The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

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Lars Von Truffaut
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#26 Post by Lars Von Truffaut » Thu Dec 28, 2017 9:37 am

The masturbations set up the the fish sex which is to come. It also loosens up the expectations for the type of character Eliza is and the tone of her story -- we aren't getting Dancer in the Dark II. And in it's matter of factness, it's quite funny. So much of this movie has a humorous and playful tone, despite some of the sinister elements within the plot. Like Brian C and hearthesilence, I think those elements play wonderfully. I enjoyed this film so much I've seen it twice now and both audiences responded to the humor and received it warmly. (The first time was in Chicago (with an audience of varied races, ages, and genders) and much of the film got sustained big laughs. The second was in a northern suburb (mostly 50+ year old white couples) and was slightly more subdued, with the biggest chuckle, oddly enough, due to Shannon's take on God's image.)

I think all the performances here are excellent, with Shannon being the lone exception and even then, he's quite good. I can see how someone might call certain performances like his and Spencer's one-note, but I think they each have at least one scene to balance this and show some shading. And then also, it is a fairy tale. Most villains of this ilk don't tend to or need to be more than Gastonesque.

I got a very Jeunetian vibe as well, matrixschmatrix.
John Shade wrote:Ditto mfunk's reaction. Yet another film from recent years where I feel like there's some critical conspiracy that I'm just not part of. Going to be kind of harsh here, but I wonder if del Toro is so highly regarded simply because he's a really likable guy and is always great for a film conversation. He has so much enthusiasm, but all of his work does seem something like Burton or Gilliam b sides, unless it's a monster fetish thing--which this takes to new levels obviously.
As for del Toro, I think he's an incredibly talented filmmaker. I do think his Spanish language films carry more of an edge and tend to prefer them to most of his English fare*, this being the exception. But I don't think that this film is getting praise and recognition because he does a good interview, is knowledgable in film history, and is likable. C'mon. You may not engage with the film and that's fine. I could certainly see how it could be divisive when viewing from a certain lens, but don't skew other people's perceptions. A film with a strong central performance, outstanding art direction, an original script (yes, an amalgamation of '50s genres wrapped in a fairytale, but very much its own beast), and an enchanting score has plenty of legitimate reasons to be heralded as one of the better films of 2017.

And which B-sides?!??!! That's a dig if I've ever heard one... I think at their best, Gilliam, Burton, Jeunet, and del Toro may play in the same sandbox, but use different tools and make altogether different castles. I try to focus on the A-sides of all their work, lest I get depressed.

*I'm probably in the minority, but I feel this is true of all three of the amigos (del Toro/ Cuaron /Inñaritu). I like Pan's Labyrith, Y Tu Mama Tambien, and Amorres Perros over Pacific Rim,Gravity, or Birdman.

dda1996a
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#27 Post by dda1996a » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:16 pm

Amorres Perros is Inaritu's only good film, while Caron also has Children of Men. But I think this is more to having lesser means but more space to create personal stories. Working in the big budget Hollywood Sandler obviously gives them more budget for spectacle but their stories get less personal.
Regarding this movie, the gamut f opinions I've heard is pretty wide, which usually makes me even more interested in a film (i.e the brilliant Mother!) but in a way this film doesn't seem to pull and interest me as much for some reason. I've always admired Del Toro but never loved him but I'll be interested how deeper and emotional this actually gets

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#28 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:23 pm

It seems very weird to boil (mmmmm, eggs baby!!!) down discussion of this film to comparing del Toro to other Spanish and Latino directors. Weird and... bad.

John Shade
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#29 Post by John Shade » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:40 pm

Part of my point was that I think a whole host of mediocre films from the last few years have been elevated by critics desperate to latch on to something (or maybe just pushing the corporate hype machine); I made this argument in the film criticism thread a while back. Del Toro isn't the only one benefiting. I stand by the dig I made--Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak don't hold up whatsoever to their influences, especially the latter.

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#30 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:42 pm

Suspicious of the idea that The Shape of Water is part of any kind of "corporate hype machine."

dda1996a
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#31 Post by dda1996a » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:52 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:It seems very weird to boil (mmmmm, eggs baby!!!) down discussion of this film to comparing del Toro to other Spanish and Latino directors. Weird and... bad.
Well I'm unable to add anything valuable to this film as it isn't playing here yet. But I think it is an interesting comparison to make, both Del Toro's own Spanish v English films and the broader look at how Latin directors (to include South American directors like Larrain) deal with their move to American movies. But I agree it might not belong here (maybe just the Del Toro conversation)

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domino harvey
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#32 Post by domino harvey » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:02 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:It seems very weird to boil (mmmmm, eggs baby!!!) down discussion of this film to comparing del Toro to other Spanish and Latino directors. Weird and... bad.
I understand the concern, but del Toro, Cuaron, and Innaritu are commonly referred to as the "Three Amigos," are good friends in addition to being contemporaries, and even formed a production company together. They've been grouped together in discussion for well over a decade now

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swo17
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#33 Post by swo17 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:08 pm

Guys, it's Alfonso Clsedkjfoiewjfron

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domino harvey
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#34 Post by domino harvey » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:09 pm

More like auto INcorrect amirite? Can I sell that line to Brian Regan?

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swo17
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#35 Post by swo17 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:18 pm

The other guy called him Caron, or was that just in reference to Leslie Caron owning a Blu-ray of Children of Men?

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jindianajonz
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#36 Post by jindianajonz » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:27 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:It seems very weird to boil (mmmmm, eggs baby!!!) down discussion of this film to comparing del Toro to other Spanish and Latino directors. Weird and... bad.
How is it any different than comparing Kurosawa to Ozu?

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#37 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 3:55 pm

domino harvey wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:It seems very weird to boil (mmmmm, eggs baby!!!) down discussion of this film to comparing del Toro to other Spanish and Latino directors. Weird and... bad.
I understand the concern, but del Toro, Cuaron, and Innaritu are commonly referred to as the "Three Amigos," are good friends in addition to being contemporaries, and even formed a production company together. They've been grouped together in discussion for well over a decade now
It was less about being racially problematic than being a little bit irrelevant as it was the only connective tissue between them in dda1996a's post. Outside of the fact that they're all working in the big budget Hollywood Sandler, of course.

black&huge
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#38 Post by black&huge » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:07 am

This movie was garbage.
SpoilerShow
It was like some super childish fantasy tale with edgy adult humor and a super boring monster character that apparently finds gym time to keep an athletic build. Being the antithesis of the titular element it's a completely substance free story of a lonely mute woman who finds love in something that is not understood by human kind. What a shock! then there's a homoseual character who has feelings for a younger diner employee who reveals himself to be a homophobic racist. What a surprise! then there's the heartless authority figure hellbent on violently punishing those who attempt to disobey the law. Adn you mix all three of these together you get rush-to-tidy-up story with every character a mess. What was the point of showing Michael Shannon's character having a family? the only glimpse of his coldness extending beyond his work is of course that sex scene with his wife. He ignores his kids, okay but it doesn't seem like a serious issue. Hawkins's character is not so much awakened by her love of the monster as she is more enabled to remain a child to act out her whimsical cute side which culminates in an awful black and white dream sequence and Jenkin's character just doesn't really fit into what's going on. It's like someone stapled his storyline into this script after being taken from another randomly.

Also I found it so laughably bad at the end when the monster turns her neck scars into gills at the end. After the bumpy,
stale ride the rest of the movie was this was the absolute cherry on top of the shitpile.
Last edited by black&huge on Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#39 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:43 pm

So... there’s some very strong evidence that The Shape of Water was plagiarized directly from a 2015 short film [the blog post is a few months old but has resurfaced today]

Here’s the short film in question, which leaves very little doubt in my mind.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#40 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:25 pm

Wasn’t this already addressed last summer? I believe del Toro asserted that he has notes from production meetings 5+ years ago hitting a lot of the overlapping details; also, it seems unlikely given that this film started filming in mid-2016 that the filmmakers saw the short, wrote a feature-length script with substantial differences, secured funding, and completed pre-production in approximately a year, given the usual gestation period on this director’s projects.

Now if this was Ridley Scott we were talking about...

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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#41 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:34 pm

Perhaps it was - I would be very curious to see del Toro's response if you have a link!

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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#42 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:38 pm

I’m about to get a root canal, so I probably can’t look it up in the next few minutes before they bring me in, but I was at the US premiere at Telluride and it was a topic of conversation in the audience and someone pulled up a recent Twitter thread involving del Toro that discussed it.

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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#43 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:41 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:I’m about to get a root canal, so I probably can’t look it up in the next few minutes before they bring me in
There's a joke here that I'm going to be mature and not make

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Randall Maysin
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#44 Post by Randall Maysin » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:55 pm

That's what spoiler tags are for! C'mon, dish!!

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#45 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:59 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
DarkImbecile wrote:I’m about to get a root canal, so I probably can’t look it up in the next few minutes before they bring me in
There's a joke here that I'm going to be mature and not make
I appreciate it; any comparison between a movie that’s not Three Billboards or Darkest Hour and the pain I’m feeling right now would seem inappropriate. As I’m in the chair waiting now, I’ll just say that while I liked the film quite a bit more than you and some others did here, I haven’t yet written about it because I’ve been unsure of my ability to completely differentiate my feelings toward the experience of watching the film - at that festival, in the tremendous Werner Herzog theater, with the appropriate sound of a pounding rainstorm on the roof over the opening credits, and actually getting hear del Toro discuss it afterward - from an objective evaluation of the film on its own merits. I’ll try to catch it again soon and re-evaluate, but until then I think what I would acknowledge as its rough edges and earnestness are more than counterbalanced by its pleasures.

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The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#46 Post by movielocke » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:02 pm

I want to love this film, and I really respect how effervescent it is, and find the tension of it maintaining its light tone while nearly teetering into more plot intensity quite fascinating.
SpoilerShow
The fact that it does not follow normal conventions of plot in escalation of risk because of the overall incompetence of michael Shannon and the military is really fascinating in retrospect. I kept expecting her to get caught, to be more sneaky trying to subvert being caught, to have an ET race to the finish line at the end (not in the middle). Instead everyone is surprisingly passive in regards to Hawkins and Spencer, which is well done, because in spite of interacting around the higher ups, they’re still mostly invisible to them.
So I think watching it a second time, with no expectation of conventional plotting mechanisms ruining the second viewing (as they did the first for me) would make me like the film better.

A second time around i would also know that despite the aesthetic and lighting and editing decisions, this is trying extremely hard to tack into a super stripped down idealized archetype of fairy tale storytelling that is hitting on the nose some very basic character points, without ever really delving into it, leaving the film with not well developed characters but ideals of characters.

Which I think gets to what I will always find to be the central problem of the film—it’s too long for this kind of idealization, when it is trying to be so spare and simple, it needs to be a little shorter and more focused. Despite stuhlberg being one of the best parts of the film, the depth and complexity of his character stands in stark contrast to the much simpler ethos that delineates the other characters. Taking out his subplots probably would make the film much stronger overall.

It is interesting, when the opening narration says the word “monster” michael Shannon’s opening credit comes on simultaneously with the word, and I immediately thought “geez that is incredibly on the nose, I really hope he’s not the villain and the “real monster now” Alas. But I do think my overall viewing was slightly colored the entire time from that sour note in the opening credits.

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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#47 Post by Cde. » Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:48 pm

Many parts could be cut - anything involving Michael Shannon outside of his work (we get it, he's evil), Stuhlberg's Russian subplot, etc, in favour of developing the central romance. In rushing around between all these other ultimately meaningless plot elements, del Toro seems unsure that he can sell the merman and Hawkins falling in love, so he's opted to have it all happen off screen. This is a big problem when, fairly early in the movie, he needs us to believe that these characters would go to extreme lengths for this love. He never makes it feel real.
It's too much a juvenile hodgepodge of generic elements, each dragging the movie in different and often clashing directions, to ever really settle on an emotionally genuine note.
I'm also getting really sick of movies about nostalgia for 'the magic of the movies'. It's a masturbatory exercise at this point - especially so when the celebration of cinema never goes much further than 'weren't the musicals great?' It's a proven way to get critics and awards bodies on your side, though.

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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#48 Post by movielocke » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:35 am

Cde. wrote:Many parts could be cut - anything involving Michael Shannon outside of his work (we get it, he's evil), Stuhlberg's Russian subplot, etc, in favour of developing the central romance. In rushing around between all these other ultimately meaningless plot elements, del Toro seems unsure that he can sell the merman and Hawkins falling in love, so he's opted to have it all happen off screen. This is a big problem when, fairly early in the movie, he needs us to believe that these characters would go to extreme lengths for this love. He never makes it feel real.
It's too much a juvenile hodgepodge of generic elements, each dragging the movie in different and often clashing directions, to ever really settle on an emotionally genuine note.
I'm also getting really sick of movies about nostalgia for 'the magic of the movies'. It's a masturbatory exercise at this point - especially so when the celebration of cinema never goes much further than 'weren't the musicals great?' It's a proven way to get critics and awards bodies on your side, though.
No, I disagree, I don't think the central romance needs to be developed more, just as the central romance doesn't need to be developed more in most fairy tales. The film takes pains to lay out a fairy tale "princess+prince" in it's opening narration, going too far into development would easily pop the delicate soap bubble they managed to achieve.

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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#49 Post by Cde. » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:10 am

movielocke wrote:No, I disagree, I don't think the central romance needs to be developed more, just as the central romance doesn't need to be developed more in most fairy tales. The film takes pains to lay out a fairy tale "princess+prince" in it's opening narration, going too far into development would easily pop the delicate soap bubble they managed to achieve.
Then it's a failure of direction, because the love isn't really felt.

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Re: The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

#50 Post by MongooseCmr » Tue Jan 23, 2018 7:33 pm

Cde. wrote:I'm also getting really sick of movies about nostalgia for 'the magic of the movies'. It's a masturbatory exercise at this point - especially so when the celebration of cinema never goes much further than 'weren't the musicals great?' It's a proven way to get critics and awards bodies on your side, though.
This is sort of made a joke in the film with her obsessively watching 30s films on tv and fantasizing in black and white despite living over a movie theater. What the point really is escapes me, since cultural nostalgia isn’t so much a theme as a genre here

I liked the film largely because it’s so easy to imagine an even dumber version of the same material. It doesn’t add up to much for me, but remembering last years Beauty and the Beast adaptation makes me appreciate this one so much more. The majority of my very elderly audience thought the whole thing was a joke though, with a veritable peanut gallery quietly heckling the sex scenes and then very loudly cackling at themselves. Really makes me wonder what kind of film they thought they were seeing if the central premise is that absurd to them

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