"Burning" is in serious need of an editor. Many scenes are purely self-indulgent--conversations that go on and on and say nothing worth hearing. Too many elements have no usefulness:Why the Catholic Mass scene? Why the guy watching the guy gaze over a reservoir? Why Trump on a TV in English? Contributes nothing to the story. 148 minutes? Give me a break. But, ah, the lines: "Things are not what they seem." That's the theme? No, things are not what they seem. Nothing is. Who's alive, who's dead? Why? And characters: the main guy's father is nut, his mother is nuts, and he's nuts too--totally unfocused person. The girlfriend--self-centered, scatterbrained--can't sympathize with her. And the second guy? What's he up to? I defy anyone to tell me. Unfocused story, poorly told. Afterwards I talked with a guy who sounded like a university professor--possibly this, possibly that, on and on. I finally said, "If you have to ask that many questions to figure out what the movie was about, it's a louzy movie.
I got suckered into BLADE RUNNER 2049 because some "profound" critics described it as a "search for identity". Baloney. It has the intellectual depth of a 9-year-old. The production creates a giant dome and then fills it with peanuts--a story so simple it can be summarized in less than 1/2-page. Ryan Gosling is amazingly flat- lined--and through all his trials and fights, his hair is never out of place, as if made out of cast-iron. Once Harrison Ford comes on the scene, the contrast highlights how shallow Gosling's acting is in this film. Also, at over 2-1/2 hours, I was amazed at how many non- sequiturs there were: "How did we get from here to there?" I asked far too many times. Also, there is nothing new here, nothing creative or imaginative that I didn't see in the 17 minutes of previews of 6 or 7 other IMAX films full of explosions, post-nuclear landscapes, yada- yada-yada. This was a waste of money; worse, it was a waste of time. Recently I spent 2- 1/2 hours in an airport because of a late flight-- at least I read a good book during those 150+ minutes.
Shame on IMDb for running the diatribes below, which are against gun control and not critiques of the film. As a person who's a magazine editor and former English teacher, I can spot phony writing a mile away (as when a college basketball star had his girlfriend write an essay because he wasn't a bright student), and many of these diatribes are from a boilerplate. Different people may have sent them, but it's obviously they were working from a set text. Shame on them and their ignorance. Shame on IMDb for printing diatribes rather than critiques of this film. In all honesty, I rated it 5 because one must enter something in order to print a review, but I didn't see the film. Nor did most of these comments help me decide!
"The New Yorker" says that this based-on-a-stage-play movie itself is somewhat stagy. It's far more than that. It begins on a fast treadmill with Denzel Washington talking non-stop for about the first 20 minutes; others can barely get a word in edgewise. I actually put my hands over my ears to mute somewhat the annoying patter. So much for personal reaction. As a critic I think the dialogue problem is twofold: (1) The text itself is stilted--typical Broadway drama trying to sound like the way blacks talk (e.g., like I hear them in the YMCA locker room), but it has no rhythm, no lilt, no naturalness--there's a "Broadway formality" about it; (2) neither Denzel Washington nor Viola Davis sound at all natural with the text--no rhythm, no style, stiff--they sound like they're reciting a text. In fact, they both played in the 2010 Broadway production--they still sound like they're on stage instead of before a movie camera.
Not only is the dialogue stagy, the camera work and direction (Washington is the director too) are extremely stagy. I was constantly conscious that I was sitting there watching a movie rather than getting lost in the story itself; I could practically hear the director saying, "Move here. Get that clever shot from the ceiling there. Etc." It felt mechanical and poorly edited, without the flow and grace of a MOVING picture.
The problem with this film is Denzel Washington himself. According to Lauren Chval of Redeye (whose article was printed not once but twice in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle), author August Wilson insisted that a black man direct because he could bring "cultural literacy" to the film. Fair enough; the problem is that Washington did a lousy job of it. Washington also worked with Wilson on adapting the script to the film; he did a lousy job of that too. Based on this movie, Washington should stick to acting because here he is in sore need of direction as an actor, of a good script adapter, and of a good director who knows how to take a camera and turn a stage play into a MOVING picture.
For the first 30 minutes, Washington does practically all the talking, non-stop, as if on a verbal treadmill. I began saying to myself, "Will you shut up? Shut Up! SHUT UP!!!!" In all honesty, I walked out after the first half-hour. I know how the story develops; I just refused to endure the torture of getting there.
This is a potentially good story extremely poorly told. First of all, the pace of the dialogue reminds me of a poor college or high school production in which you can count "1-2-3" between each exchange of dialogue, meaning there is no flow or rhythm to the dialogue. I sat there saying, "Who directed this film! Who edited it!"
Second, the film is visually boring. Most scenes are filmed with a camera on a tripod, and the room in which they're taking place (living room, bedroom, tavern, car, etc.) are stage-sets. The camera is still, and people act in front of it as if they're on a stage--or in a TV sitcom or detective show. The camera rarely MOVES. This is a MOVIE; is not the camera supposed to MOVE?
Third, I can't believe awards are being given to the director and to Casey Affleck. Affleck has a purely one-dimensional role except when he punches people in the face--they look like "set-up scenes" as the director says, "OK, now go into a sudden rage." His acting grew tiring very fast. (No, I don't care about rumors of his off-screen behavior in evaluating his performance anymore than I cared that Judy Garland was addicted to booze or pills.)
I would have walked out, but I wanted to see the ending, based on the spoilers I've read in several reviews.
What a contrast this movie is to "Moonlight". There the dialogue flows beautifully and is written stunningly. The camera work is amazing; it won't win any awards for cinematography, but it should--not a single shot is of a sunrise, moon rise, vast vistas, etc., but, seen on a big screen with excellent surround stereo, every scene is composed to perfect effect--as expertly done as Hitchcock used to compose every corner of the screen. And the acting is stunning. Night and day, the two films-- really, a mini-course is superb film making vs. inferior film making.
One last comment: people shouldn't review films unless seen on the BIG screen, not on Iphones, Ipads, DVDs at home--in those formats all you get is plot. Only on the big screen do you get cinematography, which is part of going to the movies (vs. watching TV), after all.
I saw this on a big screen in 2016, when a "moving picture" means the camera moves. Most of the time the camera sat still and the cast acted in front of it as if on a stage. Boring!
Second, the director is the lead actor. "Actor" in quotes: you see everything he has to offer in the first 10 seconds.
Third, the paintings are by the director. At times it's as if we're being shown a gallery of his paintings, which, as the actor in the film who "creates" them says, "Colorful, but amateur." Amateur indeed.
Fourth, the pacing of the film at times felt like watching paint try--and in some scenes that about what we did--watch the paint dry.
Fifth, the music becomes insipid, like something from "Peyton Place" with Lana Turner.
Lastly, I don't think this is a spoiler; it's a comment on the lead character, not the plot. The lead character is a violent thug; that's who he is; and, when he has to encounter his own crises, he's an empty and helpless as he is toward others. As a result, I had absolutely no sympathy toward him; I felt detached.
I was tempted to walk out after 30 minutes, and again after 60. The night fresh air would be have far more worthwhile.