This week’s Five takes a look at hyped-up movies from which we didn’t take the bait.
Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine’s quirky family was sickeningly designed to appeal to an ironic hipster sensibility. I would classify this as “dysfunctional family porn,” replete with tongue-in-cheek little girl pageant. Ugh. That it was nominated for Best Picture and earned all sorts of praise, only made it more sickening.
The whole hoot-and-carouse of fall 2002 was The Ring, a Naomi Watts vehicle remaking a J-horror classic (?) that purported to be “no, like, really scary, I haven’t been that scared in awhile, man, it’s really scary” effective.
It’s not. It’s stupid. Wasn’t there a sequel? Goodness.
The Bond reboot was universally well-liked, but to me seemed like a humorless retread of all the things the Bourne movies did better, an attempt to capitalize on the Texas Hold ‘Em poker craze, and a lame love story all in one. Daniel Craig was pretty dece though.
Any movie that tramples on so many good songs with such carelessness deserves absolute scorn. Instead, Moulin Rouge became insanely popular once it came out on DVD. Is this where Glee started? If so, there’s one more strike against this gaudy desecration of everything that can be good about pop music.
The hullaballoo around Fight Club has ebbed somewhat in recent years, or perhaps it feels that way because I’m not in college. People still rave about it, though, and “from the director of Fight Club” still happens despite the fact that master director David Fincher has made three far superior films since. At this point, Club is the one smudge on Fincher’s record for me–unfeeling, hyper-stylistic, all winks and nods and nudges and just toeing over the line, the line of what, really? Anti-capitalist alpha-malery? Nihilistic social satire? Satires are supposed to be funny. Oh, but they turn the liposuction fat into soap, it’s so clever!
“Asinine” is not a synonym for “clever.”
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
This movie takes manic pixie dream girl to new heights. It very nearly takes being overrated to new heights, and has paved the way for even more precious po-mo garbage to come.
The critique on consumer culture is lost in a movie that is as slick as any of the products that it targets. Fight Club is a cool movie to like, even if you don’t understand it (which is the case with many people). Like Natural Born Killers, Fight Club is a movie that loses its force by appealing to the very things it wants to destroy. It’s an entertaining film, and well-intentioned, but ultimately it’s sort of disgusting.
Gladiator beat out Traffic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Erin Brockovich for 2000’s Best Picture Oscar. Each of those films is better than Gladiator, a hackneyed Braveheart retread that features great work from plenty of actors who deserve far better than such sandy-shot dreck.
You guys like vistas? This movie’s got vistas. (The same goes for my feelings about pretty much every David Lean movie, except Bridge on the River Kwai.)
Humor is largely a matter of taste. You can’t account for what makes someone laugh; either you laugh or you don’t. That said, I really need someone to explain to me what exactly was funny about Napoleon Dynamite. In nearly 10 years of obsessive film viewing, Napoleon Dynamite is in a select group of films that I actually wanted to walk out on. I regret now that I didn’t.
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story is a terrible movie. It is not funny. It never was. It never will be. Neither is it cute, nor charming. It just fucking sucks. That’s it and that’s all.
Maybe you had to be there (as in, the sixties, with lots of drugs).
2001: A Space Odyssey
Is it innovative? Is it ambitious? Yes. It’s got big themes and it’s stood the test of time. Most people would say that it’s Kubrick’s best film. Too bad it’s a snooze-fest of dated sci-fi effects (that we’re impressive for their time), over long abstract sequences (the voyage to Jupiter), and an obtuse and ultimately meaningless ending. Trim the movie down to the section with HAL-9000, and you’ve might have something. As it is, 2001 is an overlong tone-poem to sophomoric philosophy. Maybe if I were into acid…
Synecdoche, New York
Home for the holidays and weary of wine, I hunkered down to Cincinnati’s semi-esteemed (link to censorship story) Esquire Theatre for a movie, any movie. The best of the pickings, I thought, was Synecdoche. I bought a ticket and ducked next door to an insufferable coffee house for a takeaway. A friend in a similar situation in another state texted, curious if I was up to anything remarkable. I responded with my choice of movie.
“No,” he responded. “Don’t go. Don’t do it. Terrible.”
I told him I’d already purchased the ticket. He kept it up, more impassioned with each text. I took a seat in the theater and pooh-poohed the whole thing. (The friend in question detests Wonder Boys.)
I texted him a mea culpa within about twelve minutes or so. From the theater. Only time I’ve ever done that.
God, this movie is horrific.
2001: A Space Odyssey
I’ve never been able to make it through this “thoughtful sci-fi meditation on blah-blah-blah” in one sitting, so it’s probably not fair to hate it since I’ve only seen it in chunks. But I will anyway. Apparently there exists a 23-hour cut of it somewhere, as opposed to one that just seems that long.