Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 20

People’s tastes change over time, which is good or we’d all be wearing bell bottoms and listening to grunge. And sometimes, this means our taste in films changes too.

What movie did you like a lot at one point, but no longer like. . . and why?

Panelist: BevfromNYC

Mary Poppins. I loved Mary Poppins when I was a child. It was colorful and magical and my parents bought me a “Mary Poppins In The Painting” doll when I was in the hospital after an appendectomy. And it was the first movie that I got to see twice! I loved Mary Poppins. Well, many years passed and I finally got a chance to watch it about 10 years ago. Hmmm, Mary Poppins was kind of mean and stern. And, though I still love Dick van Dyke as Bert, his cockney accent was just bad.

Panelist: T-Rav

There are many I no longer like, but one I used to really like was The Lost World: Jurassic Park. I thought it was a good film the first time I watched it, with lots of visuals, and you can't hate Jeff Goldblum. But there's a lot that bothers me about it now. The raptors are basically shoehorned in, the ending is little more than a rip-off of every Godzilla film, and the underlying political message is. . . just awful. Taking dinosaurs off the island is evil and wrong; therefore our "heroes" try to save them by destroying the would-be captors' equipment and thereby get a lot of those guys killed. But it's okay, because they're capitalists and mercenaries and we should be okay with their deaths. I wonder if this was the inspiration for Avatar.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Robert Altman's Nashville. I liked this film when it first came out. Years later, I bought the DVD for a song. Even liked it the first time I re-watched it. Then, I popped it in a few years later and it just sucked. Nothing worked - the jokes didn't work, the acting seemed wooden. I just had to turn it off. Comedy is the most fertile field for this phenomenon. If you are in the right mood, you can laugh yourself silly. Wrong mood and you don't even crack a smile. Jim Carey's Liar, Liar fell into that category.

Panelist: ScottDS

The Fifth Element. I didn't like it the first time I saw it. Then, for some reason, I watched it again once it premiered on HBO and I liked it. Several years passed by and it aired on HBO again. . . and I didn't like it. I'm usually the last person to complain about a film that tries to do something different but it's just too goofy and ridiculous (and French?) for me to take seriously. I like Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, and Brion James (R.I.P.) are always fun to watch... but I simply want to kill Chris Tucker whenever he's on the screen and, dare I say it, Milla Jovovich never did anything for me. There, I said it!

Panelist: AndrewPrice

I really hate saying this, but Octopussy. When I was a kid, this movie was awesome. You had dirty Russians, exotic locations, a nuclear bomb and James Fricken Bond! But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to realize a few things about this film. For one thing, every scene is ridiculous and the bad guys are incompetent. Those exotic locations? Well, the cinematography is so narrow it could have been shot outside Atlanta. The Indian guy is a lame, racist stereotype. The action is slapstick. And frankly, Roger Moore was getting too old and prissy by this point.

Comments? Thoughts?

118 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Bev - I could definitely understand how Mary Poppins could fit the bill. Interesting that for some ofl the panelists (at minimum Bev and Andrew) the phenomenon occurred with films you had seen as kids. That seems very logical to me.

Although I chose "Nashville" because it wasn't that long ago I was disappointed by it, I still see comedy as another phenomenon. Just something about jokes, even good ones, that can eventually wear out. That even happened with Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. It's not that I no longer like it, but I will admit the last year or to, the laughs don't come as loud or often

ScottDS said...

I'm gonna be out most of the day so I probably won't be able to respond till later.

I've actually never seen Mary Poppins in its entirety so I can't comment on it. The Dick van Dyke musical I grew up with was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which I saw again maybe 7 or 8 years ago and still enjoyed).

I was actually never crazy about The Lost World. Yeah, Jeff Goldblum is cool (and this film was probably the first time most people saw Vince Vaughn)... but it reeks of Spielberg on auto-pilot. Now Spielberg on auto-pilot is still better than most directors at their best but the film just goes through the motions. As a kid, I never noticed the politics but watching it today, even as an Independent, it's all very simplistic and the villains are cardboard cutouts, though the hunter played by Pete Postlethwaite was kinda cool. I read the novel years later and even though it doesn't have much in common with the film, I didn't like it, either.

I've only seen Nashville once - I liked it but I have no need to see it again. Truth be told, when Ben Shapiro did his ridiculous "Overrated Directors" list at BH, I commented that he should've included Robert Altman. Nashville does have one great thing and that's Henry Gibson, who plays a country singer. He's excellent but given the ensemble nature of the film, his scenes are few and far between.

I actually like Octopussy though it does get ridiculous at times. Didn't they add a Tarzan yell for a scene when Bond swings from a tree? And the Indian guy actually whistles the James Bond theme to get Bond's attention! But it's worth it for Steven Berkoff as the villain: "The west is decadent!" :-)

T-Rav said...

What's wrong with Mary Poppins?! I liked Mary Poppins. Some people just don't know good movies when they see them (sarc)

Scott, I thought The Lost World was a pretty good sequel to Jurassic Park when it first came out. It did have a few good scenes, and I thought Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, and Vince Vaughn had pretty good chemistry together. But everything else did seem kind of cardboard, and while I didn't notice the politics as a kid, it began to grate on me once I was old enough to catch it. (For the record, though, I still think it's better than Jurassic Park III.)

I haven't seen Nashville, but as a rule I have low expectations for Hollywood movies about the country music culture.

CrisD said...

Wow! Jed, unbelievable...I was going to say Nashville I loved it when I first saw it and when I saw it years later--it didn't seem clever and witty at all!

Bev, now I'm afraid to see May Poppins and find out I don't like it anymore! I know I still like Sound of Music and My Fair Lady and I group all three of them together as my growing up movies!

tryanmax said...

I can't really jump into this one because there are so few movies that I repeat view. I could go the easy route and complain about how Lucas' ruined his own masterpiece, but that's not really the same movie.

I'll do some thinking, but it seems that any movie I watch over inexorably grows on me. Anything I dislike, I've disliked from the get-go.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - like you, I will be out today so Rav, Bev, and Andrew will have to carry on. Altman's political bias became, if anything, more pronounced in this film than in M*A*S*H*. Henry Gibson is funny, but remember, the lampooning and skewering of southern culture on the skids was purposeful and, by using humor, meant to mask genuine contempt for the people and their culture. The other thing was the Altman voice of cacophony through group dialog grew boring for me..

I enjoyed the book Jurassic Park, and the original film was impressive in terms of it's effects. I kind of lost interest in any of the sequels.

tryanmax said...

The problem with JP2, IMO, is that it was made just for money. Michael Crichton was pressured to write a sequel as justification for a second movie, then it was summarily tossed aside and a completely different movie was made. I don't think that movie had a heart in the first place.

Tennessee Jed said...

Tryanmax - taking the opposite tac, the one film I have repeat viewed and still enjoy immensely is the fugitive. It was just a great screenplay and well acted, directed etc.

Cris - there you go!! Great minds.

I don't know why, but Mary Poppins was never a favorite of mine. For some reason, I loved Sound of Music so much more, it always seemed to suffer by comparison at least for me.

Well gotta scoot. We are going "birding to see Sand Hill Cranes and Bald Eagles.

tryanmax said...

TJ, one that is like that for me is Fight Club. The first time I saw it, I was impressed with Fincher's direction, but that was the only thing that brought me back. I thought the rest was just gimmicky. Then, somehow, I read the book and decided to give the movie another look. It grows on me more every time. The direction still carries it, but there is a lot of wit in the dialogue that couldn't have been carried off with mediocre acting, so I'm coming to appreciate all facets of the move. Also, I love Meatloaf in that film.

T-Rav said...

Jed, I have always enjoyed watching The Fugitive as well. It really holds up over time.

I never saw all of M*A*S*H but I did see a quote from Altman once where he said that the TV show was "the worst form of {presumably right-wing} propaganda" because it made everyone with slanted eyes the bad guys. A, if you watch even a few episodes at random, you know that's untrue, and B, to attack the TV show for being too jingoistic suggests a mind so out of touch with reality I was never able to take him entirely seriously after that.

AndrewPrice said...

First of all, nice choices everyone EXCEPT Scott, who I will now hunt down and kill. Be right back...

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I'm not surprised either that some of these were movies we saw as kids because if there's one thing I've discovered over time it's that what you thought was great as a kid.... "The A Team"... really kind of stinks as an adult.

I agree with you about comedy. One of the problems I think comedy has is that the jokes start to get stale over time, the same way people telling the same stories over and over gets stale. So suddenly the very reason for the comedy (to make you laugh) starts to fade.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm surprised how much I've warmed to Jurassic Park over the years (not the sequels, they suck). When I first saw it, it was packaged as an events film and I think that kept me from paying too much attention to the film itself as I was just looking at the dinosaurs. But over time I've realized it really does have a solid story that stands the test of time, especially compared to what came later when these kinds of films became exclusively about CGI and they stopped worrying about story. In other words, I'm impressed Spielberg put together a genuinely interesting and likable story and characters when few others would once they got into playing with CGI.

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, I haven't seen Marry Poppins in about a decade or more, but I have seen Sound of Music just last year and it's still good! :)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I watch most movies at least twice, just to see what I've missed the first time now that I know how it ends.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I have to say that Altman never impressed me. I get where his stuff appears clever on paper, but it always struck me as just not very compelling on screen.

Joel Farnham said...

Twelve Angry Men

I first liked it because it showed jury duty with responsible people. To me it showed what one person can do. It wasn't until later that I started seeing the straw men and false arguments.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax and Jed, That's the problem with sequels, more often than not, they're all about money and they don't care about the film itself.

P.S. Fight Club is a great film, very disturbing, but great.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I thought about that! Good call!

When I was young and I saw it, I thought it was a good story, though it felt a bit "staged" to me. But the more I watched it, the more I realized it should be called Twelve Angry Strawmen because it's full of obvious strawmen arguments, the characters are faked, and the whole set up is ridiculous. It's a film that lives in a fake liberal world where all the people are evil except the good liberal who "magically" finds a way to overcome their irrational hate to show them true justice by just telling them they are evil.... and of course, all the facts somehow magically back him up. Blech. It's liberal crap.

tryanmax said...

I should add that Fight Club is now one of my favorites for its high degree of re-watch-ability.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm in one of those odd spots where I find the movie fascinating, but it makes me cringe watching it. I think it's a great and fascinating and unique film, but I find it very hard to make myself watch it.

tryanmax said...

Maybe it is easier for me because many of the monologues in the film capture a certain zeitgeist with my generation. Part of the reason why my initial impression was "gimicky". But in the time since, it has proven to be an early presenter in a conversation I call "materialism vs. manhood."

I wish I had kept track all the films, books, and TV shows that have dealt with similar themes since (albeit, less graphically) because I think it chronicles shifting cultural perceptions of masculinity.

To illustrate my point, I would say say that I Love You, Man is essentially the same story.

AndrewPrice said...

I haven't seen I Love You, Man, so I can't comment on that.

I actually see Fight Club from the other angle, time-wise. In the late 1970s and early 1980s you had this whole "Alan Alda-ing of America," which then morphed into the angry feminist 1990s and the promotion of wimp culture. This film came out and struck me as a declaration that no matter how much Hollywood and Madison Avenue want to promote the wimp culture, males simply weren't buying it. And I think it was a backlash against the attempt to tell males that their lives were about being good consumers and they should be employees, consumers, and wimps.

That's why I think the film resonates with so many men, but so few women.

Ed said...

This is an interesting question. I think there are probably many, but I can't think of one at the moment for some reason. I suppose a lot of movies I saw as kids didn't hold up.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I'm glad you liked the question and if you think of any answers, please let us go. I suspect lots of people have childhood favorites that wouldn't hold up in they watched them today.

ScyFyterry said...

I'll probably get heat for this, but "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." I loved it in theaters, but I really just don't like it all that much anymore and I can't say why.

Kelly said...

Ssving Private Ryan. I thought it was a great war movie. But when I watched it recently I thought it was dull.

Kelly said...

"Saving" not "Ssving"

LawHawkRFD said...

West Side Story. I was a junior in high school when it was released. I was fascinated with big productions, loved good music, and thought the tough-guy ballets were brilliant. My review for our high school paper suggested it would sweep the Oscars, and ought to get a special award. I was pretty close to being right.

I saw it again recently, and could barely get through it. Stilted acting, ridiculous dancing, though the songs are still catchy. The ripoff of Romeo and Juliet that I thought was so clever at the time just seemed lame to me on my recent viewing. And of course there were the underlying "love the poor oppressed" themes. There was one clever line, though. When asked by a cop why they were always causing trouble, the hood responded "we're depraved on accounta we're deprived." The Democratic Party is still promoting that social message.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, That's an interesting choice because for me, the film has actually gotten a little better over time compared to my original feelings for the film!

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, I have a lot of issues with that film and at some point I'll probably write them out in an article.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I only saw that for the first time in my 30s and I enjoyed it enough but didn't think it was great. It feels very dated.

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry folks, I was on my two mile hike for groceries this morning and just got back.

BTW, it's not Julie Andrews that I don't like in Mary Poppins. What kind of person doesn't like Julie Andrews? A Communist probably. I love her other musical films and Sound of Music is probably my favorite then Victor/Victoria. But Mary Poppins was one of those '60's Disney musicals with animated production values and odd casting choices that children don't mind, but adults find annoying. Julie is great as Mary Poppins, and I think children don't mind the stern kind of mean character. But she's mean and that talking parrot cane handle scares me...

TJ

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I missed your comment the first time through somehow. Sorry about that.

Yes, they do indeed add a Tarzan yell when he's swinging from the vines and the Indian guy plays the James Bond theme on a trumpet of some sort. The Tarzan thing in particular was just horrid. Those are the kinds of moments that make me wonder if the filmmakers weren't trying to insult the audience?

I agree about Spielberg phoning in Lost World. It was very much by the numbers with no depth and no cleverness.

On Mary Poppins I have to say that I do still enjoy it. I never did care for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang though.

On Altman, I said that above too, that's he's very overrated. His films always feel to me like they were a great idea in the concept phase but where then executed with utter indifference, as if the idea itself should sustain the movie.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, LOL! Yep, only communists don't like Julie Andrews!

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk - I think that happens with many of the 50s and 60s movie musicals. The more I have learned about movie "magic", the more I find them annoying. I loved My Fair Lady. The costumes, the scenery, the music. But once I found out that Audrey Hepburn was dubbed, it began to sound dubbed and that has kind of ruined it for me. However, the costumes are some of the best and Hepburn is the perfect looking Eliza Doolittle even if Marnie Nixon had to be the perfect voice. Coincidentally, she was also the singing voice of Maria in West Side Story...

T-Rav said...

Watch your back Scott! Honestly, I never really liked The Fifth Element. I think it's because of a roommate I had as a college freshman, who was extremely weird and kind of a jerk. Anyway, that was one of the movies he really liked, so it could be I never gave it a fair chance. I guess it's an okay movie, it just seems way too outlandish and bizarre at first glance. And I don't really agree with the casting of Milla Jovovich, either.

BevfromNYC said...

Tenn Jed I meant to continue that's why there's a TJ at the end of my post not to be confused with TJ who comments here.

Anyway, Tenn Jed I was going to say something very clever that would have change the way you view the world forever, but I forgot what it was...

CrisD - If you have fond memories of Mary Poppins, don't risk it. Unlike Gone With The Wind that has changed as I've grown up, MP just didn't hold up. Many of the live action Disney movies of my childhood don't hold up. Like the ones with Leslie Ann Warren and John Davidson...

CrisD said...

Bev-
In Mary Poppins I remember liking Mary's magic and the possiblility of romance with Bert but I did not care for the moms song (women's vote) or the dads song (banking). I just wasn't interested in what two old grown-ups sang about! :) But I did like the toys cleaning themselves and the magical cough syrup!

Scott! Yes, Andrew is right! Fifth Element!!! You must have been in a bad mood when you re-viewed it! I watch that movie all the time--even if I only catch a portion of it. Love the opera singer.

And OH, NO! Bev! Natalie was dubbed in West Side Story??? I should have known but I am still shocked. Well, you learn somethin' at the forum everyday!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I've always liked the original Jurassic Park. I think a big part of it is how they handle the dinosaurs. You know that the dinosaurs-attacking-humans thing is going to be a big deal and fuel most of the action, but it has a clever reveal. You don't see the T. Rex until almost halfway through the movie, and you don't catch more than glimpses of the Velociraptors until the last third. I guess Spielberg was going for a Jaws thing there, and it does work. That's part of the problem with the sequels, now that I think about it; there's no buildup to the terrifying carnivores, so there's very little suspense.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Why are you always trying to give me an aneurysm?

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Oddly, it doesn't bother me that they are dubbed. Of course, I didn't really see what the big deal was with Mili Vanili either? If you like the music, who cares what face they attach?

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD! Wooo hoooo! You are a wise woman with excellent taste! :)

Fifth Element is an excellent film!


P.S. I agree about the parents' songs. They aren't very interesting as compared to the rest of the story and the other songs.

CrisD said...

Bev,
I was so fickle when a kid watching musicals! Loved Sound of Music but when the old nun sang "Climb Every Mountain" Zzzzzzz.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: Marnie Nixon was all over the place in the late 50s and 60s, and had the ability to sing "as if" she were the star playing the role. The musicals of the 30s and 40s have held up much better than the later ones. I mean, how silly does Tommy look today? As for My Fair Lady,, somehow I just never tire of it. I think maybe that has something to do with the chemistry between Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn and the timeless plot of Pygmalion.

tryanmax said...

Okay, I just thought of one. Even thought I still like it, Aliens has fallen off for me. I used to think it surpassed Alien but I've come to prefer the suspense of the original over the momentum of the sequel.

Now I'm not sure whether to revisit or avoid some of those old Disney movies. My kids are just getting to the age where I can do the nostalgia thing. But now I'm afraid it won't be so nostalgic.

BevfromNYC said...

I have to agree with Andrew and CrisD - I liked the Fifth Element. [I have a pitchfork at the ready!] I think it had a great sense of humor about it. And it was a great vehicle for Mila Jovovich 'cause she really is kind of a wooden actress. If you saw her portrayal of Joan of Arc in The Messenger, you'd understand.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think the Disney cartoons all hold up extremely well and even get a little bit better when you get older. They are just so well done.

I like Aliens a lot, though I have always liked Alien more. And I do agree with you that Aliens is not as impressive as it used to be. I think that's because it's the film everyone copies these days. So you keep seeing its elements knocked off over and over and that tends to make the whole experience less incredible and unique than it was when it first came out.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, you wuss. I could have told you about my Santorum 2012 bumper sti...er....forget I said anything.

Seriously, though, if you can give Scott and me grief for liking Temple of Doom, then I say turnabout is fair play :-)

I do agree with you about Twelve Angry Men, though. I liked it in high school, and it's got an okay story, but the characters are really more like caricatures. I guess in a way they're supposed to be, but either way it's kind of irritating.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I agree entirely. I think it's a fantastic movie with a lot of really cool stuff plus a heck of a sense of humor. It's also one of the few positive "dystopian" films out there, which makes it special in and of itself.

kristina said...

KISS ME DEADLY.

First saw it when I was just getting into the noir genre and thought it was just the coolest, saw it last year and found it so tiresome, empty, arty farty, self conscious, trying way too hard, nihilistic, pessimistic to the point of pointlessness.

Probably combo of a) having in the interim seem so many other underrated noirs that were far better, stay with you and have substance, that made DEADLY now seem a cartoonish spoof of the noir genre, and

b) maybe my values & worldview having changed since college had a lot to do with picking up a message I thought was cool back then but now find hollow.

cheers!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That seems to be a solid bumpersticker... sadly.

Yes, but you and Scott are wrong about Temple of Doom! ;)


Yeah, 12 Angry Men really is set up to give only the liberal answer while it pretends to be fair.

AndrewPrice said...

Kristina, I recall seeing that and enjoying it mostly, but I haven't seen it since. I saw a lot of stuff in college that I thought was pretty deep or interesting and in hindsight really isn't.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I started collecting Disney cartoons for my kids, and then for my grandkids. I have Dumbo on DVD, and Little Toot on VHS (a four-cartoon collection also including Peter and the Wolf, Chicken Little, and The Grasshopper and the Ants). They've held up well, and the grandkids laugh and cry in the same places that I did at their age. One word of caution, though. The DVD version of Little Toot is not the original version with songs done by the Andrews Sisters, and the original Dumbo does contain a racist stereotype that adults will recognize though kids might not (the black crows singing "When I See A Elephant Fly"). It wasn't overt, but is typical of the early 40s attitude toward non-whites.

Most of the old Disney movies have also held up well. Old Yeller is a tearjerker, and maybe a little too intense for really young kids. But it still works for pre-teens and up.

And just for the record, I wasn't traumatized by the death of Bambi's mother. To listen to today's critics, you'd think the scene is going to send kids to the booby-hatch from the shock of it all. It was sad, not traumatizing.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I hear that all the time and it annoys me: "Disney's old movies are too scary!" Give me a break. Kids love it. And besides, fairy tales are meant to be scary because it's all about imparting valuable lessons and you can't impart valuable lessons when nothing is at stake.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Excellent comment. No conflict, no lesson.

A bit off-topic, but TCM is highlighting Jose Ferrer movies today. Just finished Caine Mutiny. Now they're showing Crisis, with Cary Grant co-starring. I thought I had seen every movie Cary Grant ever made, most several times. I had never even heard of this movie.

T-Rav said...

I, for one, did cry when Bambi's mother died. Whatever, I thought it was sad. However, I never got freaked out by the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, and never understood why so many people got scared by them either. So I guess I had a very selective traumatization.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

1. Bambi... this movie SUCKS. I bought it for kids when the DVD came out 10 years ago or so having fond memories of it.... Yawn! Boring. Give me Dumbo any day of the week.

2. The Birdman of Alcatraz... I'm a huge Burt Lancaster fan. Once I learned more about Robert Stroud -- the real Birdman -- I find this movie repugnant. (Also see Bonnie and Clyde -- a morally repulsive -- though well made movie)

tryanmax said...

Lawhawk, Dumbo is one of my favorites. I know all about the crows and, IMO, you'd have to be told to even get it, esp. if you didn't know what "Jim Crow" meant. I think it's one of those things that has been perceived as more racist in retrospect than it actually is. Besides, aren't they the ones who befriend Dumbo when the haughty and rather WASPish elephants ostracize him?

As you said, a child wouldn’t understand the racial aspect. Here’s to hoping a 21st Century child never will—I can honestly say that the appall stirred by blackface doesn’t fully resonate with me. Instead, the message they will understand is that the crows are happy and carefree while the elephants are stuck-up and cranky.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

The comment deleted I'm assuming did not accuse me of liking racist entertainment...

the only black my kids see in the Dumbo crows are black birds... that whole genre of racism has been redeemed by time. It's a relic and without knowledge it reverts back to being merely funny. I'm assuming black crows speaking the Queen's English and wearing tuxedos would've been better? Dumbo was and is superior entertainment to Bambi (yawn!)

Floyd R. Turbo said...

a couple of edits to the above...
there should be a smile y face after the first sentence. :-)

and my second part about redemption is overbroad... I should say of it has been redeemed -- like the Dumbo crows.

Hell... I wager 99% of kids today could watch Song of the South and not think anything other than -- damn that guy's nice and he sings and dances with cartoons!

Luckily my moral betters at Disney prevent me from harming my kids

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Lawhawk. I think that's accurate and I think too many people miss that. They think kids shows should just be weird consumer-like toy-creatures bouncing around singing about how happy they are.

I've never heard of Crisis either. Hmm.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The Flying Monkeys are creepy because they ended up getting elected to Congress in San Francisco and eventually became Speaker of the House a couple years ago.

In all seriousness, yeah Dumbo is a tear jerker, and like you I don't see anything scary in Oz though.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I haven't seen Bambi in decades, so I can't say. I'm with you on The Birdman though. I thought it was a great film until I started to learn about the real guy. And now I feel like this was really twisted propaganda.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax and Lawhawk, I have to say I never really thought about the crows as a racist symbol. I just took them as crows. I can see where they would have meaning, but it's not something that rises to the level of being noticeable for me.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I think that's right. There are some things that are clearly racist in older films, but something like the crows is just way too subtle to be noticed today by anyone who wasn't aware of it from the get go.

You're probably right about Song of the South too. I watched it recently just to see it because I'd never seen it, and it feels like a product of it's era rather than being anything intentionally racist.

(P.S. No, the deleted comment did not accuse you of racism, just all kinds of other "isms" LOL!)

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I think you're right. My grandkids didn't think anything about the crows being racist, and didn't have a clue that they spoke in the "Negro" dialect. So-called black dialects today don't sound like the ones in Dumbo, so they just took them as being funny and different (in a good way).

LawHawkRFD said...

Floyd: If the race-baiters would just leave these things alone, the hints of racism would just die a natural death. But they don't. At the time of Dumbo's re-release, they were surprised to discover that younger viewers didn't see racism at all. So they felt they had to "instruct" and get Disney to offer explanations.

I first saw Song of the South when I was very young (on the Wonderful World of Disney, during the allegedly racist 50s). I saw it exactly the same way you say it would be viewed now. But once again, the race-baiters have made it very uncomfortable for general public showings.

tryanmax said...

Floyd, the deleted comment was just because my browser interpreted "Enter" as "Send" instead of a carriage return. I wanted all my thoughts together, so...

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Deleted comment... I know... I forgot to put in the :-) to indicate humor.

Retro Hound said...

The Outlaw Josie Wales. I loved it as a kid. I bought it shortly after I got married having not seen it in years, and I hated it. I didn't like anyone, it went on too long, and was too negative about all types of people. I tried watching it a couple times and hated it every time and gave the tape away.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd and tryanmax, It's too bad Blogger won't let people edit their comments. That would make it all easier.

AndrewPrice said...

Retro Hound, I have struggled to like that one myself. I know a lot of people love it, but I have the same feeling you do about it -- it's just so negative and it feels way too long for what happens. Seriously, is anyone in that film not evil and duplicitous?

Kit said...

RENT, POCAHONTAS.

I think you can figure out why I grew out of these movies. (I grew up)

"Seasons of Love" has to be one of the most overrated and irritating songs of all time.

I will say that with Pocahontas, Alan Menken did a brilliant job composing the music (no surprise there). But Stephen Schwartz, who did the amazing lyrics for geets so heavy-handed with the lyrics and some of the songs, such as "Riverbend" flow about as naturally from the story as a song in a cut-rate high school production.

Of course there is also the animation, which comes across as incredbly crappy when ranked with LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, and LION KING.

If you want to understand just why the movie fails, watch the opening scene "Virginia Company/Steady as the Beating Drum"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2E32GZHX44

Now compare it to the following:

"Fathoms Below" from LITTLE MERMAID. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7Cm7m-aa9A

"Belle (Little Town)" from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juQSy7XFVDk

The people, ESPECIALLY the Indians, come across lifeless, bland, and utterly devoid of any personality except for "Tree, moon, sky, bright."
The Englishmen are a bit better handled.

Whereas the village people in "Belle" and even the barely visible sailors on the yard* in MERMAID are more distinguishable.

The Powhatan village appears unbearbly dull in comparison to Belle's "poor provincial town".


Now Musically.

While I get a chill when the birds fly over London to the words "For the New World is like heaven/And we'll all be rich and free/Or so we have been told/By the Virginia Company" and there is a swelling in grasp when you hear "help us keep the ancient ways" but, alas, it fails.

The English world seems alive. Yes, in the morality of the movie, it is based on a flawed and (possibly evil) premise, greed, but it still seems alive.
The world of the Indians, seems just a bit too perfect.
Compare the portrayal of the Indians with the depiction of the Shire in Jackson's LORD OF THE RINGS. The Shire is by no means portrayed as perfect but is portrayed as a place one would want to live in and, if necessary, fight for.
You don't get that feeling with Indian village in POCAHONTAS.

*I hope I'm using the right term.

Kit said...

For further comparison, here is the "Circle of Life" from LION KING and "One Jump Ahead" from ALADDIN

"Circle of Life" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX07j9SDFcc

"One Jump Ahead" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGdOS9gBh-o

Both introductory songs that establish setting and, in the case of "One Jump Ahead", character.

Kit said...

By the way, I consider BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to be one of Disney's best movies (not counting PIXAR).

ScottDS said...

For the room...

Andrew, Chitty... is an interesting film. I never read the original Ian Flemming (!) story but it was the last non-Bond film produced by Cubby Broccoli and many Bond technicians worked on it. Even Q shows up as a mechanic and the villain (Baron Bomburst) is played by Goldfinger himself!

Yes, I stand by The Fifth Element. I don't hate the film and there are aspects of it that are to be admired (mostly in the area of visual effects and Gary Oldman) but, again, it's too over the top for me to take seriously. Great in concept, not so much in execution (but that's just me).

I remember seeing the teaser poster emblazoned with the slogan "It Mu5t Be Found" and thinking, "Whatever movie this is, it looks pretty cool"...

...then I saw the HBO making-of special and Luc Besson's vision for the film and I remember thinking, "Uh... okay then."

And I don't like the opera singer. At film school, an audio teacher showed us her scene and remarked, "I think that might be music of the future." My mental reaction: "F---, I hope not!" :-)

Re: Jurassic Park... I was 10 when it was released (my first PG-13 film in a theater) and I enjoyed it a lot. I still do. It's a relic of a time when summer blockbusters had memorable characters and there was still an element of mystery to the whole thing. The lunch scene when Alan, Ellie, and Ian all express their misgivings to Hammond might be one of Spielberg's best scenes.

Re: Fight Club... I enjoy the film and there is a lot to admire but it's not the kind of film I'd watch more than, say, once a year. It's a tough viewing at times.

Kit said...

JURASSIC PARK was my favorite movie as a kid.

I read the book when I was around 10.

I still get sad over Michael Crichton's death.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Portraying American Indians as idealized and childlike is a politically correct trope which Hollywood has used for decades now and which it shows no signs of stopping. I think that's what you're seeing in Poca. The other stories don't need to deal with that because they aren't using a politically corrected people, thus the writers are more free to give them interesting/bad habits, traits, etc. And that makes the stories more real and therefore stronger.

I also agree about the music. Sometimes they are really perfect and sometimes they just can't quite get it right.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Regarding Fifth Element, we can disagree... fyi, there's a box coming to your house with a bom... uh, a gift in it. :)

Fight Club is one of the most uncomfortable movies of all time. But that doesn't change the fact, IMO, that it's an excellent and significant film.

When I grew up, blockbusters were things like the Star Wars films and Raiders. That was a cool time to be a film fan!

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It took me a while to like Jurassic Park. I was already souring on Spielberg at the time and a lot of people (Rush) were calling the film political and somehow it just didn't impress me the first time I saw it. But over time, I've come to like it a lot.

Kit said...

"Portraying American Indians as idealized and childlike is a politically correct trope which Hollywood has used for decades now and which it shows no signs of stopping. I think that's what you're seeing in Poca."

Kinda figured that.

"The other stories don't need to deal with that because they aren't using a politically corrected people, thus the writers are more free to give them interesting/bad habits, traits, etc. And that makes the stories more real and therefore stronger."

And I will be there to b!tch about it.

And how was JURASSIC PARK political?

If anything, though, it's message was conservative, or at least on the side of the Thomas Sowell's Constrained Viewpoint. Especially the book where Ian Malcolm rants about how stupid people are when they think they can accurately predict and/or control complex systems such as the weather or cloned dinosaurs.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Yeah, unfortunately, Poca hit during a big political correctness era at Disney.

On Jurassic Park being political, what they were saying at the time on talk radio was that the film is crawling with feminism. Specifically they pointed to various comments made by the female characters and how the women kept having to save dumber males.

Personally, I don't buy it. I think that's a huge stretch and requires wanting to see a political message where there really isn't one. By and large, I think the film is without a political message except "don't mess with nature" which is rather conservative message.

Kit said...

"Portraying American Indians as idealized and childlike is a politically correct trope which Hollywood has used for decades now and which it shows no signs of stopping."

And it is annoying.

Though I must give credit where credit is due, they do not portray the Powhatans as completely innocent.

Though making them new agey, especially Pocahontas, is very annoying.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Hollywood loves to replace foreign religions with new agey stuff, with heavy doses of environmental mysticism. They especially love the idea that these people are somehow at one with nature and can commune with real spirits which roam "sacred lands." It's as silly as portraying Catholics as being able to speak to angels by visiting churches.

Kit said...

"Specifically they pointed to various comments made by the female characters and how the women kept having to save dumber males."

I remember the scene.

HEre is the exchange, it is after the Dilophosorous fails to show up (I know this movie pretty much scene for scene)

MALCOLM: "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs."
ELLIE: "Dinosaur eats man. Woman inherits the Earth."

Cue Ian and Grant looking at her.

I never saw that scene as a political statement.
Actually, it's more Ellie making fun of Ian's pseudo-philosophical musings and adding a slightly feminist touch -for kicks.

Just a funny exchange intended to grab some laughs.

"Women kept having to save dumber males"?!?!?!
Just about everyone is pretty competent. It's pride that gets people in the end.

Ian and Grant, especially Ian, both men and both see this thing is heading for failure from the get-go.
While Grant and the female Ellie are looking up in awe at the Brachiosaurus Ian Malcolm is going "you crazy son of a -----, you actually did it". He knows the thing is not only foolish but dangerous from the moment he sees what they are doing.

And then there is Grant leading two kids through an island inhabited with raptors and a very hungry t-rex.

Can't see a feminist message, aside from depicting a female who is actually competent.

Kit said...

Sorry if I ranted a bit.

It's a favorite movie of mine.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, No problem. We always encourage people to speak their minds! :)

On the feminist message, I don't see it either. I think whoever started this idea really had no idea what they were talking about and used a hypersensitive interpretation to reach their conclusion.

Still, it was going around at the time, and it was in the back of my mind throughout the film, which kept me from just enjoying the film. It's like if someone said "watch for the clowns." There might not be any clowns, but you'll be distracted throughout the movie waiting for them.

Kit said...

I should say on the topic of feminist fiction that both BUFFY and Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST are feminist works in some manner and I enjoy both.

Feminist writing can be fascinating, if the writer takes the time to make the characters interesting but many, when writing fem lit, fail to do so.

Radical Feminism is especially annoying. Especially a certain black feminists (incredibly funny)rant on FIREFLY being racist and sexist and promotes sexual abuse, especially with its depiction of the relationship between Wash and Zoe. Because any consentual sexual relationship between a white male and a black woman is sexually abusive towards the black woman.

Anyone who has watched the show either would this hilarious or, if they were or know someone who was the victim of sexual abuse, very offensive (and possibly funny, too).

Outlaw13 said...

It's been said once already, but I'd like to second Saving Private Ryan. Minus the first twenty minutes the made up mission where Soldiers do things they never would in actual combat the first time I saw it I didn't have much issue with it. But in subsequent viewings the bad tactics, made up situations and other stuff make me like this movie less and less...but at least it got us Band of Brothers.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, I was bothered too by the sense that the whole second half of the film was nonsense. I also don't like the tone in the second half, how they acting like these guys didn't know why they were there and didn't care. That's annoying because that's the Hollywood Vietnam attitude and isn't something I've ever seen with any current or former soldiers I've ever met and isn't something that fits with World War II.

I agree about Band of Brothers -- excellent series... much, much better!

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I have nothing at all against feminism to the extent it's about "strong" female characters. I have met many strong, professional women in my life and I think they should be portrayed on film.

What does bother me is when they take this to extremes and either limit the female roles to only characters who are like the female version of Superman or when they push things on girls like the idea that if you aren't great at sports, then you're a failure. That's sick social engineering, and feminism really goes off the rails when it tries to redefine women as men.

I also object when they get into feminist theory. That stuff is the estrogen version of the Black Panthers and it's really annoying to be blasted with anti-family, anti-marriage, anti-male, politically correct messages.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, they do put a lot of crazy stuff in movies about Catholics. I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few people believe them, too.

Another movie came to mind this evening, The Quick and the Dead. I apologize if anyone else has named it. I was catching up on the comments and suddenly went cross-eyed. It must be close to bedtime. Anyway, I was totally enamored with the premise the first time I saw it, so I just ate it up. But upon seeing it again, the premise is about the only noteworthy thing.

The script is just awful, by which I mean that I don't think a single line of dialogue is at all believable. Not even Gene Hackman could make the villain seem like more than a cardboard cutout. And DiCaprio, who I've come to admire, was just cutting his teeth when he did that film. Blessedly, Sharon Stone barely talks in the movie, so she actually pulls of playing a real human being. As for Russel Crowe, I can't give him a fair critique since he hit that guy with a telephone.

But then, if you manage to make it through all the bad acting, probably the dumbest effect ever put to film occurs at the final shootout. Gene Hackman looks at his shadow and sees a pinhole of light in it, realizing he's been shot. Now, I realize that is an Old West cliche of sorts, but it was never meant to be interpreted literally. It just doesn't work and it rips you right out of the Old West and into fantasyland. Way to kill a buzz that you were barely hanging onto to begin with.

tryanmax said...

Correction: not bad acting. I must give credit where do, and the actors in that film do give it their all. But sometimes bad writing cannot be overcome.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree almost 100%. My exception is Crowe, who is a grade A jerk, but I think is a great actor.

On the film, I've actually discussed Quick and the Dead with a film buff friend of mine and we've decided the whole film was meant as an insulting parody of Westerns, but the director failed. We think the director decided to make a film that was basically a parody, but wanted to play it sufficiently straight that the "stupid audiences" wouldn't understand that he was mocking them and their tastes. And that leaves it in this netherworld where it's not really a genuine parody, but it's not really a Western either.

tryanmax said...

You know what's funny? I can't get past Crowe being a jerk enough to like him in a movie even though I don't know the guy, but I'll still watch a Sean Penn film in spite of having been personally snubbed by him. It's true.

AndrewPrice said...

I saw most of Crowe's films before I realized he was a jerk, so it hasn't bothered me much. Plus, I've never had to really like him in a film -- he's usually a bit of a jerk.

On Penn, I go back and forth. At one point I thought he was a great actor, though I'm not so sure anymore. But sometimes I can take him and sometimes I can't because his political views are so obnoxious. I think it depends on how long ago his most recent outburst was.

Kit said...

"On the film, I've actually discussed Quick and the Dead with a film buff friend of mine and we've decided the whole film was meant as an insulting parody of Westerns, but the director failed. We think the director decided to make a film that was basically a parody, but wanted to play it sufficiently straight that the "stupid audiences" wouldn't understand that he was mocking them and their tastes. And that leaves it in this netherworld where it's not really a genuine parody, but it's not really a Western either."

Kind of like Verhoeven's STARSHIP TROOPERS?

AndrewPrice said...

Exactly! :)

I think the idea was to take something that conservative Americans would like and parody it. But the director wasn't able to get his point across clearly enough and people missed the point of the insult. Instead, they just saw it as a poorly done western/sci-fi with some over-the-top elements.

Tennessee Jed said...

wow, great comments everyone. Dubo, Bambi, my gosh!!!! sorry I had to miss, but it was in a good cause. I am somewhat reminded of Robert Stack WATCHING Dumbo in 1941, and crying. Oh yeah . . . .

Joel Farnham said...

How Jurassic Park got political.

Rush had Charlton Heston read aloud from Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park on his show. The Climate Change people went bonkers and took it out on Jurassic Park. It became political at that point.

tryanmax said...

Two things that are sorely missed, Crichton's mind and Heston's voice.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Joel! I hadn't heard that.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. Even putting politics aside, both were genius at what they did and gave us great entertainment.

darski said...

When I get to heaven I plan to tell St. Peter (with pride) that I never saw "Titanic". I'm just wondering if other people think that it has fallen far over the years? I get hints of this falling here and there online.

Anyone?

AndrewPrice said...

darski, It's hard for me to judge because I never cared for it originally. Hopefully someone else can offer an opinion?

tryanmax said...

LOL, Titanic! Did that movie ever leave a mark on my HS days! My girlfriend at the time saw that in the theater over and over. Thankfully, I only had to go once.

On the plus side, it was a no-brainer date movie. Though the nude-drawing scene was unbearably awkward for me at the time.

AndrewPrice said...

I suppose a lot of people saw Titanic on dates. It seems like it was that kind of film. I do wonder what darski wonders though and how many people still like the film?

Joel Farnham said...

I still like Titanic. It is because I totally lose myself when I see it. I forget the time and everything else.

As a movie, it succeeded wildly. Cameron set out to tell the story of Titanic. He used the well-worn tactic of class warfare and the belief that the upper-crust of the world is stifling at best. Since it is a period piece and he kept it as accurate as possible, he told a great story.

Up until Titanic, all the movies, however accurate or true to some book, all told what happened to the upper crust. They also inaccurately told that Titanic sunk without breaking up. Scant attention was paid to the rest of the passengers.

For instance, the screams of the dying were never described by anyone until you come across a small snippet that compared it to the yells from a football game.

Cameron brought it all out, including the band playing on while the ship sank. And yes, if you were female and in First Class, you had a 97% chance of living.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Those are excellent points. Maybe I should give the film another chance? I didn't care much for DiCaprio when the film came out, so maybe I was biased against it?

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

I never knew DiCaprio existed until this movie. Nor Kate Winslet. Since then, I never saw DiCaprio in something I want to see a second time. Winslet on the other hand, was in a little known movie with Jim Carrey. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a crappy title, but it is re-watchable.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, A lot of people love that movie. I'm kind of on the fence about it. I think it's a brilliant idea and well acted, but the film itself depresses me and somehow I wish there were "more" to it. I can't tell you what that more is, I just know I wish there were more of it.

Saying that make me think of the Austrian Emperor in Amadeus: "there are too many notes, take some of them out." LOL!

Joel Farnham said...

More hunh?

Well, it shows something that most people believe, true love wins out even when your memories are removed.

AndrewPrice said...

True. I think my issues are more in the directing than anything in the story, but I'm honestly not sure what's missing. Like I said, I can't quite put my finger on it, and I haven't seen it in years so it's not really fresh in my mind.

Joel Farnham said...

On Titanic, it is about a man who rescues a woman from making a huge mistake in her life as well as saving her life. She repays him back by saving his life once, and then living life to the fullest. In the end, you don't know if she died that night and returned to Titanic in it's better days or if she returns every night in her dreams. Since DiCaprio and Winslet were relatively unknown I didn't watch them with any preconceived notions.

AndrewPrice said...

You know, I actually prefer that with films -- when the actors are unknowns because its easier to see them without any preconceptions.

I would be very hesitant to cast famous actors in any movie I made and I would definitely not want to cast people who have a negative public image. All that does it detract from the film.

Kit said...

Also, on Pocahontas.

In real life, the Powhatans were nowhere near as idyllic as the movie portrayed. Yes, they do mention them fighting wars (I give 'em props for that) but they were nowhere near as nice as he movie portrayed.

They practiced ritualistic torture, not secretly in secret tents but out in the open.

In the case of John Radcliffe (the badguy in the movie) when they were tired of him asking for food they skinned him ALIVE with oyster shells and clams, then stuffed food down his throat, just to make the message clear.

The Powhatans didn't f--k around.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That's one of the great myths perpetrated by the anti-American/anti-Western Civilization crowd -- that the Indians were these perfect people who did no wrong. The truth is rather different. They were as cruel and violent as every other civilization on the planet.

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