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 Post subject: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 10:10 pm 
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Ghost World

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Terry Zwigoff's first fiction film, adapted from a cult-classic comic by Daniel Clowes, is an idiosyncratic portrait of adolescent alienation that's at once bleakly comic and wholly endearing. Set during the malaise-filled months following high-school graduation, Ghost World follows the proud misfit Enid (Thora Birch), who confronts an uncertain future amid the cultural wasteland of consumerist America. As her cynicism becomes too much to bear even for her best friend, Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), Enid finds herself drawn to an unlikely kindred spirit: a sad-sack record collector many years her senior (Steve Buscemi). With its parade of oddball characters, quotable, Oscar-nominated script, and eclectic soundtrack of vintage obscurities, Ghost World is one of the twenty-first century's most fiercely beloved comedies.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION

• New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by writer-director Terry Zwigoff, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary featuring Zwigoff, comic-book creator and cowriter Daniel Clowes, and producer Lianne Halfon
• New interviews with and actors Thora Birch and Illeana Douglas
• Extended excerpt from Gumnaam (1965) featuring the Bollywood musical number that appears in Ghost World's opening title sequence
• Deleted scenes
• Trailer
• More!
• PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:53 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:07 pm
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domino harvey wrote:
Surprised we don't already have a thread or much discussion on this film given how often I've seen it invoked in passing by many of our members.

I was the same age as the two central characters when this film came out and I know I must have watched this movie at least thirty times the year following my high school graduation. It didn't occur to me until recently how much this filmed summed up so much of what me and my friends felt and saw and experienced. Even today it's still a touchstone reference point amongst many people I know around my age. Coming back to it now as an adult for the first time in many years, it's interesting how perception and age can change character identification, though-- I'm sure everyone I knew sided with Enid (so did a lot of the critics-- Ebert's review is practically a MASH note), but watching it now I found myself liking and identifying with Rebecca far more, who no longer comes off as a buzzkill, at least for this viewer.

Enid, Thora Birch's misunderstood rebel stuck in a world that doesn't understand her comes across no longer as a kindred spirit but a girl stuck in perpetual self-reinforcing juvenilia, her entire system of cultural appropriation and judgment a substitute for actual taste. Not that she'd necessarily want to align herself solely to one system of interest. Look at her model of adulthood, Steve Buscemi's Seymour, who has his specified interests (even if a doomed mainstream love interest sees them only as "old timey") and is miserable. I am currently teaching another seminal work of teen angst, the Bell Jar, and I was reminded of Plath's terrific metaphor of future possibilities resembling a fig tree, with each fruit of life trajectory eventually withering away from disuse due to indecision. Enid doesn't want anything and yet still craves the safe-- she and Scarlett Johansson's Rebecca hang out thanks to habit more than mutual pleasure, and while they share a starkly negative outlook (which is an obvious defense mechanism), their targets collide less frequently as their lives drift apart. And yet it's Johansson, not Birch, who seems to actually be happy-- look at the non-ironic joy derived from something as simple as matching curtains and drapes and a murphy ironing board in the film's closing scenes. And yet Enid is doomed by her interactions and inability to act maturely (or just act) to just realize her fantasy of just picking up and leaving without telling anyone, a blank slate emotional bankruptcy filling that I've always read as a kind of suicide, a hopeless gesture more than a promise of a new start.

I think the film's power is in presenting such unapologetically complicated and interesting characters as Enid and Rebecca, and Zwigoff never shies away from painting his subjects in a harsh light (and indeed he often errs on the side of negativity) while assuming that his audience is smart enough and equipped to handle such non-sugar coated portrayals. Describing this film sounds like every dumb twee indie movie made post-Rushmore, but that it doesn't side with its characters but understands and presents them takes it beyond apologia for delayed emotional maturity. Indeed, what struck me most upon revisiting this masterpiece is that Zwigoff first concerned himself not with fidelity to the source material or ideological messaging or allegedly relatable archetypes but with making a film that was, in addition to its technical and creative strengths (and its hilariously caustic sarcasm), so well-observed about a specific faction of youth dealing with the uncertainty of a looming adulthood and all the baggage that brings. And that still resonates with me now thirteen years later, and will no doubt still resonate in thirteen more.

I've seen it about twenty times since it came out. It's not just a coming of age story, but a great work of comedy in its own right. It's on my list of movies I wish Criterion would release on Blu-Ray. They did such a great job with Crumb.

One of the other things of note about this movie is its compositional brilliance. Every scene is so carefully set up. It's a master class for budding directors. It's incredible to think that it was Zwigoff's first proper movie. Most directors take several movies to figure out how to do all the stuff he does so easily.

You are right - it's anything but a twee indie post-Rushmore movie. It's to teen indie movies what Heathers was to John Hughes teen movies.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:58 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:59 am
Enjoyed Ghost World, and have seen it several times over the years. This is a film that is both extremely funny & also quite sad. The inevitable deterioration of Enid & Rebecca's friendship is difficult to watch, even though you can see this coming as the film progresses. I (and most other people, I'm guessing) could identify with & remember the uncertainty that comes with graduation from high school/college and how scary that can be. The film definitely captured those feelings & emotions perfectly.

Josh was a great hapless, clueless character; especially funny was his job at the 7-11-type store & the scene when the store owner and that crazed freak started fighting ("That guy spends more time at the store than I do!" - :D ); also, the way Enid & Rebecca alternately condescended & pitied him was both pathetic & hilarious - LOL.

If you liked the film and haven't already done so, I would recommend the Ghost World graphic novel by Daniel Clowes (that the film is based on). Very funny, though somewhat different from the film...


Last edited by LavaLamp on Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:40 am 
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I'm glad I read the comic first.
I was going to write a few comments, but then found that I'd already done so, years ago, so here was my take on it, specifically about what a truly strange process of adaptation it was in some ways.. (I edited the post just now to cut down the New Yorker excerpt a bit and sharpen things a bit.) I didn't mean to sound too harsh about the film, as it did come out of its collaborative process with some great qualities of its own.

The Doogster wrote:
One of the other things of note about this movie is its compositional brilliance. Every scene is so carefully set up. It's a master class for budding directors. It's incredible to think that it was Zwigoff's first proper movie. Most directors take several movies to figure out how to do all the stuff he does so easily.
I would tend to credit a whole lot of that to Affonso Beato, the DP. Zwigoff's subsequent two films weren't nearly as well shot.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:52 am 
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domino harvey wrote:
Even today it's still a touchstone reference point amongst many people I know around my age.

I think you felt about the film somewhat the way I felt about Before Sunrise, which came out the year before I got out of high school. Faced with uncertain territory of college and adulthood, it seemed like a road map of the way things should or could be.


I only saw Ghost World about 4 or 5 years ago, when a Girlfriend insisted I see it, but I remember definitely siding with Enid over Rebecca--though I think the movie is far from decided on that course. The choosing of sides to me came easily, because Rebecca's wants and needs are so patently conventional that they are easy to dismiss. Enid may not really know what she wants, and she may be afraid to go out and figure out what it is she wants, but she is not easily satisfied with convention and compromise, and so to me she seemed more admirable for that refusal to settle. Watching the movie at an age somewhat advanced from the characters, I didn't really expect Enid to have anything figured out for herself, anyway. If you look at the film with the notion that these characters are struggling to formulate adult identities, then I think Enid is willing to flail more, to experiment with ways of being that move beyond Rebecca's more pat directions.

The comic and the film differ considerably here, because the deserted landscape in the comic is so clearly a devastated wasteland, while the surroundings of the film are basically lushly suburban. The colors in the film give the background so much richness, that I think it gives extra credence to Rebecca's pursuit of convention--convention in this world is very comfortable. The background of the comic, meanwhile, is close to desolate, and deprived of nearly all enriching color. As a result, Enid's dissatisfaction seems a clearer "read" of her environment, and Rebecca's embrace of it seems like defeat. In the film, the girls renting an apartment together seems a faintly Acadian scheme--the kind of sensible gesture that would make their young lives happier and more eventful, and the kind of move that would continue to evolve their collaborative view of the world. In the comic, staying in that space is slow suicide--and the comic underlines this when Enid looks in upon Rebecca, slumped over in listless trance at her job, and says to the air, "you've grown into a very beautiful young woman." Then she picks up and leaves the "ghost world," perhaps for good. That scene is shot through with the clear misery that conformity offers--a grind that pressures us to keep up only the illusion of happiness and fulfillment--and Enid is much more the hero for attempting to avoid that fate. By placing the movie in a less stylized, more graphically pleasing setting, that point is undercut very significantly; there's nothing in the movie's world that seems so bad that Enid needs to rebel against it.

Unlike the comic, the movie is also loaded with charm, and that seems to have worked very well in preserving the picture in people's memories. My dad even gets a smile on his face recalling scenes from Ghost World, which he saw a year or so ago on the Sundance Channel or AMC. The leads do a great deal to achieve this. It's hard to look at Thora Birch as quite the gawky, unfortunate character Enid is in the comics, and it's hard to see Scarlett Johansson as the plain figure Rebecca appears in the comics. Part of the problem in the comics is that these girls are starved for beauty in their lives--there is nothing that possesses any degree of "pure" beauty in the comic, no place or person that truly dazzles, and that extends to the girls themselves--who are awkward, not terribly clever, and not naturally attractive. That their experiences promise to be exciting but only lead to disappointments is rather painful in the comic, whereas the movie sells these setups as woeful comedy. The girls in the movie have a Chaplinesque, glittering charm (and maybe a little of Chaplin's self-regard, as well), mincing flatly over the deadpan comedy in a way that their comic-book counterparts could never approximate. So I think the notion that what these girls feel is simply angst, a phase of teenage immaturity, is more the creation of the movie than the book. The movie feels a little less serious, because the world presented in the film is in a sort of natural balance--the place is really beautiful, and the girls are harbingers of a new kind of Hollywood beauty that is nerdy and Rubenesque, direct and seemingly open and available. Whereas the setting of the comic is a genuine "ghost world," absent of every trace of vigor or vitality. The crises one faces in a dying world are very different that the crises played out in a cute apartment, and I think the change of the setting creates an accompanying change in mood, and a change in our sympathies, to match.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 7:14 pm 
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I've only just noticed that Ghost World has had a blu release in Germany. Can anyone speak to its quality of if the subs are removable? I see that there's been years of rumours of it coming to Criterion ... but I'm not prepared to hold out for what might only be a minor possibility. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2015 9:56 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:33 am
bdsweeney wrote:
I've only just noticed that Ghost World has had a blu release in Germany. Can anyone speak to its quality of if the subs are removable? I see that there's been years of rumours of it coming to Criterion ... but I'm not prepared to hold out for what might only be a minor possibility. :)
It's a beautiful transfer. You can play the English dub without German subs.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 7:09 am 

Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:23 am
Jack Phillips wrote:
bdsweeney wrote:
I've only just noticed that Ghost World has had a blu release in Germany. Can anyone speak to its quality of if the subs are removable? I see that there's been years of rumours of it coming to Criterion ... but I'm not prepared to hold out for what might only be a minor possibility. :)
It's a beautiful transfer. You can play the English dub without German subs.


Some say that the audio is slightly out of synch.There's discussion about this on blu-ray.com's forum.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2017 1:03 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:36 pm
Ghost World confirmed for May


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 6:50 pm 
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Officially announced


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:12 pm 
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Guess Scarlett Johansson couldn't be bothered. At least Brad Renfro has a good excuse!


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 2:17 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
Guess Scarlett Johansson couldn't be bothered. At least Brad Renfro has a good excuse!

As mentioned in the Criterion social media thread,they just interviewed her.


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:35 pm 
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Good to know she lurks here. Scarlett - love the haircut


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:11 pm 
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The more! has been revealed (in bold):

-New interviews with actors Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Illeana Douglas

-Extended excerpt from Gumnaam (1965) featuring the Bollywood number that appears in Ghost World’s opening title sequence, with commentary

-PLUS: An essay by critic Howard Hampton, a 2001 piece by Zwigoff on the film’s soundtrack, and reprinted excerpts from Clowes’s comic Ghost World


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 4:18 pm 
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Beaver.


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 8:50 am 
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Bluray.com


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 12:34 pm 
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I couldn't make it out the other end of that first paragraph, but to respond briefly to this
Svet wrote:
In the other part there is an obvious desire to be funny in the same way some of Sam Mendes, Kevin Smith and Todd Solondz's films are. In other words, there are a number of gotcha moments that add a special flavor to the narrative. The trouble here is that quite a few of them are too carefully timed and instead of being effective because they are spontaneous, more often than not they actually look and feel incredibly artificial.
I really don't get the Mendes or Smith comparison, but as for those funny "moments," yeah it's almost as if Ghost World were the creation of a cartoonist or something!


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 12:54 pm 
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Gregory wrote:
yeah it's almost as if Ghost World were the creation of a cartoonist or something!

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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 12:25 am 

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Just got this in the mail today.

I must say this is one of the best Criterions in the catalogue. The remaster is exquisite and there is a hugely noticeable upgrade in color and detail. The set decoration and clothes just pop.

Plus the mini comic, the cover art, the booklet. And the few but great supplements (the new interviews are great).

So happy to finally have this in my collection. One of my very favorites since seeing it at 11 years old when it came out.


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 Post subject: Re: 872 Ghost World
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 1:35 am 
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Agreed (though I think I was more like 16 for me...?) - at any rate, what an amazing release of this film. Makes me particularly mournful that Zwigoff can't get arrested in Hollywood anymore, especially since Art School Confidential was so unfairly maligned. Next CC release?


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