Monday, February 26, 2007

My Year of Flops

If you aren't familiar with The Onion AV Club Blog you might want to check it out for a series of posts that the head Onion AV Club film critic, Nathan Rabin, is writing called "My Year of Flops." Every week this year Rabin has taken it upon himself to examine one one of the great critical and box office bombs of cinema history and re-evaluate whether it is truly an unsalvageable "Fiasco" of epic proportions, simply a garden variety "Failure", or perhaps even a "Secret Success"

I'm enjoying his posts quite a bit as I am fascinated by the way the perceptions of a film evolve over time. It's fairly common that a film financially and/or critically lauded upon its release will fade into irrelevance after a few years (Dances with Wolves, anyone?), but films that tank at the box office, or with critics, tend to develop a stink (often undeserved) that they never manage to wash off. I think that re-examining these films, and not just accepting as law the judgment that was handed down on them however many decades ago, is a worthwhile endeavor even if it only ends up reinforcing the general consensus. Though sometimes the results can be pleasantly surprising. For instance, I have always maintained that 1941, while ultimately not very good, is much better than everyone says it is, and is, in fact, enormously entertaining up through its first half. Rabin agrees with me up to a point but is far less forgiving in the end. He has yet to Review Heaven's Gate, though no doubt he will. I'm interested to see what he thinks. It's not a popular opinion, but I'll go to my grave steadfast in my belief that Heaven's Gate is a superior film to The Deer Hunter

Anyway, Rabin's most recent review is for Return to Oz and I'm pleased to see that he rates it a "Secret Success." You can find his whole review here but I thought these two paragraphs pretty much nailed it:

"Like The Wiz, it captures the horror and creepiness of Oz creator L. Frank Baum’s world but shortchanges the magic and wonder: Murch’s Oz is not a nice place to visit nor would anyone want to live there. Then again, Murch’s horrifying Oz mirrors how many children see the world: as a frightening, dangerous, even Kafkaesque place lorded over by glowering authority figures ruled by sinister motives and a cryptic, unfathomable code of conduct and ethics.

"Return To Oz is the kind of primally unsettling kid’s film whose cultural resonance can be measured not just in terms of box-office and reviews but also in the number of bad dreams and traumatic memories it inspires. On that level the film’s unqualified success. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of."

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I've been enjoying those articles too, especially the Return to Oz one. It's more disturbing than most horror movies.