5 December 2004 | TheConsensusOpinion
No flick is for literally EVERYone...
I find it interesting that so many feel it is essential to lambaste a film like VOTD. It is what it is -- and, like it or not, it does "work."
Is it dated? Well, let me answer that by asking the eternal question, "Does Raggedy Ann have cotton BOOBIES?" (Perhaps they're polyester, but you get the...uh -- point.) One simply cannot view all movies the same way -- let alone expect the same 'standards' for/from them. Were some of you anticipating Shakespeare or perhaps 'The Lion in Winter' when viewing VOTD?
This film sought to depict the PERCEIVED lives of entertainment professionals of the era, and in most ways it succeeds. Anyone worthy of his PEOPLE magazine subscription knows full-well that a great many such individuals lead tawdry lives and quite regularly spout inane, and mundane (not to mention SO VERY lame) bits of 'dialogue' ...
And has there ever -- and I do mean EVER -- been a bio of such a person that did NOT include the requisite drug addictions and 'rite-of-passage' stay at Betty Ford (or its predecessors), abortions, suicide attempts, medical emergencies, or otherwise 'near-tragic' near-endings?
There are many questions one really must ask himself when attempting to absorb fare such as this. And I actually believe that at least on one level VOTD is bona fide brilliant. Consider from whose point of view this material is seen. What did the consumers of entertainers expect or presume about the lives of 'stars' and public persons based on the limited blurbs of truth, rumor and innuendo leaked out in the 60's?
This flick is attempting to convey the general theme that people of that ilk and the lengths to which they were willing to go to achieve or maintain their perceived "status" were simply 'NOT TO BE BELIEVED' ... And finding fault with the production design or style of images filmed in the late 1960s is simply irrelevant in a story about people from (not to mention filmed in) that era!
One should also consider whether or not it was possible for the average viewer to have -- in any sense -- a "realistic" image of individuals who occupied this starry realm in a time long before 'Biography,' 'The E! True Hollywood Story,' and 'VH1's Behind the Music' ... With free love bustin' out all over why on earth would the people out there 'in the dark' want or expect those giant heads to look, act, or sound like the person sitting beside them (or those pitiful small, shrunken-by-censors heads from television)?
And if the hindsight of such expository cable programs today have told us anything at all about 'celebrities' it's that their lives actually ARE -- in so very many ways -- clichés!
By my accounting VOTD got it right -- exactly right. And I'll stake my film school (AND academic) education(s) and unfailing, critical eye on that. I love this film. Is it one of the ten best films of all time? Well, no -- it certainly isn't. But it IS one of my ten most favorite films of all time. (And not only should the theme song have been nominated for 'Song of the year' by the Academy -- it should have WON the Oscar... And I'll stake my undergrad music major education on THAT! It never ceases to amaze me how consistently the voters get that category exactly WRONG...)