Finally Watching [Nostalgia Movies]

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Postby number none » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:52 am

Milk wrote:
Merciel wrote:[b]In 1992 that didn't go nearly far enough to make anybody happy. In 2017 it would get caterwauling and boycott threats from a sea of rancid idiots in MAGA hats. Fifteen years, and we've backslid that much.



25 years. Though the argument could be made it would have been the same in 2007 as it is today. Perhaps actually even worse.


I guess we'll see with the Guy Ritchie version...
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Postby deadwolfbones » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:29 am

WFRR is the first movie I saw in the theater (or the first I remember, anyway) and still one of my all-time favorites. I think I love it for pretty much all the reasons merciel hates it.
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Postby Vegetable » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:38 am

I think Merciel's opinion of WFRR is both rational and symptomatic of why movies are so boring now. I remember watching it as a small kid and being at turns bored, confused, and terrified, but at least it was something.
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Postby Merciel » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:01 pm

Milk wrote:
Merciel wrote:[b]In 1992 that didn't go nearly far enough to make anybody happy. In 2017 it would get caterwauling and boycott threats from a sea of rancid idiots in MAGA hats. Fifteen years, and we've backslid that much.


25 years.


god I fuck that math up all the time

it's like the 2000s as a decade just get obliterated and conflated with the 2010s
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Postby Merciel » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:53 am

The Last Unicorn (1982)

Once upon a time when I was about three years old, I loved the Monkees show on TV. I used to sing the theme song (or so I'm told; now that I've heard toddler "singing" firsthand, I'm pretty sure my parents were just being extremely charitable) and sat down happily to watch it every day with stupid toddler joy. One day my dad asked me who was better, the Monkees or the Beatles, and I said "the Monkees!" and he said "NO THEY'RE TERRIBLE" and I ran out of the room crying and that was it, I never watched the Monkees show again.

My dad still feels bad about this. I'm pretty sure I've told that story on the board before.

Anyway I was thinking about that while we watched The Last Unicorn because Kermit was jamming out to the intro song by America, like waving his arms around and stomping his feet and clearly just having a grand old time rocking out to this Pop Culture WTF bit of fantasy-rock ephemera, and SVC was like "this song is so bad" and I was all "YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TELL HIM THAT" because based on my Monkees experience I firmly believe that toddlers should be allowed to like whatever shitty things they like.

It's fine. You go on and love America's song about The Last Unicorn. You don't need to have taste until you're 15.

It is a pretty bad song though. All their songs in this movie are pretty bad. It's faintly amazing to be reminded that, in certain parts of the rock world, it was actually really cool to write out-and-out nerd fantasy songs in the '70s, or anyway not uncool, but I can't say much of that stuff has aged well. This movie would be a full point higher but for the music.

Apart from the music (and the bumblebee, whom I hated as a kid and still hate now, although as an adult I can see that the dumb little dude just completely fried his brains on drugs), though, this holds up pretty well. It remains the only Rankin-Bass movie I like and the only one where I feel their animation style helps the material rather than holding it back.

The Last Unicorn (the book) is lyrical and elegant and imbued with that sense of faintly sad wonder that comes of recognizing that every beautiful thing in the world comes at the cost of some other beautiful thing, and that regret is an essential piece of humanity but just as essentially not a piece of the immortal and inhuman, with all that that implies. One of the other major themes is that unalloyed happiness comes at the cost of knowledge (and vice versa), which is why Amalthea/the Last Unicorn clings to ignorance and resists both transformations because she is vaguely aware, even through her creeping amnesia the second time, that regaining knowledge will mean losing happiness. In the end it's worth it, of course -- she trades off some of her simple joy for wisdom and bittersweet joy, and she regrets that only a little -- but I've always liked that the book explicitly recognizes the cost, and the tendency to resist it.

And the movie mostly gets that right, which is a thing I have always liked about it. There's a lot more complexity here than most kids' cartoons ordinarily allow themselves (the whole character of Mama Fortuna and her embrace of future death as the price of temporary mastery over the mythic; the bandits' desperate chase after Robin Hood and Maid Marian to take them along, even after they know the parade of figures is completely illusory) and a lot more of what makes fantasy so magical to me.

Also how great is that voice cast. Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges, Christopher Lee, Alan Arkin, Brother Theodore (again!), Angela Lansbury, and more!, all for a fairly low-budget animated fantasy cartoon in 1982.

It's a shame about the music.

I didn't realize as a kid that Amalthea/The Last Unicorn is straight-up an anime character dropped into a Rankin-Bass production, but that was pretty funny to notice on this rewatch. Hey look, future Studio Ghibli is already creating its look.

9/10
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:41 pm

Yeah I was really impressed with The Last Unicorn. It really takes advantage of the genre's freedom to play with archetypes and create new psychologies. And its unwillingness to dumb anything down is pretty astounding. The scene that's going to stick with me the most is the one where Molly Grue (whose life has clearly not turned out the way she planned) berates the unicorn for not coming to her when she was still a girl. It's more crushing than anything in, say, Magnolia, but I have no idea what a kid would get out of it -- there isn't a child on Earth who has either the cultural or psychological context necessary to understand that scene. I guess it probably just adds to the overall sense of mystery (which I think is the main thing a fantasy story needs).

I do think the art is worse than The Hobbit's, especially the landscapes. And yeah the music is terrible. I also don't understand why you would hire Alan Arkin as a voice actor, since his whole shtick depends on being able to see him. His voice does not make sense coming out of anyone else and as a result most of his line readings are really confusing and distracting. I was glad to hear Brother Theodore again though.
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Postby universe » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:45 pm

The Monkees are good though
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:48 pm

Yeah I think I can manage not to fuck up that badly at least.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:49 pm

Also that seems to be the only voice role Alan Arkin's ever had, so... I guess we're all agreed.
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Postby Merciel » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:01 am

The Land Before Time (1988)

I did not realize Spielberg and Lucas were involved in this.

I only saw this movie once before the rewatch project. I wanted to say we saw it in theaters, but that's impossible, because this came out before The Little Mermaid. So either it got a theatrical re-release at some point (this is definitely possible because the Army bases would sometimes show old movies as weekend matinees for the kids if there wasn't anything on first run for them), or we saw it in some other environment that was sufficiently like a movie theater to confuse me.

Anyway, it was an enormous disaster. We all freaked out when Littlefoot's mom died and broke down bawling and that was the end of that. I'd never seen it since, because my parents were not about to try making us sit through that a second time after the original reaction.

On rewatch, I'm mainly struck by how this movie manages to be inappropriate for small kids (there is a LOT of time spent lingering on Littlefoot's mom's death, which is extremely WTF when you realize how many kids were scarred by Bambi's mom dying, and that's completely off-screen, over in a flash, and never referred to again; there's also a lot of time spent on the baby dinos being menaced and attacked and put in horrible poison lava environments filled with skeletons, etc.) and simultaneously too babyish for older kids, who are unlikely to be into a bunch of main characters who all speak relentless baby-ese.

Also, other than Littlefoot, all the main characters are annoying as fuck. Cera is obviously the worst and her dino-racist shithead gimmick gets run into the ground way before you're allowed to finally stop watching her, but Ducky and Petrie are annoying little shits too. The use of gimmicky terms like "tree star" for "leaf" gets pretty old too, although I suspect much of my antipathy toward that particular gimmick is because, given that all the main characters speak baby-ese, it comes off more like patronizing toddler talk than an interesting mechanism to explore how the dinosaurs conceptualize their world.

Despite all this it managed to keep me mostly on board through the end, but I think that's because I have an enormous soft spot for dinosaurs and, really, just getting to watch reasonably well-animated cartoon dinosaurs move across the screen does most of the work here.

I did not realize they got Diana Ross to sing the closing credits song. I assume that's where half their budget went.

6.5/10
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Postby reversemigraine » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:45 am

TLBT is one of those movies that other kids my age seemed to like so much more than I did.

I would have been 8 when it came out, so it came out at the exact right time. But clearly I didn't watch TLBT nearly as much as I watched An American Tail, judging from how little I remember about the former compared to the latter. Most of my memories are about the Pizza Hut puppets, and how I got stuck with Spike:



RM Jr. is still only 2.5 but has zero interest in this movie so far, based on the couple of times I've tried putting it on.
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Postby Rainbow Battle Kid » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:05 am

man i rewatched it recently and loved it, but i'm a big sucker for things about teamwork and friendship and i cry like a baby when they make it to the great valley at the end.

also the music at 2:28 on, still really gets to me

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Postby WeirdJungle » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:23 am

Land Before Time was the first movie my parents took me to in a theater, I was maybe five years old and I loved it. I also weirdly still remember the Pizza Hut ad with the puppets that played during the trailers. We never got the movie on video so that one experience really defines my memories of it.
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Postby WeirdJungle » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:33 am

(Not having watched either of these movies in ~20 years)

I wonder if showing mom's death on screen actually makes it more understandable for kids? He gets to talk to her, she tells him it's going to be ok, etc. it's not like she's just suddenly and violently extinguished by an unseen enemy.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:19 am

I'm baffled that those toys were from Pizza Hut because I had a couple of them and we never went to Pizza Hut. However, my memory is that I got at least one of them when I was in the care of Chip Sheridan's parents, so that could explain it (although my memory also thinks they took us to Burger King).

This was probably one of the first movies I saw in theaters too, along with Oliver & Co. (which, as I mentioned upthread, opened the same day). Certainly they're the first two ad campaigns I remember.

I don't remember watching it that often but I must have seen it a million times because I remembered not only lines but their exact cadences. Like "That's my hopper!" and "I can take care of myself, all by myself." And I have not been able to do that with most of the Disney movies we've done.

I think the idea with Cera is to teach kids that it's a virtue to have empathy for literally everyone. I imagine their success was pretty mixed. The other thing about Cera is that she looks exactly like my aunt Betsy.

Every four-year-old we meet on the playground sounds like Ducky. I have no idea how (or whether, or when) I'm supposed to respond to any of the stuff they vomit at me. I assume by the time my son reaches that age he will have reprogrammed my brain as necessary. Otherwise that is going to be a very tedious period.

The art is a lot worse than The Secret of NIMH's, but not as bad as I remember it being in like All Dogs Go to Heaven and Rock-a-Doodle. It's probably about halfway between them. The colors are mostly bad and the backgrounds are frequently obscured by a mysterious, Liefeldian fog. There is something appealing about the character designs though.

In my memory the death scene was a lot more manipulative. But it could just be that I'm 32 now.
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Postby Merciel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:44 am

WeirdJungle wrote:I wonder if showing mom's death on screen actually makes it more understandable for kids? He gets to talk to her, she tells him it's going to be ok, etc. it's not like she's just suddenly and violently extinguished by an unseen enemy.


I don't think confusion is really an issue.

I think it's just that thing SVC talks about in kids' books sometimes where they all just want you to feel sad. Thankfully this is not a thing with kids' books written in the last 20-30 years or so (that I've read), but it's definitely a thing in Land Before Time.

Also they really drive home the fact that all these dinosaurs ultimately died anyhow. It's not explicit in the movie but you can't have a bunch of dinosaurs dumbly fleeing from volcanoes and earthquakes and famine without continually having to remember that all these guys went extinct.

They all died, nobody survives this story. And the movie will not let you forget it.
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Postby Merciel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:44 am

It is an extremely depressing movie and I'm glad I never liked it as a kid because that was clearly the correct call.
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Postby Merciel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 4:26 am

The Secret Garden (1993)

It's weird that nobody from this movie, other than Maggie Smith (who was already well established decades before this), ever really made it big. It's a good movie and it did reasonably well at the box office and everybody put in a pretty decent performance, but nope. That's a little bit of a bummer.

I never saw this as a kid. This was my first time seeing it. Probably because I'm coming to it as an adult (and as an adult who spends a fair amount of time on this here messageboard of pasty alcoholics and depressives), my main thought is: god damn, Colin's dad is an asshole in a movie full of assholes. What is he even out there doing while his kid gets warped into a psychosomatic cripple convinced he's going to keel over any second?

As far as I can tell, Colin's dad just spends his time moping around in hotel lobbies and/or his extremely vampiric carriage, so there's the World's #1 Dad award for you, buddy.

Mary and Colin are also assholes, of course, but the movie does a pretty good job of showing you that they're assholes mostly because of England's deeply entrenched class system, so it's not entirely their fault. Then again, it's not like they ever actually get any better. The end of the movie still shows you Dickon being isolated and excluded because he's lower class so they can't really be friends, at least not when they all grow up.

cool system you got there, guys

Anyway I think the movie improves on the book, but that might be because my only recollection of the book is reading it as a class assignment when I was 9 or 10 and thinking all the characters were goddamn twerps. It's not too hard to improve on that.

Mary needs to give her rose vines some better support. They're falling over all over the damn place.

8.5/10
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Postby universe » Fri Sep 15, 2017 6:52 am

I really loved that movie and recently rewatched it and yeah the weirdest thing to me now was Colin's dad just hanging out in hotels with his head in his hands like a goth ether addict or something.
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Postby kid8 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:00 am

Finally.
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Postby Merciel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 12:36 pm

Probably my favorite change in the adaptation from book to movie is that they made Mary's parents die in an earthquake instead of by cholera because you probably don't want to show people dying of cholera in a kids' movie, it's not really very cinematic to watch people shitting themselves to death.
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Postby worrywort » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:45 pm

oh i dunno. good lighting and sound design goes a long way.
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Postby neuartillery » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:23 pm

Merciel wrote:
WeirdJungle wrote:I wonder if showing mom's death on screen actually makes it more understandable for kids? He gets to talk to her, she tells him it's going to be ok, etc. it's not like she's just suddenly and violently extinguished by an unseen enemy.


I don't think confusion is really an issue.

I think it's just that thing SVC talks about in kids' books sometimes where they all just want you to feel sad. Thankfully this is not a thing with kids' books written in the last 20-30 years or so (that I've read), but it's definitely a thing in Land Before Time.

Also they really drive home the fact that all these dinosaurs ultimately died anyhow. It's not explicit in the movie but you can't have a bunch of dinosaurs dumbly fleeing from volcanoes and earthquakes and famine without continually having to remember that all these guys went extinct.

They all died, nobody survives this story. And the movie will not let you forget it.


Rogue One: A Land Before Time Story
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Postby goofy's dead wife » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:26 pm

wow there are 14 movies in the land before time series
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Postby Merciel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:15 pm

goofy's dead wife wrote:wow there are 14 movies in the land before time series


yeah that was nuts when I saw it on Wikipedia

I have never seen any of them and I never will, but it's bananas to me that a lot of people felt very very differently, judging by the longevity of the franchise
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:22 pm

I remember The Secret Garden getting a ton of buzz when I was 9 or whatever so it was inevitable that my mom was going to rent it, even though I doubt anyone else wanted to see it. And I remember when she did it just confirmed my suspicion that it was one of those movies that looks like a kids movie but isn't actually. If you're interested here's a list of 49 other such movies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BFI_list_of_the_50_films_you_should_see_by_the_age_of_14

It is at least less boring as an adult. As a tearjerker I guess it goes about its business respectably. Still I can't say it really meant anything to me. I am still probably a bit put off from it from before, because if you are a chronically ill child this is a fairly cruel story to be subjected to -- unless I suppose you have one of those illnesses that is cured by a bossy little girl jumping into bed with you. And come to think of it it probably isn't much better if you happen to be estranged from your father. Maybe it's nice if you're an orphan though.

Roger Deakins is almost completely wasted in this, apart from the one shot during the opening credits where his name appears.
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:29 pm

This one (not pictured, Roger Deakins's name):

Image
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Postby Merciel » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:31 pm

Spoilt Victorian Child wrote:unless I suppose you have one of those illnesses that is cured by a bossy little girl jumping into bed with you.



:ahuh:
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Postby Merciel » Sat Sep 16, 2017 2:15 am

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

It is so weird to me that Alan Menken and Howard Ashman got to be the Disney musical team based on this supercampy weird-ass movie, which doesn't even have a single actually good song anywhere in it.

It's an extremely uneven film. We watched the 2012 restored version with the excruciatingly long plant rampage at the end, as opposed to the theatrical release "happy ending" version (which is the version that I remembered seeing). The happy ending version is a lot better, not so much because it's happier and more emotionally satisfying -- although it is -- but because the rampage version goes on ABSOLUTELY FUCKING FOREVER and after about two minutes of this shit it's just boring as hell. It makes the Gremlins rampages look like marvels of brevity and tight editing. Even the music isn't interesting, it just keeps banging on the same chords over and over.

Solid two points off for that shit. That ending sucks. I don't care if Frank Oz thought he had to compromise his artistic vision for lame-ass audience sensibilities. The audience was right, this version is self-indulgent garbage with no sense of pacing at all.

The rest of the movie is pretty decent though. I did not know Rick Moranis could sing, let alone that well. Audrey took some getting used to, and I never really warmed to her, but the actress certainly did a good job of inhabiting that particular pillar of camp. Steve Martin was a pure delight (though very strange to see without his trademark hair), and it was fun seeing John Candy and Bill Murray and the crew pop up in bit roles.

I'm glad I saw this again after we started doing the Menken/Ashman Disney films, because honestly the main value of the movie to me at this point is just wondering how in the hell that team got from Point A to Point B.

5.5/10
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Postby Merciel » Sat Sep 16, 2017 4:22 am

The Lion King (1994)

We did two movies tonight!

I was thinking this movie was the first one in the good Disney sequence to have any major dud songs ("Be Prepared" is the main one I'm thinking of here, but across the board the big musical numbers aren't as good as in previous films), and it turns out this is the first one Alan Menken wasn't around to work on, so that makes sense. The music's not bad by any means, it's just not as good as in the ones Menken did.

I'm amused that they reunited James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair to reprise their roles from Coming to America.

This is supposed to be the first big Disney animated picture based on an original story rather than an adaptation of a pre-existing work, but I don't know how true that actually is. I mean, it's just Bambi with some different animals (also Jafar is a lion now, and then the hyenas... well, the hyenas at least are new).

Anyway it's pretty good, although it feels a lot flatter as an adult than it did when I was a kid. Simba's emotional arc isn't exactly the most sophisticated rendition of the hero's journey I've ever seen, and I'm not real clear on why Scar's rulership caused the pridelands to get all gray and desolate, or why reinstalling Simba as king made the grass come back. I suppose it's just supposed to be the Arthurian rightful-king-makes-kingdom-flourish thing, but it's not tremendously logical and all the other movies did a much better job of tying negative world consequences to things that the villains actually did, so, you know. NOT IMPRESSED HERE, LION KING.

I like how much of the sweeping grandeur in this thing is straight-up just stealing nature documentary shots.

I am also gratified that there is an entire verse of "Hakuna Matata" dedicated to warthog farts.

9/10
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