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 Thief's Monthly Film Challenge 2018 
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Jinnistan wrote:
We may have to disagree about his obligation then. I don't think that Almodovar is intending to address rape in this more general sense, but in context of these specific characters. He's not making any claims about what is typical in terms of abuse and motives.


I don't think he's out to make a claim either. But I think that the circumstances of his characters are close enough (again, in my opinion) to real and non-uncommon abusive relationship dynamics that it can't help but feel like they connect.

You could write a film about a slave who wants to be in servitude, and when someone objects say "No, no. I'm not commenting on racism in general. I'm telling a story about THIS one slave--and he's kind of messed up."

Takoma1 wrote:
I didn't come away from it thinking that it's message was "Rape saves the day!!!". I was using Talk to Her as another example of Almodovar using rape as a plot point in the context of it having a positive effect (even if we are not meant to look positively on the rapist).

I think that Almodovar is interested in looking at things in a more complex way than simple positive/negative. Whether or not Alicia could have come out of her coma in a way that didn't involve a pregnancy, we'll never know. I'm not familiar with a biological explanation for why it would be exclusively necessary. Also, I don't think that Alicia's knowledge of her stillborn child would not be somewhat traumatic. But to call this a positive outcome is complicated. Is it positive for the journalist? Was it worth the life of Lydia? Are they simply trying to make the best of a series of awful events?
[/quote]

It's true that we don't know if
Alicia would have woken up if she hadn't been assaulted/impregnated. But we do know that because she was impregnated she woke up (or at least I felt that the film strongly implied a causal relationship). I'm just observing that given how often he uses sexual violence in his films, it's odd to me that we almost never see a directly negative aftermath to it. I don't really remember the film giving much time to Alicia dealing with the complexity of what happened to her. How does she feel about what happened to her? About losing a child she never wanted, but also did not have a choice/chance to keep? I haven't seen the film since it was in theaters, so maybe these things were addressed and I don't remember them--my memory is of Alicia mostly being talked about, not hearing her thoughts.


Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:30 pm
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A film from Sweden: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I know I'm late to the party on this one: I've not read the books (though I have one of them on my shelf), seen the original films, or seen the remake. In fact, for such a pop-culture saturated story, all I really knew going in was that there was a young woman character who was a hacker.

The plot follows a reporter, Mikael, who has just come off of a guilty sentence for slandering a major business tycoon. Mikael has been framed, but there's nothing he can do about it and is preparing to serve a short prison sentence. Before he goes to prison, Mikael is summoned to the home of a man named Henrik. Back in the 1960s, Henrik's niece, Harriet, went missing. Every year since then, Henrik has received framed flowers in the mail, taunting mementos from her killer. Henrik wants Mikael to take one last attempt at the case before Henrik dies, which involves looking into Henrik's family, a sprawling group of people with various sordid pasts (including Nazism).

Eventually along for the ride with Mikael is Lisbeth, a young woman who works as a hacker for a security company. Originally hired to investigate Mikael, Lisbeth gets increasingly interested into his investigation into Harriet's disappearance, and ends up joining Mikael in his investigation after she discovers a major clue about the case.

Overall I thought that this was a pretty great movie. This is the kind of mystery that I enjoy: one where people see someone in a photo with a camera and track that person down to get photos of the same scene from a different angle. There's a lot of interesting investigation, and even if certain elements are a bit far-fetched, it all works in the context of the intense world of this larger-than-life family.

The characters of Lisbeth and Mikael are both appealing, though Lisbeth is the more cinematic, impactful character. We are given glimpses of a troubled past, and the introduction to her character largely involves a pretty horrific situation she's in that involves a sadistic parole officer who holds power over her. The whole "young sexy woman becomes involved with older, average looking dude" is an eye-rolling trope, but Lisbeth's rocky, abusive past with men in fatherly positions over her give an understandable context as to why Lisbeth would find the smart, determined, but also unthreatening Mikael appealing.

And as a character note, I love how fit Noomi Rapace got for this role. We several times see Lisbeth in physical conflict with men, and when we see Lisbeth topless (or otherwise catch glimpses of her shoulders and chest), it makes those scenes ten times more believeable. She is jacked. Too often, "strong" women in movies are simply lean and toned. But when you see Rapace in this film, it recontextualizes what a strong woman can look like on screen. It's obvious why more women don't look this way in movies that need their sex appeal (because this type of strength is more masculine looking), but I loved it.

The only downside for me was the
sadistic rape of Lisbeth by her parole officer. The assault, and Lisbeth's brutal retaliation, do serve as a crash course in both her trauma and what she is capable of, but it took me by surprise in the context of what felt like a more "traditional" mystery. Now, the echoes of her attack do carry through the rest of the film as we learn about other women who have been victims of horrible crimes. And I appreciate that the movie isn't interested in sanitizing the kind of misogynistic, cruel crimes that are so often the go-to method of the film/novel killer. But the brutality of the scenes were a bit much for me and I had to take a few days off from the film after watching them.

Lisbeth's rape/torture does eventually "close the circle" at the end of the film. Until that point I was ready to complain that the scene seemed to just be in the film to be nasty and "dark". It does belong in the film both thematically and for the purpose of not glossing over the later crimes. But they were just very, very hard to watch.


Anyone seen both versions? Is the American remake enough of its own thing to merit a watch? And if you have seen both, is the
sexual violence in the two films comparable? If the American version is more graphic/brutal than this one, I think I'll pass.


Fri Nov 16, 2018 1:33 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
Anyone seen both versions? Is the American remake enough of its own thing to merit a watch? And if you have seen both, is the
sexual violence in the two films comparable? If the American version is more graphic/brutal than this one, I think I'll pass.
I haven't seen the Swedish Dragon Tattoo, but I didn't like Fincher's version as much as I had hoped to; it's not bad or anything, and it does have his strong signature style and a great, winter-y Scandinavian atmosphere to it, but it also just had too many problems at the same time to be as good as it should've been, like the first act having a difficult time balancing the intercutting between Salander and Mikael's seperate stories, the middle act being mostly just going through familiar Thriller elements as it's mostly just a waiting game for the film to get around to revealing who the (incredibly obvious) baddie is, and then the movie going on for about 15 minutes longer than it should've as it takes unnecessary time wrapping up a sub-plot it didn't need to resolve. Again, it wasn't bad, but it just had too many flaws throughout to be as good as it should've. That, plus the
rape scenes not holding back much
makes me think maybe you should just skip it entirely.

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Fri Nov 16, 2018 3:19 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
A film from Sweden: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I know I'm late to the party on this one: I've not read the books (though I have one of them on my shelf), seen the original films, or seen the remake. In fact, for such a pop-culture saturated story, all I really knew going in was that there was a young woman character who was a hacker.

The plot follows a reporter, Mikael, who has just come off of a guilty sentence for slandering a major business tycoon. Mikael has been framed, but there's nothing he can do about it and is preparing to serve a short prison sentence. Before he goes to prison, Mikael is summoned to the home of a man named Henrik. Back in the 1960s, Henrik's niece, Harriet, went missing. Every year since then, Henrik has received framed flowers in the mail, taunting mementos from her killer. Henrik wants Mikael to take one last attempt at the case before Henrik dies, which involves looking into Henrik's family, a sprawling group of people with various sordid pasts (including Nazism).

Eventually along for the ride with Mikael is Lisbeth, a young woman who works as a hacker for a security company. Originally hired to investigate Mikael, Lisbeth gets increasingly interested into his investigation into Harriet's disappearance, and ends up joining Mikael in his investigation after she discovers a major clue about the case.

Overall I thought that this was a pretty great movie. This is the kind of mystery that I enjoy: one where people see someone in a photo with a camera and track that person down to get photos of the same scene from a different angle. There's a lot of interesting investigation, and even if certain elements are a bit far-fetched, it all works in the context of the intense world of this larger-than-life family.

The characters of Lisbeth and Mikael are both appealing, though Lisbeth is the more cinematic, impactful character. We are given glimpses of a troubled past, and the introduction to her character largely involves a pretty horrific situation she's in that involves a sadistic parole officer who holds power over her. The whole "young sexy woman becomes involved with older, average looking dude" is an eye-rolling trope, but Lisbeth's rocky, abusive past with men in fatherly positions over her give an understandable context as to why Lisbeth would find the smart, determined, but also unthreatening Mikael appealing.

And as a character note, I love how fit Noomi Rapace got for this role. We several times see Lisbeth in physical conflict with men, and when we see Lisbeth topless (or otherwise catch glimpses of her shoulders and chest), it makes those scenes ten times more believeable. She is jacked. Too often, "strong" women in movies are simply lean and toned. But when you see Rapace in this film, it recontextualizes what a strong woman can look like on screen. It's obvious why more women don't look this way in movies that need their sex appeal (because this type of strength is more masculine looking), but I loved it.

The only downside for me was the
sadistic rape of Lisbeth by her parole officer. The assault, and Lisbeth's brutal retaliation, do serve as a crash course in both her trauma and what she is capable of, but it took me by surprise in the context of what felt like a more "traditional" mystery. Now, the echoes of her attack do carry through the rest of the film as we learn about other women who have been victims of horrible crimes. And I appreciate that the movie isn't interested in sanitizing the kind of misogynistic, cruel crimes that are so often the go-to method of the film/novel killer. But the brutality of the scenes were a bit much for me and I had to take a few days off from the film after watching them.

Lisbeth's rape/torture does eventually "close the circle" at the end of the film. Until that point I was ready to complain that the scene seemed to just be in the film to be nasty and "dark". It does belong in the film both thematically and for the purpose of not glossing over the later crimes. But they were just very, very hard to watch.


Anyone seen both versions? Is the American remake enough of its own thing to merit a watch? And if you have seen both, is the
sexual violence in the two films comparable? If the American version is more graphic/brutal than this one, I think I'll pass.

I thought Fincher's version was very good but not as good as the original. His style in this is very fast, frenetic editing throughout, the opposite of the original, that, the first time I saw the film, was so distracting I almost walked out. Rooney Mara is excellent but still not as good as Rapace, who I now want to be in like every movie (I think she was pretty much the only redeeming thing in Prometheus). The rape is pretty much just as unpleasant in Fincher's as in the original. I hated that part in both films but also understood how much power it actually brought to the film.


Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:55 am
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Stu wrote:
I haven't seen the Swedish Dragon Tattoo, but I didn't like Fincher's version as much as I had hoped to; it's not bad or anything, and it does have his strong signature style and a great, winter-y Scandinavian atmosphere to it, but it also just had too many problems at the same time to be as good as it should've been, like the first act having a difficult time balancing the intercutting between Salander and Mikael's seperate stories, the middle act being mostly just going through familiar Thriller elements as it's mostly just a waiting game for the film to get around to revealing who the (incredibly obvious baddie) is, and then the movie going on for about 15 minutes longer than it should've as it takes unnecessary time wrapping up a sub-plot it didn't need to resolve. Again, it wasn't bad, but it just had too many flaws throughout to be as good as it should've. That, plus the
rape scenes not holding back much
makes me think maybe you should just skip it entirely.

FWIW, the original is a much more patient film.


Sat Nov 17, 2018 12:56 am
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Sounds like I'll probably skip the remake, thanks.


Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:03 am
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Put me under another person who thought the original was better for Dragon Tattoo. The remake had some fairly good moments (nice use of Enya in one scene), but the original was better.

Also place me in the bin that says The Girl Who trilogy hewed closely to the Matrix trilogy; the first film is must see, the second film is two thirds of a good film before it goes off the rails, and the third film is kinda bad.


Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:45 am
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I also haven't seen the Swedish version, but I found the remake to be a pretty good film, but for the most part unremarkable. I enjoyed it quite a bit while watching it, but have forgotten about it and don't remember a lot about it. It's on my Fincher lower tier.

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Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:11 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Also place me in the bin that says The Girl Who trilogy hewed closely to the Matrix trilogy; the first film is must see, the second film is two thirds of a good film before it goes off the rails, and the third film is kinda bad.


That's too bad--I liked both of the main characters and wouldn't mind seeing more of them.

I also kind of love the fact that the original book (and the Swedish version of the film) were titled Men Who Hate Women, but that for the English market it was changed. I mean, we all love titles that start "The Girl . . . ." when referring to an adult female character, right?


Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:41 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
You could write a film about a slave who wants to be in servitude, and when someone objects say "No, no. I'm not commenting on racism in general. I'm telling a story about THIS one slave--and he's kind of messed up."

I think that could potentially be an interesting film, but, of course, it would be entirely dependent on the execution of the filmmaking and writing. I could, maybe, cite Samuel L. Jackson's "Stephen" as a good example of such a compelling slave character.

And I don't disparage those who don't care for the execution of Tie Me Up, those who feel that its comic tone, however dark, is essentially inappropriate to the subject matter. I don't agree, but it wouldn't be invalid. Some of the things that allow me to pass Almodovar would be that he is not exploitative - I believe that he is sincerely empathetic of his characters - and that his characters, being fully 3-dimensional well-written, elevate them from being mere essential surrogates for general sexual templates. Marina is not a typical rape victim, and therefore should not be relegated to such a role, and Ricky is not a typical rapist (his motives are misplaced but not sadistic).

"Muddled" and "ambiguous" seems like a semantic distinction, but more accurately would be to say that Almodovar concentrates on complication, and therefore explores very morally complicated scenarios involving very fringe psychology. Both Marina and Ricky are psychologically marginal, not easily relatable or justified, and that's exactly what fascinates Almodovar.

Takoma1 wrote:
It's true that we don't know if
Alicia would have woken up if she hadn't been assaulted/impregnated. But we do know that because she was impregnated she woke up (or at least I felt that the film strongly implied a causal relationship). I'm just observing that given how often he uses sexual violence in his films, it's odd to me that we almost never see a directly negative aftermath to it. I don't really remember the film giving much time to Alicia dealing with the complexity of what happened to her. How does she feel about what happened to her? About losing a child she never wanted, but also did not have a choice/chance to keep? I haven't seen the film since it was in theaters, so maybe these things were addressed and I don't remember them--my memory is of Alicia mostly being talked about, not hearing her thoughts.

And in terms of sexual psychology, the reason why I feel it's unfair to reduce Talk To Her to this pivotal revelation of pathology is that it simply has no impact without the underlying establishment of the layers of sexual psychology that came before it. Almodovar, provocatively, wants to present incredible situations where common moral judgments are challenged. There are no easy answers here, no clean rights/wrongs, positive/negatives. It isn't the point to have a moral application to this situation, the point is in his exploration of the complicated sexual psychology which presents the dilemma. I can't help but admire his ability to broach the subject which unsettles the more simplistic expectations of the audience.


Sun Nov 18, 2018 1:54 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
I also kind of love the fact that the original book (and the Swedish version of the film) were titled Men Who Hate Women, but that for the English market it was changed. I mean, we all love titles that start "The Girl . . . ." when referring to an adult female character, right?

Just wait until you get into the conspiracy theories surrounding Stieg Larsson's death.


Sun Nov 18, 2018 1:57 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Some of the things that allow me to pass Almodovar would be that he is not exploitative - I believe that he is sincerely empathetic of his characters - and that his characters, being fully 3-dimensional well-written, elevate them from being mere essential surrogates for general sexual templates. Marina is not a typical rape victim, and therefore should not be relegated to such a role, and Ricky is not a typical rapist (his motives are misplaced but not sadistic).


What is a "typical rape victim" though? And what is a "typical rapist"?

And to what degree does the fact that Ricky wants to be a good guy (maybe?) play a role in how I regard a man who has sex with a woman who he has headbutted and tied up? How do his good intentions impact my view of his physical and sexual assaults? How much do we have to excuse men/male characters for physical and sexual violence because aw, he does it because he loves her and he's just misguided? I think that the film extends too much sympathy toward Ricky, and when that intersects with the
"romantic" ending
, it feels too much like he's essentially getting a pass on what he did to her.

Quote:
Both Marina and Ricky are psychologically marginal, not easily relatable or justified, and that's exactly what fascinates Almodovar.


I don't find Marina psychologically marginal at all. Her life is messed up and out of control, and so someone imposing order on her life is welcome, even though it comes at the cost of an abusive dynamic. I don't think that this is uncommon (for men or women). I don't even find Ricky that psychologically marginal, either. He thinks that they belong together; he believes that the ends justify the means in terms of doing whatever it takes to "win her over"; and what she wants for herself takes a backseat to what he has decided is best for her. What strikes me as unrealistic is where the film leaves us, as if this
delicate balance that's struck between his needs and hers is something that can continue. He's already shown that he is willing to be physically violent with her. So what happens if/when she starts to behave in a way he doesn't like?


Quote:
Almodovar, provocatively, wants to present incredible situations where common moral judgments are challenged. There are no easy answers here, no clean rights/wrongs, positive/negatives. It isn't the point to have a moral application to this situation, the point is in his exploration of the complicated sexual psychology which presents the dilemma. I can't help but admire his ability to broach the subject which unsettles the more simplistic expectations of the audience.


I just can't help but balk at using sexual assault in this way, especially when you use
movie magic to have a rape be something that wakes someone up from a coma. It's just so implausible and, in the context of a very real feeling universe, a plot element that seems stupid. Rape of vulnerable populations (the elderly, the disabled, juveniles) by caretakers is upsettingly common. Miracle coma-curing babies are not.

Also, it's not even the only film that uses rape as a coma-cure.


In both films it just gives me the sense that he knows what sexual assault is in the sense of an intersection of sex and power, but has done very, very little to research or speak to actual women who have been through it, and more specifically in the types of situations he is presenting. That's the part that feels wrong to me. Reducing a really common and hurtful thing that happens to women (and men) to a plot element but removing the aftermath or victim point of view. (Again, correct me if we get more of Alicia's point of view in Talk to Her, it's just been too long for me to remember specifics).

I think both movies have some pretty strong elements. I see on IMDb that I gave Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! a 7/10 and Talk to Her a 9/10. But it's this one plot point that I see pop up in his films where I think Image


Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:56 am
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I will now interrupt Takoma's and Janson's wordwalls to present my seventh film of November (but the first one that counts for this challenge).

The Philadelphia Story (1940)
See a film that lost out for Best Picture in the 1940s.

As the film opens, Dexter (Cary Grant) and Tracy (Katherine Hepburn) are in the middle of a very public split. He packs his bags, she destroys his favorite plant and one of his golf clubs, he pushes her in the face, knocking her down.

Wait, film, what? And this is supposed to be a romantic comedy? :x

Two years later, Tracy is fixing to be married to George (John Howard), a man who worked his way to the top. Meanwhile, Dexter works as an Argentinian writer for a tawdry tabloid called Spy. He agrees to help reporter Mike Connor (Jimmy Stewart) and photographer Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) get into the wedding as friends of an Argentinian diplomat who happens to be Tracy's brother. Although she isn't pleased with them appearing at first, she agrees to do it when threatened with proof of an affair between her father and a dancer.

Complications ensue when Mike starts to fall for Tracy (of course, there's something going on between Mike and Liz) and Tracy starts to reflect on her flaws.

The director of Adam's Rib and the writer behind Manhattan Melodrama has successfully adapted a 1939 play and turned it into a snappy dialogue heavy comedy that also allows for some character development. Apparently having been dismissed as box office poison a few years before, Hepburn snapped up the rights as a successful comeback vehicle. Laughs prove easy to come by here, whether verbal or physical (Stewart proves funny when he plays a drunk).

Outside of that needless violence at the film's beginning, the biggest flaw was the film's ending. Not entirely sold on how they came up with the wrap-up, although perhaps the stifling production code at the time might be responsible.

A solid beginning for this month's challenge.


Sun Nov 18, 2018 6:56 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
What is a "typical rape victim" though? And what is a "typical rapist"?

I would venture that a typical rape victim would not reciprocate emotionally, ala Stockholm, and that a typical rapist acts out of debasement rather than adulation. None of this is relevant to the point that Almodovar isn't interested in what is typical, and it seems that a lot of your frustration stems from the ways that these characters defy what is "common" behavior or motivations, by comparing their irrationality in terms of how you regard men and women are supposed to relate to each other. If you argue it as being unrelatable or unbelievable, then I can't convince you that you're wrong. And, again, I can't say you're wrong if you don't care for the way Almodovar applies sexual assault to these characters in similarly irrational ways.

Takoma1 wrote:
I just can't help but balk at using sexual assault in this way, especially when you use
movie magic to have a rape be something that wakes someone up from a coma. It's just so implausible and, in the context of a very real feeling universe, a plot element that seems stupid. Rape of vulnerable populations (the elderly, the disabled, juveniles) by caretakers is upsettingly common. Miracle coma-curing babies are not.

Also, it's not even the only film that uses rape as a coma-cure.

Sure, kinda like Snow White, right?

So let's make sure how the film is using this sexual assault:
The overarching theme of the film concerns the male psychology of potency ("sex and power") and objectification. The comas are, essentially, rather extreme forms of the latter, making the women into virtual statues. Marco is frustrated by his impotence, his inabilty to connect with his object of desire, to arouse her to life, to kiss her from her slumber. But this is not, in itself, the extent of the subtext regarding the Snow White parallel. The actual assault comes as a subversive twist, because we (meaning Marco) have been led to believe that Benigno held the key to the more romantic notion of waking the sleeping babe, allegorically speaking, through his doting care and open-hearted communication. So Almodovar instead bypasses this chivalrous allegory and reveals a more literal act - the rape as the sleeping kiss - which threatens to unravel the romantic significance of everything prior to that. The fact that it doesn't is due to Marco, who ends up with Alicia, by virtue of his non-rape metaphorical kiss of opening his heart to her (which Alicia instinctually remembers).


The result is complicated and messy, with no clear-cut moral prescriptions, but it is promising that Marco and Alicia have this emotional bond, not a fairy tale version of one, going forward.


Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:29 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
it seems that a lot of your frustration stems from the ways that these characters defy what is "common" behavior or motivations, by comparing their irrationality in terms of how you regard men and women are supposed to relate to each other. If you argue it as being unrelatable or unbelievable, then I can't convince you that you're wrong. And, again, I can't say you're wrong if you don't care for the way Almodovar applies sexual assault to these characters in similarly irrational ways.


This is the exact opposite of what I am saying. I'm saying that the emotional dynamics presented in the film are, if not "typical", at least a real dynamic that I have personally seen happen to acquaintances or friends-of-friends.

And because I recognize very real behavior in both characters (her dependence on someone who is physically abusive; his notion that he can make her fall in love with him through domination/force), I do not find the events in the film to be exaggerated enough to give me the emotional distance necessary to find them funny.

Quote:
The result is complicated and messy, with no clear-cut moral prescriptions, but it is promising that Marco and Alicia have this emotional bond, not a fairy tale version of one, going forward.


Again, I have far less of a problem with Talk to Her. And I'd really need to go back and rewatch it to clarify the impression that I have of the way it handled the ending.


Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:38 am
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A film with no CGI or special effects: The Happiest Place on Earth

The last film I watched that was considered part of the Dogme family, Calla Lily, was kind of a hot mess.

But I enjoyed The Happiest Place on Earth.

The film follows a married couple, Jonah and Maggie, who have just purchased a started home that's just at the edge of their budget. When Jonah unexpectedly loses his job and can't find a new one, things become tense as Jonah's pride makes him demand that Maggie not ask their families for help. When Maggie sends Jonah away to go camping, he doesn't return. As Maggie reluctantly begins the process of making an insurance claim on his death, she (and the audience) can't help but remember Jonah trying to mess with the electric meter and wonder if he's actually dead. On top of that, Maggie is being helped by a lawyer, Sterling, who may or may not be trustworthy.

Overall I liked this film. I thought that the ending was a bit abrupt, but I thought that the second half was pretty strong. There's a scene between Sterling and Maggie toward the end that is memorable and surprising.

I guess the only thing that bothered me about the film was the way that neither Maggie nor Jonah seemed to actually be really desperate to find work. I guess it's realistic that Jonah's pride won't let him look for work that he considers below his station. It just bugged me that neither of them is seen getting a job bagging groceries or something. Maggie's character is a teacher, and when I was a teacher's assistant in Iowa I, and a bunch of other teachers, had other part time jobs. It sort of comes with the territory.

I did read a book last year about people who faked their own deaths, and I appreciated the way that the film set up the scenario so that it is hard to tell what is really happening.

On Amazon Prime, and mildly recommended. Plus it's only like 80 minutes long.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:29 am
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I have a couple of upcoming reviews, but here's what I've seen recently...

A film directed by a woman: Lady Bird
A film starring an SNL regular (past or present): Caddyshack
A road trip film: Badlands

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Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:27 am
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Thief wrote:
I have a couple of upcoming reviews, but here's what I've seen recently...

A film directed by a woman: Lady Bird

A road trip film: Badlands


I really liked Lady Bird. I didn't love Badlands as much as I hoped I would, but it's still pretty solid.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:29 am
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Thief wrote:
I have a couple of upcoming reviews, but here's what I've seen recently...

A film directed by a woman: Lady Bird
A film starring an SNL regular (past or present): Caddyshack
A road trip film: Badlands


I love the two movies not called Caddyshack.

Maybe it's my distaste for Rodney Dangerfield, or the fact that I wanted more Chevy Chase, or that it contains one of the only Bill Murray roles I don't really dig, but the love for it has always eluded me. It's alright, which for me is pretty good for a comedy. But I really don't think it's all that good.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:32 am
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crumbsroom wrote:

I love the two movies not called Caddyshack.

Maybe it's my distaste for Rodney Dangerfield, or the fact that I wanted more Chevy Chase, or that it contains one of the only Bill Murray roles I don't really dig, but the love for it has always eluded me. It's alright, which for me is pretty good for a comedy. But I really don't think it's all that good.


You're not alone. First of all, I'm surprised I hadn't seen this before, but the thing is that it really didn't work for me. I agree with your two main points about Rodney Dangerfield and Chevy Chase.

I really liked the other two.

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Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:03 am
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Caddyshack is one of those films that people are always surprised I haven't seen, but nothing I've ever heard about it really makes me want to see it.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:46 am
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Disappointed by the lack of love from Caddyshack. It may not be as consistent as Animal House in its outsiders versus establishment comedy, but it's no slacker either. That scene where the golfer had his best game in a torrential storm deserves some love at least, particularly in its punchline.

If anything, you can complain that the plot doesn't hold up as well as Animal House or Blues Brothers in its execution particularly in its final third. But it's a comedy and I did laugh. So it was successful in that regard.

If anything, I'm looking for some positive vibes for Lady Bird particularly if one didn't care for Frances Ha or Gerta Gerwig's other films. That's the reason I haven't pulled the trigger; Frances Ha grates on me from its lead character on down.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:18 am
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Apex Predator wrote:
Frances Ha grates on me from its lead character on down.


They are very different movies, so being bothered by Frances Ha shouldn't discourage you from watching.

FTR, I love both of them.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:25 am
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I cannot understand disliking Frances Ha. And please note, that's really different than saying I can't understand disliking the lead character.

I thought that the film perfectly captured the post-college "stuck" phase that a lot of young people (especially middle or upper class people) where they aren't really ready to be adults yet and still think of themselves in terms of their college or high school exploits. They have grand plans but don't take concrete steps to realize them. Just generally I think it's a pretty great character study.

Unlike a lot of films about such characters, Frances Ha recognizes that it's not cute or romantic to be in the mental space of it's main character. And the fact that her dreams of dancing aren't being realized aren't because of the cruelty of the "real world". I think it should be mandatory viewing for all college students majoring in the arts or the humanities.

And, to echo Crumbsroom, Lady Bird is a very different kind of film with some fantastic lead performances. It's way up there in my "coming of age" echelon.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:33 am
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Apex, what were your issues with Frances Ha? I found it to be quite excellent.

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Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:11 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
I think it should be mandatory viewing for all college students majoring in the arts or the humanities.

Too late for some of us, I'm afraid. :)
Sounds like something I should check out. Although I was aware of the film, I never knew what it was about.

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Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:27 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Too late for some of us, I'm afraid. :)
Sounds like something I should check out. Although I was aware of the film, I never knew what it was about.


It seems to be somewhat polarizing, but after watching it I couldn't really understand why. Yes, the main character is annoying at times, but . . . people in their mid-to-late twenties can be really annoying when they are trying to cling to an earlier phase of their lives. I also thought that it looked really beautiful.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 11:56 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Too late for some of us, I'm afraid. :)

Not for me though. Anyways, I was undergoing a similar thing which Frances was going through when I first saw this one, so I found it easy to relate to the film. My situation was that I was known throughout my high school as sort of a class clown, but once I got to college, I decided to move on from that as I began to get less enjoyment from my old shenanigans. I sometimes joke around with my friends, but that's typically it.

Anyways, after revisiting several films from 2013 during the summer which I initially thought were just pretty good only to love them a lot more, I've decided that 2013 is my favorite year for movies of the 2010's. So many great/really good films such as this one, Inside Llewyn Davis, Snowpiercer, Under the Skin, Fruitvale Station, Prisoners, Stranger by the Lake, Gravity, and Blue Ruin. 2011 comes close though as The Tree of Life and Take Shelter are definite standouts.

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Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:53 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
Caddyshack is one of those films that people are always surprised I haven't seen, but nothing I've ever heard about it really makes me want to see it.

Yeah, as great as I think it is, I'd be surprised to see you come back from viewing it and being like, "Oh my god, guys, how have you not more strongly urged me to see this classic?"
That is not what I am expecting.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:37 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:

I love the two movies not called Caddyshack.

Maybe it's my distaste for Rodney Dangerfield, or the fact that I wanted more Chevy Chase, or that it contains one of the only Bill Murray roles I don't really dig, but the love for it has always eluded me. It's alright, which for me is pretty good for a comedy. But I really don't think it's all that good.

Yeah, you have brain-damage.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 2:38 pm
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Have you guys seen 20th Century Women (2016)? It's not written or directed by Greta Gerwig, but she gives a great supporting performance in it. It's one of my favorite movies of this decade.


Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:06 pm
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Apex Predator wrote:
Disappointed by the lack of love from Caddyshack. It may not be as consistent as Animal House in its outsiders versus establishment comedy, but it's no slacker either. That scene where the golfer had his best game in a torrential storm deserves some love at least, particularly in its punchline.

If anything, you can complain that the plot doesn't hold up as well as Animal House or Blues Brothers in its execution particularly in its final third. But it's a comedy and I did laugh. So it was successful in that regard.




I love Caddyshack. Everyone I know loves Caddyshack. I never got the hate for it.

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Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:28 pm
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Takoma1 wrote:
I do not find the events in the film to be exaggerated enough to give me the emotional distance necessary to find them funny.

Well, fair enough then. I'd recommend Matador from around the same time, it flirts with similar taboo areas but doesn't dress it up as farcical comedy.


Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:11 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
Maybe it's my distaste for Rodney Dangerfield, or the fact that I wanted more Chevy Chase, or that it contains one of the only Bill Murray roles I don't really dig, but the love for it has always eluded me. It's alright, which for me is pretty good for a comedy. But I really don't think it's all that good.

I really liked Murray in Caddyshack, except the lack of him. I feel similarly to something like Animal House or 1941 where I'm mostly entertained by the peripheral characters, but completely bored by the dipshit surrogates for the adolescent male audience. I couldn't care less about a Michael O'Keefe or a Tim Matheson or a Treat Williams. At the expense of more Ted Knight? What were they thinking?

But I don't hate the film, I'm just very selective about which scenes I fondly remember.


Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:17 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Apex, what were your issues with Frances Ha? I found it to be quite excellent.


Perhaps I grew up in the wrong background, but I found the lead character an insufferable brat who spent most if not all of the entire film whining about wanting to be a dancer but not taking the steps to make herself so. She lost her apartment and is struggling to live, so let's go away to Paris for an impromptu vacation!

It feels like it's full of itself right down to the admittedly artistic black and white. Considering how I've been struggling to keep head above water for several years now, she just rubs me the wrong way. And the ending feels arbitrary, if anything.

Perhaps in a better movie, I could give Gerwig a better assessment. But not here.


Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:49 am
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If I could kneecap Noah Baumbach, I swear to god I would take Greta Gerwig to see Caddyshack right this fucking second.


Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:02 am
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A period drama film: The Proposition (no, not that one)

Not. Good.

This drama-romance follows a woman named Catherine Morgan who is widowed and then left on the hook for her late husband's gambling debts. A wealthy officer named Huw wants to marry Catherine and tries to entice her with the promise of helping her to resolve her debts. But Catherine decides instead to drive her cattle a long distance to market with the help of Huw's drunk brother, Rhys. As Catherine and Rhys wind their way through a love-hate romantic arc, Huw goes to increasingly extreme measures to derail the cattle drive.

For a while, Amazon put this movie on my recommended list and . . .why, Amazon? Why?! It takes elements of books/movies that I do like (Far From the Madding Crowd, for example) but does so little with them that it's like why did they even bother?

There's nothing really nice to say about this film. Catherine's accent is maybe the most (unintentionally) amusing aspect of the film, as she seems to hail from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, or California depending on the scene. Close behind in unintentional amusement is a scene where someone is trampled by cattle, and by "trampled" I mean that a line of very docile cows gingerly walk their way over what is clearly a mannequin.

This is the kind of film whose premise is "which man will she choose?!" but the answer is clearly "NEITHER!!". Huw is a manipulative, abusive creep (and to be fair, the movie makes it clear pretty early that he's not a real prospect). Rhys, who is meant to be the likable one, is a drunk and also does "ruggedly charming" things like blackmail Catherine into sleeping with him as "payment" for helping her drive the cattle. Catherine is also pretty unlikable herself, doing some morally dubious things.

Skip.


Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:17 am
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Apex Predator wrote:

Perhaps I grew up in the wrong background, but I found the lead character an insufferable brat who spent most if not all of the entire film whining about wanting to be a dancer but not taking the steps to make herself so. She lost her apartment and is struggling to live, so let's go away to Paris for an impromptu vacation!

It feels like it's full of itself right down to the admittedly artistic black and white. Considering how I've been struggling to keep head above water for several years now, she just rubs me the wrong way. And the ending feels arbitrary, if anything.

Perhaps in a better movie, I could give Gerwig a better assessment. But not here.

I can understand disliking the main character, because she can be annoying. It's probably easier to relate to for people who've experienced what she did. That's why I wasn't bothered so much by her character. I do think the black and white cinematography is really good though as it's one of the film's several references to the French New Wave.

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Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:05 pm
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Death Proof wrote:


I love Caddyshack. Everyone I know loves Caddyshack. I never got the hate for it.

Hate for Caddyshack?
I have never even heard of such a thing.


Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:06 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
If I could kneecap Noah Baumbach, I swear to god I would take Greta Gerwig to see Caddyshack right this fucking second.

Laughing and dancing all the way home.


Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:30 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Hate for Caddyshack?
I have never even heard of such a thing.



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Wed Nov 21, 2018 10:51 pm
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I have a Lady Bird review in the works, but I don't wanna fall behind...


A film starring an SNL regular (past or present) (Bill Murray)


Caddyshack (1980)

Quote:
"A member? You think I actually want to join this scumatorium? The only reason I'm here is because I might buy it!"


I grew up in the 80s, which means that I was right in the path of the tornado of hair/glam metal, cheap slashers, and silly teen comedies. However, for some reason, I had never seen this, or at least didn't remember it. So with the task of having to watch a film starring an SNL regular, I thought it would be a good opportunity to give this a shot, see what everybody talks about, and decide if I wanted to join their "scumatorium".

Caddyshack follows a group of characters that either work or spend their time at the Bushwood Country Club. There's Danny (Michael O'Keefe), a young caddie that wants to save money for college; Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), a laid-back, talented golfer that gets him under his wing; Judge Smails (Ted Knight), the club's uptight co-founder; his nemesis, Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield), an obnoxious, loud-mouthed club visitor; and Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), the club groundskeeper that's a bit out of his mind.

The film has a somewhat straightforward premise (Danny tries to suck up to Judge Smails in order to get a scholarship from the club, while Smails deals with the obnoxious presence of Czervik, leading them to a golf match that pairs them with Danny and Ty respectively). However, the truth is that the film plays more like a set of separate vignettes and comedy skits inhabited by other peripheral characters, some of which work, some of which don't (a lengthy scene in a pool comes to mind).

The film is also hindered by a poorly written or executed lead character in Danny. Despite him being the lead, I couldn't care less about his subplots; whether it was his romantic struggles with his girlfriend, or his overall goal of going to college. But the thing is that I don't think the writers or the director (Harold Ramis) cared either. His subplot seemed to serve more as a loose binding thread in the backdrop, while leaving the foreground to the shenanigans of Chase, Dangerfield, Knight, and Murray. To make matters worse, I'm not a fan of Dangerfield, so I just couldn't get into his schtick and found myself wanting to punch his character in the face most of the time. Chase, on the other hand, was a saving grace and his scenes were the best ones in the film.

Judging from the responses from some of you regarding the film, it seems like you have your own little club of fans. And even thought it might seem I'm ready to trash the film, I really didn't hate it. I just didn't find it as funny as I was expecting, or as some people's praises might lead me to think. The end result ended up being hit-or-miss, with more "misses" than I would've liked. You think I actually want to join this scumatorium? ;)

Grade: C+

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:02 am
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Thief wrote:
I have a Lady Bird review in the works, but I don't wanna fall behind...


A film starring an SNL regular (past or present) (Bill Murray)


Caddyshack (1980)



Grade: C+



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Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:59 am
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Thief wrote:
I have a Lady Bird review in the works, but I don't wanna fall behind...


A film starring an SNL regular (past or present) (Bill Murray)


Caddyshack (1980)



I grew up in the 80s, which means that I was right in the path of the tornado of hair/glam metal, cheap slashers, and silly teen comedies. However, for some reason, I had never seen this, or at least didn't remember it. So with the task of having to watch a film starring an SNL regular, I thought it would be a good opportunity to give this a shot, see what everybody talks about, and decide if I wanted to join their "scumatorium".

Caddyshack follows a group of characters that either work or spend their time at the Bushwood Country Club. There's Danny (Michael O'Keefe), a young caddie that wants to save money for college; Ty Webb (Chevy Chase), a laid-back, talented golfer that gets him under his wing; Judge Smails (Ted Knight), the club's uptight co-founder; his nemesis, Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield), an obnoxious, loud-mouthed club visitor; and Carl Spackler (Bill Murray), the club groundskeeper that's a bit out of his mind.

The film has a somewhat straightforward premise (Danny tries to suck up to Judge Smails in order to get a scholarship from the club, while Smails deals with the obnoxious presence of Czervik, leading them to a golf match that pairs them with Danny and Ty respectively). However, the truth is that the film plays more like a set of separate vignettes and comedy skits inhabited by other peripheral characters, some of which work, some of which don't (a lengthy scene in a pool comes to mind).

The film is also hindered by a poorly written or executed lead character in Danny. Despite him being the lead, I couldn't care less about his subplots; whether it was his romantic struggles with his girlfriend, or his overall goal of going to college. But the thing is that I don't think the writers or the director (Harold Ramis) cared either. His subplot seemed to serve more as a loose binding thread in the backdrop, while leaving the foreground to the shenanigans of Chase, Dangerfield, Knight, and Murray. To make matters worse, I'm not a fan of Dangerfield, so I just couldn't get into his schtick and found myself wanting to punch his character in the face most of the time. Chase, on the other hand, was a saving grace and his scenes were the best ones in the film.

Judging from the responses from some of you regarding the film, it seems like you have your own little club of fans. And even thought it might seem I'm ready to trash the film, I really didn't hate it. I just didn't find it as funny as I was expecting, or as some people's praises might lead me to think. The end result ended up being hit-or-miss, with more "misses" than I would've liked. You think I actually want to join this scumatorium? ;)

Grade: C+

What the fuck?!
And "club of fans"?!
It is widely considered one of the funniest movies and best comedies of all time. It's on virtually every list.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:05 am
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Wooley wrote:
What the fuck?!
And "club of fans"?!
It is widely considered one of the funniest movies and best comedies of all time. It's on virtually every list.


Relax, Woolster. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment.

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:18 am
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Thief wrote:

Relax, Woolster. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment.

I ain't mad, just sorta shocked.

But I hear ya on the t-i-c.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:18 am
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But seriously, it just didn't work for me. Both crumbsroom and Jinnistan wrote some things earlier that mirror some of how I felt about the film...

crumbsroom wrote:
Maybe it's my distaste for Rodney Dangerfield, or the fact that I wanted more Chevy Chase, or that it contains one of the only Bill Murray roles I don't really dig, but the love for it has always eluded me. It's alright, which for me is pretty good for a comedy. But I really don't think it's all that good.


Jinnistan wrote:
I really liked Murray in Caddyshack, except the lack of him. I feel similarly to something like Animal House or 1941 where I'm mostly entertained by the peripheral characters, but completely bored by the dipshit surrogates for the adolescent male audience. I couldn't care less about a Michael O'Keefe or a Tim Matheson or a Treat Williams. At the expense of more Ted Knight? What were they thinking?

But I don't hate the film, I'm just very selective about which scenes I fondly remember.

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:25 am
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Thief wrote:
But seriously, it just didn't work for me. Both crumbsroom and Jinnistan wrote some things earlier that mirror some of how I felt about the film...




I hear y'all, I thought it was just the right amount of both Chase and Murray, as well as Knight, who I love. But I am also a lifelong fan (and I'm closer to 50 than 40) of Dangerfield and I enjoyed having big scoops of him in one of his best roles. If I wanted to watch Fletch or What About Bob?, those movies are out there for me. This was great ensemble for me and Danny was the straight man, which is what he was supposed to be. And I liked him.


Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:52 am
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It's been a long time since I've seen Caddyshack, but I only remember finding it occasionally funny (although I loved the Snickers in the pool scene), and mostly pretty dull and dated in it's sensibilities otherwise, so I've mostly got your back on this one, Thief!

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Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:31 pm
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I guess one of the things that keep Caddyshack in the good comedy as opposed to great comedy camp (like Airplane, The Blues Brothers, or The Naked Gun) is the lack of personality and charisma among the young'uns that were beside Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ted Knight. They were practically interchangeable.

But when comedy does hit (the majority of Dangerfield's asides, Knight's slow burns, Murray's schemes to take out that gopher), it really lands a birdie.


Sat Nov 24, 2018 1:10 am
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