Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On Film Endings

Last week, the critics at The Times Online posted a frankly stupid list of the 20 worst movie endings of all time. I was taking a look at it and it got me thinking about a bunch of other movie endings, etc. I'm going to comment on this list, as well as other movie endings, so if you don't want endings spoiled to whatever you haven't seen, tread lightly.

First, their list.

20. Velvet Goldmine -- which seems pointless, as the film isn't really logical enough up to the ending to make a case for the ending being illogical. Don't get me wrong, I actually like this movie quite a bit, but it seems lame to call it on the ending being the most excessive part. It's all excessive, tasteless, incoherent, and oddly beautiful, just like the glam rock it celebrates.

19. Cast Away -- this I agree on. My God, that's a dull film. The end of the movie is when Tom Hanks gets off the island. Then the movie goes on for another hour or so, slowly showing us how hard it is to readjust to his old life (as if it wouldn't be) and goes for thuddingly obvious symbolism. At what point did Robert Zemeckis decide his audience couldn't think for themselves? Was it because Forrest Gump was such a hit?

Speaking of, I've been thinking about the end of Forrest Gump lately, and I finally figured out what it is that bothers me so much about the ending. Throughout the movie, naive but good-natured Forrest has basically been a cypher for what Robert Zemeckis thinks are all of the great qualities of the supposedly mainstream right wing. It's all thoughtless service to the country, capitalism upon capitalism, and acceptance of duty and devotion to friends and family, no matter how badly he gets treated (he takes it all in stride). Meanwhile, Jenny is the representative of the subversive left wing, and Zemeckis wastes no opportunity to point out that as flashy and attractive as the alternative lifestyle is, it's also hollow, violent, unfocused, desperate, and treats Forrest like crap, taking him for granted. Finally, at the end of the movie, Jenny has to lose her life because of AIDS, essentially being punished for her beliefs, while Forrest is left to raise the child that is the combination of them both. It's all so sanctimonious. Yes, we're together and we're intertwined and two sides of the same coin and all that... but you need to be punished for your rock music and your hippie beads and your freedom marches while the right wing takes over and instills family values in the children again. Give me a fucking break.

18. Planet of the Apes -- the remake, of course. This one is the source of so much contention between me and Becca. Let me first say that neither one of us likes this movie at all. We both dig Michael Clarke Duncan and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, but neither one is used very well. There aren't really any characters per se. I liked the makeup and was strangely attracted to the female apes (especially Lisa Marie, who even looks sexy as a chimp). We both loved Charlton Heston's cameo. But the movie completely sucks and absolutely tainted Tim Burton, who I think has been off his game ever since. But the ending makes sense, dammit! The person who entered Planet of the Apes on the list concludes that General Thade must be over 2500 years old when he meets Marky Mark in order for the ending to make sense. Oy... Okay, I'm going to do this once, because Becca and I have had huge arguments about the ending (just another thing I hate Tim Burton for).

It depends on your theory of time travel. Here is the sequence of events as I understand them:

1. Marky Mark is on a space station. They discover a time hole (or whatever).
2. A chimp is sent through the time hole (or whatever). It is lost.
3. Marky Mark goes through the time hole (or whatever) to find the chimp. Instead he finds a world where apes are the evolved, dominant species and have been for hundreds or thousands of years. They tell of a legend where an ape came down from space and taught the other apes civilization. Marky Mark assumes, wrongly, that the original chimp was the chimp from the legend.
4. When Marky Mark finds the wreckage of the space station he had been on, he concludes that the station was sucked into the time hole (or whatever) and then crashed. He finds video proving this, and proving (in a ham-fisted way) that the apes on this planet are the descendents of the apes on board the space station, and the humans on this planet are the descendents of his colleague.

So, you see, that means that Marky Mark had to have come out of the time hole (or whatever) after all of this had already occurred. To quote a higher authority, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey. There's not a straight linear door between 2029 and whenever the hell the action on the Planet of the Apes is taking place. He went into the time hole (or whatever) and was shot out at a random point, which happened to be after all of the space station crap had happened and apes evolved into the dominant race.

(Really, the more scientifically illogical point--if you accept time travel, that is--is that there are chimps, gorillas, and orangutans here. Do scientific ships carry test orangs and test gorillas?)

Okay, so, then...

5. General Thade is trapped inside the space station.
6. Original chimp, the one that went through the time hole (or whatever), lands on the Planet of the Apes. See, this is supposed to prove that there are random entry and exit points in time, because even though the chimp went through first, he comes out after Marky Mark.
7. Marky Mark uses the chimp's ship to go through the time hole (or whatever).
8. Marky Mark lands at some random point in Washington, D.C. When he looks up at the Lincoln Memorial, it is General Thade's face on the statue. Then ape cops step out of cars and draw a gun on him.

The rather obvious conclusion: What had to have happened is that, at some point, General Thade, whom we last saw trapped in the defunct space station, used something or other to go through the time hole (or whatever) himself, and came out at an earlier point in history than Marky Mark did. Maybe he had an army of loyalists or something and conquered the Earth, I don't know. Either way, Earth is now made in the image of evolved apes, and Marky Mark is still fucked. This ending makes perfect sense because we know that traveling through the time hole (or whatever) is not a point A to point B proposition; it spits you out at a random point. So Thade, even though he went through the time hole (or whatever) at a later point, came out at an earlier point, and since Marky Mark came out at a later point, even though he went through first, he found an Earth that had already been changed at some point in the past. It doesn't matter if Marky Mark went through first or not. The changes were made in the past.

You see?

Yes, it's a dull, unbelievably shitty movie. But the ending makes perfect sense.

(Incidentally, the original Pierre Boulle novel ends in a similar fashion, but I like Rod Serling's ending much, much better. The 1968 movie tops the novel in every way.)

17. Return of the Jedi -- it's been 25 years, fanboys, get over the damn Ewoks, already. You look like idiots whining about it after a quarter century. What makes the end of Jedi crappy now is inserting Hayden Christensen in there.

16. Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- apparently, some people think the ending, with Arthur and his knights arrested for murder, is a cop-out. Yes, it is. And it's brilliant. It's a very, very Pythonesque ending, and if you don't grasp that you don't really grasp the group at all. Of course, given all of those idiots who call themselves Python fans but really only quote Holy Grail badly and have seen nothing else... If this ending pisses anyone off, that's just icing on the cake.

15. Blade Runner -- the original version. Who watches the original version anymore? Yeah, it has a shitty ending, but the fact that the person who submitted this felt Harrison Ford's irritated voiceover was a high point says a lot.

14. Magnolia -- now there's your cop-out ending. I remember how much I fucking hated the movie American Beauty, and how much the ending pissed me off. The real end of the movie is when Kevin Spacey decides not to sleep with Mena Suvari. He's had his moral victory at last. But the movie keeps going on with no idea how to end, and finally, Spacey just gets shot. That was a total cop-out, the kind of thing twenty year-old film students think is edgy but is actually really stupid. My sister said it was supposed to be ironic. I say that irony is a tool for filmmakers who have no ending to pretend their movie is arty and edgy and about something we're all "too stupid" to understand. And too often, surreality is the same thing. There is no dramatic reason for Spacey to get shot at the end of that movie, except that the filmmakers didn't understand their own material. It's the same with Magnolia, which is mostly a self-indulgent actor's reel. Don't have an ending? Why not a desperate biblical allegory instead?

13. There Will Be Blood -- in this case, however, I totally disagree. I loved the ending of There Will Be Blood and found it perfectly fitting. I know others have a different opinion; someone at the theater I went to walked out just four minutes before the ending and yelled "This movie sucks!" (Becca yelled back "Go to hell!") I was tense through the whole movie, knowing that there had to be a sudden outbreak of violence coming, waiting for the kettle to boil. Self-serving commerce destroys self-serving religion, both pretending they do what they do for the good of the community. How the hell else could this movie have ended? All pretense is finally stripped away.

12. Psycho -- the submitter is obviously remembering the dry speech and not the truly creepy last shot coupled with Norman's interior monologue. That's a brilliant ending.

11. Apocalypse Now -- this is a movie I've long felt is supremely overrated. It's a good movie, but I don't see it as the unmitigated classic many others do. That said, once again, I think the end is absolutely fitting. The madness had to come to a head. Willard had to finally be stripped down to the primitive basics. And no, that's not a literal air strike at the end. It's symbolic of Willard looking into the heart of darkness and seeing only horror.

10. The Great Escape -- why even bring this up? The ending is fine. The whole point of the movie is that the detainees will continue even in the face of hopelessness. Hey, James Coburn got away.

9. Saving Private Ryan -- I wholeheartedly agree. This is a terrible ending to an overrated movie. The movie ends with Miller telling Ryan "Earn this." That's it. No more. Instead, Spielberg comes back to the modern day and has Ryan break down with this hideous "Tell me I've been a good man" bullshit that is absolutely tasteless. This framing device is ludicrous, anyway, since we assume the old man is really Captain Miller, because Ryan apparently has memories of the first two hours of movie he wasn't around for. The ending is self-indulgent and mindless.

Someone recently pointed out to me that the real problem with the ending is that Ryan doesn't act like a man of his generation, but instead cries and moans and descends into self-questioning and validation and basically acts the way a baby boomer would. That's a good point in itself.

8. The Great Dictator -- yes, it's self-indulgent, but who cares? It's a great speech. The film is open-ended because the ideological conflict of the time was open-ended. Chaplin is not just satirizing what happens; Chaplin could never do that. He often sentimentalized and made points, and in this film he shows the Jewish plight in no uncertain terms. He reduces the Nazis to bullies and thugs and shows Hitler as a power mad little man with Napoleon syndrome to reduce these evils to mere humanity and show them for what they really were: little boys who had bullied everyone into submission. The unfortunate thing for Chaplin is that this film was released in 1940, when Americans didn't want to be told they had to concern themselves with the plight of Jews in Europe. Just a couple of years and they would have been cheering.

7. Brief Encounter -- another dopey choice. The ending is perfect. Laura knows she made the wrong choice and consigned herself to unhappiness, but for a woman in her position in her society in her time period, it was the only choice she could make: duty first. It wasn't for her to choose to run off with Alec, and that's why this is a tragic love story. If Laura is unconvincing at the end, throwing herself at her husband, it's because she's trying to convince herself. She needs to be held because she needs to be consoled for the life she could have had, and didn't take.

Fucking duh.

6. Grease -- the submitter feels the car flying off into the sunset defied the laws of physics. Do we really need to have a discussion about cinematic devices? What, because the whole "Beauty School Dropout" scene grounded the movie in physical reality? Or, say, the fact that everyone keeps breaking into song? Or that you have people who are obviously thirty pretending to be in high school?

Really, the problem I have with Grease (other than it being a terrible movie), is the message of the ending. Olivia Newton-John dresses in leather and acts tamely slutty, and suddenly it's okay for Travolta to be seen in public with her. The message: "Act like a tart and you'll get your man, despite the fact that he's obviously destined to be a hard drinking mechanic."

5. The Maltese Falcon -- I don't know why this is even brought up. What's wrong with the ending? Bogie wraps everything up in three minutes? Well, Sam Spade is a smart guy. He figured it out. Have you never seen a detective movie before?

4. 2001: A Space Odyssey -- I'm so sick of the whining about this movie's ending. The ending is supposed to be hard to understand. We're supposed to be seeing this change as Dave Bowman sees it. There is a higher consciousness at work and he/we can't fathom what exactly is going on, like a toddler having a conversation with Isaac Asimov about quantum theory. It's really depressing, I think, how many people want to have this spelled out for them and can't use their imaginations here. Then again, it's a movie about evolution, and there seem to be fewer and fewer people who can grasp that, too. It's so much easier to believe Jesus rode dinosaurs because you don't have to explain it.

3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -- yes, the endings have to be there, given the entire theme of the trilogy. It's a little more complex than let's blow up a giant space ball and go home.

2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull -- the epic whining over this movie isn't surprising, but the cry that this movie was too silly and unrealistic when those movies have never been serious and realistic in any sense has been incredibly amusing.

1. Citizen Kane -- would it have been better for Orson Welles to pop up on camera and explain that the sled was really a metaphor for the fact that no matter how rich Kane became he longed for a simpler and more geniunely happy life? Have we finally gotten to the point where people can't understand simple metaphors anymore?

So, another list designed to piss people off by trashing popular movies, or do these movies genuinely have bad endings? I think some of them have horrible endings, but some of them are terrible movies, anyway.

I have a couple of other things to gripe about, while I'm being an intellectual dick. (But not A.I. There is still so much intellectual debate on whether or not the ending was Spielberg tacking something on to Kubrick's original intention--which mostly seems to come from Kubrick diehards who just can't envision him doing something they don't like--or whether it was always what Kubrick had intended. I haven't read any kind of original draft or anything written when Kubrick was alive or what have you, but I will say this: that entire movie absolutely sucks regardless of which director was responsible for it.)

I did want to mention Contact, still being maligned a decade later for an ending that dissatisfied a number of people. I actually love the movie Contact and thought it had a fitting ending. It's actually similar to Forrest Gump--in that movie, Zemeckis argues for traditional values over self-exploration, and in Contact, Zemeckis argues for faith over scientific absolutes. While I can't agree with him on that score, I do think Jodie Foster's entire arc is compelling and satisfying. The story is, on its basic level, about a skeptical woman who finds faith in something. She experiences contact with an alien, but only in her mind, and the alien takes the form of her father. This has led to a ton of whiny bitches who are upset that they didn't get to see some big, crappy CGI alien that they were hoping for.

What those whiny bitches don't understand is that the aliens are beside the point. The experience is all mental, and that's the point. Mental and emotional. Jodie Foster has lost her father, experienced crushing doubt and disappointment in all the other men in her life, and has devoted herself to hard facts. When she meets the alien, it takes the form of her father to comfort her, even though she demands hard facts from it. When she finally has an experience that can't be explained but which she's sure is absolutely real, she realizes that faith in that experience (and that it might be repeated one day) is the only way she can rationalize it. No one believes her and she has no evidence. She just has faith that she or someone else will make contact with the aliens again one day. She doesn't renounce science and hard facts (that would have been too far), but she comes to realize that faith isn't about being comforted by a made-up story; it's about holding on to genuine emotional experiences that can't be quantified. You or I may not agree that it's true, but that's the entire point of Contact. The alien taking the form of her father just further cements the point; was it a dream/hallucination, or did she really meet an alien?

(Really, I think the only thing that kind of ruins the end of Contact is that Zemeckis didn't have the courage to leave it up in the air, instead having James Woods and Angela Bassett acknowledge that Foster's camera recorded hours of feedback, meaning that her trip to space did happen and that the government is suppressing it. The entire government subplot is handled badly, I think, in a very fatuous and self-serious way--especially the Bill Clinton footage, which adds nothing. If you want to make a case for faith, you can't childishly assert that faith has a basis in evidence. If you have evidence, you don't need faith.)

I also don't get why people are bashing the perfect ending of No Country for Old Men. Tommy Lee Jones describing his dream is the whole point. It's him admitting that he no longer knows what place he and his generation have in a post-Vietnam world where violence has become commonplace. Chigurh is still out there somewhere, which represents that violence is not everywhere but, more scarily, anywhere. "And then I woke up" is the whole point. Would it have been better if he'd turned to the camera and said "I guess this really is... no country... for old men!" and then rolled credits?

While we're on the subject of open-ended endings that I think are great, how about Carpenter's The Thing? Do you think it's MacReady or Childs that is still the Thing at the end of the movie? Someone recently told me they thought both men were the Thing, but I think neither of them were. I think that's Carpenter's final comment on human paranoia in the film; neither man is the Thing, but they both suspect one another in an endless face off. And then they freeze to death, anyway, probably.

A couple more.

First, Basic Instinct, an ending I get now but never used to. Was Catherine going to murder Nick or not? That's left to the audience, but after two hours of sordid cocktease and violence, the audience was probably fed up. I know I was, but I was 16 when I saw it. I get it now; there is actual subtext in Joe Eszterhas's script that, but the movie is sort of overdirected. I think she was going to murder Nick and decided not to because she genuinely loved him. After all, he's resisted her manipulations, and I think she was just testing him the whole time. She's not only a murderer, but she's fascinated with murderers. She surrounds herself with murderers and seems to have found the perfect mate because, albeit accidentally, he's a murderer himself. Seriously, it all makes sense to me.

Second, Unbreakable. Now there's an ending that I think ruins the whole movie. I actually liked most of Unbreakable, despite it's rather too-deliberate pacing. And I love the denouement, where Samuel L. Jackson, having turned Bruce Willis into a superhero, reveals that he's the one who was manipulating all of the accidents, trying to find his other half to make sense of his own existence. It's utterly brilliant, and that whole "They called me Mr. Glass" ending is great, but M. Night Shyamalan ruins it, I think, with the pause and the titles letting us know that Bruce Willis went to the cops and Jackson was arrested. That puts a damper on it. The whole point here is to know that both sides are going to exist in a constant struggle that can never be won, because they can't live without each other. Not only did Jackson finally discover his life's purpose, but so did Bruce Willis, who has been moody and boring through the entire movie because of a nagging dissatisfaction that he can't quantify. That would have been a perfect ending. Instead, Shyamalan throws a pedantic explanation at us that seems designed for some dumbshit at New Line who thought it was too open-ended, even though that would've been the point. Now instead you get the sense that Jackson just went to prison and Bruce Willis went back to being moody and boring. Great, what a thrilling conclusion.

Anyway, this post has gone on for long enough. Am I full of shit? What other endings were you disappointed by?


redleeroy said...

I found this post fascinating, (i skipped the movies I had not seen) apart from planet of the apes - I love the original and will never ever ever see the Tim Burton one. I object to you tagging this with "useless lists", its not useless at all, its imperative. It helps me to take off my rose tinted glasses and realise that Gump was a card carrying conservative. Most excellent.

SamuraiFrog said...

I would completely recommend not ever seeing the Tim Burton remake of Planet of the Apes. It's shit. Pure, uncut shit.

Splotchy said...

Would it have been better if he'd turned to the camera and said "I guess this really is... no country... for old men!" and then rolled credits?

YES! Maybe accompanied by some jazz hands.

MC said...

See, I would have ended Unbreakable as something like this.

David discovers Elijah's various crimes and confronts him, but discovers he can't bring himself to kill him because he is so weak, so fragile, despite the fact that the world would be a much better place without Price.

However, knowing that Elijah's condition gives him a much shorter lifespan, David vows to keep his eye on him and stop him in the future... and then the game is on.

Douglas McEwan said...

To comment on a few of these:

RETURN OF THE JEDI. I was in my mid-30s when it came out, and I LIKED the Ewoks. Still do. Inserting Hayden Christensen into ANYTHING is a bad idea. He's pretty, but a piss-poor actor. Who knew before the release of episodes II & III that Annikin Skywalker was an incurable whiner? I think what really twisted him was going through life with people calling him "Annie" all the time. No wonder he wanted the butcher name Darth Vader. They should have called REVENGE OF THE SITH "ANNIE GET YOUR LIGHT-SABER".

I am a true Monty Python disciple. I have seen their entire output, all the TV shows, all the record albums, all the movies, all the videos and DVDs, all the books. (I am reading Michael Palin's recently-published Python Years Diaries right now! When, in THE SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY, The Doctor mentioned "Monty Python's Big Red Book" I plotzed. I HAD that book.) If you ever see the video of MONTY PYTHON LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL, I am in that live audience, and I went backstage on a backstage pass after the show, and met all 6 of them. MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL is a perfect masterpiece, and the ending is exactly right. You are very correct that anyone who objects to that ending doesn't know dick about Monty Python.

The ending of PSYCHO, that is, the last shot, is brilliant. And the psychiatrist's speech is actually a good touch in that the fatuous doctor gets much of it wrong. He completely misses the rape aspect of the stabbings for one thing. (Knife as penis. He missed that. Obviously he's not a Freudian.)

(BTW, ever notice that the guard on Norman's cell at the end is Ted Knight? On an episode of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW they tell Ted that they are changing the name of his show to "Ted Baxter's News". He, excited, says, "TED BAXTER'S NEWS, you mean like ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S PSYCHO?" Murrey replies. "More than you know." It's an in-joke because Ted was in PSYCHO.)

THE GREAT DICTATOR. Sorry. I think this is the wrong ending for a comedy, even a satirical one with serious intentions. It's preachy and dull. It's odd: CITY LIGHTS and MODERN TIMES both feature the best endings in film history. What briliant final images. And then Chaplin forgot how to end a comedy film. THE GREAT DICTATOR and MONSIEUR VERDOUX (a film I love) have these terrible, talky, preachy endings. If Chaplin really wanted to make his point in MONSIEUR VERDOUX, he should have let Verdoux get away with it all. But lecturing the audience is not the way to end any film. All it says is that he didn't trust the audience anymore to get what the film had already said in it's action. "For those among you who missed the point, allow me to wag my finger in your face for five minutes."

How could anyone criticize the ending of THE MALTESE FALCON? It's perfect, as is the whole film. And it has one of the most memorable final lines this side of "Well, nobody's perfect."

One can debate for days what the last half hour of 2001 means. (I don't accept the prosiac reading of it Clarke gave in his pedestrian novelization.) But that final image is again, one of the best final images any movie has ever had. In any event, to really appreciate and understand the film, you had to see it in Cinerama, stoned. (I saw it four times in it's original run at the Warner's Cinerama Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in 1968. Just walking into the men's room and taking a deep breath would get you stoned, so MUCH pot was being smoked in there. Ah, good times.)

I attended a science fiction conference in 1968. Norman Spinrad was one of the speakers. Fatuous old Forry Akerman spoke, praising PLANET OF THE APES at great length, as the second-coming of great sci-fi. I thought it was a run-of-the-mill sci-fi actioner with silly ideas, and fatally damaged by having that notorious block of wood Heston in the lead. I raised my hand and asked Forry if he'd seen 2001. Forry made a squinched-up stanky face and said, "Yes." and nothing more, as though Kubrick's botch was beneath discussion, but hey guys, PLANET OF THE APES...! It was the moment when I realized that he was a tool and a fraud. he thought this overdone B movie was GREAT, but 2001, which I already realized was one of the great masterpieces of cinema, was lousy. I am sure that, if you asked Forry now, he'd deny he ever thought poorly of 2001.

My only problem with the ending of RETURN OF THE KING is that it omits the Scouring of the Shire. That's right, I think there's too little ending. People who comoplain that it has three or four endings have clearly never read the books. Feh on non-readers.

I have written elsewhere of how dick-brained much of the criticism of INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULLS has been. The criticism of it's implausibility particularly pisses me off. Didn't these dopes see the other films in the series. For Heaven's sake, in TEMPLE OF DOOM (My favorite of the series, though I seem to be alone in this.), he jumps out of a plane over the Himalayas without a parachute, just an inflatable life raft. Hello? A man gets his heart ripped-out of his chest AND DOESN'T DIE! Someone built parallel rollercoaster tracks inside a mountain! Why? The plausibility ship sailed out of the Indiana Jones movies 8 minutes into RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, when Indy ran out of that shrine without ANY of the hundreds of poison darts hitting him, and then outran a giant boulder. As for the ending of the new one, it brought a tear to my eye. Indy marries Marian, and his son takes over the family business. It's great fun, and sent me out of the Cinerama Dome with a silly grin on my face, just as it should.

Anyone who doesn't find the ending of CITIZEN KANE perfect, well, in the words of Roger Ebert, there's just no talking to them.

Folks bitching about the end of CONTACT clearly haven't read the book. Again, Feh!

The ending of Carpenter's THE THING is, I think, perfectly clear. Neither is a thing, but both are going to die, just in case. (I very much like Carpenter's THE THING.)

The most jarring, "Huh?" ending I've ever experienced was Hitchcock's THE BIRDS the first time I saw it, back in 1963. It took me years to learn to appreciate it. I'd have preferred the originally-planned ending, where they arrive in view of San Francisco, only to see the Golden Gate Bridge covered in birds.

D. McEwan said...

PS. On Forry and 2001 and PLANET OF THE APES. 2001 also had MUCH BETTER and more convincing ape make-ups than the much-praised, Oscar-winning make-ups in PLANET.

Oh, and along with Norman Spinrad, Harlan Ellison was also in the room that day, though whether he remembers the Forry-2002-PLANET OF THE APES exchange now, or even the whole event itself, 40 years on, I have no idea.

Penh said...

The Mist probably had the worst ending of anything I've seen recently. Look, if you want to end your movie on a downbeat note that's not in the original story, fine. But a ridiculous, contrived bleak ending is no better than a ridiculous, contrived Hollywood-happy ending.

SamuraiFrog said...

Splotchy: And... scene!

MC: That's exactly the ending the movie should've had. That would've been a perfect ending.

Douglas: I love the Ewoks, too. I also love Live at the Hollywood Bowl, one of my favorites. That's so cool that you were there. When I was younger, the vomit take during the Crunchy Frog sketch was one of the funniest things ever; my mom hated that so much.

I did know Ted Knight was in Psycho, but I didn't know about the in-joke on MTM. I haven't seen that show in a long, long time and I'm not sure I've seen the episode. That's on DVD now, right? I kind of want to sit down and just watch the whole thing.

I like the end of The Great Dictator because I just like the content of the speech; I think he delivers it passionately without being condescending or cynical, and I think it works. I agree on Verdoux, however. What an ending that would've been.

I love the original Planet of the Apes, I think it's a great science fiction movie, but it's definitely a B movie (I think Maurice Evans saves a lot of it). But 2001 is a masterwork. Funnily enough, my mom went to see it stoned when she was 15, during a re-release (she was 11 when it first came out). It was always one of her favorite movies, and she made me see it as a young teenager. She really instilled her love of science fiction on me, and I'm eternally grateful for it.

I wonder what Akerman would say now. Harlan Ellison has never been kind to the movie. He wrote an essay at the time and really tore it to shreds, describing Kubrick as "pulling ciphers out of a cocked hat because he lost his rabbits somewhere" and calls it a failure of storytelling. He even mentions seeing the movie with Spinrad. It's a surprisingly nasty piece, even for him, and he kind of goes to pains to insult the reader and the audience of the movie, which he admits he found engrossing and boring at the same time.

Penh: I haven't seen The Mist, but I've heard from a surprising number of people that the ending is terrible.

SamuraiFrog said...

Oh, and Douglas, Temple of Doom is my favorite, too.

MC said...

Speaking outside the realm of movies, me and Semaj were recently debating the (to me at least) craptacular ending Final Fantasy VII had (because of the investment one has to put into the game to see it come to a satisfying narrative conclusion.

And with No Country for Old Men, the point that I came away with had more to do with Chigurh not killing the kids at the end of the movie... when he has basically killed everyone who saw his face and could identify him throughout the rest of the movie.

Allen L. said...

There are too many movies with unsatisfactory endings for me to even start turning on my brain.
The number of times I have yelled, "What?!?!" at the screen are too numerous.
I am soooooo glad you had the epiphany about Gump. I remember feeling that exact way in 94 and no one wanted to hear it. In fact, I usually just get clocked with "you're a conspiracy nut" and that's the end of it.
It is such a disguised attack on the right wing, because while they live forever and are rich, they are morons. And the ones with the worldview expanse get to die but have fun doing so.
Gump sucks. Painfully. Zemeckis has always been a lightweight Spielberg protege. I think he's infinitely a worse filmmaker and has been useless since the original script for Back to the Future (which I remember reading was supposed to have a volkswagen bug, but that could be aprocryphal.)

SamuraiFrog said...

MC: I couldn't tell you on Final Fantasy, but that is an interesting point on No Country for Old Men.

Allen: Where Spielberg and his cronies are concerned, I'm never sure if it's an attack or not. John Milius is so painfully right wing and Spielberg is so in awe of the military that I can never tell.

I haven't read the original script of Back to the Future, but I think I can find it easily online. I remember reading once that the time machine was supposed to be a refrigerator.

fairlane said...

Any movie with Marky Mark, now that's a film.

Distributorcap said...

late as always

bad ending - Blazing Saddles. one of mel brooks biggest problems he doesnt know how to end movies -- this is among the worst

as for the remake of POTA -- one of the worst movies EVEH.....