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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
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   201. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4337602)
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.


Or, the makers of that film could have honestly felt they had a point. Ad hominem sub rosa of this sort doesn't ever get to the real esthetic issue. You might even say, it's just a way of holding that issue off at arm's lenght. Of never coming to terms with it. The real question is what is the movie's appeal, and is that appeal legitimate--does it connect to reality, to the human condition, in some way that tells us something about that.
   202. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:19 AM (#4337621)
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.

I liked how the two weenies of the team, who had thus far been solely characterized by their cowardice suddenly turn into trusting, oblivious morons when presented with an actual, dangerous-looking alien.

It is funny how movie threads always turn into parallel conversations which have very little point of contact. A fun project would be, everyone who listed their favourite movies of 2012 should watch the top 3 movies from Andy or Morty's Sturges' lists, and anyone listing Sturges movies should watch the top 3 from one of the 2012 lists. I realize there's a not-insignificant number of people who will be familiar with both groups of movies, but it would be a fun exercise in bringing together the two conversations.

I've only really watched pre-60s movies piece-meal (and sparsely). It's such a wide ocean that I'm ignorant of that I end up dipping my toe in random places and being met with irregular results. In the past couple years I've watched His Girl Friday , Kid Galahad with Bogart and Edward G Robinson, Notorious, Kind Hearts and Coronets, It's a Wonderful Life (though that one is an annual thing since I was a kid). I like some, and seem to really miss others, and don't feel like I've developed any ability to select ones I'll enjoy.

I imagine it's a similar feeling when presented with contemporary movies...there's good and there's bad and wading into it and separating the two through trial and error is daunting.
   203. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:26 AM (#4337628)
   204. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:31 AM (#4337636)
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 conventional one, #196.

I'll never win a dictionary duel with anyone on BTF. I distinguish between trying to "pander" to a target demographic (or to multiple demographics) by "giving the people what they like", and sucking up to a particular demographic's high opinion of itself. The former phenomenon is nearly universal in movies, the latter blessedly not nearly so much, but it came to perhaps its fullest flowerhood in The Graduate.

Or, the makers of that film could have honestly felt they had a point.

It's entirely possible that they swallowed their own Kool-Aid. Artists often do.

The real question is what is the movie's appeal

If you can't figure out that The Graduate's appeal was to the generational vanity of its target demographic, then I think we were watching different movies.

and is that appeal legitimate

Sure, if that sort of simplistic messagemongering, amplified by a cloying soundtrack, appeals to you, but I say it's spinach and the hell with it. Clearly we're operating from two different premises regarding the merits of this movie, and I doubt if there's anything more to it than the good old YMMV. I'm certainly not trying to claim any "objective" viewpoint about The Graduate; I simply found it quite subjectively to be a steaming pile of pretension.
   205. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:31 AM (#4337637)
I've only really watched pre-60s movies piece-meal (and sparsely). It's such a wide ocean that I'm ignorant of that I end up dipping my toe in random places and being met with irregular results.

You're probably aware of them, but 12 Angry Men and Double Indemnity are both in my top 10. I love Hitchcock movies. I saw a Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein double feature in theaters a couple of months back, that was fun.
   206. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:36 AM (#4337646)
I'm picturing this same debate happening in 2040 with The Graduate being replaced with Superbad.

Or was I the only one who felt that movie perfectly captured the essence of my generation?
   207. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:37 AM (#4337649)
You're probably aware of them, but 12 Angry Men and Double Indemnity are both in my top 10.

12 Angry Men is definitely on my rental list. I should add Double Indemnity.
   208. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:40 AM (#4337652)
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.

She still looked damn good in that Titus (Andronicus) adaptation from 1999. So whatever happened, must've happened after that.
King Kong-era JL, well... nobody could stay looking that good, could they?
   209. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:41 AM (#4337654)
It is funny how movie threads always turn into parallel conversations which have very little point of contact. A fun project would be, everyone who listed their favourite movies of 2012 should watch the top 3 movies from Andy or Morty's Sturges' lists, and anyone listing Sturges movies should watch the top 3 from one of the 2012 lists. I realize there's a not-insignificant number of people who will be familiar with both groups of movies, but it would be a fun exercise in bringing together the two conversations.

I agree completely with your idea. I used to go to new movies much more often when my shop was half a block away from the best "art" multiplex in the DC area, but that was when I had a guaranteed parking space in my building. There actually are a fair number of recent movies I'd like to see and almost certainly will when they get released to Netflix.

I've only really watched pre-60s movies piece-meal (and sparsely). It's such a wide ocean that I'm ignorant of that I end up dipping my toe in random places and being met with irregular results. In the past couple years I've watched His Girl Friday , Kid Galahad with Bogart and Edward G Robinson, Notorious, Kind Hearts and Coronets, It's a Wonderful Life (though that one is an annual thing since I was a kid). I like some, and seem to really miss others, and don't feel like I've developed any ability to select ones I'll enjoy.

A one year sub to TCM's program guide costs $12.95, and it will make your picking and choosing a thousand times easier, since each monthly issue lists the plot summaries and main stars of every movie being shown. I mentioned it earlier, but TCM is like a YouTube channel that has many thousands of full game baseball videos going back to the Dead Ball era. Before long you get away from the movies you've heard of, and that's when you really begin to understand TCM's appeal. There's nothing like it anywhere else on TV, and there's not a single commercial interruption of any film.
   210. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:42 AM (#4337655)
Or was I the only one who felt that movie perfectly captured the essence of my generation?

Thinking about Jonah Hill kicking that soccer ball still makes me smile all these years later. Good luck to your generation and its green foamy beer.
   211. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:42 AM (#4337656)
If you can't figure out that The Graduate's appeal was to the generational vanity of its target demographic, then I think we were watching different movies.


Okay, I'll bite: what is that vanity, and why is that so wrong to do? Why is it so pretentious?

Is it different, and more reprehensible than, say, Andy Hardy? Dobie Gillis? June Allyson/Peter Lawford college musicals? Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney "I know what--let's put on a show"? The Our Gang shorts? What does it get you to argue aesthetics in terms of pandering to a select group, generational or otherwise?
   212. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:43 AM (#4337657)
Another project idea!

A couple years ago I organized a "Great Movie Tournament" among friends. 64 movies selected partly by critics lists, imdb.com rating, and personal favourites from participants. Every week we'd watch two and vote on a winner to advance. The project had some flaws in that in order to get enough people to join in we had to let in some rather dubious "personal favourites". I'm not saying I'm any great evaluator of film...but I feel pretty comfortable in saying Patch Adams is not one of the best 64 movies of all time.

I don't think it's a feasible plan in this community, but with the wide range of thoughtful takes on various movies in this thread, I think I'd love to read a long-running round-table of comparative reviews here.
   213. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:46 AM (#4337661)
A one year sub to TCM's program guide costs $12.95, and it will make your picking and choosing a thousand times easier, since each monthly issue lists the plot summaries and main stars of every movie being shown. I mentioned it earlier, but TCM is like a YouTube channel that has many thousands of full game baseball videos going back to the Dead Ball era. Before long you get away from the movies you've heard of, and that's when you really begin to understand TCM's appeal. There's nothing like it anywhere else on TV, and there's not a single commercial interruption of any film.

My mom actually has TCM (which is where I see most of my movies from that era). I don't actually have a TV at home, so I do most of my movie watching online. The advantage of older movies is also that they are so much more cheaper, and easy, to access.
   214. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:49 AM (#4337666)
It is funny how movie threads always turn into parallel conversations which have very little point of contact. A fun project would be, everyone who listed their favourite movies of 2012 should watch the top 3 movies from Andy or Morty's Sturges' lists, and anyone listing Sturges movies should watch the top 3 from one of the 2012 lists. I realize there's a not-insignificant number of people who will be familiar with both groups of movies, but it would be a fun exercise in bringing together the two conversations.


That would be interesting, providing there would, and could, be a dialogue afterwards. The problem with discussions of movies, and other pop culture, is that the main criteris of excellence is YMMV or to each his own or we'll just have to agree to disagree. It's not just creationists who spend all their grownup life trying to forget, or not use, anyway (because it's too hard), what they supposedly learn in 16 plus years of education.
   215. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:58 AM (#4337687)
If you can't figure out that The Graduate's appeal was to the generational vanity of its target demographic, then I think we were watching different movies.


Okay, I'll bite: what is that vanity, and why is that so wrong to do? Why is it so pretentious?


Let's just say that different people have different reactions to the same movie, and leave it at that. This is one of those cases where the only honest reply is "If you have to ask, you'll never know."

Is it different, and more reprehensible than, say, Andy Hardy? Dobie Gillis? June Allyson/Peter Lawford college musicals? Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney "I know what--let's put on a show"?

I doubt it, since there's no cartoon generational villain used as a foil in those films. Although if you want to take every last one of them and start a bonfire, I'll be glad to provide a blowtorch.

The Our Gang shorts?

See above, although in this case I love them.

What does it get you to argue aesthetics in terms of pandering to a select group, generational or otherwise?

Morty, all I'm really doing is expressing my honest opinion about a movie I loathed in an admittedly subjective and possibly offensive way, at least if you identify with The Graduate. I'll let you claim all the victories you want when it comes to trying to pin me in a corner beyond that.
   216. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:02 AM (#4337693)
The advantage of older movies is also that they are so much more cheaper, and easy, to access.


Yes, and let me also admit that nowadays I mostly see my movies online, mostly on youtube.

The good thing about getting into watching old movies is that you can more objectively judge them since you are not seeing them in the midst of the cultural clutter from which they emanated. Time and the winnowing process that establishes a classic has done a lot of the critical heavy lifting for you. On the other hand, there is that divorce from the culture you are in, which is why it's probablly taken up by old farts like me--although I have interject here that I had always loved old movies, even when I was a kid in the mid and late '50s, early '60s, watching late '30s and '40s and, yes, some '50s, movies at the Big 2 Feature in Eunice, LA, on Saturday afternoons. I much preferred, say, Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott (stetson across heart) westerns than the Gunsmoke, Trackdown, Wanted-Dead or Alive, yes, even Have Gun--Will Travel (not the Garner Mavericks, though) that was on TV at the time.
   217. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:06 AM (#4337698)
Morty, all I'm really doing is expressing my honest opinion about a movie I loathed in an admittedly subjective and possibly offensive way, at least if you identify with The Graduate. I'll let you claim all the victories you want when it comes to trying to pin me in a corner beyond that.


I genuinely don't want to give you a hard time for a hard time's sake--you're my cohort here when it comes to old movies, so I'll drop it. "Why" with me is like boot to a dog. I never can leave it alone. And I don't care for The Graduate that much.
   218. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:07 AM (#4337701)
That would be interesting, providing there would, and could, be a dialogue afterwards. The problem with discussions of movies, and other pop culture, is that the main criteris of excellence is YMMV or to each his own or we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Unfortunately, beyond a certain point, when you don't "agree to disagree" about movies, you wind up just talking past each other. The only way I could likely explain my particular taste in movies is by providing my entire life story, and perhaps my parents' life stories as well. What our life experience brings to our taste in movies (as in politics) is infinitely more important than what we ever read in some dog-eared Pauline Kael or Andrew Sarris anthology. I am not a film critic and have no real interest in being one, but I am interested in watching tons of movies, reacting to them, and thinking about how they were seen within the context of the time they were released and (in many cases) re-released. But that's a political thought, not an aesthetic one.
   219. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:10 AM (#4337705)
I'm more interested in what lives and why it lives.
   220. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:19 AM (#4337711)
The only way I could likely explain my particular taste in movies is by providing my entire life story, and perhaps my parents' life stories as well. What our life experience brings to our taste in movies (as in politics) is infinitely more important than what we ever read in some dog-eared Pauline Kael or Andrew Sarris anthology. I am not a film critic and have no real interest in being one, but I am interested in watching tons of movies, reacting to them, and thinking about how they were seen within the context of the time they were released and (in many cases) re-released. But that's a political thought, not an aesthetic one.

Although I imagine we are watching different movies, this very closely mirrors my attitude towards movies.
   221. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:22 AM (#4337713)
I genuinely don't want to give you a hard time for a hard time's sake--you're my cohort here when it comes to old movies, so I'll drop it. "Why" with me is like boot to a dog. I never can leave it alone.

Okay, and in that spirit I'll give you the down and dirty.

1. I hate Simon and Garfunkel. Way too girly-girly a sound for my taste.

2. I don't like Dustin Hoffman types, at least the type he played in that film. "Compact little men" was what we used to call them.

3. I don't like the social milieu of the movie.

4. And I don't like movies that suck up to their target demographic, as this one did in spades.

It may be a great turning point in the history of the "cinema", according to the critics I pay no attention to. It may "define a generation", though IMO that's a slander. It may be the film that made Dustin Hoffman's career. It may have made its makers many millions. And it did have Anne Bancroft, whom I've since learned to appreciate in more than a few other films such as Don't Bother to Knock and A Life in the Balance. But it's still a steaming pile of ####.
   222. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:27 AM (#4337715)
Although I imagine we are watching different movies, this very closely mirrors my attitude towards movies.

I don't see how it can't, at least for someone who's not a professional critic, and even there I've got to believe there's often a political factor (in the broad sense of the term) at work.
   223. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:30 AM (#4337716)
BTW the movie beginning now on TCM, Life Begins, is a gem, starring Loretta Young. I also like it as a side note because it takes place in the NYC hospital where I was born.
   224. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:38 AM (#4337718)
The advantage of older movies is also that they are so much more cheaper, and easy, to access.

I'd tell you how much I paid to see movies last year, but I don't want to bring the wrath of DMN upon me.
   225. Jay Z Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:47 AM (#4337721)
A one year sub to TCM's program guide costs $12.95, and it will make your picking and choosing a thousand times easier, since each monthly issue lists the plot summaries and main stars of every movie being shown. I mentioned it earlier, but TCM is like a YouTube channel that has many thousands of full game baseball videos going back to the Dead Ball era. Before long you get away from the movies you've heard of, and that's when you really begin to understand TCM's appeal. There's nothing like it anywhere else on TV, and there's not a single commercial interruption of any film.


I just look through the descriptions on TiVo when I get a chance, and record things with interesting titles or plots. Other times it will be ones that I've heard of but never seen. There was an odd one, Slim, starring Henry Fonda that was all about lineman work, as in Wichita Lineman. There certainly used to be a greater variety of stories out there, not all of this nerd fanservice crap.
   226. Jay Z Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:57 AM (#4337722)
I tend to get easily annoyed by movie characters who don't realize how good they have it.


Guy from 1850 - "You have movies? Moving pictures?"
   227. TerpNats Posted: January 03, 2013 at 08:34 AM (#4337759)
BTW the movie beginning now on TCM, Life Begins, is a gem, starring Loretta Young. I also like it as a side note because it takes place in the NYC hospital where I was born.
Interesting film, given Loretta's own maternity situation a few years later (although here her character is married, albeit a convicted murderer). And Glenda Farrell was her usual wonderful self, as an unmarried showgirl expecting twins. (Warners pre-Codes always benefited from the presence of Farrell or good friend Joan Blondell, delightful actresses with sex appeal who could bridge the gap between star and supporting player. BTW, TCM is showing the Torchy Blane series of movies -- murder mysteries involving a reporter, usually played by Farrell -- at noon Saturdays ET over the next few weeks.)
   228. Jay Z Posted: January 03, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4337800)
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.


But that's almost always true of art, and sports for that matter. The core audience for any musician is usually a few years younger than the musician, not the musician's peer group. The musician's peer group has already latched onto other, older, artists by the time the musician makes the big time.
   229. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4337830)
In the past couple years I've watched His Girl Friday , Kid Galahad with Bogart and Edward G Robinson, Notorious, Kind Hearts and Coronets, It's a Wonderful Life (though that one is an annual thing since I was a kid).


Kind Hearts & Coronets belongs in my earlier fave-films-ever round-up. As does, mentioned elsewhere, Frances. (About 10 years ago, when the crew for Big Fish -- filmed locally, & including a cameo by my back yard in a ballgame scene shot at the junior high field I live right next to -- was headquartered right across the street from a restaurant a friend & I were eating at, I noticed Sam Shepherd dining a few tables away & took the occasion to tell him how much I loved him in that movie. Of course, I later regretted having cost myself a chance to accrue hipster points by invoking something like Cowboy Mouth instead.)
   230. BDC Posted: January 03, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4337854)
Does anyone else find the central relationships in The Graduate kind of creepy

I think that's kind of the point of the movie :)

I can see why The Graduate is a perfect storm for Andy-hatred (as itemized in #221), and well, fair enough. And we probably all have movies from the canon that we just can't stand for one reason or another. For me (getting ready to duck and run here) watching Godfather II is like watching paint dry in slow motion. Much of the dialogue is mumbled, in Sicilian, or both. The protagonist, interesting in the original Godfather because he's caught between two worlds, inexorably loses my sympathy as the second film drags on. Diane Keaton : me :: Anne Bancroft : Andy. And so forth … but one still sees why these films are canonical, IOW why a bunch of other people like them, even if one can't sign on.
   231. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4337872)
Diane Keaton : me :: Anne Bancroft : Andy.


*gasp* You are dead to me. Diane Keaton in the various Woody Allen movies & Reds=pretty much my perfect woman. Wife No. 2 sort of resembled her, even.

(As is Andy. Anne Bancroft gets points she might not otherwise receive because she was the mother of Max Brooks, author of World War Z, & also shares [minus a few decades] my birthday, as does Roddy McDowall.)
   232. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4337921)
Diane Keaton : me :: Anne Bancroft : Andy. And so forth … but one still sees why these films are canonical, IOW why a bunch of other people like them, even if one can't sign on.

Wait, I hope you're not thinking I hate Anne Bancroft. Maybe I should put it another way.

Anne Bancroft: The Graduate = Steve Carlton: 1972 Phillies.
   233. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4337929)
Diane Keaton in the various Woody Allen movies & Reds=pretty much my perfect woman.

I recently saw "Annie Hall" for the first time. It really is amazing how influential that movie apparently is for the romantic comedy genre. And a little bit the Magic Pixie Dream Girl thing. Speaking of which, did anyone see Ruby Sparks? I thought it could have been a really good movie along those lines if it embraced its dark side a little more.
   234. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4337930)
228:

Of course.

It nevertheless needs to be pointed out; otherwise some act and talk as if each generation creates itself ex nihilo, had no mothers/fathers, older brothers/sisters.

A whole bunch of different types, coming from different places (literally and emotionally), goes into creating an era. Until the late '70s, the creative/production side of the culture of the radical '60s that extended well into the '70s is represented by people born mostly in the late '30s, early '40s. Those going to Vietnam, or avoiding going to Vietnam, those concerned about race, those dropping out and tuning in, man (until the late '70s--early '80s when they got out of awareness and into money), were not, for the most part, the high-profile cultural creators but were the on-the-ground market (and as we know they great consumer matrixes are not simply passive recipients of what’s offered, but create demand) that the creators (cultural capitalists in a sense) respond to. Or else.

But there's more of continuous unbroken linkage than many would have you think. The Beats than the hippies, Brando then Dean, Elvis then the Beatles. Dylan has come to be seen as a signature counter-culture figure, maybe the most significant one, but he is also a transition figure--the last Beat, the first Hippie, however reluctant and maverick he essentially always has been when it comes to becoming mainstream acceptable, being part of any organizational consensus (what does Baez say his response was usually when she wanted him to attend some protest--nah, I got something else I want to do).
   235. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4337931)
Andy is no longer dead to me. On life-support, maybe (mainly for making me regret giving up cable 9 years ago by his constant extolling of the virtues of TCM, which of course I partook of frequently back in the day) ...

Actually, IIRC, back when I first had cable starting in '85 (dropped it in '90, got it back in early '02, dropped it for good -- so far -- as noted 3 years later), AMC featured vintage movies without ads for about half a day, with the other half of that place on the dial devoted to infomercials or such. Might've been a totally local setup in that regard, though.

Not that I have any idea of whether AMC even still exists.
   236. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4337936)
Speaking of which, did anyone see Ruby Sparks? I thought it could have been a really good movie along those lines if it embraced its dark side a little more.
I saw it a month ago on a plane. I really enjoyed it - to some degree, it's an intellectual exercise. What if we wrote a movie that seemed like a quirky romantic comedy and then you discovered gradually that it was actually a horror movie told from the point of view of the monster? I thought the level of darkness was actually exactly right. It's not supposed to be obviously dark for a while.

Except for the ending. WTF was that? Did the movie not realize it had turned into a horror movie? (I've read that Zoe Kazan - the writer and star - had a different ending and this one got forced on her by the studio. I can imagine someone at the studio not wanting to accept the movie they'd made, perhaps.)

Also, I just saw Django Unchained last night. Highly recommended.
   237. JJ1986 Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4337938)
AMC is now a channel that produces television shows. Mad Men, Breaking Bad and at least one other popular one. When they do show movies, it's not good ones. Last night I saw an ad promoting them showing Bring It On this weekend.
   238. BDC Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4337939)
Ah, my bad, Andy, I misread the Anne Bancroft sentiment.

And I don't totally dislike Diane Keaton. She's funny in Love & Death. And I do like both Annie Hall and Manhattan, though I think the point of both films for me is that love strikes unpredictably and that most relationships are bad—or if not 100% bad (did Allen once say that sex, like pizza, is pretty good at its worst?), then fraught with the constant realization that being in love is a matter of a mutual inability to figure out what either person sees in the other. Keaton's character is so annoying in both films that it works fairly well along those lines for me. Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan is even more annoying. (And don't get me started on Mia Farrow.) I'd like to think that's Woody Allen's philosophical point: one is destined to fall in love with annoying people :)
   239. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4337941)
Not that I have any idea of whether AMC even still exists.
Mad Men. Breaking Bad.
   240. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4337946)
Actually, IIRC, back when I first had cable starting in '85 (dropped it in '90, got it back in early '02, dropped it for good -- so far -- as noted 3 years later), AMC featured vintage movies without ads for about half a day, with the other half of that place on the dial devoted to infomercials or such. Might've been a totally local setup in that regard, though.

Not that I have any idea of whether AMC even still exists.


AMC now exists as a purely commercial channel, one more mediocrity in a sea of them, forced to depend on shows like Mad Men to survive. But up until TCM began showing up on non-premium cable and stole its thunder, AMC was only a somewhat lesser version of what TCM is today, with strictly "old" movies and no commercials. I think they started running commercials about 8 or 10 years ago, but once we started getting TCM, IMO it was all over for AMC anyway.

EDIT: cokes all around
   241. Greg K Posted: January 03, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4337947)
Except for the ending. WTF was that? Did the movie not realize it had turned into a horror movie? (I've read that Zoe Kazan - the writer and star - had a different ending and this one got forced on her by the studio. I can imagine someone at the studio not wanting to accept the movie they'd made, perhaps.)

The ending was exactly what I was referring to. I think the movie as a whole was good, then at the end they seemed to cop out of the darkness.

EDIT: I too watched it on a plane about a month ago!
   242. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4337953)
Well, I mean, they tried to. After the "puppet" scene, the darkness can't be disavowed, and the movie as a whole built very clearly and cleverly up to the puppet scene. I could sort of buy the successful book thing, and the cynical "he still sort of wins" ending (with a touch of "perhaps he's learned something"), but having him meet up with Ruby again as he did was unacceptable. It was shot almost like a dream, which I think was Kazan's and the directors' way of trying to offer a possible interpretation that this didn't really happen.
   243. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4337956)
Ah, my bad, Andy, I misread the Anne Bancroft sentiment.

No problem, I often run on like the proverbial six pack of gonorrhea and can sometimes be less than precise in my wording. But Anne Bancroft is one of my favorite actresses whom I've never seen in more than a handful of films.

And I don't totally dislike Diane Keaton. She's funny in Love & Death. And I do like both Annie Hall and Manhattan,

Diane Keaton was so perfect in Annie Hall that I can't help but thinking that from there it had to be all downhill, though I admit I haven't seen her in too many movies after that.** But then to me once you've seen one of those pre-Annie Hall Woody Allen comedies you've seen them all. It took me a while to figure that out, but eventually the little light bulb went on inside when I started watching them for a second time.

**Though don't get me started on Reds, but then I promise not to.
   244. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4337958)
I, too, was captivated by Diane Keaton. This captivation happened when I saw her in Play It Again, Sam (if I saw her first in The Godfather, she didn't make much of an impression there), but it was short-lived, gone by Annie Hall. That self-conscious improvisational style wears thin fast with me. Too, she, even Woody Allen, as well as Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, suffered in comparison the more classic comedies I saw.

But, it isn't just comedy, or Woody and Mel, or Keaton and Dunaway, it's the whole movie culture revolution of the late '60s and '70s came to seem overrated. Bloated, ponderous, and pretentious Most of it was just repackaging and re-labeling, I came to see. I thought Bonnie & Clyde and Peckinpah and then Scorsese and Coppola were onto something. That something, I came to view as terribly overrated. I went from really being into the movie happening when I was young to quickly not caring at all.

   245. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4337959)
Movies I liked this year in no particular order:

The Avengers
Dark Knight Rises
Looper
Lincoln
Arbitage
Argo
Wreck it Ralph
Killing Them softly
The Hobbit
Lawless
The Amazing Spider Man
Django

Movies I hated:

the Savages
Silent Hill 3D
The Raven
Wrath of the Titans
The Hunger Games


   246. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:14 PM (#4337966)
Hmmm. I don't think I've ever even heard of Ruby Sparks. Sounds potentially promising.
   247. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:20 PM (#4337970)
**Though don't get me started on Reds, but then I promise not to.


That's probably best, sounds like. It's my favorite movie ever, & I gather that you'd not only be dead to me, but buried. Or cremated.
   248. BDC Posted: January 03, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4337977)
the whole movie culture revolution of the late '60s and '70s came to seem overrated

A lot of filmmakers certainly thought that their pictures were important at the time, and unduly so, in retrospect. I remember seeing Carnal Knowledge as a teenager and thinking it was profound (ditto Little Murders, another Jules Feiffer script). I have the funny feeling that they might seem vapid if I saw them again. And they were typical of the era, lots of portentousness, a big rush that came with being able to say and show things on film that one hadn't been able to do in the earlier censorship dispensation.

More and more, the very best films of the 1970s seem to me not the ones that seemed "important" at the time, but those that made an aesthetic out of low-key location shooting, washed-out color, an end-of-the-rope Bicentennial ennui: particularly the 70s version of noir, films like Charley Varrick and Night Moves. They look terrible; everybody in them is venal and having a miserable time, but they have their own kind of wit and a certain you're-on-your-own philosophy. They've been very influential.
   249. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4338001)
Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan is even more annoying.


Well, she's playing a 17-year-old girl, and 17-year-old girls tend to be annoying.

Manhattan is fascinating to me mostly for what it says about Woody Allen. He had this idea that it would be interesting to see what would happen if his customary 40-year-old schlub fell in love with a teenage girl, without ever once considering what it would mean to the teenage girl. For one thing, she's involved with him to the point of sleeping over at his apartment, and her parents are entirely out of the picture. (I think they're literally mentioned once.) I know New York City parents of that era are supposed to be famously louche, but don't we care at all what they think about their teenage daughter shtupping a 40-year-old? Woody seems to be oblivious to the other side of the equation.

Then there's the subplot where Allen's college professor friend has enough money to go out and buy a hugely expensive sports car on a whim. Allen once again has zero grasp of what real people's financial lives are like.

But that's not to say that Manhattan is a bad movie. In a lot of ways, it's kinda great. Meryl Streep is marvelously ######, the B&W cinematography is delicious, and the city has never looked better. I could watch those opening shots all day long.



   250. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4338011)
FYI I hated "Superbad". I thought Jonah Hill made Benjamin Braddock look sympathetic with all of his whining.

Speaking of directors that have had an interesting career, even though William Friedkin dropped off the face of the Earth after he had those bombs in "Crusing" and "Sorcerer" ,I still enjoy "To Live and Die in LA" and "Bug".
   251. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4338014)
**Though don't get me started on Reds, but then I promise not to.

That's probably best, sounds like. It's my favorite movie ever, & I gather that you'd not only be dead to me, but buried. Or cremated.


Well, if I made a list of my 100 least favorite movies, Reds might not make it, but as a general rule I don't find that Hollywood and history are a very good mix. Too much dramatic license is not my cup of tea when it comes to depicting real events in the past.

But I can understand your reaction. I can't imagine I'd have many good things to think about anyone who didn't like movies like Angi Vera, Open City, Bicycle Thieves, Stella Dallas, or The Killers. But fortunately the few critics of those movies are mostly dead already, so I don't have to worry about having to threaten to off anybody.
   252. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4338032)
Manhattan is fascinating to me mostly for what it says about Woody Allen. He had this idea that it would be interesting to see what would happen if his customary 40-year-old schlub fell in love with a teenage girl, without ever once considering what it would mean to the teenage girl.

Woody Allen was just getting warmed up at 40. He was 57 when he was hitting on the 19-year old Juliette Lewis in my favorite Woody Allen movie, Husbands and Wives. Of course since that film was released in the wake of Allen's affair with his stepdaughter, and since Mia Farrow was also playing his wife in the movie, there were all kinds of interesting dimensions to speculate about.
   253. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4338110)
Soon-Yi was not his stepdaughter.

Right around the time all the scandal and custody brouhaha was at its highest in the media, Woody was in the midst of pre-production preparations for a movie. At a casting meeting attended by his attorney and his agent, wrt to this one part, he says, you know who would be good in this role, Mia. Maybe we could get her. Everyone's aghast. The agent says: Are you crazy? Don't you know what she is saying about you to the press and in public? Woody replies: Aww, that's personal. This is business. I guess he was talked out of it. But that impresses the hell out of me. And it says something about a guy whose accomplished all he has (whether you think highly of that accomplishment or not). You can only do that if you can compartmentalize your mental and emotional life to a really exceptional degree.
   254. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 03, 2013 at 03:25 PM (#4338118)
Surprised and gratified to see Sturges's "Miracle of Morgan's Creek" mentioned. Even with comedies, there's a slight difference between the best movie and funniest movie. I think "Miracle" is the funniest movie ever, with just a few reasonable competitors.
   255. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4338122)
I think a good case can be made that it is the best comedy ever. Miracle of Morgan's Creek, it has been said, is the screwball comedy to end all screwball comedies.
   256. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4338131)
Soon-Yi was not his stepdaughter.

Right, she was Mia's adopted daughter, though that distinction didn't make much difference to the media. But I like that point you make about Woody's professionalism.

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

Surprised and gratified to see Sturges's "Miracle of Morgan's Creek" mentioned. Even with comedies, there's a slight difference between the best movie and funniest movie. I think "Miracle" is the funniest movie ever, with just a few reasonable competitors.

The Sheep Has Five Legs, The Women, His Girl Friday, The Lady Eve, The Producers, Animal House, Trading Places, The Tin Men, The War of the Roses, Sons of the Desert, the original silent version of The Gold Rush, and most definitely Libeled Lady and Bombshell, which is the greatest of them all. I realize not all of these are Screwballs.
   257. BDC Posted: January 03, 2013 at 03:55 PM (#4338144)
To my mind the greatest comedies are ones where you continue to actually laugh even though you've seen them too often: Monkey Business, Duck Soup, Love & Death, Airplane!, Being John Malkovich, The Big Lebowski, Best in Show. (They are all quotable pictures you can construct a commentary for your life out of.) I do appreciate several screwball comedies as wonderful pictures, Bringing Up Baby and Nothing Sacred among them; there's also the original To Be or Not To Be, which is awfully sharp in so many ways (and very influential on Inglorious Basterds, I might add); even if I don't laugh uproariously each time I see them. There are also a couple of comedies I really liked in recent years but would like to watch again to see how they hold up: Juno, I Love You Philip Morris.
   258. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4338214)
Most of the comedies Bob mentioned I agree are quite good, though I haven't seen Airplane! I'm not much for comedies per se, but Dazed & Confused is my go-to as the cream of that crop from the last couple of decades. I'm probably biased, though, because the kids portrayed in the film are basically me & mine; it occurs on the last day of school in May 1976, which is when my 11th-grade year ended, & IIRC it's set in east Texas, which was pretty much of a piece with my home in southwest Arkansas.
   259. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 03, 2013 at 04:50 PM (#4338226)
After hearing about how great the Marx Bros were , I tried to get through Duck soup but couldn't. I think it was because either the jokes were dated or their was no plot to the movies, it just seemed like every scene was a set-up to see how many jokes they could fit in.
   260. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 04:57 PM (#4338237)
Not to overload, but jsut in case anyone's interested in someone's selections over about a fifty-year period.

The best (and funniest) to me (those in bold are the best of hte best):

The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (but not the very fine Meet John Doe), His Girl Friday, Trouble in Paradise, Duck Soup, Horsefeathers, The Shop Around the Corner (Stewart's Destry, Mr. Smith, and It's A Wonderful Life, although great, are not, I suppose, strictly comedies), The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Great McGinty, Miracle at Morgan's Creek, The Palm Beach Story, Easy Living, The More the Merrier, Heaven Can Wait (Lubitsch) Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Ladykillers. Dr. Strangelove.

One step below the above:

Lady for a Day, Monkey Business, Animal Crackers, Twentieth Century, The Good Fairy, Design For Living, Blessed Event, Bombshell, Libeled Lady, Love on a Bet, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Larceny, Inc., Unfaithfully Yours, Hail, The Conquering Hero, The Richest Girl in the World, Wise Girl, My Favorite Wife, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Ball of Fire, Xmas in July, You Can't Take It With You, Vivacious Lady, The Moon's Our Home, Hide-Out, To Be or Not To Be, Ninotchka, Our Man in Havana, The Lavender Hill Mob, I’m All Right, Jack, Brothers in Law, Under the Yum Yum Tree, Irma La Douce, How to Murder Your Wife, It's A Mad...World, The Trouble With Harry, Midnight, Hands Across the Table, Some Like It Hot, The Americanization of Emily, Take the Money and Run, The Producers, Airplane, The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona
   261. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4338251)
The only leading actor or actress who can make me laugh nearly every time she opens her mouth in comic situations is Jean Harlow, who's got the best combination of smartmouth and dumbmouth the world has ever seen. Comedians who just tell jokes or act "zany" all the time don't rise to quite the same level for me, but that's because I always like humor that at least on the surface isn't too self-conscious or repetitious. The perfect example would be Harlow's saying "That's arson!" when Powell informs her that he and Myrna Loy have been married in Libeled Lady. It's so completely bizarre and yet spoken with such complete sincerity that it works on every possible level. I can't help but think that Larry David had that line in mind when he had Elaine come out with "He's like a Svenjolly". (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss also takes comedy to a very high level, at least with the right script.)

You could also make a case for the entire Thin Man series being the best comic oeuvre ever. In William Powell and Myrna Loy, you have two of the best deadpan actors of all time playing perfectly against a supporting cast of character actors whom I don't think even Preston Sturges could top in more than maybe one or two of his films. The way that series combined murder plots and comedy spawned a score of imitators, some of them (Torchy Blane; The Lone Wolf) pretty good in their own right, but none of them remotely on the level of Powell and Loy.
   262. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4338262)
After hearing about how great the Marx Bros were , I tried to get through Duck soup but couldn't. I think it was because either the jokes were dated or their was no plot to the movies, it just seemed like every scene was a set-up to see how many jokes they could fit in.

I may be the only person you'll ever meet who agrees with you on Duck Soup, but you're not alone. A Night at the Opera is the only Marx Brothers movie that held up for me the second time through, and by the third or fourth time I had to mute all those godawful musical interludes in order to continue.

OTOH I do have to admit I like this bit of product placement associated with Duck Soup, even if it wasn't necessarily intentional.
   263. Jack Keefe Posted: January 03, 2013 at 05:39 PM (#4338290)
Dazed & Confused went on my queue. Mongoose, if you haven't seen Bernie (same director, Richard Linklater), it's another East Texas film worth seeing. I can't quite remember a picture exactly like it: it's both a mockumentary and a documentary, and both funny and affecting.

As to Duck Soup, there are two kinds of people, those who like the Marx Brothers instinctively and those who don't. They were almost already in decline by the time they started making movies, for one thing; they were legendary on the vaudeville circuit, and the toast of Broadway, largely because they were great improv comics. But their energy gets across, particularly I think in Monkey Business. And spankz is right, that film in particular is an exercise in seeing how many jokes you can stuff into each minute. That's just the aesthetic; you'll like it or you won't.
   264. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 03, 2013 at 05:44 PM (#4338296)
That being said, I enjoy Laurel and Hardy and Chaplin in that era. For the 40's and 50's "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" is a favorite of mine.
   265. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 03, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4338299)
Funniest Jack Keefe post ever - funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha.
   266. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 06:09 PM (#4338323)
Funniest Jack Keefe post ever - funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha.


I can only assume he's been drinking.

Or maybe that he hasn't.
   267. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4338330)
As to Duck Soup, there are two kinds of people, those who like the Marx Brothers instinctively and those who don't. They were almost already in decline by the time they started making movies, for one thing; they were legendary on the vaudeville circuit, and the toast of Broadway, largely because they were great improv comics. But their energy gets across, particularly I think in Monkey Business. And spankz is right, that film in particular is an exercise in seeing how many jokes you can stuff into each minute. That's just the aesthetic; you'll like it or you won't.


Agreed; I'm one of the former. Though I must say that I didn't see Animal Crackers till probably a couple of decades after I discovered their other classics, & it didn't hold up quite as well for me as Duck Soup, Night at the Opera, etc. Probably that stemmed mainly from differences in me & my sensibiltiies when I was in my 30s as opposed to in my teens, though for the most part I doubt my sense of humor has changed much. (Does one's sense of humor change appreciably over time? Probably differs with the individual.)
   268. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 06:53 PM (#4338378)
As to Duck Soup, there are two kinds of people, those who like the Marx Brothers instinctively and those who don't.

I grew up on You Bet Your Life, and I used to show bootleg prints of that show and Animal Crackers before they were both re-released legitimately. And I think Jack's right, but only up to a point. I love the Marx Brothers in parts, but I may be the only person I know who thinks Chico is the funniest and Harpo the least. And while Groucho can crack me up, he's too dependent on his material. IMO the best bits they ever did were the "Tootsie-Frootsie ice cream" one in A Day at the Races, and the speech in A Night at the Opera when they were being honored as the flyers who'd made it halfway across the ocean, only to run out of gas and "had to go back." But in truth Sig Ruman as Gottlieb cracked me up more than any of the Marx Brothers in that movie, much as I thought his "Concentration Camp Erhard" was the highlight of To Be Or Not To Be. To me the Marx Brothers are great comedians, but not quite on the level as (say) Harlow, Fernandel, Powell / Loy and The Thin Man crew, the Sturges ensemble, Grant / Hepburn, Chaplin at his best, Fields at his best, Laurel & Hardy, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx, or any one of a number of more recent comedians like Eddie Murphy, John Belushi, Larry David, or Wanda Sykes**. Obviously this is a YMMV sort of thing.

**"That's right, Larry, blame it on the BLACK man" may be the best line I've ever seen on TV.
   269. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 03, 2013 at 07:05 PM (#4338385)
(Does one's sense of humor change appreciably over time? Probably differs with the individual.)

Speaking only for myself, I think it develops as you get exposed to more and more examples of humor and start noticing what wears well and what doesn't. I only wish that there were about 96 hours in the day so I could keep up with all the new acts (not to mention the new movies, new books, etc.), because I'm sure there are plenty out there today that are every bit as good as any of the ones I just mentioned above.

But here's one other thing: I have two friends who are as funny as any professional comedian I've ever seen, especially given that everything with them is completely spontaneous and not rehearsed. One is a complete deadpan who can spin a BS story out of nothing, dropping just the right names at the right moments in a completely casual tone, and have everyone taking him seriously. The other's humor is far darker, and he could go one on one with Don Rickles with a stream of deadly accurate putdowns. Needless to say, the first one has led a far happier life than the other one. What makes them different from the pros is that neither of them have any inner need to be a comedian, and without that, you're just a guy telling jokes.
   270. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: January 03, 2013 at 07:29 PM (#4338399)
I have a relative ( my grandfather's sister's son- a cousin thrice removed or something) who used to like to watch old tv shows when most of the tv stations were independent. For instance, channel 44 in the Bay Area, that used to show a lot of old reruns so thats were I used to watch a lot of old Looney-tunes, Popeye , 3 Stooges etc. That being said I used to like watching " Bet your Life" as I enjoyed Groucho more as a game show host than on the big screen. That being said everyone has a different sense of humor so I don;t begrudge anyone liking something I don't get unless it's something like "Dice" Clay whom I never thought was funny.
   271. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 03, 2013 at 07:41 PM (#4338409)
Manhattan is fascinating to me mostly for what it says about Woody Allen. He had this idea that it would be interesting to see what would happen if his customary 40-year-old schlub fell in love with a teenage girl, without ever once considering what it would mean to the teenage girl. For one thing, she's involved with him to the point of sleeping over at his apartment, and her parents are entirely out of the picture. (I think they're literally mentioned once.) I know New York City parents of that era are supposed to be famously louche, but don't we care at all what they think about their teenage daughter shtupping a 40-year-old? Woody seems to be oblivious to the other side of the equation.

Then there's the subplot where Allen's college professor friend has enough money to go out and buy a hugely expensive sports car on a whim. Allen once again has zero grasp of what real people's financial lives are like.


Interesting commentary, Tom. Manhattan is one of the few Woody Allen movies I haven't seen (for no particular reason, as I generally really enjoy his movies).
   272. Morty Causa Posted: January 03, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4338416)
The Marx Brothers in their heyday were revered and extol for their sense of comic anarchy and surrealism. That's basically a young man's humor. See The Three Stooges also--or The Ritz Brothers. Or, to a lesser degree, Wheeler and Woolsey, then Abbott and Costello later, then even more later Martin and Lewis. That's what you saw in wiseacres disrupting the class, in the guys honking and spitting and hooting at girls at recess. You outgrow it. Too, The Marx Brothers may not be seen anymore as so original because comedy in a sense has become what they were and some. I, too, always thought Chico didn't get enough credit, but, still, Groucho is the man. There's more to him, and more range of talent, than the other two.

It was Irving Thalberg who took them on and more or less domesticated them, making them the helpers and protectors of the young lovers. In the early movies, they weren't that so much as destroyers of all order (it doesn't come into play at all in Duck Soup and Horsefeathers, and only half-hearted if at all in Animal Crackers and Monkey Business, for instance). But it plays to such an extent in ]i]A Night At The Opera and those that follow, that it comes close sometimes to ruinning those movies, except for those exquisite bits, like that "Lydia, The Tattooed lady" number in At The Circus.
   273. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 03, 2013 at 08:17 PM (#4338430)
Interesting commentary, Tom.


Thanks, that's kind of you to say. For all my complaining, Manhattan is one of the few Allen movies I've watched multiple times, and would happily watch again.
   274. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 03, 2013 at 11:38 PM (#4338576)
I can only assume he's been drinking.

Or maybe that he hasn't.

More likely somebody forgot to switch their accounts.
   275. CrosbyBird Posted: January 04, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4339132)
A lot of filmmakers certainly thought that their pictures were important at the time, and unduly so, in retrospect.

I wonder if this is true, or if society has simply changed enough over time that it's not important and/or effective to say those things in that way any more.

It's very difficult for me to put myself in the mindset of older media (literature, music, or film) that has Something Important To Say, because often it doesn't seem like it really needs to be said any more.
   276. TerpNats Posted: January 06, 2013 at 04:40 AM (#4339934)
After hearing about how great the Marx Bros were, I tried to get through "Duck Soup" but couldn't. I think it was because either the jokes were dated or their was no plot to the movies, it just seemed like every scene was a set-up to see how many jokes they could fit in.

I may be the only person you'll ever meet who agrees with you on "Duck Soup," but you're not alone. "A Night at the Opera" is the only Marx Brothers movie that held up for me the second time through, and by the third or fourth time I had to mute all those godawful musical interludes in order to continue.
My favorite film from the Marxes is "Horse Feathers," which wonderfully knocks down authority (here more of a concept than exemplified in a person, since lovely Thelma Todd is the foil as a "college widow" -- how come I never met one of them in College Park or Ames? -- instead of the obvious Margaret Dumont). "I'm Against It" is a classic, and "Everyone Says I Love You" is so ingeniously worked into the film it doesn't irritate those who don't like music in Marx films (although Kalmar-Ruby compositions are always welcome).
   277. Poster Nutbag Posted: January 06, 2013 at 07:11 AM (#4339940)
Fully concur on the above analysis on Horse Feathers. Also my favorite. I even snagged the digital album off of Amazon when I noticed they had it. Everyone Says I Love You is so magnificently placed throughout the film using each Marx and working their comedic presence/character into each 'section' of the song. Utterly fantastic! The dialogue throughout the film is superb. The 'singing lesson' is another incredible and classic scene.

I'm Against It is also my absolute favorite (Solo) Groucho bit of all
   278. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 06, 2013 at 07:54 AM (#4339942)
(did Allen once say that sex, like pizza, is pretty good at its worst?)

No, that's a generic observation that has no father (or at least not one you can pin it on). But there's an exchange in "Manhattan" where a dim lady at a party stops the conversation dead by saying "I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind." After a beat, Woody Allen says, "You had the wrong kind? I've never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was... right on the money."
   279. Poster Nutbag Posted: January 06, 2013 at 08:00 AM (#4339944)
Horse Feathers
Animal Crackers
Duck Soup
Monkey Business
A Night In Casablanca (I know, ranked to high, personal taste and all that)
The Cocoanuts
A Night At The Opera
A Day At The Races
Go West
Room Service
The Big Store
A Day at the Circus
Love Happy

(Didn't include the missing film that they reportedly burned the only copy of, the bits done for studio promos like the original Maurice Chevalier bit, Solo films, etc)
   280. Morty Causa Posted: January 06, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4340021)
I like the one of Woody's on sex that goes something like this:

“Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go, it's one of the best.”
   281. bjhanke Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:19 AM (#4340537)
Jolly - I went to college at Vanderbilt, which is, of course, in Nashville. A lot of artists who are not country or western go to Nashville to record, because the studio equipment and personnel are top rate. So Simon and Garfunkel came to Nashville to do an album and figured that as long as they were there, they ought to to a show at the university. About 50 people showed up, because the student body at Vandy largely were C&W fans who had no idea who S&G were. So S&G told us all to come down to the real close-up seats, and told us that they weren't going to do their regular show. They were going to do the club show that they did in small clubs in NY when just getting started. They did these, they said, under the name "Johnny and the Mental Eunuchs." Raunchy, hilarious, and edgy, nothing like their commercial work. I have no idea whether they ever recorded any of that, but if you can find it, I think your opinion of the duo will change quickly.

As many have mentioned, taste in movies will cause people to come up with completely different favorites lists. My particular curse is that I am seriously into theater, and so go to movies looking at the technique. So, when I went to see The Hobbit, I went partially to see if they really did include all of the first third of the novel, because that would be a first in American cinema - to take the whole 6 hours needed to adapt a normal-size novel. It did, but I probably missed a bunch of stuff I will have to go see the flick again to actually focus on. Also, I tend to rate movies like The Avengers very very highly because I know how hard it must be to try to do a superhero team film. You've got an audience that ranges from guys like me, who can give you the whole backstory of every character back to 1956, and people who have heard that this film has Robert Downey Jr. playing someone named "Iron Man", and that had worked real well in the Iron Man films. So you have to introduce all the characters quickly and with a one-note hook ("that's my secret - I'm ALWAYS angry"), and then come up with a foe to fight who is not trivial for Thor, The Hulk and Iron Man, but not overwhelming for Captain America, Hawkeye and The Black Widow. Joss Whedon just absolutely NAILED all of that necessary technique, which makes for a very enjoyable movie for me. People not looking for that stuff won't find it nearly so great.

- Brock
   282. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:35 AM (#4340542)
So Simon and Garfunkel came to Nashville to do an album and figured that as long as they were there, they ought to to a show at the university. About 50 people showed up, because the student body at Vandy largely were C&W fans who had no idea who S&G were. So S&G told us all to come down to the real close-up seats, and told us that they weren't going to do their regular show. They were going to do the club show that they did in small clubs in NY when just getting started. They did these, they said, under the name "Johnny and the Mental Eunuchs." Raunchy, hilarious, and edgy, nothing like their commercial work. I have no idea whether they ever recorded any of that, but if you can find it, I think your opinion of the duo will change quickly.

Frank Zappa also had a story about S&G opening for the Mothers of Invention... but doing so as "Tom and Jerry," the sort of Everly Brothers knockoff act they did when they were starting out. Good on them for not taking it too seriously, at least not then and there.
   283. TerpNats Posted: January 07, 2013 at 05:16 AM (#4340559)
Of course, we might never have heard of Simon & Garfunkel had someone at Columbia not decided to add a rock background to their acoustic "Sounds Of Silence" from the album "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." The acoustic version isn't bad, but not something that would have been a Top 40 hit.
   284. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 08:54 AM (#4340574)
Jolly - I went to college at Vanderbilt, which is, of course, in Nashville. A lot of artists who are not country or western go to Nashville to record, because the studio equipment and personnel are top rate. So Simon and Garfunkel came to Nashville to do an album and figured that as long as they were there, they ought to to a show at the university. About 50 people showed up, because the student body at Vandy largely were C&W fans who had no idea who S&G were. So S&G told us all to come down to the real close-up seats, and told us that they weren't going to do their regular show. They were going to do the club show that they did in small clubs in NY when just getting started. They did these, they said, under the name "Johnny and the Mental Eunuchs." Raunchy, hilarious, and edgy, nothing like their commercial work. I have no idea whether they ever recorded any of that, but if you can find it, I think your opinion of the duo will change quickly.

Interesting, and out of curiosity, when was that? I actually have (or had, I haven't checked lately) what may be their first commercial release, a late 1950's single called "Hey, Schoolgirl" that was released under the name of "Tom & Jerry". It wasn't exactly Buddy Holly or the young Elvis, more like a Wal-Mart version of the Everly Brothers, and it wasn't until much, much later that I found out that it was really Simon & Garfunkel.

EDIT: coke to Fred. I wrote the above before reading his post, which refers to the same song.

Anyway, as is the case of many other musicians and movies I can't stand, I'm not questioning the talent, only the relationship between the finished product and my ears (and eyes). And for me watching and listening to The Graduate is roughly akin to watching a bizarro episode of Father Knows Best set to the music of the Saccharine Symphony Orchestra. If I were into masochism I might enjoy it more.
   285. McCoy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4340694)
Saw The Hobbit over the weekend. It was the HFR 3D version and for the life of me I can't figure out why there have been so many complaints over the high frame rate. I didn't really notice anything negative about the image or really much of anything different about the HFR. I kept wondering if the theater was lying to me about it. The other thing I noticed about it is that the movie really didn't need to be in 3D and like when I watched Avatar after awhile you get used to the 3D and you don't even really notice the depth so it becomes rather pointless.

I haven't read the Hobbit in over 20 years but I'll probably read it again just to see the additions and differences between the two.
   286. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: January 07, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4340785)
The movies I've seen this year:

A+
1. The Comedy
2. Django Unchained
3. Rust and Bone
4. Moonrise Kingdom

A
5. Resident Evil: Retribution
6. Les Miserables
7. Hope Springs

B+
8. Wanderlust
9. Anna Karenina
10. The Grey
11. Looper
12. Lincoln
13. Pitch Perfect

C+
14. Skyfall
15. The Dictator
16. The Five-Year Engagement
17. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

C-
18. The Cabin in the Woods
19. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
20. The Vow
21. The Hunger Games
22. Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
23. Taken 2

D
24. Snow White and the Huntsman
25. The Dark Knight Rises
26. The Campaign
27. Cloud Atlas
28. Ted
29. Beasts of the Southern Wild
30. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

F
31. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
32. Friends With Kids
   287. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4340831)
That's quite a list, Davo, but for the price of those 32 movies the average TCM viewer could have recorded onto DVDs over 1,000 films of arguably equal quality.

Of course if you rented them or PPV'd them instead of going to the multiplex, I take it all back. In that case it would've been only about 250 or 300.
   288. McCoy Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4340845)
And for the fines and fees one has to pay on those 1,000 films one could make a great movie themselves.
   289. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4340848)
And for the fines and fees one has to pay on those 1,000 films one could make a great movie themselves.

You've been talking too much to Ray and not enough to Ted Turner. That ship sailed long ago.
   290. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4340849)
I just saw Hunger Games - Amazing GF received the DVD as an Xmas present, for reasons that are still unclear to me - and it was, in George Clinton's memorable phrase, "super stupid." Just bafflingly dumb. The highlight for me (besides all the dead teenagers) was hearing a Steve Reich composition FROM OUT OF NOWHERE on the soundtrack. Somebody involved had a stroke of good taste, anyway.

OK, I'm off to go take a nap under the only tree in the forest with a huge beehive in it.
   291. simon bedford Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4340855)
Somebody at columbia? it was legendary producer Tom wilson ( he did bob dylan albums from freewheelin up to the "like a rolling stone" single sessoin as well as "white light white heat" by the velvets) who not only overdubbed sound of silence but also the follow up single "I am a rock" which also went top ten.
   292. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 07, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4340898)
It was while Wilson was recording Highway 61 Revisited. One night after the Dylan sessions, he asked the same studio musicians to lay down a backing track for the original "Sounds of Silence" single. It literally took no more than an hour or so.
   293. simon bedford Posted: January 07, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4340910)
um not exactly , Wilson did overdub sound of silence the same day as day two of the "like a rolling stone " sessoin, but used a cast of totally different musicians.
   294. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: January 07, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4341117)
That's quite a list, Davo, but for the price of those 32 movies the average TCM viewer could have recorded onto DVDs over 1,000 films of arguably equal quality.
What is this a reference to?
   295. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 07, 2013 at 05:36 PM (#4341168)
What is this a reference to?


The 32 movies you listed above & presumably paid to see, in some form or fashion.
   296. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 07, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4341178)
Come to think of it, more than once, back in the days before I had good access to YouTube & the like, I wound up paying a few bucks ($5ish or thereabouts) for DVD-Rs of TCM showings of some of the '50s sf movies that I crave but that aren't/weren't otherwise available, like The Lost Missile & The Invisible Boy.

Now I'm wondering if my supplier was Andy ...

(... & if he happens to have The Whip Hand recorded).

(Or I've Lived Before.)
   297. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4341186)
Come to think of it, more than once, back in the days before I had good access to YouTube & the like, I wound up paying a few bucks ($5ish or thereabouts) for DVD-Rs of TCM showings of some of the '50s sf movies that I crave but that aren't/weren't otherwise available, like The Lost Missile & The Invisible Boy.

Now I'm wondering if my supplier was Andy ...


Nah, I bought a few of those myself, maybe 4 or 5, a few years back. They'd claim that they were "free" but then they'd add an $8.00 shipping charge. They were all taken right off TCM, and the website I got them from was shut down shortly thereafter. They'd claimed that the films were in the public domain, a claim which considering the vintage of those films (all circa 1930) was entirely possible, but even if they were there's no way the sellers could have stood up to any plaintiffs with lawyers on retainer. At that point I started thinking about just getting a recorder and doing it myself like everyone else.

(... & if he happens to have The Whip Hand recorded).

(Or I've Lived Before.)


Truth be told, I've never even heard of any of the four movies you mention. That means they must have come out after 1958. (smile)
   298. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 07, 2013 at 06:10 PM (#4341193)
They're all from the '50s, actually. Whip Hand ('51) focused on the Red Menace; William Cameron Menzies directed.

Invisible Boy ('57) featured Robby the Robot's second (& last?) appearance after Forbidden Planet.

Lost Missile ('58) is an interestingly downbeat nuclear-power-will-hurt-us flick, starring a young Robert Loggia.

I've Lived Before ('56) was part of the short spate of movies following the Search for Bridey Murphy template until that one proved infinitely less popular as a movie than as a book; Jock Mahoney starred.
   299. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 07, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4341249)
Well, I'll be damned. I'll look for them on TCM. They come up with stuff nearly every week that I never thought I'd see, stuff so obscure that even Robert Osborne has to use a teleprompter when he introduces them.
   300. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: January 08, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4341954)
Lost Missile ('58) is an interestingly downbeat nuclear-power-will-hurt-us flick


"I don't know what's worse. The fact that this has happened, or the fact that we have a name for it."
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