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The films of Peter Weir

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
I think he's one of the most consistent film-makers in terms of quality (although recently not quantity). I particularly love his early work (The Last Wave, Picnic at Hanging Rock) He has an elegant cinematic style and gets excellent performances from his cast. I'd be interested to know others' opinions.
post #2 of 49
Just yesterday I loaded my Netflix queue with early Wier films...Witness and Year of Living Dangerously. I'd say The last Wave is my favorite of his.

In the late 80's he made a few films (Green Card, Fearless) which in my opinion were more Studio Product than personal vision.

Master and Commander is a great return to form.

I'm waiting for the Blu Ray Box Set!
post #3 of 49
With the exception of Green Card (which I haven't seen), he's batting 100 with me. The Last Wave, M&C and Fearless are my favorites of his. He gets criminally underlooked, in my opinion.

Is Dead Poet's Society still considered his one blockbuster? I seem to remember even Truman Show (when Carrey was at his height) seemed to underperform.

What's the early word on The Way Back?
post #4 of 49
Huge fan of the mans work. Especially love Fearless with Jeff Bridges.
post #5 of 49
I've been meaning to revisit Mosquito Coast.

I remember enjoying bonkers Harrison Ford.
post #6 of 49
A great filmmaker, probably the best Australia has produced. He should work so much more often.

Even stuff that seems lightweight, like GREEN CARD or THE TRUMAN SHOW, gets extra resonance and meaning in Weir's hands. Can't wait for THE WAY BACK.
post #7 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
In the late 80's he made a few films (Green Card, Fearless) which in my opinion were more Studio Product than personal vision.
Fearless is far too ambitious a movie to be slapped with the label of Studio Product. To me, that puts it alongside stuff like Transformers 2, which would be a crime.
post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
In the late 80's he made a few films (Green Card, Fearless) which in my opinion were more Studio Product than personal vision.
Green Card might be more middle of the road (and it has the detriment of featuring Andie McDowell), but I still think it's a more than worthwhile venture. Weir and Deapardu do a great job making what could be your standard Magical Foreigner character into a three dimensional human, and while I've heard some complain that the ending is cheesy, it's earned cheese in my opinion.

And yeah, Fearless is anything but Studio Product. Weir had some heavy duty themes on his mind when he made that one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratty View Post
Is Dead Poet's Society still considered his one blockbuster? I seem to remember even Truman Show (when Carrey was at his height) seemed to underperform.
Truman Show was a grand slam, actually. It took a wonky premise and an untested Carrey in a straight role and was the sleeper hit of 1998's summer. It even de-throned Godzilla, which had only opened the previous weekend, and missed outgrossing it by a mere $10 million! So I'd consider it a pretty solid hit.

And while Master & Commander wasn't a monster, it grew legs during the awards season and has enjoyed a pretty lucrative home video run.

Still not enough to get a sequel, sadly.
post #9 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
In the late 80's he made a few films (Green Card, Fearless) which in my opinion were more Studio Product than personal vision.
If FEARLESS was studio product, the studio system would fucking rule.

Glad to hear you're on a Weir kick, Cylon Baby. You won't be disappointed.
post #10 of 49
M&C is gold. I actually just watched Picnic at Hanging Rock a few months back and it is utterly haunting; a bit less so when you find out it's complete fiction, but still a tremendous film.
post #11 of 49
FEARLESS is one of those amazing straight dramas that, despite being less than 20 years old, would never ever get made today. Maybe it gets made for HBO nowadays, but even that's questionable.

Glad I misremembered on TRUMAN. I thought there was a minor backlash from the ACE VENTURA/MASK crowd about this film being too ambitious.

As for mainstream product, I guess WITNESS was fairly mainstream, esp. its third act.
post #12 of 49
What is the general consensus on Dead Poet's Society?

The platitudes are cloying, and I have seen it too many times, due to high school teachers being very fond of showing the film in their classes.
post #13 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Franklin View Post
What is the general consensus on Dead Poet's Society?

The platitudes are cloying, and I have seen it too many times, due to high school teachers being very fond of showing the film in their classes.
The ending still works like gangbusters for me, even after that whole weird Suicide-as-a-noble-act-of-rebellion business.

Williams is pretty good once he drops the standup routine.
post #14 of 49
I found Williams' performance to be too forceful and aggressive, like I'm really, really supposed to admire him and his non-conformist views. I think the energy is supposed to be infectious, but it never quite works for me.

I did, however, like his interactions with the faculty. He calms down in those moments.
post #15 of 49
I'll admit it, I fell head over heels for DEAD POETS SOCIETY first time I saw it back in '89. But it was at just the right time in my life - I was fresh out of school, full of energy and ambition, yearning to be creative but unsure of the direction I should take or whether I even had the balls to try to express myself. (I identified like crazy with Ethan Hawke's character, which meant that I was a fucking wreck at the end of the film.) It spoke to me at that time in a way few movies have. Plus I had an English teacher very similar to John Keating when I was in my teens, so I responded to the story even more.

That said, I do recognise that there are aspects that some viewers could regard as a little precious or contrived, and Williams' riffing, while subdued, is a bit distracting. (Ratty's spot-on in saying that he's much better in the calmer moments.)

I remember reading an article stating that Liam Neeson - not an unknown at the time but certainly not as high-profile as he is now - gave a stellar audition performance for the Keating role. As much as I like Williams, I think Neeson would have absolutely ruled. (Also, Dustin Hoffman was reportedly attached for a while - I like to imagine his SIMPSONS performance is his take on Keating because that would have been lovely.)

I haven't watched DEAD POETS in a while. Might be time to revisit.
post #16 of 49
Another thing about Williams, he plays smart and witty just fine, but I never quite believe he's as literate as an English teacher. The "What-if" scenario with Liam Neeson is interesting, and I think he would have been better suited to convey the learning and intelligence of a teacher (I guess that's obvious now, since he's portrayed a few teacher characters).

But this thread has sparked my interest in revisiting some Weir movies, so I might as well include Dead Poets. Maybe I'll view it more favorably now!
post #17 of 49
Thread Starter 
I would gladly kill 2 or 3 people to get my hands on the apartment in Green Card.
post #18 of 49
I'd say that M&C is his masterpiece, but man, nothing beats Picnic At Hanging Rock for me. Few films actively terrify me more than that one, and I recognize that it's not even really going for scares.
post #19 of 49
I need to see more of his Aussie films*. Weir is one of my favorite directors, but whenever I do a "list", he always seems to get left out. Mosquito Coast never ceases to amaze me, and Fearless is severely underrated. Master and Commander is the best naval warfare film I've seen. Modern or otherwise.

*I've seen several, but it's been years. Need to revisit.
post #20 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
In the late 80's he made a few films (Green Card, Fearless) which in my opinion were more Studio Product than personal vision.
Fearless?
post #21 of 49
If you do re-watch Dead Poets, check out how many bits of it are recycled from Picnic at Hanging Rock.

I kick myself regularly for not catching Master and Commander on the big screen.
post #22 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammerhead View Post
If you do re-watch Dead Poets, check out how many bits of it are recycled from Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Now I feel vaguely obligated to re-watch DPS. Which I'd otherwise have little-to-no interest in doing.
post #23 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chavez View Post
Now I feel vaguely obligated to re-watch DPS. Which I'd otherwise have little-to-no interest in doing.
Ah! Now I have an assignment!
post #24 of 49
I love the 'buying presents for the dead' sequence in "Fearless". It's the kind of scene that would be axed for pacing today.
post #25 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by levrock View Post
I love the 'buying presents for the dead' sequence in "Fearless". It's the kind of scene that would be axed for pacing today.
"Could we see the plane crash at the beginning?"

"Maybe he gets on another plane that's about to crash?"
post #26 of 49
I've experienced a sort of Peter Weir renaissance in the last 6 years or so. I've always enjoyed Witness and The Mosquito Coast but I find his earlier work to be much more interesting on an esoteric and transcendental level. Both Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave are essential in this respect. I used to LOVE Fearless but a recent viewing of it left me a little jaded. It's just a little too saccharine and self-indulgent for my tastes. But then again, it's probably one of the best examples of Jeff Bridges being snubbed a well-deserved oscar. Instead, Rosie Perez wins for a screeching, histrionic performance.
post #27 of 49
OK, so just watched Year of Living Dangerously. This film SCREAMS for a remastered Blu Ray release....some of the scenes are just incredible.

Mel Gibson and Siguouney Weaver in a passionate romance...enuf said. Linda Hunt as male dwarf Billy Kwan steals the movie from everyone else. Michael Murphy must have been paid in Hams...really an over the top Ugly American performance BUT, watch the expression on his face whenever his in movie "audience" leaves him. The hurt and loss he expresses redeems an otherwise obnoxious performance. The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent.

This was the Young Mel and he really shines as a Romantic lead who's only slightly tortured (he takes a rifle butt to the eye). Damn what happened to that Mel?

This film got a lot of flack for trying for a "Casablanca" vibe which didn't jibe with the serious face of human misery that serves as the undercurrent of the story. To me that juxtaposition actually enhances the impact of the film. In the face of so much poverty and starvation, Billy's question "what must we do" is actually answered by Weaver and Gibson's actions.
post #28 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
Linda Hunt as male dwarf
Having never seen this, I can only say: Interesting. Very, very interesting.
post #29 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z.Vasquez View Post
Having never seen this, I can only say: Interesting. Very, very interesting.
And she is amazing. It really makes you realize that there are so few good acting roles for those deemed "normal", when you have someone with a really unique and special talent like Ms Hunt it is heartbreaking to know there just aren't more than one or two good opportunities to shine in a movie career
post #30 of 49
Boom:

http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/onsale/weir.html

Pretty much everything except Master & Commander. Big screen. Weir himself. NYC. Dig that crazy grave.
post #31 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by RathBandu View Post
Boom:

http://www.filmlinc.com/wrt/onsale/weir.html

Pretty much everything except Master & Commander. Big screen. Weir himself. NYC. Dig that crazy grave.
Sumbitch. That's sounds awesome and 2,000 miles away.
post #32 of 49
I thought I posted in this thread before, but I guess I haven't.

I saw The Year of Living Dangerously a few months ago and absolutely loved it. It exceeded everything I expect from movies and almost exists on another plane to me.

Throughout the movie, though, I was thinking, "This midget looks hilariously like Linda Hunt." Then I looked it up and realized that it was Linda Hunt, and she won an Oscar for her performance. Haha.
post #33 of 49

No Dude, I never seen it.

post #34 of 49

Really glad to hear so much love for the man. My dad and I bonded over Witness (more specifically, over the joy of Kelly McGillis) when I was just a young pup. Gallipoli was another favourite of ours, Mel just burns in that film. Haven't seen The Way Back yet but really looking forward to it. His brand of intellectual film making is in short supply these days.

post #35 of 49

I have made peace with the possibility that THE WAY BACK was Weir's final film, but as recently as this year his frequent DOP Russell Boyd said this in an interview:
 

Quote:

Although Boyd has shot Weir’s last two films, he says he’s unlikely to shoot the next, an adaptation of Jennifer Egan's novel The Keep.

 

“The last time I spoke to him he was heading off to Germany to see if he could get it financed,” says Boyd. “It’s pretty unlikely that I would do it. It would be shot in Germany and [with] all-German crew. I don’t speak the language and it would be very tough.”

 

Apparently Weir has been trying to get the film made at least as far back as 2012.  The source material is not to be confused with another horror novel with the same name that was the basis of the infamous 1983 Michael Mann film.

post #36 of 49
It’d be real nice to have Weir’s perspective in the current crop of cinema again.
post #37 of 49

It'd be great so get another Weir film.

 

Reading this thread, it's great to see THE MOSQUITO COAST referenced a few times.  On top of being a legitimately great film, it also features the best acting that Harrison Ford has ever done.

post #38 of 49
It’s acting I’ve never seen him do before or after. It’s truly an eccentric character but one that was tailored to him. I really enjoyed his performance. Also, it may be Weirs’ unconventional inspiration for Casting these actors in roles that wouldn’t typically go to them that really helps, like Carrey in The Truman Show. Though that one in particularly initially seems logical from the outset, you do see as the movie progresses you the depths that Weir had to entrust Carrey with.
post #39 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnotaur3 View Post

It’s acting I’ve never seen him do before or after. It’s truly an eccentric character but one that was tailored to him. I really enjoyed his performance. Also, it may be Weirs’ unconventional inspiration for Casting these actors in roles that wouldn’t typically go to them that really helps, like Carrey in The Truman Show. Though that one in particularly initially seems logical from the outset, you do see as the movie progresses you the depths that Weir had to entrust Carrey with.

 

Yeah it's great but also frustrating to see Ford act like that, and never do it again. 

 

With Carrey I had the since even when Truman Show came out that he wanted to make that transition to serious roles, and this was a good bridge. 

 

There's another one who imo has never reached his potential.

 

By the way, I'll put in a good word for The Way Back. If that ends up being Weir's last film, it's a great one to go out on. 

post #40 of 49

I was just thinking this week that I wanted to watch FEARLESS again. 

post #41 of 49

Still waiting for the Master & Commander Expanded Universe.

post #42 of 49

Fearless is one of my favorite movies ever, while Gallipoli, Living Dangerously, Witness, Master & Commander, and Mosquito Coast are all top shelf.  Having said that, caught The Way Back on cable a few years ago and it didn't do much for me.  There were some fantastic individual scenes, Ed Harris and Jim Sturgess (of all people... he's about to achieve superstardom in Geostorm this weekend!) were quite good.  But the sum of the movie's parts do no equal the whole in this case.

post #43 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangy View Post
 

Still waiting for the Master & Commander Expanded Universe.

 

What would it expand into? Maybe the Richard Sharpe series starring Sean Bean!

post #44 of 49

The "good" news about MASTER AND COMMANDER not getting a sequel is that it sounds like Weir wouldn't have been interested in doing it anyway.  Still, the fact that this world has not been revisited by any director is the single biggest missed opportunity in all of sequeldom.

 

post #45 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post
 

 

What would it expand into? Maybe the Richard Sharpe series starring Sean Bean!

 

I'd be down for that.  Those SHARPE films, while being fairly low budget, are pretty fun.

Actually, the HORNBLOWER series is pretty well done as well.  

post #46 of 49

There's also the crossover with the Herman Melville Expanded Universe. 

post #47 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by neil spurn View Post

Fearless is one of my favorite movies ever, while Gallipoli, Living Dangerously, Witness, Master & Commander, and Mosquito Coast are all top shelf.  Having said that, caught The Way Back on cable a few years ago and it didn't do much for me.  There were some fantastic individual scenes, Ed Harris and Jim Sturgess (of all people... he's about to achieve superstardom in Geostorm this weekend!) were quite good.  But the sum of the movie's parts do no equal the whole in this case.

Fearless is underappreciated, that’s for sure.
post #48 of 49

I re-watched Fearless fairly recently, and in addition to the terrific performances it's a unique San Francisco Bay Area time capsule. Lots of stuff in there that isn't there anymore.

post #49 of 49
It also features one of the most haunting pieces of plane crash imagery I’ve ever seen.
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