Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#3 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:18 pm


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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#4 Post by Persona » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:16 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:18 pm
Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn
The book's not nearly my favorite Lethem but at least in terms of how it sets itself up in the unique mind of its protagonist and the overall mood-building, it's a nearly virtuosic work before it gets lost in the muddle of its just okay noir plot.

This trailer unfortunately comes off quite flat. I thought maybe Norton could soar with this character but I'm not seeing it just yet, and unfortunately the look of the movie seems to be begging to have been shot on celluloid and with a richer, more textured approach to the imagery.

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Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#5 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:40 am

DarkImbecile wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:48 pm
...we ultimately picked the World Premiere of Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn to be the inevitable sacrificial lamb to live in the shadow of the Sciamma... and it was actually pretty solid! An enjoyably entertaining detective story rooted in Robert Caro’s The Power Broker as much as Jonathan Lethem’s source novel, with an enjoyable score blending jazz and Thom Yorke, Norton’s film manages to walk several difficult lines with mostly passable success. Foremost among those risky chances that actually work out would be Norton’s own lead performance, which treats the protagonists condition respectfully while still using it as a plot and tone device. Not great, but not a disappointment either.
Motherless Brooklyn is so hilariously bad, I don't really even know where to start, which is draining me of things to really say about it. It's been chopped and screwed into a transparent Trump allegory (complete with Alec Baldwin, who explains that he "moved on" a woman at one point) with a starry-eyed Norton playing a Christ-like lead who manages to juggle every virtue imaginable and still manage to goof off with one of the most unintentionally funny, midnight movie level portrayals of mental illness I've ever seen. The plot sort of tries to do a Chinatown thing but has none of the gravity or stakes or general appeal, and Norton, as a director, isn't fit to hold Polanski's quaaludes. Truly terrible stuff.

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Re: The Films of 2019

#6 Post by domino harvey » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:48 am

My main problems with Norton’s first directorial effort Keeping the Faith were him letting everyone improvise, not reigning himself in, and letting the plot meander well beyond the length it could sustain. Doesn’t sound like he’s really addressed these issues

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#7 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:10 am

There are dream sequences and camera angles (check out the tough who looks like a Resident Evil boss when he emerges from Laura's apartment) here that are very, very funny. I'm not sure he intended it that way. And Dick Pope really had to put a lot of effort into making the whole affair look so textureless - messing up the look of neo-noir as badly as he does here seems like it'd be difficult and labor intensive to do, anyway

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#8 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:39 am

Yeah I want to be kinder to this because I respect the grind it took to get this made, but the screenplay is terrible, some real clunky dialogue here and I really don't know why he made the directorial choices he made. It's not even NYU film school bad, it's more like Hofstra bad. Are the Golden Raspberries still a thing? If so Bruce Willis has that on lock. Baldwin's doing his Trump impression again, Norton doesn't portray Moses accurately which may have something to do with his family background. Gugu has nothing to do, Michael K is a stereotype and on and on and on, just brutal. The best thing you could say is that for the budget they made this with it doesn't look bad, but otherwise wow, can't believe this got financed. No wonder it took 20 years!!!
Last edited by Black Hat on Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#9 Post by Never Cursed » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:25 am

I can see where you're coming from re: Trump, but Alec Baldwin's Moses Randolph is very much not a Trump allegory. DarkImbecile pointed this out earlier, but he is absolutely not-Robert Moses, and both Moses and Randolph (see?) were/are very different people than our current president.

As for the rest of the movie, I certainly didn't think it was incredible, but "hilariously bad?" I enjoyed the numerous tangents and most of the performances (save Bobby Cannavale's one-note dirtbag), and I liked best the unbalanced confrontations between Norton and Baldwin - maybe the climactic one puts a little too cute a bow on it all, but I thought both their stories were compelling
SpoilerShow
and I liked how Norton's final position on Baldwin's big scheme is one of apathy - unsure how to read that decision as being Christlike.
And I thought Norton was good in this! Weird and unrestrained, sure, but I thought he made some seemingly-unplayable scenes (the dance especially) work without turning cartoonish. If I had to excoriate any part of this, it would have to be Thom Yorke's AWFUL original song, which does not belong in any movie, let alone a '50s detective piece.
Black Hat wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:39 am
Googoo has nothing to,
Really???

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#10 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:35 am

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a fantastic actress and she gives the best performance in this film. Misspelling her name for yuks doesn't change that, at least!

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#11 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:53 am

ha, it wasn't misspelled intentionally for yuks, pretty sure my track record here shows that's not the kind of humor I try for... didn't know the proper spelling, didn't want to bother looking it up so I went phonetically and that was that. Not even sure how or why 'googoo' would be funny or construed as a form of derision/mocking anyway.

Never Cursed - Yorke's song is an ear bleeder for sure, but excellent point about Moses because while Baldwin's character is clearly supposed to be Trump like, thus the impression, Robert Moses could not have been a more different figure than Trump. How badly it misrepresents Moses is one of the film's biggest problems, it's frankly an outrageous, libelous portrayal. Norton's been on a smear campaign about Moses during his publicity tour as well which makes me think he's out to settle an old family score. Unfortunately the interviewers have no clue so Norton's crap goes unchallenged. It's a shame because Moses was the driving force behind so much good.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#12 Post by Never Cursed » Fri Oct 25, 2019 12:37 pm

First of all, I don't see how Baldwin's character is either anything like Trump or a direct libelous attack on Robert Moses. Moses Randolph in this is a quiet and shrewd political operative seeking power for its own sake. He's not an idiot at the wheel, and he has none of Trump's braggadocio or desire for fame. The connection there feels shaky to me. And Randolph is still a fictional character, with enough unambiguously invented about him
SpoilerShow
(the whole paternity subplot)
that I certainly wouldn't call the content of this movie libel.

Second, Norton's negative conception of Robert Moses is not even close to a new position or one unique to Norton - correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the Caro book was the definitive work about Moses (as DarkImbecile said, this movie cribs more than a little from it), and it gives a mixed-at-best assessment of Moses' career. A lot of the things Moses Randolph tries to do in this match up fairly well at least with Robert Caro's depiction of Robert Moses. I'm not saying that Caro is definitely right, I just didn't know of any evidence counter to his depiction of the man.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#13 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:00 pm

I think you're being generous in your reading of the character Baldwin's portraying. Either/or Baldwin's performance is certainly going to evoke his impression of Trump and that's the larger issue.

With regard to Moses I don't want to derail this thread into a discussion about his life, career and legacy, but I will say that the Robert Caro book on him is a hatchet job and his Johnson books, a man I don't even like, aren't much better. For people unfamiliar with Moses or Caro, I would say Caro's style is similar to that of Donald Spoto's Hitchcock book. There's a lot of 'this is what Moses was thinking' bullshit and the consequence of this style of 'scholarship' is how it's evolved into smears against Moses' character and tremendous legacy of progress. Caro went around forever and still does calling Moses the 'most racist man he ever met' when by his own acknowledgment he barely knew or was around the man. That's awful behavior. Now we have Norton running around shooting his mouth off calling Moses racist as well. Now whether that's personal to do with Norton's family, Caro's book or both, we'll never know but he is not a credible person. Nor is Bob Caro. Nor is this terrible picture, which is sure to tank at the box office, proving that occasionally there is a little justice in the world.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#14 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:48 pm

Where are you getting this idea that Norton's family has some grudge against Moses? Is there some context here I'm missing?

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#15 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:59 pm

Norton's grandfather is James Rouse, who had a completely different approach (an idiotic one) to urban planning than Moses. There were rivals, if not enemies. Rouse's legacy is the longstanding shit show that is Baltimore where as Moses left New York and its suburbs, I'll leave it to you to decide who was the smarter one.

edit: to elaborate Moses was a visionary who believed in the power of public spending to fund big projects. Rouse, on the other hand was a red baiting McCarthy esque type figure who loathed Moses and everything he stood for, demanding projects be funded through the private sector. When he finally found a place to get his way we all know how that worked out for Baltimore.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#16 Post by knives » Fri Oct 25, 2019 2:56 pm

I don't. Legitimately you throw out these cities as if they have meaning to the lay in context, but for me they don't. So if it is just a question of which city I'd rather live in Baltimore seems more attractive.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#17 Post by cdobbs » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:02 pm

With all this hagiography I have to double check and make sure we’re not talking about the other Moses here.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#18 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:04 pm

No, in this case we're talking about the racist Moses

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#19 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:07 pm

knives wrote:I don't. Legitimately you throw out these cities as if they have meaning to the lay in context, but for me they don't. So if it is just a question of which city I'd rather live in Baltimore seems more attractive.
No, this just means you don’t know anything about urban planning and how a good vs bad design can impact a city in all sorts of ways for decades if not centuries to come.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#20 Post by knives » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:13 pm

So please inform me. Again I don't know either Rouse nor Moses beyond a quick wiki run just now, both sound terrible, so your statement is meaningless to me.

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Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#21 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:30 pm

Obviously it’s impossible to give urban planning lessons here, but to give an example one of the reasons Baltimore has struggled so much is because of poorly designed housing, infrastructure and so forth which because of private sector funding always went the cheapest, most profitable route.

We take all this stuff for granted, but the design of a city it really important to how a city functions for its citizens.

Moses isn’t perfect, nobody is, and as with any kind of development or progress, people do get left behind. Moses’ accomplishments when you look at them in the context of time in which the time they came, starting after the Great Depression, are staggering. He is one of the few Americans in our history who took public money and did something with it that benefitted everybody which lasts to this day. He basically invented the ‘modern suburb’ which has influenced cities and have been proven to be vitally important to any city’s economy.

So people like Moses don’t exist in a vacuum inside New York, urban planners, architects etc are like a club and they export their ideas/projects/influence to other cities as well.
Last edited by Black Hat on Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#22 Post by knives » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:35 pm

I can think of other reasons for Blatimore's struggles much older than Rouse. Still, would take a lifetime of Baltimore over a day in Manhattan which is the most unpleasant place I've ever been because of the city planning.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#23 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:41 pm

Black Hat wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:30 pm
Moses isn’t perfect, nobody is, and as with any kind of development or progress, people do get left behind. He is one of the few Americans in our history who took public money and did something with it that benefitted everybody which lasts to this day.
Black Hat wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:30 pm
He is one of the few Americans in our history who took public money and did something with it that benefitted everybody which lasts to this day.
Caro's position, if I'm recalling it correctly, is that the people left behind were almost always poor and minority, and the 'everybody' benefiting from Moses' decisions tended to be white and wealthier. Caro definitely notes Moses' skill at urban planning and details many of the benefits of his vision for New York, but highlights the fact that he often executed that vision at the expense of certain groups. Separate from whether you think the fruits of his style of urban planning was worth the costs, would you disagree with that assertion?

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#24 Post by Black Hat » Fri Oct 25, 2019 4:09 pm

knives wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:35 pm
I can think of other reasons for Blatimore's struggles much older than Rouse. Still, would take a lifetime of Baltimore over a day in Manhattan which is the most unpleasant place I've ever been because of the city planning.
Again, you don't understand what city planning means or impacts. You could keep repeating what you think, but as you don't know the topic you're so willing to express an opinion on it is irrelevant. This isn't about how you or someone else likes this city or that city more than New York. It is about how a city functions for the people who inhabit it, work in it, visit it vs the space they have to do this in. New York is unquestionably an achievement in this regard with Moses largely responsible so just because you like another city better is only a matter of taste, of what you enjoy, not facts covering a far broader range of topics than whether "Knives prefers blue wallpaper vs red".


DarkImbecile wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:41 pm
Black Hat wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:30 pm
Moses isn’t perfect, nobody is, and as with any kind of development or progress, people do get left behind. He is one of the few Americans in our history who took public money and did something with it that benefitted everybody which lasts to this day.
Black Hat wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 3:30 pm
He is one of the few Americans in our history who took public money and did something with it that benefitted everybody which lasts to this day.
Caro's position, if I'm recalling it correctly, is that the people left behind were almost always poor and minority, and the 'everybody' benefiting from Moses' decisions tended to be white and wealthier. Caro definitely notes Moses' skill at urban planning and details many of the benefits of his vision for New York, but highlights the fact that he often executed that vision at the expense of certain groups. Separate from whether you think the fruits of his style of urban planning was worth the costs, would you disagree with that assertion?
I'm not saying this to be condescending or anything like that, but just think about what Caro is saying or rather blaming Moses for. Think critically about it given all that you know about this country and how everything in this country has historically worked. Then think about everything Moses built from highways to subway lines to public parks (remember public parks are very much a modern construct) to you pretty much name it, doesn't what Caro said not make much sense? Or do we need to throw in what Moses did for minority neighborhoods in the Bronx? What about Lincoln Center? Which at the time was a war zone and everybody was against him building. Moses made mistakes, absolutely, but man was he right a lot more than he was wrong. So to answer your question Bob doesn't know what he's talking about.

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Re: Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton, 2019)

#25 Post by Brian C » Fri Oct 25, 2019 4:26 pm

“New Yorker Thinks New York Is the Pinnacle of Whatever’s Being Discussed” I think is an old Onion headline.

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