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Well-Loved Movies I Detest


bloodyminded

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Just about everybody has a special dislike for some movies that everybody else seems to admire. This can seem strange, even baffling to the admirers. (For instance, how in the hell can you dislike Goodfellas? What's wrong with you? :) )

Here are some of my "favourites":

The Untouchables

A plodding, dull-witted exercise in law n' order jingoism. Robert DeNiro as stupid/sly Capone tries diligently to save it, but is held back by every other aspect of this snooze-fest. In a genre of remarkable staying power and excellence (the crime genre), it takes real talent to muck it up, but Director Brian dePalma pulls it off with alacrity, using some time-honoured movie-wrecking techniques:

1. Hire Sean Connery as a wisecracking, hard-as-nails Irish beat cop; tell him to emphasize his drawl and utter inane phrases which movie-goers will recite for generations, mistaking bland monologues for Shakespeare, Monty Python, or other heavily-quoted geek material, but without the intelligence or wit. What's more, Connery's absurd performance will be hailed unthinkingly by people everywhere, to the point where he is handed a reflexive Academy Award, thus adding to that organization's well-known cupidity and irrelevance.

2. Hmmm: who is bland enough to play the lead vacuum of the virtually unwritten Elliot Ness character? Why...Kevin Costner, of course! a masterstroke of film ruination.

3. Plagiarize the best scene, with the baby carriage rolling down the stairs in the midst of a slow-motion gunfight, from another film. (I don't remember which, but trust me; it's not original to this movie.)

4. Pretend you're Stanley Kubrick. That way, all actors can play caricatures, uttering unrealistic dialogue. But while Kubrick did this (all the time) to emphasize archetypes, to playfully disengage the viewer from the fictional "reality" so that we are forced to contemplate the larger vision of what Kubrick wanted to say....dePalma succeeds only in producing a cartoon, simplified version of complex reality.

Saving Private Ryan

Ok, I don't actually detest it. But it's nothing more than sentimental patriotism bookended by two really good battle scenes. Spielberg should have cut everything else.

Pretty Woman

A piece of reactionary dreck, which is the sum total of most romantic comedies, putting the vaunted "liberalism" of the female sex into profound dispute. (There is one RC that I love, one that hardly anybody has seen, but that's for another post.)

A prostitute played by toothy good-girl-with-sass Julia Roberts is hired by some rich asshole, and they eventually fall in love. That's the story of this well-loved blockbuster and romantic staple. "I don't kiss my clients on the mouth; it's too intimate," the call-girl intones lovably, though it's no doubt difficult to hear about her sexual values with her mouth full. You, too, can be Cinderella; perhaps your newly discovered sex-organ-who-shoots-money will even buy you a career. You've come a long way, baby. It's fun watching how un-ironic and jaw-dropping are the banal "class" issues here: limo-driving, hooker-hiring, ruthless Business Acquisitor promptly disabuses store clerks of their class biases towards the prostitute. I'd say you can't make this stuff up, but in fact we can and do.

Edited by bloodyminded
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(For instance, how in the hell can you dislike Goodfellas? What's wrong with you? :) )
Goodfellas? Casino? Which one involves a guy jumping into a dumpster and then getting beaten to death with a baseball bat.

Sorry. I don't want to see such movies. Moreover, such movies are so removed from reality - they are not even romantic comedy. They are like watching paper airplanes - and imagining that you saw a 747 take off.

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Saving Private Ryan

I once had a chat with a drunk Polish tank commander who was convinced that the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" were the closest to real war as anyone will see.

Pretty Woman

Years ago, I recall being in a dinner party in Ottawa and saying that this movie was a bad imitation of Shaw and Shakespeare, and sexist to boot. I received bizarre looks, and learned that Political Correctness has a cutting edge.

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Goodfellas? Casino? Which one involves a guy jumping into a dumpster and then getting beaten to death with a baseball bat.

I don't recall the dumpster, but it was Casino with the beating death.

Sorry. I don't want to see such movies.

Sure, to each his own.

Moreover, such movies are so removed from reality - they are not even romantic comedy. They are like watching paper airplanes - and imagining that you saw a 747 take off.

The medium itself is divorced from "reality," so I'm not sure how these ones are distinctly unrealistic.

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Saving Private Ryan

I once had a chat with a drunk Polish tank commander who was convinced that the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" were the closest to real war as anyone will see.

Like I said: excellent battle scenes, lame movie overall.

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Popular movies I detest? Good title thread.

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For me, it's Avatar.

First, the plotline is crass anti-American, anti-free Enterprise - despite being an organized corporate free enterprise creation.

Second, the 3D CGI special effects will look cheesy in 10 years or so.

Gone With The Wind (1939) used a (new for the time) zoom shot for tremendous effect, that still resonates. Avatar used supposedly new technology for no effect at all.

In 2039, people will still talk about Gone With The Wind (novel or movie). Avatar will be remembered at best as another "The Greatest Show On Earth".

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The medium itself is divorced from "reality," so I'm not sure how these ones are distinctly unrealistic.
I strongly disagree.

The arts, like language (and this forum itself), exist to allow us to communicate and present a reality.

IMV, art is never divorced from reality. If it is, it is self-indulgence.

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First, the plotline is crass anti-American, anti-free Enterprise - despite being an organized corporate free enterprise creation.

No, it was anti-exploitation and anti-genocide. There's a difference, even though you hate to admit it.

Edited by BubberMiley
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No, it was anti-exploitation and anti-genocide. There's a difference, even though you hate to admit it.
And it just happened that a corporation was behind the exploitation and genocide.

Bubbler, to understand my point, imagine if all the people flying those weird attack helicopters at the end of Avatar had been women with red hair, or imagine if they spoke Chinese (with subtitles). Bubbler, do you know propaganda when you see it?

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When I walked out of the cinema after seeing Avatar, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry after paying so much money to a corporation to see a movie made by a corporation denouncing corporations.

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Many corporations do not engage in genocide. I don't think the movie denounced them.

But to interpret something that opposes genocide as anti-corporate and anti-american says more about your biases than theirs.

But regarding the topic, I would have to say anything by Guy Maddin, except, I suppose, My Winnipeg.

Edited by BubberMiley
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I strongly disagree.

The arts, like language (and this forum itself), exist to allow us to communicate and present a reality.

IMV, art is never divorced from reality. If it is, it is self-indulgence.

I agree with you completely; in fact, I was implying just this point. Narrative art is "the truth behind the lie," as somebody said.

Again, I simply don't understand why movies like Goodfellas and Casino are not included in this theory.

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For me, it's Avatar.

First, the plotline is crass anti-American, anti-free Enterprise - despite being an organized corporate free enterprise creation.

Second, the 3D CGI special effects will look cheesy in 10 years or so.

Gone With The Wind (1939) used a (new for the time) zoom shot for tremendous effect, that still resonates. Avatar used supposedly new technology for no effect at all.

In 2039, people will still talk about Gone With The Wind (novel or movie). Avatar will be remembered at best as another "The Greatest Show On Earth".

I expect that in 1977, people like yourself were saying "in a couple of years, Star Wars will be forgotten and everybody will still be talking about Annie Hall" or in 1982, "E.T. will be forgotten and everybody will still be talking about Gandhi."

Certainly everybody knows Gandhi, the man, but nobody my age has seen Gandhi the best-picture award winner of 1982. While E.T. on the other hand became and remains almost universally recognized. Likewise Annie Hall... (a discussion we've had before, I'm sure...) whatever its merits as a movie, it's just some film of some year gone by, of particular interest only to film buffs and Woody Allen fans.

(I'm still amazed that Woody Allen fans even exist, but that's a different thread... that can be my contribution to the topic at hand: Woody Allen films are allegedly "well loved", but I detest them. I tried to watch Woody Allen once and was only able to make it through a few minutes before I had to go pummel my punching bag.)

There seems to be a notion among "serious" movie fans that serious movies have serious subject matter and serious actors in serious settings, and that movies that aren't "serious" just aren't as good and aren't of lasting significance. What is "good" is entirely debatable, but lasting significance is not a function of putting people in period costumes or portraying historical events or attempting to portray "real life".

Star Wars and E.T. are in the same category as Gone With The Wind, movies that have attained a status as not just popular movies but also as cultural icons. There are a few others that belong in the same category... The Wizard of Oz, It's A Wonderful Life, ...and after that you start getting into debates... maybe The Planet Of The Apes, maybe Jaws or 2001 or The Ten Commandments. Maybe "Titanic" belongs on that list too. Will "Avatar" be considered in the same category in years to come? My hunch is no, probably not... it lacks that certain something.

Many corporations do not engage in genocide. I don't think the movie denounced them.

But to interpret something that opposes genocide as anti-corporate and anti-american says more about your biases than theirs.

Indeed.

-k

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(I'm still amazed that Woody Allen fans even exist, but that's a different thread... that can be my contribution to the topic at hand: Woody Allen films are allegedly "well loved", but I detest them. I tried to watch Woody Allen once and was only able to make it through a few minutes before I had to go pummel my punching bag.)

-k

Good call. You're right, his films are acclaimed, and I have never sat through one. I've seen portions of three of them, and gave up.

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For me it was Slumdog Millionaire. The story was preposterous, and yet still predictable and dull. The setting looked like a dump, and none of the characters was worth anything.

Garbage movie, that to my mind became popular because somebody "discovered" India.

Woody Allen, though, can't be condemned across the line as he has so many different types of films. Annie Hall still stands as a great romantic comedy, while Star Wars only lingers as a commercial for an entire generation of junk plastic toys and the attendant junk plastic culture.

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Annie Hall still stands as a great romantic comedy, while Star Wars only lingers as a commercial for an entire generation of junk plastic toys and the attendant junk plastic culture.

Maybe, but August wasn't addressing artistic merit, he was addressing what people will be talking about in 30 years.

33 years later, Star Wars remains ubiquitous.

33 years later, nobody is talking about Annie Hall, except for the two of us here on this forum. Nobody my age has even seen Annie Hall. At some point in the not too distant future, those of you who were alive to remember it first-run will be few in number and the only people who've seen it will be some handful who rented it or stayed up to watch it at 2am on some high-numbered cable station.

Annie Hall may have won the "best picture" award, but it lost the "what will people remember in 30 years" award.

-k

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Nobody my age has even seen Annie Hall.

I am certainly in that camp. I have not really seen many Woody Allen films, though my Dad reflexively hates them. Strangely enough, the only memorable thing about his movies for me is that it was in one of his movies I first saw Mira Sorvino, when she was really young (and I even more so). That may seem strange to you to pick up on though, to remember a Woody Allen film for a far less well known actress. Looking her up on Wikipedia leads me to believe the film was Mighty Aphrodite, 15 years ago.

In any case, Avatar will be remembered. I do not thin August really appreciates te 3D in Avatar. I believe it is still the best use of 3D I have seen to date, and I think I have seen five or six modern 3D movies starting with when I saw Avatar. And to pre-empt possible arguments, colour film is not necessary either, but it adds richness to the film experience, especially when used skillfully. Same with 3D.

Edited by Remiel
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Maybe, but August wasn't addressing artistic merit, he was addressing what people will be talking about in 30 years.

33 years later, Star Wars remains ubiquitous.

33 years later, nobody is talking about Annie Hall, except for the two of us here on this forum. Nobody my age has even seen Annie Hall. At some point in the not too distant future, those of you who were alive to remember it first-run will be few in number and the only people who've seen it will be some handful who rented it or stayed up to watch it at 2am on some high-numbered cable station.

Annie Hall may have won the "best picture" award, but it lost the "what will people remember in 30 years" award.

-k

That may have to do with the lack of Annie, Alvy and Rob action figures with matching tennis outfits. In 100 years, Star Wars will be remembered as a bunch of toys and video games and Annie Hall will still be remembered as a great film.

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That may have to do with the lack of Annie, Alvy and Rob action figures with matching tennis outfits. In 100 years, Star Wars will be remembered as a bunch of toys and video games and Annie Hall will still be remembered as a great film.
I had never even heard of Annie Hall before reading this thread. Star Wars is part of the Western cultural narrative today along side Shakespeare, Greek Mythology and Mickey Mouse. You can attribute it to better marketing but that does not make it any less true.
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I don't recall the dumpster, but it was Casino with the beating death.

Casino and Goodfellas were both incredibly violent films, the difference being Goodfellas was a good movie, and Casino was fairly mediocre.

I'm not necessarily against gratuitous violence in a film, I enjoy Tarantino's films and they're incredibly violent.

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I had never even heard of Annie Hall before reading this thread. Star Wars is part of the Western cultural narrative today along side Shakespeare, Greek Mythology and Mickey Mouse. You can attribute it to better marketing but that does not make it any less true.

And I'm sure even less folks have heard of "Birth of a Nation" or its predecessor "A Tale of Two Cities".

For the record, I really like Star Wars but I don't think it's much good.

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For the record, I really like Star Wars but I don't think it's much good.
You are presuming there is an objective definition of 'good'. In my case, I think the star wars movies were extremely good.

That said, when evaluating the worth movies I look more at cultural impact because that is something that can be assessed by looking at actual evidence rather than opinion.

On that front I am not sure if Avatar will make much of a splash in the long run. I don't see it capturing the collective psyche in the way star wars/star trek have done. Can you think of a single memorable quote from that movie? I can't.

Edited by TimG
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That may have to do with the lack of Annie, Alvy and Rob action figures with matching tennis outfits.

If marketing and action figures could make any movie a financial goldmine, why isn't every movie a financial goldmine?

There's been a lot of movies that have been marketed heavily but tanked. There's been a lot of movies that were marketed heavily and did very well at the time but didn't ingrain themselves in the popular imagination. There's been lots of movies that had toys and action figures and video games and were forgotten a year later.

In 100 years, Star Wars will be remembered as a bunch of toys and video games and Annie Hall will still be remembered as a great film.

Remembered by who?

-k

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On that front I am not sure if Avatar will make much of a splash in the long run. I don't see it capturing the collective psyche in the way star wars/star trek have done. Can you think of a single memorable quote from that movie? I can't.

I think you're right. All of the movies that have attained cinematic immortality have some aspect that's instantly memorable. With Avatar, it doesn't really have that... it's big draw was the ambiance, the magic of being transported to a different world for a couple of hours. Future films will provide the same thing and do it better.

-k

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I think you're right. All of the movies that have attained cinematic immortality have some aspect that's instantly memorable. With Avatar, it doesn't really have that... it's big draw was the ambiance, the magic of being transported to a different world for a couple of hours. Future films will provide the same thing and do it better.

-k

I think it's a little too early to tell what Avatar's outlook as a major touchstone film will be. If the sequels do as well as the Star Wars sequels did, then it wouldn't surprise me if it approached that level of long-term cultural popularity.

Still, I was five years old when Star Wars came out, and I still remember going to the theater with my dad to watch it, and remember my dad and other people saying "Oh... wow..." For me, as a child of that era, Star Wars represented a major cultural force. Kids my age literally ate, slept, breathed and sh***ed Star Wars. We had the action figures, we debated who was the better pilot, Han Solo or Luke Skywalker. Looking on the movie now, it's obviously a pretty flimsy adventure story, a lot of corny dialog, the acting, even from an actor who would become a major heavyweight; Harrison Ford, not exactly first rate. But almost, it seems to me, it doesn't matter. You didn't watch Star Wars for Shakespearean dialog, you watched it because it was the biggest film around, a special effects monster of a film with light sabers and a bad-ass evil guy.

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