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TravisJohnson

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  1. TravisJohnson

    Episode 156 - Legends of the Fall (w/ Kendra James)

    I like Legends of the Fall just fine (and better than most, judging from my peer group) but I think it falls short of Canon-worthy. It's a big, handsome, lush period piece that wears its heart on its sleeve but it's not the best example of its type, or even its director's work - if we're gonna pick a Zwick, surely Glory must be on the table? Put Legends next to, say, Mann's Last of the Mohicans and you can clearly see... well, not exactly its flaws, but where it sits on the scale. It's a solid, perfectly respectable historical drama, but solid isn't good enough in this instance.
  2. TravisJohnson

    Episode 139 - The NeverEnding Story (w/ Dave Nadelberg)

    No from me. I love The Neverending Story and it's one of the foundational cinematic fantasy texts for me as a person, but it doesn't hang together and its triumphs are never impactful or profound enough to overcome its narrative and thematic weaknesses. It's great to see on-screen fantasy creations that draw from a more Mittel-European well than just riffing on Tolkien and his compatriots, but that's window dressing, not core narrative. Speaking of Tolkien, TNE lacks his painstaking worldbuilding, but also never stretches far enough into the other direction into creating a dreamlike, Id-driven phantasmagoria; instead, it kind of squats in the middle, with its underlying rules being arbitrary, but not cleaving to anything recognisable as either dream-logic or fairy-tale-logic. The film never quite takes the final necessary plunge into the collective unconscious to dredge up universal signifiers and abstractions that resonate with the viewer; instead, with a few notable exceptions (lookin' at you, Gmork), its creatures and cultures feel haphazard and, while frequently striking, sort of bereft of symbolic purpose. Frankly, everything TNE is trying to do thematically, Labyrinth does better (and with a better soundtrack!), and if Henson's film doesn't make the grade, Petersen's effort has no chance to my mind.
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