In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Wizard of Oz

Alameda Theater and Cineplex

(Previously reviewed)

The Alameda's spring classic film series is beginning to wind down.  I am disappointed to have missed Citizen Kane, but not The Birds.  The Wizard of Oz is not one I recall enjoying as a child, but I thought I'd give it another chance, through adult eyes, and on the big screen.

(Liam Neeson must be one of the munchkins.)

From atop the six-story parking garage one can enjoy a panoramic view of Alameda and Oakland.  Here is a patched-together photo looking northeast to southeast, from downtown Oakland to the Coliseum (with its lights on).

Tonight's pre-show featured a magician in the aisles performing some fun feats of precognition and escapistry.  Mid-show he said, "If you lower your expectations I have a really good show."  He managed to get a metal ring to hang on a rope.  He told the crowd he had made a prediction on the way to the theater, then asked a woman if she knew what he had predicted.  She said, "No", and then he revealed a large flashcard with the word "No" on it.  Two prognosticators in one room!  In one clever trick, he wound his arm through and around a rope, only to have it come free of the tangle.  He performed this several times, and in slow motion, but I still couldn't see the trick.  Only when he began to explain it did it make sense.

The manager revealed that the auditorium has a sixty foot theater (I don't know if that is measured corner to corner, like with televisions, or from side to side).  Trivia included what other movie did director Victor Fleming give us in 1939 (he's remarkable for give us such successful talkies, even though most of his films were in the silent era), and what is Dorothy's last name.

This particular print is a re-issue, which was a bit strange, because during the end credits there appeared the Dolby Digital and Warner Bros. logo.  (MGM produced the film, but Warner Brothers acquired the distribution rights in 1986 during a "brief ownership of the company".  Source: Wikipedia.)



The Wizard of Oz (1939)

I'll be quick about this one, because everyone has seen this movie, and I have more pressing reviews to write.  This isn't a movie for adults.  The plot is terribly simple.  I'm reminded of the recent Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is visually interesting, but boring.  Dorothy is swept away to the Land of Oz, meets three friends, goes to Emerald City, then defeats the Wicked Witch of the West.  As a movie for kids, there is fun to be had, and nothing is too scary.  But filmmakers should put in at least something for the adults who must accompany the children.

What was enjoyable for me was seeing how many references originate from this movie.  I first heard a form of "and her little dog too" on The Simpsons, "I'm melting!" in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and "What a world!" in Spaceballs.  My friend Tim used to say, "Poppies!" and I didn't know why.  I've heard the Witch's theme song often, without knowing the evil implications.  All nice surprises.

There is a controversial line delivered to the lion, that "A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others."  So Christmas is about getting after all!  As long as you can get people to love you, it doesn't matter if you love them in return.  Great message.

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