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17 May 2010 @ 09:03 pm
The Wild Bunch  
I've started a project of watching all of the films on the AFI top 100 list, because I'm the weird sort of person who loves ticking off items on a list.  Sometimes it's labor.  Sometimes it's a lot of fun.  My last effort -- The Wild Bunch, a violent western by Sam Peckinpah -- was mostly labor.  Until the last half hour when it was smashingly brilliant and made the whole thing worthwhile.   I once dated a very brilliant guy whose policy is to decide within the first ten minutes if it's worth staying for a movie, and leaving if the answer is no.   There are many times when that's the right policy. Maybe even most of the time.   But you do miss some spectacular stuff doing things that way, and I guess for me it's worth paying the price of sitting through some unredeemable schlock to not miss those pieces.that only come together in a mad audacious rush at the end.  
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local_max on May 18th, 2010 01:41 am (UTC)
A post after my own heart. This might be sad, but I've seen 99 of the AFI's 100 (their recent list)--I still haven't convinced myself to try Intolerance.

I remember really enjoying The Wild Bunch, but I was about 14 at the time. But yes, that ending. Holy smokes.

And I agree about the season eight connection. And I think there's a LOT of Whedonian precedent for "those pieces.that only come together in a mad audacious rush at the end"--like "Innocence" for season two, or "Man on the Street" for season one of Dollhouse (or, for a lesser example the "blood" montage at the end of "The Gift").
2maggie22maggie2 on May 18th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC)
I slogged through Intolerance (on the theory that one should get the labor out of the way as quickly as possible). That *was* labor. I can see it as important in terms of constructing cinematic language. But it's also on there as a cheat. The real film is Birth of a Nation, which I also slogged through because I have to do both versions of the list. It's appalling, of course. But it's an actual story.

The ending to The Wild Bunch still has me pretty blown away. I couldn't believe how quickly I came to care about a bunch of characters who I had been pretty sure I was going to forget the minute the credits rolled.

local_max on May 18th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
Oh, Birth of a Nation is amazing--terrible, unconscionable, but it's a real movie and surprisingly exciting.

I'm doing both lists as well. I haven't managed to watch Dances with Wolves either. It doesn't help that a few years ago for Christmas I got the "extended edition" on DVD, where Costner has added an extra 1.5 hours onto the movie. I...don't really want to watch that, but I don't really want to rent a movie I own, either. (What a problem, I know.)

Worst labour on either list: The Jazz Singer. It took a lot of breaks to get through it and it's about 80 minutes. If it had some kind of cinematic merit (that I could see) besides proving to Hollywood etc. that sound films are possible/profitable it might have been easier to manage.
Emilyhazel75 on May 18th, 2010 12:40 pm (UTC)
Does your extended version have the theatrical release on it as well? My dad got me Star Trek: The Motion Picture, well, more than a few years ago (it was VHS), and it was the extended release. How painful. Luckily on DVD, a lot of times they'll have both versions though...
Emmieangearia on March 21st, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
I came back to this post late 'cause I'd been thinking about The Wild Bunch and allow me to say...

DON'T WATCH THE EXTENDED VERSION

No. No no no. Watch the theatrical version. I love Dances With Wolves but it's a long movie already. Watching the extended version would ruin it completely for you. The theatrical version is critically acclaimed, not the extended version. It's just a really bad idea to watch that. It's not like those extra minutes of OMWF that we missed out on. That sort of drag ruins the flow of the entire movie.

Dances with Wolves is one of my fave movies actually. I'd probably have critical things to say about it now if I actually really unpacked it, but I watched that movie when I was young and I always enjoy it. I think the opening scene is still so damned powerful. If you watch it, I hope you do a post about it!
local_max on March 23rd, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
HAHA well, I guess you missed your shot because I did watch the extended edition a few months ago, mostly because, well, it's the one I own (a gift, as they say).

I probably won't do a post about it. I liked sections of it. There were problems that I think may have been related to the fact that I watched the extended edition--because the pacing was not very strong, and there were long sections that I think could have been cut out entirely.

I don't think I've once seen the shortened version of OMWF though! Go me. More loosely, I downloaded it the first time I watched it, and there were no networks that were rerunning season six. Then by the time Space (the main Canadian sci-fi channel) aired it, they actually have never cut it down--they just either made an event of it, extending its runtime to 1:15 or some such, or just cutting out commercials (!!!!!). Space fails at capitalism, wins at life.
Emmie: Buffy Aloneangearia on May 18th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
I think that's a good policy with movies, but a bad policy with a television season that has self-contained arcs all building towards a bigger picture.

I think that's a good idea for a short story, but a bad idea for an epic novel.

I think that's a good enough idea for a short comic arc (4 issues perhaps), but a bad idea for a comic spanning 4 years.

My stance: it's a flawed concept for this medium and style of story, its flaws further compounded by Joss-is-busy-in-Hollywood syndrome.

I know, I'm negative. I'll go squee about the church scene in Beneath You. When Joss is present, he's on fire. When he's not there to juggle all the balls, the balls fall down.

Here's the thing: I'm the person who has never walked out of a movie. So I'd disagree with the ex who decided in 10 minutes to walk out. One of my favorite movies of all time is Gone With The Wind. Looong. I love classic movies, too. Hell, I just love movies period. From slapstick to classic to historical period pieces.

This isn't about impatience. Impatience means I would have stopped reading early on. So I disagree with the analogy that that's what I in particular am doing. Nor am I walking out. But Season 8 isn't a movie, it's a season of comic-television with episodes. And a season with a lot of messed up episodes and plot holes and confusion isn't good.

I hesitated in even posting this because I feel like I'm harshing your intellectually patient squee.


eowyn_315: S8 not kidding - Dawneowyn_315 on May 18th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think at some point, it becomes not just about "Is there awesomeness at the end?" but "HOW awesome does it have to be to make it worth sitting through the whole thing?"

It's a lot easier with a movie, I think, because it's only two hours of your life. That's not a huge investment, so it doesn't require a lot of awesome to make it worth it. Season 8 has been three years, and we've only got a handful of issues left. Certainly, that calculation is going to be different for everyone, but at this point, for me, I don't think any amount of awesome can make up for the disappointment that has been the previous 35 issues.

Edited at 2010-05-18 02:47 am (UTC)
2maggie22maggie2 on May 18th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
I don't blame people for giving up. Not at all. I'm feeling a bit isolated because I'm one of the few who doesn't think we can pronounce it a failure now. But I can certainly see saying that even if it's great at the end, the price in the mean time has been just too high.
2maggie22maggie2 on May 18th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
Ex doesn't walk out due to lack of patience. Ex walks out due to his certainty that he can judge the whole by what he sees in the first ten minutes. That frequently works, but it means he systematically misses movies that unfold unexpectedly.

For me the theory definitely goes for whole seasons. If I hadn't had a friend whose opinion I respected, I never would have made it to Passion, which was the first episode where I decided BtVS really was all that. I think it's exactly because Joss rewarded my patience before that I'm willing to let him have his spiel here.

Season 8 doesn't add up -- but it's thick. There's an image that I have always loved, and that's what happens in science where you supersaturate a liquid -- dump in particles in a way that keeps them suspended in water without clumping together the way they naturally would. When it's sufficiently supersaturated, you tap it, and a crystal will form instantaneously. That's how the last half hour of The Wild Bunch worked for me. That's my hope for season 8.

I'm looking forward to whatever debates we might have in January -- but right now, I think it's too early! So we'll see. Maybe I'll wish I'd walked out earlier. But I'd rather risk wasting my time on a bad comic, than risk missing out on that moment where Joss goes 'tap'.
norwie2010norwie2010 on May 18th, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
Anecdote time: i just remembered the first time i saw "the wild bunch" on italian cable tv (in a shoddy hotel room, many years ago) - and the italian translation was really an adaption, including new and cheesy music, slow motion and brand new, sappy dialogues. I remember thinking "that was the worst western i ever watched".

Some time later i watched the original and was, just like you, blown away! Some simple changes and the end of an otherwise great work was awful!
2maggie22maggie2 on May 18th, 2010 04:13 am (UTC)
Cool antecdote! I wonder what the people behind the Italian version were thinking.
Rebcake: btvs_spa_sproingrebcake on May 18th, 2010 04:40 am (UTC)
My Wild Bunch story:

My little brother and I went to the local theater one Saturday for the usual Disney matinee. We were primed for The Over the Hill Gang, starring Walter Brennan. Um, whoops? Needless to say, we didn't even make it through the opening massacre. I still don't understand how we were let into the theater. This was in the days before multiplexes, understand, so it was the only movie playing.

My only point is that expectations have a big effect on how you see things. Oh, and ratings are there for a reason.