You know that awful feeling when you don't like a film that has received unanimous critical and popular acclaim? You're sitting around with your friends, and they're talking about how great it is, and you don't know whether to pipe up with your opinion and risk being ridiculed and ostracized. Well, I am about to take that risk, and share with you movies that I am "supposed" to like, but don't - and why. Hopefully none of you know where I live. WARNING: Spoilers follow.
- Children of Men
Why I should have liked it: Several Oscar nominations, solid cast, promise of a good story.
Why I didn't: As promised, this film delivered amazing cinematography and visuals - I can't deny that. And I was very intrigued by the premise that woman worldwide suddenly became infertile and the human race risked extinction. Too bad they didn't flesh out that idea AT ALL. I wasn't looking for a scientific play-by-play of why...I just wanted them to explore it more. The film, despite praise for its provocative rendering of the future, is so minimalistic and unexplained that it's basically a glorified road/chase movie. A girl becomes miraculously pregnant (again, no reason given) and Clive Owen and Co. have to smuggle her to The Human Project, which they don't explain either. The characters get killed off carelessly. Julianne Moore, whose character shows promise and an interesting backstory with Owen's, dies unceremoniously about 8 minutes into her screen time. That, my friend, is a waste of Julianne Moore. Michael Caine gets offed too, and Clive-dawg dies right at the end. I get it. These individuals have to die so mankind can survive. What's that vague throbbing pain I feel? Oh, it's this movie whacking me violently over the head with its message. Plus, they just show the pregnant girl (who has since given birth to her baby) arriving at a boat that supposedly contains members of The Human Project. They don't even show her getting on the boat! I kept thinking how funny it would be if the boat didn't see her and left. Maybe her baby is sickly (um hello, it was about six weeks premature and spent the first couple of days of its life in a war zone) and it dies the second she gets on the boat. Oops, sorry, human race.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Why I should have liked it: Won the coveted 5-Oscar sweep (Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay), inclusion in the AFI Top 100, Jack Nicholson finally channeling his craziness into a movie about a mental institution.
Why I didn't: You'd think that a movie about crazy people would have a lot of energy, but this film just seemed lethargic to me. Maybe it's the 3-hour running time. You see, I have a short attention span. I am not opposed to long movies, but if it goes for one nanosecond over two hours, it better be fucking captivating. I had absolutely no problem with Gone With the Wind being four hours long, because I feel that every minute was entertaining and justified. But a film this slow and psychological just can't be this long. Plus, everyone's obsessed with Louise Fletcher's performance as Nurse Ratched (for which she won an Oscar) but I wasn't terribly impressed. She just reminded me of my uptight 11th-grade chemistry teacher who really needed to get laid.
Why I should have liked it: It's a universally praised 1931 German thriller by Fritz Lang starring Peter Lorre as a child killer! Fun!
Why I didn't: Seriously though, I was kind of excited to watch this. It let me down. In fact, I only got through about 30-45 minutes. Petey didn't even show up til pretty far in, so it was just a bunch of unknown German actors running around with mild concern because they couldn't find their kids. I could see that at a playground. Maybe it gets better later on, but I don't know if I can sit through enough to find out.
- Blade Runner
Why I should have liked it: Hailed by some as the greatest sci-fi movie ever, just got included in the revamped AFI Top 100 list, cult favorite.
Why I didn't: In the film's defense, I think its 78 different versions hurt it. Okay, there's only about 6, but that's still a few too many versions. I saw the director's cut, just because it was the version available to rent. I did think that the futuristic vision of L.A. was pretty cool. But Harrison Ford's acting ineptitude is just unbearable to watch. I recently read an article that accused Ford of constantly having his mouth hanging open to look dramatic and pensive. It's painful. He shows the dramatic range of celery. The still unanswered question as to whether Ford's character is a replicant is also problematic. It'd be fine to just leave it open, but Ridley Scott and Ford keep having these arguments about it (Scott allegedly said he was a replicant; Ford said that he and Scott had explicitly agreed that he wasn't) that I think weaken the film. The love story seems forced, and Daryl Hannah's character is just fuckin weird. Sorry, Blade Runner.
- Lord of the Rings
Why I should have liked it: The third one won best picture and got included in the new AFI Top 100, film snobs and Tolkien nerds alike hold it in high regard
Why I didn't: I only saw the first one, but I already know I couldn't deal with the other two. I think to fully enjoy them, you have to have a huge boner for the books, or at least the characters. I didn't. We read "The Hobbit" in 7th grade and I was not impressed (although I did deliver a stunning performance as Thorin in our class' movie adaptation). Also, I am not interested in movies with such an epic scope. Whether it's the Civil War or Middle Earth, I don't like wrapping my brain around that much in one movie. I prefer movies that focus on the lives of just a few people. When Return of the King won Best Picture in 2003, resulting in a united asthmatic wheeze of joy from nerds everywhere, I found it strange that among its numerous nominations, there was not a single acting nomination. How do you have a strong movie without good acting?
- My Fair Lady
Why I should have liked it: Won Best Picture and Best Actor, inclusion in the AFI Top 100, my undying love for musicals.
Why I didn't: The movie should really be called "An Hour of Audrey Hepburn Screaming, Followed By a Forced Love Story." Seriously, the beginning of this film made me want to honorably retire my ears. I get it, she's a Cockney flower girl - but I didn't know that "Cockney flower girl" was synonymous with "autistic indecipherable screaming bitch." Once Rex Harrison's character "tames" her, she falls for him. Because if there's one thing women love, it's men that spend months torturing and ridiculing them until they have proper grammar. At the end, AuHeps runs away, decides she loves him, and goes back, and then it ends with him telling her to get him his slippers. Great. A blissful life of chauvinistic domination awaits her. Oh, and did I mention that it's 3 hours long?
- The Sting
Why I should have liked it: It won Best Picture in 1973, and it stars Robert Redford and Paul Newman.
Why I didn't: I made it through about an hour. It's all fine and good, but I realized the problem - it has no oomph. It was in the drama section at the video store, but it's not dramatic. It's not that funny either. It's not really action-packed. It was just kind of matter-of-fact, like someone describing their day at work. That's not what I want from movies. Oh, and I think I was expecting Paul Newman to look as delicious as he did in the 1950s. Damn aging!
Why I should have liked it: I liked Alexander Payne's other directing work, Oscar for best adapted screenplay, seemingly indie and quirky.
Why I didn't: I saw this in the theater, and perhaps my impression of it is tainted because I was new to driving at the time and got terribly lost on the way home. Anyway, this must have come out amongst a sea of pure cinematic crap, because it got hailed as the most unique and indie thing of all time. It's not. Writer/director Alexander Payne is very hit or miss. He wrote the (adapted) screenplays for Election and About Schmidt...but he also wrote the screenplays for Jurassic Park III and some softcore porn. Hm. Thoms Haden Church's character is fun, but Paul Giamatti's character in this is just plain unlikeable. He's a grumpy, frumpy, whiny alcoholic. As we all know, women totally go gaga for men like that, and Maya (Virginia Madsen) is no exception. Except...no. That would never happen. The part where I really threw up in my mouth a little, though, is when Maya and Miles (Giamatti) are talking about pinot wine, during a Deep Moment of Mutual Sharing. What transpires here is a Blatant Comparison of Miles to Pinot As Written By A Developmentally Delayed Third Grader. "Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression"?!?! Oh wait, you guys, see, like, Miles is socially challenged, so I think A. Payne is actually talking about MILES here and saying you have to be patient with him or something. WHOA.
Why I should have liked it: I like Woody Allen, and this is hailed as one of his best.
Why I didn't: I don't like watching Woody Allen carry on a relationship with a 17-year-old for two hours. It was just too creepy - and prophetic. Plus, the entire movie was just really depressing, but then Muriel Hemingway says some catchy happy bullshit at the very end and it's all better? Not.
Why I should have liked it: I'd never met a Hitchcock movie I didn't like, it soared up the AFI list this time around.
Why I didn't: I don't know. Something just didn't click with me. I found the plot confusing, the characters unsympathetic, the ending weird. I know I am probably alone here.
So there you have it. I have probably made many enemies here today, but hopefully I've also made some friends who can sympathize with the feeling of not liking a popular movie. What movies tickle everyone's fancy but yours? Comments welcome, but please don't try to convert me to liking the above selections. Live and let live, people.