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.