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Author Topic: "Love & Mercy" - Board member reviews and discussion  (Read 50475 times)
nakostopoulos
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« on: June 04, 2015, 07:35:46 PM »

I figure it deserves its own thread, now that the time has come...

I knew I was going to enjoy "Love & Mercy", but I didn't quite know just how much. Paul Dano was amazing, as expected (I want an extended three hour recreation of the "Pet Sounds" sessions), but John Cusack really impressed me with the way he inhabited the spaces of Brian Wilson's speech patterns.

One of the other things that really stood out to me was the way Bill Pohlad used silence as a kind of negative space to contrast with the music.

The opening is incredible, I can't think of many other music-related films that would open on a black screen, with a sound collage playing for two straight minutes; it's a startling, unnerving and deeply evocative way to get us inside the brain of an artist. I think of the whole movie kind of as a natural half-way point between your standard artist biopic like "Ray" and your more off-the-wall experiment like "I'm Not There". (Plus, wait for the brilliant "2001" reference; it was both clever and deeply touching.)

I saw the first teaser back in February, and have played "Pet Sounds" and "SMiLE" probably over 400x. I almost expected that it was in preparation for the movie, and then I'd be able to move on.

Uh, about that...
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 07:38:55 PM by nakostopoulos » Logged
Alex
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2015, 08:12:40 AM »

Does it outdo this?Huh  LOL LOL LOL
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF3HPqfW5ZU
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rab2591
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2015, 08:53:52 AM »

The opening is incredible, I can't think of many other music-related films that would open on a black screen, with a sound collage playing for two straight minutes; it's a startling, unnerving and deeply evocative way to get us inside the brain of an artist.

Not at all a music film, but could that be another homage to 2001? As that film opens with like 3-4 minutes of music to a black screen. I'm a huge fan of 2001 and I love that they did at least one homage to that film. Can't wait to see this later today!
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nakostopoulos
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2015, 08:59:33 AM »

The opening is incredible, I can't think of many other music-related films that would open on a black screen, with a sound collage playing for two straight minutes; it's a startling, unnerving and deeply evocative way to get us inside the brain of an artist.

Not at all a music film, but could that be another homage to 2001? As that film opens with like 3-4 minutes of music to a black screen. I'm a huge fan of 2001 and I love that they did at least one homage to that film. Can't wait to see this later today!

Well, "2001's" opening is more standard practice of long-form films of that era which had overtures over black sometimes ("Lawrence of Arabia" is another example). The scene in "L&M" didn't strike me as an overture, primarily because there is a short scene of Brian smoking a cigarette in the studio discussing the sounds he's hearing.

Still, I think you'll appreciate the overt "2001" reference when you see it.
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rab2591
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2015, 09:02:25 AM »

The opening is incredible, I can't think of many other music-related films that would open on a black screen, with a sound collage playing for two straight minutes; it's a startling, unnerving and deeply evocative way to get us inside the brain of an artist.

Not at all a music film, but could that be another homage to 2001? As that film opens with like 3-4 minutes of music to a black screen. I'm a huge fan of 2001 and I love that they did at least one homage to that film. Can't wait to see this later today!

Well, "2001's" opening is more standard practice of long-form films of that era which had overtures over black sometimes ("Lawrence of Arabia" is another example). The scene in "L&M" didn't strike me as an overture, primarily because there is a short scene of Brian smoking a cigarette in the studio discussing the sounds he's hearing.

Still, I think you'll appreciate the overt "2001" reference when you see it.

Ahh that makes sense. Thanks for the reply!
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2015, 03:20:49 PM »

I wept.
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Lumen
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2015, 03:23:05 PM »

I've now seen the film twice (today) and wrote this in between the showings. Apologies for the lean details, these were just my thoughts and impressions.

This is my review.

------

Bob Dylan on Brian Wilson: "That ear! Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian."

That ear. That one ear. From it sprang the most inspirational and aspirational popular music of the last 50 years.

Bill Pohlad's LOVE & MERCY is a loving tone poem to Brian Wilson. Breaking free of the conventional shackles that hamstring most biopics about popular artists, LOVE & MERCY lives and breathes. We see not only his creative process but we are taken on a trip through the cerebral hemispheres.

This trip is an occasionally bumpy ride that gives the viewer the most intimately drawn picture that we will likely ever see about a major artist. The film is daring and takes many chances, not the least of which; the dual casting. Both leads are splendid, each of their personal portraits of the man at dramatically different times in his life.

The biggest success, apart from the performances of the two leads is the editing choices. Both 1960s Brian and 1980s Brian are juxtaposed and woven together in an intense way, the only way they could be. The 2001 'homage' to Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite is one of the most inspired things I've seen in quite some time.

LOVE & MERCY is masterful and magical.

------
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the professor
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2015, 08:08:43 PM »

the professor usually has a long scholarly analysis, but "wound up" is all I got now, as Larry said inthe other thread. .The movie is uniformly great in all the ways noted here. E Banks? my God--beautiful from head to toe. Everything worked. . . .As NYT says, it's a music bio pic made by someone who appears not to have seen any such pics, which are generally crap and sentimental.

Mike was depicted well and honestly and sympathetically. If Landy and Murray were half that bad, they were monstrous.

I am lost in the world of the movie right now. . . .it will blow your heart away. . .

The professor

edit: the movie ends on a dead end st. in Hawthorne, beneath the mighty 105: how  inspired was that. amazing
« Last Edit: June 05, 2015, 08:34:19 PM by the professor » Logged
thegoldenyear
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2015, 12:05:33 AM »


edit: the movie ends on a dead end st. in Hawthorne, beneath the mighty 105: how  inspired was that. amazing

One of the three times I teared up during the TIFF screening in September, I must say.

If I recall the moment correctly... I'd been so engrossed by the Banks-Cusack scene I'd lost sense of time and wasn't anticipating the end of the film. But my god, when WIBN drifted in, with its eternal message of  - what was it Paul Williams once said were the three core elements of Brian's music? - warmness, serenity and friendship underscoring the scene under the freeway, my eyes suddenly felt very hot and moist. Movies IS magic.

One of those other teary moments came out of the pure pleasure punch of seeing the Pet Sounds sessions brought to glorious life. The third moment, the only one couched in sadness, sprang from the first time Cusack plays the "Love And Mercy" melody to Banks. I don't know whether that happened in real life, but it sure packed a wallop anyway. Because even if it didn't, we all know somewhere along the way Brian's knocked Melinda's socks off with some heartrending melody or other.

I will see L&M Sunday, and again after that I'm sure. Several non-convert friends have asked if I'd like to see it with them, and I can't wait to hear their take(s) on this amazing piece filmmaking.
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2015, 03:12:56 PM »

I'd like to echo what so many have said before - it's an emotional wallop. While we have devoted our lives into digging in the back story, and while we may know all the drama in this man's life, it's stunning to viscerally feel that turmoil on a personal level.

The studio scenes were as touching as first listening to the old SOT discs back in the day; stripped bare of Hollywood glitz, you're seeing people settling into a job, with all the heavy lifting and hours of tedium that go into great art. Watching Brian and Hal take a smoke break in a regular-Joe parking lot outside of Western (I assume), made it all tangible. Like break time at the warehouse.

Of course, I knew I'd enjoy the studio segments. As would anyone here (hopefully Joe Q. Public gets a deeper appreciation of the process). But what struck me was the juxtaposition between that halcyon time and the brooding tension of the 80's. It's the 80's sections that overwhelmed me and made me feel the claustrophobia. As I mentioned before, we've read about these dramas before, but somehow you were lifted front and center into that lion cage. Disturbing and fascinating on so many levels.

Bravo to the principals in this movie. Dano and Cusack, while physically dissimilar manage to evoke the child in Brian. The excitable, irrepressible and the frightened, withdrawn. It's all there, and you can't look away from the screen - you might miss a twitch, an insight into the enigma. And Atticus...well, what can you say. I hope there's a soundtrack at some point. It's all a part of this magnificent ride.

Leaving the theatre last night I felt as if I was in a state. The same way I felt when I (finally) saw John Frankenheimer's Seconds on TMC. We all know how that went down back in the day. You see... everything's gone full circle.  Damn Phil Spector and his Mind Gangsters!
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Moon Dawg
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2015, 03:16:50 PM »

Seeing tomorrow; can't wait.
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harrisonjon
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2015, 04:19:47 PM »

It is one of the best movies about music, or about flawed genius, ever made. Beautifully constructed, filmed and acted. The recording scenes are the highlight, and personally I found it impossible not to cry when we saw the Pet Sounds tracks being created, because that music has been a good portion of my emotional support through my adult life. The love story is nicely done but it is fairly conventional; it's the blending with the Brian of 1966-67 that makes the love story of c.1985 so affecting. I'm sure it's a whitewash of a much messier set of meetings and false starts, which is how many relationships begin, but I'm equally sure that the emotional core is true, and the love of a good woman really did give Brian the motivation to overcome his imprisonment by Landy, even if the film does omit the grinding legal work done by Carl et al to boot Landy out.

The most powerful achievement of all, I feel, is how the movie brought out the fact that Brian's disintegration occurs during his moments of greatest artistic triumph: Pet Sounds, GV, Smile. Even though we already know that this is coming, the full impact of what it means - the mourning and loss it entails for Brian, as his confidence collapses - has to be felt through a shared dramatic experience, and this is what the movie gives us.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 04:24:32 PM by harrisonjon » Logged
GhostyTMRS
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2015, 05:38:26 PM »

I just got back from seeing it.

I had the opposite reaction to what I had expected. I assumed I would love the Paul Dano/60's stuff and have a hard time accepting John Cusack/80's Brian. In fact, the Cusack performance blew me away, and those segments with Melinda were easily my favorite parts of the movie. Maybe it's because I've been so steeped in reading about the Pet Sounds/SMiLE era for 30 years, that I was kind of ticking off the beats "okay we go from this to this to this..". The way the Landy era was portrayed was fascinating. Brian's 2nd time around with Landy has, of course, been documented but to finally put visuals to it was enormously satisfying. Paul Giamatti? What can I say? Just incredible. I mean, if they're going to hand out awards for this one, he'd be my odds-on fave for best supporting actor. It may be the performance of his career. Elizabeth Banks was tremendous too,

I will say that all of the 60's era segments were extraordinarily well done, erasing anyone's painful memories of "Summer Dreams" and "An American Family" (although I have an abiding love for "Summer Dreams" because of when it came out and the age I was at the time)...but honestly, the Landy era is what got me.

And good news! The theater was mostly full on a Saturday afternoon!
« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 06:13:24 PM by GhostyTMRS » Logged
Wirestone
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2015, 05:42:56 PM »

Ghosty -- I saw it this afternoon, and my reactions were similar to yours. I feel like the '60s territory is very familiar, albeit with an incredible performance by Dano. But the 80s stuff is a revelation, and John Cusack really does something special with his performance. It allows you to see modern-day (or quasi-modern day) Brian as a real, feeling person. Ditto for Melinda. I get the impression that for the people who know Brian, this is the guy they see. He's probably not that way all the time, but at his best he's quirky, charming and quite charismatic.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 06:26:40 PM by Wirestone » Logged
guitarfool2002
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2015, 05:46:32 PM »

I saw it too. Can I ask how was the sound at the theaters you've seen it? I'll probably see it again - no, make that I will see it again - but I'll probably go to another theater to compare the sound and delivery of the sound to this one. I felt the soundtrack and audio track in general needs to almost envelop the audience, I noticed there was a lot of very deliberate and meticulous panning of sounds in the stereo field, but the theater I was in (seat center, eye level to screen, aka the prime seat to hear and see the film I'd say) seemed to have too few speakers after the first rows of seats.
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
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« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2015, 05:50:32 PM »

Guitarfool's cat is okay! Grin
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Lumen
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« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2015, 05:54:39 PM »

I saw it too. Can I ask how was the sound at the theaters you've seen it? I'll probably see it again - no, make that I will see it again - but I'll probably go to another theater to compare the sound and delivery of the sound to this one. I felt the soundtrack and audio track in general needs to almost envelop the audience, I noticed there was a lot of very deliberate and meticulous panning of sounds in the stereo field, but the theater I was in (seat center, eye level to screen, aka the prime seat to hear and see the film I'd say) seemed to have too few speakers after the first rows of seats.

The sound system at the AMC theater I went to (as usual) was terrific. 
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« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2015, 06:00:44 PM »

Guitarfool's cat is okay! Grin

Yes! And I was going to post a heartfelt thank you for the well-wishes that were posted last night. The eye has improved a lot, although it's still not 100% normal, but it's much, much better than it looked when i got home from work last night. It destroyed me to see that eye shut and all red/irritated as it was, I thought for sure I'd be going to the vet but somehow it got better. So I made it to the movie today, and even better unless it doesn't back to normal in a few days the cat may not need to see the vet. Happy all around!  Smiley
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
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« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2015, 06:04:47 PM »

I saw it too. Can I ask how was the sound at the theaters you've seen it? I'll probably see it again - no, make that I will see it again - but I'll probably go to another theater to compare the sound and delivery of the sound to this one. I felt the soundtrack and audio track in general needs to almost envelop the audience, I noticed there was a lot of very deliberate and meticulous panning of sounds in the stereo field, but the theater I was in (seat center, eye level to screen, aka the prime seat to hear and see the film I'd say) seemed to have too few speakers after the first rows of seats.

The sound system at the AMC theater I went to (as usual) was terrific. 

I went to a Regal today, but I'll try a different chain when I see it again. It felt like all the sound was coming from speakers surrounding the first few rows closest to the screen, even the really intense and deliberately loud points where the music is blasting at loud volume didn't seem to be reaching the rows beyond the first few. That is totally on the theater, but when the movie is already playing there's not much you can do in the way of raising an issue about it.

 
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"All of us have the privilege of making music that helps and heals - to make music that makes people happier, stronger, and kinder. Don't forget: Music is God's voice." - Brian Wilson
GhostyTMRS
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« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2015, 06:08:55 PM »

Ghosty -- I saw it this afternoon, and my reactions were very similar to yours. I feel like the '60s territory is very familiar, albeit with an incredible performance by Dano. But the 80s stuff is a revelation, and John Cusack really does something special with his performance. It allows you to see modern-day (or quasi-modern day) Brian as a real, feeling person. Ditto for Melinda. I get the impression that for the people who know Brian, this is the guy they see. He's probably not that way all the time, but at his best he's quirky, charming and quite charismatic.

Ditto, and I feel this film will go a long way towards changing the perception some uneducated non-music fans have of Brian today, especially when they see him on a talk show. I will say that, as a Brian Wilson fanatic from the word go (or at least back to the mid-80's) even I walked out of that theater feeling like I knew him a little bit better.
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GhostyTMRS
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« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2015, 06:12:32 PM »

I saw it too. Can I ask how was the sound at the theaters you've seen it? I'll probably see it again - no, make that I will see it again - but I'll probably go to another theater to compare the sound and delivery of the sound to this one. I felt the soundtrack and audio track in general needs to almost envelop the audience, I noticed there was a lot of very deliberate and meticulous panning of sounds in the stereo field, but the theater I was in (seat center, eye level to screen, aka the prime seat to hear and see the film I'd say) seemed to have too few speakers after the first rows of seats.

AMC theater in New Jersey had great sound. I know there's talk of a soundtrack and this may sound very strange, but those weird little mashups of dialogue and Beach Boys tracks that are used as sound design in the film?....Yeah, I'd like to actually have those on an a CD!

In a weird twist of fate, I've begun suffering from tinnitus which makes listening to any sound a little less enjoyable than it would've been two weeks ago. Darn it! If only I had been able to see this movie earlier.... 
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« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2015, 06:15:48 PM »

Best film I've seen in years, and I'm not just saying that because it was Brian Wilson-related. I loved the Melinda-Brian scenes, and the cast was fantastic.

Also, I left the theater with a free movie poster, which I will be framing and putting on my wall.

It was a cathartic experience.
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Amy B.
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« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2015, 06:18:47 PM »

I just saw it too. What a superb movie, with excellent performances all around and a great soundtrack. I love the space they give to the music and the studio time and the creative process. I feel they were pretty fair to the other Beach Boys. After all, it really wasn't about them. I thought it was interesting how in one scene, Dennis is tinkering at the piano, as if they wanted to hint that yes, some of the other BBs were interested in creating music too. But Dennis's life/creative aspirations are for another movie.

I loved how they used some of Brian's studio instructions verbatim, using recordings from the time. Even Brian describing Murry's beatings is pretty much directly lifted from the interview in I Just Wasn't Made for These Times.

I was really impressed with John Cusack, but especially Paul Dano.  I agree that Giamatti was good, and often over-the-top villains get Oscar buzz... but I think it's Dano who really deserve an award for portraying this complex, unraveling man... and also Elizabeth Banks, just for her very subtle reactions to everything happening around her.

Having seen it and how intense it is, though, I can't imagine being Brian and re-living all of this, and hearing all the disturbing sounds that are put into our ears as viewers as the film tries to recreate the auditory hallucinations. Perhaps he takes comfort in a film that really tries to "get" him.
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puni puni
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« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2015, 06:25:01 PM »

Just got home. Wow. That's all I have to say.
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Lumen
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« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2015, 06:27:15 PM »

Even Brian describing Murry's beatings is pretty much directly lifted from the interview in I Just Wasn't Made for These Times.

That and the scene with Banks and Cusack at the piano where he plays "Love & Mercy" for her.  The discussion of where the music come from is nearly verbatim from IJWMFTT.
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