics.com/images/smilies/tongue.gif[/IMG] )

Watched Return to Seoul. After Part 1, was about ready to christen it a perfect movie. It never quite hit that mark in parts 2 and 3, but that is also selling kind of short what is a great movie, and actor Park Ji-min is revelatory in her lead role, her furrowed brow and focused stares and biting immaturity quickly fleshing out her character so, so well.
IndieWire updated their "Best Sci-Fi movies of the 21st Century" yesterday.

Seems like a decent list, overall. They definitely missed a few things, imho. I don't get too wound up about the precise ordering of these lists, but I do look at them in tiers, so to speak - e.g. Movie-A being ranked way down in the 50s, but Movie-B is in the Top 20, that sort of thing.

They've clearly decided not to include any superhero movies or horror movies. I guess I'm fine with that, whether it's because they dislike those subgenres or because they figure they're strong enough to get their own lists. But would they exclude Alien and The Thing from a "best sci-fi of the 20th century" list? I think I would object to that, if they did. And they do include Possessor, from 2020, which I thought was horror, but I haven't seen it, so maybe I'm wrong. They also don't include release dates, which I know is picking a nit, but I find that frustrating (and of course it's not merely frustrating when a movie has the same name as another, but I don't think that's the case for anything on this list).

Turns out I've seen only 28 of the 62, which surprised me. There's maybe a few that I'm genuinely uninterested in - I think I've seen all the Von Trier movies that I need to see, for example - but there's a lot here I'd like to see. IndieWire doesn't appear to have an official Letterboxd account, but the good people have assembled Letterboxd lists of many of IndieWire's "best of" lists. It doesn't appear this one has been done yet. Hopefully someone will (of course I could do it myself, if I have the time over the long weekend).

And, naturally, I'm now thinking about doing my own "best sci-fi of the 21st century" list. I quickly skimmed the lists of sci-fi movies by decade this morning, just to see if I could maybe fill a whole Top 50 without having to grudgingly including anything I didn't really care for, and I actually might be able to. Probably it'll end up being more like a top-25 or something.
Do you have what it takes to be the next Karate Kid? If so apply now @KarateKidCasting.com

Chan and Macchio to star in new Karate Kid film, to be directed by Jonathan Entwistle (creator of hit TV series The End of the F***ing World), and is due to be released in December 2024.


Ridley Scott fires cannons @critics -

Sweary, angry, honest: is Ridley Scott Hollywood’s greatest interviewee?​

The director’s press tour for his new epic Napoleon has been a treasure trove of quotes attacking historians, France and his peers

At this point, it doesn’t matter how Napoleon does. Critics might love it or critics might hate it. It might crater at the box office, or it might single-handedly resuscitate the theatrical viewing experience. It really doesn’t matter a jot. Because what does matter is that Napoleon is a Ridley Scott film, and this means that Ridley Scott has to talk in public again, and this by far the most important thing. Because Ridley Scott talking about anything in public is wonderful.

Even better, it seems as though Ridley Scott has got wind that, while most people seem to love Napoleon, some people don’t. As such, he has become a little defensive. This is the best possible news for all of us.

The headline from Ridley Scott’s Napoleon charm offensive came during an interview with the BBC this weekend. Scott was informed of some less than stellar French reviews of his film – French GQ called it “deeply clumsy” and “unintentionally funny” – to which Scott replied with the following solid gold banger: “The French don’t even like themselves.”

But don’t think that insulting an entire country is enough for Scott. Speaking to the Sunday Times’s Jonathan Dean last weekend, he also reserved some ire for historians, some of whom have suggested that Napoleon might not be the most rigorously accurate film ever made. Scott responded by addressing the entire historian community. “Excuse me, mate, were you there?” he raged. “No? Well, shut the fudge up then.”

Then there’s Sunday’s interview with the Evening Standard, which strayed far enough from the brief to include his thoughts on whether or not Earth has been visited by aliens (“How did the Egyptians build the pyramids? Rolling 20-tonne stones on logs? fudge off!”). Thematically, this is of a piece with his recent interview with Deadline, in which he started to warn about the dangers of AI, only to end up boasting about his readiness for the apocalypse (“We are all completely fudged. We’re back to candles and matches. Do you have candles and matches at home? I live in France, so I do.”).

Even the long and ponderous New Yorker profile of Scott from earlier this month came to life when he was given free rein to just riff about whatever happened to be ambiently passing through his mind, which at that point in time was baboons. “Can you hang from that roof for two hours by your left leg?” he asked his interviewer. “No! A baboon can.”

What I hope is clear from this is that Ridley Scott is the world’s greatest interviewee. A blistering mix of northern club comic, taxi driver and literal vehicular juggernaut, you never so much interview Scott as cling on for dear life while he just says whatever he wants. I spoke to him during the pandemic, about a TV show whose pilot he had directed. Ostensibly a three-way phoner with the show’s creator, it very quickly became The Ridley Scott Show. He was variously exasperated with his adult children, incredibly angry at the prospect that anyone might be sceptical about the existence of aliens (“The idea that we are it in this galaxy is fudging nonsense”) and describing a work ethic that would kill a man half his age. At one point he called me “dude”. I’ve never been so happy at work in my entire life.

And the good news is that there will be more interviews with Ridley Scott. Once Napoleon is out in the world, he’ll continue filming Gladiator 2. Then, five months from now, he’ll start shooting a western. He’s also slated to make an action film about an assassin on the lam, plus a handful of TV pilots. Every one of these projects will require publicity, providing Ridley Scott ample opportunities to bark bluntly about whatever he likes to dozens of outlets. Every interview will be insane, and obviously wonderful.

Martin Scorsese is 81, and all his most recent print profiles have been haunted by the spectre of death. Ridley Scott, meanwhile, is five years older than Scorsese, and all his profiles are full of either great walloping insults about French people or weird facts about baboons. The difference in attitude speaks volumes about Scott’s reputation as a workhorse. Indeed, when questioned about Scorsese’s existential angst by the Times, true to form, he barked “Well, since he started Killers of the Flower Moon I’ve made four films.” Scott isn’t remotely nostalgic, cares little for legacy. What matters to Ridley Scott is the next thing on his list, and the thing after that. Sometimes that might be a historical blockbuster, other times it might be another hilariously bullish chat with an interviewer who can’t believe their luck. Fortunately for all of us, death seems to be right at the bottom of his list. And long may it continue. God, I love him.
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The kid of course! Wax on, wax off.
Uncertain about the director choice. I really enjoyed the TV series he did, but the tone of that is so far afield of the Karate Kid IP that I have no idea what he could possibly do with it. Also skeptical about having a release date a year away when they're only now just casting.

Still, Cobra Kai is really well done and leans into itself. I'm assuming it's keeping continuity, so it should probably end up being pretty decent.
I don't, know, Ralph Macchio ended up being quite a bit older than his character by the end of the films' run.
Pssst... Nazgul aren't dragons.

The Witch-King was a wee bit squeaky, though...

Ok, while Napoleon must have looked a bit worse than in his portraits, Phoenix looks like a toon here :p

Regarding the movie being very loosely based on reality:


'When confronted by claims that his film isn't truthful with regard to its depiction of Napoleon Bonaparte, Ridley Scott told the New Yorker that those picking it apart should "get a life." He said that there are in the range of 400 books written about Napoleon. "Maybe the first one was the most accurate, the next one is already doing a version of the author." As you get to book 399, "there's a lot of speculation."

Scott admitted that he was in fact speculating at times but that he stuck closely to the facts that are known about Napoleon. Responding to his critics, he said, "My answer to them is, 'How do you know? Were you there?'" Historian Guy Walters pointed out that the problem with this excuse is that it "negates the whole pursuit of historical knowledge, and basically gives you a pass to make it all up."'
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Gladiator was also historically inaccurate and that got rave reviews.
Napolean, battle of the experts -

Critics of Napoleon epic have fallen for emperor’s fibs, says film’s military expert​

The ex-para who advised Ridley Scott on the new movie’s battle scenes claims historians who attacked it have fallen for Bonaparte’s own hype

Critics of the “damaging” and “inaccurate” portrayal of Napoleon Bonaparte in Ridley Scott’s new cinematic epic Napoleon are just victims of the French emperor’s enduring propaganda, according to the military adviser behind the film’s vast battle scenes.

Paul Biddiss claims that “Old Boney”, as he was known to the Duke of Wellington’s British troops, was promoted largely because he elaborated on his own successes. Bonaparte’s fibs impressed all France and intimidated his enemies – until, that is, he met his Waterloo in 1815.

“Napoleon was famous for exaggerating his own victories and there were not many ways to verify or to challenge his version,” said Biddiss, the ex-paratrooper who trained the film’s ranks of extras.

“He would write a letter after a sea battle claiming he had taken four ships, when in fact he had taken just one. He was a big bluffer and people believed him, so he got away with it. This is how he made his way up.”

Before the film’s UK release last Wednesday, its grand depictions of some of the most renowned battles in European history, including Austerlitz and Waterloo, had already won its British director acclaim. But Scott’s approach has also provoked conflict among historians and experts.

Andrew Roberts, a Napoleon biographer, has attacked key scenes, including a fictitious meeting between the French commander and Wellington at Plymouth.

The military historian Dan Snow has also identified inaccuracies in the $200m production starring Joaquin Phoenix. Snow warned audiences that Napoleon did not fire at the pyramids in Egypt or watch as Marie Antoinette was guillotined. “I love historical epics. I love Ridley Scott. But if you’re watching this movie, it ain’t a documentary,” Snow said.

Biddiss, however, defends the film’s military authenticity, which he ensured by consulting manuals used by Napoleonic generals. “I would like to criticise some of the historians who have criticised this film,” he said. “For a start, many of them are guilty of using the famous painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps on the covers of their books, which is certainly an inaccurate depiction.”

The well-known Jacques-Louis David painting, described by the Guardian’s Jonathan Jones “as the ultimate propaganda image of Napoleon”, shows the general’s uniform billowing out, as his horse Marengo rears up dramatically.

Biddiss wants to set the record straight: “Napoleon was actually riding a mule and wearing a thick coat when he made that journey.”

Understanding the power of this imagery, Biddiss added, was clearly an element of Napoleon’s success, but the flawed man at the heart of Scott’s narrative is an equally valid portrayal.

Roberts has claimed Scott was wrong to depict the French leader as “a dictator who goes mad with hubris” and incorrect to imply Napoleon was defeated in Russia only because of cold weather. “No mention is made of the typhus,” he complained.

And the Napoleonic historian Zack White has gone further, suggesting Scott has swallowed old British propaganda that painted Napoleon as a “Corsican ruffian”.

But Biddiss and Scott have both earned plaudits for the military tactics displayed in the film. Snow, in particular, praised the defensive square formations of the French troops.

“This gave me sleepless nights,” admitted Biddiss. “The squares were formed in reaction to cavalry charges, because it stopped the horses. I wondered how to get the extras to react in the right way. Then, fantastically, the first time Ridley called for it, they did it right first time and he offered to buy them all a drink.”

Biddiss ran a boot camp in a former Napoleonic barracks for the 500 extras who made the grade and then found himself in a tent at dawn with Phoenix and Scott before filming the Waterloo scenes, planning troop movements like a trio of military commanders.

“We had to use our men to best effect, with skirmishers moving forward with harassing fire,” Biddiss said. “I knew the historic formations, but we also had to think about access for the 10 or 11 cameras Ridley works with.”

Many extras had never held a musket before, others were ex-military and had to quickly unlearn their modern skills. “Joaquin wanted to know a lot about the types of cannon and different munitions. I told him about grapeshot, used at short range as a last defence. I also explained a technique used by the English, who would fire a cannonball low so it bounced, taking off heads as it came up. The momentum goes on and there are examples of soldiers losing a foot by trying to stop one,” said Biddiss.

Most crucial, though, was that the extras were not caught laughing or smiling. “If Ridley had seen anyone smile, we would have to start again. I told them to imagine the other side wanted to kill them and that, if they didn’t do as they were told, a sergeant with a long pike would kill them for deserting. The troops also had to walk towards the enemy until ordered to run, and then keep going, even if the guy in front fell,” he added.

Computer generated imagery replicated the soldiers’ formations, but the cavalry runs and cannon fusillades were all real – although no real ammunition was used.
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I'll certainly watch it for the battle scenes. Austerlitz is rarely done and I hope they show Borodino. The brilliance of Austerlitz was not firing cannon at the frozen lake even if that makes for a dramatic ending. December 2 is the 218th anniversary of the victory.
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