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Cameron H.

American Graffiti

American Graffiti   

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  1. 1. Should American Graffiti be on the AFI list?

    • I just love it when it peels out!
      5
    • It’s uglier than I am!
      4

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  • Poll closed on 10/18/19 at 07:00 AM

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Paul & Amy cruise through 1973's George Lucas coming-of-age comedy American Graffiti! They discover why Lucas decided to make a film inspired by his teenage years, learn about the real Wolfman Jack, and watch the trailer for the bizarre sequel. Plus: Candy Clark, who plays Debbie in the film, talks about creating her character.
 
For Godfather week, Paul & Amy are the Godfather, and you have a chance to ask them for a favor on the day of their daughter's wedding. Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your favor! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

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Pretty sure that caller said "butthole" not "pothole".

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30 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I have a confession... I thought this movie was very mediocre...

Had you seen it before? I only ask because I was thoroughly unimpressed the first time I watched it, but for some reason I was really into it this time. I’m not sure what clicked for me, but I was far more receptive to it on this watch through. On Letterboxd I bumped it from something like two stars up to four.

But, yeah, I totally hear you, and I get it.

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3 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Had you seen it before? I only ask because I was thoroughly unimpressed the first time I watched it, but for some reason I was really into it this time. I’m not sure what clicked for me, but I was far more receptive to it on this watch through. On Letterboxd I bumped it from something like two stars up to four.

But, yeah, I totally hear you, and I get it.

I've only seen it the once, and it was definitely so hyped up that I was expecting something amazing. Even my mom was like, "Oh my god you've never seen it before!?" And so when I watched it I kinda had the thought of, "That's it?"

I give it a solid 3 out of 5. There are parts I like, and parts I don't like which makes it solidly okay lol. But tbh I'm not sure if I want to sit through it again lol.

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11 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I've only seen it the once, and it was definitely so hyped up that I was expecting something amazing. Even my mom was like, "Oh my god you've never seen it before!?" And so when I watched it I kinda had the thought of, "That's it?"

I give it a solid 3 out of 5. There are parts I like, and parts I don't like which makes it solidly okay lol. But tbh I'm not sure if I want to sit through it again lol.

No, I totally get that. The only reason I watched it again was for Unspooled, and I was super apathetic about the prospect. :) I really wouldn’t recommend watching it again if you don’t have the mind to. In my mind, a “good” movie shouldn’t require multiple rewatches. I mean, sometimes it helps, but in my opinion, if it’s truly good, then it should grab you the first time.

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1 minute ago, Cameron H. said:

No, I totally get that. The only reason I watched it again was for Unspooled, and I was super apathetic about the prospect. :) I really wouldn’t recommend watching it again if you don’t have the mind to. In my mind, a “good” movie shouldn’t require multiple rewatches. I mean, sometimes it helps, but in my opinion, if it’s truly good, it should grab you the first time.

I couldn't agree more.

And I bet in 20 years when the next gen of kids finally all start seeing Dazed & Confused I bet they would say the same thing and just be like, "Seriously? That's it?"

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2 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I couldn't agree more.

And I bet in 20 years when the next gen of kids finally all start seeing Dazed & Confused I bet they would say the same thing and just be like, "Seriously? That's it?"

Absolutely! It’s all just nostalgia porn.

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I found Paul and Amy's reading really ungenerous this time. On the one hand, they say it's just a superficial nostalgia trip, but on the other hand they complain about the downer ending. But the downer ending is exactly why it's not just a nostalgia trip! The movie is about the nature of nostalgia and the fact that such things are always fleeting. The Wolfman Jack scene and Ron Howard/Cindy Williams scenes (among others) definitely speak to this idea. Lucas added those title cards because he wanted to remind people of that.

It's also really beautifully made on a technical level: the way it looks, how it's cut together (George Lucas' wife Marcia having a hand in this again), the way music is overlaid. Lucas really was a talented filmmaker at one time. It's just that his later work showed that he didn't really understand what made his movies work.

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20 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I found Paul and Amy's reading really ungenerous this time. On the one hand, they say it's just a superficial nostalgia trip, but on the other hand they complain about the downer ending. But the downer ending is exactly why it's not just a nostalgia trip! The movie is about the nature of nostalgia and the fact that such things are always fleeting. The Wolfman Jack scene and Ron Howard/Cindy Williams scenes (among others) definitely speak to this idea. Lucas added those title cards because he wanted to remind people of that.

I get what they were saying, because the "downer ending" wasn't actually part of the movie per se. It comes off like an after thought and so you get this entire nostalgia trip that comes off really clean and then the movie technically ends, but then he puts this unnecessary extra shit at the end to be like lol jk the world sucks. It completely doesn't match the tone of the entire movie, including the music it's paired with. And it's very telling to me that none of the actors knew that was going to happen.

In my opinion the plane flight at the end is the only way this movie should have ended. It's a hope and a fear at the same time. Leaving everything you know behind is terrifying and exciting and you don't know what's going to happen after that even in your own life. That's a good ending.

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9 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I get what they were saying, because the "downer ending" wasn't actually part of the movie per se. It comes off like an after thought and so you get this entire nostalgia trip that comes off really clean and then the movie technically ends, but then he puts this unnecessary extra shit at the end to be like lol jk the world sucks. It completely doesn't match the tone of the entire movie, including the music it's paired with. And it's very telling to me that none of the actors knew that was going to happen.

In my opinion the plane flight at the end is the only way this movie should have ended. It's a hope and a fear at the same time. Leaving everything you know behind is terrifying and exciting and you don't know what's going to happen after that even in your own life. That's a good ending.

I mean, it's pretty common that actors don't know what's going to happen in the final cut of a movie. They only film their own scenes and aren't privy to everything else.

I guess I have a different idea of what the tone of this movie is. To me it always felt more elegiac than purely celebratory, as the scene with Wolfman suggests. It's not as obvious about it as the black & white frame in Last Picture Show, but to me the undercurrent is always there.

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36 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

I couldn't agree more.

And I bet in 20 years when the next gen of kids finally all start seeing Dazed & Confused I bet they would say the same thing and just be like, "Seriously? That's it?"

Maybe because Dazed And Confused isn't all that great? I'd even argue Everybody Wants Some is better and doesn't feel as much like nostalgia for some recently bygone era. 

 

42 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

No, I totally get that. The only reason I watched it again was for Unspooled, and I was super apathetic about the prospect. :) I really wouldn’t recommend watching it again if you don’t have the mind to. In my mind, a “good” movie shouldn’t require multiple rewatches. I mean, sometimes it helps, but in my opinion, if it’s truly good, then it should grab you the first time.

I disagree with the idea that a movie has to grab you the first time. I've definitely grown to appreciate movies I dismissed the first time. Sometimes I'm not ready for them. Sometimes I've misinterpreted the movie. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for a particular film.

For example, this movie. I saw it once when I was probably 10 and, like Taylor Anne, at the insistence of my mother. I didn't get it at all. To put it in perspective, my mom had to explain that Wolfman Jack was a real person and that guy was the real Wolfman Jack.

This time, I got it. But I think the nostalgia porn aspect of it isn't entirely 1962 but also that time in your life. You could change this film to 1982 or 2012 and the themes are still relevant even if the details like music and cruising the strip have changed. This is as much a movie about teens in the verge of adulthood, being stuck in the same town forever, being unsure of the future, the last night with the only friends you've ever had, and so on. There's nostalgia to it but it's not just baby boomer porn. It's practically a Bruce Springsteen song on film.

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12 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

To me it always felt more elegiac than purely celebratory

This was my take too. For a mainstreamy, George Lucas movie, I was quite surprised by its artfulness. I would have absolutely preferred a more open-ended ambiguous ending though.

Still, Paul & Amy are making me rethink the film. I hadn't seen it before, and was expecting nostalgia porn when I turned it on. I was impressed in how it avoided that to me, and I quite enjoyed it a lot. Now I'm not so sure -- knowing that it is just Lucas' personal stories, I dunno. It's losing some of what I took as creativity and story-telling. 

I haven't finished the episode yet, I should probably do that before going further, but I'm truly not sure what level I think the movie is at anymore.

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1 minute ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Now I'm not so sure -- knowing that it is just Lucas' personal stories, I dunno. It's losing some of what I took as creativity and story-telling. 

On the other hand, plenty of writers try to tell their own personal stories and the result is completely terrible. It still requires a storytelling shape and a reason for being.

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23 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

I disagree with the idea that a movie has to grab you the first time. I've definitely grown to appreciate movies I dismissed the first time. Sometimes I'm not ready for them. Sometimes I've misinterpreted the movie. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for a particular film.

Right, which is why I said it sometimes helps. My point was more, and perhaps I didn’t explain it as well as I should have, if you watch a movie and it doesn’t work for you, you shouldn’t have to keep watching it until it does. 

Like if I don’t like a movie,  I don’t want someone to say, “Yeah, but on your third or fourth rewatch it starts to get good!” If I don’t like it, or it didn’t “grab” me for whatever reason, I’m not going to devote 6-8 more hours of my life watching it again and again until it finally does. I don’t have the time for that. It’s like if I don’t like a television show and someone says, “It starts off slow, but it gets great at episode six!” Fuck that. I’m not going to waste my time sitting through something mediocre with just the promise it might get better. If it’s capable of being good by episode six, then it was capable of being good with the first episode.

Like I said to Taylor, I only rewatched it for the podcast, and the reason I asked if she rewatched it was to see if her opinion stayed the same.

 

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4 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Right, which is why I said it sometimes helps. My point was more, and perhaps I didn’t explain it as well as I should have, if you watch a movie and it doesn’t work for you, you shouldn’t have to keep watching it until it does. 

Like if I don’t like a movie,  I don’t want someone to say, “Yeah, but on your third or fourth rewatch it starts to get good!” If I don’t like it, or it didn’t “grab” me for whatever reason, I’m not going to devote 6-8 more hours of my life watching it again and again until it finally does. I don’t have the time for that. It’s like if I don’t like a television show and someone says, “It starts off slow, but it gets great at episode six!” Fuck that. I’m not going to waste my time sitting through something mediocre with just the promise it might get better. If it’s capable of being good by episode six, then it was capable of being good with the first episode.

Like I said to Taylor, I only rewatched it for the podcast, and the reason I asked if she rewatched it was to see if her opinion stayed the same.

 

Yeah. I'll agree with this. Im not going to force someone to watch something again. Maybe with enough time in between but certainly not a third time. If someone puts in the time for a second viewing, they've done more than enough.

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1 hour ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I mean, it's pretty common that actors don't know what's going to happen in the final cut of a movie. They only film their own scenes and aren't privy to everything else.

I guess I have a different idea of what the tone of this movie is. To me it always felt more elegiac than purely celebratory, as the scene with Wolfman suggests. It's not as obvious about it as the black & white frame in Last Picture Show, but to me the undercurrent is always there.

But this doesn't feel like one of those situations, and even if it was that points more to how much of an after thought this seemed to be.

Idk if I would say I felt this was a celebratory feeling that I got from the movie, but definitely I felt like we were supposed to be looking on everything very fondly, especially since it's painted as a nostalgia piece.

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59 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

On the other hand, plenty of writers try to tell their own personal stories and the result is completely terrible. It still requires a storytelling shape and a reason for being.

Yea sure, but their discussion made me take it as almost pure biography more than story. I don't know if that's true. Maybe it doesn't matter.

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Since it's October, I'm binging horror movies this month and probably won't be able to follow the movies on the podcast. 

I saw this a number of times in my late teens and liked it quite a bit. However, I also remembered Rocky being a good drama and when we revisited it for the podcast, it... did not hold up, to put it mildly.

Both American Graffiti and Jaws are movies that I don't think I've seen since my late teens and remember being generally quite positive on even if I'm negative on mostly everything else their respective directors made, and now, because of Rocky, I'm wondering how well they'd hold up on a rewatch.

I do like the phrase, "strangle a cat moment." I'd read that screenplay book.

At a high level, I remember being more in line with @sycasey 2.0 on the ending.  One thing that has stayed with me over the years is liking movies about memory and the processing of it. AG being a nostalgia piece and then having that ending sets the tone (at least for rewatches and thinking about it) of how the past slips away and we are what we are now. And just how sad it is when we think about the past.

/shrugs

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23 minutes ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

I'm binging horror movies this month and probably won't be able to follow the movies on the podcast.

Same. I watched AG because it was relatively short, but The Godfathers are a bit long. Maybe I’ll rewatch them next month.

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19 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Same. I watched AG because it was relatively short, but The Godfathers are a bit long. Maybe I’ll rewatch them next month.

Same, but I take horror breaks for Unspooled and HDGTM (and if I feel like going to a theatre).

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18 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Same, but I take horror breaks for Unspooled and HDGTM (and if I feel like going to a theatre).

If The Godfather movies weren’t so long, I probably would too. Together they’re almost 6 1/2 hours! That’s basically half the Halloween franchise!

HDTGM I can justify a little better. I’ve already seen Star Crash and I’m guessing that the Friday the 13th live episode they did will be the Halloween episode.

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18 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

If The Godfather movies weren’t so long, I probably would too. Together they’re almost 6 1/2 hours! That’s basically half the Halloween franchise!

HDTGM I can justify a little better. I’ve already seen Star Crash and I’m guessing that the Friday the 13th live episode they did will be the Halloween episode.

As someone who is binging the entire Halloween franchise currently (planning on skipping the Rob Zombie ones though), Godfather might feel an awful lot shorter.

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As far as I was able to tell, boomer nostalgia was the entirety of the appeal of this movie. But then, I didn't care for Last Picture Show either. THX-1138 is much better than both.

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