Sunday, August 1, 2010

'My Favorite Year' Open Thread

What did you think?


  1. Where did this (post) come from? It wasn't here this morning. Ohh, the interwebs are mysterious indeed...

    I think of this as a simple formulaic comedy: Boy meets Idol; Boy loses Idol; Boy gets Idol back. ;)

    (more later)

  2. "Where did this (post) come from?"

    It was today's posting, but since it's for fun and just for us fun club types, I tucked it in behind a more serious post, not that the Palin posting should really qualify as such. A little fun was being had there, which the humorless among us seem to have missed.

    Hey, I haven't got the show yet but it is tops on my Netflix queue and should be arriving soon. I am really looking forward to watching Peter O'Toole. He was amazing in the classic Lawrence of Arabia, and though a much less ambitious project, I heard he was very good here as well. Have you seen it yet? Start us off if you have, but no spoilers young lady!

  3. You know... (geez, the stuff I'll admit to around here) ... I've never seen Lawrence of Arabia. But I'm pretty sure it's at Netflix (and I'm guessing I could handle the gore); perhaps it's time.

    And now, from the sublime, as they say, to the ridiculous...

    This movie has a great deal of broad comedy, with over-the-top characterizations of the already over-the-top eccentrics from the early days of television. The writing is uneven, and some of the jokes are, well, vintage. But there's still a lot that cracks me up. And it's all worth it for the finale.

    And I love the real story, about heroes, and hero-worship, in the modern age. I love this story about a man who had let momentum determine his path in life, let others decide who he would be for them, and let himself believe that without the cachet of glamor and celebrity he had nothing to offer -- and is surprised to discover in the end that he does have, deep down, everything it takes to save the day.

    I like what this movie says about being a hero, or star, or idol, especially for those who are complicit in the creation of the personas they inhabit. Old Hollywood created legends, with its giant movies and giant studios and giant staffs of P.R. people who polished -- and protected -- the giant stars' images (thus ensuring a livelihood for bzillions of writers who would later strip the legends down to their bare humanness) -- and Alan Swann typifies the stars who, while they were stars, didn't seem to know where their selves left off and their Movie Star identities began.

    But Alan Swann is past the end of his run as a Movie Star, and has plenty of time to see the empty result of living his life as a star instead of a man. A woman he loved, but never married; a fortune made, and gone; a child he adores, but never sees.


  4. (... continued)


    He is cynical, but entertained, by the people who continue to see him as a Movie Star, but he shows kindness where others might have dismissed the "little people" who vied for their attention. He is first touched by, then fond of, the young fan whom he could just as easily have tolerated silently or sent on endless fool's errands. Most importantly, he is fully aware of the discrepancy between who he is, and what "his public" still want, or need, or just believe him to be.

    On the other side of this -- the hero-worship side -- is Benjy, a young man who has the chance of a lifetime -- to work with his idol -- and discovers that his idol is only a man. His expectations are based, not just on the years of adulation he had given this hero before they met, but the growing admiration he has for larger-than-life Swann as they come to know each other. But he still is stopped short when he realizes his hero's humanness is about to make a very unwelcome appearance.

    Because Alan Swann is only a man; a man who has been avoiding his fears -- until a big one hits everybody right between the eyes.

    I feel for Benjy, as unreasonable as he becomes. We need heros in our lives, and if we don't have any close to home we'll embrace those who present themselves -- or are presented by others -- as courageous, brilliant, generous. Having a hero exposed as a flawed human being can be shattering, whether it is a favorite professor who turns out to be a hack, a religious leader who turns out to be a fraud, or a politician who turns out to be a politician.

    How much of Benjy's distress is due to the crisis of the moment, and how much to the heartbreak of having something he'd believed in all his life suddenly shown to be a sham?

    Alan Swann knows he's a sham, a creation of the studios, and the publicity stunts, and the Hollywood marriages. He needs Benjy to understand that he's a regular human with regular human fears. But Benjy needs him, more than ever, to be a hero.

    (fast forward)

    I love Peter O'Toole. And what I love most about him is the expression in his eyes the last time we see him in this show.

  5. Well, it was a pleasant movie, and a heart warming story. I enjoyed Peter O'Toole, especially how he carried himself opposite King Kaiser, and was pleased to see him impress Mr. Kaiser in the rehearsal, and redeem himself at the end.

    I can't add much to what Cathy has offered. That was very well said, Cathy. It is nice to see you so invested in a story. We may be on to something with Peter O'Toole. He is good here, but the classic roles might be in Goodbye Mr. Chips, and in Lawrence of Arabia. The second benefits from a big screen. It is about an English officer that doesn't quite fit in, yet is fascinated by the Bedouin's of Arabia that England has rather loose authority over. They are pushed out by the ruthless Ottoman-Turks, and Lawrence ends up blending in with the Arabs. He decides to try to convince the Bedouins to fight against the Ottoman-Turks, and slowly comes to lead them, as much as they might be lead. He is shocked by the evil in his own heart, and the effect that power has on him. As they meet with success and ... well, I will leave the rest for the movie. Let us make that our next pick! I should have it up in three or four days.

  6. Well, I will admit to being excessively fond of the movie, even if I don't find it as hysterically funny as I did when it first came out.

    But I do still love Peter O'Toole, and I'm totally psyched to see him in something a little more "ambitious"! ;)

  7. Okay! It is violent at times, but hey, that's what fast forward is for. O'Toole is remarkable. Seven academy awards. I hope you have a big screen and reasonably big sound for it - he deserves it.

    It's at the top of my queue!!