Listen now | Well, we’re officially starting our SECOND month of Molly Movie Club! Thanks to everyone who has subscribed. We’re having a great time watching a new movie each week, and we hope you are too! As we’ve mentioned, the theme for June is “Story Within a Story”. The first movie we’re watching is
I would also like to request that at some point we get a Tom and Cecilia drawing. I feel like Tom Baxter is a character just begging to be illustrated by Anna!
Thank you, this movie was a pleasant suprise.
For myself, I reject the notion that Gil Shepherd (the actor) was a scheming asshat. In my canon, he fell for Cecilia the same way he did as Tom Baxter (his onscreen character). If the magic between the cinema-Tom and Cecilia was strong enough to come out of the screen, obviously it is strong enough for the real-life character as well, given that Tom and Gil are so very much alike!
While it would make a fun and different (stronger even) movie if the actor and his character were thoroughly dissimilar —they are not. So, for me, it was some onset of rationality that returned to Gil when Cecilia left to pack her things, "oh my god what am i doing, is it worth changing my life over her — even though she's amazing, she's married and her husband is a tyrant". Thus he left to wonder forever how the life could've changed.
As for the dialogues, I very much noticed their theatrality, yet I found the one about husband hitting Cecilia splendid. This dialogue, being overly impossible and surreal, served to note that not only there is violence in their relations, but it is even "normalized" as everyday thing — all the while avoiding any display of actual painful, violent scenes to keep the movie light on its feet.
Yeah, this was fun. This one goes to the list to definitely watch again.
I agree with Casey on the domestic abuse. To me it feels like they made it a bad relationship in all the ways they could imagine, but dialed them all down to 50%. If they had given Monk some redeeming traits, but also made him an A-grade asshole in other ways he would be much more interesting, and probably also more believable as a real world character. If he could say "I love you" so that we actually believe it, but then cut to a scene of Cecilia covering up her bruises, it would be emotionally strong, while quickly setting up the needed premise of her wanting/needing to escape.
Personally I had no problems with Cecilia's decision to choose Gil over Tom. I had long since concluded that Tom just wouldn't last in the real world. That the only solution Tom can think of is to go back to the screen is just the final nail in the coffin. Cecilia knows this, so when offered what seems like an actual out, of course she is going to pick that.
Did anyone else ponder about the title not only being completely irrelevant to the movie, but also completely irrelevant to the inner movie? The rose is presented as a plot device, but then immediately dropped, and we never hear about it again. It is like someone is trying to set a record for how irrelevant a title can be while still technically describing something about the movie.
A nitpick for the sake of it, the movie is set during the depression, but the Copacabana night club in New York is a cultural reference, despite not opening until 1940.
I noticed that the "Take On Me" music video was released in 1985 (can't find the date), same year as "The Purple Rose of Cairo". Coincidence? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914
I just watched this for the first time, then immediately listened to the podcast, and I also feel I need a second viewing to fully digest it. On the whole I enjoyed it, and I’m very glad I saw it!
The stilted dialog was a minor negative, but it barely bothered me. If Casey felt it was a hum on the soundtrack, for me it was a hum in the apartment down the hall.
Two big things hurt the movie for me. One is that, despite the short length, it felt padded. Why set up the idea of other Toms escaping their screens if nothing comes of it? Why spend so much time in the diner early on? The brothel scene was the low point for me; it felt completely unnecessary and just kept beating its single joke into the ground.
My other big problem was the ending. You described it as bittersweet, but to me it came across as so mean-spirited and nihilistic that it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Cecilia falls in love with the movie and its hero. She’s so distracted by this love that she screws up at work and loses her job. Inspired by her love, she burns every bridge with her (terrible!) husband, then her trust in Gil’s Hollywood sales pitch destroys her chance to be happy with Tom, then Gil leaves. She’s left with two options: crawl back to an abusive husband she’s antagonized, or try to survive as a single unemployed homeless woman in the depression. She’s strictly worse off at the end of the film than she was at the start, all because she loved movies and believed in their promises. Then, instead of confronting her problems, she goes back to the theater! The ending strikes me as incredibly bleak!
So much of this movie is magical, and it feels pointlessly cruel to punish Cecilia (and by extension the audience) for getting caught up in that magic. I’m sure Allen meant to communicate something more nuanced, and I might have a different perspective on a second watch, but my initial takeaway from the ending was “A better life isn’t possible. Never believe in anything. Fuck you.”
Pretty much agree with Anna’s interpretation!
Regarding the dialogue, the only two times I noticed “this is explaining me something instead of showing it” was the domestic violence stuff and the “my heart is beating fast” lines. I thought about the former and it might not be that out of place given that this happens in the early twentieth century. The “heart is beating fast” stuff actually made sense when you realized that Gill was just pretending to love Caecila.
The brother scene was charming. Loved the bickering between the characters and also the film crew.
Her picking the actor versus the character was a bit weird given how real they made the film world, so I agree with Casey there.
I however kept checking if the film was going to finish soon and wasn’t too enthralled throughout, probably because of the vignette structure and that it could only end in two ways (running away with the actor or going back when she started).
All in all this had a very Woody Allen feel! As someone who watched almost all his films, I’m not sure I agree with the “every single scene needs to have a meaning part”, I feel that he tends to write scripts very quickly (he has to given how many films he made)!
I’m so happy that you guys both liked the movie. I’d heard about it years ago and thought the idea sounded fascinating(I’m a sucker for any high concept logline). I actually ended up watching it for the first time earlier this year and absolutely loved it. The biggest surprise to me was how much Woody Allen chose to explore the implications of this character stepping off the screen. I had sort of assumed he would step off and the other audience members would be shocked and then Cecilia and Tom would just run off together and it’d be a fairy straightforward romance. So I was very surprised when we actually get to see things like the other characters in the movie reacting to it, the audience members actually commenting on it, the movie characters interacting with the audience, the theater manager running in and being confused. I thought that was great and then I was also surprised that we cut back to it multiple times and got even more. That was very exciting. Also I never considered the idea of the real life actor being a part of it so that was another jolt of unexpected delight.
I love the core ideas of this movie and definitely agree on what you guys called out as the most impactful moments. I’m pretty much in lock step with how Anna feels about it. I do agree that Cecelia going up on the screen could have been explored more. The first time I saw it I was just surprised they even went there but I do see how it just brings up more questions without necessarily giving anymore context to the main theme. That being said, I do love the gag that the champagne is just ginger ale.
As far as the dialogue. I’ve never really had a problem with characters speaking in a very unrealistic or stylized way. In fact it’s one of the things I love about Woody Allen. Casey made a good point about some of it sounding a little like the Marx brothers. A line like “I just met a wonderful new man. He’s fictional but you can’t have everything.” is so perfect for the character. In a movie with dialogue like that I don’t tend to expect characters to then speak in a very grounded realistic way. Granted, I know that Casey was specifically mentioning that it wasn’t necessarily the heightened dialogue as much as the characters just literally stating exactly what they’re thinking and doing. More telling without showing. I didn’t necessarily notice that but I’d have to watch it a third time and really look for that.
As far as why she would pick Gil over Tom I had assumed it was in large part based on her view of herself and the world. She gets pushed around by her husband and constantly fails at her job, mostly due to the fact that she’s daydreaming about whatever movie she just saw. Real life always comes crashing back like when she finally gets fired. My read of the scene at the end was that she couldn’t choose the fictional character, that would be “silly” even though it may be what she wants the most. She does the “smart” or “correct” thing and chooses the real person and she is absolutely let down by it. This just further enforced the message that while the real world will always let you down, the movies will always be there for you. That’s what makes the final scene so good.
So I may just be projecting the obvious message of the movie back onto her choice at the end but that is how I read it.
I’m really glad this got picked for the show. It seemed like a fun movie with great themes for the show and I had watched it for the first time just a couple weeks before the movie club was announced so I just suggested it. I’m really glad you both enjoyed it. And I’m interested in watching it again with the context of some of Casey’s criticisms.
Thanks for doing the show, it’s been great so far!
Just because you asked. Yes, I also notice and don’t like when people talk or behave non-realistically in movies.
I tried to watch Obi Wan yesterday but it’s done very lazy. You can’t really feel anything because things don’t make sense. People just stand in their places and say what they are supposed to say.