Dune (more than TWR)

From: william (WILLIAMA) 4 Nov 2021 13:19
To: ALL1 of 9
Saw it at an IMAX yesterday.Not decided yet. It's a bit like one of those albums where you're not sure whether you like it until a few more listens. At IMAX prices that isn't likely. Fortunately, Jim has made sure that there are plenty of 4K HDR versions available. Unfortunately, it's really a cinema film. The CGI, sets, effects, are absolutely stunning and spot on (apart from a very brief worm-riding glimpse at the end which is every bit as funny as in the David Lynch version).

As for the cast - well, Dave Bautista is excellent as Glossu Rabban (Baron Harkonnen's nephew). Jason Momoa does a perfectly serviceable Jason Momoa, which was fine. Baron Harkonnen was played by Stellan Skarsgård doing an impersonation of how the older, fatter, Marlon Brando would have been in Apocalypse Now, no more, no less. Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac) could have been transferred intact from David Lynch's film. Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) was a bit low-key for my liking although that's the director's choice and her acting was fine. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) was also a bit low-key - dare I say light-weight.

From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX) 4 Nov 2021 15:08
To: william (WILLIAMA) 2 of 9
Pretty sure I read the book, or part of it, watched the Lynch movie, and a tv mini-series. The Lynch made a real impression on me but, well, I'm a slobbering Lynch sycophant, so there's that. I'll not be seeing this one (Villeneuve) at the theatre, but streaming/dvd in due course, free of course.

I have mixed feelings about what he (Villeneuve) did with Blade Runner, as in I don't think he added anything whatever to the original Scott version. I think there's a kernel of originality in it that would have been better applied to fresh material.

I admire clever CGI, yet I've come to consider it a demerit in the overall cinematic scheme. and I begin to find the over-dependence on it unintelligent, offensive pandering.
From: william (WILLIAMA) 4 Nov 2021 17:29
I'm a big fan of the Lynch version, flaws and all; the theatrical release, that is, not the mucked about and extended (this is what he'd have wanted) versions which are generally worse. The tremendous style of the various courts, peopled with Gormenghast-like grotesques had enormous impact and actually served to enhance and explain the motivation and scheming of the Emperor, the Spacing Guild and the Bene Gesserit. This is borrowed, to a degree, by Villeneuve, but it's Lynch-lite.

I know what you mean about Blade Runner II, but I don't think it's a bad bit of story telling. No it doesn't add much. However, it is at least cohesive. It all hangs together into a generally satisfactory tale. If this is lacking in the Lynch version of Dune, then it's also lacking in the Villeneuve offering. I really think that both Lynch and Villeneuve have fallen into a sort of trap, of forgetting what the purpose of making a film is. I mean, OK, there are loads of purposes, but the moment you start thinking that you have to "fit all the story in" or make a film version that does what the book does, then you're in trouble. That reduces film making to a kind of Readers' Digest for people who can't even read the Readers' Digest. Any director is going to be pressured to do this, because lots of producers see what a Golden Goose the book was and want some of the exact same goose flesh. In Lynch's case, it seems he was so comprehensively pressured that he lost all faith, hope and interest. 

It is possible to turn unpromising complex and epic-scale material into good films. The Tolkein things are quite coherent and watchable. I'd put them in the category of enjoyable but not great (as are the books) but they don't make me aware of swathes of story being shoe-horned in. To be fair, Villeneuve's Dune isn't terrible in this respect, but even though it's only a part 1, it does feel a bit as though "this happened, then this, then this...".

As for the CGI/special effects thing; generally I'd agree, but I do think it's used well here. It's difficult to imagine a better way to put across the immense military power of the Noble Houses than some of the shots in the film. Then again...
From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX) 6 Nov 2021 12:41
To: ALL4 of 9
"In a move so unsurprising there is literally an eons-old galactic prophecy about it, powerful, horny men are unable to peacefully share a planet made of cocaine."
EDITED: 6 Nov 2021 12:41 by DSMITHHFX
From: william (WILLIAMA) 6 Nov 2021 16:46
Ah, the power of Twitter.

EDITED: 6 Nov 2021 16:47 by WILLIAMA
From: Kenny J (WINGNUTKJ) 8 Nov 2021 12:15
To: william (WILLIAMA) 6 of 9
Gaynor and I saw it on Thursday evening, with a fair bit of trepidation. Gaynor's a MASSIVE fan of the books and the Lynch film, I'm a moderate fan of the first book but lost interest with the later ones, and can see why the Lynch film is viewed as a massive failure, but can still enjoy it.

The verdict from Gaynor was "worthy", in the same way as the verdict on Blade Runner 2049 was "He didn't fuck it up" (Blade Runner being her number 1 favourite film ever ever ever).

I enjoyed it well enough. I think it'll take a few more views to take in the full majesty of some of it, and I'm willing to give it those views. I'm looking forward to the second part, but there's something about Villeneuve's film-making that falls ever so slightly flat for me. It did everything it needed to do, sometimes in astonishing ways, BUT some of it felt a bit workmanlike. Maybe it's just that I'm older and more jaded, or the Marvel explosion-fests have numbed me to anything more contemplative.

I'm curious about what anyone who isn't familiar with the book or Lynch film would make of it all - does it work as a standalone?
From: CHYRON (DSMITHHFX) 8 Nov 2021 14:47
To: Kenny J (WINGNUTKJ) 7 of 9
something about Villeneuve's film-making [...] some of it felt a bit workmanlike.

I think that's a pretty fair summation, it applies to BR2049, and Arrival. There's a by-the-numbers aspect (in those projects), like he's not really invested in the material, he'd rather be somewhere else but $$$ so here's some cleverness since you paid for it. OTOH I thought he was all-in on Incendies. That was about (more) real stuff, not scifi.

EDITED: 8 Nov 2021 14:49 by DSMITHHFX
From: william (WILLIAMA) 8 Nov 2021 15:24
To: Kenny J (WINGNUTKJ) 8 of 9
falls ever so slightly flat for me

Yes, I know what you mean. We saw the film on a Wednesday and on Friday Mrs WilliamA remarked to me (as we were out on our morning walk) that Dune hadn't had the same impact as many big movies we'd been to see. She said that it felt a bit as though we'd ticked it off our list of films to see and that was that. 

That's what I meant about it being a bit like one of those LPs (when they were a thing) that you felt you needed a few listens to before deciding.

I also wondered the exact same thing about how well it works if you don't know the story. Lynch's version got a lot of stick for a confused narrative, but Villeneuve's version seemed to have a great many good-looking "scenes" where characters told each other what was happening. For example, it was lucky that Jason Momoa (Duncan Idaho) told us about how fearsome the Sardaukar troops were, because apart from a scene where they stood around while somebody with a CGI growly voice moaned at them, they seemed a bit like any other extras doing cosplay.
From: Kenny J (WINGNUTKJ) 8 Nov 2021 17:28
Yeah - neither of us enjoyed Arrival, Gaynor because she's a fan of Contact, and me because I'm a fan of Slaughterhouse 5. We thought it was trying too hard to be clever, and didn't quite manage it.