Director: Jay Roach Producers: Numerous Writers: Mike Myers, Michael McCullers Music: George S. Clinton Starring: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling, Verne Troyer, Charles Napier, Clint Howard
IMBD Description: Dr. Evil is back… and has invented a new time machine that allows him to go back to the 60’s and steal Austin Powers’s mojo, inadvertently leaving him “shagless.”
In addition to the idea of a road trip, BIYF 1999 also introduced another new semi-regular occurrence to our annual gathering: heading out to a local movie theater to take in a first-run showing of a film as a group in addition to our home viewing experience. Occasionally we’ve done this more than once per weekend and the choice of day has varied from BIYF Friday through BIYF Sunday, but gradually we’ve settled into attending only one (if any) “away” film per BIYF and we usually go on Friday or Sunday in order to leave Saturday free for our more challenging viewing. Also, availability of sober drivers on BIYF Saturday has been a concern.
If I’m not mistaken, I believe in 1999 we actually left the safety and security of the Vincent Avenue BIYF HQ on Saturday to attend Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. This may have had something to do with an indifferent group reaction to the slate of films selected via BIYF Movie Voting (more on that in an upcoming post) or perhaps alcohol influenced the decision. We may never know (or remember) for certain.
I have to admit to approaching this one with a certain amount of dread as it came time to re-watch it for this post. Trendy comedies sometimes age poorly and I had a vague time-and-beer-addled memory of being disappointed with this film the first time around. Plus, in hindsight its selection seemed like a “target of opportunity” (it was actually in theaters and we agreed enough about it to all go) and I feared it might not really be what we’ve come to think of as a “BIYF Movie” (or at least a “Movie with Themes Appropriate to BIYF”). To be fair, the latter fear is probably something that will apply to all of our “away” films since we can only choose from what’s available in theaters at the time.
I also have to admit that my trepidation was largely unfounded on both counts. I had fun re-watching it. It’s still a goofy, often juvenile, comedy and if you don’t enjoy those you won’t enjoy it, but there’s some heart in it and it has some genuinely funny moments. It’s far from perfect, but spot-on casting, nostalgia targeting some of our BIYF sweet spots, and some surprising connections to modern entertainment made this one of our viewing selections that was worth my time to revisit.
I think my past disappointment with this film can largely be traced to two things. I would dub the first of these Austin Powers Fatigue. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me came a brief two years after the first Austin Powers film and during those years the character and his catchphrases were ubiquitous to say the least. While Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is fun, it is not – by its very nature as a sequel – particularly original. It hits most of the gags, catchphrases, and notes from the first film again and I think in the context of 1999 a lot of those came off as pretty flat. We’d just seen them in the first film and then they’d clubbed us repeatedly with them in the interim. Given a fifteen-plus-year break where I don’t think I’ve even seen a repeat of these films, the reused gags manage to feel original again and I think the whole film probably works better than it did at the time.
The second thing is named Fat Bastard.
All of the humor involving Fat Bastard (even tangentially) is based around disgust and revulsion. Gross-out humor. While I won’t criticize those that enjoy this, I feel like even by 1999 I had moved out of the phase where this did much for me. I don’t extract much enjoyment from the kind of discomfort it induces and extended scenes that focus on drawing out the pain of it lose me pretty quickly. That said, when I’m not burned out by the fatigue described above (and I wasn’t this time around) there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much as I remembered and it passes pretty quickly. Fat Bastard is still there, but he no longer sinks the film for me.
And that’s great because there’s a lot to enjoy. The actors (both new additions and characters from the first film) and cameos in the film are fantastic. The cast includes some BIYF favorites: a returning Michael York (making him our first repeat actor) and long-time character actor Charles Napier (we’ll see him again). Heather Graham is a good new “Powers” girl and names like Will Ferrell, Tim Robbins, Clint Howard, and many more shine in bit and cameo appearances. Special mention must be made of Rob Lowe as the young Number Two. I think he’s my favorite thing in this film and he should always play Robert Wagner. It’s a Josh-Brolin-playing-Tommy-Lee-Jones-worthy performance.
Also on the MVP list is Verne Troyer debuting as Mini-Me. It’s a role that could have gone horribly wrong but it’s played with such feral zeal that it works marvelously.
Whether he’s mirroring Dr. Evil, threatening Scott Evil, or getting chased off the conference table with a squirt bottle like a cat, he makes it work.
In case it isn’t obvious by this point, this isn’t going to be a true BIYF film. It doesn’t attempt to be anything more than it is and it succeeds in being an enjoyable and technically competent film. It’s funny, but not unintentionally. It aims to be entertaining and I was entertained.
Surprisingly though, it really does manage to be much more of a BIYF-friendly selection than my admittedly faulty memory thought it might be. If I had to label it, I’d probably class this as another “palate cleanser.” It fits a lot of the trappings of a BIYF film, but not the requisite failures. Some examples of BIYF-y traits:
Perhaps even more surprising is the number of times during this re-watch I was reminded of things that occurred in other films/shows. That wouldn’t be shocking except these films/shows were all produced post-1999. Was Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me an influence? Was it coincidence? Are they both just mining the same source material for inspiration? You make the call:
OK, I might be stretching a bit to make a few of these connections. Not the Yondu one I suspect, but maybe some of the other ones. Maybe.
Regardless, this has been a fun side-trip on my journey and I’m ready to drive off of the cliff and head back into BIYF-proper territory. Let me know your thoughts on this selection, on BIYF “away” viewing in general, or on anything relevant in the comments. BIYF 1999 continues soon…
On Saturday, June 12, 1999 – following a mid-morning breakfast-brunch at a nearby Bruegger’s Bagels and numbering 10 (up from the 1998 inaugural crew of 8) – our group embarked on what has turned out to be one of our few BIYF Festival road trips: Touring the James Page Brewery.
Thanks to The Internet we were able to find out that a) the James Page brewery was a brewery in the Twin Cities area that actually gave tours and b) who to contact to set up a tour. My impression is that this was much more uncommon back in those days and it was certainly not as frequent an occurrence as it is in our modern, craft-brew-friendly, hipster-enabled Golden Age of Beer. Our Itinerary from BIYF II is the closest thing we have to a written record of the event:
1:00 PM – Brewery Tour: The James Page Brewery of Minneapolis has agreed to make special arrangements for our group to tour their brewery on this date. Normally they only give tours on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month, but have made an exception for our group.
Dang. I used to make itineraries for us. I don’t think they really added anything other than a humorous faux legitimacy to the event since they often didn’t reflect what actually occurred, but the effort I used to exert… I’m so laissez-faire these days.
Though the brewery was selected based on convenience and it was mostly an unknown quantity to us, James Page had a history in the Twin Cities that predated our interaction with them. Let me lean heavily on Wikipedia for much of the subsequent information:
The James Page Brewery was founded by Minneapolis attorney James Page in 1986. It was located on Quincy Street in Northeast Minneapolis, in an aging industrial warehouse building. The brewery’s infrastructure was cobbled together from secondhand equipment. Page never exceeded more than about 1500 barrels per year of production until it was sold to a group of investors with a background in food marketing in October 1995.
The new owners of the brewery thoroughly re-invented the brand. They created a fictional character to personify “James Page,” who bore little resemblance to the founder of the company; he was a rugged American frontiersman. They also stopped the practice of trucking the beer to distant bottling lines. Instead, they produced the bottled product as a contract brew at regional breweries. The draught product continued to be brewed at the Quincy Street brewery.
In 1998, Page became one of the first American craft breweries to package its beer in cans. The canned product was brewed and packaged under contract at the August Schell Brewing Company in New Ulm, Minnesota. It won a contract with Northwest Airlines to feature the canned beer on certain domestic flights.
This is about where we come in. The canned James Page beer was pretty easy to find (in Minnesota) and the Boundary Waters Lager and the Burly Brown Ale are the ones I remember. But since I have the information to share:
James Page’s most popular beers in the early period included Private Stock (an amber lager), Boundary Waters Lager (possibly the first commercially-produced beer made with wild rice), Boundary Waters Bock, Burly Brown Ale, and Mill City Wheat. James Page Private Stock and Boundary Waters Lager were available in six-packs year-round.
I don’t remember a lot from the tour to be honest. I remember it was informative since I knew little about the beer-making process at the time. I remember our host was pleasant and that we got to sample some beer as a part of the event. I liked that. Honestly, most of my memories come from the few, ancient, hand-crafted, “digital” photos that still survive:
Sniff that bag of “hops,” Sandman. Breathe deeply…
I also remember that James Page was about to go public and while the beer was flowing there was a brief discussion about making a small communal purchase. Fortunately, this would have proved complicated (by the IA/MN nature of our group, among other things). It was also high-risk/low-reward and sober heads later opted to give it a pass. Things didn’t go particularly well for James Page as time marched on:
Despite a more aggressive marketing push, the brewery’s new management was not able to turn a profit. Although the Quincy Street brewery produced beer for its draught accounts, the bottled product was a contract brew and this did not help its reputation among beer aficionados. As a result, Page management made the acquisition of a bottling line a top priority.
In 2000, James Page had a stock offering, and the first $400,000 was specifically earmarked for the bottling line. It advertised the stock offering on six-packs, soliciting investments as small as $285. The company announced that it had successfully raised the maximum $855,000 from over 1,000 supporters in January, 2000. But the money was never used to fund expansion; instead it was used to lower the company’s debt burdens, and the bottling line was never built. In 2002, the brewery was shut down. The company continued to contract-brew beer at other regional breweries.
In 2005, the company’s final asset was liquidated when the Page brand name was purchased by the Stevens Point Brewery in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin.
And that was the last anyone heard about James Page for a while. In recent years, however, the James Page name has resurfaced:
In 2013, Stevens Point Brewery revived the James Page brand with four new brews: JP’s Yabba Dhaba Chai Tea Porter, JP’s Casper White Stout, JP’s Ould Sod Irish Red Ale and JP’s A Cappella Gluten-free Pale Ale.
The new owners/brewers have apparently changed their line-up a bit since the brand reappeared, but I haven’t seen any cans in person to confirm if their site is actually current. It’s still marked “Copyright 2013” (the same as the initial press release) in the header.
If their stats on Untappd are accurate (and I’ve no reason to think they aren’t), then new “JP” brews are still being sold (and consumed) as of the date of this post’s publication. Of course they now come from Wisconsin and the facility we toured no longer plays any part in their brand or beer.
At least I believe this is the location we toured. Let’s say that it definitely is. Perhaps when I win the lottery I can open a BIYF theater there for us. One with a dedicated Turkey Bender Home Brewing facility. It would seem a fitting use for it and would bring us almost full circle in a way.
I end my BIYF 1998 re-watch with 1976’s Logan’s Run, arguably the the last major gasp of pre-Star Wars science fiction films as well as our final “BIYF I” film. Not Of This Earth joined me on this one so I got to watch it above ground with moral support. Still no beer/alcohol required (to date) to survive my journey.
Logan’s Run is a bit of an outlier in some ways compared to Zardoz and Barbarella. It’s a “big-budget” effects film that was, if not critically respected, at least positively reviewed as fun and entertaining. It saw reasonable financial success, did well enough that it spun-off a short-lived television series, and it was frequently re-shown on network/local TV – with a few edits, of course. It won awards.It almost had toys. I was certainly more intimately familiar with Logan’s Run than with either of our two other inaugural films.
I might even go so far as to dub this the first example of what I think of as a BIYF “palate cleanser” film: A decent or historically significant BIYF-like film that manages to transcend its failures/datedness (if any) and survives on merit. Or occasionally on unabashed, almost universally shared nostalgia. Either way, its enjoyability serves as a welcome respite from the alternative. Much like letting a prisoner rest and eat before resuming torture.
That’s actually a little harsh in this case. Honestly, despite the periodic WTF/crazy, these first three films have been very watchable and I expect this to continue through the next few BIYFs-worth of content. We hadn’t even really started figuring out what BIYF was/is at this point and there’s a fair amount of legitimately entertaining content in the playlist early on.
The need for “palate cleansing” doesn’t really start to surface until a bit later when, under the guidance of our venerated Movie Czar (“He really has our best interests at heart.”), we begin to more clearly define what sorts of things will be our focus. This gradually emerging focus is also muddied during the next few BIYFs with the introduction of Movie Voting which I’ll no doubt get into in a later post.
As for Logan’s Run, I’m going to have a tough time being critical of this one. Clearly parts of it are very much a product of its time and can seem naive or quaint when viewed from the vantage point of 2016. You can almost always find humor when you look at the distant past through the lens the present. Who doesn’t cringe and laugh at some (most) of the fashion choices they find in their old photos? But this film is so familiar to me, so still a part of my day-to-day lexicon that I don’t think I can judge it harshly or even fairly. It feels like home. A nostalgic Sanctuary, if you will.
That’s probably something I’ll have to fight against a lot during this marathon, though. I’ve always been pretty good at putting myself in the right frame of mind for watching old film and TV. It’s a trait that’s served me well on my chronological re-watch of classic Doctor Who, for instance. It can be a tough slog if you don’t prepare yourself with the right mindset/expectations. In the case of sixties Doctor Who it’s a matter of steeling yourself for the leisurely, occasionally lethargic, pace and keeping in mind that it was all only meant to be viewed one time, 25 minutes at a time. With Logan’s Run I think it’s more a matter of being able to successfully look at it in context of the continuum of similar films. Some folks can handle that better than others.
There’s a lot to unapologetically love in Logan’s Run, though. The visuals, the 70s aesthetics and mores, the way it kinda bridges the gap between films like Soylent Green and Star Wars, Jenny Agutter… but there’s a fair amount of substance you can unpack as well. Check out John Kenneth Muir’s write-up for some of that. And if you think your secret Logan/Francis slash fiction is the pinnacle of that particular line of reasoning, you clearly haven’t given it enough thought.
Next up, BIYF steps off of the sun porch and makes a brief foray out into the real world. Until then, let me know your thoughts on Logan’s Run in the comments. Is it really our first “palate cleanser” or is it solidly “BIYF film” material? We know who wins out in the end, but who does Logan love more: Jessica or Francis? Is The Circuit a descendant of Tinder? Let us know below.
I could take a moment here to comment on Barbarella‘s place in BIYF History. Perhaps I would talk about its spot as a foundational brick in the BIYF Viewing temple. (See previous post for “BIYF Historical” context. -Editor)
I could use this space to write about how this film also fits into the three criteria that my theoretical construct of what makes a “successful” BIYF film proposes. How it overreaches some high ambitions of trying to mash-up a dozen different, disparate genres. How, while undoubtably camp, it is played very, very straight – taking its camp very seriously. How, despite critics and commercial failure, people keep trying to make the next, new Barbarella but are unable to capture the charm or essence of the ways the original managed to succeed. (See previous post for “Successful BIYF Film” context and reviews linked near the top of this post for critique & Barbarella-specific information. -Editor)
I could spend this post trying to talk about the context of Barbarella in the history of film, even feminist film, or please Sandman by taking a contrary, off-topic stance and blasting Hanoi Jane for her actions unrelated to this film. (See contextual links above. -Editor)
I could do any and all of these things, but let’s face it: We’re really just here for the fashion, aren’t we?
But Barbarella isn’t the only one with style in this film:
And just in case you thought this film was only about the ladies, check out these slices of Grade A Beefcake:
OK, you got me. It’s all about the ladies and their fancy get-ups.
Even so, the film itself doesn’t spend a lot of time taking long, lingering shots that show the outfits full-length which makes it difficult to grab any really good screenshots of them. To rectify that, here’s a selection of publicity stills for you as a parting gift:
What’s your favorite outfit? Should I have actually written a review? Is this too much cheesecake? Is that possible? Should I have spent some time talking about that deleted scene? You know the one. Well, I’m betting Rollerballer does, anyway. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
So I think it was The Bricker who asked us in late November of 1997 if we’d ever heard of a film called Zardoz. Little did we know how much of an impact this seemingly innocent question would have over the next couple of decades.
A brief discussion followed about the batshit crazy nature of the film, a mention was made of the City Pages annual spring Beer Tasting Festival, and a tentative decision was reached that we could attend the beerfest and then go rent/watch Zardoz and maybe something else at somebody’s place of residence. A good plan. A simple plan. A plan that City Pages decided not to work with us on enacting.
For a reason I can’t remember and which is apparently not documented on The Internet anywhere that I can find, City Pages decided to move their beerfest to the fall in 1998 which would not work for us. Undaunted, we went ahead and planned our own fest – hosted at the Malla/Bricker residence – which included not only drinking… er tasting beer but also watching Zardoz and two additional (and apparently frequently grouped) films.
Despite the fuzzy, low resolution, 4:3 pan-and-scan nature of our rented VHS tape viewing selections…
Despite the fact that someone (possibly me) thought we might actually rate and taste beers critically at this “beerfest” event…
Despite missing two members from the initial group that discussed the idea (apparently it was Mother’s Day or something?)…
Despite all of these things we must have hit on something that worked because BIYF keeps happening every year. Doubtless most of the credit goes to the delightful mix of people that make up our group. You’re the best and I would happily sit and watch anything/drink anything with you at any time. I believe this has now been proven repeatedly. But I also think that the film Zardoz has more than a little to do with the magic of that first BIYF that started us down this path that now heads – after 18 years, 19 previous festivals, about 100 feature-length films, dozens of short films/features, 6 road trip events, and a lot of beer, merchandise, & food – toward a landmark twentieth occurrence next year.
Zardoz is pretty much the template for the type of viewing we’ve come to… appreciate… ?… at BIYF so it’s really no surprise that it won the celebratory BIYF X Movie Voting Showdown. As I re-watched this film to kick off the BIYF Binge for BIYF XX, I found myself thinking about the qualities that define what a “successful” BIYF movie are and how Zardoz pretty much nails them out of the gate. It’s not that I want to peer behind the curtain and expose the Wizard of Oz – or rise up out of the grain bin and shoot Arthur Frayn, as the case may be – but since this is the first of many stops on my nostalgia tour it seemed only logical to try to make sense out of what we watch every spring.
If you need a refresher on the actual content of the film before we proceed, I encourage you to check out one or more of the reviews linked near the top of this post. There are a variety of styles to suit varied tastes. The Ruthless Reviews one is basically just an incredulous listing of WTF moments from the film that picks up speed as it heads downhill. Not especially insightful, but entertaining nonetheless.
So what are these qualities I mentioned above? What makes something a “good” BIYF film? That’s something that will always be open to debate, but I think I’ve identified three things with which we can start.
The film should be both ambitious and sincere.
The film’s reach should exceed its grasp.
The film should carefully walk the line between nostalgia and “harsh dose of reality” (a.k.a. “The Twiki Effect”).
Now that’s a pretty short checklist for someone that likes to drone on and on and on in his blog posts, but I think those three points cover a lot of ground.
The film should be both ambitious and sincere.
I think Zardoz encapsulates this aspect of a BIYF film perfectly. John Boorman was fresh off of the success of Deliverance and pretty much had carte blanche from the studio to do whatever he wanted for his next film. He shot for the stars. It’s clear this film is intended to have a Message. It is plainly meant to be Great Art. It’s Surreal. It’ll Blow Your Mind. Look at the clash/combination of both Ancient and Modern in the sets, the costumes, the music! It’ll be Better Than 2001!
I have no doubt that everything about this production treated it as a serious Film. All of the technical aspects of the film are up-to-snuff (for the time). Technical competence abounds, in fact. Images are striking and sometimes beautiful. The UK actors are all set to “Shakespeare” mode (as opposed to broad comedy or Pantomime – a.k.a. “Panto” – mode). This isn’t to say there aren’t over-the-top performances, but even the over-the-top folks pretty much treat their lines and actions as seriously as if they were performing The Bard regardless of the absurdity inherent in any given scene.
The film’s reach should exceed its grasp.
While ambition, sincerity, and good intentions help make a BIYF film, by themselves they aren’t enough to make a film successful, great, or even necessarily watchable. There are plenty of ways to fall short of those goals and true BIYF films are made of these shortfalls. Budget, script, execution, terrible actors, not-so-special-FX… you name it. There are numerous ways to underperform.
Let’s be clear, though: A BIYF film needs to succeed in at least a few areas while still ultimately failing. Otherwise it’s just a bad film. There has to be something that works even as it fails to reach its ambitions.
In the case of Zardoz, I think a lot of the technical aspects came off pretty well. Aesthetic preferences aside, cinematography, costumes, locations, actors, even FX were all decent enough. But it feels like the vision for the film was never truly realized or perhaps even conceptualized past the idea stage. “Half-baked” is the phrase that comes to mind. It might be that the budget started to run out and creativity/imagination failed them on how to realize the script with no money. My theory is that Boorman started making the film while it was really still in the “idea” phase and then got so caught up in the technical bits and visuals and in-the-moment decisions of making the film he never managed to complete “baking” his ideas. Or perhaps there was just too much that was “baked” on the set while working on it…
For example, in the picture above the Eternals are supposed to be having a giant groupthink mind meld around a large circular table when Friend finally snaps and openly defies the system. On paper this probably sounded pretty fleshed out. When they got to the studio it seems like nobody had a clue how to represent this visually. What we get amounts to everyone standing around the table with their arms stretched to the center “woo-wooing” away until Friend breaks with them at which point they turn toward him and “woo-woo” him into submission. From about this point in the film onwards it seems like a lot of things could have used a bit more planning and bit less winging it on the set.
In another scene, Zed has to reveal the truth about himself to May. They are interrupted by an angry/jealous Consuella who proceeds to have a telepathic tug-of-war with Zed as she fights to control him. I imagine this conversation:
Assistant: So how are we going to show this? How does Zed show May the truth?
John Boorman: You know how “Get Smart” had the Cone of Silence? What if May has this bedsheet that she puts over Zed and herself that allows her to see the truth? We can afford that, right?
Assistant: “Sheet of Truth,” got it. How about the telepathic tug-of-war? The boys have no idea how to represent that.
John Boorman: Since we’ve already got the sheet, what if Zed & Consuella both grab that and we also make it a LITERAL tug-of-war? Huh? How about that! Then Zed’s Manly Musk causes them all to grope each other and make out and then Consuella makes Zed blind and then we wander off and do something else?
Anyway, for all of the ambition and effort that went into it, Zardoz ends up being a half-baked, often surreal for the sake of being surreal, bizarre piece of eye-candy with the message and vision of the film often succumbing the to the trappings and occasionally random actions of the film. That said, the more I watch it (and this was at least the fifth time I’ve watched it), the more it kinda grows on me.
While I think it’s more than fair to call this film a failure that doesn’t live up to its potential, there are certain demographics that love this film and know beyond question that it was an Important Film. From what I can tell these are mostly old men from the UK and/or hippies that saw it during its theatrical run (not mutually exclusive sets). As such, I think it’s also fair to say that it has managed to find its own odd form of success. At least for some. Possibly me. Help.
The film should carefully walk the line between nostalgia and “harsh dose of reality” (a.k.a. “The Twiki Effect”).
I think it’s safe to say that many of the films we watch at BIYF, while not necessarily being things we have already watched or remember watching, are films that call back to something in our youth. They might be the type of films we snuck into early in our adolescence before we were really supposed to see them. They might be the sort of “classics” that we watched on TV as a kid. They might be landmark films that everyone knew, loved, and quoted – though you may have only seen them edited for TV. BIYF films typically have strong ties to the past.
Sometimes this is a plus, sometimes not. When this works we call it nostalgia, a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. When it doesn’t work, you may have your warm fuzzy memories tainted by a fresh and often unwelcome perspective that sours your ability to indulge in nostalgia. We’ve come to think of this as the “Twiki Effect.” As in “I used to think Twiki was awesome, but seeing him now I realize how awful and annoying he is.” Zardoz is a pretty good example of a film that touches on both the good and the bad sides of this coin without tipping over into the “this is now ruined for me forever” zone.
And that balancing act is important. Too much on the favorable side doesn’t necessarily make a film bad. In fact, it probably means it’s actually a good overall film and not really a true BIYF film. If it goes too far in the other direction, chances are it’s just a horrible film and you just couldn’t see it for what it was as a kid. It also means that it probably won’t succeed enough to really be a BIYF film either. Our stuff lies somewhere in the grey zone between the extremes.
Your mileage will vary, of course, as this is an especially subjective area. My past is not your past and so we’ll filter things differently. I think I can find a relatable example of each side of the coin for you in Zardoz, however.
One of the things that warms the cockles of my heart about Zardoz is its pre-1977 sci-fi surreal-ness. Before Star Wars came along and codified everything that the big studios thought sci-fi had to be, there was so much more variation to things. TV shows like The Wild Wild West and the original Star Trek had a creativity to them driven as much by this structural freedom as by limited budgets and gave us weekly examples of wild variety. Whether you love or hate the trappings and aesthetics of Zardoz, you have to admit it isn’t built to a cookie-cutter formula. Score one for nostalgia.
On the flip side, Zardoz has an inherent misogynistic undertone running through it that was not uncommon in films of the era. You don’t have to look too hard to find it even in major long-running film franchises which also starred our hirsute leading man Zed. While Zardoz isn’t the worst example of this out there, it does suck a bit of the fun out of watching/mocking it when you realize no one used to even bat an eye at such things. Boorman probably didn’t receive a single note from the studio pointing it out. It was “normal” and that’s unpleasant. Bidde-bidde-bidde.
Still, the sheer amount of crazy in this film assures that no agenda, good or bad, gets too much emphasis and it manages to land in the middle of the no-man’s-land that is BIYF Cinema. Ambitious and pretentious yet scatter-shot and insane. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes incomprehensible, always Zardoz.
If you’ve made it this far into the post, congratulations. Your wait is almost over! I’ve done my best to textually emulate the experience of watching the film for you. There’s ambition and pretentiousness. I’ve no doubt gotten some things right and some things wrong and I’ve done my best to tug at your nostalgia heartstrings regarding the First BIYF Ever™ (1998). I hit a point while re-watching the film (at about 1 hour, 15 minutes) where I began to falter in my resolve and I’m guessing many of you felt that way two thirds of the way through reading this. As an apology/thank you, please help yourself to these Zardoz-related audio materials I’ve re-posted below to replace those wiped out in the great BIYF.com purge of 2016:
All kidding aside, this post ran on waaaaaaay loooooonger than I ever intended for it to go and I think it’s safe to say most BIYF Binge posts will be significantly briefer. I ended up wanting to cover a lot of ground and it apparently is not in my nature to be succinct. I could probably use an editor. Good thing I married one, though I don’t think I could pay her enough to cover the overtime…
Please comment below and let me know your thoughts on and/or memories of BIYF 1998, the qualities that define a true BIYF film, and, of course, Zardoz itself. Thanks for sticking around till the bitter end!
Since I technically started the BIYF Binge yesterday and the first post from that will happen within the next couple days, this will be the last “Pre-Binge” post and it will be brief.
The master playlist is nearly complete. I’ve mocked up and inserted the one missing item in this screenshot and added signposts for the 6 “live action” events and the 2 “Zardoz has no reference material for this event” events (“The Tim Anderson Experience” Video [Excerpts] and the “Top Ten BIYF Moments” presentation). The list would take 6.9 days to run non-stop, end-to-end.
So, if you look to the right of this post you’ll see that I’ve set a start date for the BIYF Binge. That date is next Monday.
Memorial Day 2016. An appropriate, BIYF-y date.
Following a flurry of posts two weeks ago, I’ve gone to silent running as the nuts-and-bolts reality of the Binge has begun to sink in. I’ve been busy behind the scenes trying to lay the groundwork for (at least initial) success with this project whose scope is actually quite daunting when you start doing the math. I hope I can rely on your patience, understanding and support along the way. It’s a little terrifying and not just because of what I’ll have to watch.
I hope to re-watch as many items as possible from the last 19 BIYF Festivals within a one year span and write something about each of them in a timely fashion. That works out to at least one post every 2-3 days. And I hope to write at least marginally entertaining posts. And brevity is not always something at which I excel. Nor are complete sentences.
Plus, that “at least marginally entertaining” part means I’ll need to spend some time gathering/preparing visual materials to enhance my prose and some more time doing homework to get my facts straight. Or mostly straight. For every post. Daunting. Terrifying.
And ultimately low-stakes in the grand scheme of things, I know. Still, it’s something I’d like to do for us in this landmark year leading up to BIYF XX. Hopefully it will be something you enjoy. Hopefully it will be something I live through.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what will be a suitable model I can use for these posts. In a perfect world I’d like to post a legitimate, stands-on-its-own, readable-by-the-non-BIYF-masses review for each each item. There’s a couple problems with that idea.
First, there’s no way I will be able to sustain that over the timeframe I have and still work a job and live a life. It’s just not a reasonable goal at the pace of a post every 2 or 3 days. That way lies madness, homelessness, starvation, and divorce.
Second, there’s already a ton of reviews of almost everything we’ve watched out there on The Internet just waiting to be found and consumed. While I’d like to think I could produce the ultimate review of the items in our catalog, a lot of the stuff that already exists is really pretty good. Why reinvent the wheel when you can just link to it instead?
Which brings me to my revised, grounded-in-reality goal. Since this whole endeavor is honestly just a nostalgia-based exercise, all I really hope to do is remind you that each of these things on our list exists and that we watched (or in some cases did) them. I’ll try to do this in an entertaining fashion. I’ll provide some facts, some images, some links, some commentary, and whenever possible I’ll attempt to integrate some part of our BIYF history into the narrative. I don’t know how successful I’ll be, but I think this is at least within the realm of the possible.
I hope the “BIYF history” that makes its way into these posts is a shared one, just as the events that produced it have been. I’ll give you my two-cents-worth here, but my best-case-scenario is that you’ll also share your thoughts and memories in the comments. That way, when I work on v2.0 after the Binge (the “permanent” version) it won’t just be a record of my thoughts, but ours.
Thanks in advance for any help you’re able to offer/memories you’re able to add and let me know if you need any help with blog logins or technical issues. I’ve almost accepted my fate and the BIYF Binge will begin shortly.
The BIYF Store is the latest casualty of the ongoing purge surrounding BIYF.com. I’m not sure why, but the CafePress BIYF store has had fatal issues loading and allowing me to edit it despite the other CafePress shops I run being unaffected.
Maybe it’s because it’s a very old CafePress shop on a very old CafePress server (launched in 2004, I believe)… Maybe it’s somehow related to the main BIYF site being compromised… Maybe it’s just coincidence or maintenance or any number of things. Regardless, I currently have very little patience for diagnosing the problem and I’m continuing my “burn it to the ground and start fresh’ approach here.
The former BIYF Classic shop (and URL) is now the new main BIYF store for all your BIYF shopping needs. There aren’t new things available there or anything, but that’s where the new stuff will show up along with classic designs. No more multiple stores.
This “new” shop seems unimpaired by the difficulties the old main shop was suffering from so I’m moving the flag there, culling the old shop (it let me delete it without issue), and calling the issue solved. The link on the landing page at BIYF.com has been updated to reflect the new store URL.
Hopefully this will also solve the problems a few of you were running into with the old store over the last couple years. I had been observing annoyingly slow load times at it for a while, but everything had continued to function when I shopped there. Eventually.
Things seem better with this solution already. For me, anyway. There are other options than CafePress these days if it’s just as slow and unwieldy as before for the rest of you. Please let me know here or via email or Facebook if/when you have problems.
When digital technology was slow & expensive. A novelty…
When Peter Jackson was known for Heavenly Creatures…
When a Lord of the Rings film was less likely than a Star Wars film…
Back in the days of Elgin…
A conversation began and it went something like this:
Craig and Bill need help casting “Lord of the Rings” The Movie. We assume that, in the near future, digital technology will progress to the point where we will be able to cast any actor from any time period, regardless of whether or not s/he is still among the living. Likewise, due to advances in makeup and digital technology, any actor may be cast in any role, regardless of height, etc. In other words, you don’t necessarily have to cast short actors as Hobbits, Dwarfs, Gollum, et. al. No limits have been set, no rules imposed. Only one thing is certain…
Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck
Hamfast “The Gaffer” Gamgee
Samwise “Sam” Gamgee
Peregrin “Pippin” Took
young Ricardo Montalban
young Audrey Hepburn
“Raiders” Harrison Ford
Samual L Jackson
James Earl Jones
1960s Teri Garr
young Peter Lorre
Lord of the Nazgul
Mouth of Sauron
Are these choices still the right choices?
Were they ever the right choices?
Do we need to start adding decades to more actors?
(1990s Kenneth Branagh & Emma Thompson?)
What other characters need to be cast?
Do I need to correctly spell names now that we have IMDB?
Do we need images of these actors in these roles to decide?
What do older and wiser heads believe?
Let us know in the comments, but remember the one constant:
Things are quiet at BIYF.com these days. Thanks to some helpful vandals that facilitated “burning down the house” here, there are only a couple things live on the site at the moment. That’s actually OK with me. Not the vandals part, the quiet opportunity for a fresh start part.
As I may have mentioned many times recently, we’re heading toward our 20th BIYF Festival in 2017. That seems like a good time to brush off the cobwebs, take a look around and decide what needs to stay and what can be relegated to backups-only status. Currently, everything is sitting out on the front lawn of the house due to the fire, so it’s mostly a matter of deciding what stuff to bring back into the new house as I build it.
Here’s my thinking on that. Back when we started doing all this, there weren’t all of the options available to the general public for sharing content online that we have today. It was a lot more complicated, time-consuming, and (as amazing as it sounds) there was a lot less content out there. Or at least it seemed like it because it was harder to find and didn’t seek you out of its own accord as is increasingly common today.
I wanted to have a place for us to celebrate us and this weird little ritual of ours that occurs once a year. As time went on this expanded to include a lot of the things that individuals or small groups of us did that I thought were delightful. Appearing on Jeopardy! The B-Squad! Hawkeye Tailgating! Rib Dependence! The Bricker’s new haircut! Michael Caine is Frodo Baggins! Things that made my world a happier place. Lordy, so much fun. You folks are amazing and it was fun to try and venerate that, at least in a small way.
But nowadays, there’s dozens of ways for anyone to do that sort of thing at anytime, anywhere, for free. Plus, the more I diversified and tried to celebrate all our things, the less sustainable it became. And, as such, it wasn’t sustained…
I’m going to try to reduce the scope of BIYF.com to being just about the BIYF Festival and things relating directly to that. Movies, beer, shared memories. That sort of thing. Maybe that way I can get it back on it’s feet and produce something that’s unique again. Something that’s worth revisiting from time to time. That’s still not a small task, but I’m looking at it as a long-term, multi-stage project.
At the moment the only things active at the site are the home page, the “password-protected” landing page, and the Zardoz Speaks to You (Mark II) blog. If you’re still reading this post at this point, you already know the BIYF Binge is coming and will dominate the blog for (at least) the next year. My plan is to eventually gather up the Binge posts related to a given year, combine them with any other available relics from that same year’s BIYF Festival and assemble an online shrine for each year (“onshrine” them?).
I also plan to use the blog to gather feedback not just about your BIYF viewing memories/recurring nightmares during the Binge, but also about your memories of the BIYF Festivals themselves. When I start building the shrines I’ll try to supply blog post prompts for each year as I go. Hopefully we can capture some more of our memories and stories in context before they completely fade into the past.
If you look along the left side of the landing page at BIYF.com, you’ll see a column of numbers beginning with “98.” This is where I’ll begin linking the shrine pages once they actually exist. There won’t be a lot else living here, but I hope we can make what is here fun to revisit from time to time.
I look forward to seeing what happens over the next twelve months. I hope you are as well, but I’ll be satisfied with mild interest. It’s all about managing expectations.
Drink beer! Relive movies vicariously through the blog without being forced to actually watch them again yourself! Comment below if the mood strikes you! Do you still love the Bricker’s haircut? I know I do.