Five For Friday: Flicks the world loves that we don’t so much

This week’s Five takes a look at hyped-up movies from which we didn’t take the bait.

5

Nathan:

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.

Tyler:

The Ring

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.

Travis:

Casino Royale

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.

4.

Nathan:

Moulin Rouge

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.

Tyler:

Fight Club

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.”

Travis:

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.

3

Nathan:

Fight Club

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 KillersFight 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.

Tyler:

Gladiator

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.

Travis:

Doctor Zhivago

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.)

2

Nathan:

Napoleon Dynamite

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.

Tyler:

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.

“Fra-gee-lay?”  Death.

Travis:

Easy Rider

Maybe you had to be there (as in, the sixties, with lots of drugs).

1

Nathan:

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…

Tyler:

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.

Travis:

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.

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5 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Flicks the world loves that we don’t so much

  1. Casino Royale wasn’t fun at all. That was my big beef with it. James Bond movies are supposed to be a little silly and sexy. CR was neither of those things. It was a drag. Quantum of Solace (worst Bond title ever?) was even worse, though.

    Travis, if you’re not into David Lean’s epic films, you might try some of his early stuff. They’re shockingly economical in comparison to his later work. Brief Encounter is my favorite movie of his. It clocks in at a brisk 86 minutes.

    Since we have two Charlie Kaufmann movies on here, what do ya’ll think of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich? I’m a fan of everything he’s done except Human Nature and Synechdoche, NY.

    Also, do people really like Easy Rider anymore?

  2. Man, y’all are down on Casino Royale something fierce. I love that movie. I don’t know where the “humorless” charge fits in–there’s tons of little moments that make me smile (Bond knocking over the parking barrier, the banter between Craig and Eva Green on the train, Dench’s tart little M drop-ins). Sure, there’s some bullshit trendiness going on (fucking parkour), but Bond movies have always been trendy (and usually late to the game). Just the same, I like Quantum just fine, stupid title and all, as it’s basically a placeholder extension of CR while they gear up for a mega third installment. Will Q and Moneypenny make it back? I’m excited to find out.

    My favorite Kaufman remains Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, and it’s a steep drop from there. I “loved” Malkovich and Adaptation when they came out, but I was posing. I’m never in the mood to watch those movies. Even the humor is smarm-ass I’m Charlie Kaufman And I’m Smarter Than You (Albeit Miserable) humor.

  3. I probably would not have had the same reaction to Casino Royale if, before seeing it, I hadn’t heard so much “Pants, meet shit! Bond is back and BADDER THAN EVER” praise about the new “gritty” style. To me, it was a movie that failed because it didn’t know what it wanted to be. Did it want to be a Bond movie (with all the winks and nods you mention, Tyler) or did it want to really recharge the franchise by returning Bond to the cold-blooded, borderline unsympathetic assassin of the books? I would have been all for humorlessness (and I maintain it is humorless, at least to me) if they went full-blown, R-rated, cold-blooded, actual sex-and-violence action.

    I guess nobody really does like Easy Rider anymore. I just couldn’t think of another one off the top of my head.

    And as for Charley Kaufman, I really don’t like anything he’s done. I was amused by the first half of Being John Malkovich and turned off by Adaptation. I only ended up seeing Eternal Sunshine because it was billed to me as “the Charley Kaufman movie for people who didn’t like his other ones.” I understand its appeal, it’s just way not for me. I’ve come to terms later in life that my movie taste is pretty much meat and potatoes.

    I agree with pretty much every other choice on the list. Little Miss Sunshine is so sweet and quirky it makes my teeth hurt, I don’t have the boner for Fight Club many other people seem to, and Napoleon Dynamite was definitely not for me. Moulin Rouge is annoying, and I strongly assume I would REALLY hate Metonymy New Jersey.

    I don’t have a problem with Christmas Story, though. I’ve never seen The Ring, but I have seen the Japanese version, and found absolutely nothing scary about it.

  4. Excellent and fair points about several of my favorite movies. Though how can you dislike Doctor Zhivago–it’s Chief Justice John Robert’s favorite film! A Christmas Story is easily the best Christmas movie, and it’s an even better representation of what it’s like to be a kid. You forget how seriously you take everything as a kid (the BB gun, the Orphan Annie Decoder Ring, the fight with the bully). From the perspective of a kid, these things are of global importance. And the adults in your life are completely oblivious to these micro-crises. They can just go out and buy the damn thing. This movie captures this aspect of childhood better than most. (Plus, it provides a convenient parking space on TBS when nothing else is on.)

  5. Pingback: Five For Friday: Flicks we love that the world don’t so much « Fully Reconditioned

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