Chris Stangl's Exploding Kinetoscope
October 28, 2010 10:32 AM   Subscribe

This may only occur to the obsessive student of The Parent Trap, but once the subtleties are noticed, hints start stacking up, and a creeping sense of the mythic pervades the film...
Join Chris Stangl, King of the Beanplaters, as he obsessively studies The Parent Trap, Little Shop of Horrors, Beetlejuice, Teen Wolf, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more.
posted by Iridic (33 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. This analysis of a Freleng Slyvester and Tweety cartoon is beanplating, indeed. But no less fascinating to read.
posted by vacapinta at 10:39 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


And worth it just for the screen shots of some of the cells. The intersecting lines are gorgeous and need to be framed as art in my apartment somehow. (How I wish I could afford actual cells.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:41 AM on October 28, 2010


These are pretty awesome, but I wish he would bring back that Garfield thing, which I had forgotten about until you mentioned it.

His Permanent Monday blog died last May. Which as you can see is a damned shame.
posted by ErikaB at 10:47 AM on October 28, 2010


A better quote from the Parent Trap article: It is important symbolically, as a link in the film's chain of storm imagery. But it is also funny because it is a cake stuck on a totem pole.
posted by maryr at 10:47 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Parent Trap is more than two hours long, for absolutely no good reason. This allows for a leisurely, laid-back pace, ideal for capturing the lazy, abundant-free-time feel of summer. It's also in that special club of movies like They Drive by Night and From Dusk till Dawn, with second halves that feel like an entirely different story that grew naturally out of the first half. First half: discovering twinship / summer camp comedy. Second half: parent trapping / romantic farce.

Heh, so true. Fabulous.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:48 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gah, there's more:

When I'm daydreaming up attractions I would like to see, my mind goes straight to "a walk-through recreation of the house from The Parent Trap." So I'm unfit to even work in the WDI cafeteria, right? Well, as Wikipedia would have it, Walt Disney Archives is perpetually bombarded by requests for blueprints to this house! I assume this is a lie, since anyone who could afford this house would not be the kind of weirdo who wants to build it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:49 AM on October 28, 2010


Holy crap. This is super. Especially the part about the WDI cafeteria.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:49 AM on October 28, 2010


The Beetlejuice commentary is excellent.
posted by effugas at 10:58 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


This may only occur to the obsessive student of The Parent Trap

It is appropriate that he used the definite article there: "the obsessive student of The Parent Trap." I strongly suspect he may be the only one.

But seriously, this is good stuff:

In the most hilarious and evocative shot in the movie, one of the cakes ends up stuck on the beak of a Thunderbird on totem pole. It is important symbolically, as a link in the film's chain of storm imagery. But it is also funny because it is a cake stuck on a totem pole.

So true, so true.
posted by jedicus at 10:59 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have been an avid reader of Exploding Kinetoscope since its inception, and I wholeheartedly agree. I will admit a very definite bias, since Chris and I went to school together at the University of Iowa and palled around/No Shamed together. This essay on Revenge of the Sith/Star Wars in general is a particular favorite of mine.
posted by cottoncandybeard at 11:01 AM on October 28, 2010


Then they scheme to switch places to meet the respective single parents that they have never known, which is a variation on fantasies of swapping bodies (see under: Freaky Friday, you hamburger!), being a spy (see under: spy movies), sneaking around other peoples' houses (see under: Blue Velvet)...

/me spits hot tea all over desk
posted by heyforfour at 11:07 AM on October 28, 2010


Holy crap, this is great stuff! Agree with vacipinta on the Sylvester and Tweety piece. Sublime beanplating. Thanks, Iridic!
posted by Thorzdad at 11:10 AM on October 28, 2010


...this is like crack.
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 AM on October 28, 2010


This is amazing. We grew up in a weird pop culture time warp - it was the 80s, but our old-school Korean immigrant parents only wanted us to watch the American Stuff they thought was okay, i.e., the music and movies of their childhoods/teenage years. We watched a lot of the 60s live-action Disney movies in our house where no English was spoken and kimchi appeared with every meal, which is hilarious--the settings and characters of The Parent Trap were as alien and strange to us as those in any movie about the far reaches of space and what you might find there.

Divorced parents? Sleepaway camp? A mom who cuts her hair and becomes hip? A California outside of LA's Koreatown and Gardena? We watched the movie a little obsessively, trying to understand. I get this guy. He is my people.

"Mitch, please. I may go out and kill myself. I don't know."

Two little girls have stripped the crusty ranch hand of dignity, and his employer laughs at his expense. In response, Hecky mumbles a suicide threat that does not sound particularly sarcastic or idle.


Yes. Oh my god, yes!
posted by peachfuzz at 11:12 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am somehow very startled at the spelling of Hecky's name. I was never very clear on it as a child, but somehow imagined something along the lines of Hecchie. Maybe I thought he was Italian?!
posted by heyforfour at 11:15 AM on October 28, 2010


I like Beetlejuice best. Most underrated comedy line of all time.

These are fascinating reads. I love reading about films and listening to directors talk about films. So many things that I take for granted or overlook make the next viewing of the movie that much better after I've had them pointed out or explained.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:21 AM on October 28, 2010


Thank you thank you thank you.
posted by hermitosis at 11:37 AM on October 28, 2010


I can't find the quote you're linking, PuppyCat.

Great post! Thanks, Iridic.
posted by ODiV at 11:49 AM on October 28, 2010


The idea for how Star Wars should have gone is great. Much appreciated.

It is a great point... that Lucas could have very cleverly used (read: twisted) that everpresent "fan-hatred" and irrational resentment (of Jar-Jar/Gungans/Ewoks) to make the point about how easy it is to find and adopt 'character flaws/things to hate/speciesism'... and how this can and will be used to eradicate "undesirables"; that movie would have been much more powerful, rather than just adding in chewie homeworld. He set up a beautiful tale of misjudging the jester, misunderstanding the trickster, and fans (and non-fans) obliged to the nth degree, google "kill jarjar", and see how deep that 'anger' runs, irrational anger I have to think, but real anger.

It would have been nice to have a tragedy depicted, allowing a forced rethink of the 'collective' hatred of mannerisms and 'oddness'. Having the first acts of the nascent empire being the (attempted) eradication of the species that some find great value in, and others seem to hate (but dropping them from the plot altogether was, IMO, a mistake, during that first reunion in II, Anakin barely acknowledges the first offworlder who really befriended him, and believed in him).

Rather than dropping Jarjar, a development of him, and other Gungans, showing multifaceted nature of the characters, and showing characters that feel, and grow (and can still be silly, that wasn't the worst thing in the world, real people can be silly, but showing that behind the silliness were PEOPLE.) depicting ultimately a betrayal of them by the Republic... by those who knew them, and would laugh at them, and call them 'primitive', I would love to see a remade special edition.
Make people feel a little bad for 'hating' the mannerisms, and dialects, and linguistics, and characteristics of a species!
posted by infinite intimation at 12:19 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This proves to me that it's not the beans, but plater, that matters.
posted by Theta States at 12:24 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This makes me indescribably delighted. (Also, as a student of, I feel compelled to work the phrase Someone who is me needs to fully deconstruct this sequence into my next paper.)
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 12:26 PM on October 28, 2010


(a student of FILM)
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 12:26 PM on October 28, 2010


I probably watched The Parent Trap fifty times in a single summer. So, I may not have been a student of the film, but I was obsessive. That was a beautiful review. Now I have to watch it again!
posted by aspiring polymath at 12:33 PM on October 28, 2010


This may only occur to the obsessive student of The Parent Trap

It is appropriate that he used the definite article there: "the obsessive student of The Parent Trap." I strongly suspect he may be the only one.


I will not say where he was a professor for reasons of respecting privacy, but my ex's father taught film courses at a not-small university and he absolutely, proudly loved The Parent Trap. I don't know what that means, except that, despite the fact that the relationship with his son did not work out, I am proud to have once been a member of that family.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:34 PM on October 28, 2010


If he really was an obsessive student of PT, he would have talked about the much better PT where a young actress was on her way to becoming a serious actress.

R.I.P. LL
posted by hal_c_on at 1:37 PM on October 28, 2010


If he really was an obsessive student of PT, he would have talked about the much better PT where a young actress was on her way to becoming a serious actress.

My daughters get a huge kick out of watching the two versions back to back, then discussing their relative merits at length, like a tiny Siskel and Ebert in footie pajamas. They've been at it for a couple of years now, dozens of repeat viewings.

When I write it out like that it sounds kind of bonkers.
posted by padraigin at 2:52 PM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I write it out like that it sounds kind of bonkers.

No, it sounds totally awesome and it makes me love your kids.
posted by not that girl at 2:52 PM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I used to see Chris Stangl perform at the UCB in LA years ago. Despite his proclivity to end up naked on stage, he always seemed like a thinker.
posted by dogwalker at 3:37 PM on October 28, 2010


That doesn't sound right. Let me put it this way: He had a way of putting a lot of thought into being naked.
posted by dogwalker at 3:43 PM on October 28, 2010


Of the above-linked movies, I've only seen Beetlejuice, but I really appreciate that he did a close reading of that movie. It's underrated as a fantasy film, I think, because it wasn't sold as one, just as horror/comedy/Burton. I'll never forget being nine and seeing those sculptures begin to crawl across the screen. That was just in a trailer, but it made me sleep with the lights on that night. Naturally I had to go see it in the theater.

As an older viewer and a reader of fantasy novels and folklore, I consciously appreciated that the story had rules, dark and old ones that could never quite be explained, but couldn't be doubted and couldn't be broken. Even as a kid, though, I understood subconsciously, as kids do, because I remember that the cartoon Beetlejuice disappointed me -- where were Lydia's friends? And why wasn't she terrified of Beetlejuice?

For years thereafter, I went to Tim Burton movies hoping to see another movie like Beetlejuice, but was disappointed. When my motivations for seeing his movies changed to hearing another wicked Elfman score and/or seeing Johnny Depp swanning about in something well-tailored, I never was.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:59 PM on October 28, 2010


hal_c_on has something there. LL acting as an English girl faking an American accent is utterly convincing.
posted by Sparx at 4:46 PM on October 28, 2010


This guy was an internet hero of mine back in high school. He was a big presence on the alt.music.tmbg usenet group and was up to some pretty awesome interpretations then as well ("interps," as they were called on those boards). He got me into Talking Heads. Cortex pointed out this site to me in some old Meta thread a year or so back; it made me really excited.
posted by painquale at 6:11 PM on October 28, 2010


I was on IMDB to check out whether Brian Keith was the voice of Baloo, and instead I got a story of heartbreak, despair and suicide, and apparently he was the great grandson of Benjamin Franklin... who played Wally in Police Rescue... wait a minute.
posted by doublehappy at 6:14 PM on October 28, 2010


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