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A few words about...™ Argo -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#21 of 67 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted March 07 2013 - 05:39 AM

Originally Posted by Rob_Ray  There was a time when I could recite every Best Picture winner from Wings to the current day, but the last twenty years is all a blur. I have no idea whether that's due to my getting older or to quote Norma Desmond, "It's the pictures that got small."
After seeing Forrest Gump for the umpteenth time last night at one of those digital one-night-only screenings theater chains have become fond of, it reminded me what a great year 1994 was for films (look at the Oscar competition that year) and how disinterested I've become in the majority of mainstream American filmmaking since then. Even independent filmmaking seems to have been usurped by Hollywood (I don't consider films like Little Miss Sunshine, which cost $10 million and starred Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell, to be "indie" in any way). But IMO, it's hard to discern true greatness without the benefit of the passage of time. I can still remember all the Best Picture winners (and all the misplaced bitterness from fans of those who were passed over, though I have my own reservations about their decisions), but I'm in no hurry to see most of them until I see the older ones first. I'm almost 30, so I've got plenty of time to get around to them and other films from all eras and all nations. And as great as Sunset Boulevard was, let's admit Norma Desmond had "issues." She hated talkies and Technicolor, wrote a 500-page adaptation of Salome that Joe Gillis said "showed how bad bad writing could be," and we all know how she ended up. But that's why we love her. On the other hand, even the classics we love are partly a result of many years of technological, social and cultural evolutions and revolutions, and I don't think we can ignore the realities of the present just because we don't like how it turned out. The Artist was a great attempt to recreate the past, but that's all it was: a recreation of something that was organic to a specific place and time. Disclaimer: I still haven't seen Argo. The only 2012 nominee I have seen is Lincoln. Less expensive movie tickets would be an incentive for me to go to the movies as often as I did when I was a child.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then. And while you're at it, PLEASE stop dropping DVD/laserdisc extras from Blu-ray releases of other films.


#22 of 67 OFFLINE   RBlenheim

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Posted March 07 2013 - 12:22 PM

MatthewA, I guess I need to start with my age: 66. And I grew up on all the great classics. I've been involved in film all my life, made years of amateur films when I was young,worked in a film studio for a short while, taught film, wrote about film. I love most of the great classics, American and international. But I have to say, it strikes me as sad and uninformed about modern cinema to think all the good films are in the past. In general, maybe there are many bad films made today (there were also bad films made in the thirties and forties, many of which are forgotten today!) but some of the great films today are as great as some of the old classics. We need to avoid the creeping disease of "fogey-itis", and be open to change and the great films that are made today. You mention 1994. Okay. Although I don't agree it was an exceptionally good year, I'll start there. Let me name a few, just a few, great films that have been made since then (and I'm going to skip the big ones like "Titanic"), and many of these could NOT have been made in the 'golden years': "Leaving Las Vegas", "Exotica", "LA Confidential", "Jackie Brown", "The Thin Red Line", "Magnolia", "Eyes Wide Shut", "The Insider", "Topsy-Turvy", "Almost Famous", "Gladiator","Traffic", "Mulholland Dr.", "In the Mood for Love", "The Others", "The Hours", "City of God", "The Pianist", "Lost in Translation", "Seabiscuit", "Matchstick Men", "The Aviator", "The Return", "Dogville", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Broken Flowers", "A History of Violence", "Good Night,and Good Luck", "Match Point", "Babel", "Children of Men", "Pan's Labyrinth", "Bubble", "Cache/Hidden", "No Country For Old Men", "Atonement", "Zodiac", "The Son", "In Bruges", "The Wrestler", "The White Ribbon", "Up in the Air", "Hugo", "The Tree of Life", Melancholia", "Poetry", "Take Shelter", "Shame", "incendies", "Life of Pi", "The Master", "Amour", "Zero Dark Thirty", "Argo", "Lincoln". One might not like all of them, but each one of these can be demonstrated to be serious films of cinematic accomplishment that expand the art form and/or provoke intellectual ideas and stretch the mind. Since 1994, the best work of the following filmmakers have been bestowed on us: Terrence Malick, P.T. Anderson, Michael Haneke, Lars von Trier, the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Kathryn Bigelow, Jeff Nichols, Lee Chang-dong, Wong Kar-wai, the Dardenne Brothers, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch. Sophia Coppola, Kim Ki-duk, David Cronenberg. Just some of the major filmmakers to have emerged, or progressed to mature status, since the year you single out, 1994. Others will have other films to add to this list, and I have deleted those I can't remember at the time, and have inadvertently omitted many international films (like most of the many brilliant ones from South Korea). And if I had more time, I could list many, many more! Can one really go through that list and say that there has been a dearth of great films of late? Nostalgia is fine, but those who say films aren't as good today needs to get up out of the rocking chair and start watching modern films! NO EXCUSE!

#23 of 67 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted March 07 2013 - 01:44 PM

Not sure if you're talking to me specifically or generally, but, for my money, Gladiator is not a great film.  Magnolia, The Others, Eyes Wide Shut, Eternal Sunshine, Zodiac...not great films. Alien is a great film.  Star Wars is a great film.  There Will Be Blood is a great film.  Beauty and the Beast, going to animation, is a great film.  The Searchers, All About Eve if we want to go old school.  Nothing by Quention Tarantino, in my mind, qualifies as a great film.  David Fincher is usually overrated (except for Seven).  Tell me in 20 years how much you remember about Zero Dark Thirty.  The movie, not the controversy or real world issues. Lemme tell ya: I'm going to be 34 in a few weeks.  I'm at the movies almost every weekend.  I go through two Netflix movies a week (watching Animal Kingdom tonight). I enjoyed Argo just fine.  Actually, I quite enjoyed it for holding my attention, entertaining me and making me tense during the plane sequence.  I was nervous for what was going to happen.  I also happened to enjoy Lincoln, primarily for Daniel Day Lewis, but I also respect pretty much anything Spielberg does.  I didn't think Silver Linings Playbook was as great as everyone thought.  Les Mis was depressing, but alright. But no, I think there are movies which are "of their time" and therefore people think they are "great."

#24 of 67 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted March 07 2013 - 02:37 PM

Just to go completely off topic: Zodiac is much better than Alien. :)

#25 of 67 OFFLINE   Doctorossi

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Posted March 07 2013 - 02:38 PM

Argo is not a film that won the Best Picture Academy Award as a fluke.
No, not a fluke but, to me, indicative of a rather "soft" year. That said, I can't recall a year in recent memory in which I liked nothing more than the Best Picture winner. You'd have to go back decades for that, I believe.

#26 of 67 OFFLINE   Doctorossi

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Posted March 07 2013 - 02:39 PM

Nothing by Quention Tarantino, in my mind, qualifies as a great film.
That, to me, is a bit sad.

#27 of 67 OFFLINE   Doctorossi

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Posted March 07 2013 - 02:40 PM

Zodiac is much better than Alien. :)
I'm yet to see Zodiac, but I find that exceedingly doubtful.

#28 of 67 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted March 07 2013 - 02:46 PM

I'm yet to see Zodiac, but I find that exceedingly doubtful.
Hell, I'm sure even David Fincher would disagree with me. I love Alien but I think Zodiac is a masterpiece. It also doesn't help that I think Ridley Scott is one of the most overrated directors in history. He's certainly got an amazing visual eye but he made two excellent movies (Alien and Blade Runner) more than three decades ago and he hasn't even come close to hitting the same heights ever again.

#29 of 67 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted March 07 2013 - 03:40 PM

Originally Posted by Doctorossi  That, to me, is a bit sad.
And I respect that.  It's not like I haven't given him more than one chance.  Nothing he does interests or impresses me in the least.

#30 of 67 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted March 07 2013 - 05:44 PM

Originally Posted by RBlenheim  MatthewA, I guess I need to start with my age: 66. And I grew up on all the great classics. I've been involved in film all my life, made years of amateur films when I was young,worked in a film studio for a short while, taught film, wrote about film. I love most of the great classics, American and international. But I have to say, it strikes me as sad and uninformed about modern cinema to think all the good films are in the past. In general, maybe there are many bad films made today (there were also bad films made in the thirties and forties, many of which are forgotten today!) but some of the great films today are as great as some of the old classics. We need to avoid the creeping disease of "fogey-itis", and be open to change and the great films that are made today. You mention 1994. Okay. Although I don't agree it was an exceptionally good year, I'll start there. Let me name a few, just a few, great films that have been made since then (and I'm going to skip the big ones like "Titanic"), and many of these could NOT have been made in the 'golden years': "Leaving Las Vegas", "Exotica", "LA Confidential", "Jackie Brown", "The Thin Red Line", "Magnolia", "Eyes Wide Shut", "The Insider", "Topsy-Turvy", "Almost Famous", "Gladiator","Traffic", "Mulholland Dr.", "In the Mood for Love", "The Others", "The Hours", "City of God", "The Pianist", "Lost in Translation", "Seabiscuit", "Matchstick Men", "The Aviator", "The Return", "Dogville", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Broken Flowers", "A History of Violence", "Good Night,and Good Luck", "Match Point", "Babel", "Children of Men", "Pan's Labyrinth", "Bubble", "Cache/Hidden", "No Country For Old Men", "Atonement", "Zodiac", "The Son", "In Bruges", "The Wrestler", "The White Ribbon", "Up in the Air", "Hugo", "The Tree of Life", Melancholia", "Poetry", "Take Shelter", "Shame", "incendies", "Life of Pi", "The Master", "Amour", "Zero Dark Thirty", "Argo", "Lincoln". One might not like all of them, but each one of these can be demonstrated to be serious films of cinematic accomplishment that expand the art form and/or provoke intellectual ideas and stretch the mind. Since 1994, the best work of the following filmmakers have been bestowed on us: Terrence Malick, P.T. Anderson, Michael Haneke, Lars von Trier, the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Kathryn Bigelow, Jeff Nichols, Lee Chang-dong, Wong Kar-wai, the Dardenne Brothers, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch. Sophia Coppola, Kim Ki-duk, David Cronenberg. Just some of the major filmmakers to have emerged, or progressed to mature status, since the year you single out, 1994. Others will have other films to add to this list, and I have deleted those I can't remember at the time, and have inadvertently omitted many international films (like most of the many brilliant ones from South Korea). And if I had more time, I could list many, many more! Can one really go through that list and say that there has been a dearth of great films of late? Nostalgia is fine, but those who say films aren't as good today needs to get up out of the rocking chair and start watching modern films! NO EXCUSE!
I, too, have worked in amateur and semi-professional filmmaking on both sides of the camera. I have not seen most of those films (I did see Topsy-Turvy when it was released, and I thought it was a fine film), but I have no doubt they're well-made, innovative and far above the lowest common denominator (which, frankly, seems like it used to be a lot higher than it is today). In my reviews, I call them as I see them, but I can't judge them by any standard, objective or subjective, until I actually see them. I've outgrown that adolescent habit. But those are not the films I'm condemning. I'll defend vilified films if I think they got a bad rap, but if an acclaimed film doesn't live up to the hype, I'll say so. I'm not a fan of change for its own sake, but if a new technique works, it works, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. I'd be happy to see long takes become the norm again because it forces the actors to act (rather than overtly relying on editing to piece together a good performance) and the directors to stage whole scenes and not just shots and camera angles. I'm not reflexively anti-modern or contrarian for its own sake, though. I happen to think The Master was brilliant, but it is a very complex film that takes more than one viewing to fully digest. Lincoln was an extremely well-acted traditionalist film (Spielberg is a traditionalist, and I am more partial to his earlier films). However, I don't think a preference for older styles of filmmaking is mere "nostalgia" or "fogeyism," but at the same time, I don't think slavishly recreating the past, no matter how skillfully, will advance the art form very far. But we can't throw everything away. I haven't seen many of the older classics, either. The people who made those were the innovators of their times. The filmmaking trends that worry me the most are the reflexive adherence to the Hero's Journey screenplay structure, the constant interference of studio executives, the overuse of headache-inducing rapid cuts (which sometimes can be effective) and the studios' obvious contempt for their audiences. The new classics don't negate the old ones. In fact, the old ones made the new ones possible. I want to see as many of them as I can. Where are all these allegedly bad films of the past everyone keeps talking about? Is it also possible that good or even great films from the past got lost to time and careless storage methods? That's what concerns me most. And my rocking chair happens to be ergonomic, thank you very much.
Originally Posted by Jason_V  And I respect that.  It's not like I haven't given him more than one chance.  Nothing he does interests or impresses me in the least.
Not even his Golden Girls cameo? And now that that's out of the way, I liked Uma Thurman's finger-over-the-eye dance movements better when Duchess did them in The AristoCats.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then. And while you're at it, PLEASE stop dropping DVD/laserdisc extras from Blu-ray releases of other films.


#31 of 67 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted March 08 2013 - 05:02 AM

MatthewA, I guess I need to start with my age: 66. And I grew up on all the great classics. I've been involved in film all my life, made years of amateur films when I was young,worked in a film studio for a short while, taught film, wrote about film. I love most of the great classics, American and international. But I have to say, it strikes me as sad and uninformed about modern cinema to think all the good films are in the past. In general, maybe there are many bad films made today (there were also bad films made in the thirties and forties, many of which are forgotten today!) but some of the great films today are as great as some of the old classics. We need to avoid the creeping disease of "fogey-itis", and be open to change and the great films that are made today. You mention 1994. Okay. Although I don't agree it was an exceptionally good year, I'll start there. Let me name a few, just a few, great films that have been made since then (and I'm going to skip the big ones like "Titanic"), and many of these could NOT have been made in the 'golden years': "Leaving Las Vegas", "Exotica", "LA Confidential", "Jackie Brown", "The Thin Red Line", "Magnolia", "Eyes Wide Shut", "The Insider", "Topsy-Turvy", "Almost Famous", "Gladiator","Traffic", "Mulholland Dr.", "In the Mood for Love", "The Others", "The Hours", "City of God", "The Pianist", "Lost in Translation", "Seabiscuit", "Matchstick Men", "The Aviator", "The Return", "Dogville", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Broken Flowers", "A History of Violence", "Good Night,and Good Luck", "Match Point", "Babel", "Children of Men", "Pan's Labyrinth", "Bubble", "Cache/Hidden", "No Country For Old Men", "Atonement", "Zodiac", "The Son", "In Bruges", "The Wrestler", "The White Ribbon", "Up in the Air", "Hugo", "The Tree of Life", Melancholia", "Poetry", "Take Shelter", "Shame", "incendies", "Life of Pi", "The Master", "Amour", "Zero Dark Thirty", "Argo", "Lincoln". One might not like all of them, but each one of these can be demonstrated to be serious films of cinematic accomplishment that expand the art form and/or provoke intellectual ideas and stretch the mind. Since 1994, the best work of the following filmmakers have been bestowed on us: Terrence Malick, P.T. Anderson, Michael Haneke, Lars von Trier, the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Kathryn Bigelow, Jeff Nichols, Lee Chang-dong, Wong Kar-wai, the Dardenne Brothers, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch. Sophia Coppola, Kim Ki-duk, David Cronenberg. Just some of the major filmmakers to have emerged, or progressed to mature status, since the year you single out, 1994. Others will have other films to add to this list, and I have deleted those I can't remember at the time, and have inadvertently omitted many international films (like most of the many brilliant ones from South Korea). And if I had more time, I could list many, many more! Can one really go through that list and say that there has been a dearth of great films of late? Nostalgia is fine, but those who say films aren't as good today needs to get up out of the rocking chair and start watching modern films! NO EXCUSE!
I, too, have worked in amateur and semi-professional filmmaking on both sides of the camera. I have not seen most of those films (I did see Topsy-Turvy when it was released, and I thought it was a fine film), but I have no doubt they're well-made, innovative and far above the lowest common denominator (which, frankly, seems like it used to be a lot higher than it is today). In my reviews, I call them as I see them, but I can't judge them by any standard, objective or subjective, until I actually see them. I've outgrown that adolescent habit. But those are not the films I'm condemning. I'll defend vilified films if I think they got a bad rap, but if an acclaimed film doesn't live up to the hype, I'll say so. I'm not a fan of change for its own sake, but if a new technique works, it works, and if it doesn't, it doesn't. I'd be happy to see long takes become the norm again because it forces the actors to act (rather than overtly relying on editing to piece together a good performance) and the directors to stage whole scenes and not just shots and camera angles. I'm not reflexively anti-modern or contrarian for its own sake, though. I happen to think The Master was brilliant, but it is a very complex film that takes more than one viewing to fully digest. Lincoln was an extremely well-acted traditionalist film (Spielberg is a traditionalist, and I am more partial to his earlier films). However, I don't think a preference for older styles of filmmaking is mere "nostalgia" or "fogeyism," but at the same time, I don't think slavishly recreating the past, no matter how skillfully, will advance the art form very far. But we can't throw everything away. I haven't seen many of the older classics, either. The people who made those were the innovators of their times. The filmmaking trends that worry me the most are the reflexive adherence to the Hero's Journey screenplay structure, the constant interference of studio executives, the overuse of headache-inducing rapid cuts (which sometimes can be effective) and the studios' obvious contempt for their audiences. The new classics don't negate the old ones. In fact, the old ones made the new ones possible. I want to see as many of them as I can. Where are all these allegedly bad films of the past everyone keeps talking about? Is it also possible that good or even great films from the past got lost to time and careless storage methods? That's what concerns me most. And my rocking chair happens to be ergonomic, thank you very much. :D  
And I respect that.  It's not like I haven't given him more than one chance.  Nothing he does interests or impresses me in the least.
Not even his Golden Girls cameo? :laugh: And now that that's out of the way, I liked Uma Thurman's finger-over-the-eye dance movements better when Duchess did them in The AristoCats.
Much like literature from times long past, the "good" survive well beyond the "bad". For every Stagecoach or Casablanca or Lawrence of Arabia, there are thousands of bad or even just forgettable films that have not maintained a presence in the general public's mind (the list of literature is even lengthier, as it is an older art form). It is difficult to say which of today's films will be remembered as classics in half a century, but those that do make it to that status will make people nostalgic for this era, in part because much of the crap from this era will have long been forgotten.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time, and it annoys the pig.

#32 of 67 OFFLINE   JoshZ

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Posted March 08 2013 - 06:05 AM

Just to go completely off topic: Zodiac is much better than Alien. :)
That's debatable. What is not debatable is that Eternal Sunshine is about 185 billion times better than :shudder: Forrest Gump. Blech.

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#33 of 67 OFFLINE   JoshZ

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Posted March 08 2013 - 06:09 AM

It is difficult to say which of today's films will be remembered as classics in half a century, but those that do make it to that status will make people nostalgic for this era, in part because much of the crap from this era will have long been forgotten.
The home video boom has a way of letting the crap stick around a lot longer. In the past, if a movie stunk, it was quickly shuffled out of theaters and never heard from again. Many such films never made it to home video because there was little demand for them. Nowadays, every new movie, now matter how bad, gets DVD, Blu-ray and streaming releases, and will air in constant rotation on cable within a couple years of its production.

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#34 of 67 OFFLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted March 08 2013 - 06:33 AM

Yesterday's crap has resurfaced thanks to TCM and the Warner Archive. Titles like Sh! The Octopus and Golden Dawn had been long forgotten until video and Ted Turner's Classic Movie Channel brought them back from the dead. But you know what? I'll take the worst that 1930s has to offer over most of the junk made today. Good, bad or indifferent, old movies almost always manage to entertain on some level. The craftmanship that was the studio system made even the garbage somehow interesting.

#35 of 67 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted March 08 2013 - 07:00 AM

Originally Posted by MatthewA  Not even his Golden Girls cameo?
HAHAHA!  How well you know me at this point!    Yeah, not a huge fan of that particular episode either...but not because of QT!

#36 of 67 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted March 08 2013 - 08:04 AM

In athletics, one can use statistics to prove whether a player is good or bad. In judging art, the criteria gets hazy because it's mainly among United States movie studios where box office receipts indicate a film's artistic merits. In my opinion, if characters' actions are not believable in the context of the fictional worlds they inhabit, no amount of beautiful camera work, set design, special effects, or skillful editing techniques can make up for that. I still consider Gump superior to the other film for which Tom Hanks won an Oscar, Philadelphia (and as far as Jonathan Demme's films go, Silence of the Lambs is superior), in which Denzel Washington's character, the anti-gay lawyer who defends Andrew in the discrimination suit, was far more interesting. So there. My biggest reservation about that film, other than the cinematographer's tendency to underlight the negative in some of the nighttime scenes, is the young Jenny's "Southern" accent (Deah gowd, make me a bihd so I can fly fah, fah, fah away from heah). I grew up in North Carolina, and there are several different accents throughout the South; very few of them drop the R's (in some parts of Virginia, where my Mother and grandmother were born, they do, but this film is set in Alabama). The lack of authenticity aside, it is just grating on the ears. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is on my Netflix queue waiting to be watched; as for Jim Carrey's work, I think he can do drama well, but I also think critics tend to praise him just for not playing "Jim Carrey," and Dumb and Dumber, in which he plays "Jim Carrey" better than most of his other comedy films, is a comic masterpiece. If the present is to be judged as a whole by its best work, then so is the past. But you can't say "there were thousands of bad movies being made in the past" without concrete examples. I'm under no illusion that every movie in 1939 equals Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, But I will say there are great TV dramas being made today (Breaking Bad and Mad Men in particular). Perhaps we'll soon see TV comedies that are that good as well.
Originally Posted by JoshZ  The home video boom has a way of letting the crap stick around a lot longer. In the past, if a movie stunk, it was quickly shuffled out of theaters and never heard from again. Many such films never made it to home video because there was little demand for them. Nowadays, every new movie, now matter how bad, gets DVD, Blu-ray and streaming releases, and will air in constant rotation on cable within a couple years of its production.
Tell that to the late Bob Clark. A Christmas Story failed at the box office, but it got some very good reviews. Had it not been for home video, the film might have fallen into obscurity. Three of Walt Disney's first five animated films lost money on their initial releases, and many subsequent  films now held in high regard were compared negatively to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the time. If a film's initial reaction is indicative of its quality, what does that say about something like The Rules of the Game? When a movie fails to connect with the public, there could be many reasons. The film could have been fundamentally ill-conceived to begin with, it could have been edited badly despite good or even great scripts, performances and production values (we will likely never know whether the original versions of Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons or Mankiewicz's Cleopatra were better than the release versions because the cut footage was destroyed). Another issue I have is that digital technology and high-quality consumer video cameras have created a glut of content of varying quality, even though it enabled my work, and there is a lot of great stuff being done. But not all of that is great, either. With the explosion of cable channels showing programs of niche interest (and exploitative, condescending garbage, like practically everything on TLC, Discovery or E!), it's no wonder these modern classics seem that way. Look at what they're competing with!

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then. And while you're at it, PLEASE stop dropping DVD/laserdisc extras from Blu-ray releases of other films.


#37 of 67 OFFLINE   zoetmb

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Posted March 08 2013 - 12:08 PM

Much like literature from times long past, the "good" survive well beyond the "bad". For every Stagecoach or Casablanca or Lawrence of Arabia, there are thousands of bad or even just forgettable films that have not maintained a presence in the general public's mind (the list of literature is even lengthier, as it is an older art form). It is difficult to say which of today's films will be remembered as classics in half a century, but those that do make it to that status will make people nostalgic for this era, in part because much of the crap from this era will have long been forgotten.
I'm not sure what the public remembers is a good guide to what constitutes a great film, since the masses generally prefer crap, as you imply. Furthermore, the world is a mighty different place then it was both before 1946, when on average, 61% of the American population went to the movies EVERY SINGLE WEEK and even as compared to 20 years ago, when there were far fewer choices competing for leisure time. Even though the major film studios see record profits almost every year, they're actually selling far fewer tickets. In 2010, an average of 8.24% of the American population went to the movies each week. The profits are coming from international markets, home video and sales to cable, etc. In addition, the web has given us a culture of negativity, since it gives absolutely everyone a forum to criticize absolutely everything (whether they've actually seen the film or whether they can construct an intelligible sentence or not). So there isn't a film today, no matter how good, that doesn't have devastatingly bad reviews on the web along with its fanboys. IMO, that changes the perception of filmmaking overall and it's not as important to the culture as it once was. No matter how much money is thrown at marketing, films are no longer events. While there were unimportant and forgettable b-pictures even in the classic film days, I think that more recently, we're seeing a continual race to the bottom. One of the factors that I think is hurting film right now is that (except for some things happening on the web), most big-studio films have absurdly large production and marketing budgets, making it almost impossible to be successful unless the film caters to massive audiences. I've heard interviews where producers/directors have been saying that it's almost impossible to get funding for a film unless the "title" already has built-in awareness, which is one of the reasons why we see so many reboots, sequels, prequels and remakes of TV shows or spinoffs of amusement rides. Furthermore, like fast food restaurants, every multiplex seems to be playing exactly the same films. Back in the 1970s, I can remember that even in a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, you could go to a local cinema to see the films of Francois Truffaut. That theatre later became a porn house. It's now a catering hall. I'm not sure which has changed more: the nature of the films being made or myself, but I used to see at least a movie a week. I still have the desire to see films in theaters (notwithstanding my earlier post about how projection quality has deteriorated in Manhattan theatres), but there's rarely anything I think I want to see.

#38 of 67 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted March 09 2013 - 03:54 AM

Much like literature from times long past, the "good" survive well beyond the "bad". For every Stagecoach or Casablanca or Lawrence of Arabia, there are thousands of bad or even just forgettable films that have not maintained a presence in the general public's mind (the list of literature is even lengthier, as it is an older art form). It is difficult to say which of today's films will be remembered as classics in half a century, but those that do make it to that status will make people nostalgic for this era, in part because much of the crap from this era will have long been forgotten.
I'm not sure what the public remembers is a good guide to what constitutes a great film, since the masses generally prefer crap, as you imply. Furthermore, the world is a mighty different place then it was both before 1946, when on average, 61% of the American population went to the movies EVERY SINGLE WEEK and even as compared to 20 years ago, when there were far fewer choices competing for leisure time. Even though the major film studios see record profits almost every year, they're actually selling far fewer tickets. In 2010, an average of 8.24% of the American population went to the movies each week. The profits are coming from international markets, home video and sales to cable, etc. In addition, the web has given us a culture of negativity, since it gives absolutely everyone a forum to criticize absolutely everything (whether they've actually seen the film or whether they can construct an intelligible sentence or not). So there isn't a film today, no matter how good, that doesn't have devastatingly bad reviews on the web along with its fanboys. IMO, that changes the perception of filmmaking overall and it's not as important to the culture as it once was. No matter how much money is thrown at marketing, films are no longer events. While there were unimportant and forgettable b-pictures even in the classic film days, I think that more recently, we're seeing a continual race to the bottom. One of the factors that I think is hurting film right now is that (except for some things happening on the web), most big-studio films have absurdly large production and marketing budgets, making it almost impossible to be successful unless the film caters to massive audiences. I've heard interviews where producers/directors have been saying that it's almost impossible to get funding for a film unless the "title" already has built-in awareness, which is one of the reasons why we see so many reboots, sequels, prequels and remakes of TV shows or spinoffs of amusement rides. Furthermore, like fast food restaurants, every multiplex seems to be playing exactly the same films. Back in the 1970s, I can remember that even in a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, you could go to a local cinema to see the films of Francois Truffaut. That theatre later became a porn house. It's now a catering hall. I'm not sure which has changed more: the nature of the films being made or myself, but I used to see at least a movie a week. I still have the desire to see films in theaters (notwithstanding my earlier post about how projection quality has deteriorated in Manhattan theatres), but there's rarely anything I think I want to see.
I recognize that my analogy was imperfect. And no, public remembrance is no guarantee of quality. But in a rough sense, that which stands the test of time is usually, in the aggregate, better (even allowing for wide variances in subjective and objective notions of quality) than that which does not. Shakespeare was hardly the only playwright of his day, yet few of his contemporaries are remembered at all (though those who are remembered are considered reasonably good as well). Dickens, Austen, the Bronte sisters and a number of others are remembered in literature--they represent a tiny fraction of literature from the period. But 19th century literature is often remembered fondly as a time of great classics ("they don't write them like that anymore"). I find movies are treated the same way in many cases. And it is true that "they don't write/make them like that anymore". But we tend to recall the great ones and overlook the dross. In 50 years, people will do the same about current films (which films will be in which category, I will refrain from saying with excess certainty, but I confidently predict that Argo will be ranked well ahead of Taken 2). I see this phenomenon all the time as an historian. A fondness for some past "golden age" (of literature, cinema, political discourse, manners, art, music, social mores, etc.) that is distorted by a focus on that which was good at the expense of remembering that which was not.
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#39 of 67 OFFLINE   zoetmb

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Posted March 09 2013 - 05:29 AM

The "Other" films of 1939: We all remember "Gone With The Wind", "The Wizard of Oz", "Ninotchka", "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington", "The Women", "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" and others, but how many people would recognize these films of 1939, even the ones with big names or known characters (mainly the serials). I think that many would agree that many of these films were pretty bad, even if a few are still watched today. I would make the case that those that are still watched are viewed more for nostalgia than for the quality of the offering. Allegheny Uprising, starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne The Arizona Kid, starring Roy Rogers Ask a Policeman, starring Will Hay, Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott – (GB) Bachelor Mother, starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven Bad Lands, starring Robert Barrat and Robert Coote Barricade, starring Alice Faye and Warner Baxter Blue Montana Skies, starring Gene Autrey The Bronze Buckaroo, starring Herb Jeffries Cheer Boys Cheer, starring Nova Pilbeam (GB) Everything Happens at Night, starring Sonja Henie and Ray Milland Fifth Ave Girl, starring Ginger Rogers and Walter Connolly First Love, starring Deanna Durbin and Robert Stack Five Came Back, directed by John Farrow, starring Lucille Ball and Chester Morris The Four Just Men, directed by Walter Forde (GB) The Girl from Mexico, starring Lupe Velez Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence, starring Glenn Ford King of the Underworld, starring Humphrey Bogart and Kay Francis Maisie, starring Robert Young and Ann Sothern Man of Conquest, starring Richard Dix, Gail Patrick, Joan Fontaine Mexicali Rose, starring Gene Autry Midnight, starring Claudette Colbert and Don Ameche Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, starring Bonita Granville Never Say Die, starring Martha Raye and Bob Hope On Borrowed Time, starring Lionel Barrymore and Cedric Hardwicke On Dress Parade, starring The Dead End Kids On Your Toes, screenplay by Lawrence Riley, starring Vera Zorina and Eddie Albert The Rains Came, starring Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy Range War, a Hopalong Cassidy western starring William Boyd Remember?, starring Greer Garson, Robert Taylor, Lew Ayres The Return of Doctor X, a horror film starring Humphrey Bogart Susannah of the Mounties, starring Shirley Temple and Randolph Scott These Glamour Girls, starring Lew Ayres, Lana Turner, Tom Brown They Made Me a Criminal, starring John Garfield They Shall Have Music, starring Jascha Heifetz, Joel McCrea, Andrea Leeds, Walter Brennan The Three Musketeers, starring Don Ameche and The Ritz Brothers Wyoming Outlaw, starring John Wayne, directed by George Sherman Young Man's Fancy, directed by Robert Stevenson, starring Anna Lee – (GB) Zenobia, directed by Gordon Douglas, starring Oliver Hardy Serials: Buck Rogers, starrng Buster Crabbe Dick Tracy's G-Men, starring Ralph Byrd Daredevils of the Red Circle, starring Herman Brix and Charles B. Middleton Flying G-Men The Lone Ranger Rides Again Mandrake the Magician, starring Warren Hull The Oregon Trail Overland with Kit Carson The Phantom Creeps, starring Bela Lugosi Scouts to the Rescue Zorro's Fighting Legion, starring Reed Hadley And I think that if we looked at the offerings in the 1950s, they'd be far worse, even though some film historians make the case that 1951, with the "African Queen", "Strangers On A Train", "An American In Paris", "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "The Day The Earth Stood Still" might have been the greatest year for films. There's a site, http://www.theyshoot....com/gf1000.htm, which has compiled the "Best Of" lists from over 460 sources. In their list of the best 1000 films from 1902 to 2011, 1966 has the most films listed (23), although not necessarily with the highest rankings, but many of these are either obscure or forgotten (obviously this is an international list): ANDREI RUBLEV (Andrei Tarkovsky / USSR / 185m / Col BW) ▪22 PERSONA (Ingmar Bergman / Sweden / 81m / BW) ▪24 AU HASARD BALTHAZAR (Robert Bresson / France / 95m / BW) ▪33 BLOWUP (Michelangelo Antonioni / Italy, UK / 111m / Col) ▪120 GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, THE (Sergio Leone / Italy, Spain / 161m / Col) ▪150 MOUCHETTE (Robert Bresson / France / 80m / BW) ▪158 CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (Orson Welles / Spain, Switzerland / 115m / BW) ▪181 TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER (Jean Luc Godard / France / 95m / Col) ▪203 CHELSEA GIRLS (Andy Warhol / USA / 210m / ColBW) ▪302 CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS (Jirí Menzel / Czechoslovakia / 89m / BW) ▪340 DAISIES (Vera Chytilová / Czechoslovakia / 76m / Col BW) ▪394 RISE TO POWER OF LOUIS XIV, THE (Roberto Rossellini / France / 100m / Col) ▪397 MASCULIN FEMININ (Jean Luc Godard / France, Sweden / 103m / BW) ▪556 BLACK GIRL (Ousmane Sembene / France, Senegal / 65m / Col BW) ▪601 WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (Mike Nichols / USA / 129m / BW) ▪663 HAWKS AND THE SPARROWS, THE (Pier Paolo Pasolini / Italy / 88m / BW) ▪668 SEVEN WOMEN (John Ford / USA / 87m / Col) ▪703 CUL-DE SAC (Roman Polanski / UK / 111m / BW) ▪710 UNSERE AFRIKAREISE (Peter Kubelka / Austria / 13m / Col) ▪779 EL DORADO (Howard Hawks / USA / 126m / Col) ▪799 SECOND BREATH (Jean-Pierre Melville / France / 144m / BW) ▪855 COLLECTIONNEUSE, LA (Eric Rohmer / France / 88m / Col) ▪888 SECONDS (John Frankenheimer / USA / 106m / BW) ▪995

#40 of 67 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted March 09 2013 - 06:09 AM

Originally Posted by PaulDA  I see this phenomenon all the time as an historian. A fondness for some past "golden age" (of literature, cinema, political discourse, manners, art, music, social mores, etc.) that is distorted by a focus on that which was good at the expense of remembering that which was not.
In 13 years as an active member of HTF, I have seen it all the time here. I've had to endure people complaining when any TV show after 1970 gets a release so many times (not considering that my collection of TV shows on disc ranges from I Love Lucy to The Prisoner to Monty Python's Flying Circus to Dallas to SpongeBob SquarePants to Mad Men). And then there was the thread where people were angry that Punky Brewster (not the greatest show of the 1980s, but it aged better than a lot of its contemporaries, IMO) was coming out on DVD, saying it was going to kill the TV-on-DVD market. Nine years later, Shout! Factory is still going strong, and plenty of shows from all eras are available. There is a spectrum of quality from the best of art to the worst, and not everything will show the same level of craftsmanship, attention to detail or insight into "the human condition." But I've watched many critically excoriated movies out of morbid curiosity and found some of them to have redeeming values, some were as bad or worse than their critical consensuses suggested, while others I thought didn't deserve their bad reputations at all. Still, Martin's comments on the culture of negativity are spot on. Think about the Great Depression of the 1930s. People were in bread lines, and they were so desperate for work, they'd do anything and go anywhere to get it. But you wouldn't know it from the pop cultural artifacts that have survived in the 21st century. That was an era when Shirley Temple and Mickey Mouse, no cynics they, were the top movie stars, and the biggest studio in Hollywood at the time, MGM (who made 52 films a year, and they can't possibly all have been classics), bent over backwards to give its audience happy endings. We also didn't have TV, the Internet or behavior-modifying designer drugs. What concerns me is the large number of people who want to throw out the past and everything in it, regardless of quality.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then. And while you're at it, PLEASE stop dropping DVD/laserdisc extras from Blu-ray releases of other films.






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