Sunday, January 03, 2010

Overrated movies and, of course, films 

The ten most overrated movies of the last decade. Teaser:

You haven’t been bored until you’ve been Lost In Translation bored. Still, there are three good things about Lost in Translation. First, Bill Murray is funny in one, or maybe two scenes. Second, they use the awesome song “Just Like Honey” by the Jesus and Mary Chain on the soundtrack. Third, it eventually ends.

It seems like a good list. I see a fair number of movies and even a few films, but I have only seen three of these and in those cases agree with the reviewer. That suggests -- to me, at least -- that I have good instincts for avoiding highly praised movies that actually suck.


By Blogger rcw, at Sun Jan 03, 07:48:00 AM:

Well- I can't account for my taste, because I totally agree with some of this guy's thumbs down picks, but I loved others. Little Miss Sunshine was brilliant and charming. Mystic River was terrific. I, like most of the country, was mesmerized by No Country for Old Men. Pan's Labyrinth...well, my daughter had to watch it for Spanish class. It is totally bizarre, but that is Latin American magic realism. Welcome to that unsettling world of penumbras and other things that I didn't even understand in English when I was studying Latin American lit. in college. Not my taste, but open your horizons, buddy!

This guy is a snob and lacks imagination, I say. Hyper-cynicism is poison. I'll put HIM on my overrated list.  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Sun Jan 03, 07:54:00 AM:

"Kurt Schlichter?" The name sounds like someone in a Panzer division, and his tastes seem to run that direction. This list and screed has same piquant aroma of the "Movies for Conservatives" I took a big shit on around Oscar time last year.

TH knows I am also in the creative/arts biz, so my outlook on these movies is a tad different than Kurt's. But TH chose to showcase Schlicter's opinions for some odd reason, though I suspect TH's film tastes are a lot closer to mine. Sorry for outting you, TH.

I've seen all of these films, and with the exception of Little Miss Sunshine and Superbad, I liked or loved them all. I didn't like Sunshine b/c I found Breslin annoying and the whole premise cloying; Kinnear's character was OK and most folk identified with his (and Breslin's optimism, determination...HOPE...that Obama word lol). Look, even many wingnuts hate child beauty pageants (unless Palin and her Palindrones are involved, and Lord, they are). Herr Schlicter should go back to a Tea Party mixer poll the kluxers on that point. In other words, we both found it lacking, only my reasons aren't silly lol.

Same with Superbad. I'll say it was Aptow-ism at it's most raw and unfocused. The Hangover, with teens. The whole abortion reference in Fast Times gives Schlicter's bias away; Fast Times was not meant to be a serious movie. If Schlicter wants to beef, he should talk to Cameron Crowe (of Almost Famous fame), who wrote the book.

I can see why right wing tools wouldn't like Children of Men. It pushes all the buttons, especially the racism one. Yet some like V for Vendetta, which is but a comic book/campy version of Men (with some significant plot tweaks of course).

But In the Bedroom? You hate that? A father's revenge against his son's killer when the legal system that protects the scumbag crooks lets us all down? Hey, maybe b/c it takes place in cozy Olympia Snowe-Teddy Kennedy country...and rather than some animal black/spick/towelhead, the killer's an slimy ex-husband (like Newt/Karl Rove/etc etc) & Tom Cruise's cousin? OK, then I can see why wingnuts hate that. Maybe if Marissa Tomei was buckwild nekkid as in The Wrestler, sex-starved Kurt would like it.

Maybe the trouble w/those two is that for make-believe, they are uncomfortably *real*. And we know how much y'all despise understanding the nastiness beneath the surface.

The Departed--sweeping story so yeah, it's going to be long, Kurt. It deserved the Oscar. Thus did No Country for Old Men, though I was torn b/w that and There Will Be Blood. No Country was filmed in Bush-land, Kurt. Brolin, who played W. (why didn't that make the list?) is an American tough everyman who'd hate Barack. Same for Tommy Lee's philosophical & saddlebag-eyed sheriff. Maybe they were too human for you?  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Sun Jan 03, 07:54:00 AM:

Lost in Translation's just plain amusing, sweet. Indeed, as an older guy myself I found it hopefully (though I'm happily married as TH knows; my wife loves the film too and it's something we can watch *together*). Besides, it's a riff on Spike Jonze, that notorious Democrat auteur who's helped Clinton, Gore and Obama in Hollywood, so I'd think Herr Schlicter would have enjoyed this film's underpinning whilst he pleasured himself to young Scarlett...yeah I said it!

Pan's Labryinth was eery-cool! How could you hate that thing eating those pixies? But I guess someone like Schlicter, would be offended that the villians weren't monsters but Franco's goons. Can I get a little Luftwaffe over Guernica with that paella & glass of rojo, por favor?

Crash--hey there was nothin' liberal about that flick. It showed people as truly they are--ESPECIALLY white liberals. And the scene where Terrence Howard whispered to Ludicris "You're an embarassment" was priceless for African Americans. The complexity of humans qua humans, Los Angelenos as a species, was pretty well represented. We see why the racist white cop might be the way he is, and he finds grace. The Iranians/Muslims meet paranoia with paranoia--and they stop being douchebags when faced with that common bond of family. The Latino blue collar guy really isnt ganag member, and loves his wife and daughter. I guess the only people who should punt the movie are Asian millionaire-shop owners who are trafficking their own folks? The title's a metaphor for the strip mall anonymity of the Sun Belt and the fear it breeds; we have to literally crash into one another out there in LA-LA land to understand each other. Again, not a very Tea Party-ish thing, I can dig it.

Mystic River--amazing book by my friend Denny Lehane. Directed by Clint, who has some artsy fartsy street cred and I'm sure that drives Her Schichter nuts. It's nothing more than a dance with the same kind of folks you saw in The Departed. Nope, no fun checking out dysfunction WHITE urbanfolk, Kurt. And I can see why conservatives hate anything Sean Penn is in--unless he's Spicoli (see above)? Overwrought at times, sure. But it's a crime thriller. It's SUPPOSED to be overwrought, and nobody does overwrought like Penn & Clint. OK, I know for a fact Tom Clancy liked the film--does that help, Kurt?

Phew...I felt like I just gave birth. Please TH, my wife begged you no no wingnuttery for at least awhile in '10 but it's clearly crack (or, to be ethnically correct, meth) to you. I can only counsel your addiction. Thus I leave you with my own screed, above, on this frosty mourn.
Keep those culture war lists coming.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Sun Jan 03, 07:55:00 AM:

I'll give him Little Miss Sunshine, and the original Hong Kong film (Infernal Affairs) trumps The Departed. But Pan's Labyrinth? Mystic River? Does he dislike the movies or dislike movies with liberal actors and themes?

My main gripe though is that No Country For Old Men was the best movie of the decade. If Schlichter hated both the book and the movie, why did he read and see both? I understand why some people might want to see everything spelled out in front of them, but it's his own fault if he was looking for a true-crime style movie.  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Sun Jan 03, 08:03:00 AM:

Well, just to pick a fight with CC, The Departed is a remake of Infernal Affairs, and IA was better and only 101 minutes long.

Departed was still a pretty good movie, but I don't Scorsese deserved an Oscar when someone else showed how to do the movie.  

By Blogger The Conservative Wahoo, at Sun Jan 03, 08:38:00 AM:

CC's a bit of a pompous blowhard, but he's pretty much right about the movie list. Some really cool movies there. I could do without Mystic River and Children of Men.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 03, 09:43:00 AM:

What about "Day After Tomorrow". Now, that was terrible.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jan 03, 09:45:00 AM:

Oops! Sorry. Wrong link. Here's the Day after Tomorrow link I intended to use.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sun Jan 03, 10:18:00 AM:

I mostly agreed with the list.

The Departed was too boring, too intricate and too long.

I liked Little Miss Sunshine. The connection between dysfunctional families and pageants is real, IMHO. Amusing characters.

Didn't see "Bedroom" and tend to avoid chick flicks. The Children of Men DVD still sits on the shelf waiting to be seen. I'll get around to it. I'm not much for enviro-horror movies. I'll take my disasters straight up, thank you...without the "message".

I doubt I will ever see Mystic River. Sean Penn is like Ipecac to me. I can't see his characters...all I see is the pompous twit...kind of like Alec Baldwin (wasn't he supposed to leave the US...I know I contributed to the ticket fund)

No Country For Old Men...I really enjoyed, despite the annoying editing. Bardem was so remarkable as a psychotic that you have to wonder...

Superbad...buried somewhere on my Netflix list.

Crash....I actually tried TWICE to see this movie...and fell asleep both times...so I gave up. If that's the human condition, then we should all turn the keys over to the cockroaches.

Pan's Labrynth was just weird. But I thought a LOT of people thought it was weird. I didn't get the impression it was "overrated".

Lost In Translation...Here's where I really disagree with the blog. I thought this was a great flick about ennui...plus, I think Bill Murray is a genius.

IF one tries to judge Hollywood films by their political content, then one is not going to find much to like. Either a film is SERIOUSLY preachy regarding some moonbat social issue...OR...a "veneer" of Hollywood's idea of what a conservative thinks is cast on the film. Most "action" flicks are like this. Conservative, but with a wink of the eye to reassure the public that they really didn't mean it.

As an aside, we just saw AVATAR in 3D and it was an absolute visual feast...so much so that one forgives the screenwriter for the formulaic, boring, predictable screenplay.  

By Blogger Foxfier, formerly Sailorette, at Sun Jan 03, 11:35:00 AM:

Heh, when I was flying back from Japan I watched "Pan's Labyrinth," in part because of all the rave reviews.

I loved it-- in some language I don't speak, with Japanese sub-titles.

I've seen about ten minutes when I can understand what's being said, and it greatly detracts from the movie.....

That said, I am sick and tired of folks defending movies that stick thumbs in my eye because, basically, there's not much else. "It's the only game in town" is NOT a valid defense of quality. (it might explain why you see films you wouldn't, otherwise, but it says nothing towards the quality of the film)  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sun Jan 03, 02:36:00 PM:

" I am also in the creative/arts biz"

Chrissy, you couldn't create a fart after a bean dinner.  

By Anonymous Francis, at Sun Jan 03, 02:38:00 PM:

I am going to risk my eternal soul and this once go with Chambers on all of these points. Crude as some digs were on the author, some were also nastily amusing. That said, I note in the original post one person indeed related that the reviewer went too far in many respects, to the point that he fell into Chambers' usual "wingnut" trap. At best, he came off as a nit-picker. My wife, elder son and I count ourselves as conservatives and we like the films listed, either in whole or aspects and themes thereof.
The commenter advised that the reviewer should have bull's-eyed Michael Moore's "Farenheit 9-11" and "Capitalism: A Love Story," along with "In the Valley of Elah" and "Rendition," and any of Clooney's films other than "Burn After Reading" and "Mr. Fox."  

By Anonymous The Truth is Out There, at Sun Jan 03, 04:42:00 PM:

I'm a fan of imdb.com. Its rating systems has its quirks and biases, but it's usually informative. Many of its quirks and biases are shared by electoral systems, which I find fascinating.

imdb.com is biased to the young and to recent releases. So when you first see Avatar's quite high score of 8.8 you may think it suspect. But imdb's "Top 1000 voters" and "imdb staff" are a good check against the masses -- they have Avatar at 7.8 and 8.9 respectively. As a further check, Avatar has nearly uniform high scores across all demographics. Democracy at work.

Most of imdb's "Top 250 all time list" makes sense, but a conspiracy has driven Shawshank Redemption to #1 of all time. I get the Jesus metaphor in Shawshank but wouldn't rate it higher than a 7.0 -- 8.0 tops -- and wouldn't put it my own top 250. The parallel to Shawshank in politics is Obama or Palin, depending on where you sit. The imdb Top 250 has some oddballs, but some good picks -- #13 to #16 are Casablanca, Goodfellas, Seven Samurai and City of God. They'd probably all be in my top ten.

Godfather and Godfather Part 2 are #2 and #3 all-time on imdb. I like them both, but they score so high because no one dings them. Goodfellas is actually the better mob movie.

Some of the movies discussed in the posts above aren't aimed at the mainstream -- but are very much loved by some. For my teen age son, Superbad would top Citizen Kane by a mile. My wife laughed at the dance scene at the end of Little Miss Sunshine until after the credits stopped rolling. Pan's Labyrinth would make my top ten of the decade -- my kids would both put it there.

Bill Murray makes anything work. Zombieland is great, if you haven't seen it yet. Wild Things from a few years back is a guilty pleasure.

There are two movies with unusual imdb voting that caught my eye. They both have almost exact 7.0 average scores for every single demographic slice -- e.g. "Females under 18" , "Males 45+" -- but have a predominance of "10s" and "1s" -- not many "7s" or "4s". Thus you can conclude that people either loved it or hated it, but that age and gender didn't factor. Highly unusual. They are .... Napoleon Dynamite ... and Passion of the Christ.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Sun Jan 03, 08:24:00 PM:

I've seen three of the films and Kurt was right about those three.
Mystic River - Depressing and not worth the time.
Pan's Labyrinth - How does anyone do a film about the Spanish Civil War and depict the Communists as the good guys? Is everyone in the international movie industry a fellow traveler?
Little Miss Sunshine - A childrens talent show in Santa Monica run by prudes? Couldn't believe it for a second. My kids danced competitively in Southern California and their team lost consistently because their coach would not have the 12 year olds do moves were inappropriate for someone twice their age. When Holly wood wants to bash conservatives they do what so many blog commenters and MSM reporters do, they just make stuff up.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Mon Jan 04, 01:17:00 AM:

"The Truth is Out There":

I agree with you about Shawshank Redemption. It's a very good movie but I just don't see it as being among the best ever (or THE best ever as the IMDB vote has it).

My theory on that is that it is one of the few popular movies of recent years that doesn't have some kind of gimmick - special effcts, superheroes, fantasy etc. It is just a good story well-told and well-acted. Hollywood used to churn those out by the truckload, but now they are so rare that SR seems like a "great movie" to those too young to remember when it would not have been so unusual.  

By Blogger kreiz1, at Mon Jan 04, 09:33:00 AM:

Having seen 7 of 10, I agree w/JPMcT that the list is pretty accurate. Glad someone else thought that "Translation" was unwatchable. Gesh. The truth is that downer movies suck, but critics love 'em. "The Departed" comes to mind. It was a solid film, but at some point, I felt like I needed a shower. Same with "Mystic", "Bedroom", and "Crash".

The worst? "The Hours" in 2002. Holy crap- what a glum piece of work that was. Of course, Kidman won an Oscar- I don't get it. "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Superbad" may be overrated, but both had scenes that made me smile or laugh. Amidst the gloom, that's good enough for me.  

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