The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)

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

#51 Post by Murdoch » Sun Jan 28, 2018 1:11 am

I enjoyed this more than I expected to while watching it, although the flaws stuck out upon reflection and my opinion of the film greatly dropped as I thought it over on the ride home. The supporting players were the weakest links in the plotting, with only Stuhlbarg and Shannon working. I thought Octavia Spencer was wasted in a stereotypical black best friend role, and while she gets a few good scenes she's mainly there to lighten things up (including the painful scene where she asks Hawkins about the sea creature's genitals, which seemed tailor-made for a trailer). Richard Jenkins is utilized a little better, but his fawning for a diner clerk and the subsequent fallout feels like something pulled from a different film altogether.

On the other hand, I don't really have any complaints about Stuhlbarg's part, it may not have been entirely necessary but it padded out the film without feeling like it was padding. Shannon worked the best, and his role as the sadistic patriarch to a family pulled straight from Leave It to Beaver was the highlight of the film for me. His life is given a darkly comic edge to it as he strolls into his perfect family home, drives through the streets in his new car as he's waved at by younger women, and then proceeds to tyrannize everyone at the lab. Shannon's villain isn't much more than a walking ball of prejudices and ego, but that simplicity works given how much the fairy tale tropes SoW relies on.

Overall this seemed like a movie that had an hour's worth of plot but was stretched to two. The movie juxtaposes the prejudice of Shannon and the diner clerk against the cross-species love-conquers-all of Hawkins and the creature, splicing in snippets of racism as window dressing to a shallow story. Scenes like a black couple being turned away from service and Shannon speaking his view of God as a white man are intended to show this is a tumultuous time filled with hate, but this has so little bearing on the central romance that it felt like a forced way to add depth.

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

#52 Post by TMDaines » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:54 pm

Loved this. When I was already getting a wobbly lip during the first egg feeding scene and then during the cattle prodding scene, I knew I might be in trouble later. Thankfully there was a lot of sniffling from others in the audience around me.

I think what the film does so well is mesh a variety of genre. It’s a proper adventure film, hence the very strong and simple characterisation with goodies and baddies. Most are full of tropes and cliches, particularly Shannon’s, who is excellent. The film has a real sense of drama too. Obviously there’s fantasy, but also it delivers on (interspecial) romance, which is handled so very well. It’s also damn funny. As someone else said, there’s so many places where you could envision a much worse version of the film. It’s all handled and balanced so perfectly. If Spielberg directed this, there would be so many places to give us a big shovel of schamlz in the closing 20 minutes, but this has real style and tenderness (and action and violence and whatever else)! It’s a superb modern fairy tale.

On the technical side of things, it might be the best film of year and that’s saying something given my reaction to Dunkirk. The cinematography and editing is outstanding, the score and sound is sublime, and the art direction and costuming creates this fantastic sense of time and place. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I feel sorry for you if you didn’t get a great two hours out of this.

Despite me commenting to my wife upon leaving that I loved the art direction of the film and myself making the comparison to Bioshock, which is my possibly my favourite video game ever and one I’m currently replaying, I’m struggling to see how it could be referred to as aping its style or even carrying any sense of debt towards it. That would seem to be an accusation that says more about the frames of references of the accusor than anything else. It shares a world of post WWII art deco but so do a lot of works of art set in the 1940s-60s in America, as that was the preeminent architectural and design style of the time. Anything set in that era that pushes that style and uses that music would likely conjure up Bioshock if you’ve spent any real time with it. How would it not?
Murdoch wrote:The movie juxtaposes the prejudice of Shannon and the diner clerk against the cross-species love-conquers-all of Hawkins and the creature, splicing in snippets of racism as window dressing to a shallow story. Scenes like a black couple being turned away from service and Shannon speaking his view of God as a white man are intended to show this is a tumultuous time filled with hate, but this has so little bearing on the central romance that it felt like a forced way to add depth.
I don’t think it was intended to add depth. It was to act as a 1-2 punch when the veil of the waiter was whipped away. We already knew he had a false veneer of charm, as his persona was shown to be an act during their first visit to the locale when he revealed his real accent and origins. It later transpired his friendliness was all part of his job too, when really he was both a homophobe and a racist to boot. He was in a word completely false and the attraction held for him was based on illusion.

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

#53 Post by gcgiles1dollarbin » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:37 pm

I think a good companion piece to this film (which I really enjoyed) would be Donna Haraway's Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene in which she envisions human survival and the prevalence of social justice as dependent on the establishment of bonds that do not privilege concentric rings of family, community, and faith, traditional ties that can too often instill tribalism. Embracing and loving "monsters" (unfamiliar lives, human and non-human), celebrating and loving the "grotesque" as an important step toward celebrating difference, are big components of her thesis.

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

#54 Post by HJackson » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:27 am

Murdoch wrote:The movie juxtaposes the prejudice of Shannon and the diner clerk against the cross-species love-conquers-all of Hawkins and the creature, splicing in snippets of racism as window dressing to a shallow story. Scenes like a black couple being turned away from service and Shannon speaking his view of God as a white man are intended to show this is a tumultuous time filled with hate, but this has so little bearing on the central romance that it felt like a forced way to add depth.
I don't think it was as forced as you seem to suggest. The filmmakers seem to be consciously spinning a thematic web about intolerance and acceptance with a bestial relationship between human and animal as it's locus, rather than simply trying to mask a lack of depth.

I liked the caper aspect of this one but couldn't buy into the central romance because it's basically beastiality. Isn't it somewhat offensive that the beastiality seems to be conflated with homosexuality and racial equality, with the next door neighbour Giles being the first to endorse Elisa's relationship with the fish man after witnessing a black couple turned away from the restaurant while having his own romantic desires rebuked? Is a weird romantic depiction of a woman with a fish really an appropriate call for tolerance and understanding in the face of racism and prejudice against morally decent homosexual love?

I also agree with earlier comments in this thread that the connection between Elisa's disability and her relationship with the fish man is grotesque.

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

#55 Post by Roscoe » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:44 am

A triumph of simpering bullshit banality, PR-appointed "visionary" hackmeister Guillermo Del Toro continues to pull the wool over the eyes of the entire fucking planet with this crapfest about a mute girl and the fish she loves. Derivative (is there a single original element anywhere in the film?), predictable (anyone not seeing exactly where this movie is heading is just exactly dumb enough to nominate it for all those fucking Oscars), and shockingly opportunistic in being set in 1962 so that nods to racism, homophobia, and the Cold War by way of the Cuban Missile Crisis can be crammed in to add Extra Significance.

My God. And Eliza's got a Gay BFF, who is, of course, a pathetic late-middle-aged loser with a crush on an unattainable hunk (I thought that shit went out with MAGNOLIA). She's got a Sassy Black Friend Co-Worker who dispenses tough love and folk wisdom, no really, she does, when not complaining about her lazy no-good husband, no really. The Evil White Male is, of course, the paragon of Upper Middle Class Brutality, with children he pointedly ignores and a wife he humps mechanically and a car he's really really proud of. And there's Soviet agents, too, for full Kitchen Sink Realness.

What's most criminally missing is that extra bit of intelligence or humor in the screenplay and direction to make it into anything but, well, an avalanche of cliches and devices stolen from other works. My jaw hit the floor when the knockoff from PENNIES FROM HEAVEN hit the screen...

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

#56 Post by Lost Highway » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:34 am

It‘s not the first time that the art direction in a Del Toro film resembles Bioshock, there already was a plenty of that in Pacific Rim.

I steeled myself before watching this last night, as I find Del Toro perpetually overrated and I’m no fan of whistful, fairy tale whimsy. Like with so much of his work and as has been pointed out, the film is let down by schematic plotting and characterization. That said, Hawkins rescues some of the film for me. There is a sexual assertiveness about her which is the most interesting aspect of the film. Hawkins gives the heroine a perverse edge which rubs up against the movies saccharine qualities, taking it just close enough to Borowczyk’s La Bete to make it more interesting than I thought it would be. Dan Lausten‘s cinematography is lovely but Desplat‘s score is unbearable, trying way to hard for a Francophile Amelie vibe. The musical sequence reminded me way too much of The Artist. In the end, the best I can say is that I didn’t hate this as much as I thought I would.

There are a lot of accusations of plagiarism coming out now and it’s resemblance to the play Let Me Hear You Whisper is striking, but I can also see how this grew out of Del Toro’s long gestating remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon. I still would have preferred to see that film, which as described at the time, was a lost world, steam punk take on the Universal monster classic.

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

#57 Post by gfxtwin » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:41 am

What are the odds this film gets a Criterion release?

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

#58 Post by Ribs » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:45 am

0%, especially given that Fox has apparently stopped licensing until the Disney merger goes through (and it’d be pointless with a UHD being put out anyway)

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

#59 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:21 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:P.S. Where's Troy McClure? This is the part he was born to play, baby!
To my utter disbelief and extreme delight, this is now a reality thanks to @monkeyes on Twitter:

Image

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

#60 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:39 pm

This was okay, which already makes it the best Del Toro film I've ever seen. Well-made, if all a bit familiar and kinda gross at times. I liked that Del Toro's film references are more obscure than the usual Hollywood track-- though no doubt the clips used were penciled in due to Fox funding the pic and we'd have different clips all together were this at Universal or Warners. Still, when was the last time anyone even sort of referenced the Story of Ruth? I have zero desire to ever see this again, but it was solid three star entertainment, nothing more and certainly not the crime against humanity many of you are painting it as

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

#61 Post by Lost Highway » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:29 am

For anybody who can’t get enough of humans getting on with fish people, turns out that in the tradition of Armageddon/Deep Impact and Capote/Infamous, The Shape of Water has a thematic twin in Xavier Gens‘ Cold Skin. I wouldn’t say it’s a better film than The Shape of Water, but coming to it with next to no expectations, I found it very watchable and it’s Gens‘ most accomplished film so far.

An apparently faithful adaptation of a novel by Albert Sánchez Piñol, this is far more of a horror film than The Shape of Water. Reminiscent of Lovecraft‘s Dagon and The Shadow Over Insmouth, it tells of the two inhabitants of a lighthouse on a small island during WWI, which every night experiences an Aussault on Precinct 13-style attack by hundreds of amphibic humanoids. The lighthouse keeper keeps a docile female of the species for his own purposes.

It’s a mostly Spanish production shot in English and production values are decent for what presumably was a fairly low budget film. If you like the genre, then it’s worth checking out.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wNV18vuskJ0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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

#62 Post by McCrutchy » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:47 am

Lost Highway wrote:For anybody who can’t get enough of humans getting on with fish people, turns out that in the tradition of Armageddon/Deep Impact and Capote/Infamous, The Shape of Water has a thematic twin in Xavier Gens‘ Cold Skin. I wouldn’t say it’s a better film than The Shape of Water, but coming to it with next to no expectations, I found it very watchable and it’s Gens‘ most accomplished film so far.
I looked this up, and surprisingly, it's only really been released in Spain so far, where it was released back in October theatrically. Cameo released a Spanish Blu-ray earlier this month, but it has a low-ish video bitrate thanks to three Dolby Atmos TrueHD 7.1 tracks in the original English, as well as Spanish and Catalan dub tracks. Hopefully, it gets released on Blu-ray in another market, as it does look kind of fun.

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

#63 Post by Lost Highway » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:26 am

McCrutchy wrote:
Lost Highway wrote:For anybody who can’t get enough of humans getting on with fish people, turns out that in the tradition of Armageddon/Deep Impact and Capote/Infamous, The Shape of Water has a thematic twin in Xavier Gens‘ Cold Skin. I wouldn’t say it’s a better film than The Shape of Water, but coming to it with next to no expectations, I found it very watchable and it’s Gens‘ most accomplished film so far.
I looked this up, and surprisingly, it's only really been released in Spain so far, where it was released back in October theatrically. Cameo released a Spanish Blu-ray earlier this month, but it has a low-ish video bitrate thanks to three Dolby Atmos TrueHD 7.1 tracks in the original English, as well as Spanish and Catalan dub tracks. Hopefully, it gets released on Blu-ray in another market, as it does look kind of fun.
Samuel Goldwyn picked this up for US distribution but I can see them waiting for a while due to the inevitable comparisons to this year’s Best Picture winner. It’s the type of film I could see shelved for ages or going straight to streaming, where it would be at home next to the likes of The Ritual and Ravenous as ”better than expected”

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

#64 Post by lacritfan » Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:29 pm

The Baltimore Sun wrote:Last week, (Guillermo del Toro) won Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for his fantasy about a mute cleaning woman at a government research facility in Baltimore who falls in love with an amphibious South American gill man. Backstage after the awards show, he said how much he appreciated Levinson’s movies, before adding, “And then there’s John Waters, man.”
Waters, who’s been making and setting movies in his own version of his hometown for more than 40 years, said he enjoyed the nod.
“That was lovely of him!" Waters wrote in an email. "I thought maybe he had picked Baltimore because most people I know here, myself included, have had sex with a monster once in their life too …”

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