Each week, locals Cole Schneider and Matt Greene share their different takes on new movies out in area theaters. For podcasts and more, visit MovietownMovieClub.com

 

Matt: 'Wizard of Oz' captures magic

Movies are magic. Through the scientific and technological discovery of the past and present, we are given the opportunity to travel, to feel, to grasp at, to imagine, and to experience another dimension. We are lifted away from our monotonous and sepia-stained lives, transported to a cinematic world of color and fantasy, and (in the best films) reminded why the lives we live can be filled with their own magic if we choose to look for it. That’s what makes "Wizard of Oz" such a miracle. To this day, when Dorothy first enters Oz, all our cynicism is colored over with a sense of childlike awe, a wonder few mediums grasp outside of film, and a marvel few films capture with such perfection.

On a technical specificity level, Dorothy’s drug-like journey through the dream-world of Oz is immaculate. From the makeup to the costuming to the sets, the design is transcendent. The screenplay is a funny and smart onslaught of imagination. Every single song is a bonafide and worthy icon of musical perfection. Each performance is full of life and humor that lets the cartoony physicality and soulful dialogue dance together effortlessly.

But all this stuff is just “the man behind the curtain,” something we won’t really notice while being immediately amazed by the pure joy unraveling in front of us. As full of magic, color and life as it was 80 years ago, "The Wizard of Oz" is a heart-filled adventure that will surely cast its spell on audiences of all ages for another 80 years.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

Cole: 'Wizard of Oz' endures with flair

Is there a more classically Hollywood film than 1939's "The Wizard of Oz"? Its return to theaters almost 80 years after its initial release is indicative of the hold it still has on audiences several generations removed. The story of young Dorothy escaping the bleakness of the real world into the magical, colorful land of Oz, where she teams up with a heartless tin man, a brainless scarecrow, and a cowardly lion on their way along the yellow brick road to ask of the great Wizard to fulfill that which they lack, is the kind of sweeping fantasy epic that has been mimicked repeatedly ever since. Even in that sentence there are seven iconic cinematic titles — and I haven’t mentioned the Wicked Witch of the West!

The world building is incredible thanks to the creative ambition of the narrative, sets, costumes, and characterizations; the characters are simple but fleshed out really well and have clear motives and ambitions. The cinematic flair is remarkable. The transition from the sepia-toned Kansas to the brightly lit land of Oz is rightly considered among the most glorious shots in the history of the medium.

Even the messaging of the movie is oft-impersonated but rarely matched. I suppose some of the emotional beats of the film play out a little too easily, but at least they’re clear; so many Hollywood films today struggle to make even that happen. “The Wizard of Oz” is back next week after almost 80 years, and it’ll keep coming back after 100 and 200 and 1,000. It’s built to stand the test of time like old literature.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars