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FictionIsntReal

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  1. FictionIsntReal

    Cooley High

    This movie is too much like American Graffiti. No films of that ilk (including Last Picture Show) are worth sending into space.
  2. FictionIsntReal

    Rebel Without A Cause

    I don't think this film really belonged on the AFI list, so I'm fine about it getting removed. It's famous because James Dean died so young, but he wasn't really adding anything new on top of Brando and the film isn't nearly as "rebellious" as it markets itself. I think softening it and turning away from the original premise of sociopath delinquent (which I think Brando could have played) frankly results in it being mistitled. Dennis Hopper would go on to make a film which not only was more indicative of what the rebellious younger generation was actually like, but was made in a very different style and helped bust open the studio system for a "New Hollywood" containing independents, so I say he got the last laugh on Ray. I would only call it "the Streetcar ending" if Blanche DuBois had been shot to death by the cops.
  3. FictionIsntReal

    The 400 Blows

    I always read people saying this film is about how oppressed this kid is by the adults, but the adults came across as fairly reasonable to me. Most of the time when he gets in trouble, he really is in the wrong. I can still enjoy him raising hell, just as I enjoy the lead in "Her Smell" being awful for most of the movie, but that doesn't require me to sympathize with him.
  4. FictionIsntReal

    Stand and Deliver

    I remember hearing that even while Stand And Deliver remained popular, the real Escalante was unpopular with the school system. And looking him up, he lost his chairmanship of the math department just a couple years after the film was released, and he left Garfield the next year. Shortly before listening to this podcast I was reading the thoughts of a former teacher who joined Teach for America because of stories like Escalante's and more specifically movies like this. And perhaps because he taught some needier kids he retains more of the idealistic attitude toward public education than me (my own experience as a student was just of an enormous amount of wasted time), but I know he'd also agree with Freddie de Boer's new book The Cult of Smart against the idea that any student can do anything as long as teachers try hard enough. I agree with Amy that there are too many coming-of-age films, and that the personal stories of these people are not interesting. I do seem to be on the somewhat extreme end in being uninterested in the vast majority of stories about young people without real responsibilities. The next film we're to discuss has been widely recognized as a classic, but the rest of these "Back to School" films really seem like a waste of time if we're making some top 100 films ever list.
  5. FictionIsntReal

    Mean Girls

    I'm baffled at Paul's claims that the characters aren't wealthy (the audio clip in the episode has them discuss Gretchen's family's wealth, and Regina's enormous house is marvelled at by Cady), or that the performances are "grounded" given how ridiculously broad Amanda Seyfried's is (that's not a complaint, the movie was going more for comedy than realism). Maybe he has an entirely different idea of what "grounded" means. The giant free-for-all brawl that breaks out is not attempting to be "realistic", it's textbook "heightened". The term "Karen" is not used to mean "crazy" but "entitled" or "bitch". People who use it want to present themselves as "punching up", typically by highlighting how the "Karen" is white/middle-class. I don't think we can assume Lindsay Lohan has behaved a certain way BECAUSE of people talking about her. There's a lot less attention paid to her nowadays, but as far as I know that hasn't changed her behavior. Rather than saying it's "not just a lover story", I'd see it's not really a love story at all. At best there's an infatuation subplot. And one way in which he's not "perfect" is that he's perfectly aware that Regina is awful to other people, but he's fine with taking her back as long as she's not awful to HIM. I don't know why Paul used Breakfast Club as a counterexample where relationships are more important, because that's a genuine ensemble film without a single protagonist and nobody has dating as a major motivation (it takes place during a single day where they can't go anywhere and are just stuck together). I haven't seen Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles, but my impression is that dating is more central to those. I'm with Anthony Lane: I would also rather see a movie about the teachers (and not just because some are played by SNL alums). Teenagers typically have neither of the factors in the saying "With great power comes great responsibility". This makes their lives an uninteresting wait until adulthood. Exceptions are movies like Winter's Bone where the teen must take on adult responsibilities. Admittedly, I only saw this now and not when I was in highschool and the film originally came out, but I didn't care for teen stories then and was thus never really the target audience.
  6. FictionIsntReal

    Casablanca

    If anyone wants to read the original play, this scan isn't great but was the best I could find in a short time of searching.
  7. FictionIsntReal

    Casablanca

    Casablanca's general release was in 1943. Mrs. Miniver had already come out as essentially advocacy for America's intervention in the war in the summer of 1942 (it had been filmed prior to Pearl Harbor). Miniver swept the 1942 Oscars (Casablanca won Best Picture the next year), which only seems explicable for non-artistic reasons, as hardly anybody remembers it nowadays compared to Casablanca. The stage play was much more like a noir, with a less sympathetic protagonist. It still ends with Isla & Laszlo escaping together (even without the Hollywood Code prohibiting a woman leaving her husband), but Rick's one virtuous act at the end is rewarded with being captured by the Germans. Dali was a Spanish citizen, Vidor was an American, so I don't see why either needed Portugese visas.
  8. FictionIsntReal

    Upcoming Episodes

    That's exactly what you should do. Letting trolls claim popular things like the OK symbol or Pepe the Frog is completely self defeating.
  9. FictionIsntReal

    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

    It seems really implausible that Butch Cassidy was the first western to "humanize" its characters or to have a buddy dynamic. I don't think Paul has any kind of enyclopedic knowledge of the genre.
  10. FictionIsntReal

    Jaws

    Jurassic Park is plainly Michael Crichton revisiting his Westworld premise to greater success. The simplicity of Jaws elevates it above Jurassic Park in my book, though JP is a fine movie.
  11. FictionIsntReal

    It Happened One Night

    Constance Bennet wasn't as "ahead of her time" as Paul thinks. United Artists was founded by (among others) the actress-producer Mary Pickford. Frank Capra tried to imitate UA with his own independent studio, Liberty Films, but neither of their two films in the 40s (the first of which was It's a Wonderful Life) were commercially successful. Comedies do tend to get less respect than dramas. But remember: Green Book also won Best Picture!
  12. FictionIsntReal

    Modern Times

    This is easily my favorite Chaplin feature. City Lights leaned too much on his mawkish sentimentality, but the manic depiction of industrialism really worked for me here. Your point about today's "welfare moms" vs the depiction of the poor here is astute. The analytic Marxist philosopher G. A. Cohen wrote about how differently we thought of inequality and deprivation then vs now: During the New Deal male breadwinners were prioritized, with single mothers only getting benefits if they were widows. This changed during the Great Society of the 1960s, and the Moynihan report (produced under LBJ) noted that marriage was falling apart in inner cities as a result (Steve Waldman attributes this to a trilemma in which America has picked liberalism and inequality at the cost of pathology). During the New Deal era they would have distinguished between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, with non-widow single mothers in the latter category.
  13. FictionIsntReal

    Shane

    Taxi Driver is much more of a riff on The Searchers than Shane. The Searchers paired the hateful racist Ethan (who claims he will kill Debbie when he finds her) with the more sympathetic good guy Martin. Star Wars lightens it by making Han Solo/Ethan merely a smuggler with mercenary motivations (though he still has a change of heart at the end) and putting more emphasis on Luke/Martin (who turns out to be kin to the girl they're rescuing in a later movie). Both Shane and The Searchers end with the man of violence leaving because he doesn't belong in the more peaceful world the homesteaders are building. The difference is that Shane actually did try to live a peaceful life for a while, whereas that was never really in the cards for Ethan (who went from fighting for the Confederacy to the similarly failed Emperor Maximilian). Travis Bickle isn't thrust into violence by an attack from bad men, instead he thrusts himself into it due to dissatisfaction with his own life. At the end he isn't haunted by the "brand" of what he's done (he's on good terms with his mistakenly heroic reputation, if modest about it). His lingering problem is the flaw in his character which means he could still explode at any time.
  14. FictionIsntReal

    Blade Runner

    I'd say this film is more influential than good. It looks create and is effective at creating a world, but it's not as effective at telling a story. I'd say I was getting off-topic, but since the podcast actually touched on these things: Trayvon Martin wasn't killed by a cop, but a civilian member of a neighborhood watch group (which reforms to police would be unlikely to affect). And "human capital" is a standard term in economics, which AOC herself used prior to objecting to others using it. Another economic finding is that our desire for uniqueness/variety as consumers is a big cause of rising "monopoly" profits. And the reason advertisers spend money on brands is the justified expectation that we will buy them is because others see what products we purchase and having seen the same ads can tell the kind of signal we are trying to send about ourselves. Deckard isn't really set up to be a replicant by the film. Ridley Scott seems to have come up with that after the fact, adding in unicorn footage from his next movie. As noted, it makes no sense to send an inferior model of replicant to "retire" tougher models. Rachel Rosen in the book is an attempt to disprove the validity of the test, under the claim that being raised on a space station resulted in a "false positive", though Deckard figures out that's B.S. In the film she's an unusual model in that it takes so many questions for the test to detect her. That seems distinct from the other models, although we don't have a name for that more psychologically human model. The character in the book is a bit more complex and perhaps has shades of being a "femme fatale" (although her only victim is an animal), but wasn't entirely coherent. I don't think this one qualifies as a "femme fatale" at all, since you can't really combine that with innocence. My understanding is that the scene between her and Deckard came off looking like a rape because the actors weren't getting along and so Ridley decided to lean into that if he couldn't make the scene as originally conceived convincing. I'm one of the few people who've read Alan E. Nourse's "The Bladerunner", and Billy Gimp is not a thief. He's a gopher for a doctor who provides black market medical care (medicine has been nationalized, and the above-ground variety comes with eugenic requirements for sterilization). Coincidentally, both scifi novels involve people getting around a city via flying cars. I haven't been able to find a copy of William S. Burroughs "Blade Runner (a movie)", which was never actually made into a movie but is how this film got its title. Ridley Scott owns the rights to it, but maybe someone could ask him for permission to adapt that story and then use a different title. For those curious how the film compares to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", they were compared by What's the Difference here and Lost in Adaptation here.
  15. FictionIsntReal

    A Streetcar Named Desire

    I wouldn't consider this to be "southern Gothic". A gothic story should take place in an old house with a lot of history which will come up in the story. But here the old family property has already been lost, and Blanche is moving in to her sister's apartment in New Orleans. One could tell a gothic story in New Orleans, but this one isn't about a past that took place there. A 17 year old is a year away from being a legal adult (and at the age of consent in many jurisdictions). Rather than a "child" molester, let's say she's an ephebophile who abused her position as a teacher. I know that Kubrick's Lolita was considered to be a failure as a result of the Code, but I don't think any remake of that has been better received. Contrariwise, William Wyler directed "These Three" under the Code, not even being allowed to use the name of the play "The Children's Hour" until decades later. Wyler actually preferred his original version to the post-censorship remake, and from what I've seen of both I agree with him.
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