Apex Predator's Film Discussion Thread

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Because I see films and don't want to do a million threads talking about each film separately, I feel this is the way to go. Also, it can be considered a substitute for MKS's thread which has gone dormant due to his absence. Perhaps, someone like Rock might see that films are STILL being discussed here.

To keep things lively, I'll post certain questions for each film and hopefully cause discussion. Also, it's an open thread so if you have films that you've just seen that you want to talk about, go ahead.

I've seen three films this week. In each of them, the lead character takes a stand of some sort:

Resolution: Mike is good friends with Chris. Chris also has a bad habit with meth. So Mike decides one day to visit him and force him to go clean by tasering him and handcuffing him to the cabin where he lives. But in the middle of the forced withdrawal, Mike starts noticing things popping up that hint at something else living in the area.

God's Not Dead: Josh Wheaton enters into an introduction to philosophy course where his philosophy professor Dr. Radisson announces to the class that he wants all his students to sign a piece of paper stating that God is Dead. Josh refuses to do so and he finds himself having to prove the opposite.

No: Ad executive Rene Saavedra is hired by forces on the No side of a referendum in Chile in 1988. If yes wins, then dictator Augusto Pinochet remains in power for another 10 years but if no wins, then free elections will be held in Chile the next year. Although reluctant, Rene takes on the assignment deciding against the majority of the opposition forces who wants to highlight Pinochet's oppression. Instead, he decides to focus on smiling faces and the message that Joy is Coming to Chile. But this job has a downside which puts his job and family at risk.

Anybody have any preferences as to which one I discuss first?
Aug 31, 2014 10:22 AM
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No is great. I've posted about it before, but I think it's a great example of a historical film that actually understands and uses its context for drama instead of whitewashing it and taking out anything of interest. I haven't seen the others.
Aug 31, 2014 1:22 PM
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I've only seen No and half of Resolution if that helps.

Aug 31, 2014 1:32 PM
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It appears as though I'll tackle No first followed by Resolution and God's Not Dead.  That's how I'd rate the quality as well, although I wasn't as big on No as Rock was.
Sep 1, 2014 12:11 PM
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As an aside, I missed the first 2-3 minutes of the film while dodging raindrops and being stuck in line at Walgreen's.  On the plus side, I got the last bag of popcorn and was able to put some kettle corn salt on it for $1 so there is that.

No is about an ad executive named Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal) who gets the request to work on a new assignment in the late 1980s.  He's a successful ad man who is in demand and he's doing well all things considered.  So when the committee for the opposition to "President" Pinochet asks him to help with the Vote No side, it makes sense for him to turn them down.

But he agrees to go on as a consultant and looks at the original advertising.  He sees that he's got his work cut out for him when he sees the original spots.  They're dour and offer a laundry list of abuses under the Pinochet regime.  The committee behind No fully expects to fail.

But Rene has some issues with Pinochet.  They kept his wife as a political prisoner and his father was one as well.  So he decides to change the focus to an era after Pinochet and after free elections with the slogan "Happiness is coming".  Although some leaders reject the approach at first, Rene is aiming this at the voters who would find this referendum dangerous and meaningless.

And while it seems unusual to gloss over the atrocities in favor of singing people and "no-ews", it makes sense when you think about it.  The Yes campaign which would allow Pinochet another 8 year term is going to show glowing reports of the leader and what he's done while the No campaign which would require free elections in one year is like to do reports like what Rene saw at first.  But by flipping the script, they're able to attract more casual voters and have a fighting chance at winning.  

Not to say that there's not a consequence when it comes to work for the opposition.  Rene has to deal with being spied on by government officials, receiving threatening phone calls, and having the risk of harm placed on him and his family.  But they may be able to pull off the upset if they can outwork the governmental forces behind the Yes vote.

It took a while for me to see the big picture of this.  But once the TV campaigns started (much like in America, each side has equal time to make its point) and the pieces started falling into place, the movie picked up some momentum which it carried until the end.  There's a couple of good shots involving Rene and his son that I can't reveal due to massive spoilers but just understand that you will know it when you see it.

I wish they were a little clearer as to what the stakes were and what forced Pinochet to do this referendum in the first place (found out afterwards that John Paul 2 was involved).  But finding out that this was based on a true story was enough at the end, even though I couldn't really relax until the credits roll.

Next:  Going cold turkey has never been so dangerous...
Sep 2, 2014 7:58 PM
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For those who've seen No:

Did you worry that Rene was in jeopardy of political exile or worse at any point in the film?

What about those two shots where he carried his son?  (can't post when this happened cause spoilers)

Did you find that what Rene did with the ad campaign practical?  Or do you think he glossed over the atrocities that happened under Pinochet?

Did you pop or freak out when you saw some well known actors towards the end?

Next:  A look at Resolution.
Sep 9, 2014 3:57 PM
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Josh Wheaton?


Sep 9, 2014 3:59 PM
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Apex PredatorFor those who've seen No:

Did you worry that Rene was in jeopardy of political exile or worse at any point in the film?

What about those two shots where he carried his son?  (can't post when this happened cause spoilers)

Did you find that what Rene did with the ad campaign practical?  Or do you think he glossed over the atrocities that happened under Pinochet?

Did you pop or freak out when you saw some well known actors towards the end?

Next:  A look at Resolution.

1. That was a possibility, but given that Pinochet was under increasing international scrutiny (the reason that he even bothered with the vote), he probably wouldn't have risked too much beyond the sort of persistent bullying we saw in the movie. But I think the movie does a great job of conveying what it's like to live under that sort of oppression (where you're not exactly under the dictator's boot but you're not really free either).

2. I don't remember the shots exactly. Could you use white text for the spoilers (credit goes to DP for that trick)?

3. I think what he did was practical, or at least the movie made a good case showing that it was practical. It's shown in the movie that people have grown complacent with the material pleasures that Pinochet offered, so it would have been most effective to win people over in the same way. A major theme of the film is that Rene & co defeat Pinochet by subverting the same tools he brought in when he came to power (in broadest terms, capitalism and American backing). The movie does raise questions about the ethics involved in glossing over atrocities, but I think it endorses Rene's pragmatism without being glib about it.

4. Seeing some of the actors was kind of fun.
Sep 9, 2014 4:52 PM
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Resolution is about Mike, a good friend/husband/worker who puts everything aside to taser his good friend Chris.  And later on, he handcuffs him.

But Mike has a very good reason for doing so.  Chris is addicted to meth and risks dying unless Mike risks his friendship by helping him.  He tells his wife that he's staying a week to help him go cold turkey.

Unfortunately, there are complications.  Two friends from school are desperately searching for Chris because he may have something that belongs to them.  Mike runs into some Native Americans that claim that Chris is squatting on their land and he has a week to vacate or else.  Plus, Mike starts finding these mysterious items that imply that someone or something is in the woods and he has no idea whether that something is friend or foe.

What I did like about this film is that it did a good job setting up the fact that these two were friends once and Mike is trying to make things right by doing these extreme acts.  They have plenty of time to hash out previous griefs and boiling resentment that Chris has towards Mike.  Also, I appreciated the efforts to show how Mike was addicted to finding out the truth to these mysterious films, photos, and recordings much like how Chris was addicted to drugs.

But not everything clicked.  I felt like after a while that those documents that Mike kept finding was less a interesting story line idea and more of a cheap writer's contrivance.  Also, I felt like the filmmakers didn't have an endgame in sight heading into the final third of the film and the ending felt rushed and a bit of a cop out frankly.

But for those horror fans who want an atmosphere of dread more than gore and guts, Resolution may well be for you.

Next:  Facebook meme becomes motion picture.
Sep 9, 2014 5:12 PM
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Rock
Apex PredatorFor those who've seen No:

Did you worry that Rene was in jeopardy of political exile or worse at any point in the film?

What about those two shots where he carried his son?  (can't post when this happened cause spoilers)

Did you find that what Rene did with the ad campaign practical?  Or do you think he glossed over the atrocities that happened under Pinochet?

Did you pop or freak out when you saw some well known actors towards the end?

Next:  A look at Resolution.

1. That was a possibility, but given that Pinochet was under increasing international scrutiny (the reason that he even bothered with the vote), he probably wouldn't have risked too much beyond the sort of persistent bullying we saw in the movie. But I think the movie does a great job of conveying what it's like to live under that sort of oppression (where you're not exactly under the dictator's boot but you're not really free either).

2. I don't remember the shots exactly. Could you use white text for the spoilers (credit goes to DP for that trick)?

3. I think what he did was practical, or at least the movie made a good case showing that it was practical. It's shown in the movie that people have grown complacent with the material pleasures that Pinochet offered, so it would have been most effective to win people over in the same way. A major theme of the film is that Rene & co defeat Pinochet by subverting the same tools he brought in when he came to power (in broadest terms, capitalism and American backing). The movie does raise questions about the ethics involved in glossing over atrocities, but I think it endorses Rene's pragmatism without being glib about it.

4. Seeing some of the actors was kind of fun.


1.  I agree with this part.  Mainly through some research post-film, I think that Pinochet was under the gun to at least have a vote to try to calm down the critics of his regime.  But he felt as though he wasn't in any real danger of losing the referendum.  Still, based on what I saw in the movie, I think it would have been easy for Rene to have disappeared considering the surveillance, violence, and intimidation seen in the movie.

2.  DP may have taught others about the trick, but I learned it on my own.:P
Anyway:


The first time he carried the son was in the scene where the army tried to intimidate the protesters that that were going to vote No on the referendum.  This was when they took his wife away for the second time and Rene carried him to the car and to safety.


Time two was after the No forces won the election.  While everyone else was celebrating the win, Rene carried his son back home more certain on his future than before.


3.  I do agree with you on this as well.  Although it was nice to see one of the political leaders going full Arkin on him, I think if he did what they wanted him to do that they would have lost the election and Pinochet would remain in power.  And you're right in that it wasn't in your face that Rene did the right thing.  He was thinking pragmatically.


4.  It surprised me in the film.  But in my research, I learned that it did happen in real life.  I was shocked to see Christopher Reeve appear in the film, even in video.
Sep 9, 2014 5:33 PM
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Death Proof
Josh Wheaton?



Yeah, that's the name of the kid in God's Not Dead who stands up to the atheistic philosophy professor.  It's far from the film's worst sins, by the way.
Sep 9, 2014 5:35 PM
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Apex Predator
Death Proof
Josh Wheaton?



Yeah, that's the name of the kid in God's Not Dead who stands up to the atheistic philosophy professor.  It's far from the film's worst sins, by the way.


Sounds to me like a cheap shot at Wheadon, who's pretty open about his atheism.
Sep 9, 2014 5:38 PM
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Resolution Questions:

1.  Would what Mike did to Chris in the early going be considered friendship or termination of friendship?  Why?

2.  Do you believe that in Mike's quest to uncover the truth about what is going on served as an addiction of sorts?

3.  Would it have mattered if Chris was able to locate what Billy and Micah were looking for?  Or was the die already set there?

4.  What did Mike mean by the final line in the film?  And what did the ending mean for that matter (spoiler obviously)?
Sep 9, 2014 6:02 PM
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Death Proof
Apex Predator
Death Proof
Josh Wheaton?



Yeah, that's the name of the kid in God's Not Dead who stands up to the atheistic philosophy professor.  It's far from the film's worst sins, by the way.


Sounds to me like a cheap shot at Wheadon, who's pretty open about his atheism.

So there was a cheap shot at Joss Whedon of Avengers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  Interesting.
But again, whether it was deliberate or not, there were plenty of wrong things happening with God's Not Dead.  Will explain in more detail in the morning.
Sep 9, 2014 6:07 PM
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Apex Predator
Death Proof
Apex Predator
Death Proof
Josh Wheaton?



Yeah, that's the name of the kid in God's Not Dead who stands up to the atheistic philosophy professor.  It's far from the film's worst sins, by the way.


Sounds to me like a cheap shot at Wheadon, who's pretty open about his atheism.

So there was a cheap shot at Joss Whedon of Avengers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer?  Interesting.
But again, whether it was deliberate or not, there were plenty of wrong things happening with God's Not Dead.  Will explain in more detail in the morning.


I'm just guessing. But I know Wheadon is an admitted atheist. Wouldn't surprise me if it was some sort of shot at him... possibly also for writing strong female characters which must drive certain chauvanist religious yahoos up the wall.
Sep 9, 2014 6:11 PM
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Apex Predator
Rock
Apex PredatorFor those who've seen No:

Did you worry that Rene was in jeopardy of political exile or worse at any point in the film?

What about those two shots where he carried his son?  (can't post when this happened cause spoilers)

Did you find that what Rene did with the ad campaign practical?  Or do you think he glossed over the atrocities that happened under Pinochet?

Did you pop or freak out when you saw some well known actors towards the end?

Next:  A look at Resolution.

1. That was a possibility, but given that Pinochet was under increasing international scrutiny (the reason that he even bothered with the vote), he probably wouldn't have risked too much beyond the sort of persistent bullying we saw in the movie. But I think the movie does a great job of conveying what it's like to live under that sort of oppression (where you're not exactly under the dictator's boot but you're not really free either).

2. I don't remember the shots exactly. Could you use white text for the spoilers (credit goes to DP for that trick)?

3. I think what he did was practical, or at least the movie made a good case showing that it was practical. It's shown in the movie that people have grown complacent with the material pleasures that Pinochet offered, so it would have been most effective to win people over in the same way. A major theme of the film is that Rene & co defeat Pinochet by subverting the same tools he brought in when he came to power (in broadest terms, capitalism and American backing). The movie does raise questions about the ethics involved in glossing over atrocities, but I think it endorses Rene's pragmatism without being glib about it.

4. Seeing some of the actors was kind of fun.


1.  I agree with this part.  Mainly through some research post-film, I think that Pinochet was under the gun to at least have a vote to try to calm down the critics of his regime.  But he felt as though he wasn't in any real danger of losing the referendum.  Still, based on what I saw in the movie, I think it would have been easy for Rene to have disappeared considering the surveillance, violence, and intimidation seen in the movie.

2.  DP may have taught others about the trick, but I learned it on my own.:P
Anyway:


The first time he carried the son was in the scene where the army tried to intimidate the protesters that that were going to vote No on the referendum.  This was when they took his wife away for the second time and Rene carried him to the car and to safety.


Time two was after the No forces won the election.  While everyone else was celebrating the win, Rene carried his son back home more certain on his future than before.


3.  I do agree with you on this as well.  Although it was nice to see one of the political leaders going full Arkin on him, I think if he did what they wanted him to do that they would have lost the election and Pinochet would remain in power.  And you're right in that it wasn't in your face that Rene did the right thing.  He was thinking pragmatically.


4.  It surprised me in the film.  But in my research, I learned that it did happen in real life.  I was shocked to see Christopher Reeve appear in the film, even in video.

The horrendous cold I have right now is keeping me from saying anything coherent about Question 2, but it was real nice to see Christopher Reeve.
Sep 9, 2014 6:32 PM
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So God's Not Dead easily surpasses the (completely unnecessary and tamed) Robocop remake to take the bottom spot of the list of films I've seen in 2014 that actually came out that year.  Reasons:

1.  From the opening song that rolls during the credits, it's clear that the director knew about foreshadowing but not about subtlety.  The lead actor Shane Harper (Good Luck Charlie) has a pretty nice singing voice, but the song is about taking a stand.

2.  Advising students about class schedules does not take place the day before school starts.  It takes place months prior and it is using the advisement of professors and counselors, not students.

3.  Radisson's  (Sorbo) philosophy class wasn't the only option that Josh Wheaton (Harper) could have taken, but Josh didn't want to consider other options that would wreak havoc on his schedule.

4.  No philosophy professor worth his or her salt would completely downplay religion on their opening day.  This isn't science, after all.

5.  On the first day, professors do an overview of their class and hand out syllabi.  They don't immediately jump into a lecture.

6.  Been to two different schools for about 6 years or so.  Not once was there a requirement to write down on a piece of paper that God is Dead.  In fact, there was at least one religious class to fill a liberal arts elective.

7.  For someone willing to end talk of religion as quickly as possible, is it the best use of Radisson's time to give a valuable hour of lecture time to a college freshman?  And why is it that nobody has complained about writing down those words on the piece of paper until now?

8.  The campus that Josh and Dr. Radisson inhabits is the deadest campus I've seen.  There's no hint of parties or other social activities for a school that size.  It might make more sense on a tiny campus such as Westminster (MO), but even then there's a smattering of activity on the weekends.

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT FORWARD:

9.  In no less than two situations does Dr. Radisson risk his career in the course of the movie:  one is where he all but physically confronts Josh after the first "debate" by grabbing his shoulder and two is where he reveals that he's dating Mina, a former STUDENT of his.  Think about that for a minute...a professor is dating his current squeeze when she was a STUDENT 5 short years ago.  If that's not grounds for immediate termination, I don't know what is...


10.  Dr. Radisson and Mina date for 5 years even though one is an avowed atheist and the other is a Christian.  Even though both feel strongly about their beliefs, they have been dating each other for 5 years!


11.  Presumably, since she was a former student of his, somewhere in his office is a piece of paper where Mina wrote down the words: God is Dead.


12.  Dr. Radisson is so clear to point out in the first debate that Stephen Hawking is a renown scientist and thus is infallible.  Yet, he himself seems unaware that Hawking stated that philosophy is dead which is used in the second debate.


13.  Speaking of unlikely pairs, Marc Shelley (Dean Cain), the corporate bigwig who has just been named a partner, is dating lefty blogger Amy Ryan.  At least until he finds out about her cancer.


14.  While at the doctors, Amy spends all of her time sending text messages and answering calls in front of her doctor.  When revealed that she has cancer, Amy responds that she doesn't have time for it.


15.  Mina and Marc are also siblings (not bothered by it so much).  She takes care of her mother who has Alzheimers while he could care less.  She spends all the movie in a daze except for one moment where she tells off her greedy, successful son before going right back into it.


16.  Josh seeks help from Reverend Dave and his colleague to help combat Radisson and his logic.  Reverend Dave just wants to go to Disney World, but he has worse luck with car batteries than some horror scream queens.  Even with cars that were JUST delivered to him without any problems.


17.  Ayisha is a Muslim girl who is strongly encouraged by her devout father to wear a hijab (face and head covering).  But yet, he has no problem with the fact she's wearing a T-shirt with short sleeves.


18.  After her kid brother revealed to his dad that she's been listening to Franklin Graham on headphones, her father beats her up and kicks her out of the house.  Keep in mind this is done to a song in what appears to be a MUSIC VIDEO.  Ugh.


19.  The blogger persists in gotcha journalism by going after both Korey and Willie Robinson and the Newsboys.  Asking very obvious and pointed questions towards them, but apparently, she doesn't know how to operate a IPhone 4S.


20.  The blogger and the professor both reveal to complete strangers that they want to be saved as they're apparently dying (one literally, the other maybe in a few months).  Meanwhile, our heroes are safely enjoying the Newsboys concert inside.


21.  The first conversion turns out to be Chinese student Martin who tries several times to talk to his father.  But they're conversing in different forms of Chinese and it's the equivalent of someone speaking English to someone who only speaks German.


22.  Being both devout Christians, one would think that the good Reverend and his friend Jude would know about the Newsboys concert that night and make an alternative route.  But nope.


23.  Considering that Mina and Dr. Radisson are an item for so long, you would think he would at least try to defend her in front of a dinner party or at least some of his colleagues later on.  But nope.


24.  It's fitting that Radisson is struck by a car speeding on rain slicked streets, but those same streets would be dry moments later.


25.  Not sure I would trust the medical expertise of a visiting father from Nairobi, Kenya when it comes to being struck by a car.


26.  The blogger is dying of cancer, the professor is struck by a car, Marc gets chewed out by his barely coherent mother...oh yeah, that's balanced!


27.  If it weren't from Reverend Jude, the lone African American would be someone called G-Dog.  Seriously.


28.  Following the second debate, Radisson tells Josh that he was a Christian once, but he stopped following the death of his mother.  Josh then badgers him relentlessly in the third debate until he admits it in front of the entire class.


29.  How can you hate something that doesn't exist is the tell off line that supposedly gets everyone to change their mind about God.


30.  God's Not Dead is attempted to be the Oh Captain, My Captain of the 2010s.


31.  Everyone in this film is awfully mad or angry about something.


32.  The debates itself uses some big names like Hawking, Dawkins, and CS Lewis to make its points, but there's no real winner here.  Circular logic gets used and the battle seemingly goes into a draw until Josh gets angry...and desperate.


33.  The film ends with a listing of lawsuits that imply that some schools aren't being even-handed towards Christians.  Fine, but why put that in a film that settled the debate before going to court?


It's clear from the get go that this was going to be an awful, awful movie.  It took me two whole days to work up the courage to finish it.  And other than the kid brother and maybe Reverend Jude, everything about this film rings false.  Faith based films are usually mushy and sentimental, but they all have problems with explaining faith to non-believers.  God's Not Dead is the equivalent of being struck in the head repeatedly with a shovel until its point is made.


I'll come up with a few questions tomorrow.  And maybe I can watch something else next.
Sep 10, 2014 5:34 PM
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Diego TutweillerYeah, God's Not Dead nearly killed me... still not as bad as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, though.


Seriously?  I was planning on watching that a few weeks ago.  Even saw the first one beforehand.  But I couldn't stay awake long enough to go.

I get some free rentals when I purchased a Roku Streaming Stick and was going to use one of them on that film.  I'll keep expectations low then.
Sep 10, 2014 7:24 PM
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I haven't seen God's Not Dead. Does this philosophy teacher who doesn't believe spirituality is up for debate actually explain Nietzsche a little bit, or is this class being taught by Otto from A Fish Called Wanda?
Sep 10, 2014 9:49 PM
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I'm guessing that the filmmakers of God's Not Dead never actually attended a philosophy class.  In fact, I think the entire germ of the idea behind the film came from an anonymous second-hand anecdote relayed by a speaker at an Alliance Defending Freedom forum.



Sep 10, 2014 10:12 PM
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