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Bob K.
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 12:36 pm:   

http://www.electricstory.com/reviews/review.aspx?title=new/wotw

Lucius celebrates another movie bringing together the Tom and the Steve.

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Dunmore
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 01:47 pm:   

Honour is due, Lucius. This review has entertained me much more than the film will do, that's for sure.

Amazing that it's virtually the most expensive film ever made and, yet, with all that money they've managed to create the biggest pile of shi... well, you said it much more eloquently than I ever could.

It's a far cry from Spielberg's first and virtually penniless effort, the amazing Duel, which (rightly or wrongly) is a film I recall with amazing fondness. No special effects; no props, other than the desert and roadside cafes; a great perfromance by the would-be-city-slicker/quivering-wreck salesman played by (who was it???) Denis....who!!'? No...Weaver... Ah, help! Who's the actor I'm trying to remmember.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: money corrupts.
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Dunmore
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 01:58 pm:   

And, I have to say, the 9/11 references in this film strike me as exploitation that goes well and truly beyond the pale of taste -- nay, of conscience!

How awful.

I'm glad I've been put off even thinking about seeing this film.


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StephenB
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 03:42 pm:   

That mostly confirms what I figured the movie'd be like. But I still may see it in the cheap theater because it's the kind of movie, that if you're going to see it at all -- see it on the big screen.
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Alistair rennie
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 04:37 pm:   

That's a fair point, StephenB.

For me, it all boils down to whether or not you want to see or avoid this film for political or entertainment reasons.

And I can't for the life of me (humbly) recommend an answer. Who can!

For myself, I'm sticking with avoidance (but will no doubt see it, somehow, anyway, unsuspectingly).

In the meantime, Lucius' review is the thing I trust more than anything. It was beautiful to read and, if I'm a good judge of better judges than me, was totally spot on.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 05:50 pm:   

Dunmore, you had it right. Dennis Weaver. Star of Gunsmoke and then that cowboy in Manhattan series. And yeah, Speilberg's a long way from that guy who made Duel.

Alastair, Stephen....Avoidance is the best policy.

I Just ordered the Tim Hines version--I have some hopes for it.
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Bob K.
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 05:52 pm:   

Dunmore, yeah, it was Dennis Weaver, and Richard Matheson wrote it, a guy who wrote a lot of SF and horror television scripts and short stories.
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PM
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 08:04 pm:   

One really has to wonder if the DVD will offer say 30 minutes of additional footage to fill in the blanks.

Though I haven't timed it out the huge breaks would perhaps play best in some shortened mini-series where it ends and then begins again not quite where one would expect it too.

The voyaging tentacle reminds me of Minority Report when not quite blind Tom is not quite seen. Hmmm...that should keep critics chewing for years...

As for the message of the film what would one really expect? It's not as though Paramount and Spielberg are going to exterminate the human race.

Given that that's not going to happen what's really left?
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 08:41 pm:   

What's really left? You mean, what's left to do?

How about a good movie?

There is absolutely no footage possible that could turn this mess into a good movie.
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Grindous
Posted on Saturday, July 02, 2005 - 11:23 pm:   

He can't beat me on the grade!
He can't beat me on the grade!
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 12:54 am:   

The Invaders from Mars link is far more specific than you mention. Who can forget the broken picket fence along the skyline above the sandpit where the Menzies Martians landed? It's there in WotW, an exact reproduction. However, although I was baffled by the nod to the old movie, I did love that day-glo orange scene of the altered earth, redolent of other 50's classics. I also couldn't help thinking that Tim Robbins had wandered in from Mystic River, where he lived in the same nabe with Kevin Bacon, which was pretty much the same nabe Bacon inhabited in Stir of Echoes, which is probably the best thing David Koepp has written.

I thought there were some moments in the movie which would have been powerful if they hadn't been so mired in the unconvincing domestic drama, and so familiar from Spielberg's previous movies. Taken on their own, they sort of work; and as a succession of isolated images, there is plenty to make this movie worth seeing on the big screen, although the film does leave an unpleasant aftertaste. I liked it more than a lot of people I know. Certainly it is a mess, but it does develop a nightmarish atmosphere.

One of the most amazing sequences, which no reviewers have yet pointed out, is the first frantic van-ride out of the city, where the camera moves from the tightly framed family crisis to an external view of the vehicle swerving through stalled traffic, and back in again. That was cool. Nothing to do with Martians, either.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 05:40 am:   

You're a lot more, apparently, of a sentimentalist than I am. I don't care about homage moments, particularly when they interfere with the flow of a movie. As a matter of fact, in general, I hate the concept of homage moments. They're almost unfailingly a sign of some weakness in a movie. I could have done without any of the day glo shit in return for an homest script. Truthfully, as woeful as it was, I preferred the Byron Haskins version for its small moments--the kid eating ice cream out a wrecked cart (truck?)--there was nothing like that in the Spielberg film. Of course there were good moments. From the emergence of the first tripod until they reach the Mom's house, it''s a good movie, if you ignore the whole Tom Cruise bit. But then there's that egregious scene with the bodiless airliner and the news team -- that was just embarrassing, And then they're off to the second basement, which really finishes off my involvement with the movie. For a 180 million, I expect more than moments.

I only had two thousand words (which was why I didn't mention the picket fence, I thought the day glo was more pertinent to my point), but I could have written twice that on what's wrong with this movie. The one-note characters, the logical fuck-ups, etc, etc. To say this "...Taken on their own, they sort of work; and as a succession of isolated images, there is plenty to make this movie worth seeing on the big screen...", well, that just says to me you've seen a terrible movie, if all you can recommend of it is a succession of isolated images. You can say that about almost any movie. I was talking to a Hollywood screenwriter once, and he said he could see any movie and take away some interesting images/moments. I said that's a crafts attitude, not a filmgoer's attitude. You shouldn't let your professional attitude overwhelm your critical apparatus, I told him. I'm not necessarily suggesting that's the case with you, because you're not a screenwriter, not exactly, but it seems you're imposing some kind of attitude other than filmgoer on the picture...which is fine for you, but i don't think it translates to the general viewer. Hell, I don't think my take translates to the general viewer, because the general viewer is basically a 13 year old idiot -- but I have an audience in mind. As may you...but I still can't relate the idea of any movies as a succession of isolated moments.

I didn't get nightmarish. The nightmare as Spieberg intended ended for me in the basement...and I'm basically talking about the first basement scene. The literal nightmare was Dakota screaming and that never ended. There's nothing entertaining or illuminating about watching/listening to a ten year old freak out for an hour or so. And what was that deal with sucking blood through an enormous flexi-straw? Homage or not, that made no sense. It was simply illogical and obnoxious, not nightmarish. As were the baskets full of people. What was that? His Clive Barker tribute? Fuck in-jokes, fuck homages. Fuck 9/11 imagery. Don't need 'em, don't want 'em. Give me a good movie with continuity in its mis-en-scene, its imagery, its plot, etc.

Most of all, I can't forgive Spielberg for that ending, Not the hug, that was awful, but more awful was the one-minute resolution of the invasion. The fact that he didn't walk us across the landscape, that he didn't take time to show us an evolution from hopelessness to hope, which might have added three of four minutes, that was just a director who has lost the ability to direct.
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PM
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 06:37 am:   

Hopefully Spielberg will be compelled to provide an explanation (his commentary perhaps) for what happened. Not likely but some of us still maintain hope...

My natural reaction to a film like this is to consider what could have been done to improve it.

Hollywood has no allegiance to source material. We're not going to get The Dead here:-)

One wonders for sections of the film if ratings weren't an issue. This movie would have been rated R especially if the airliner had realistically portrayed the carnage.

I think that it should have been rated R as is...

Comedians are going to appreciate this film...and is it ripe for sketch...
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 08:14 am:   

I don't think he has an explanation, one that makes sense, anway.

I think he could have made the ending right and kept it PG. I think his imagination failed him....
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PM
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 08:50 am:   

Let's compare this ending with that of AI.

In AI of course everyone on Earth dies and if it had grossed hundreds of millions more or even billions one would have thought well it's profitable to kill everyone.

We have something similar going on ending wise between AI and WotW with a family reconcilliation at the end.

WotW would have finished better if they'd had the little family get together at the end which is being practically yelled at us and then ended with them screaming in Martian clutches.

In this version the Martians would not have died...

It's likely that we would have found this to be a more satisfying conclusion given everything that had happened till that point...
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 09:32 am:   

All Spielbergs films would be better as ironic fantasises--Minority Report: Cruise is dreaming of petting his wife;s pregnant belly in a tube; Close Encounters ends with a scene of Dreyfuss being fillleted; etc,
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Dunmore
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 03:45 pm:   

Thanks guys. That was giving me a serious headache!

Dennis Weaver it was. Thanks.

As regards Spielberg etc, one thing that bugs me about him (not that I'm not particularly endowed with knowledge about film or anything, so forgive any naive comments, but):

I once read this interview with him where he said that he prefers to use actors who are not big box office stars or anything but actors of fine repute who are, in actual fact, just good actors.

The reason he gave was that having a big name in the film will, simply, detract away from the effect of the overall film. Or, looking at it another way, when film-goers watch the film, if it's a big actor they see only ... the big actor. If it's a good actor, then they see only the character the actor is meant to be playing.

Now, I can (as a film-goer) relate to this. There is nothing I find more off-putting than seeing a film where I only see the actors rather than the characters, if you know what I mean. It impedes your enjoyment, simple as that. Destroys the whole willing suspension of disbelief for the moment etc. completely.

So, I think that no wonder Spielberg's films were so good or enjoyable when he was following that policy, that kind of humility that, surely, makes for the production of a good film.

But more recently he seems to have abandoned that policy altogether, using only Tom Hanks or Cruise and doing it quite shamelessly. But why? It's not as if he need to.

It's a great shame.

As I said above, I love Duel, and also I love Jaws. I think the performance by Robert Shaw in that film is one of the best ever. I love Robert Shaw for how scared he made me feel when I was somewhere around 9 to 12 years old and he started singing "Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies" at the very moment when he was casting himself into the mouth of some utter oblivion.

I lament very strongly Spielberg's loss of this approach, as I think many others do. And I'm very much gratified to read Lucius's review, which very properly points out exactly what's wrong with Spielbergs' negligence of his own resources (whether personal or financial), and his negligence of the very craft he was seemingly pursuing prior to the point when success (if that's what it was) went to his head.

We could argue forever about the commendable parts of WotW or the stuff in it that makes it worth seeing in the cinema.

But it's clear that this film demonstrates the fact that Spielbeg has lost anything commendable that he previously had. He's almost like those rock bands who once were great but who, infected by their fame, become utterly unbearable to watch or listen to.

Well, that's how strongly I feel about Spielberg's failure to use the means at his disposal to create something remotely watchable.

But, well, maybe I've just had too much to drink and I'm maudlin a little.

Or, more to the point, maybe I just need another drink!
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PM
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 04:28 pm:   

I wouldn't fault the actors for bringing the film down. Certainly if Cruise in a film = bad film then we go no further than that in a discussion...

But even if he had been replaced we'd still have the visual errors, the screenplay, and a message that at times would not shut up and let us enjoy the film...

While Spielberg had his hand let's not let the writing escape unnoticed. It would be informative to see the screenplay and to compare it with the final product...
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 04:44 pm:   

Cruise, Hanks, DiCaprio and Hanks, Cruise...that's his last four movies...
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 09:00 pm:   

All fine points, Lucius, and I agree about the homage being a betrayal of a script's integrity--I didn't need the Invaders from Mars references. I liked the landscape vista; it sucked me into the movie, maybe by evoking something I couldn't necessarily have put into words. But the broken fence, being a very specific reference, jarred me out of the movie (to the extent I was sucked in). I'd never argue that it's anything but a mess, but there are plenty of movies which, while not succeeding overall, leave me with images I find hard to shake, while the ones that don't work just fade away. I'd say the movie that left me with the most unforgettable images in the last year has been TURTLES CAN FLY, the sort of movie that maybe Spielberg wishes he could make but which are totally out of his league. I see Harlan Ellison ranting at Spielberg for being an egomaniac and a craftsman (not an artist) completely devoid of originality or vision, who has never come close to rivalling the artistry of a single moment of a Kurosawa film. Okay! I guess I'd just say that for those who are on the fence about seeing the movie, for me it's worth seeing it on the big screen. As with so many of these spectacle type films, if you wait till it's on DVD and you're going to catch up with it on the little screen, you might as well not bother. Ever. I felt that way about THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, a crappy movie which I waited to watch on DVD, and ended up wishing I'd seen on the big screen. I wish someone would just cull all those big screen moments out of all the otherwise crappy movies and make one big two hour long anthology of greatest hits that shows in Cinerama.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 09:48 pm:   

I don't think there are any great moments in WOTW. What are they? The only thing approximating a great special effect is the emergence of the first tripod and it's not worth seeing for that alone. In fact, I don't see the point in making a Cinerama special effect movie. I'd rather hit myself on the head and see rats in violet sports coats smoking Tiparillos. The idea of collecting in one place the great moments from bad movies...that goes way over my decadance level. Who has the time to chortle over and over at the flying billboard scene in TDAT or whatever? Not me, dude. If it sucks, and I'm not being paid to watch, I'm walking. I must have seen ten trailers attached to WOTW. King Kong, Narnia, etc., etc, and I would prefer not having to sit through any of those films. I can see the reviews already... "The best Kong ever!" No, that would be the first one, without the freaking digital velociraptors and the 30s color and Jack Black on downers. In America, this is the Age of Amusement Park Cinema and memorializing any of it is at best an act of conspicuous consumption.

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PM
Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 - 11:36 pm:   

The bodies floating down the river and the burning train were visually interesting...they were shown long enough to ensure that I could appreciate them:-)

Dakota blindfolded was sort of like a cue for the audience...And she or someone screams really well...

But I guess we're not going to get any Beatles remade...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 05:05 am:   

Too bad Dakota wasn't gagged as well....
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Anonymous Me
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 11:10 am:   

Really, what's the point in criticizing a movie like this, which is hardly the anti-Christ of movies or harmful to the public at large, without offering any balance to the discussion?

Anonymous Me, who also enjoys the works of many authors on this message board, found WOTW to be an enjoyable genre spectacle -- hardly the abomination this board is making it out to be.

And by the way, due to the venom being spit here, I'm too cowardly to post a defense of this film without hiding my identity.
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 11:53 am:   

Venom? Must I post smileys after every sentence? There's no venom here. The point in criticizing movies like this, for me, is 1) I'm paid to do so. 2) the general thrust of my criticism is to (uneffectively, no doubt) provoke better Hollywood movies. 3) I thoroughly disagree that such a movie is not harmful to the public welfare--the fact that such a movie is even made, let alone praised, testifies to the undeniable intellectual decline of our nation, much of which the various media must bear responsibiliy for. One can hardly argue with the fact that you or anyone enjoyed the movie. But one can bemoan that same fact. With narrative failures so eviden that a child can perceive them, so easy to remedy that a high school student could fix it, and this from a "master....?" It may not horrify you, but it horrifies me to learn that the general audience has become so undemanding of its entertainment industry. Spielberg is at the heart of the problem, a once talented director who now does nothing more than slop his dulling gruel into the gaping mouths of the proles. This is a terrible movie. When Hollywood was doing good work in the 70s and 80s, it would not have been released in its current form. Today it's a blockbuster, though it won't be a super hit, because I doubt it'll get too much return business. With its tasteless references to a real tragedy, with its one-dimensional characters, its throwaway ending, its ludicrously mounted family values message, i think it's sad, AM, that you found this harmless and OK. If you care about film, which I do, a movie like this signals no good thing, only more and more of the same...

That you perceive venom where none is, only strong opinion, is another sad commentary. We've all become so agreeable, so sensitive, it's almost poltically incorrect to have opinions other than isn't that nice or isn't that harmless. If you see that as venemous, so be it.
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PM
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 04:05 pm:   

Hopefully I can phrase this without being derogatory.

It seems to me that you're obligated to review a number of films that you would not wish to see otherwise and that you really aren't interested in discussing.

I'll stand up for at least a portion of the American public and say that folk want to see movies on the big screen...In some places it's one of a few forms of entertainment available for certain age groups...

So to some extent movies are going to be successful. Consider if Star Wars III, FF, Batman, and WOTW had all opened on the same weekend. Well they didn't and so it helps them all.

So it's not that people don't want better it's just that given a choice between watching a bad movie and watching no movie some people will choose the bad movie.

Speaking of which I saw a couple of rather mediocre ones over the weekend...

At any rate there's enough of an audience that most anything could make money simply by virtue of showing up at the theatre...Well unless it's a Depression era film about a down and out boxer...
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 04:29 pm:   

"So it's not that people don't want better it's just that given a choice between watching a bad movie and watching no movie some people will choose the bad movie..."

Right. You make my point for me. There is, basically, no choice. There is counter-programming, but those movies have no publicity budgets.

There are large numbers of people in this country who don't know who's president, who believe that men are descended from angels, except the negro who's descended from apes, and who think that Atlanta is a state. Their numbers are increasing, Dumbing down the movies we see plays into ths.

Reviewers in the mainstream press are coerced into giving good reviews to these films or lose their jobs. I know this to be a fact. Other reviewers are in, basically, the employ of the industry.. Given that state of affairs, it would seem that people like Anonymous Me would be happy to have a contrary view.
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PM
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 04:58 pm:   

There weren't as many movies opening in as many theaters during earlier centuries. More movies are being made in less time than ever. Obviously the CGI work takes a chunk of time and likely puts a lot of pressure to shorten time spent on other parts of the film.

That's not intended to completely excuse the film industry but we should at least acknowledge that the Kubrick option of spending a few years to get it right isn't the standard.

I don't disagree with you that a dumbing down takes place but I think that this is in part a way to extend the demographic downward...It also makes the film more internationally accessible to a larger audience.

Speaking of dumbing down I note that WOTW lacked both scientists and intellectuals...Guess they weren't needed :-)

My take on reviews is that I generally don't read them before I see a movie. I read them with an expectation that they will provide something to consider about the movie as opposed to whether the movie was good or bad. Because usually the movie is bad because Hollywood knows how to make bad films.

I also recognize though that what I find entertaining will not maintain anyone's multi-billion dollar industry...
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PM
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 05:12 pm:   

And I should add (as if I haven't already said plenty) that it doesn't bother me that you have a contrary view.

I know that you don't need my pat on the back for writing what you write.

But it's obvious that some who visit haven't made the same journey that you've made and enjoy films that you consider to be so much less than that...

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JV
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 05:18 pm:   

I think any excuse for crappy big-budget entertainment is b.s. because Hollywood has made good big-budget entertainment. It just seems--and I may be wrong--that in the last 10 years it's gotten worse. That they're now working from a short-hand on the big blockbusters. An insulting kind of "oh it doesn't matter if there are plot holes, etc." They've always done that, but now it seems to be the norm.

Even when I disagree with Lucius, I prefer reading the reviews of somebody who doesn't budge an inch than somebody who reviews on a sliding scale. Reviews of Star Wars III that began, "Oh, the acting is not good and the story arc is flawed, but that's not why you go to a Star Wars movie--it's great, even if all the parts of it suck!" Jesus.


JeffV
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 05:23 pm:   

I used to be a pretty regular cinema goer, PM, but now I've all but given up.

The quality is so rock bottom that I've almost lost interest in film altogether.

None of the four films you mentioned above will draw me anywhere near a cinema. I already know what they're like before even seeing them. This is nothing to do with any amazing powers of divination on my part. It's simply a question of learning from experience. And more recent experience has shown that films aiming to be Blockbusters share a common strain in that they invariably disappoint.

Going to the cinema is meant to be a pleasure, a refreshing spectacle, a form of catharsis or whatever. For me it became more like a humiliation, like I was being insulted, like I was on the receiving end of some elaborate hoax. I would come out of a cinema in a kind of state of shock, like I was suffering some kind artistic form of post-traumatic stress. And it's true. Because I'd just witnessed a brutal assault on Art and I sat there and watched as Art died horribly.

And I don't mean art in any high and mighty sense, but just in terms of the craft of making the thing proportionate to itself.

AM is speaking of venom above. Actually, I marvel at Lucius for his eloquence in the face of adversity. For someone with a passion for film, it must be downright painful having to suffer these endless fiascos that try and pass themselves off as entertainment. They're not even that.
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PM
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 05:25 pm:   

We should also consider that someone who has watched or read for years and years has a level of familiarity and an expectation that someone who has only seen a few films or read a few books will not have...

I recall the impact of the first Matrix film and people discussing how it had changed their lives...Of course if they'd ever had an introductory Philosophy course and been exposed to Descartes' Meditations...
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Alistair
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 06:13 pm:   

Not necessarily, PM.

I think a lot of well read people often like to watch or read stuff that has no value beyond being entertaining.

The disappointment comes when there's a lack of cohesion in films between the various elements that ties them together, which completely ruins the fun factor and makes them seem just plain stupid. When this happens it exposes the film as being only a film and precludes the good old willing suspension of disbelief for the moment that even the Mother of All Professors likes to indulge in now and again.

The Matrix was a good enough example of a film that created a fictional world that ran true to itself in terms of the plot, action and special effects. I don't really have much of an opinion about the philosophical stuff, but it didn't seem particularly over-cooked or anything.

The second and third films were probably the ones that did it for me as regards my loss of faith in film. But I approached these films with only the first Matrix as my frame of reference in terms of expectations for the next two.

And, well, you know the rest. It was the greatest practical joke in cinema history.
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PM
Posted on Monday, July 04, 2005 - 06:43 pm:   

That sounds reasonable to me regarding the lack of cohesion in films...

Perhaps a few would consider mental stimulation as at least in part entertaining...

Having said that I hardly would condemn folk for wanting to have a good time...though the usual Hollywood film is simply not appropriate...unless one is entertained by farting, belching, urination, explosions, and death on a widescale... (Please forgive me if I omitted important plot points...)
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Lawrence A
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 03:56 am:   

I'm not even going to bother going to see WOTW.

Yeah Hollywood continues to sink to new lows with every passing year, although I would have thought that impossible 10 years ago. I mean I remember saying to myself and others 10 years ago, that the good news with Hollywood is that it had hit rock bottom as far as quality or rather lack of it goes, and it could not get any worse and in fact may bounce back up again (ingenuously I said had to bounce back up again, I mean it just had to!). Nowadays I wish we could go back to the mid-80's (never mind the 70's), compared to where we are now it was a glory filmic age where real plots, narrative cohesion, dramatic flow and real human characters abounded. Subtext was not unheard of.

I remember reading how Bill Faulkner and Budd Schulberg complained about the Hollywood of their time, its catering to the worst escapist instincts of its audiences. Heck can you imagine Faulkner and Schulberg trying to work in Hollywood today!! they would end up jumping off the roof of the Marmont in no time, or committed to the asylum.

Real Hollywood writers, directors and actors come to think of it, from just 2 or 3 decades back (never mind from the 30's-60's) ought to be crying tears of gratitude to have worked in Hollywood when they did. Any American filmmaker or wanna-be filmmaker today knows that if s/he wants to make films of quality (and even quality action or comedy films) he/she has to go "independent" (translation - probably become resigned to poverty and maybe making one film every few years if lucky, and forget about any decent distribution, or distribution period). This was not necessarily the case just a few decades ago where it was always possible, even if difficult, to make good, even subversive films within the studio system.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 06:40 am:   

Actually, these films serve one good pupose--they're wonderful exemplars of what not to do with screenplays. If I were teaching a course, I could point to this or that shriveled element and show what to do,

But they are painful to watch...no doubt. ANd reveiwers, as JV mentioned, are grading on a curve. It's a sad time in the American cinema, and I don't know it's ever gonna get any better.
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Anonymous Me
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 07:23 am:   

Mr. Shepard, I actually agree with most of your points about Hollywood and big-budget films. I just disagree with your rhetoric. A film, regarding its merits, deserves to be criticized and discussed: a dialogue deserves to take place.

I wrote my earlier message, not out of love for WOTW, but for my love of dialogue: of which, I saw none on this message board! (Thanks to PM, some exists now.)

As a critic, you come across as someone who hates movies, even if your criticisms stem from your love of movies and desire to see them improve. You cannot bulldozer over these big-budget films or the people who like them; you cannot say that anyone who likes WOTW is a moron that is as absolutist as GW thinking!

I happen to think a movie like "21 Grams," your favorite of a couple years ago, is a pile of rubbish. But I don't think you're simpleminded or anything of the sort for liking it.

Dialogue, Mr. Shepard, not bulldozing that's how to discuss a film intelligently!
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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 08:11 am:   

*shakes finger*

Yeah, Lucius. Geeze.:-)

Seriously AnnonMe, to add to Lucius' reason for being critical of WOTW. You should be critical about pretty much everything you watch. It's called being media literate and applies especially to the mainstream media (includes Hollywood in a way) which is constantly lying to you. Developing critical and independent thinking skills will help you see through the bullshit and make your own mind up about things, hopefully intelligently.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 08:14 am:   

Where did I call anyone a moron in the review for liking WOTW? Nowhere. You're obviously all in a dither, AM.

As far as I'm concerned there's no way to discuss WOTW "intelligently." As with dissecting an earthworm, there's only so much one can learn. But I would delighted to see you try and discuss it intelligently. Please, explain to me the substance and structural equipoise that so charmed you.

I'm not writing for Cineaste Magazine, I'm not attempting a discussion of camera techinques or directing styles. I'm reacting to a movie, writiing for Electric Story and The Magaizine of Science Fiction, yet I dare say my reviews contain considerably more analysis and honesty than most of the reviews that pander to the industry and to the common taste that has been cultivated over the past twenty years..

I come across as a hater of movies because I see a lot of hate-able movies. Some I've liked quite a bit. As to my rhetoric in my reviews, I try and shake things up, I'm not running a discussion group, I'm giving my opinion in print for money, and I can do whatever I want with my column as long as my editors are happy. I'm interested in stirring up people a little, getting them to be less complacent, not in converting them...not right away, anyway. Obviously, in this instance, it's worked.

Finally, I'm not asking Hollywood to change its ways radically--just give us believable characters with more than i dimension and a decent script. Not a genius script, a decent one. That's not much to ask, is it?


PM ( the other side of AM?) You can't justify bad filmmaking by blaming time constraints. I've watched several small films this year made on a 20-30 day shooting schedule that were excellent. The Hollywood process of rewriting a good script is to blame. When thirty screenwriters work on a project, there's no way it can be anything other than mush.
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AM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 09:33 am:   

"As far as I'm concerned there's no way to discuss WOTW 'intelligently.'"

This is the last time I'll waste your time on this board as AM, but that above quote is exactly the kind of response on this message board that I'm complaining about. Its the kind of response that closes the door on any dissenting opinion.

StephenB: I happen to think I have quite a lot of critical and independent thinking skills, and my enjoyment of WOTW as a fine, B-movie entertainment certainly doesn't prove contrary to the truth.

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JV
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 09:47 am:   

AM:

Instead of complaining, just engage in the arguments you want to engage in re why it's a good movie. You may not be whining, but when you combine it with your anonymity, it comes awfully close. Besides, it's Lucius's messageboard. He's entitled to do whatever he likes.

In other news, is anyone else heartily amused that Passion of the Christ has been nominated for the Best Horror Movie category of the International Horror Guild Awards?

JeffV
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 09:54 am:   

And PS, AM, so far you've been the one amping up the rhetoric, using terms like rubbish, making accusations, and so on. You cast your stones and hide behind an alias. It hardly encourages one to engage in a dialogue...
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 09:55 am:   

That's hilarious, Jeff! Good on the IHG....
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 09:59 am:   

I didn't see your post, AM. If you think my comment is so over the top, refute it....Discuss it intelligently. I'm dying to be proved wrong.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 10:00 am:   

PM ( the other side of AM?) You can't justify bad filmmaking by blaming time constraints. I've watched several small films this year made on a 20-30 day shooting schedule that were excellent. The Hollywood process of rewriting a good script is to blame. When thirty screenwriters work on a project, there's no way it can be anything other than mush. --- Lucius

I'll leave AM to be AM and PM to be me...

I agree with your point.

But CGI takes time right (as in months) and if the film is going to be done a year or so after it's announced then it's a tight timetable. How many films is Spielberg working on a year?

I would suggest that he's not spending quality time on his projects in part because he's obligated to crank them out...

I would suggest this as a factor but not the sole factor. I agree that writing by committee and focus group can lead to less than stellar results and that this is likely a more significant factor.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 10:01 am:   

PS Your definition of a B movie incorporates a 180 million dollar budget?
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 10:04 am:   

Regarding those who are fans and who disagree with Lucius' take on WOTW...

A discussion doesn't necessitate that any side change their viewpoint.

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Alistair
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 10:14 am:   

By all means go ahead and change my viewpoint, PM.

Believe me, I'd be overjoyed if this film was as good as you say it is. I miss going to the cinema.

But so far your general argument seems to be 'just go along to the cinema and enjoy this bloody film whether you like it or not.'

In the meantime, I remain a fan of Lucius.
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 10:35 am:   

That's very funny about the horror award to THE PASSION.

I suppose there are few stories more horrific or supernatural than the story of Christ's PASSION. And if some believe it's the gospel truth, well, there's no rule that says a horror film can't be based on a true story.

If they can make a good horror film about a hermaphroditic alien with telepathic powers who impersonates Christ to convince people to engage in random murders, then why can't the tale of Christ himself being tortured and rising from the dead qualify?
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Auntie Meridian
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 10:47 am:   

Blasphemer!
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The Voice of Dissent
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 12:20 pm:   

I loved The War of the Worlds and thought it was wonderful entertainment for the whole family. Stephen Spielberg is a true genius and will go down in history as the greatest B movie director of his time.

How's that for an intelligent argument?

C'mon Lucius. Put up your dukes!:-)
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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 12:21 pm:   

;)
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 12:38 pm:   

"Science fiction for me is a vacation, a vacation away from all the rules of narrative logic, a vacation away from physics and physical science.

"It just let's you leave all the rules behind and just kind of fly."

Steven Spielberg. (Thanks JJA)

Wow. He flew, all right.

I actually was hopeful when I went to see WOTW--I thought here was a property that might excite him suffciently to exercize his talents, but I should have known better. A fine B movie experience, my ass. More like a 180 million piss on the audience.

I'd like to take something I said back. I have no wish to entertain a dialogue about Spielberg. Here was a director who had the capacity to elevate the level of commercial filmmaking in Hollywood, but instead he has been at the forefront of bringing the standards of commercial filmmaking to it's present all-time low. In my view, Marc, AM, whoever, praising a scene or a few frames from one of his movies is akin to praising Hitler for his painting. So if you guys want to discuss the films of Michael Bay, the analects of George Lucas, the philosophical speculations of Roger Zemeckis, the deep thoughts of your favorite hack, carry on without me. I have better things to do, like polishing my toothbrush. Seriously, indulge yourselves at my expense. Please.

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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 12:40 pm:   

They had a point though Lucius. You did pick the movie. And I'm sure you expected it to suck. Personally, I would have put more trust that the Romero movie would be decent over a Spielberg cash fiesta. (I haven't seen either) But I think it's partly because you're going for the typical SF fan base, who like the science in their fiction.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 12:56 pm:   

Like I said, I wanted it to be good. What I expect and what i want are different values. Of course I expected it to be bad, but I hoped....

They don't have a point. What's the point? That I should have a dialogue about Spielberg? That's not a point. Like I said, Have a fucking dialogue. Have tons of fun. Throw around a few film terms, talk about him in all his glory. I'm off to lead a campaign to get his stalker out of jail.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 01:00 pm:   

PS --A couple of weeks ago I wrote about two genre films I liked and got 4 messages, I think. People are more interested in defending their comfort food than in good cinema, that's what that says to me.
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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 01:14 pm:   

I guess the point they were getting at was that you seem to pick more movies you don't like then do. I'm not saying that's bad thing because I think many of the people who read your reviews like your witty criticism... so you can get away with reviewing shitty movies:-).

But still... were you a big fan of his movies in the past or something? To hold out that hope for his latest and biggest spectacle? I doubt that. I'd say if he made a really good movie it's Empire of the Sun. He also made some decent thrillers and adventure movies back in the day, but that's about it.

But you also review movies you like or are actually interested in, so I don't think it was a valid point really, to say you just like trashing movies in general. Maybe they just made assumptions without really knowing you.

I'm just surprised you'd put so much faith in Hollywood.

I did see Batman Begins, and thought it was pretty boring for most of the movie. He fell down a well, blah, blah -- I didn't really care. It also had cheesy dialog that wasn't for jokes -- not good. Closer to the end it did pick up a bit and I liked when he started kicking some ass. I do think the grim Dark Knight Batman works well. Still, it was mediocre at best and that's being generous. So not even.
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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 01:17 pm:   

People are more interested in defending their comfort food than in good cinema, that's what that says to me.

I think you're right but lets not make too many generalizations here. Some people are....:-)
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 02:06 pm:   

By all means go ahead and change my viewpoint, PM.

Believe me, I'd be overjoyed if this film was as good as you say it is. I miss going to the cinema. --Alistair

I haven't said that WOTW was a good movie. If one wants to go and see a scifi film it's either that or Land of the Dead. LOTD is really more of a horror film. Some would say well I'll just choose to see nothing. That's ok with me. Some will say well I'd really like to go see a movie on the big screen and that's all I've got to choose.

I'm not saying that Spielberg is a wonderful director either...I get the impression that some are suggesting that this is the best that Spielberg could do -- that he can't do any better. I've speculated on some reasons why things may have turned out the way they did. I guess in some sense that's defending him. But the screenplay whoever had their hands in it had a serious lack of appeal in a number of parts.

In fact WOTW is almost a collision of short films. The escape from the city and the mob attack of the van could have been it's own little short. The cellar scene could have been too.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 02:16 pm:   

Regarding the sudden influx of conversation...

I've been reading your reviews for a number of years on ElectricStory.

I've posted a few years ago but it was on another board or forum or whatever it was at the time. For all intents it seemed dead...

With the way things are organized here it's difficult to determine the live and the dead threads. I've lurked here for a while...

And WOTW is a film that people can readily see whereas that is not the case with at least some of the films that you've seen.

So more people can discuss WOTW because they've seen it...
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 02:30 pm:   

And continuing this thought a bit more...

It's likely that some folk are intimidated by you because they realize that you can effortlessly eviscerate as you do these films...

It's an unfair characterization...Likely folk just don't know enough about you at this point to understand...

As you're not interested in discussing WOTW perhaps you'd start a discussion(s) that are appealing to you...
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Dunmore
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 02:49 pm:   

So what would you say about this one, PM:

http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,4120,1521084,00.html
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 03:13 pm:   

That piece is funny. I had the very illuminating experience a number of years ago of seeing the "America saves the world" Will Smith blockbuster Independence Day at a large cinema near Marble Arch in London. It was eye opening to see the distaste with which the flagrantly over-the-top Hollywood jingoism was greeted. Looks like deja view all over again...:-)

PM does make a good point. In big sections of the country, filmgoers are hostage to the tastes of exhibitors, chain store inventory managers, cable tv programmers, etc, etc. There's lots of stuff that is mentioned here that I have never been able to find, but would like to...
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 03:14 pm:   

I think that the review is fair enough for the most part.

I'd suggest that Dakota really delivered. Granted if you don't like crying, screaming, scared children it may not be so appealing. But I wouldn't fault her for the writing or the directing.

Let's put it a different way. Try to imagine the Olsen twins in her role...

Moving on somewhat... WOTW is amazingly free of catch phrases. Perhaps we'll settle for "Check the solenoids!"

It was a strain when the family romps off in the Chrysler mini. Yeah it's the family rescue vehicle of the future :-)
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Dave G.
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 03:40 pm:   

Mmmmmmmm....Olsen twins menaced by aliens....mmmmmmmmmmm....:-)
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 03:54 pm:   

I'm planning on seeing London Voodoo and The Night Watch when they're available generally. (I was happy to see banners for TNW when I went to WotW.) The general unavailability is probably why there have been so few comments on them. (I tried to read that column with my eyes half-shut so I wouldn't spoil anything for myself.)

I've got no interest in defending my taste. (I always liked Cary Grant; Lucius always hated him. Is there more to be said on that topic?) The real crime is reviewers being pressured to turn in positive reviews of crappy movies.

Personally, I have talked to a lot of people who have now seen WotW, and none of them liked it. So I'm not sure how this strategy of pimping positive reviews pays off for Hollywood in the long run.

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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 04:29 pm:   

Uhhhhh....Who do you think had control over the screenplay. Not Spielberg, surely?

The fact that many parts of the count ry don't have a choice in what they see is why I'm bitching.

Dakota delivered...the same basic performance she gives in every movie....

Must not comment more....Must not....

Don't be scared, folks. I always let someone else throw out the first viscera...

Stephen, most movies ARE shitty. That' s just the facts. And the percentage is slightly higher when we're talking about genre movies.

I sorta liked Grant in NBNW, Mark....Kind of a high class George Clooney...

As far as discussions go, I'm writing two books.....I don't have a lot of time to think about this. But I have one idea.....

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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 05:01 pm:   

Gosh I hope that I'm not being a bad influence here...I'd hate to be blamed for ruining your career:-) Perhaps we could make some suggestions so that your books will be more appealing to squealing Harry Potter fans...

I don't know what the screenwriting mix was for the studio, producers, focus groups, writers, and Spielberg. I'm not suggesting that Speilberg had no influence but I'd give him far more flak if he had a credit for the screenplay...

Tell us of your books in progress...is it difficult going or more just a matter of getting the details done? Or perhaps something altogether other?

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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 05:14 pm:   

Spielberg is the wookie, man. The most powerful creative person in Hollywood; Though I'm sure Cruise and his partner Paula Wagner had input, he had final approval. The writers...hey, man! They were just chattels

As for the books, it's just a matter of putting in the time. One's a vampie novel, but has no vanpires it it, and the other is non-fiction, about the soldier of fortune who was responsible for the primacy of the United Fruit Company in Honduras.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 05:37 pm:   

Now you're giving wookies a bad name...

Well you're the one writing but it seems to me that the soldier of fortune, vampires, and a UFC in Honduras work fairly well together. Sure you're not working on a revamp of the Blade franchise? :-) (serial smiley abuser)
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 05:50 pm:   

I'm absolutely sure....

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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 06:24 pm:   

SOLDIER OF FRUIT...can't wait to read that one!

Anyway, I'm going back over to the Good Movies thread. I have been thinking about THE RETURN for a couple days now and think I need to see it again. There are too many deserving, neglected good movies out there to waste any more wordage on Spielberg.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - 06:26 pm:   

William Walker lives again...
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minz
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - 08:49 am:   

Men of action take action while others eat fruit...

Oh, and
TO
CATCH
A
THIEF!!!!
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - 11:23 am:   

I thought Verhoeven already tackled that theme in SOLDIER OF ORANGE.
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Dave G.
Posted on Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - 12:33 pm:   

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRUIT...
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 12:38 pm:   

I saw a poster for War of the Worlds with this tagline: This Summer, the last war on Earth won't be started by humans.

If that tagline is true, doesn't that mean the aliens wipe out humans? I have a hard time believing no wars will be started unless there aren't humans left. But then the intelligent tree squid that evolve in the future may start wars.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 12:59 pm:   

Huh....

Guess Spielberg doesn't give good tagline, either.
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 09:30 pm:   

I think I would have preferred Heston in Robbin's role. It would have been more believeable:-)
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 09:50 pm:   

I think you're right. :-)
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PM
Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 10:10 pm:   

At last we :-)

World peace must be dead ahead:-) :-)
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Oddjob
Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 08:52 am:   

If you want to see another version of War of the Worlds, there is this cheapo from Timothy Hines, a real stinker by all accounts!

http://plan9timbo.tripod.com/index.htm
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 09:05 am:   

Yeah, I got it. It was unwatchable.

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