Sunday, January 31, 2010

Films That Just Didn't Work For Me

A List of Films That I Don't Recommend (ignoring the obvious)

Akira (1990) – Legendary and groundbreaking, they say. I agree, yet somehow it didn’t grab me as it should have.

Bringing Up Baby (1938) – Said to be one of the greatest comedies of all time. I must have missed something.

The Departed (2006) – What many saw as a tight drama, I saw as a film with severe pacing issues. In addition, there’s a subplot involving a package that goes nowhere, a love story that’s never quite believable, and a killing that turns one of the film’s heroes into a murderer for no other reason than the apparent belief that Americans can’t handle seeing the bad guys win.

The English Patient (1996) – Neither of the relationships in the film are well-developed, but at least one of them seems heartfelt. I simply didn’t buy Ralph Fiennes’ relationship with Kristen Scott Thomas. Their love sprouts during a moment that the film elects not to show us, and without that moment, their sudden romantic feelings seem odd, especially considering Fiennes non-sentimental character.

Gladiator (2000) – Once you see Joaquin Phoenix fantasizing about what he will do when the crown is his, you sense that you know exactly where the film is going, and unfortunately, you’re not wrong.

Hannibal (2001) – Who knew a known serial killer missing a hand could board a commercial jet so easily? Perhaps even more puzzling, why does Agent Starling spend the first half of the film listening to old conversations between her and Lector? Isn’t she supposed to be conducting an investigation?

Inland Empire (2006) - I was pretty sure I understood what was going on for the first forty-five minutes of David Lynch's 2006 brain twister, but then suddenly nothing made sense anymore, and the film still has two hours to go. It was a very long two hours.

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) - It's hard to say just where Kill Bill lost me, for it began extremely well. However, as the film went on, as the violence was ratcheted up and the fight scenes prolonged to such an extent that they grew tiring, I found myself more frustrated by the film than intrigued by it. The film is essentially half of a story, and to make matters worse, it's the least interesting part, for what can possibly happen to our hero if she has to survive to be in the second part? The film's final line, intended to evoke gasps of surprise and shock, left me feeling disappointed. That was it?

The Matrix (1999) – What starts out as a clever film in which Neo begins to question the nature of reality itself quickly dissolves into an origin film and then a rescue film. Rarely has a film with such impressive special effects been such an utter bore.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) – Great music does not make a movie great.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – Johnny Depp does everything in this movie except convince me that Jack Sparrow is the kind of captain that anyone in their right mind would follow. Without that, the character - and unfortunately the film itself – simply doesn’t work.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) – In the rush to praise this film as one of the most stunning war films of all time, many reviewers made sure to mention how real the opening scene was, while saying nothing about how silly some of the later scenes were – for example, the German pleading for his life by mentioning his love for Hollywood actors, soldiers sitting in the middle of a road waiting for the Germans to attack while blasting classical music for all to hear, and Tom Hanks revealing his job just as his men are starting to break down. To add to that, a character that had been a coward throughout the film was suddenly redeemed after he shot and killed an unarmed German soldier – not exactly heroic. Finally, the scenes of the war are sandwiched between two of the clunkiest bookends I’ve ever seen in a supposed masterpiece.

Spider-Man (2002) – Like most origin films, if you knew going into the theater how Peter Parker became Spider-Man, you were in for a rather boring first hour. The second half of the film was simply predictable.

Star Trek XI (2009) – Critics and fans heaped mountains of praise on J.J. Abrams reboot of the popular series. However, the first adventure of the new-old crew was remarkable for its lack of suspense. The members of the crew that audiences were familiar with were in absolutely no danger, so when Kirk, Sulu, and a completely expendable third character leap out of the enterprise to blow up a large drill-like explosive, it’s not hard to predict which one of the three will not be coming back. Moreover, too many scenes resemble scenes from the original Star Wars trilogy.

Tobacco Road (1941) - As I watched this film, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the way the film seemed to be presenting the worst in its lead characters. Jeeter Lester and his family seems to have no manners, no class, no sense of politeness, and no drive. Some of this is understandable, as the Depression has certainly been harsh to them, yet even when he is offered a chance at rebuilding his life, he doesn't seem to take it. Watching Ellie May Lester (Gene Tierney) distract someone just so her family could steal a vegetable from him was off-putting to say the least.

The Usual Suspects (1995) – If everything we see is a lie, what’s the point in watching it?

Titanic (1997) – The bookends and the immediate appearance of the older Rose drain the film of any suspense it might have had later. Plus. the film contains many scenes that were lifted almost word for word from 1958’s A Night to Remember.

X-Men (2000) – Much of the film focused on the mystery surrounding Wolverine’s origin. As a fan of the comic book, I was already aware of it. The best thing they could have done was change it, which unfortunately they didn’t do.


Paul Cogley said...

This looked like fun, dissing these famous movies. Here’s my comment on the ones I’ve seen:

Bringing up baby – I’m not a fan of this one either. But I do like Holiday, the other Hepburn/Grant screwball.

Departed – This one entertained nicely enough but I think, like you point out, was not the taut modern noir it was made out to be. Scorcese’s golden age was the 70s (although I had fun watching Shine a Light.)

The English Patient – I’m a big fan of Ralph Fiennes movies but this one is pretty low on the list.

Gladiator – This one delivered what it promised for me and anyway what’s not to like in a movie starring crowe and phoenix (hey, 2 bird names)

Inland Empire – Got this dvd at the library and brought it back after watching an hour or so. A waste of precious library funds—they should be more careful with what they buy.

The Matrix – It’s been a while but, as I remember, it entertained and the sequel did not. Hmmm. Or were there 2 sequels?

O Brother Where art thou – To me this was a goody because it was so different.

Saving Private Ryan – You make very interesting points about this movie—and you’re right that, like most everyone, the opening scene was so powerfully effective that it won me over on the spot.

Spiderman – These superhero movies are essentially dull. I’d much rather spend a couple of hours with a collection of Stan Lee-Steve Ditko Spidey comics.

Tobacco Road – The hillbilly as a comic character ala Li’l Abner, Beverly Hillbillies done in a John Ford comedy—actually, I liked this one a lot, although it took a while to get into.

Star Trek – Captain James Kirk is one of the best characters ever in a TV series—adventurer, always willing to take a risk, a quick thinker and ready for action --a great blend of leadership qualities. So I was glad to see him back.

The Usual Suspects – Kevin Spacey was somehow perfect for 90s movies—American Beauty especially. I saw this on the big screen and it seemed fresh at the time—lot’s of atmosphere.

Titanic – Great idea—a romance on the doomed ship. Saw this on opening night on the big screen and it delivered the goods big time to a very enthusiastic audience. This one I think will last a long time as a classic.

X-Men -- Can't believe I actually sat through this; should've ben reading some 80s xmen comics instead.

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michele said...

We must disagree with your review of X-men! As members of a generation which has not necessarily read the comic book versions, we thoroughly enjoyed all the X-men movies! Our grandmother, who HAS ready all the comics, also enjoyed the movies! This includes the most recent one!

This also goes for the Spiderman movies, which we enjoyed a lot and never read first!

We notice that you still have not watched or reviewed AVATAR. We respectfully request that you do so. We are interested in what you think AFTER you do see it.

Michele's grandkids

michele said...

The Matrix is one of my favorite movies, ever. It was the only movie that left me feeling disconnected as I left the movie theater. I kept looking for the "seams in the world". I was caught in the concept and the "movie magic". As a long time science fiction reader and enthusiast I thought it was well done!