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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Bill James Mailbag

The Tango Bar…and above it.

For the sake of discussion, let’s say that Schilling is clearly the better pitcher over Jack Morris (or find two other players historically that is a more clear example). Morris however will get 70-80% of the votes (14th year), while Schilling is going to get 30-40% of the votes (1st year), and they are on the same ballot. Do you think it’s a fundamental problem that the two are treated separately, that the writers have clearly thought and rethought Morris far more than they have Schilling and will only seriously get to Schilling in year 2 or 3? Or do you think it would make more sense to look at all the pitchers on the ballot, realize that Schilling is a far better choice than Morris (who is really as good a choice as David Wells), and vote on that basis? That is, rather than vote yes/no on each player, instead list all players in an ordered fashion from 1 to 10.
Asked by: tangotiger

One could create a better system by the use of a weighted ballot.  It is my opinion that when you collect more information, you get better results.  The weighted ballot makes a tremendous difference in MVP votes—and accounts heavily for the fact that MVP voting IS largely successful—and I strongly believe that it would have a similar beneficial effect were it used in voting for the Hall of Fame.

Hi Bill, I know “clutch” is a hard thing to define, and many people dispute it. I’ve seen some different ways of measuring it, so forgive me if you’ve covered this before, but is Runner Left On Base a way to look at it? I know Batting Average with RISP might cover this, but is it the same? And would one make any more sense than the other?
Asked by: 77royals

1)  I have made numerous efforts to define and measure clutch performance, none of which has been at all successful or has created any resonance in the analytical community, and none of which I want to dredge up now, for fear that I would be eaten by the alligators.

2)  I don’t really get what you mean by “Is Runners Left on Base a way to look at it?”  You’d have to ask a more specific question, I think.

Repoz Posted: December 30, 2012 at 09:22 AM | 351 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   101. PreservedFish Posted: December 31, 2012 at 04:13 AM (#4335125)
Andy has seen Pabst's popularity rhythmically ebb and flow over the millenia.
   102. bjhanke Posted: December 31, 2012 at 04:58 AM (#4335134)
Heh. I always love these lists of movies. My problem is that I've been a superhero fanboy since Showcase #4 (the first Silver Age Flash; I actually own the entire Silver Age of superhero comic books, except for Superman and Batman), but I'm also about a year and a dissertation from a Ph.D. in English, with a specialty in early theater. So, sometimes I like a movie because it's well-done action/adventure fun and sometimes because it's just a great film. For example, I'm possibly the biggest fan of Ang Lee's Hulk movie, because about 5 minutes into it I realized that I needed to switch the fanboy off and let the academic enjoy the regeneration symbolism and themes.

My favorite movies of this year were The Avengers (it is REALLY hard to make a superhero team movie for an audience that ranges from fanboys like me to people who have heard of Iron Man but nothing else, and Whedon nailed it) and The Hobbit, which is actually unique and historic. Captain America and Thor were very good superhero movies. Somebody may have made a great non-superhero film this year, but if so, it was in a genre that I don't like, so I didn't see it.

Explaining The Hobbit - back in 1967, I was told in a theater directing college class that it would take 6 hours of film to completely adapt a normal-length novel, which is why so many adaptations are so bad. I've tracked this ever since, and it is true. There is only one film I have ever seen that actually took the film time to do the whole novel - the 1968 Russian Government version of War and Peace, done as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Revolution. Amazing film, one of the best of all time, runs over 6 hours. But, then, there's The Hobbit. It should take 6 hours to adapt. But the first movie out of announced three is well over the two hours it should be, so it is actually padded. This is historic. Nobody, ever, that I know of in the whole world history of film, has ever done this - spent more film time than it would take to fully adapt the novel. And then there are the rabbits....

Spider-Man was the most disappointing. Someone apparently decided to try to do a piece of 1940s realism, claiming that he was doing a superhero movie. That worked terribly; Spider-Man himself doesn't even show up until an hour and 15 minutes of painfully bad Realism (the genre, as opposed to actual realism) have passed. Dreadful. And Uncle Ben and Aunt May are emotionally abusive, so no one cares what happens to them. And Peter Parker is not short of money. And he's a jerk. And he loses every fight with The Lizard. And there's no J. Jonah Jameson (Peter doesn't need money), so there's no humor. Ooog.

Batman was disappointing, but not as bad as Spider-Man. The puzzling thing to me is that I've read maybe a dozen reviews of Batman, and none of them have noticed that it's supposed to be a "fall and redemption" plot. Bane takes everything from Batman - the money, the "wonderful toys", his physical health, even Alfred quits. Then Bane throws Batman into a pit and taunts him with the info that one person has actually escaped from it. So Batman, after the least-believable chiropractic adjustment in history, starts doing crunches. He rigs up a safety line and tries to climb out. And fails. And does push-ups and tries and fails again. Finally, he realizes that the only way to get out is to get rid of the safety line and let your adrenaline do its job. That works. But the problem is, the audience is supposed to SEE all these emotional changes, and the movie doesn't do that. There are two reasons: 1) Batman has made a fetish of never showing emotion, and 2) Christian Bale is pretty good at playing Batman. Devoid of that theme, the pit scene is boringly long (everyone I went with told me this, in case I hadn't noticed), and you're left with Bane's insane ramblings that sound like he's trying to be a communist, but doesn't know what one actually is. At least, unlike some of the reviewers, I could understand the words Bane was saying through the mask. And the fight and chase scenes were pretty good. But overall, a poor superhero movie.

BTW, just in case anyone cares, here's my academic list of the best (as opposed to most fun) films I have ever seen, in no serious order:

The aforementioned War and Peace
Citizen Kane lives up to its rep
Peter Brooks did a wonderful version of The Mahabarata, the classic Indian epic
I had no idea Quentin Tarantino was capable of Inglorious Basterds
Kurosawa's Ran, adapted, by Kurosawa's own admission, from King Lear, which is certainly a good place to start

- Brock Hanke
   103. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: December 31, 2012 at 07:39 AM (#4335162)
Batman was disappointing, but not as bad as Spider-Man.
I never got the first Bale Batman film--did you? It seemed like a perfectly respectable, perfectly okay, wildly padded, completely humorless but nonetheless slightly goofy take (the Himalayas? Really?) on the whole origin business.

What saved the McGuire Spidermans was the heroes haplessness, and how his powers had him just as much as he had them. Oh, and J. Jonah Jameson. The first Batman was just so damned serious. I thought Iron Man disabused us of the notion that superhero movies had to be grim and studly throughout, and the character of Banner builds a fallability into Hulk that leavens the affair. Batman missed out on all of that.

I had no idea Quentin Tarantino was capable of Inglorious Basterds.


What was there about it that surprised you? I thought Death Proof paved the way for a lot of it.


   104. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 31, 2012 at 08:38 AM (#4335174)
Didn't even know about Pabst's, but now I do, and thanks for the tip.

Well of the many things you have been accused of, being a hipster has never been one of them.


Hey, I'll bet I'm the only one here who can recite Lenny Bruce's "Psychopathia Sexualis" (I'm in love with a horse that comes from Dallas) without missing a beat. That's gotta make up for associating Pabst with this, rather than with hipitude.

Okay, that Bruce bit may be about 50 years old, but it's still pretty comical, and I'm sure G.W. Pabst would agree.
   105. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: December 31, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4335198)
Has anyone ever answered the question of why, despite its hundreds of channels, non-premium cable is only allowed to show 97 movies a year, and must always be playing A Few Good Men on at least six of those channels?
   106. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: December 31, 2012 at 10:26 AM (#4335226)
Has anyone ever answered the question of why, despite its hundreds of channels, non-premium cable is only allowed to show 97 movies a year, and must always be playing A Few Good Men on at least six of those channels?


Yes, but we won't be telling you because you can't handle the truth.
   107. Morty Causa Posted: December 31, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4335278)
I have never been much of a Loretta Young fan--and still aren't, as to her late stuff--but JOLLY and Terp and others have caused me to reconsider her other stuff, and, yes, she was good, and very beautiful. In a light comedy, I remember the early James Cagney film Taxi with her as his main squeeze.
   108. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 31, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4335302)
I have never been much of a Loretta Young fan--and still aren't, as to her late stuff--but JOLLY and Terp and others have caused me to reconsider her other stuff, and, yes, she was good, and very beautiful. In a light comedy, I remember the early James Cagney film Taxi with her as his main squeeze.

You'll certainly have a chance to reconsider in January. Every Wednesday night / Thursday morning they're running nothing but Loretta Young movies. Of the 37 total, only 12 are after 1933, and the first 20 consist of 1 silent and 19 pre-codes.

P.S. The last two of the month aren't pre-code, but they're very good anyway: Cause For Alarm (1951) and The Unguarded Hour (1936), co-starring Franchot Tone at his slimy best.
   109. bjhanke Posted: December 31, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4335328)
Morty - When Young, Loretta could really act, although her range wasn't huge. She ended up - I don't know why - being typecast as The Good Girl. When she aged, she took that stereotype over to her TV series, and looked one-dimensional as an actress. But she was capable of more. Cagney is, I think, badly underrated. All everyone remembers is the intense film noir criminal roles. But he, too, had more to offer; among other things, he was apparently a very good song-and-dance man. Not what you'd expect, given his resume.

Jack Carter - You just NAILED the McGuire Spider-Man movies. Real good taste there. I did "get" the first Bale Batman movie. The key was an interview I read from Christian, where he said that playing Batman amounted to playing three different characters: 1) Bruce Wayne the millionaire, who is a fop, 2) Bruce Wayne in private, who is a child (arrested development from having his parents killed), and 3) Batman, who is a monster. The first movie spends most of its time walking the audience through the three different characters, and how they mesh into one life. It spends a lot of the rest of the time looking at how normal people respond to the monster Batman. I thought it was a good setup for Batman II, the Heath Ledger Joker one. That was brilliant, largely because Ledger realized that Joker is more scary if you don[t play him as a tall, thin, towering guy, like he had always been shown, even in the comics, but as a short, little crazy guy. The key scene is the one where he crashes the criminal get-together and announces that he's the boss now. Some guy twice his size objects and Whack! He's stabbed so fast no one else can really follow the action. That kind of person is always scary. Ledger's Joker is what Rorschach in Watchmen was supposed to be like, and is like in the comics. A great, great acting job, possibly so intense that it deranged Ledger, leading to his suicide.

I'd seen good Tarantino movies before, including Death Proof, and knew Quentin was capable of a lot more than the gory B-movies he sometimes makes. But Basterds was a whole extra level. The key is looking at the Nazi officer's personal story - looking at it from the point of view of the officer, who ends up getting his head tattooed the hard way at the end. If you isolate that plot, the question is, "What went wrong? How did his manipulations come to this?" And the only answer is that he has an out-of-Nazi-character moment where he does NOT shoot that little Jewish girl in the back early in the movie when she is running away. If only he had shot her - if only he'd been a TRUE Nazi - none of this, including the death of his beloved fuhrer, would have happened, since she turned out to be the mass murderer of the Nazi hierarchy in her theater. There are VERY FEW moviemakers who would base even a subplot on the premise that one moment of humanity, instead of Nazi ideology, is a tragic flaw. To a modern audience. Actually killing Hitler was a common entertainment theme is movies and comics in the 1940s, but, then, they didn't know how he was going to actually die back then. Tarantino made this movie for an audience who ALL know how the history really came out. Just the daring of that is a cut above previous Tarantino, and Tarantino is always daring. I will note that the trailers and early reviews of Django Unchained indicate that he may do it again - it seems to be a VERY daring movie, like Basterds. In short, I think that Basterds is an even greater movie than its reputation, which is excellent indeed. I was blown away. When making the list, I had to choose between it and Amelie, a tremendous French Art Film from a few years back. But I don't actually like French Art Films, so Basterds won. Fans of Amelie may have completely different lists, but even I will admit that it's one hell of a film.

- Brock
   110. PreservedFish Posted: December 31, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4335339)
This is historic. Nobody, ever, that I know of in the whole world history of film, has ever done this - spent more film time than it would take to fully adapt the novel.


Not movies exactly, but I think this is true of I Claudius and Brideshead Revisited.
   111. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: December 31, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4335344)
I initially read 86 as about The Mask of Doritos, which I would also watch.
   112. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: December 31, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4335351)
But he, too, had more to offer; among other things, he was apparently a very good song-and-dance man. Not what you'd expect, given his resume.


Yankee Doodle Dandy is a fantastic look at Cagney the song-and-dance man.
   113. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: December 31, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4335355)
I didn't see nearly as many current films this year as I normally do (combination of not living in LA anymore and Greencine just being the worst rental option for current releases), so 2012 gets an INC grade for me at this point, though, frankly, I haven't been very impressed with what I've seen so far:

Goon - B/B+
The Raid - B/B+
*Lincoln - B-
*Looper - C+
The Grey - B
*Brave - C
*Wreck it Ralph - B
*The Hobbit - C+
*Django Unchained - C
*Total Recall - D

*theater

Obviously, there's still a ton of movies I still need to see at some point: Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, Cabin in the Woods, Magic Mike, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ted, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Killer Joe, Queen of Versailes, The Loneliest Planet, Holy Motors, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Photographic Memory, The Turin Horse, Searching for Sugar Man, Bernie, Declaration of War, Cloud Atlas
   114. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 31, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4335374)
But he, too, had more to offer; among other things, he was apparently a very good song-and-dance man. Not what you'd expect, given his resume.


Yankee Doodle Dandy is a fantastic look at Cagney the song-and-dance man.

Infinitely better than that rah-rah wartime movie is the "Shanghai Lil" song-and-dance bit Cagney did on a bar counter with Ruby Keeler at the end of Footlight Parade. He's 11 years younger, far livelier, and has a much better supporting cast, which gathers at the bar and gives out with one sardonic comment after another as prelude to Shanghai Lil's appearance. Hookers dropping lines like "Say, that Oriental / dame is detrimental / to. our. in-dus-tree", and every ethnic group on earth chiming in with pithy remarks of their own.

EDIT: There's a brief ebay ad at the beginning of the clip that wasn't there when I first went to it, but it's well worth waiting out the 10 or 15 seconds it takes to get to the number.
   115. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: December 31, 2012 at 03:22 PM (#4335460)
That was fantastic, Andy. I'll admit I had never heard of Footlight Parade; is the rest of it worth it?
   116. Morty Causa Posted: December 31, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4335478)
I'll second 113. Cagney has more dimension than onemight think, if all one has in mind is this gangster who slaps women around. He could sing, dance, and do comedy, as Footlight Parade clearly demonstrates. It's a fine comedy without taking the dancing and singing into account. He did some other light comedies, usually playing his tough guy for fun, in the '30s. Taxi, Hard to Handle, The Irish in Us, The St. Louis Kid, Lady Killer (where he takes a bite out of Mae Clarke's ###). He's also great in Billy Wilder's late screwball One, Two, Three.
   117. Kurt Posted: December 31, 2012 at 04:27 PM (#4335516)
The first Batman was just so damned serious. I thought Iron Man disabused us of the notion that superhero movies had to be grim and studly throughout, and the character of Banner builds a fallability into Hulk that leavens the affair. Batman missed out on all of that.

Batman Begins came out three years before the first Iron Man movie, which would explain why it missed out on what Iron Man paved the way for.
   118. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 31, 2012 at 04:44 PM (#4335530)
That was fantastic, Andy. I'll admit I had never heard of Footlight Parade; is the rest of it worth it?

Busby Berkeley made three great musicals, all in the same year (1933): 42nd Street; Gold Diggers of 1933; and Footlight Parade. All involve the same basic plot, namely the trials and tribulations of putting on a musical. All feature fabulous musical numbers, plus (and this is what sets them apart IMO) an unmatched mix of Warner Brothers stars and character actors: Warner Baxter, Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Guy Kibbee, Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ned Sparks, Cagney, Bebe Daniels, and so on and so on.

42nd Street probably has the best dialogue, centered around trash talking chorus girls like "Anytime Annie" ("The only time she ever said no, she didn't hear the question") and "Minnie the Mountaineer" ("Must have been tough on your mother, not having any children"). It also has the second best leading part (after Cagney in Footlight Parade), Warner Baxter's Julian Marsh as the play's chain-smoking and overstressed director. The closing shot of him standing anonymously by the exit doors while the departing audience says how "lucky" he was to have such an easy cast to work with is one of the greatest endings I've ever seen, in its cynical and yet accepting take on human nature. Baxter is absolutely perfect for the role

Gold Diggers of 1933 is probably the weakest of the three, but it's still a good 8.5 on a 10 scale. It starts out with Ginger Rogers singing "We're In The Money", first in English and then in Pig Latin, covered mainly by a giant gold coin and little else. The closing production number, "My Forgotten Man," is a beautifully bitter expression of the sentiments of the forgotten soldiers of WWI who were then relegated to the unemployment lines at the time of the movie. You also get Warren William, but unfortunately in this case he's a good guy, which means he seems vaguely out of his usual amoral and larcenous character.

Footlight Parade is all Cagney and Blondell, who always worked perfectly together as a sort of ideal working class Depression couple. The plot is kind of pedestrian, but with Cagney and Blondell just about anything works. And then there's that incredible "Shanghai Lil" finale that I linked to above.

And the truth is that you really can't go wrong with any of them, even if like me, you're not in love with the musical genre. I can think of only about 10 or 12 musicals I can bear to watch, but these three are right there at the top, both for the musical numbers and everything else.



   119. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: December 31, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4335535)
I'll second 113. Cagney has more dimension than onemight think, if all one has in mind is this gangster who slaps women around. He could sing, dance, and do comedy, as Footlight Parade clearly demonstrates. It's a fine comedy without taking the dancing and singing into account. He did some other light comedies, usually playing his tough guy for fun, in the '30s. Taxi, Hard to Handle, The Irish in Us, The St. Louis Kid, Lady Killer (where he takes a bite out of Mae Clarke's ###). He's also great in Billy Wilder's late screwball One, Two, Three.

Morty, did you catch These Wilder Years the other day, the 1956 movie with Cagney and Stanwyck? It was about a wealthy business executive who returns to his hometown to try to connect with an illegitimate son he'd fathered 20 years earlier and then run out on. Stanwyck is the head of the orphanage who won't cough up the kid's adoption papers. That provides the basic tension in the plot, but Cagney and Stanwyck add a dimension to it that only actors on their pantheonic level can provide. If you haven't seen it, you should definitely catch it the next time. It's the best non-gangster or non-government agent role I've ever seen Cagney in, and Stanwyck is---well, she's Stanwyck, and nothing more really needs to be said. Greatest actress who ever walked the Earth.
   120. Morty Causa Posted: December 31, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4335659)
Have you seen
One, Two, Three
? Maybe that is gangster role, though--he works as a head company man in Berlin for Coca Cola. He's also not a gangster in those light comedies of the early '30s I mentioned. Also, he made a couple of good westerns in the '50s--adds a dimension in one of them to the term cattle baron: Tribute to a Bad Man and Run For Cover. He's very good in Mister Roberts and the John Ford war comedy with Dan Dailey, What Price Glory. Just in case you haven't seen them and ever get the time and opportunity. He's a truly great actor as well as magnificent star.

I did see The Wilder Years. Not recently, though. It is good but definitely temperate. It's like the screwball comedy he made with Bette Davis, The Bride Came C.O.D: nice, but it could have been better. Still, it's good to see two thoroughbreds just set a pace and hold it effortlessly. It gives Cagney a chance to show some ordinary guy sensitivity, too.

   121. Booey Posted: December 31, 2012 at 10:14 PM (#4335684)
Does it make me a bad person that one of my all time favorite movies is Starship Troopers? It came out the year I graduated high school and my buddy and I must've gone to see it in the theater every weekend for a month and a half. Not even the terrible acting and ridiculously stupid plot were enough to put a damper on the sheer awesomeness (and they possibly might have even added to the fun of it).
   122. Walt Davis Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4335729)
Does it make me a bad person that one of my all time favorite movies is Starship Troopers?


My friends and I could never quite make up our mind whether the film was pro-fascist or a warning against fascism. 95% of the film would make Leni Riefenstahl proud and another 4% is PG sexy time. But the opening sequence is somebody entering the military website. That opening raises the possibility that the idea is that this is the sort of fascist propaganda you would see -- and shame on the audience for buying into it. We figured that latter interpretation was too subtle for the filmmakers involved but you never know.

Similarly with Die Hard, I can never decide if its anti-feminist, pro-masculine subtext is (a) sub-conscious and unintentionally hilarious; (b) intentional with a wink; (c) intentional and kinda disturbing; (d) intentional and cynical.

Or with Andrew Dice Clay. I'd swear that, at first, he was playing a character you were supposed to laugh at but then, at least after the controversy if not before, he was playing the same character but you were supposed to laugh with him. Or did I just get tired of his schtick. (See also the first season of Married with Children which was a pretty good, albeit extreme, parody of the Cosby Show but then became, well, Married with Children.)
   123. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:18 AM (#4335732)
Have you seen

One, Two, Three

? Maybe that is gangster role, though--he works as a head company man in Berlin for Coca Cola.


the best cameo in that movie is Red Buttons doing an imitation of Cagney to Cagney--and Jimmy does a wonderful double-take and then continues in his character
   124. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:32 AM (#4335738)
My friends and I could never quite make up our mind whether the film was pro-fascist or a warning against fascism


Verhoeven's Starship Troopers is absolutely, 100% taking the piss out of the perceived pro-fascist bent of Heinlein's source version.

It's horribly ham-fisted and not half as clever as it thinks it is (and the inescapable problem with using pretty, dull, vapid actors for your satire is that you're stuck watching pretty, dull, vapid actors struggle to act), but along with his earlier Robocop it's clear that Verhoeven brought a darkly cynical and subversive attitude towards militarism and corporatism to his films at the time.

   125. Morty Causa Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:50 AM (#4335746)
the best cameo in that movie is Red Buttons doing an imitation of Cagney to Cagney--and Jimmy does a wonderful double-take and then continues in his character


It has been a while since I've seen the movie, and I had forgotten this. Thanks for bringing up that memory.
   126. Jay Z Posted: January 01, 2013 at 02:19 AM (#4335764)
the best cameo in that movie is Red Buttons doing an imitation of Cagney to Cagney--and Jimmy does a wonderful double-take and then continues in his character


One Two Three was alright, but it seems like it ends too soon. Like Cagney got sick of Wilder and wouldn't agree to film any more scenes.

Is there a bigger falloff for a director in a decade or so between Stalag 17 and Kiss Me Stupid?
   127. Jay Z Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:27 AM (#4335774)
Actually killing Hitler was a common entertainment theme is movies and comics in the 1940s, but, then, they didn't know how he was going to actually die back then.


Hey, they were still killing Hitler in movies in 1970 (Flesh Feast, with a way past her prime Veronica Lake.)
   128. bjhanke Posted: January 01, 2013 at 06:20 AM (#4335785)
Walt et al - Starship Troopers the BOOK is meant to be a children's book written as propaganda supporting the Korean War (Heinlein was a far better children's author than an adult SF writer), and a paean to foot soldiers as being far superior to people like aircraft pilots and officers, who work at a distance, rather than up close and personal. I don't think much of propagandizing kids, so I don't think much of the book. The movie, however, is self-aware about this, and is actually done as a lampoon of the book. Since the director thought it important that enough of the book get through that the audience would have some idea of what he was lampooning, the movie is a wee tad disjointed. I don't think, however, that you're a bad person if you like it. Actually, I like most of it, and can use the mute button for the rest. The movie could use better actors, but, well, Denise Richards is not cast for her acting chops, and nobody else in the movie is really any better.

My politics, to give context, are moderate Socialism. Actually, most of my politics comes from reading George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells and then finding out that they were members of a political think tank called The Fabian Society. The Fabians still exist, but the modern version is not the same as the Victorian, because a lot of the Fabian ideas (like the League of Nations) were included in the aftermath of WWI. At that time, the Fabians had a VERY high reputation among professional politicians. That's all gone away now.

Veronica Lake, in her prime, was one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. I don't know that I particularly want to see her past her prime.

- Brock
   129. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 01, 2013 at 07:52 AM (#4335792)
Aaaah Starship Troopers. I haven't seen that in ages. It has what has to be the most ridiculous hero bonus in movie history. At the beginning of the movie, during the invasion of Klendathu, there is a scene where about 30 Troopers surround one bug, and shoot it for about 30 seconds before it finally goes down. By the end of the movie Rico and is gunning them down by the dozens.

I am this close to downloading it now... might just be the vodka talking. Would you like to learn more...
   130. TerpNats Posted: January 01, 2013 at 09:05 AM (#4335798)
Cagney has more dimension than one might think, if all one has in mind is this gangster who slaps women around. He could sing, dance, and do comedy, as Footlight Parade clearly demonstrates. It's a fine comedy without taking the dancing and singing into account. He did some other light comedies, usually playing his tough guy for fun, in the '30s. Taxi, Hard to Handle, The Irish in Us, The St. Louis Kid, Lady Killer (where he takes a bite out of Mae Clarke's ###). He's also great in Billy Wilder's late screwball One, Two, Three.
"Hard To Handle" is probably my favorite Cagney comedy. There are in-jokes all over the place, including several involving grapefruit. And Ruth Donnelly, one of the great character actresses of the '30s (you can find her in the likes of "Ladies They Talk About," as a women's prison matron, and "Hands Across The Table"), is a hoot as the mother of the girl Cagney's involved with.

Someone mentioned "Taxi!" among Loretta Young films. She got that role by default in late 1931 when Carole Lombard declined to be loaned out from Paramount to Warners. "Taxi!" became a hit and Lombard regretted her decision for years; one wonders if Cagney might have elicited that certain something Carole had which wasn't unearthed until John Barrymore and Howard Hawks did it in "Twentieth Century."

BTW, glad to be back. For a day or so, my computer was unable to access BTF. Happy 2013 to all.
   131. Morty Causa Posted: January 01, 2013 at 10:24 AM (#4335808)
Is there a bigger falloff for a director in a decade or so between Stalag 17 and Kiss Me Stupid?


Well, Preston Sturges fell off a cliff. He went from Unfaithfully Yours to The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend in six months. and never recovered. Those who do comedy seem to suddenly simply lose their touch, but even so, Sturges's fall is precipitous.
   132. Morty Causa Posted: January 01, 2013 at 10:36 AM (#4335811)
130:

I like in Hard to Handle how Cagney is always biting his girl on the lip or slapping her ass, and when she reproves him, "That hurts!" he replies, "That's love." It's a nice touch to his character.

That's one of my favorites. Another is Lady Killer. Cagney goes on a wild ride, starting as an usher in a movie theater to being involved with gangsters to being a stunt man, then star, in Hollywood movies. It's all done with irrepressible verve.
   133. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4335815)
Hmmmm. From the comments above, I'm very tempted to finally get around to watching Starship Troopers. Didn't realize, somehow, that Verhoeven had directed; Robocop is one of those movies I didn't expect much at all out of but was genuinely wowed by. (I'd had the same experience a few years earlier with another sf flick, Road Warrior.)
   134. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4335818)
Well, darn. Troopers isn't available from Netflix for instant viewing ... though having had wi-fi installed here at the house yesterday evening I'm getting only on intermittent connection via the Blu-Ray player anyway. Time to hook the ethernet cable back up, I guess; with any luck, that'll remedy the situation.

(I'm also getting really, really slow loading from BTF & am wondering if others are as well. Doesn't seem to be affecting the other sites I frequent.)
   135. bjhanke Posted: January 01, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4335831)
Starship Troopers comes along on a cable station about once every three days, which may be why it's hard to get from Netflix. As I wrote before, you will get much more out of it if you've read the book and can see the lampooning going on. It's important to remember that the original book is meant as children's propaganda. It's also worth remembering that Heinlein had several years when he could write but was otherwise in poor health. His Lazarus Long books are nothing more than the wishful ramblings of an old man longing for a return to his youth and also for immortality. Before that, he got into Ayn Rand, and some of his adult work (Farnham's Freehold) are essentially SF screed novels for Rand's ludicrous philosophy. Starship Troopers shows some signs of the Ayn Rand, although I don't have any complete chronology of what he wrote when, and whether there are some pieces that are not Rand screed even after he got hypnotized by her.

I thought that Robocop was OK, but nothing more than that. The premise was too close to Judge Dredd and the people who want policemen to think like Dredd for my taste (Judge Dredd is an English comic series that runs in a book called 2000 A.D., if I remember right. Most of the great English comic-book writers who migrated to America's higher pay (Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman) got their first tastes of fame writing Dredd. I don't know if the new English hot kid on the block, Kieron Guillen (sp?), wrote any Dredd or not, but he's a name for comic book fans to watch for.). There are two movies of Dredd, and each one is worse than the other. Robocop has Peter Weller, which automatically puts it ahead of the Dredd movies.

Road Warrior, though, was genuinely impressive, albeit depressing. Check out who dies and who lives. All the really competent people die (except for Mel Gibson's Mad Max). The bulk of the oil rig crowd does survive, but the cost is all their most talented people. VERY dystopian. VERY depressing. VERY well done.

Oh, and for 2012 movies, I thought that Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer, was absolutely hilarious. One of the best comedies I've seen in years. - Brock
   136. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 01, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4335832)
Well, Preston Sturges fell off a cliff. He went from Unfaithfully Yours to The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend in six months. and never recovered. Those who do comedy seem to suddenly simply lose their touch, but even so, Sturges's fall is precipitous.

Even Unfaithfully Yours was a big drop from Sturges's comedies. Not counting Easy Living and Remember the Night, which he wrote but didn't direct, he went on a roll from The Great McGinty to Hail The Conquering Hero, had a groaner in The Great Moment, and then recovered with The Sin of Harold Diddlebock before losing it completely after Unfaithfully Yours the next year. In terms of longevity, he was kind of the Clara Bow of directors, and he only excelled in one genre.

I like in Hard to Handle how Cagney is always biting his girl on the lip or slapping her ass, and when she reproves him, "That hurts!" he replies, "That's love." It's a nice touch to his character.

That's one of my favorites. Another is Lady Killer. Cagney goes on a wild ride, starting as an usher in a movie theater to being involved with gangsters to being a stunt man, then star, in Hollywood movies. It's all done with irrepressible verve.


Truth is, is there a single Cagney movie from the early 30's that isn't worth watching just for Cagney Alone? Lady Killer is terrific, but what about Blonde Crazy (my personal favorite, with Blondell and the great Louis Calhern), Picture Snatcher, and Smart Money?
   137. Morty Causa Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:01 PM (#4335836)
I have to disagree about Unfaithfully Yours. Sturges has about six movies of masterpiece or near-masterpiece quality, and that's one of them. It's a great role he wrote for Harrison, with great lines, one that Harrison played variations on for the rest of his career, including his Henry Higgins. OTOH, I don't hold Diddlebock in that high of a regard. It's a great idea, but Lloyd was way beyond his acting prime. It clunks.

I don't know if I'd blame Sturges too much for the failure of The Great Moment. It was taken out of his control and he disowned it. And even so, it's interesting.

EDIT: Yeah, Sturges was limited to his genre (for that matter, so was Hitchcock)--but he got the most out of it, stretching it's limits.
   138. BDC Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4335839)
There's a moment in The Roaring Twenties, not a great film by any means, but: Cagney and Jeffrey Lynn and Humphrey Bogart are bootleggers, and Cagney (at this point) doesn't drink. They get a new shipment in, and while Cagney is talking to one or the other or both of his partners about something unrelated, he tests the quality of the booze by shaking a few drops into his palms and smelling it on them. It could be a director's touch (Raoul Walsh knew what he was doing, too), but it strikes me as one of the million bits of "business" that Cagney would put into his roles, just adding some depth and nuance to an otherwise stolid scene. He pretty much invented acting in talking pictures.
   139. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4335847)
Brock --

Yeah, I read Starship Troopers at age 15 or so, & while I liked it fine, even then I found the military rah-rahing way overboard. Other than Puppet Masters, which is one of my favorite novels ever (I'm a total sucker for alien-possession plots), I've found Heinlein largely unreadable for decades, mostly for sociopolitical reasons; I think Farnham's Freehold was the last novel of his I was able to choke down, back when I was a college sophomore circa 1978.

Never read any Judge Dredd (nor seen either movie adapation), so can't compare it to RoboCop. Gillen I know mainly from his ace Phonogram minis for Image a few years back. I'm sort of disheartened that he's since apparently hitched his plow to Marvel & to some of its flagship characters, simply because my interest into that company's mainstream universe ended about 1970 (same goes for DC, come to that).

   140. Morty Causa Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4335848)
Yeah, that's so true. Cagney was always in the moment. It's unfortunate that after a lot to time an icon becomes the captive of that public persona--even of the impressionist's caricature of that persona. The best, like Cagney (and Stewart and Grant) transcend that, but unless you seek out their other stuff, you just know them for what they became legendary.
   141. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4335852)
OTOH, I don't hold Diddlebock in that high of a regard.

One line alone elevates that one way above the dew line. When Harold Lloyd is taken to a bar and says that he's never had a drink, Edgar Kennedy says, "Sir, you arouse the artist in me", and then concocts a drink called "The Diddlebock" that sets him off on a two day bender. It's a line with a million applications in life.

------------------------------------------

There's a moment in The Roaring Twenties, not a great film by any means, but: Cagney and Jeffrey Lynn and Humphrey Bogart are bootleggers, and Cagney (at this point) doesn't drink. They get a new shipment in, and while Cagney is talking to one or the other or both of his partners about something unrelated, he tests the quality of the booze by shaking a few drops into his palms and smelling it on them. It could be a director's touch (Raoul Walsh knew what he was doing, too), but it strikes me as one of the million bits of "business" that Cagney would put into his roles, just adding some depth and nuance to an otherwise stolid scene. He pretty much invented acting in talking pictures.

Good observation, and its truth becomes apparent the more you see of Cagney in those early days.

Bogey was also fabulous as the one dimensional thug in that film, a role he perfected over the first decade of his Hollywood career. My favorite line came right in the opening scene, when they're in the trenches in the final moments of WWI. Bogart has a German lined up in his crosshairs just when the word comes of the truce, and Cagney shouts over to him (paraphrasing), "DON'T SHOOT! THAT BOY COULDN'T BE MORE THAN FIFTEEN YEARS OLD!" Whereupon Bogart flashes an evil smirk, pulls the trigger, and simply says, "He'll never see sixteen."
   142. JJ1986 Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4335855)
I think Morgan's Creek, Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels are the top tier Sturges films. Then Unfaithfully Yours, then everything else except the one about the dentist which is bottom of the barrel.
   143. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 01, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4335867)
I have to disagree about Unfaithfully Yours. Sturges has about six movies of masterpiece or near-masterpiece quality, and that's one of them. It's a great role he wrote for Harrison, with great lines, one that Harrison played variations on for the rest of his career, including his Henry Higgins.

Just saw this again & the Castro Theatre in SF (total palace for old movies) & it's even better than I remembered. The chart showing how the recording device works is absolutely hilarious, even more so on a big screen so you can really see it. Great black comedy, 10/10.
   144. Morty Causa Posted: January 01, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4335915)
If I ranked Sturges's films, on this day I go with this ranking:

Sullivan's Travels
The Lady Eve
The Great McGinty
Miracle at Morgan's Creek
The Palm Beach Story
Unfaithfully Yours
Hail the Conquering Hero

Remember, if you think I slighted your favorite, I think they're all great--pretty near in their different ways equally great. That's seven that might be considered masterpieces for lesser film makers.

Then there's the merely excellent: Xmas in July, followed by the nevertheless good Diddlebock.

And, finally, the completely execrable Beautiful Blond from Bashful Bend.

(I don't consider The Great Moment Sturges's because it was taken out of his control and Sturges disowned it.)

Sturges took the screwball to a totally new level--or, if you prefer, made his screwballs a sub-genre unto themselves. The same can be said of all great artist working in any genre. Lubitsch is unique; so is Capra. Hawks's Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday--they're the closest in stylistic telling to Sturges. Hell, many have worked in the suspense-thriller field or made westerns, but there's nobody that did it like Hitchcock and Ford, or in the way they did it. Same with Sturges. He had it, he used it to the limit, then he lost it. Pauline Kael once blamed it on leaving Paramount Pictures: as she put it, he gained his independence but at the cost of becoming an orphan. He had a support system there that went down to the bit players. One thing you notice in Unfaithfully Yours is that it isn't replete with his usual eccentric supporting characters and bit players. That hurt, it's true, but I think he had just used himself all up in a meteoric burst of great comic creativity. And that's even more impressive when you realize all of the great stuff (except Unfaithfully Yours) issued forth from him about a three/four-year span. Looks longer because some were delayed because he was fighting with producers or censors.
   145. Morty Causa Posted: January 01, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4335962)
Just saw this again & the Castro Theatre in SF (total palace for old movies) & it's even better than I remembered. The chart showing how the recording device works is absolutely hilarious, even more so on a big screen so you can really see it. Great black comedy, 10/10.


Yes, and it's hard to see now how this was a box-office bomb, even considering the times. Right around the time of the release of the movie, Harrison broke off an affair with Carole Landis and she committed suicide. The ensuing scandal swamped the movie, and Harrison fled to England. This was to be Sturges's comeback movie. It was to put him back on top, and it should have.
   146. BDC Posted: January 01, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4335969)
And of course one of the best lines in any Sturges film got a lot better almost 60 years later: Joel McCrea insisting, in Sullivan's Travels: "I want to make O Brother, Where Art Thou?!" I was reminded of that line last night while watching Almodóvar's Flower of My Secret, where a subplot revolves around an inane movie scenario – a scenario that Almodóvar went on to film, years later, as Volver.
   147. Morty Causa Posted: January 01, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4335979)
A person has to pause (something that a Sturges movie doesn't encourage) and ponder a while to realize how really ambitious in concept and scope Sullivan's Travels is.
   148. BDC Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4335984)
the trailers and early reviews of Django Unchained indicate that he may do it again - it seems to be a VERY daring movie, like Basterds

The only film I saw in theaters in 2012 was Django Unchained (many reasons, weird year for me in many ways). Unfortunately, though Django is fun in some ways, it's a silly, protracted movie. It's a little bit Brother Where Art Thou, actually (Don Johnson instead of John Goodman as an absurd Klansman), and it's a lot Coen-Bros. True Grit, and a wee bit Blazing Saddles, and it's very much in the pulp-Western idiom, with blaxploitation in the mix, and lots of character-actor cameos. But Inglourious Basterds was phenomenal, I agree, and Django is nothing of the kind. Just another goofy loud violent movie, IMO.
   149. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4335988)
Sullivan's Travels was one of those films I'd wanted to see for approximately forever when I finally came across a copy (VHS back then, of course) at a nearby rental place back in ... the mid-'90s? Thereabouts, anyway. (I think the same place also supplied me with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T about the same time.)

I need to watch it again; I remember liking it a lot.
   150. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4335996)
Whereas of course I'm on record as maintaining that Tarantino needs to be beaten. Severely. After being tarred & feathered. And set on fire.

Death Proof was the most insulting awful thing I've ever paid full (well, matinee) price to subject myself to.* I've wanted that smarmy, self-obsessed piece chained up & brutalized ever since. I'd probably have hunted him down & done it myself if Zombie Planet, or whatever it was called, hadn't been half-decent.



*strong]Graffiti Bridge was probably just as bad, but that was probably a buck at a second-run house.
   151. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:57 PM (#4336055)
Sullivan's Travels was one of those films I'd wanted to see for approximately forever when I finally came across a copy (VHS back then, of course) at a nearby rental place back in ... the mid-'90s? Thereabouts, anyway. (I think the same place also supplied me with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T about the same time.)

I need to watch it again; I remember liking it a lot.


FWIW TCM has shown Sullivan's Travels at least 3 or 4 times in the past year, after not having had it for about 3 or 4 years before that. It wouldn't surprise me if it's now back in a semi-regular rotation.

And while I know that that one's Morty's favorite, I've always thought that The Lady Eve and The Great McGinty were far funnier and less (indirectly) preachy.** If you've never seen McGinty, try this clip, "Pay The Lug", and if you're not hooked, you're not human. And it's playing Feb. 20th on TCM.

**It's all relative, though, and I also love Sullivan's Travels.
   152. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: January 01, 2013 at 04:37 PM (#4336099)
But, then, there's The Hobbit. It should take 6 hours to adapt. But the first movie out of announced three is well over the two hours it should be, so it is actually padded. This is historic. Nobody, ever, that I know of in the whole world history of film, has ever done this - spent more film time than it would take to fully adapt the novel. And


That's because Jackson isn't filming The Hobbit, the book. The book was written before The Lord of the Rings was even a gleam in Tolkien's eye.

What Jackson is doing is creating a parallel narrative to The Lord of the Rings, reconciling the inconsistencies between the two stories, and creating a true prequel. He is doing what Tolkien started to do toward the end of his life, but never finished. I think Jackson's The Hobbit is in many ways more faithful to Tolkien's vision than the original book is, mainly because the book was written before Tolkien's vision was fully developed.

I think it's a very bold goal to set, and I think the first movie was largely successful in achieving its goal. I am very very interested to see how the next two movies are handled.

I should also say that filming the book more or less hewing to the existing text simply wouldn't work. We've had three movies drilling it into our heads that The Ring is a thing of dark, ominous significance. And yet in The Hobbit (the book) it is treated as a bauble of minor significance. We know too much for that to work.
   153. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: January 01, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4336234)
Did anyone who has seen The Hobbit see the HFR version?

I did and I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated it. (The technology that is.)
   154. bjhanke Posted: January 02, 2013 at 02:59 AM (#4336663)
mongoose - Gillen (thanks for correcting the spelling) has just finished a run of Journey into Mystery that I thought was really great, and which is about as far away from mainstream Marvel as it's possible to get in a mainstream Marvel comic. Essentially, Loki dies saving the multiverse (long story by a different writer), but Thor wants his brother back. After some Asgard shenanigans, Loki comes back as a 13-year-old, with a fresh personality trying to change from being evil. The original adult Loki is reincarnated as a raven, named Ikol, who sits on Little Loki's shoulders and gives him deliberately bad advice (actual quote: "What did you expect, Loki? I'm evil you."). Loki also ends up with a girlfriend / companion / sharp-tongued 13-year-old girl named Leah, who is created from the hand of the death goddess Hela. The rest of the series is watching Little Loki's mechinations trying to save Asgard from its various evils, develop a personality as a hero god instead of a villain, and drinking milkshakes (I'm serious; I now call Gillen "The Milkshake Writer"). It's very clever, and VERY teenager, and the plots make sense to the reader, although they often don't make sense to Loki or any other of the characters. I found this absolutely hilarious. It's just ended, and another writer is now writing the adventures of the goddess Sif in JIM. Wait for the trade, of course, but I think you'll like this. There is a noticeable absence of superheroes, except for the occasional appearance by an Asgardian. It was good enough that I will now buy anything written by Gillen, at least until he does a bad story.

I liked the HFR version of The Hobbit, but my eyes have always responded well to the polarized 3D, even back 30 years ago, when I first saw the technology in Disneyland, watching a short film called Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson, at the peak of his career. In short, I've been waiting 30 years for this technology, and I am VERY sad to find out that some people's eyes don't deal with it well. I am sorry that your eyes don't deal with it.

Maranville - This is a VERY good take on The Hobbit; one that I had not considered. I was too interested in the filmmaking technique to worry about where the additions came from. I just wanted to make sure they included a full third of the original novel, which they did. And in any case, it really is a fresh new thing that film has never done before. Of course, after LoTR, you can get any backer to put up almost any sum of money for The Hobbit. He knows he's going to make a large profit (although, using accounting tricks, it will make zero "net profit"). - Brock
   155. baudib Posted: January 02, 2013 at 03:24 AM (#4336666)
-- Tarantino's my favorite director, I love him. Death Proof was pretty annoying, but ok fun if you go in not expecting much.

-- The Bale Batman series is probably my favorite in the comic-book hero genre. Among the recentish stuff, the others I like are the first couple of Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies and the Hugh Jackman Wolverine origins movie. Haven't seen Avengers. By far the worst was The Watchmen. Who watches the watchers? Uh, no one, apparently.

-- I love Tolkien and Peter Jackson's LOTR but I'm dreading The Hobbit. I may force myself to go just so I can catch the 9-minute Star Trek trailer.

   156. simon bedford Posted: January 02, 2013 at 05:00 AM (#4336671)
well to the Cagney lovefest may i introduce contradictory evidence in the form of one "Oklahoma Kid"? Cagney as a cowboy is a bad idea on its face, but his performance is so all over the map that the claim that Cagney was "always in the moment" seems very very wrong.
Cagney mixes and matches his song and dance past with his gangster roles to come up with something ridicolous, one of the worst performances by a major star of that time you could think of, that isnt an early mis-step but a veteran actor lost at eas.
   157. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 09:15 AM (#4336701)
I watched The Oklahoma Kid while showing it on a college campus over 40 years ago and haven't seen it since. You could well be right, but OTOH the "Western" is such a patently bogus genre** that I'll give any actor a pass for anything they do in one of those.*** IIRC Bogart was a bit out of his element in The Oklahoma Kid, too, and if Cagney actually broke out in a song and dance routine I must have mercifully suppressed the memory.

**As are just about all costume dramas not based on Shakespeare. 90% of them are pure camp, and most of them aren't even good enough on that score to be worth the effort.

**Even Stanwyck couldn't rescue a pair of Westerns I saw last week, and if you ever wanted two examples of why certain genres should just eliminate background music altogether, Forty Guns and The Maverick Queen would be Exhibits A and B. The phrase "lipstick on a pig" comes to mind.

P.S. Obviously this is a YMMV thing, and I realize that John Ford and John Wayne are considered demi-Gods in some circles. So be it.
   158. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: January 02, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4336752)
My 2012 list so far:

Cream of the crop:

Killer Joe - Don't know that I've seen this one mentioned yet. The most shocking, arguably tasteless, and, if your sense of humor is as twisted as mine, completely hilarious movie of the year. Though once it really sinks in what you've been laughing at, you'll probably be totally skeeved out. If you don't already know the plot, just know that it's William Friedkin, NC-17, and that you'll never look at Matthew McConaughey the same way again, and dive in. I would love to see the reaction of somebody who went into this blind.

Django Unchained - A notch behind Inglorious Basterds, which is more tightly plotted and more interestingly subversive, but still top-notch QT, in my opinion. I think he's clearly making his best movies now.

The Master - PTA's most emotionally inaccessible work, but I've thought about it at least once a week since I saw it. Definitely gonna grow in stature over the years.

Moonrise Kingdom - The movie which was most successful in 2012 at putting a smile on my face. My favorite Wes Anderson (though I haven't seen Rushmore, Darjeeling, or Bottle Rocket).

Great:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Grey
Prometheus (bring it!)

Very good:

Brave
End of Watch
Haywire
Killing Them Softly
Looper
Magic Mike
ParaNorman
The Raid
Skyfall

Decent:

Argo
Bernie
The Dark Knight Rises
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Premium Rush
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Silver Linings Playbook

Passable:

The Avengers
The Dictator
Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe

Bleh:

The Hunger Games

Total crap:

The Devil Inside
Girls Gone Dead (though I knew what I was getting when I signed up for that...)
   159. BDC Posted: January 02, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4336797)
I won't be rushing out to get The Oklahoma Kid, but it's perfectly fair to say that studio stars made a lot of lousy movies in the 1930s. Even A pictures could have a certain interchangeable pulp quality to them: I notice that The Oklahoma Kid was made the same year as The Roaring Twenties (1939), and also featured Cagney, Bogart, and one of the Lane sisters. To some producers, it was all the same whether you gave these guys sedans and tommy guns, or horses and revolvers. And if the picture was lousy, you'd be wrapping another one eight weeks later.

I don't think the Western is a bogus genre at all, but it's hard to think of a great Western that isn't overdrawn in some way, either with comic relief or epic subplots or silly romance or even more romanticized male-bonding. My Darling Clementine is a wonderful picture, but Victor Mature is IMO miscast and overly florid. The Searchers, incomparable in some ways, is also too long and has too much comic relief. Red River is kind of embarrassed about its central love story (Wayne and Clift, of course). A Western I'd offer up as a great compact powerful picture is The Naked Spur, but there aren't many like it. There are surprisingly few great short hard-hitting Westerns (as opposed to the huge number of great short hard-hitting crime films in and around the noir genre).
   160. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: January 02, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4336811)
Oh, and for 2012 movies, I thought that Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer, was absolutely hilarious. One of the best comedies I've seen in years. - Brock


You may also enjoy the upcoming "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" :)

I thought "Django" was a similar, but inferior, to "Basterds". My favorite Tarentino film is probably one he didn't direct, "True Romance".
   161. simon bedford Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:07 PM (#4336824)
you have supressed your memories of the "Oklahoma kid" because in the first 10 minutes of the film Cagney is in a saloon, belting out a song .
   162. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4336828)
Brock --

Thanks for the JIM recommendation. Sounds somewhat evocative in tone, maybe, to Fred Van Lente & Greg Pak's Incredible Hercules from about 3-4 years ago; I enjoyed that series a helluva lot.
   163. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4336834)
A Western I'd offer up as a great compact powerful picture is The Naked Spur, but there aren't many like it.


Yes, this Mann/Stewart enterprise stays its course. Janet Leigh is miscast, though, and rather out of her element and depth. Really, had it not had that female element "contaminant," it would have been better, more powerful. Still, it's a great movie. So is the Mann/Stewart The Far Country--but again there is an unneeded stereotypical female element (two, actually). It's interesting to compare the Mann/Stewart and the Ford/Wayne take on the western. One is more human and psychological, the other the super-hero archetype. The elements in the two divergent approaches encroach, magnificently sometime, like in The Searchers, but are finally confronted head on in Liberty Valence.
   164. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4336839)
you have supressed your memories of the "Oklahoma kid" because in the first 10 minutes of the film Cagney is in a saloon, belting out a song .


I didn't think anyone took The Oklahoma Kid seriously in any kind of way. It's like remembering Bela Lugosi by emphasizing his performance in Glen or Glenda.
   165. TerpNats Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:24 PM (#4336845)
Don't forget "Stagecoach," which is a gem because of how its characters interact (among other reasons). That to me was why "Gunsmoke" worked so well on both radio and TV -- because the writing gave you a real sense of community among the citizens of Dodge City.
   166. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4336854)
A Western I'd offer up as a great compact powerful picture is The Naked Spur, but there aren't many like it.

Totally agree with that choice, to which I'd add The Violent Men with Stanwyck and Robinson. In both of those movies the two lead actors are so damn good, especially Robert Ryan and Jimmy Stewart in The Naked Spur, that they made me suspend all of my prejudices against the genre.

----------------------------------

you have supressed your memories of the "Oklahoma kid" because in the first 10 minutes of the film Cagney is in a saloon, belting out a song.

Jesus, say it ain't so. I hope he got paid triple for that.

But what you say explains why I can't remember the crooning bit. This was a two person enterprise, and the second I started the first reel I had to go back to the front entrance of the room to help my GF with the gate crasher and moocher problems, which at least back then were considerable. I probably never saw the first 10 or 15 minutes of any movie we showed less than half a dozen times.
   167. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4336855)
Before movie stars were paid like baseball players, they clocked in--they didn't wait around for the perfect role, or a tailor-made role. I remember what Robert Mitchum once said to an interviewer who wondered why a great actor like him sometimes was in a shitty movie. He said, hey, if I get a great role, I try to do it justice. If I don't, I go to work, it's my job.
   168. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4336870)
I don't think the Western is a bogus genre at all, but it's hard to think of a great Western that isn't overdrawn in some way, either with comic relief or epic subplots or silly romance or even more romanticized male-bonding.

To me it's the godawful music that so often provides the tipping point from Merely Awful to Downright Dreadful. Again, it's purely a matter of taste, but I had to be chained to my seat to make it past the "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling" opening credits of High Noon, which after that was at least a somewhat bearable film. The music in Forty Guns and The Maverick Queen was even worse**, and beyond the Westerns genre, the onset of saccharine soundtracks is one of the main reasons that so many movies from the 50's and 60's (other than the crime dramas) are to me complete no-starters.

**A sentiment echoed in the TCM forums after they were shown. And I'm probably the biggest Stanwyck fan on Earth, so I don't knock any of her movies lightly.
   169. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4336879)
Funny, but with me, I can overlook that. I just take as part of the adjustment you have to make for the period piece quality of all films. I don't much care for operetta but I overlook it in Lubitsch's early stuff--it's where he comes from and the delights make it worth it. Same with the Capracorn--it's price you pay (and probably the price Capra pays) for the genuine achievement in combination of sentiment and comedy.
   170. McCoy Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4336883)
Anyone else having trouble accessing this thread from the regular site? Had to go to beta just to view this thread. Is this a special club or something?
   171. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4336897)
I didn't. And no one here would join any club I belong to.
   172. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4336904)
Funny, but with me, I can overlook that. I just take as part of the adjustment you have to make for the period piece quality of all films. I don't much care for operetta but I overlook it in Lubitsch's early stuff--it's where he comes from and the delights make it worth it. Same with the Capracorn--it's price you pay (and probably the price Capra pays) for the genuine achievement in combination of sentiment and comedy.

Yeah, as I said, it's strictly a matter of taste and opinion. I can't get past the saccharine soundtracks in Westerns, and in movies like The Way We Were and The Graduate, even if I can almost always overlook the inane final moments of pre-code movies, where 69 minutes of low life portrayals so often get patched over by forced upbeat endings. The only types of movies that usually seem to escape that sort of stuff are the gangster movies and the noirs, which is probably why those are my favorite two genres.
   173. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4336911)
Anyone else having trouble accessing this thread from the regular site? Had to go to beta just to view this thread. Is this a special club or something?

You think that's bad? I still can't get out of an endless loop of "Login now", "You are now logged in", and "Login now" whenever I try to access BTF on Firefox. I've written several Jim times about it but with no helpful response.
   174. BDC Posted: January 02, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4336960)
saccharine soundtracks … The Graduate

I can see where actively disliking Simon & Garfunkel would make that film an ordeal, but even then you have the moment on the Bay Bridge when they swing into "Mrs. Robinson," and that's for me one of the best song placements in any movie. "The Sound of Silence" is perhaps overused in The Graduate, but "Mrs. Robinson" is used very sparingly, a great decision.
   175. OsunaSakata Posted: January 02, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4337049)
"Mrs. Robinson" is used very sparingly, a great decision.


It wasn't exactly a "decision". The song was unfinished and intended to be about Eleanor Roosevelt. Mike Nichols changed "Mrs. Roosevelt" to "Mrs. Robinson". All Paul Simon had at the time was the chorus and that's pretty much all you got.
   176. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 02, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4337058)
Before movie stars were paid like baseball players, they clocked in--they didn't wait around for the perfect role, or a tailor-made role. I remember what Robert Mitchum once said to an interviewer who wondered why a great actor like him sometimes was in a shitty movie. He said, hey, if I get a great role, I try to do it justice. If I don't, I go to work, it's my job.

In an article about the late Charles Durning - who became a total workhorse for the last 50 years, after what was already an eventful young life - he said pretty much the same thing: the secret to his success was, "I never turned down a part, and I never argued with a director or a producer."
The only survivor from his Army unit at Omaha Beach, and THEN he got hurt in the Battle of the Bulge. It's too much ####### perspective.
   177. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4337066)
saccharine soundtracks … The Graduate

I can see where actively disliking Simon & Garfunkel would make that film an ordeal,


JOSN: Simon & Garfunkel = RDP: Tax Dollars for I-Pads. Give me the likes of Bobby Blue Bland and Dinah Washington every day of the week.

but even then you have the moment on the Bay Bridge when they swing into "Mrs. Robinson," and that's for me one of the best song placements in any movie.

I saw that movie when it came out and almost threw up at the overdose of generational pandering. Saw it again on TCM a year or two ago and had exactly the same reaction. There's no generational conceit like Baby Boomer conceit, and for whatever blessed reason I've always been immune to the marketing of it in every form or format. Even the presence of Anne Bancroft couldn't save that steaming load.

Apologies for the rant, but it's an honest one.
   178. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 02, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4337077)
I couldn't stand The Graduate when seeing it for the first time this year. There is never at ANY point a reason to like the protagonist. His attitude toward life has aged incredibly badly. He's like Holden Caulfield but with a completely vacant skull. And all the satire of suburban stuff has been done thousands of other times since then in exactly the same way, so I couldn't stand that either, though that's not the movie's fault. And you never hear in any of the appreciations of The Graduate that the PLOT is basically that Benjamin is being chased by MR. Robinson, a pathetic caricature of a character who has some small-minded objection to his life being repeatedly ruined.
   179. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4337085)
No one involved with that movie was a baby boomer. It's funny how the generation, or sub-generation, between the "greateest" generation and the boomer generation never gets credit (or blame) as a whole generation (like the Boomers and the GG do) for their indispensable efforts in commencing the revolutionary '60s. The boomers were the receivers, the consumers, of what that in-between generation of Lennon/Dylan/Coppola/Scorsese/Hoffman etc. wrought and purveyed.
   180. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4337089)
Having said that, I liked The Graduate well enough, but thought it never really earned its cachet. I thought the musical score innovative if nothing else, and fitted right in to the prep school/ivy league version of folk that would have finally caught up with that class. Bobby Blue Bland and Dinah would not have been appropriate. I had been familiar with Simon & Garfunkel for at least a year. The Sounds of Silence had made the charts in what--late '65? Hoffman was good, Bancroft overrated, as she most always was, and Ross (no boomer either) as lovely as a proto-hippie chick could be. I preferred the other ground-breaking Hollywood film of that year--Bonnier and Clyde.
   181. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 03:52 PM (#4337093)
In an article about the late Charles Durning - who became a total workhorse for the last 50 years, after what was already an eventful young life - he said pretty much the same thing: the secret to his success was, "I never turned down a part, and I never argued with a director or a producer."
The only survivor from his Army unit at Omaha Beach, and THEN he got hurt in the Battle of the Bulge. It's too much ####### perspective.


Yeah, only some really rare cases, like Kubrick later, had the will and the wherewithal to try to get everything in every little detail perfect. And as Jack Nicholson said of Kubrick later, "just because you're a perfectionist doesn't mean you're perfect."

By "in the moment" I certainly didn't mean he didn't make any clinkers, or he wasn't (on very rare occasion) miscast. I mean, he didn't condescend to his material--even in The Oklahoma Kid he wasn't looking down on what he was doing. He was giving it all he could. Heston was like that, too--who else at that time could have delivered those concluding lines in Planet of the Apes with the necessary conviction and passionate but that great ham?
   182. BDC Posted: January 02, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4337114)
The differing reactions to The Graduate here are interesting. I've always seen it (and still do; I watch it every few years) as a picture where everybody involved got everything right. It has never bothered me that Dustin Hoffman's character is shallow and selfish; and I think Anne Bancroft is just terrific. It may be one of those litmus tests for one's tolerance of a particular era or attitude. I also like The Catcher in the Rye, and I liked at least Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty (other works with shallow protagonists that people feel violently about).

Bonnie & Clyde, though, that's near-perfect as well. I was too young to see either when they were first in theaters, so I have no associations with their immediate context. I didn't even see Bonnie & Clyde till I was in my 40s.
   183. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 04:25 PM (#4337139)
No one involved with that movie was a baby boomer. It's funny how the generation, or sub-generation, between the "greatest" generation and the boomer generation never gets credit (or blame) as a whole generation (like the Boomers and the GG do) for their indispensable efforts in commencing the revolutionary '60s.

Well, then blame me, since I was a 1944 War Baby. But the marketing of The Graduate was aimed like a laser beam at the conceit of the generation then in college, which at that point indeed was the Baby Boomers. The fact that the producers and actors were only pandering to the Baby Boomers, rather than being Baby Boomers themselves, isn't really here or there.

The boomers were the receivers, the consumers, of what that in-between generation of Lennon/Dylan/Coppola/Scorsese/Hoffman etc. wrought and purveyed.

The confusion comes from the fact that while the "Boomers" are a specific age demographic (b. 1946-1965), the initiators of the 1960's civil rights movement, every one of them, were born before the Baby Boomers. My post-college GF was born in 1946 and always felt that she'd missed out on the "good years", since she was only in high school at the height of the civil rights protests.

The other part of the confusion lies in the fact that most information challenged people conflate the nonviolent civil rights and anti-war movements with the splinter groups that later went around posturing like left wing versions of the Branch Davidians. And since there has always been much political advantage in running against strawmen, it's always been easier to take one simple-minded grouping ("Baby Boomers" or "The Sixties") and pretend that it was all just one big mass of acid-dropping rioters. Republicans have always been very good at this sort of thing.
   184. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 04:38 PM (#4337154)
The differing reactions to The Graduate here are interesting. I've always seen it (and still do; I watch it every few years) as a picture where everybody involved got everything right. It has never bothered me that Dustin Hoffman's character is shallow and selfish; and I think Anne Bancroft is just terrific. It may be one of those litmus tests for one's tolerance of a particular era or attitude. I also like The Catcher in the Rye, and I liked at least Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty (other works with shallow protagonists that people feel violently about).

Bonnie & Clyde, though, that's near-perfect as well. I was too young to see either when they were first in theaters, so I have no associations with their immediate context. I didn't even see Bonnie & Clyde till I was in my 40s.


Funny, but I can tolerate or even like movies like They Live By Night (the 1949 Farley Granger movie), or Rebel Without a Cause, because even though both of them kind of glorify the Misunderstood Outsider, I never thought that films like that were pandering to me, since they both came out well before the time of my high school or college years.

It's a little like my reaction when I hear people talking about D.C., where I grew up: Whenever I hear anyone (mostly in the past, except for Kehoskie) talk about it as some sort of "crime capital", I instinctively defend it. But when I hear others glorifying it as if it were a better city than New York, Chicago or London, I have to roll my eyes. Likewise, I heard so much propaganda during the 60's about how "special" my generation was, I formed an immediate dislike for all such talk, no matter how flattering it was on the surface.
   185. Zach Posted: January 02, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4337162)
Since a couple of posts have wished for an improved version of similarity scores, I'll post an old article I had on Hardball Times: Season Similarity Scores.

It wouldn't be terrifically hard to gin up an equivalent method for pitchers, although it would be nice if you could separate ground ball outs, fly ball outs, and strike outs.
   186. Zach Posted: January 02, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4337166)
Since a couple of posts have wished for an improved version of similarity scores, I'll post an old article I had on Hardball Times: Season Similarity Scores.

It wouldn't be terrifically hard to gin up an equivalent method for pitchers, although it would be nice if you could separate ground ball outs, fly ball outs, and strike outs.
   187. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4337167)
A cultural generation does not follow that of a biological generation. As an early boomer, born 1948, I have about as much in common with someone born in 1964, as I do with someone born in 1934.
   188. OsunaSakata Posted: January 02, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4337193)
Does anyone else find the central relationships in The Graduate kind of creepy - banging your girlfriend and her mother. I understand having broad sexual tastes in age range, but a mother-daughter pair is kind of weird to me.
   189. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 02, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4337220)
I think it only works because Katherine Ross was actually only 12 years younger than Anne Bancroft.

I tend to get easily annoyed by movie characters who don't realize how good they have it. For example, another Dustin Hoffman character, in the movie "Straight Time". He gets out of prison, he straightforwardly refuses to tell his parole officer what he's doing or promise that he won't go back to committing robberies. He goes to the employment office, he gets a job in a warehouse immediately. He also gets a date with the woman who interviews him, by acting like an overly persistent weirdo. Then he quits that job and she finds him another job immediately, but he doesn't bother to take it. Come on! You have no justification for your life of crime. Someone who gets out of prison in the 21st century has barely any chance of getting any job ever.
   190. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 02, 2013 at 07:55 PM (#4337355)
Great:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Grey
Prometheus (bring it!)

There are people who thought Prometheus was great? Who are these people, and how can we get them off this planet?
   191. simon bedford Posted: January 02, 2013 at 08:13 PM (#4337359)
sorry to pipe in about the"Oklahoma kid" once again, but Monty it WAS one of those cowboy films that was supposed to be "serious". Cagney goes into a couple of rants about how the natives got ripped off by the white man, and the main action of the film is centered around corruption and scandal in the governmnet, not that that makes it anything but an awful film, and part of why its so awful is Cagney ,
   192. The District Attorney Posted: January 02, 2013 at 09:09 PM (#4337380)
Onion AV Club:
Last year's announcement that the Academy would switch to an online system for Oscar voting was met with skepticism from those who feared the Academy's predominately elderly membership might have difficulty making the transition, unless that new system was just an email forward of inspirational anecdotes. Unfortunately, it wasn't and therefore it's all one big "disaster," to quote one anonymous member, with multiple accounts of difficulties that could lead to the lowest voter turnout in years. Hoping to combat that, the Academy has now extended the voting deadline from January 3 to January 4, giving its members an extra 24 hours to call their children and get angry with them as they try patiently to explain the Internet.
   193. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 02, 2013 at 09:19 PM (#4337384)
brock--thanks for the details in #109. I'll be looking at Inglorious Basterds and the Batman trilogy with fresh eyes. That was a fascinating take on both.

The first Batman was just so damned serious. I thought Iron Man disabused us of the notion that superhero movies had to be grim and studly throughout, and the character of Banner builds a fallability into Hulk that leavens the affair. Batman missed out on all of that.

Batman Begins came out three years before the first Iron Man movie, which would explain why it missed out on what Iron Man paved the way for.


I should have phrased that better; it's not that Batman should have learned from Iron Man (obviously), but rather the medium was always pregnant with the possibility of "the laughing hero". At the time I found the training and self-discovery sequence in Tibet (?) incredibly leaden, and not nearly as engaging as the comparable section of the original The Karate Kid.

Hey, nice tidbit on TCM--apparently Kirk Douglas was responsible for getting Dalton Trumbo's name back in the credits of films (starting with Spartacus).

Does anyone else find the central relationships in The Graduate kind of creepy - banging your girlfriend and her mother. I understand having broad sexual tastes in age range, but a mother-daughter pair is kind of weird to me.


Well, Ben is only messing with Mrs. R. out of an almost paralyzing ennui, and only goes out with Elaine after being forced to by his parents. Remember that he takes Elaine to a strip club, and it's the moment, as he's doing his best to repel her, where the stripper is behind Elaine and her eyes are filling with tears, that Ben falls for her. So, it really is in spite of himself, which I think the film does a good job of showing.

There are too many terrific comic bits for me to ever dismiss The Graduate out of hand, though Ben's shallowness has made it somewhat less appealing to me over the years.

Veronica Lake, in her prime, was one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. I don't know that I particularly want to see her past her prime.


One of my most painful film experiences was seeing the glorious Jessica Lange age. I caught her for some reason in 2007's Sybil after not seeing her in anything since Tootsie and Frances. The change in her looks was literally horrifying. Same kind of thing with Faye Dunaway, whose plastic surgery left her unrecognizable.
   194. Morty Causa Posted: January 02, 2013 at 10:45 PM (#4337479)
Funny, but I can tolerate or even like movies like They Live By Night (the 1949 Farley Granger movie), or Rebel Without a Cause, because even though both of them kind of glorify the Misunderstood Outsider, I never thought that films like that were pandering to me, since they both came out well before the time of my high school or college years.


Well, you may think that--that They Live By Night and Rebel Without A Cause weren't pandering, but that doesn't mean they weren't pandering to some class, especially if pandering is viewed non-pejoratively, merely as trying to attract. You Only Live Once was pandering, too. And indeed, the Cagney movies can be seen as pandering to those who were victims of the depression. Such will be inclined to blame the existing power structure for predicament and perceived misfortune.

Anyway, pandering, however you look at it, is not a aesthetic element. It’s just a way of engaging ad hominem. It is besides the point, critically speaking. All artistic creations pander to an audience in some way. Poor people loved the Astaire/Rogers of the depression era. Those art deco hotel suites could have housed a whole ghetto, but they didn’t care. They were trying to appeal to something in someone—and it couldn’t have been just those who could afford to live in those opulent conditions, as that wouldn’t have filled many seats in theaters.
   195. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 02, 2013 at 11:46 PM (#4337561)
My ranking of 2012 movies:

1 Moonrise Kingdom
2 Django Unchained
3 The Cabin in the Woods
4 Looper
5 The Dark Knight Rises
6 Haywire
7 Argo
8 Silver Linings Playbook
9 End of Watch
10 Magic Mike
11 Safety Not Guaranteed
12 Jack Reacher
13 Take This Waltz
14 This is 40
15 21 Jump Street
16 The Avengers
17 Brave
18 Get the Gringo
19 Skyfall
20 Hitchcock
21 Chronicle
22 The Dictator
23 The Grey
24 Friends With Kids
25 Goon
26 The Hunger Games
27 Five Year Engagement
28 Savages
29 Safe House
30 Safe
31 Rampart
32 Wanderlust
33 Bernie
34 Jeff, Who Lives at Home
35 Red Dawn
36 Silent House
37 Piranha 3DD

I wouldn't bother with anything below The Hunger Games. In fact I probably wouldn't bother with The Hungers Games either.
   196. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 02, 2013 at 11:48 PM (#4337567)
Pandering is an accusation, of surrendering aesthetics for audience share. I don't think it's the case therefore that 'all artistic creations pander to an audience in some way'.
   197. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 02, 2013 at 11:52 PM (#4337575)
I guess I should have emphasized "I never thought that films like that were pandering to me", because that's what I thought I was implying by adding "since they both came out well before the time of my high school or college years." "Pandering" to a Depression era's wish for fantasy, or to a wartime audience's thirst for heroism, or to the current generation's love of cartoon violence, is something I can understand and tolerate, but that's not what I meant by "pandering" here. Perhaps the more precise words would have been "sucking up", which is what was being done by the makers of The Graduate to their target demographic. It's totally distinct from the sort of pandering you're referring to.

EDIT: Partial coke to Jack, whose point is complementary to mine, and also valid.
   198. baudib Posted: January 02, 2013 at 11:58 PM (#4337586)
I forgot to mention that I have rarely been as disappointed in a movie as I was with "Prometheus." I sorta don't get it, maybe I am missing something. To me, you have a great director (one of my favorites), great case, great franchise and turn out this?

You have Charlize Theron, who is not only a great, Oscar-winning actress, she is one of the most beautiful women in the world. Totally wasted. A team of space adventurers terrorized by...black dripping goo. OK. It did feature one of the most shocking, visceral movie scenes I have ever seen, but left my cold.
   199. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:01 AM (#4337592)
It's not my term. I didn't first use the term "pander", but if you do, you're stuck with it, unless you retract it, or explain it away. I don't know where you're getting that defintion of "pandering", but it's not the coventional one, #196.
   200. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:02 AM (#4337593)
27 Five Year Engagement
34 Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Rough year for Jason Segal. Though I suppose This Is 40 in which he plays a minor role did ok.

I just saw Les Mis on New Years Eve. Russell Crowe seemed to stand out as a singer (in a not good way), but other than that I thought it was great. Though I love the music of Les Mis, so the odds of me not liking it were slim. Though come to think of it I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Sacha Baron Cohen as Master of the House...

It was amazing how different the film is from the theatre production, even though it's all the same songs. Doing it on film (and as I understand it, singing it live) allowed for a lot more subtlety and improvization that almost always made the songs stronger.
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