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July 21, 2012

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Petey

Glenn wins the internet today.

jiminholland

For what it's worth, this mass murder was committed in Aurora, CO not Denver.

Jesus, I live in Rotterdam, and even I knew that.

Jonathan Woollen

Well, Aurora's just outside Denver, sharing some of the main roads. So it's not as big of a mistake as it looks.

bill

@Jimholland - Hey thanks for the correction. I'll be right over here if you need me.

David Ehrenstein

"Targets" is quite a teriffic film.

Ian W. Hill

"Is THAT what I was afraid of?"

Thanks, Glenn.

That Fuzzy Bastard

A great film. But that end, I fear, is a cop out.

bill

It can't be a cop out if that's what the whole film is building towards.

haice

I sometimes wonder what Bogdanovich's career would have been like if he'd directed THE LOOTERS as planned right after TARGETS. I love Don Seigel's bang up version as CHARLEY VARRICK, but still...

otherbill

Orlock slapping Bobby in the final confrontation is a great touch. So much more dismissive than a punch.

Petey

"A great film. But that end, I fear, is a cop out."

You can't have it both ways. If your second sentence is correct, your first sentence is incorrect. But I agree with bill's comment: "It can't be a cop out if that's what the whole film is building towards." I also tend toward the reading of Ebert's contemporaneous review - it's not a great film, but it's an interesting film.

And, of course, it's the film most apropos to the current moment, which is why Glenn won the internet yesterday.

That Fuzzy Bastard

Sure I can! Lots of films---maybe most---end with a bit of false uplift (and pre-film too---I'm still convinced the end of "Measure For Measure" is a parody of that inevitable tendency). So yeah, I love TARGETS for its slow-building tension, for its precise portrayal of the banality of L.A. horror, and for its savvy postmodern use of The Terror (and terror). But having the old guy slap down that punk kid is pure wish-fulfillment, a "Tinkerbelle lives" wishing away of the infinite horror of a guy with a gun who can end anybody, no matter how top-billed or morally decent they are.

Bill's point, over at TKoFYH, is well-taken: Orlok is concerned about the terrors that don't stay in the movie making purely fictional monsters obsolete, but in the context of this movie, both cobwebby vampires and sweet-faced boys with high-powered rifles are equally unreal. But if all gunmen were characters in movies, we wouldn't be having this trouble in the first place. TARGETS is wonderful, but the finale is a witty filmmaker's version of the NRA fantasy of a noble man with a concealed carry license putting a stop to this nonsense. It's satisfying wish fulfillment, but like the NRA fantasy, it get there via denial of the very physical reality that's making things so awful.

That Fuzzy Bastard

To expand a little, and to make clear how much I love TARGETS (and GK's post): I think the movie actually encompasses the very critique I'm making here. Orlok's fear isn't just that his sort of scares are ineffective, it's that they're trivial. Cobwebs-and-moors-at-night movies present the source of fear as something that is easily defeated, and thus dismissed, and so their claim to scare you is a particularly insidious lie: They are comforting under the guise of scaring, leaving you perhaps uniquely unsuited to confront the truly scary.

Orlok's final confrontation with Bobby Thompson is pretty much an object lesson in how the rules of fiction make it possible to have comforting confrontations with sources of fear. In our world, where crazy boys walk into movie theaters with semiautomatics hanging off their dick, an old man with a cane is more likely to find his brains leaking across the carpet than to subdue the lad with a few quick swipes before tossing off a bon mot. But of course, TARGETS isn't the real world, and we don't want a movie where Karloff's wonderful consciousness is unfairly snapped off by violence that is tragic only in its pointless stupidity. TARGETS is a movie about shooters, and it's anticipating and dismissing all the arguments in favor of the new horror movie that was taking over the market: The maniac killer villain is no "realer" than Christopher Lee in cheap fangs, so we may as well make, and see, movies that are beautiful.

Petey

Hmmm...

I haven't seen Targets in quite a while, but it did leave an impression. So, if memory serves, I saw the ending as a pretty organic outcome of the movie, and thus not as a 'cop out'.

In other words, the ending didn't seem falsely bolted on, in the manner of Suspicion (I'm willing to accept Hitchcock's version of events), or in the manner of bowdlerized versions of Grimms' Fairy Tales.

Now, of course, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish than the VERISIMILITUDE of the ending. Pretty much every time the lights go down in the cinema, we are pretty explicitly engaging in a bargain to believe in Tinker Bell for the duration. (Or at least believe in Kylie Minogue as The Green Fairy.)

In short, I guess I'm arguing that judging an ending as 'cop out' or not must be held to the confines of the art work, and not reality. (And I guess I'm arguing, as someone who didn't think Targets was a great movie, the reasons you had issues with the ending have to do with the movie as a whole, which is why I still sorta think you can't have it both ways...)

BB

Does anyone actually believe that we will find anything other than a pathetic, selfish, man-child behind the senseless horror in Colorado? I think debating whether it's realistic for an old man to confront and defeat a mass murderer is to widely miss the point of this series of images.

Richard Harland Smith

Checking the time stamps, I see that Bill, in fact, won the Internet about three hours ahead of Glenn. Not that it's a competition or anything, winning the Internet. But proper attention must be paid.

Petey

"Checking the time stamps, I see that Bill, in fact, won the Internet about three hours ahead of Glenn"

Ah. But it seems to have been a collaboration, which means that now we have to see whose idea Targets originally was.

When someone eventually puts together a compendium of who won the internet on every single day, this will provide a valuable historical reference.

Glenn Kenny

It was Bill's idea.

While I'm here I'll say that advances in thinking aside, one of the notions that animates the creation of fiction IS wish-fulfillment. So I don't have a problem with "Targets" and particularly with its take-away-the-guns-and-what-are-you-left-with observation.

That Fuzzy Bastard

Yeah, I hear that. But take away the guns and you don't have TARGETS, which is why I think the end is a retreat to a safe space that dismisses, without actually refuting, the slow-burning horror of all that came before.

Petey

"Does anyone actually believe that we will find anything other than a pathetic, selfish, man-child behind the senseless horror in Colorado?"

A very poorly thought-out viral marketing campaign on the part of Warner Brothers?

A newfound reason to appreciate Barton Fink?

The impetus to build a massive scientific/governmental effort to re-animate Boris Karloff?

Petey

Bogdanovich now sez that "it makes him sick" that he made Targets.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/dark-knight-rises-shooting-peter-bogdanovich-353774

Well, it's easy and quite sensible to think Bogdanovich was Body Snatched after Paper Moon, and that a Pod Person has been directing his actions ever since. Most of the evidence certainly points in that direction. But I did sorta like The Thing Called Love, so who knows?

Oliver_C

Reading some of the comments to that article, combined with the realisation that many of those commentators must own firearms themselves, should be enough to make any liberal rush out and 'weapon up'.

Petey

"Reading some of the comments to that article, combined with the realisation that many of those commentators must own firearms themselves, should be enough to make any liberal rush out and 'weapon up'."

1) Dude, why are reading the comments on a Hollywood Reporter article?

2) Dude, as the Pope of Lefties™, I hereby excommunicate you as a lefty for the sin of nescience. The reason you don't 'weapon up' is because your firearm is more likely to hurt yourself or a loved one than any 'hostile'. And literate lefties understand the actuarial tables. You buy a gun if you're dealing with wild animals, are engaged in a criminal profession, or have a comically small penis.

3) Bogdanovich's attempt to blame violent movies for the spree shooting, (and his 'shame' for making Targets), makes me think that reason #37 why David Chase is a god is for his casting of Bogdanovich as a smarmy, unlikable character in his long-arc TV soap. You get Targets, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Wild Bunch out of Vietnam. You get Tarantino and the Men In Tights Summer Fests out of a nation where around 40,000 gunshot fatalities happen every single year. It serves the same purpose in American movies that car accidents serve in Canadian or French movies.

Oliver_C

"I hereby excommunicate you as a lefty..."

I'm a liberal, which (in the UK at least) isn't the same thing at all. The phrase 'liberal-left' irritates me almost as much as 'late capitalism' (as if!).

Certainly your not-read-Hollywood-Reporter-comments comment makes much sense, however.

Petey

"I'm a liberal, which (in the UK at least) isn't the same thing at all."

To translate across the pond:

If you vote Lib-Dem, then you're one of those Obama/Joe Lieberman types.

If you vote Labour, then you're a consensus national Democrat.

(And god help you if you voted Clegg. That man is an omnishambles. Now we're into mortal sins.)

-----

And BTW, for a small donation to the Church of Petey, I'm happy to offer Papal indulgences. It's one of our biggest revenue streams.

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