Critic-adored movies that I despise
- Boy, suburban people are awful -- breaking marriage vows, having sex with
inappropriate partners, self-obsessing with their bodies, being hateful to
everyone around them. Oh, wait, that's how Hollywood is! Once again,
Hollywood falsely accuses normal American families of being as vile as
Hollywood actually is, and then awards themselves for this clever hypocrisy.
- A wonderful true story ruined by politically correct hypocrisy. In the real
world, those escaped slaves stayed alive long enough to get a fair trial only
because of the public agitation and political and legal maneuvering of deeply
religious Christians who hated slavery and truly believed, for religious reasons,
in the brotherhood and equality of human beings. But this movie can't say
good things about Christians -- so when Christians show up in this film, they
are mocked and lied about. The worst lie is that the white Christian leader of
defense is accused of doing it for his own benefit, when the opposite is
demonstrably true. In other words, Spielberg had to lie about a truly Christian
Christian in order to feel good about his own story -- even though it did not
change the actual story in any way! Add to this the incoherence of the speech
they gave to John Quincy Adams, and this film is not only a tapestry of
unnecessary lies that benefit only the current ruling elite, but also a boring film.
How you can get from the exciting, moving true story to this stupid, boring,
dishonest film and still be considered the genius of American filmmaking is
- The ultimate vanity project, designed, not to move or thrill anyone, but to
impress people with how intelligent and arty Orson Welles was. He even did
the old trick of slapping his own name on the screenplay as co-author -- the
best analysis I've heard is that by current Writers Guild arbitration rules, he
would never get a credit for his contribution to the writing. And hasn't anyone
noticed how shallow and uninteresting Welles's own acting is? Once again
proving that the director who casts himself proves himself unfit to direct the
film. Oh, and Rosebud is not only the name of the sled, but also the traditional
Middle English slang for the female pudenda. Isn't that clever? And isn't it
also completely stupid, to have an entire film hinge around a point that is both
too obvious to be impressed with and too obscure to have any effect?
- This film is actually well made (though does anyone for a moment think they
would send Tom Skerrit up into space?), but what I hate is the way critics gave
it credit for being serious about religion. What religion? Every actual religion
depicted is shown as being a breeding ground for fanatics and fools. The
Matthew McConaughey character is a priest who doesn't keep any of his vows
except the politically correct ones -- which makes one wonder why he chose to
be a priest, and why his hypocrisy is not condemned the way Tom Skerrit's
character's was -- and the actual "religious" ideas that are affirmed are the kind
of religious ideas that even an atheist could embrace: There's this aspect of the
universe that we call "God," but it never did anything, will never do anything,
and doesn't do anything now, and our behavior need not change in any way
because we notice it "exists." In fact, of course, this is as good a description of
nonexistence as you're likely to find -- it causes nothing and affects nothing and
leaves no evidence of its existence. Only complete idiots -- or arty elitist
atheists -- could see this film and call it a "serious religious statement." In fact
it's a paean to atheism and a savage attack on religion. The worst lie: After all
that the Jodie Foster character has experienced, when schoolkids ask her, "Did
it really happen?" she answers, "You have to decide for yourself." Excuse me,
but if she had any responsibility after such an experience it was to bear witness
of it! But no, she has to effectively deny her own testimony, and join in the lies
of those trying to suppress it. It adds nothing to the story -- it's just there to
take away the last tiny shred of religious affirmation that had survived to this
point in the movie. Leaving us with exactly nothing.
Emma (Gwyneth Paltrow version)
- Based on Jane Austen's most difficult novel, this movie makes the unforgivable
mistake of not understanding the story. Gwyneth Paltrow didn't understand
her character, and the director didn't understand anything. As a result, the key
moral decision in the movie -- Emma's inadvertent shaming of a silly spinster
during the picnic scene -- is played completely wrong, absolutely false to the
character. And because of that, nothing afterward makes any sense at all.
Stupid people should not try to play complicated characters or make morally
complex films unless they first get a smart person to explain it to them in small
words so they actually understand.
The English Patient
- A pretentious novel whose story evaporates into tedious cliche and
overwrought melodrama the moment you get what's going on, it only
"worked" because of the same gimmick as Pulp Fiction -- it's told out of order.
Here's a thought: There's nothing noble about adultery, and nothing tragic
about the unbelievably stupid things that people in this movie do. And there's
apparently no limit to the amount of shallow material that the elite culture can
tolerate as long as it does obeisance to the elitists' love of cheap literary tricks.
Good Will Hunting
- Everything good about this movie was already done better in Ordinary People.
The rest is silly and empty. Only the fact that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
are terrific actors makes this mess watchable. Oh, and for the record -- it is his
fault. Not his fault that he's filled with rage, but his fault that he doesn't
control it and treat other people decently. I'm sick of pop psychology telling
people that it's not their fault. In Ordinary People, it really wasn't the
Timothy Hutton character's fault that his brother died. But in Good Will
Hunting it is absolutely the Matt Damon character's fault that he's a complete
Out of Africa
- Pretty pictu.....ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz. Oh, yeah, and Streep does another
obvious and semi-accurate accent that only succeeds in making her the most
mechanical prima donna on the screen. Here's a clue: If you can see how
wonderful her acting is, it's not good acting.
The Philadelphia Story
- See my long essay on Pleasantville elsewhere on this site.
- It takes a genius filmmaker to shoot an entire movie on location in New
Zealand and make it so ugly you want to move to Clovis, New Mexico just to
get some beauty back into your life. The only thing uglier than the scenery (as
shot) is the story, a completely contrived, pretentiously symbolic film about
how evil men are -- especially religious white men. If such slanders had been
leveled against almost any other group, this film would have been excoriated as
the mess of hate and bigotry that it is. Oh, yeah ... Holly Hunter got her Oscar
for this. In Broadcast News she actually carried the movie. In this one, she
could have been replaced by an animatronic puppet. One thing, though: The
Piano proves that there is no story so stupid that elitists can't swallow it as long
as somebody has told them that this is what all the cool people like. Naked
emperors still parade through the streets every day. The only thing that keeps
this movie from being in the worst-movies-ever list is Sam Neill. He manages
to make the villain real despite the way the script works against him, even as
the actors playing the heroes fail to accomplish the same task. (And Anna
Paquin got the Oscar for this? The writer created everything that anyone liked
about her character. All she had to do was stand on her mark and not blow her
lines. There have been brilliant performances by children -- Haley Joel
Osment in Sixth Sense, for instance, and Margaret O'Brien in Meet Me in St.
Louis, and Roddy McDowell in How Green Was My Valley. But if you're
going to give Oscars to little children, at least give them out for roles where the
child actually has to demonstrate some talent.)
- See my long essay elsewhere on this site.
- What a cute gimmick -- tell the story out of order. What a cute style -- have
the characters talk about whatever pathetic lame cultural detail happens to be
on the author's mind, even if it has nothing at all to do with anything the
characters would actually know or do or say. Am I the only one that noticed
that apart from a couple of scenes, this thing was derivative crap told in an
adolescent writing style? I have yet to see the slightest evidence of talent or
understanding in any work by Quentin Tarantino, as writer, director, or actor.
- Spielberg got credit for his honest portrayal of the flawed Schindler. But that
was as big a lie as every film made by Oliver Stone. The real Schindler got
away with a box of diamonds. There could not possibly have been that over-the-top, monstrously false scene where Schindler weeps, "If I'd sold this
diamond stickpin, I could have saved two more; If I'd sold this car, I could have
saved ten more." Someday there might be a good movie made about Schindler.
But Spielberg has only made three films that didn't reach for a false, mawkish,
condescending emotional climax: Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(the original release, not the lousy director's cut, which adds a false, mawkish
etc. ending), and Empire of the Sun. And those were a long, long time ago.
The Truman Show
- By rights this should have been brilliant -- terrific script, wonderful supporting
cast, sharp direction, perfect production design. The trouble? Jim Carrey. Am
I the only one who noticed that he was hideous from the first moment? Not
for a second was it believable because Jim Carrey is incapable of having an
honest moment on screen. He is always showing off. As a result, a character
who should have been played by an absolutely real actor -- for instance, John
Cusack or Matt Damon or the kid who played the lead in "That Thing You
Do" -- is made so false that the story is destroyed before it has a breath of a
chance. Whenever Carrey isn't talking or mugging for the camera, we get
glimpses of what the movie could have been. But this is the clearest evidence of
how the Hollywood star system destroys good storytelling.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
- Elizabeth Taylor absolutely wrecked this fragile play by pounding on the
subtext from the very beginning. The point they should reach by the end is
where she starts, leaving the story in wreckage, with nowhere to go. Burton, as
usual, does his best to try to save it, but he gets no help from the rest of the
cast. The saddest trashing of a great play that has ever been put on the screen,
leaving A Lion in Winter as the only good film adaptation of Who's Afraid of
Everything by Woody Allen after "Love and Death."
- Has anybody noticed that Woody Allen can't act? And that nobody but
Woody Allen can play the Woody Allen part? (Look at the embarrassment of
John Cusack as he gets every line reading wrong in "Bullets over Broadway" --
and Cusack is a good actor. You just can't play Woody Allen unless you do a
Woody Allen imitation and what actor wants to do that?) Worst of all, though,
Woody Allen is a lousy director of actors. Nobody does their best work for
him. He can't direct children. (I shudder at his bad writing of children and
hideous direction of them in "Hannah and Her Sisters.") He can't direct adults.
How the hell did he ever get his reputation, and how the hell does he keep it?
Critics are such sheep. Suckers for hype and peer pressure. Just like junior