?

Log in

No account? Create an account

July 7th, 2006


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
07:55 pm - Yahoo Serious: The Ingmar Bergman of Disliked Australian Directors
I crashed at work this afternoon.

Physically, I mean. It was really weird. One moment I felt fine, and the next moment I became aware that I'd been staring blankly at the adding machine on my desk for thirty minutes. I got less sleep than usual last night, and woke up bright and early and ready to jump out of bed -- not a common occurrence, even when I get the full, NSF-recommended eight hours. I'd expected it to happen all day, but I was surprised when it came so late in the day.

For all the no sleep I got, I might as well have downed a fistful of Vivarin and gone to see Pirates of the Caribbean II: Electric Boogaloo last night. Several of my friends went to the 12:01 show and I was invited, but I declined. I'm waiting for them to post reviews. The general reaction from my coworkers and usual blogs was "wait until you can see it free on TV." Then again, I'd successfully avoided National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation until my coworkers forced it upon me in 2004. I no longer trust them.

Anyway, I'm guessing that this sudden, overall tiredness is probably to blame for my sudden desire to go home and watch Yahoo Serious movies. Remember that guy? No? There are good reasons for that. Consider the old adage, "If it looks like Carrot Top, and it quacks like Carrot Top, it might be Yahoo Serious. Check its accent."

I've never personally heard anybody who wasn't a stoner or eleven years old (or both) praise Yahoo Serious, although I know it must happen. His first film, Young Einstein, was ridiculously well-received in its native Australia, where it was nominated for (and won) major awards and rivalled Star Wars at the box office. When it came to the United States, Warner Brothers advertised the hell out of it, and (comparitively) it flopped. Critics and audiences weren't kind to it. At the time I'm sure that Warner Brothers executives were confused, but the reason for the disparity is obvious.

Young Einstein, which speculates on how Albert might have turned out if he'd been raised in the Outback, is probably the most unapologetically Australian movie I've ever seen. It's certainly not the most unapologetically Australian movie ever, but whichever movie holds that honor is probably collecting dust and sitting unrented between sexier, more recognizable titles at Four Star Video. Young Einstein was made for Australians, by Australians who were clearly not thinking about how the film would be received by an international audience.

As an American, it's almost impossible to appreciate just how much North America dominates the cinema. We worry very little about whether our films will appeal to or offend the folks in, say, Australia. When a studio in Germany or Spain or Prance or Molvania makes a high profile, big budget picture, they spend a lot of time and resources worrying about how we're going to help them recoup their production costs. British films don't have to try too hard -- we speak the same language and have the same cultural hot-buttons as they do (they just press them differently over there, which is why you think John Cleese is so much funnier than Chevy Chase*). The rest of the world goes to ridiculous lengths to convince us to buy tickets: They bring in American actors to play the principal roles. They rewrite their screenplays, transplanting the action from Yugoslavia to Beverly Hills. Sometimes they shoot in English and add subtitles for their domestic release.

Young Einstein avoided these pitfalls by being thoroughly Aussie, and the result was something that its intended target audience recognized and identified with in a way that they couldn't with the American movies like Willow and Twins, which opened there around the same time. If Bruce Q. Moviegoer (or his wife Sheila) were to sit through Young Einstein in 2006, they'd probably find it silly and maybe a little embarrassing. The film's immense popularity in 1988 was sparked by that initial cultural connection, and fanned by the horde mentality, but before you write off the Aussies as having questionable taste, I'd like to remind you that America's highest grossing film of the previous year was Three Men and a Baby. What is it they say about people in glass houses?

Anyway, where was I going with all of this? Oh yes, I was trying to explain why Yahoo Serious gets a (mostly undeserved) bad rap. He's only made three movies, and though the other two did good business internationally (well, in Australia, at least), Young Einstein's failure in the States pretty much relegated his follow-ups (1993's Reckless Kelly and 2000's Mr. Accident) to limited theatrical release and budget video pricing. They all have their foibles, but they're not evil. I can see what Mr. Serious was trying to do, and I see can why the only large audience to embrace the movies was Australian. Who doesn't root for the home team?

So here is why so many people think they hate Yahoo Serious: Ultimately, all three of his films are simple slapstick manifestos which pit idealism against smarm; glorified fables. The difference between the good guys and the bad guys is crystal clear, right always triumphs over wrong, and none of this matters because the plot is really only there to drive the comedic antics. Given their lack of violence, sex, and profanity, Yahoo Serious' sensibilities would have fit seamlessly into the era of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, and maybe even a bit later during the reign of the Hayes Code. However, thanks to the MPAA ratings system, modern audiences, have come to expect that screwball comedies will contain racier material. Serious' films are made for a general adult audience, but their content treads a fine line between The Muppet Show and The Kentucky Fried Movie. When he does make the unusual journey into Farrelly Brothers territory, it feels forced and uncomfortable. Most of the time his films feel like misguided family fare. Films like The Wizard of Speed and Time and Who Framed Roger Rabbit have the same issues.

Some people appreciate Yahoo Serious. Other people don't have the patience to put up with his style. It's not really a matter of "getting" him. Reviews of his films are inevitably very positive or very negative -- I've never seen a lukewarm review.

Still, if I only watch them when I'm craving them (which is not very often), I find the his films enjoyable on one level or another. Mostly I enjoy the obvious glee with which Mr. Serious tackles his material. He's in love with the process of filmmaking, and that makes his movies fun. I figure I'll probably watch Mr. Accident later tonight, and I'll have met my Yahoo Serious quota for 2006.


* Scratch that. John Cleese is funnier than Chevy Chase. Hell, Gallagher is funnier than Chevy Chase. Remember Gallagher? We talked about Gallagher once.
Current Mood: boredbored
Current Music: The Might Be Giants -- Bee of the Bird of the Moth

(29 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:fionn_fezzic
Date:July 8th, 2006 01:27 am (UTC)
(Link)
a major part of his movies doing well here (in australia) is the fact that there very much rooted in the underdog status
for some reason australians love to back the underdog , until he wins then we pan them horribly
exsept for Nicole Kidman (cant foer the life of me exsplaine that one)


on a side note, my grandfather was actualy the best man at Yahoo's parents wedding
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 8th, 2006 03:16 am (UTC)
(Link)
Huh. You're right. Actually, every one of the Australian movies I can think of has the whole underdog theme going on. I'm not really sure I get what you mean about Nicole Kidman. What's the general Australian opinion of her?

And about Yahoo's parents' wedding... That's pretty cool. Out of curiosity, any idea what your grandfather thinks of his career?
[User Picture]
From:fionn_fezzic
Date:July 8th, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)
(Link)
well he died sorta a little while after the first movie come out
seeing as he was a local boy to my town we flew the flag veryvery high for a few years but after a while it was sorta like "ummm yeah, he come from here" then a blush lol

and on Kidman shes one of the few aussies that we sorta still totaly accsept without any bad words that is that big
i mean for a while we were even calling tom cruise "our tom"
its crazy
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 10th, 2006 03:03 pm (UTC)
(Link)
i mean for a while we were even calling tom cruise "our tom"

That IS crazy. He's our Tom, and plenty of us are embarrassed about it.
[User Picture]
From:wyrdsatyr
Date:July 8th, 2006 01:52 am (UTC)
(Link)
yes, I remember Gallagher. He was way funnyer to me than to most people, because his humour required you to think... something most people are too fucking lazy to do... and his humour was about how not thinking for yourself, causes HUGE problems in the long run....

Too bad he is known for his finale, and nothing more.
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 8th, 2006 02:10 am (UTC)
(Link)
I don't want to start a fight or anything, but my experience with Gallagher is that he's a bigot who harbors a lot of spite about his career having declined since its peak twenty years ago. I'm somewhat familiar with his material, and while it has it's moments, I can't find very many good ones. To each his own, I s'pose.
[User Picture]
From:ribsinbacon
Date:July 8th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yeah, what he said, if he could just not be so damn bitter... I mean yeah he did smart stuff- and then the food smashing. Prop = laugh. Plus his jelousy of Carrot Top is unfounded... I mean... how can he be so jelous of making stupid stuff and him saying "Look at this huh!? huh!? Huh!??"
[User Picture]
From:wyrdsatyr
Date:July 8th, 2006 04:12 am (UTC)
(Link)
no fight... I don't care for the person, but his humour was something that I enjoyed far more than most
[User Picture]
From:koriandrkitten
Date:July 8th, 2006 04:54 am (UTC)
(Link)
Funnily enough I've seen Young Einstein. Its up there on the list for my Grandpa's all time favorite movies along with Time Bandits and others I've told you about.
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 10th, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It seems like the sort of thing your Grandpa would like. I'm pretty sure we could give each other good movie recommendations if we ever met.
[User Picture]
From:matt_william
Date:July 8th, 2006 05:39 am (UTC)
(Link)
I think I'm one of the few who can honestly say that not only did I enjoy "Young Einstein" back when it was first shown on HBO in the late 80s, I still enjoy it today (more for the goofy fun of it than anything else).

As for Gallagher, well, I did find his act hilarious at one time. I'm not sure if I still would. I still believe that Chevy Chase was great at one time. Don't believe me, watch "National Lampoon's Vacation" and try not to laugh.

And well...I don't care what anyone says, I'm the type of person who does find Carrot-Top funny as well (I've seen his live act twice and hurt laughing both times). It's too bad that he just comes off as so annoying in movies, TV, and commercials that no one seems to like him.

And remember...Joel Hodgeson (MST3K) got his start as a prop-comedian too ^_^...

Matthew
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 10th, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'll concede that Chevy Chase has been a funny guy in the past, but I've seen him in plenty of unfunny stuff where he was the problem. Carrot Top... I don't actually know Carrot Top. I find him a little annoying, but people swear to me that he's a funny guy, and he did deliver my favorite version of The Aristocrats. Mostly though, I mentioned him because he and Yahoo Serious share a similar physical appearance.

As for Young Einstein, yeah, I know a lot of people who like it, but it just doesn't seem to have ilicited much of a positive reaction here in the States. And I'm pretty sure that's why nobody remembers any of his other stuff.
[User Picture]
From:matt_william
Date:July 10th, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh yes, Chevy Chase hasn't done anything remotely funny since "Christmas Vacation" (though "Vegas Vacation" wasn't terrible). Just was Man of the House or see if you can find an old episode of the VERY short lived "The Chevy Chase Show."

As for Yahoo...I saw "Mr. Accident" and was bored to tears by it. We watched it at the store one afternoon and that was all I needed to know that I was no longer interested in ANYTHING he does.

Besides, does anyone in the U.S. really want to remember him? We've got our own crappy filmmakers, we don't need anymore.

Matthew
[User Picture]
From:theenigma42
Date:July 8th, 2006 12:22 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm not going to post a review for PotC, but yeah, you should see it. It's excellent, and the people at work have NO taste in movies apparently, if they'd prefer Christmas Vacation to this. It was much better than I was expecting. Disney finally did an excellent sequal. It almost, but not quite (at all) makes up for all those crappy strait-to-video rehashes of all their animated films.
-KEiTH

P.S. - Plus, it has a voodoo preistess in it. Come one, Guybrush!
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 10th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)

DO NOT MOCK THE VOODOO PRIESTESS!

(Link)
Voodoo Priestess: I am one gifted with the Second Sight, adept at manipulating the forces of nature for the benefit of all who enter my door.

Guybrush Threepwood: You're a fashion consultant?

Voodoo Priestess: Well... yes, but that's not what I was referring to. I am a Voodoo Priestess.

Guybrush Threepwood: Neat.

Voodoo Priestess: You're an "autumn," by the way.
This is encouraging, since I generally trust your taste in movies. Now I just have to stop turning down offers when people ask if I want to go.
[User Picture]
From:defaultlisa
Date:July 8th, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's good you were safe at your desk when you had the sleep-deprived loss of time. One morning when Michael and I were first dating, I was driving to work on very little sleep and I suddenly realized I had no idea where I was and nothing looked familiar.

After a couple of minutes, I figured out that I had just missed the turn for work and that I wasn't actually very far from where I was supposed to be. But blind panic on the highway (lost and potentially late) is never a wonderful sensation.

I highly recommend POTC2. Catch a matinee, if nothing else. We missed seeing the midnight showing with Inle, but Michael, Alice and I caught it last night and enjoyed it. There are some striking parallels with Empire Strikes Back, which everybody seemed to be picking up on somewhat independently. This prompted a short conversation about sequels and moviemaking.
[User Picture]
From:phil_bond
Date:July 8th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Pirate review:

It's fun. It's fun in that authentic way that as a child I found indistinguishable from perfection. Sometimes these movies get made where the people making it know it'll be a success, and you can feel that they derived from that a kind of enthusiasm in the filmmaking process, but they don't know exactly how BIG a success it will be. Then, they find out what significant sentiment they've attracted, and it has two alternate effects on those involved with the inevitable sequel. Some people are engaged by it, and play to an audience they know is ready to love them. Some are off-put by the realization that their work will be compared to something they now must top, but they are overall generally capable of living up to their prior performance.

In these respects, I hold Pirates 2 up most to Ninja Turtles 2, and Ghostbusters 2.

Spoiler hint: You may not want to read this, because I masochistically liked it, but in another closely associated manner of thinking, Pirates 2 must be compared to Back to the Future 2 and The Matrix 2. Oh yes.
[User Picture]
From:the_tick27
Date:July 8th, 2006 05:58 pm (UTC)
(Link)
what a bout Gremlins 2
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 8th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Or Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.
[User Picture]
From:phil_bond
Date:July 9th, 2006 07:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
Fuck Gremlins 2. Gremlins 2 is the perfect example of a stupid sequel that goes in a completely useless direction and taints the original.

When I'm president of North Korea, I'm putting all copies of Gremlins 2, Son of the Mask and Legally Blonde 2 into a Taep'o Dong and launching it at Michael Bay.
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 8th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This is encouraging, and I'm excited about seeing it (eventually). Another thing I failed to mention in my post is that I had a splitting headache when I went home on Thursday night. I'm pretty sure that the movie, regardless of its quality, would have been ruined for me.

Anyway, what's wrong with The Matrix 2? That was my favorite one.
[User Picture]
From:phil_bond
Date:July 9th, 2006 07:18 am (UTC)
(Link)
In this context? Nothing is wrong with Matrix 2.
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 9th, 2006 09:10 am (UTC)
(Link)
I'm tired and I want to explain my stance on The Matrix, not that you care. Not that anyone does, for that matter.

When The Matrix came out, I thought it was decent pop sci-fi. I saw it once in a theater. I tried a few times over the course of the summer of 1999 to convince Keith and Tom to see it again in the Budget Cinema, but unfailingly they chose to watch The Phantom Menace again. I saw The Phantom Menace four times during its theatrical run, twice more or less against my will (we were already in Madison, and they'd driven me). I blame Tom and Keith, who saw it even more times than I did.

Anyway, The Matrix came out on DVD the same week that all of my friends were coming home from college. There were several parties, and it played at each one of them. I was studying Large Systems Design at the time, and repeat viewings highlighted enormous design flaws in the the Matrix itself; huge, gaping holes which would cause it to collapse. No amount of plot rationalization on the part of Matrix fans would fix the flaws and contradictions in its design. I am the king of suspending disbelief, but somehow the repetition and reinforcement destroyed my future of The Matrix. Until the sequel.

When Reloaded came out, I agreed to go with my sister and her boyfriend. I was skeptical at first, but the huge information dump provided by The Architect filled in the gaps and fixed most of the plot holes I saw in the first movie. Everybody else seemed appalled by the narrative clumsiness, but I was thrilled. The flaws of the Matrix combined with the cyclical existence of Zion to create a deliberate failsafe mechanism.

I had a couple of theories about how the third movie would end the story. I was sure that either Zion would, itself, turn out to be part of the Matrix, or events would unfold as The Architect had outlined them and without Neo's help: Zion would be destroyed and Neo would find that he had inadvertently saved the 16 women and 7 men required to rebuild Zion. My friends insisted that the Matrix-Within-A-Matrix ending would have been a cop-out, but that's the one I'd hoped for because it would have fixed all the problems. The Matrix-Withing-A-Matrix would have been a perfect, self-perpetuating system.

So then the third movie came out. And it was an action movie. And I don't really like action movies, but I sat through it because I thought I could see it following the second scenario I'd been hoping for. And when that didn't pan out either, I realized that I'd pretty much paid $8.50 for gunfights and an "it means what you want it to mean" ending. Even discounting my failure to predict the plot, I was very unimpressed with Revolutions. I thought I might have missed something, but general consensus among my friends seemed to be, "that's it?"

Revolutions broke The Matrix for me, and it can't really be fixed. The first movie makes me angry when it stands alone, and the second movie cuts the story off just as it begins to climax. The third movie failed to deliver either a worthwhile plot or a moral to justify the ordeal of watching the other two movies. I felt like I'd climbed the mountain to seek philosophical guidance and come back down with an insipid Hallmark card sentiment: "Smile! It's free!" Whatever. If the Wachowskis ever want my money again, they'd better disappoint me within the first ten bucks.
[User Picture]
From:phil_bond
Date:July 9th, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
A big part of what I liked about the original Matrix film was that The Matrix was a depiction of late 90s reality. The idea was that I could be in a Matrix right now, and not know it. My favorite shorts in the Animatrix luxuriated in this notion. They showed a Japan in the Matrix, for instance.

In The Matrix Reloaded, we were shifted to the notion of what I've heard referred to as the "Megacity," a gigantic city that encompasses all of human society in the Matrix, bordered by natural boundaries, among them the mountains where the Merovingian's castle is perched. Fictitious geography alone broke the romance of it for me. The Matrix does not contain life as I know it, and I can tell just because I've visited other countries.
[User Picture]
From:seanorange
Date:July 10th, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)
(Link)
I too would have loved the Matrix-within-a-matrix. I was pretty sure they were steering for that.

It's most because of the allegory of the cave (you know, by the Greek guy). I reveled in the notion that perhaps the true outside world wasn't a barren wasteland, and that the purpose of the "real world" was to give the people in the Matrix a chance to get out, but face nothing but despair if they did. Talk about a rock and a hard place...

Of course, the truth could be anything from the Matrix being geographically limited to the area of O1, or even that the rest of humanity might still be waging the war without their trapped bretheren. It would also add a maliciousness to the plight of the machines that I don't think was ever directly addressed...

I actually had a problem with the machines (or at least the programs) being intelligent. I don't know why. And that they just sort of played around in the Matrix? And the humans never noticed they were "different"? Would it actually be fun for them, or a prison there as well, since they were stuck inside with all the "filth"?

I dunno. I agree that Revolutions ruined it. If either sequel had been steeped the same allegory as the first, I would have liked it.

But then, there's this woman who's claiming that she wrote the first movie and not the Wachowskis, so that could explain everything.

(I also heard the ending of Revolutions was specifically to set up the MMORPG that no one plays -- no machine war, no game!)

~Sean
[User Picture]
From:phil_bond
Date:July 10th, 2006 12:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
That's the only reason I can see for the sudden institution of the Megacity idea. More feasible to create and run on a modern server.
[User Picture]
From:defaultlisa
Date:July 8th, 2006 10:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I didn't finish watching Matrix 2 because I was having motion sickness issues in the theater and haven't felt compelled to watch it, but I think PotC2 is much less of an "interlude" movie and stands on its own (certainly, there are references to the original, but you don't *need* the original to get what's going on) ... whereas, I don't think Matrix Reloaded would really.

I think the 80s was the first real "decade of the sequels" :-)
[User Picture]
From:seanorange
Date:July 10th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
(Link)
I only had to consider it briefly, but I do believe you're right.

~Sean
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:July 10th, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
There are some striking parallels with Empire Strikes Back

The uh, the swords didn't make electrical "vmmmmmm... vmmmm vmmmm ckkcchckkckck!" noises during the fight scenes, did they?
Yahoo Serious: The Ingmar Bergman of Disliked Australian Directors - Garmonbozia for the soul.

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile
> Sacred Potato Productions


> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com