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Tyler

Movies Everyone Except You Loves

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bowen wrote:

: That's an after-the-fact rationalization. Baum didn't write up a 17-year old Dorothy and then use Barrie's argument as to why she didn't act her age, he wrote up an 8-year old Dorothy. Hollywood then cast a 17-year old in the part, also for reasons that had nothing to do with any argument of Barrie's.

Perhaps, but I think we err by expecting any sort of "realism" in a movie like The Wizard of Oz. Films were still very influenced by theatrical traditions at that point in time, and The Wizard of Oz arguably more than most. You wouldn't think twice about a teenager playing a child in a panto, so it's no big deal if a teenager plays a child HERE.

Now, the age-appropriateness of, say, the actor who plays Max in Where the Wild Things Are would be a whole other story, because there definitely WAS an attempt at some sort of realism there (in the bookend sequences, at least), and there are certain things that fit the psychology of a 5-year-old much more than they do a 12-year-old (or whatever the actual respective ages are, there).

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bowen wrote:

: That's an after-the-fact rationalization. Baum didn't write up a 17-year old Dorothy and then use Barrie's argument as to why she didn't act her age, he wrote up an 8-year old Dorothy. Hollywood then cast a 17-year old in the part, also for reasons that had nothing to do with any argument of Barrie's.

Perhaps, but I think we err by expecting any sort of "realism" in a movie like The Wizard of Oz. Films were still very influenced by theatrical traditions at that point in time, and The Wizard of Oz arguably more than most. You wouldn't think twice about a teenager playing a child in a panto, so it's no big deal if a teenager plays a child HERE.

That the studio thought they were doing nothing objectionable is certainly true. That audiences at large have agreed with them is also true. I know full well that my position on this movie is a lonely one. The thread, after all, pretty much invites people to take up the sort of position I am in here, as nay-sayers to movies that are generally acclaimed. But I will stand my ground, lonely as it may be and as unlikely to produce a single convert as it may be.

In rebuttal to SDG's quote of Barrie, I offer my own quote of C. S. Lewis:

"Every good writer knows that the more unusual the scenes and events of his story are, the slighter, the more ordinary, and more typical his persons should be. Hence Gulliver is a commonplace little man and Alice is a commonplace little girl. If they had been more remarkable they would have wrecked their books. The Ancient Mariner himself is a very ordinary man. To tell how odd things struck odd people is to have an oddity too much: he who is to see strange sights must not himself be strange. He ought to be as nearly as possible an Everyman or Anyman."

Baum knew this and his Dorothy in the original book is very much an ordinary little girl. But Dorothy in the movie is very much an oddity, whatever reasons may have been in place for making her so. It is no wonder that she has become a major camp icon (perhaps THE major camp icon) in the gay community; it is a reflection of her strangeness that people imitate Garland's performance as Dorothy either for laughs or as proof of their own strangeness.

Finally, it is not as though children had not been cast in children's parts in movies prior to The Wizard of Oz. Shirley Temple anyone? Nor is it the case that I am required to bend my own judgments of what I enjoy to meet the oddities of previous periods. I do not, for example, feel obligated to enjoy blackface merely because it was once considered quite an acceptable form of entertainment.

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Jules and Jim

12 Angry Men

The 400 Blows

Braveheart

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life -- I don't really know how well-liked this is, but it has a 7.4 IMDB rating and it struck me as one dreadfully unfunny sketch after another.

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New World

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I forgot Garden State -- liked by (seemingly) many, yet I found it condescending, dishonest, and generally spurious.

Oddly, though, I like The Ice Storm a lot, even though both films derive from Rick Moody books.

Edited by du Garbandier

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Big Fish

Can I add to this just about every Burton film since 1999 (I actually enjoy certain elements of SLEEPY HOLLOW, mostly for the atmosphere and set design). I didn't absolutely hate CORPSE BRIDE, but it was co-directed by Burton and is more visually lovely than really engaging (much like SLEEPY HOLLOW).

I know this isn't as much of an issue here on A&F (except my negative view of SWEENEY TODD, which I should say stems more from my dislike of Burton and his idiosyncrasies than anything else. I actually like Sondheim's musical, and I can imagine a film-version of the story that would suitably grand guignol without being grating. I guess this makes SWEENEY TODD my favourite live-action Burton film of the decade). It seems many of my peers (late-twenty-somethings) fawn over Burton as if he's some kind of unassailable filmmaking icon. In my mind, the only really good film he's ever done is ED WOOD. Even his Batman films and especially EDWARD SCISSORHANDS are overrated.

Edited by Anders

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I also don't like the soundtrack to Oh Brother blah blah blah.

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bowen wrote:

: I do not, for example, feel obligated to enjoy blackface merely because it was once considered quite an acceptable form of entertainment.

Well, I enjoy parodies of Al Jolson more than actual Al Jolson, but whatever. :)

You raise an interesting point, though. The House Next Door recently hosted a fascinating, lengthy, in-depth discussion of Lawrence of Arabia -- and I was caught mildly off-guard, not for the first time, by the attention that was paid to the use of "brownface" in that film (i.e. British and Mexican-American actors playing Arabs). I can't say I'd ever even noticed such a thing in my viewings of that film; if I have paid any attention to the make-up whatsoever, I may have wondered if Peter O'Toole was made too pretty, but that's pretty much it. (It may be worth noting that Omar Sharif, an ACTUAL Arab, was a last-minute replacement for a French actor who had to drop out of the film for some reason or other; and of course, David Lean went on to cast Sharif as the Russian title character in his NEXT film, Doctor Zhivago. So you could say the ethnicity-blindness, so to speak, went in both directions, there.)

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I though that I had it bad when I disliked Batman Begins.

Then I found out that was nothing compared to how much I loathed The Dark Knight.

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Ordet sucks!

Nice try, Mr. Ordet Weeper's Club President.

Darn. I post here too often to be able to lie myself into the Cool Kids Club.

I'm really having a hard time on this one. I love everything and everybody. Love Wins.

Edited by Persona

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Bowen: Wow, blackface analogies and appeals to gay culture in the same post. If there's not a rider to Godwin's Law for that, there will be now.

The Wizard of Oz stands in the tradition of stage musicals in which child roles may be given to more mature actors. Peter Pan is a typical example; Peter is usually played by an adult woman, as is Wendy, and this can work fine on the screen, as Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby have shown. For that matter, in the past female roles were played by male actors.

As you say, nothing obliges you to accommodate your taste to conventions you find unappealing. By the same token, nothing obliges anyone else to take seriously the rhetorical techniques of trolls. ;)

I notice you don't even try to defend TPB's disturbing infantilization of Buttercup.

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I disliked Garden State. (And yet I too love The Ice Storm; it's my favorite Ang Lee film to date. But not *for* a date.)

Tim Burton: At the moment, I can't think of a director whose films inspire such extremes of like or dislike for me. I *love* Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I can't stand Big Fish and I loathed Planet of the Apes. I like the look of Sleepy Hollow, but little else. Corpse Bride and Sweeny Todd were both very impressive.

Edited by Overstreet

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Rear Window - one of my least favorite Hitchcock's.

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12 Angry Men

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. Meh, I can't talk, the 5 films I listed will definetely raise a few eyebrows. But still, why 12 Angry Man? I love that film to death!

Visually uninteresting?

Predictable outcome?

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Easy Rider

Wedding Crashers

Miller's Crossing

Edited by Crow

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Tim Burton: At the moment, I can't think of a director whose films inspire such extremes of like or dislike for me. I *love* Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I can't stand Big Fish and I loathed Planet of the Apes. I like the look of Sleepy Hollow, but little else. Corpse Bride and Sweeny Todd were both very impressive.

Indeed. When Burton's on autopilot, he drives me insane. But there are a number of films where things click, including BEETLEJUICE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. ED WOOD gets a mention, though honestly, I like that more for Landau's Bela Lugosi than anything else. Burton's allergy to anything resembling a coherent story often gets him in trouble. SWEENEY TODD is actually my favorite Burton film (one could make the case that it's the most visually refined film Burton's ever made, and it's also arguably his most focused and unified film as well).

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By the same token, nothing obliges anyone else to take seriously the rhetorical techniques of trolls. ;)

I notice you don't even try to defend TPB's disturbing infantilization of Buttercup.

I'm not being a troll. I don't like the The Wizard of Oz and I never have. I find the performances bizarre and can't empathize with any character in the movie; it is like a competition in terrible acting. The ending is also a classic cheat — perhaps THE classic cheat.

I have agreed that Buttercup is an underdeveloped character, but she is no more so than, say, Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, who wanders through her movie in the same sort of daze as does Buttercup in hers, and who also is surrounded by much more interesting and active male characters. I would say that like Casablanca, The Princess Bride has so many interesting characters and such memorable dialog that it more than offsets the weakness of one character.

At least I am acknowledging the weaknesses of The Princess Bride and am willing to give consideration to its weaknesses. I will even give a positive nod to The Wizard of Oz: its plot is very well-structured. It has a much tighter narrative than its source material, in which the Wicked Witch of the West is killed about half-way through the book. I think the movie sets up its pay-offs very well, and if the characters were cast, written and performed differently it could easily have been a movie I would have enjoyed. Even the ending, cheat though it may be, is well set-up by the opening scenes and has no fault in terms of construction.

Edited by bowen

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Bowen, I believe that your antipathy for The Wizard of Oz is unfeigned. "The rhetorical techniques of trolls" was my tongue-in-cheek characterization of the gratuitous and inflammatory invocation of blackface and gay iconography.

Ilsa in Casablanca plays a decisive role in trying and eventually persuading Rick to help Lazlo (and her) escape. Buttercup does nothing but wait faithfully, or fail to wait faithfully, for Westley.

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I'm pretty jaded to these lists, although I enjoy reading everyone's choices. Still, I confess to some level of shock at seeing The Wizard of Oz among these choices. If I consider any film untouchable, it's that one. I used to watch it every Thanksgiving, when it would air on network TV (somebody confirm this for me; I'm not just imagining it, am I?)

I watched it at home. I watched it in the TV room of my grandparents' condo building.

But I hadn't watched it for years until I played it for my own kids a couple months ago. I have a laserdisc copy purchased for $10 as the format was dying off, and had never bothered to watch it. I worried that the experience of seeing the film as a grown man and father would alter my view of the film in a way that would be difficult to reconcile with those long cherished memories of the film's power.

Not so! Sure, the experience of watching it now was different from watching it as a young boy, but the film is delightful on so many levels that it added to, not substracted from, my admiration of the film. I can't wait to watch it again -- before Thanksgiving, I think. ;)

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I'll take a different tack. Almost to a film, I don't like the films of:

Spielberg, Lucas, The Coens, Herzog (caveat: yet to see recent films and am curious), Bresson, Dreyer, Mendes, Hitchcock,

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Buttercup does nothing but wait faithfully, or fail to wait faithfully, for Westley.

You are not remembering the movie well. After leaving the fire-swamp, Buttercup saves Westley's life (temporarily at least) by offering to go back with Humperdink in exchange for Westley being returned to his ship. She also prompts Humperdink (she thinks) to look for Westley to ensure that he is dead before marrying Humperdink. She also attempts to escape from the ship when kidnapped but is driven back by the screaming eels, and in the end decides she would rather die than be married to Humperdink and is about to kill herself when she finds Westley. She is not the movie's best or most active character, but she is not so hopelessly passive as you make her out to be.

Ilsa in Casablanca plays a decisive role in trying and eventually persuading Rick to help Lazlo (and her) escape.

As a character, Ilsa allows her fate to be decided by the men in her life. She isn't the one who decides she is going with Laszlo, Rick is. Her life is reduced to an instrumental value of being "the thing that keeps Laszlo going".

Edited by bowen

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Now we know why Rich doesn't visit the Film threads very often. He should be BANNED FOR LIFE! ;)

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You are not remembering the movie well. After leaving the fire-swamp, Buttercup saves Westley's life (temporarily at least) by offering to go back with Humperdink in exchange for Westley being returned to his ship. She also prompts Humperdink (she thinks) to look for Westley to ensure that he is dead before marrying Humperdink. She also attempts to escape from the ship when kidnapped but is driven back by the screaming eels, and in the end decides she would rather die than be married to Humperdink and is about to kill herself when she finds Westley. She is not the movie's best or most active character, but she is not so hopelessly passive as you make her out to be.

I have watched the movie often and recently, and my memory of it is nearly verbatim. :)

To clarify, I don't mean that Buttercup doesn't try to act. I mean that -- with one exception that you rightly point out -- at no time does the plot turn on Buttercup as a causal agent affecting the outcome of events through her choices and acts.

The one exception is on the far side of the fire-swamp. She is still a naive dupe for trusting Humperdinck (note the c), and Westley is still in control in the sense that he knows what is going on and Buttercup doesn't, but her action does directly alter the course of events and in fact ostensibly prevents Westley from being killed on the spot, so I give you that.

As a character, Ilsa allows her fate to be decided by the men in her life. She isn't the one who decides she is going with Laszlo, Rick is. Her life is reduced to an instrumental value of being "the thing that keeps Laszlo going".

That is a straightforward and valid construal, though I think there is enough deliberate ambiguity to at least allow the question to what extent Rick acts or is acted upon.

Now we know why Rich doesn't visit the Film threads very often. He should be BANNED FOR LIFE! ;)

All he needs to do is add Welles and Kurosawa and he wrests thread bragging rights from Bowen (and everyone else). Forever.

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I have watched the movie often and recently, and my memory of it is nearly verbatim. :)

To clarify, I don't mean that Buttercup doesn't try to act. I mean that -- with one exception that you rightly point out -- at no time does the plot turn on Buttercup as a causal agent affecting the outcome of events through her choices and acts.

The one exception is on the far side of the fire-swamp. She is still a naive dupe for trusting Humperdinck (note the c), and Westley is still in control in the sense that he knows what is going on and Buttercup doesn't, but her action does directly alter the course of events and in fact ostensibly prevents Westley from being killed on the spot, so I give you that.

That Buttercup is naive is certainly true.

But your admission that Buttercup TRIES to act is a very different thing than your earlier characterization that all she "does nothing but wait faithfully, or fail to wait faithfully, for Westley" which simply isn't true and doesn't do her justice. I don't want to push my defense of Buttercup too far; I do in fact agree that she is not a strong character (in any sense) in the movie. My comparison to Ilsa in Casablanca I think is pretty good: her primary function in the story is to serve as a motivation for the OTHER characters to act, and her own actions, while not altogether absent, are of secondary importance. I'd also like to say that in making this observation about Ilsa, I don't intend to diminish Casablanca, whose status as a great movie I fully endorse. (Not that it needs my endorsement.)

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12 Angry Men

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. Meh, I can't talk, the 5 films I listed will definetely raise a few eyebrows. But still, why 12 Angry Man? I love that film to death!

Visually uninteresting?

Predictable outcome?

Nope. I actually found the film visually successful considering its limited, theatrical scope of plot material. The tight, claustrophobic visuals are very suitable and create a nice aesthetic.

I should mention that it has been an awfully long time since seeing 12 Angry Men. All I remember is that I just plain didn't like it. For one thing I simply disliked the Fonda character. But in general it's not so much the predictability of the film; it all felt untrue to human nature in the way

every juror is eventually persuaded

. It may be due to the fact that I often have a hard time accepting time lapses in film. The power of film to create the illusion of being in real time and space--in a way that literature does not--can make it hard for me to really register a given time lapse. And so, it felt to me like the judgment and consciences of these eleven individuals were being steamrolled. The persuasive power of the Fonda character seemed driven by some unbending external force or quality beyond itself. At the time I supposed that force to be the will of the filmmakers to valorize the Fonda character, and possibly Fonda himself, or something. But in reflection, maybe it was really just the hour and a half march of the film itself in time that I was reacting against. So much persuasion in so little time!

However, I would need to see it again before saying these are my definitive criticisms. I like to think I've matured in my judgment and capacity to pay attention over the years and may well have a different take on things.

Edited by du Garbandier

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