Thursday, May 29, 2008

Operation Screenshot (Films of the 2000s): Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World (2001)










15 comments:

Rogue Spy 007 said...

I love this film. What a great cast.

Tim Lucas said...

No argument here: a masterpiece, and one of my favorite films of the 21st century. It was the scene of Tiffany's discovery of the blues that hooked me; it was gratifying to see someone at the right age falling in love with music in a movie, as it once happened to me. After first discovering GHOST WORLD, I fell into a pattern of watching it whenever I found it playing on cable and couldn't decide else what to watch. In retrospect, I think I was going through a period of depression because it took me quite a few viewings to realize that this very funny movie is also almost suicidally downbeat for most of its running time -- as are all of Terry Zwigoff's movies, I find. I think my realizing how bleak (if ultimately hopeful) a film it really is, was a sign of my emergence from whatever cafard was plaguing me at the time.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith,
I agree...everyone in it is just fantastic. I remember when I saw it that I was convinced Thora and Scarlett would go on to be two of the premiere actors of our day...so far time has proven me right on one of them. I wish someone would give Thora another part this good as she hasn't had much luck since.

Thanks so much Tim for the thoughtful and personal comments. Funnily enough I had sort of a similar experience with it only I was coming out of a funk the first time I saw it and something about it really helped me through.
Like you, I found myself watching it over and over again. There is something very compelling and healing about revisiting this picture.
I also love the scene you mentioned with Tiffany and tried to capture it here. I initially used the close up of the record itself on her turn table but there was something about that image of her laying down and letting it soak over her for the first time that really got me.
I find the film incredibly wrenching as well as funny. It really nails that loss of a childhood friend extraordinarily well that so many of us go through...I find the dissolving relationship between Thora and Scarlett in this to be really devestating. The film really is, as you say, a masterpiece.
Have you heard the Aimee Mann track off Bachelor #2 that she wrote based on the film and graphic novel? It's a really moving track with some of the most evocative imagry she has ever come up with and it compliments both the film and book quite well.
I have actually only seen one other film by Zwigoff (BAD SANTA, which I also love) but remember reading your thoughts on ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL and am reminded I need to give that a go as well.
Thanks again for the very heartfelt comments which reminded me of how really special this film is.

J.D. said...

I also love this film. I have watched it countless times and my appreciation for it seems to deepen the more times I see it. You're right, there is a certain melancholic tone mixed in with the humor that comes from the disintegrating relationship between the two girls and also Enid's rocky relationship with Seymour, which is handled beautifully by Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi.

Between this and AMERICAN BEAUTY, I expected Thora Birch to be a big, big star but she either has made some poor choices or has deliberately picked more offbeat fare, which is such a shame.

Also, I have this theory that at the end of the film, Enid dies, that her departing on the bus is a metaphor for suicide. If you think about it, the old man is waiting around for a bus that no one else seems to be waiting for and then gets on is never seen again? Where is the bus going? Does it really have a destination? Also, Enid seemed pretty destroyed by the end of the film? I always wondered but never found absolute concrete evidence.

Tim Lucas said...

I find myself going back and forth on ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. I suppose it's not as good as I first thought -- the serial killer subplot hurts it, I think, and its misanthropy is too overstated -- but it's well worth seeing, maybe more than once.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks again Tim,
I remembered you seemed to have a change of opinion on it...it's in my NetFlix que and I am looking forward to giving it a look. Thanks again for the comments.

Thanks JD for your long and thoughtful comments. I have one back and forth as well on what I think of the ending as to whether it does indeed represent death or just a symbolic road to nowhere...not sure but it is a rather devestating ending. Thanks again for the comments and to state the question again...why hasn't Thora Birch gone onto more great things?

J.D. said...

Yeah, I think the latest thing Thora's attached to is a remake of TERROR TRAIN (?!). Dear lord... I would love to see her in a Sofia Coppola film. I really do believe that she could do for Thora what she did for Scarlett Johansson's career.

I would also second recommending ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. It is uneven but definitely has its moments. I haven't watched it since I first got it but I do remember liking most of it.

Jeremy Richey said...

Jesus they are remaking TERROR TRAIN as well? What the hell? I wish some of these remakes would at least cause the studios to finally release the originals uncut...
anyway, Thora would be great in one of Sofia's productions. I would love to see her in something of quality again...

Tim Lucas said...

My reading of the final scene is that Enid (not Tiffany, as I said before -- you think I'd know this after umpteen viewings) survives by learning how to believe in something, and by getting out of her dead-end town. The man at the bus stop represents the belief in the impossible, which finally comes true for him, and later for Enid.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Tim,
I definately like your reading of the ending better than my overly cynical one!

J.D. said...

Jeremy: I know, I wish they would leave these horror films alone. Altho, I did some digging and this new TERROR TRAIN remake looks like it is barely a remake at all so go figure. Altho, I did like the remake of BLACK CHRISTMAS - I think I'm the only one, however.

Tim: That's an interesting reading of GHOST WORLD that I had never thought of. Hrm. I'm gonna have to watch this film again. Oh darn...

Jeremy Richey said...

Hey JD,
I seem to remember Watchdog liked the remake of BLACK CHRISTMAS fairly well also so I need to check that out...my favorite thing about remakes is that they sometimes get better versions of teh originals out on disc. I am an early eighties slasher freak so I will gladly support any remakes if I can get any special editions I can get of the originals.
I keep hoping they will remake NIGHT SCHOOL so I can get a copy of that original on disc...

This has turned out to be one of my most popular posts in awhile and I didn't write a word...thanks to everyone for the comments on the pics...

J.D. said...

Jeremy: Yeah, I dig '80s slasher flicks too. I've got the FRIDAY THE 13th BOX SET which is pretty sweet. I've even got a fascination with subgenre of the slasher -- Canadian slasher flicks -- BLACK XMAS, TERROR TRAIN, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, etc. I have been thinking about writing an article about 'em for some time.

I'd be really curious to hear yer thoughts on the BLACK CHRISTMAS remake whenever you get around to seeing it. I still have to pick up the snazzy SE DVD of the original.

NIGHT SCHOOL? What's the deal with that one? Never seen it but I the IMDB lists Rachel Ward as one of the stars? Nice...

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks again JD...I love me some Candian Horror. We have a book here on it at the library called, I think, It Came From Within that is terrific.
That Friday set is one of my favorites also even though I am still holding out hope for the uncut prints one day.
I wrote a tribute to NIGHT SCHOOL awhile back if you want to do a search on it...I love it, it reminds me of a Giallo set in New York and Rachel Ward is stunning looking in it...would love to hear your thoughts on it as no one seems to like it. Drop me an email about info on a copy.
Thanks again...I always like talking Slashers!

J.D. said...

Yeah, I've heard of IT CAME FROM WITHIN but never had a chance to read it. I may have to track down a copy.

I agree with you re: the neutering of the FRIDAY box set. And, as an additional slap in the face to fans, they include all the gory bits as its own extra feature instead of just releasing the films in their original uncut glory.

I'll definitely email ya about NIGHT SCHOOL. Thanks, man.