17 Comments
Aug 14, 2022Liked by Anna Rettberg

I'm curious if there were any people that actually enjoyed dune without reading the original first. I read the first book before watching the movie, and thus fully bathed in the pleasure recognizing the scenes and elements and comparing them to scenes how they had played out in my imagination. I adored the gorgeous polished compositions, yet surely a tiny part of my brain did notice that, by the way things were thrown at screen, they'd probably be incomprehensible and look totally random for the people unfamiliar with the source. The movie definitely had a need for huge text all over the billboards "This is a fanservice moving pictures illustration of a book, not a self-contained movie".

As for the movie club, I find that I get the most out of it in reverse — for the movies that you enjoy and I didn't like that much (or at all) — your articulated opinions allow me to peek at what makes them tick for you, I love being able to attempt to look from different perspective. While that wouldn't, say, put Wrath of Khan in my own top-100 of movies yet, or make Hunt for red october feel any less ridiculous, it allows to appreciate some aspects, story-wise or other, and I feel that changes and shapes how I watch the next films.

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Aug 9, 2022·edited Aug 9, 2022

So, Casey's rant startled me a little bit ( in a good way! ), enough for me to browse books on narrative flow and coherence. I didn't notice most of the inconsistencies and it bugs me that I'm not more attentive to that aspect. Anyway, so far what I found is interesting. I read that there has been a switch in criticism starting from Henry James at the beginning of the 20th century, where visual description and subordination of action to picture took place over narrative flow. So you get more emphasis on individual scenes, portrait of characters and their interiority, and less flow of actions. So logic between scenes was less and less important and it completely broke down with avant-garde afterward.

Before Henry James, novels were described more with musical terms (periodicity, rhythm, alternations of tension and tension release).

I started the book Rhythm in the Novel by E.K. Brown and he goes back to a more musical analysis of novel structure, he talks about repetition, variations, comparison, gradation etc. and his analysis of character development goes beyond hero's journey.

I also looked for more reference on classical storytelling and what I found browsing the library catalog is sparse. What I found are many introductory books on 3 act structure and standard narratology (points of view, narrator, intra-diegetic, extra-diegetic, etc), a few books on rhythm in the novel, and then a ton of books on experimental structure.

So anyway, I thought it could be interesting to share and maybe it explains why good storytelling is hard to come by... if people try to do disjointed experimental movies without good foundations, results are not really convincing.

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Aug 5, 2022·edited Aug 5, 2022

Haha, I didn't notice the coldness of the desert, maybe it's because of subconscious familiarity with northern light of Quebec.

For pronunciation, it's like V-heel for Ville, and the "eu" of neuve is same pronunciation than "oeuvre" :)

edit: it's more like V-hill, or ill like being sick, a bit shorter than heel

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Here's a good reference for pronunciation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U14yAM0lLKM

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Aug 5, 2022·edited Aug 5, 2022

It will be a fun podcast, looking forward for the rant haha. I watched the movie yesterday and I was totally baffled. Dialogues were expository but I don't know the source material so I was willing to give it a pass, but then the directing choices were so off I was really surprised. The pacing of the shots does not work for me, they are either too short or too long so the rhythm of every cut felt weird, he changed the brightness super abruptly as if he needed that to keep the attention of the viewer, choices in acting always felt too telegraphed, the music is blasting the whole time...

For me it's the first really disappointing film we watched with the club. I hope the sequel will be better (Denis Villeneuve is a good director and he generally does more subtle things so there's hope!)

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If you wrote all of that before listening to the podcast, you probably don't need to listen to the podcast, because that is almost verbatim our opinion!! The podcast is basically an hour and a half version of what you wrote :)

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Yes it's my take before listening to the podcast. I'm listening to it right now and I see what you mean, but you go at much greater length with script analysis which I find super interesting. I'm a little surprised you both are lukewarm on Blade Runner sequel, I liked it quite a bit. Anyway, I'll listen to the rest of the podcast, if I think of anything else to add to the discussion I'll post later!

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I was strongly negative on the Bladerunner sequel, actually! My review of that would sound similar to this review of Dune, but harsher because the central premise of Dune holds together (thanks to the book) whereas the central premise of Bladerunner 2049 does not.

We should definitely do it for the movie club sometime!

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Aug 6, 2022·edited Aug 8, 2022

Interesting, I must admit I'm not super critical of plot so when I like how the movie is shot or if there are a few scenes I like it's often enough. But it's very pleasurable to watch a movie like Hunt for Red October where plot flows in a more logical way. Storytelling is not something I have thought about as much so your discussion with Anna brings a different perspective for me.

On the flip side, I think logical leaps can work well too when mood is foregrounded. I'm thinking of movies like The Big Sleep, Vertigo, the ending of North by Northwest...

edit: I meant leaps of logic (non-sensical events) not leaps that are logical, sorry for the clunky english

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Usually I think the problem is just about focus. If the narrative is strong then the focus can be on the narrative, and it's fine. If the narrative is weak but the focus isn't on that, it's also fine. The problem comes (for me) when a movie tries to present itself as if it is telling a specific, important story, but in fact that story doesn't hold together.

Interestingly, the _original_ Bladerunner is a great example of just not focusing on the narrative. The movie isn't about that, it never tries to be about that, there are no true heroes, there are no true villains, there's just a world where things are pretty bad for most people, and it just kind of lets you see what that world is like for everybody. I loved that movie!

2049 falls apart for me because it is pretending to tell a big story, with twists and intrigue and all that, but in fact none of it makes any sense if you try to piece it together.

Separately, on the "big leaps" part of things, I totally agree this is possible if done well. The Godfather is a classic example of a movie where they literally _just plain skip_ what would be a dense 30 minutes of runtime were it shown, and instead just expect the viewer to fill in the gaps. Somehow, it works fantastically :)

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Aug 6, 2022·edited Aug 6, 2022Liked by Casey Muratori

Yes I get what you mean. It could be interesting to watch a full month of really well constructed classical movies to get a feel for great dialogues and strong plots.

I think The Big Sleep, some Hitchcock, Brian de Palma, etc. fall just in-between, it looks tight plot-driven films but you get non-sensical stuff all over (like the plane sequence in North by Northwest.) But I think it requires a lot of skill from the director to pull that off, and I know there's a lot of people who absolutely dislike de Palma. Maybe we could watch some of those as well, it would be interesting to compare.

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Aug 5, 2022·edited Aug 5, 2022Liked by Anna Rettberg

That was a very entertaining episode to say the least.

When I saw Dune I saw it in theater. I think Villeneuve's movies work espeically well on large theather screens and Zimmer's scores on large engulfing speakers. I don't think it would've impacted the same way on a home TV screen. That been said, I am personally a sucker for atmospherically focused movies and games, I enjoy immersion in fictional environments and the escapism that comes with that, and movies like this this scratch that itch.

Movies are very subjective and I have more of a personal connection with Dune the franchise. I first ever knew it existed from listening to an Iron Maiden song back in the day about it (To Tame a Land) and I discovered it was a book. I ended up reading about it and learned how infuencial it was on the sci-fi genre itself, so I have a lot of respect to the source material. The 1984 movie however felt too goofy to me though Kyle MacLachlan will always be Paul in my mind.

Going into this new dune and having enjoyed Blade Runner (for the same reasons; immersion, atmospheric settings) I was expecting something grandiose and it was in that sense. I absolutely agree with all the criticism though, that screenplay was very difficult to follow, but in my mind I always thought "well the source material isn't the simplest to cover in a movie anyway". I would admit though that the pacing wasn't great, they made a lot of poor choices and I expected more world building, the dialogue were also horrendous, it felt they were trying to sound mysterious and dark for the sake of it. No one in that universe seemed to enjoy anything, everyone seems to have depression in the future. Also the ending came way too abrupt. I remember going to pee right at the end thinking "well this must go for another hour still, can't hold it for that long", I came back, sat for a minute, roll credits. Weird and unnatural. Why show us so many cuts in the future and hype everyone that Zendaya was in the movie when it was all for a 10 minutes scene and all the flash forwards are just teasers for the next movie? That was bad.

Still though, atmospheric, and these kinds of films work for me, that doesn't mean they couldn't have made a better screenplay and still have been atmospheric, so yeah I agree. I probably wouldn't enjoy watching it a second time as the awe element is already gone, and there's little story- and acting-wise to carry this film.

Oh and please, full rants, if you guys are making more extended versions, and I hope you are, release the full uninhibited wrath of The Casey. Leave no stone unturned. Scorched earth.

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We haven't been holding back any rants - we've just been watching good movies :) Even The Big Blue, while a bad film in my opinion, left me with some things to think about. This movie is the first movie we have watched where I legitimately thought the screenwriting was so utterly incompetent that it deserved a rant as opposed to a thoughtful discussion.

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I absolutely cannot wait until you watch The Batman then XD

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Aug 5, 2022Liked by Casey Muratori, Anna Rettberg

> But, we do know that there are some people out there who like a good rant, so we included the full version here in this bonus episode for our members.

This is the quality content I am here for.

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