War Horse Reviews

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6499
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:54 pm

Hollywood Reporter

War Horse: Film Review
4:36 PM PST 12/15/2011 by Todd McCarthy
Bottom Line
A grandly made, tear-jerking film for all audiences, the way Hollywood used to make them.
Release date
Dec. 25 (Disney)

Cast
Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, Niels Arestrup, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Celine Buckens, Toby Kebbell, Patrick Kennedy, Leonard Carow, David Kross, Matt Milne, Robert Emms, Eddie Marsan, Nicolas Bro, Rainer Bork, Hinnerk Schonemann

Director
Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg's movie is based on Michael Morpugo's 1982 best-seller, which was previously adapted for the stage.
An elegant, elemental, borderline corny boy-and-his horse story magnified in significance by its battleground backdrop, War Horse possesses a simplicity that is both its greatest strength and an ultimate liability. As the material has already made forceful impact on the public in print and onstage, there is little reason to doubt that the same won't hold true for this film version, which Steven Spielberg has skillfully wrought as an atmospheric, tear-jerking, highly cinematic melodrama.

But putting this episodic saga on the big screen accentuates its one-dimensionality more than does the still-running legitimate theater version, where its symbolic and allegorical elements can be more easily accommodated in abstract terms. All the same, this is a story that people of all ages and from all nations can understand, which, propelled by Spielberg's name and much undoubted acclaim, will translate into major rewards at the box office.

The idea behind Michael Morpugo's 1982 best-seller possesses a fundamental universality and innate elegance that is impossible to refute: The title character, an innocent, blameless farm animal, is sent off to war and likely death like so many millions of animals and humans down through the millennia, cannon fodder for a conflict that wasn't necessary in the first place. As became clear even as it was being fought, World War I was the final war in which horses figured much at all.

Tie this to to rural English setting, the intense bond between the horse and the youngster who cares for him and the fact that the horse is a fleet runner, and you have something not far from National Velvet on the Western Front. From a different realm of the cinematic world emanates the echo of Robert Bresson's sublime 1966 Au Hasard, Balthazar, in which the central figure of a donkey silently endures the abuse doled out by humans and the world at large.

So many of Spielberg's interests dovetail here: A boy, isolated in an adult world, who takes to heart a non-human creature; 20th century war, and storylines that force humanity to take stock and encourage rising above differences to come together. Some specific stylistic enticements might have drawn him as well: The chance to shoot in the fashion of an early 1950s British film shot by F.A. Young, Oswald Morris or Jack Cardiff, with bold, solid hues redolent of I.B. Technicolor, changeable weather and no modern technical gimmicks; the opportunity to stage an amazing battle charge beginning with concealment in wheat fields, pushing bloodily through an encampment and concluding in a massacre; the excuse to do some long Paths of Glory-style takes moving through trenches and a barbed-wired-strewn battlefield and, repeatedly, the occasion to design beautiful sequences around one of the most inherently cinematic phenomena the natural world provides, a running horse.

To those who have seen the stage production of War Horse, which debuted in 2007 in London and last year in New York, the big question is whether or not real horses can match the dramatic power of the fantastic large-scale puppets that have made the play such a triumph of stagecraft. The answer, in a word, is no. The magnificently designed and manipulated theatrical equines transport the spectator into a realm beyond the drama articulated in the text; they're creations far more breathtaking than anything similar (as in The Lion King) most audiences have seen before, making the stage piece a singular event. No matter how dynamic and dramatic everything that surrounds it may be, a horse onscreen is still just a horse.

But what's appealing about the way Spielberg has made War Horse is the extent to which it recalls the way Hollywood used to produce movies for everyone. Whatever its missteps, this is a film that kids, middle-aged adults and grandparents can all see -- together or separately -- and get something out of in their own ways. There are precious few films that fit this description today and hats off to Spielberg for making one.

The adept script by Lee Hall (Billy Elliott) and Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, et al.) draws upon both the book and Nick Stafford's dramatization. Setting the course for the horse's life is a rash bid by drunken farmer Ted Narracott (Peter Mullen) to buy the steed at auction just to show up his landlord Lyons (David Thewlis), no matter that this blows through his rent money. The demon-ridden Ted, his long-suffering wife Rosie (Emily Watson) and earnestly handsome teenage son Albert (Jeremy Irvine) live in a spacious cottage so attractively appointed in a spare, roughhewn way that it comes perilously close to resembling the sort of idyllic rustic farmhouse that now commands hundreds of pounds per night from upscale travelers.

The countryside is stunning too (locations included Dartmoor in the south of Devon, Berkshire, Surrey, Bedfordshire and Wiltshire), but rocky and tough to plow, which is what the thoroughbred will need to be taught to do if the family has any hope of remaining on the land. Albert eagerly takes charge of the training, patiently coercing Joey to do a job the locals refuse to believe he's fit for.

The 45-minute first act shows hardship and struggle alleviated by the bracing beauty of landscapes and Albert's inspiring bond with Joey, setting a firm foundation for what's to come. A skilled and fortuitous combination of horse training, camera operating and direction has caught many privileged moments of equine behavior.

Spielberg has long expressed enthusiasm for the look of mid-century British films and, in this first section, he and his longtime cinematographer Janusz Kaminski have taken pains to reproduce that handsome style, even down to the noticeable use of artificial light outdoors. What results are richly satisfying visuals that wonderfully capture the rugged locations but also a possess a faintly studied, old school feel entirely in line with the period and story values.

When war is declared, reliable old Ted comes through again, traumatizing his son by selling Joey to the army. Still too young to sign up himself, Albert vows he'll somehow make sure his horse gets back home.

Joey's odyssey begins in France. In the brilliantly filmed wheat field sequence, what looks like an English rout of unsuspecting Germans in camp turns into slaughter when the Brits are mowed down by machine guns from the edge of an adjacent forest. Thus does Joey fall into the hands of a young German who soon thinks as highly of him as Albert does.

War then buffets the horse into the care of an old Frenchman (Niels Arestrup) and his teenage granddaughter Emilie (Celine Buckens), whose pristine farmhouse has thus far eluded army ransacking. In Emilie does Joey again find a human ready to love and pamper him, but tranquility is fleeting as Joey is hitched to a team of fatigued work horses to pull a mighty German cannon up a steep incline.

By the time of the Somme offensive, Albert has entered the English army, with Joey coincidentally just across No Man's Land with the kaiser's men. The horrors of trench warfare have been depicted many times before, from The Big Parade and J'accuse to Gallipoli and A Very Long Engagement, most often stressing the same themes, very much present here, about the absurdity of the conflict and resulting pointlessness of the lives lost.

But when Albert and a German youngster recklessly venture out into No Man's Land to try to save Joey, who has disentangled himself in barbed wire, the essential realism of the cinema begins to show up the symbolic artificiality and essential implausibility of the young men's private detente. Onstage, the barbed wire incident is properly appalling emotionally and morally, but decidedly abstracted due to the dramatic lighting and virtuoso puppetry; onscreen, the reaction is more, oh, poor horse, and why can't warring nations get along just as these two fellows do? What follows next runs even deeper into audience-pleasing wish-fulfillment and sentimentality, topped by a grandly phoney ending that will set many tears flowing but feels overweening artificial, partly because of the Gone With the Wind-style colored lighting in which it's bathed.Along with the universal thematic notes, the eager-to-please elements assert themselves increasingly as the film marches forward; neither aspect was necessary to stress.

The cast is exemplary down the line, with both names and newcomers delivering expansive, emotional and almost entirely sympathetic performances. Neither side in the conflict is ennobled or demonized; like Joey (and a striking black steed who's his companion for a while), the grunts are just pawns in the hands of unseen manipulators of countless fates. Irvine is the very picture of a sturdy, well-intentioned, ruddy-faced English country lad of a hundred years ago and Mullen and Watson look to have come from the earth they tread. Tom Hiddleston cuts a striking figure as an English officer who understands Joey early on, setting an example for the many others who briefly come and go through the horse's life as the war grinds on.

Unsurprisingly from Spielberg, as a production the film is everything one could desire in the design aspects, editing and the various sorts of effects needed to make the war look real. Entirely in synch with the aims of the film itself, John Williams' score pushes too hard, never holding back when less might well have been more.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6499
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:49 pm

Variety

War Horse
This beautifully composed picture brings a robust physicality to tried-and-true source material, but falls short of the sustained narrative involvement and emotional drive its resolutely old-fashioned storytelling demands.
By Justin Chang

Steven Spielberg ambitiously attempts to merge his talents as an entertainer of children and a chronicler of mass devastation in "War Horse." Conveying all manner of noble ideas about the savagery of war and the essential decency of mankind through one steed's dramatic WWI journey, this beautifully composed picture brings a robust physicality to tried-and-true source material, but falls short of the sustained narrative involvement and emotional drive its resolutely old-fashioned storytelling demands. Nonetheless, impeccable craft, pedigree and unique appeal to heartland and overseas audiences will give DreamWorks' year-end prestige release strong theatrical and ancillary legs.
Michael Morpurgo's popular 1982 novel placed young readers in the mind of Joey, a horse raised by an English farmboy, sold into war in 1914 and acquired by various foreign hands along a harrowing tour of the Western front. Nick Stafford's stage play (which bowed at the West End in 2007 before its Tony-winning Broadway run this year) necessarily dispensed with the equine psychology but invested Joey with considerable soul, using exquisite puppetry and theatrical sleight-of-hand to convey that this strong yet fragile animal was indeed an exceptional being.

This unique perspective is one of the first casualties of Spielberg's visually expansive approach: While it belongs to a tradition of episodic animal-centric movies that includes Robert Bresson's donkey classic "Au hasard Balthazar" and numerous versions of "Black Beauty," the film winds up literalizing a story that derived much of its power from the imaginative leap it required of a live audience. What "War Horse" gains in the sweeping pictorial beauty and persuasive realism of Janusz Kaminski's widescreen images, it loses in thematic clarity and dramatic focus; neither horses nor humans here merit prolonged engagement as Joey gallops from one set of thinly sketched characters to another.

Further diluting the impact of Lee Hall and Richard Curtis' adaptation is the sense that, with the notable exception of one sequence, the material hasn't received the full benefit of Spielberg's expressive powers. A PG-13 example of what might be termed mature family fare, the 146-minute picture will prove too long and intermittently intense for small fry, but also too repetitive and simplistic to engage adults on more than an earnestly prosaic level. One emerges admiring the film's unimpeachable antiwar message and the consummate care and overall restraint with which Spielberg advances it, but also sensing that something crucial has been lost in translation.

A scenic prologue establishes not only the film's central relationship but also its key dramatic methods: pure, forthright emotions, pastoral visuals, mythic aspirations, insistent music and an exalted view of its titular species. A foal is born in the Devon countryside, and it's love at first sight for farmer's son Albert Narracott (soulful newcomer Jeremy Irvine), who names him Joey. When his hard-drinking father, Ted (Peter Mullan), foolishly purchases Joey at auction, Albert happily takes on the seemingly impossible task of teaching this bay thoroughbred to plow.

Nonetheless, with the encouragement of Albert's long-suffering mother (Emily Watson), boy and horse succeed, in a sequence that richly conveys the mud, sweat and satisfaction of manual labor. More typical of the film's initial stretch, however, is a cloying strain of bucolic whimsy driven by John Williams' pushy score and too many comic-relief cutaways to a honking goose. It's therefore more welcome than it should be when the war begins and Albert must bid a sad farewell to Joey, who is purchased by kindly Capt. Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) and, though even less suited to battle than to farmwork, deployed in a surprise attack on a German encampment in occupied France.

Tackling the canvas of WWI for the first time in a career full of WWII pictures, Spielberg seizes upon the period's more rudimentary combat style with a typically strong sense of staging. Though free of overt bloodshed, the ambush sequence is surprisingly ferocious, emphasizing the Brits' ruthless onslaught and the Germans' helpless surprise in such a way as to drain any thrills from the experience. The gravity is compounded when Kaminski's camera pulls back, a la "Gone With the Wind," to acknowledge the loss of innumerable cavalrymen, their mounts and an entire tradition of battle in the wake of the Germans' superior firepower.

It's as plain and unequivocating a condemnation of violence as Spielberg has yet delivered, and one of the rare scenes in which this "War Horse" fully seems to live and breathe onscreen. Unfortunately, the rest of the film amounts to a plodding refrain of the same pacifist theme as Joey is briefly commandeered by two brothers in the German army (Leonhard Carow and "The Reader's" David Kross) before falling into the care of a French farmer (Niels Arestrup, "A Prophet") and his spirited granddaughter, Emilie (Celine Buckens).

All these owners, regardless of nationality, are portrayed as downtrodden, fundamentally decent souls caught up in circumstances beyond their control, an honorable notion that plays out with a few lump-in-the-throat moments but little in the way of narrative urgency; one doesn't feel carried along by tides of conflict so much as carefully ushered from one safe house to the next. For all the film's efforts to dramatize the senseless, arbitrary brutality of war, its polished surface rarely allows a gut-level sense of peril to materialize, so tidy are the story's dramatic ironies and so transparent the manner in which the characters are made to function along the way.

It doesn't help that even the French and Germans speak English here, a commercial decision that detracts from the film's otherwise faultless verisimilitude and seems uniquely jarring for a story in which specific nationalities play so crucial a role. When a German soldier notes, "I speak English well," you can't help noting he's hardly alone.

Despite these hurdles, the actors do much to distinguish themselves in their allotted screentime. Mullan, Watson and Irvine give warm, expressive life to the hard-luck Narracotts, while the excellent Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, as the captain's surlier comrade, ease the film's tricky shift into the war zone. Best of all is Arestrup's piercingly reserved performance as the aging Frenchman, radiating dignity, defensiveness and regret, but also a gentle, hard-won appreciation for life's essentials.

Predicated largely on the inherent grace and dignity of horses, their willingness to bear men's burdens and remind them of their better selves, the production brings these high-minded sentiments to stirring cinematic life through a massive four-legged ensemble skillfully wrangled by master/trainer Bobby Lovgren. Lensing fully harnesses the surpassing visual glories of the English countryside, an endlessly accommodating backdrop for the farming villages and barbed-wire trenches of Rick Carter's production design. Sound work is minutely attuned to hoofbeats as well as gunfire, and even when momentum flags, Michael Kahn's editing maintains a sense of flow.

User avatar
criddic3
Tenured
Posts: 2752
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2003 11:08 pm
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby criddic3 » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:04 pm

In Cinemasight's ad preview of War Horse, it is stated that Spielberg's last outing Indiana Jones 4 was a "colossal flop." Is this a statement of box-office or critics? It was the third-highest grossing film of 2008 domestically ($317,101,119), right behind Iron Man ($318,412,101) and The Dark Knight ($533,345,358). Most critics praised Harrison Ford, many said they liked but didn't love the film (tho Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 stars), and audiences were rather split on it, too. Personally, I enjoyed it. Some of it was great fun, some of it was silly. But a "colossal flop"? This wasn't exactly Heaven's Gate or Battlefield Earth.
"If you can't stand the nut on the left and you can't stand the nut on the right, go for the Johnson,” Jonathan S. Bush (10/21/2016)

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4202
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:27 pm

Whether or not War Horse will be a major competitor for the Best Picture Oscar comes down to the following question: the Academy may be retro (see: Best Picture 2010), but are they THIS retro? I don't know. This is as corny and shamelessly sentimental an Oscar candidate as we've seen in years, at points verging on a parody of Oscar-bait. War Horse is the kind of movie Pauline Kael would say "reeks of quality," and everything about the movie -- from the bloated running time to the tastefully beautiful photography to the sweeping score -- just drips with "prestige."

I should start by saying that I am not a "pet" person -- I don't have an attachment to animals, so a narrative that's going to rely on the importance of the relationship between a boy and his horse is really going to have to sell me on WHY this bond is so important. But the movie doesn't even begin to care. Like last year's horse epic, Secretariat, the movie just assumes that the audience, like the film's hero, thinks this horse is, like, TOTALLY AWESOME! Any of the characters who don't believe in the total awesomeness of this horse are painted as clueless or villainous or both...because, hey, the main character thinks this horse is, like, TOTALLY AWESOME! So he must be! Phrases like "this is a miraculous horse" get thrown around with some regularity, but gosh, I couldn't even begin to understand why anyone would think that way. Joey -- that's the horse's name -- just seemed like a pretty regular horse to me. Which isn't to negate our hero feeling affection toward his pet...it's just...it's not like the horse saved his LIFE or anything, or accomplished something in the early scenes that would suggest I view this horse as a deity.

I started groaning from the early scenes, which basically amount to "this horse has GOT to plow the field or else we're going to lose the farm!" Geez, I thought, I got tired of seeing THAT movie in the 1940s. (Anyone want to wager how this conflict turns out?) Then, World War I starts, and Balthazar -- I mean, Joey -- gets passed around from owner to owner as he makes his way through the war. Unfortunately, these vignettes are so devoid of human interest, so lacking in interesting characters or scenarios, this stretch became, for me, a deadly bore. One of the great strengths of Saving Private Ryan (and the secret weapon of Robert Rodat's script, I think) is the way that cynicism and black comedy work their way into that film's narrative, highlighting the ridiculousness of our heroes' mission (and thus, the war) in a realistic, nightmarish way. War Horse, on the other hand, is like Ryan's unfortunately mawkish final scene for two and a half hours, encouraging the audience to applaud for all of Joey's heroic attempts at survival, while presenting very little interesting human perspective on the war we're experiencing (in luxe, coffee-table-ready images, no less.)

I think the movie picks up a bit, pace-wise, once we get to the big battle sequences -- Spielberg is, of course, a master at staging gripping action -- but here the narrative really starts to fall apart. One of the most ludicrous scenes in any movie this year involves a British soldier venturing toward the German trench to rescue Joey from barbed wire -- because in the middle of a war zone, it makes PERFECT sense to risk your life to save a wounded horse. And then the scene turns even more ridiculous, as a German soldier joins him to set this horse free. Hell, the whole German army contributes clippers to rescue Joey! If only the Brits and Germans could have bonded over more trapped, wounded horses, World War I would have been over in a heartbeat!

By the time our blinded hero uses his Scooby sense to identify his horse, I'd just about had it. This is the kind of movie where a human character -- about whom Jeremy Irvine's protagonist should care very much -- dies with nary a mention of its impact on our hero, but the audience is expected to be mortified and devastated that this horse might not make it out of the war alive. Sorry, but with the entire world at war, I'm afraid that the death of a horse doesn't strike me as the worst thing that could possibly happen. I'm reminded of all those disaster movies where carnage is everywhere, but we're supposed to cheer when the cute dog survives.

I should point out that the friend I went with to see the movie was absolutely devastated, and left in tears by the end of it, so I don't doubt there will be an audience that eats this up. But the three crix winners so far (The Artist, The Descendants, and Hugo), while not boundary-pushing, all struck me as far more interesting in conceit and execution than War Horse. I can only hope they'll be more Oscar-able as well.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7394
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Sabin » Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:48 am

Man, the Wells thing is heating up. We should probably change the title from War Horse Reviews to Jeffrey Wells Loses His Shit Over War Horse.

...but it seems like everybody else who has seen it is incredibly positive.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6499
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:26 am

Wells is a train wreck I can't stop watching. He's a complete narcissist, full of entitlement, and, if his stories are to be believed, such an asshole about arbitrary things it's a miracle someone hasn't beat the shit out of him by now. (He recently loudly called some people jerks because they stopped rather than step in his way when he was taking a photograph -- they apparently were supposed to understand that he wants photos that reflect life's randomness, and therefore the proper cool behavior was to plow ahead) He forms opinions about movies well before their release, based on trailers/gossip/personal encounters.

What he wrote about Imitation of Life isn't a fluke: his standard position is that anyone whose opinion differs from his is faking it. And, as Okri says, he routinely leaves films to catch cool parties. A year or two back, he touted Annette Bening for an Oscar for Mother and Child. Then, a month later, he announced he was reversing himself because now he'd seen the whole film -- prior to that (as he had never mentioned), he'd only seen the first hour of the film. But -- wait till you hear this rationale -- he said he'd felt confident in his original take because he'd never known a film that started off that well to collapse in its later reels. (Apparently he and I go to very different movies) He really is such a complete tool that part of me wonders if he isn't in the Ann Coulter category -- saying a bunch of things he doesn't believe just to get a reaction.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15728
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:15 am

Wells wrote a long article earlier today (yesterday now?) ranting about being sick and tired of being called a Spielberg basher and then proceeded to bash Spielberg for several paragraphs. I didn't think War Horse would win the NYFC award but the print critics may want to to vote for it just to shut the bloggers up. If I had to guess what would win on Tuesday I'd still say it's a toss-up between The Decendants and The Artist with The Artist the likely winner, but a War Horse win would not shock me.

I don't know what his beef is with Criterion. He's always ranting about the aspect ratio being wrong until someone points out that he is the one who is wrong. Best recent Wellsian drama: Carey Mulligan bowing out of a telephone interview with him because she didn't feel "safe" talking to him.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Okri
Tenured
Posts: 2609
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Okri » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:54 pm

Oh, I don't know. He was going for a job there, and it didn't work out, and he hates them. He complains about every DVD they make, going so far to hate them for the 12 Angry Men Blu-ray because he doesn't want to adjust the contrast on his television. He also hates Thanksgiving because "people stop creating." He's a critic who walked out of a film at TIFF because it was more important to go to a party. I mean, how can you not find that hilarious/sad/hilarious again?

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Damien » Fri Nov 25, 2011 10:32 pm

Okri wrote:But his hate for Criterion because they didn't give him an interview his super hilarious.


What Criterion release was he pining to be a part of?

I never had more than a vague awareness of him (some guy who was a self-declared Oscar expert) until someone brought to my attention an anti-Sirk diatribe he posted about two years ago. It was clearly an example of an inferior mind lashing out at his betters. Because he's not perceptive enough to comprehend the subversive brilliance of movies like Imitation of Life and All That Heaven Allows, he predictably takes the stance that anyone who professes love for Douglas Sirk's melodramas is pretentious or a phony, but most likely both. His anti-intellectualism in the post marks him as a clown of the highest order. It ranks up there with Tom O'Neil's notorious dismissal of Sunrise (He claimed the Murnau masterpiece could only appeal to " Oscar snobs and hipsters," calling the achingly beautiful film "" paper-thin, hilariously schmaltzy. All three primary characters are cartoonish clichés and their performances 3-inch slices of honeyed ham . . . What corn pone! Smothered in Cheez Whiz!" In response, Gawker.com referred to O'Neill as "The Uwe Boll of Oscar bloggers." :D )

Wells called Imitation of Life -- which is on my list of the 10 Best Films Ever -- "unwatchable" and bellyached that "film dweebs have been telling us for years that the dreadfully banal soap-opera acting, grandiose emotionalism and conservative suburban milieus in his films are all of an operatic pitch-perfect piece and are meant as ironic social criticism."

Anyone who is this ignorant should not be given even a passing thought. And isn't he the fool who said Mo'nique could never win an Oscar because she didn't show up at the NY Film Critics awards? What a maroon.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

Okri
Tenured
Posts: 2609
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:28 pm
Location: Edmonton, AB

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Okri » Fri Nov 25, 2011 8:06 pm

But his hate for Criterion because they didn't give him an interview his super hilarious.

Dien
Graduate
Posts: 180
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:49 am

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Dien » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:12 pm

I'm still waiting for Spielberg's Lincoln.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7394
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Sabin » Fri Nov 25, 2011 1:02 pm

Oh, he's a loon. I'll grant you that. What's more, he has a dubious agenda when it comes to film that I find somewhat repugnant. But he is the first out of the gate.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15728
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: War Horse Reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Nov 25, 2011 6:46 am

If we're going to quote Wells, we might as well quote one of the responses to his expected put-down:

"Moneyball" = "The Social Network"

"The War Horse" = "The King's Speech"

Prepare for Wells to hate every movie from now till the rest of the year that looks like it might be a threat to "Moneyball" when it comes to winning that thing that is the single most important item in the history of civilization....OSCAR!

Oscar-Elsewhere should be a real hoot for the next few months.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7394
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

War Horse Reviews

Postby Sabin » Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:17 am

Jeffrey Wells write about War Horse:

War Horse was indeed "out of the bag" as of 4 pm earlier today, as Deadline's Pete Hammond noted at 3:43 pm Pacific. Press/guild screenings happened in LA and New York around the same time today (1 pm on this coast) and lots more are happening tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday (including some public sneaks).

Which means, as I understand it, that it's now permissible to write about it but not to formally review it. Got it.

Hammond's headline asked if War Horse director Steven Spielberg "Can Win Another Oscar?" Yeah, he could. Definitely. Not for this film but he could down the road. Never underestimate the future of an obviously talented director. Spielberg could wake up some day next week or next year and turn his career around like that.

Hammond is more politically correct than yours truly so allow me to stay within the boundaries of the piece he posted earlier today. Hammond talks, I comment....good enough? A robust chit-chat between friends.

HAMMOND: "What Spielberg has wrought is a stunning looking and highly emotional epic that is Hollywood moviemaking at its best, and seems likely to be the filmmaker's most Academy-friendly work since his Oscar winners, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan."

WELLS: Let me put it this way. I sat next to a significant headliner in the Oscar-blogging community during today's War Horse screening, and after it ended (roughly around 3:25 pm) we both said, almost in unison, "Hammond is crazy...there's no way this thing wins the Best Picture Oscar." Okay? No offense. Due respect. Just our opinion.

HAMMOND: "Is War Horse old-fashioned? You bet, but in this fast-moving techno culture that may be a welcome thing. Even though some of the Academy's more recent Best Picture choices, notably No Country For Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker among others, indicate a different sensibility than the kind of once-traditional 'bigger', more craft-laden film the Academy once favored, and a category into which War Horse definitely falls."

WELLS: "As I tweeted late this afternoon, War Horse is a time-capsule movie. Every luscious, immaculate, John Williams-scored frame says 'this is how Oscar-bait films used to be made...if the director was hungry & utterly shamelesss.' It's analogous, I feel, to Hitchcock's Topaz<>/em>. The handprint and the auteurist chops are unmissable but they have a crusty yesteryear feel. Out of the past."

HAMMOND: "Spielberg is known to be a great admirer of David Lean and with its sweeping vistas, deliberate pacing and epic story of one horse's remarkable journey through the front lines of World War I, the film could almost be a tribute to the great director of such classics as Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai."

WELLS: War Horse, which is set during World War I, contains unmistakable tributes to Lean's Lawrence of Arabia and Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory. War Horse's best scene is a British attack upon German lines across a blown-apart, puddle-strewn No Man's Land -- very similar to (and in some ways an improvement upon) Kubrick's classic tracking shot of French troops attacking German positions in Glory. Spielberg also includes "attack on Aqaba" sequence with sword-bearing, horse-riding British troops attacking Germans and overturning tents and steaming pots of whatever and killing guys with swords, just like Lawrence's original. Spielberg even features a British noncom named "Higgins", an apparent nod to the Corporal Higgins in Lawrence who refuses a cigarette to Daoud and Faraj.

HAMMOND: "There should be some kind of separate Academy Award for the horses [as] they are suprisingly expressive."

WELLS: This is true. The horse (or horses) who play Joey are very actorish. And the black horses who plays Charcoal, Joey's best four-legged friend, are no slouch either. I would go so far as to say the horses are almost hams in this thing.

HAMMOND: "War Horse is probably too emotional and traditional to earn much love on the hardcore, unsentimental critics awards circuit, but I imagine it will fare very well at the CCMA's , Golden Globes and Oscars."

WELLS TWEETS W/ EDITS: "Tonally, emotionally and spiritually, War Horse is Darby O'Gill and the Little People goes to war with a horse. And I'm saying this as a fan of Darby O'Gill and the Little People -- within its own realm and delivery system it's a half-decent, cheerful, sometime spooky little family film. In any event, welcome to Spielbergland. It's like no other place in the world. If you can forget about the carnage of war stuff, War Horse is essentially a nice Disney family movie. But concept of restraint is out the window. The King's Speech is a b&w Michael Haneke film compared to War Horse."

HAMMOND: "The King's Speech triumph last year over the more trendy critics choice of The Social Network might indicate there is still room for less edgy, more 'traditional' films in the heart of the Academy voter. We'll have to wait to see, but the sheer scope of War Horse certainly gives it its own niche against smaller favored Best Pic hopefuls (seen so far) like The Descendants, The Artist, Midnight In Paris and Moneyball."

WELLS: War Horse is wonderful, beautiful, very touching. If you're Joe Popcorn from Sandusky, Ohio or Altoona, Pennsylvania. Or if you feel a nostalgic affinity for "less edgy, more traditional" films and can just roll with what War Horse is serving. I think it's so shameless it's almost a hoot, but that's me. It's all of a piece and very exacting and lovely and handsomely shot and full of highly expressive emotional performances, but my God!"
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


Return to “2011”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest