We’ve all got our little flaws, our secret shames — or not so secret, if we’re going to be talking about them. Nostra at My Film Views is organizing a Movie Confessions Blog-a-thon, with a set of thirteen questions about our movie viewing habits so we movie bloggers can get a few things off our chests. Or let other people point and laugh at us, whichever, it’s all good. Since I thought this sounded like a fun idea, here are my answers to Nostra’s questions.
Which classic movie don’t you like/can’t enjoy and why?
Easy Rider. It has good actors. It’s beautifully shot. The musical soundtrack is both terrific and incredibly appropriate. But like virtually all movies, it’s driven by its plot… and its plot is mind-numbingly dull and goes nowhere. Most of the film consists of two or three guys riding motorcycles. Not racing, not doing anything interesting; just riding. Most of the other scenes are unimportant and are equally dull and uninspired. I’ve been told, in its defense, that “you had to be there”. Well, I wasn’t, and I don’t think that’s much of a defense; it’s essentially the same as saying the movie is dated. But in truth I have trouble believing I would have enjoyed it even if I had been there.
I should also mention How Green Was My Valley, as perhaps the only film I couldn’t stay awake all the way through. I found myself nodding off about an hour into it, and decided sleep was more appealing than trying to watch a film that, up to that point, was fairly tedious. I’ll probably give it a proper chance one day — I feel that its critical acclaim warrants I at least have its full measure — but I’m not optimistic. Even though I was tired that day, I shouldn’t have had trouble staying awake during a film if it was any good at all. For goodness sake, I stayed awake through The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle after being up for 36 hours.
On at least one criterion, this film has bested How Green Was My Valley.
Which ten classic movies haven’t you seen yet?
The difficulty here isn’t finding ten, it’s narrowing it down to ten. You might notice that I mostly review “new to me” movies here, and that a great many of them are classic films, or films that most people are expected to have seen some time ago. So I decided to cherry-pick some films from my list, to give a bit of a range of my cinematic ignorance.
1. Apocalypse Now
2. The Breakfast Club
3. Citizen Kane
4. Dr. No
5. It’s a Wonderful Life
6. The Man Who Knew Too Much (either version)
7. A Night at the Opera
9. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
10. The Ten Commandments
We’ll just jot these down here.
Have you ever sneaked into another movie at the cinema?
Nope. I’ve only been slightly tempted, and that only just to see if I could do it. And I’m pretty sure I could, since the theatres around here don’t seem to really pay much attention once you’re past the ticket booth. So there wouldn’t be any challenge, which would be the main appeal. And in truth, it is seldom that there are two movies that I strongly want to see in the theatre at the same time.
Which actor/actress do you think is overrated?
Ben Stiller. I’ll admit I’ve only seen three films with him in it — four if you count Madagascar — but I don’t get the appeal. And since two of those were among his bigger hits — There’s Something About Mary and Meet the Parents (the third was Mystery Men) — you would think that if there was something there I would have seen it. But I don’t see it. I’ll grant, I don’t like a lot of modern comedies — but even if I don’t laugh at what they’re doing, I see the potential in Will Ferrell and Steve Carell. I don’t see it in Ben Stiller. He has almost no emotional range as an actor; if he’s called on to do anything but act stupefied, he seems unnatural. And for a comedic actor, his sense of comic timing and comic delivery are seriously lacking. So I’m left looking at a comedic actor who can’t act and isn’t funny, but somehow lands the lead in a lot of very popular comedies. I will say, however, that the interrogation scene in There’s Something About Mary was funny; I’ll give him that.
From which big director have you never seen any movie (and why)?
Roman Polanski. I’ll admit it started out as just happenstance; with a “need to see” list as long as mine, there are going to be a few directors whose entire bodies of work are overlooked (I haven’t seen anything by Terrence Malick either). But with Polanski, it’s going to stay that way for a while. I don’t like to get political on this blog, and in most cases I try to separate the creator’s issues from the value of their creation. But he’s a fugitive from justice for raping a minor, and he’s remaining active as a director so it would appear he’s not unable to access the proceeds from his films. I don’t feel right supporting him even by implication, even by the thousandth of a cent that my viewing of one of his films might hypothetically benefit him. I gather some of his films are great. I’ll find out for myself when he’s in prison or dead. I can wait.
Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?
OK, back to something a little less serious. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I loved them, but I enjoyed both Last Action Hero (RottenTomatoes rating 38%) and Johnny Mnemonic (11% — ouch!) And I think I may have been the only person to give John Carter five stars. I’m OK with being that guy. None of these are perfect movies, but they’re all a lot of fun — and John Carter in particular was better than people gave it credit for.
Have you ever been “one of those annoying people” at the cinema?
Not to the best of my knowledge. I don’t even carry a cell phone right now, but when I did, I turned it completely off before I even sat down. I don’t come in late to the theatre, I don’t get up and go to the restroom in the middle of it. I don’t talk during the film either. I do have a tendency to hog the arm rests, though.
Did you ever watch a movie, which you knew in advance would be bad, just because of a specific actor/actress was in it? Which one and why?
Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs. In truth, this applies to a lot of Vincent Price movies. Many of them are bad, and it’s often easy to tell before I start watching them. But Vincent Price is always fun to watch even if the movie itself is terrible.
Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles?
It has never been the sole factor, but if I’m on the fence about watching a movie? Yeah, that can tip me over to the side of not watching it. I do find subtitles a bit distracting, so if I’m feeling fairly ambivalent about a movie to begin with, it doesn’t take much more for me to decide I’d probably enjoy watching something else more.
Are there any movies in your collection that you have had for more than five years and never watched?
Nope. In fact, it’s fairly unusual for me to have a movie in my collection for more than five months without watching it.
Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?
That would be Morons From Outer Space and Alien From L.A. They’re still around because, well, why not? They’re bad, but they’re comically bad, and it’s not as though a DVD takes up all that much space. I also own a copy of Constantine; it’s actually not half bad, and it was cheaper to buy it than to rent it at the time I picked it up. A few months ago, the answer would have been Manos: the Hands of Fate (the worst movie in anybody’s collection), but my copy was on VHS and, since my VCR died last November, I have gotten rid of my cassettes.
Do you have any confessions about your movie watching setup at home?
My computer is a better movie watching setup than my television. My TV is still a standard-definition “square” screen. It does have a good stereo speaker setup, though. But my computer has a nice widescreen monitor (not big, but big enough for the purpose), and has a 5.1 surround sound speaker setup.
Any other confessions you want to make?
This goes back to the “unseen classics” question a bit, but is broader in scope. See, when I say I’ve got a movie on my “need to see” list, I am not in any way speaking metaphorically. I have such a list, and have had for about fifteen years now. I started compiling it when the AFI first put out their original top 100 list. It contains any movie that I personally think I need to see at some point — for whatever reason. Some of them are classic movies; some are so-bad-they’re-good cult classics. Some of them are popular films within a genre, some are pop culture touchstones. Sometimes they’re films by a particular actor or director that I like. The thing is… a list like this has a tendency to grow more than it shrinks. Right now, the list is at 744 movies. Even if I don’t count sequels to other items on the list, it’s at 565. I could watch a movie from this list every day for two years, and it would still have a few entries on it — and that’s if I didn’t come up with anything else to put on the list. Now here’s the real confession: for every film I watch that’s on the list, I watch about ten that aren’t. That’s just how it works out when you take your viewing opportunities as they come. If I’m going to see every movie that I want to see, it’s going to take years.
Cool! Some thoughts: I don’t love Easy Rider, and as a movie it’s very flawed, but I find it interesting in a historical way. How Green Was My Valley is the film that beat Citizen Kane for Best Picture, right? Yeah, I’m already inclined to dislike it when I eventually see it. I’ve seen the first five films on your list, and Psycho. They’re all worth watching, though I’m not the biggest Apocalypse Now fan. I’m not a Stiller fan either, though I liked him in The Royal Tenenbaums. I understand your resistance to Polanski’s work, but I do enjoy a number of his films. I also have movie lists.
Anyway, great post.
Thanks, Dan. And yes, How Green Was My Valley was the film that was awarded Best Picture over Citizen Kane. That, as much as anything, is why I’m determined to give it another chance — just so that I’ll be able to give a complete evaluation of both films so I know just how far the Academy “got it wrong”. Glad I’m not the only one on Ben Stiller.
Got to second that dislike for Easy Rider Morgan. It didn’t float my boat either.
Glad to know I’m not alone on that one… the thing is, other than the plot, I can see why it gets so much critical acclaim. It’s very well done. But it’s as dull as watching paint dry.
I totally agree. I can’t fault it’s style or it’s free thinking message but I was thoroughly bored during it. I’ve tried several times to see what I might be missing but every time I’m still left with feelings of… meh! Nicholson was the best thing for me.
Yeah, Nicholson was moderately entertaining in it.
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This was fun to read through! I’ve got some of the same thoughts as you! I LOVED John Carter. I encourage you to be sure to check out The Ten Commandments and Star Trek II. Although I haven’t seen Psycho myself either.
Yeah, Ben Stiller doesn’t do much for me, but I did enjoy Zoolander. It made me laugh. ha.
(and if you ever watch a Terrence Malick film, just don’t start with Tree of Life.)
Yeah, I remember it was pretty much you and me against the world on John Carter, ha ha. I’ll definitely check out all the films I mentioned above… not sure exactly when, of course, but it’ll happen.
And considering even the positive reviews for Tree of Life emphasize how inaccessible it can be, I’m probably going to stay far away from that one.
I haven’t seen 6 out of the 10 classics you mentioned, but oh man you need to see 10 Commandments and It’s A Wonderful Life!
I actually gave John Carter 4/5, it’s really not a terrible film the way the critics made it out to be. I even like Kitsch’s performance despite my initial doubt about his acting skills.
Yeah, I know. I’ll get to them all eventually. I am hoping to knock It’s a Wonderful Life off the list this Christmas, but we’ll see.
I think a lot of the problems with John Carter‘s reception had to do with the very poor marketing campaign. I don’t think people went into it aware that it was old-school “pulp” science fiction, and so their expectations were off.
Yep, the marketing is just horrid. I mean I watched the trailer and it did not make me want to see it at all. It’s not until a few people told me it’s good that I gave it a shot and I’m glad I did.
I think “the marketing is horrid” is the one thing all the John Carter reviewers agreed on. For my part, I was just astounded that it wasn’t until the end of the ad campaign that they started busting out things like “From the author of Tarzan” and pointing out that the John Carter of Mars stories were the inspiration for everything from Star Wars to Avatar. Totally mishandled.
I feel the same way you do about Roman Polanski. I generally don’t let my feelings about an individual color my perception of his work, but in this case, I just can’t bring myself to watch his movies. And I’m surprised so many people are willing to defend him. I laughed out loud at the title Morons from Outer Space. I never heard of it, but the title is priceless. 🙂
Thanks for the support on Polanski… I normally adhere to the “separate the creator from the creation” theory, but there’s a line. I can’t fathom why so many people defend him… what he did should be as indefensible as it gets.
The title is exactly why I picked up Morons From Outer Space; a title like that, you know it’s going to be bad, but it might be bad in an entertaining way (and for what it’s worth, it was.) 😀
Thanks for chiming in, Stephanie!
I’m currently writing my confessions and Polanski would have been my director except for The Ghost. I’m with you though – I can’t understand why everyone thinks he’s so hard done by. Perhaps if he had returned to the US and served his time I’d be more willing to watch his work but as it is I’m shocked that so many people are rushing to defend a man who committed one of the worst crimes going.
I agree, it would be a little different if he had actually faced justice for his crime. The fact that so many people, especially in Hollywood, seem to be willing to overlook his pedophilia is just repulsive.
Interesting article, I still need to see some of the classics you have listed
I imagine most people are going to have some overlap on unseen classics. After all, few of us were around to watch all of them when they first came out.
Morgan I am really digging reading this feature on blogs right now. My favorite part is usually the classics unseen and your list is no exception. So have you seen other Star Trek films but not Wrath of Kahn? Secondly, how do you mangage avoiding it’s a Wonderful Life around Christmas time, are you watching an endless loop of A Christmas Story instead? Lastly, this not carrying a cell phone thing, how do you manage to pull that off and will you be blogging about it?
I’ve seen Star Trek I, IV, VI (though I don’t remember it clearly), Generations, First Contact, and 2009. Fortunately a strict adherence to chronological release order doesn’t seem to matter much.
I’ve managed to not see It’s a Wonderful Life because my father doesn’t like the film, and got really sick of it due to a friend of his being very fond of it. So I didn’t see it when it was in the public domain (the legal status of this film is more than a little peculiar), and now that it’s not, it’s nowhere near as ubiquitous as it used to be.
As for the cell phone, it’s just a matter of not wanting to spend the money on it right now. I probably should have one, just for emergencies, but that’s all I ever used one for in the first place.
YES about Ben Stiller. The only film I can manage him in is Dodgeball, but that’s because I love everything else enough in that film, I can ignore him. I didn’t ‘get’ Tropic Thunder too. Anything Ben Stiller, I just avoid.
Last Action Hero was on TV here the other day. I couldn’t help but watch it.
Thanks for the support on Ben Stiller! 😀 And Last Action Hero is just fun.
“John Carter” is a good movie. I like “Last Action Hero” as well, and I find it very watchable.
All right, more support! 😀 Thanks, Victor!
I hear you about your last confession. I don’t have a specific list per se, just a smattering of films in at least three different queues + a pretty sizable stack of DVDs. Every time I watch something from Netflix, for example, I end up finding three random movies to replace it with. I don’t see this list ending anytime soon. 🙂
You shouldn’t feel too bad about your neglected classics. I just saw Dr. No for the first time last month (only my second Bond film!), and I only saw It’s a Wonderful Life and Psycho for the first time last year. Hell, I didn’t even see Back to the Future until last summer. I don’t know how that happens.
Fun post, Morgan. Enjoyed reading your thoughts.
Thanks, Eric. I don’t feel too bad about the neglected classics; I figure, it’s not like I was around when a lot of them came out, so it’s only natural that I wouldn’t have seen them. Even with those I have been around and old enough for, there’s always something else jockeying for attention.
1) For your must see list of classics, Dr. No and Star Trek 2 will definitely be worth it.
2) Polanski should be a very talented inmate.
3) I like Stiller but alas his range is not broad, however I do feel he plays the put upon everyman decently including getting incensed like in Meet the Parents on the plane.
This is a fine post.
Thank you, S. I love the phrasing on your second point. 😀
I don’t think I ever saw Easy Rider, doesn’t seem that interesting to me, but I guess I should at least give it a try.
Looking at the movies you haven’t seen I would pick Psycho as the first one to check out.
I can understand you feelings about Stiller. He does seem to play the same character in each movie he’s in. Maybe except for his role in Greenberg (a movie I really did not like). I do like him in various movies (like Zoolander) though 🙂
Strong opinion about Polanski. Guess you could download one of his movies, that way he won’t make money off it?
I loved Last Action Hero too, that movie never gets boring. Didn’t see Johnny Mnemonic, but my sister loved it (she was a big Keanu Reeves fan). I also liked John Carter 🙂
Interesting, that “Need to see” list, I also kind of keep track of movies I really want to see and it just keeps growing.
Even though I didn’t like Easy Rider, I will say it’s certainly one to try. I found it dull, but others may certainly disagree. And it is well done.
Psycho… one of these days, certainly. I’ve enjoyed most of the Hitchcock films I’ve seen, so it’s definitely one I’m anticipating.
It’s nice to see so much support for John Carter… when it came out, I felt a little alone in liking it so much since I just kept seeing nearly everybody bashing it. 😀