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500 movies list – 180 The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

Directed by Victor Fleming and apparently 4 uncredited dudes

Screenplay written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allen Woolf based on the book by L Frank Baum… apparently there are also a large committee’s worth of contributing writers as well

This is one of those movies I can probably recite, if someone needed me to. I guess we had it on video when I was a kid and me and my sister watched it quite a lot. The beautiful thing about watching it again on blu ray (special anniversary edition) is that you can see so much detail. In the Munchkinland sequences you can see which munchkins aren’t singing or dancing.

Judy Garland shines in this film, and it’s hard to know if it’s because she was high or drunk or just because she’s a fantastic actor. The songs are beautiful, especially Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Random trivia about this movie is everywhere, because it’s been popular so long. How about this one? According to lead Munchkin Jerry Maren, the “little people” on the set were paid $50 per week for a 6-day work week, while Toto received $125 per week. That and the fact that most of the Wicked Witch’s scenes were edited down or cut entirely because she was too scary. I can believe it, she terrified me as a kid, her and the flying monkeys.

Of course none of this was as scary as the amazing Return To Oz where there was the Deadly Desert, The Wheelers and head removing Princess Mombie, following on from an evil psychiatric asylum and electric shock treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love that movie, but it terrified me. This movie seems very easy to deal with in comparison!

Overpaid or not, Toto is a very good dog though, you can see him offering his paw to Dorothy to shake in the Somewhere Over the Rainbow sequence even after she shakes his wee paw. He does stunts and runs where he’s told, it’s adorable.

I actually noticed something I never have before: in the sequence where they’re in the haunted forest they’ve all armed up. I had noticed the Lion had a net before, but not that the Tin Man has a gigantic spanner or that the Scarecrow is pointing a hand gun around the place. I wonder where they got a gun in Oz?

There are so many moments that have been spoofed in such excellent ways – the Winkies ‘oh wee oh’ sequence as Burns’s guards in the Simpsons and of course as Oreos in Wreck it Ralph. This film has entered our lexicon when it comes to moving images. Then of course is the advent of Wicked, which tells the story from the Wicked Witch’s point of view and makes the whole thing a lot more political.

Does it make me love the people? Oh yes. From the very start, Dorothy is a sweet, dreaming and getting in the way. I noticed on today’s watch how protective Glinda is at the start of the movie, when they’re talking to the Wicked Witch she keeps her arms around Dorothy and gives her advice. It’s quite lovely.

Bechdel test: Yes, in virtually the second line, Dorothy talks to Aunt Em about the things Miss Gulch said she’d do to Toto. In fact it passes over and over again with Glinda and The Wicked Witch of the West but that shouldn’t be a surprise given the source material is unapologetically feminist.

Best line: based on what I mostly quote it’s “To the Emerald City, as fast as lightning!”

But I also love what the witch says as she dies “what a world, what a world…” I’m sure we all feel like that when we die, huh?

Wizard: “Remember, a heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.”

State of mind: It really is a pity that the Wonderful Wizard of Oz that came out a couple of years ago was so misogynistic and bad. It would be really nice to have a new tale from Oz…

My favourite Banksy piece seems relevant:

wizard of oz bansky dorothy gale judy garland police search

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Writing in cafes, a review of Auckland options

I’ve been writing out at cafes a bit, here’s my rundown of which ones worked for me and which didn’t so much.┬áHere’s what I’m rating on: food quality, service, atmosphere/noise, how comfortable I was, how easy it was to write.

Disclaimer: I don’t drink coffee so cannot give you a review of how good the coffee was.

Cafe Melba , Ellerslie

Cafe Melba is my favourite cafe chain in Auckland. Whichever one you go to the food is great. Ellerslie is great for friend meetups and taking out of towners for a nice meal, but for writing it wasn’t ideal. I think partially because the tables are quite close together, I felt like I was in the way somehow. The table wasn’t quite big enough for my laptop, too. I love this place, food and service are great but I won’t go back there to write.

Cafe Melba, Hillsborough

The other Melba I go to is a bit more of a trip from home, but it is a blessed space of lightness, inspiration and motivation. Something about the amount of natural light, the high ceilings, the weird geometric shapes on display, it works for me. The tables are big enough to have food and notebook side by side (haven’t gone there with laptop yet) but I’ve consistently got a lot done. Love it here. Staff are attentive and friendly but also happy to leave you to it.

Bean there cafe, Onehunga

Bean there has a great line of giant, sturdy tables, and is usually pretty quiet so you don’t have to worry about where to sit. It’s counter service, so you have to either decide what to eat really fast or go and sit and then decide and get back up again. They have excellent orange juice, but the food’s just kind of okay. It’s kind of good, and kind of not. I actually started feeling conspicuous because it was so quiet, like everyone was watching me, or noticing me or something. Little awkward.

Circus, Circus cafe, Mt Eden

Circus Circus is where my writing group meets up in the evenings, and that is always brilliant. Nice large tables, friendly staff who are willing to add another table to the one you already have (if needed) and fantastic food. Going on my own, during a weekday was a different experience, due to different staff, etc. I did get a lot done, and it’s nice being in the middle of Mt Eden for other chores but overall I didn’t feel entirely comfortable. Not sure why.

Fridge cafe, Kingsland

The Fridge is great. Large, sturdy tables, various rooms, so if you see a bunch of people in suits having a loud business meeting you can just skedaddle into another room and sit in a corner. Sometimes sparrows come in. It’s quiet during the week and the staff have a good level of checking if you need anything else and leaving you alone. Brilliant pies, do recommend. It’s a bit out of the way for me to get to, but if it was close I’d probably be there all the time.

Allpress Auckland Roastery, Freeman’s Bay

The food here is brilliant, you can get soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers. Hot chocolate is good but not awesome. The table was great, atmosphere pretty good. But I happened to open my laptop to start writing just as a guy came in with a friend and he seemed to decide that he needed to impress her and me (he kept looking at me, it was weird) with his knowledge of generic geek stuff like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. They sat at the table next to me and he was diagonally across and it was so annoying I couldn’t write anything. On another day this place is probably great.

Onehunga Cafe

Too loud, the music was great but I was singing along to it because it was up that loud. The chairs are comfy, the one/two person tables are a little too small for the laptop though. Although the food is delicious, the staff don’t ask if you need anything else, like a hot chocolate. Disappointing. I mean, probably they were being considerate and not interrupting, but also they didn’t bus the plates away when I was done so. Not ideal. Delicious fried chicken though.

 

Now my conundrum is: do I keep looking at other options or do I just keep going back to Hillsborough Melba even though they stopped having the porridge I really liked?