Saturday, August 20, 2011

Film Musings #1

Well, after a break that went a whole heck of a long time longer than I first expected (depression and being scared to get back to it is a bitch, let me tell you), I return, with a slight change in format. Not only will I have reviews, but general commentary as well. And this, I hope is the first of a new push into the future.

Now, partially inspired by a column on another site that I frequent, I would like to talk about films that everyone else seems to love that I don’t. As much as a film fan as I am (as anyone who knows me can attest), I don’t like everything. In fact, I have quite a weird taste in film – for every one “popular” film that I profess I liking for, I can pull out an obscure Eastern European fantasy film, 50 year old sequel to a film that wasn’t all that popular to begin with, or experimental art piece. I don’t expect everyone to share my taste, and I sure as heck don’t share my taste with everyone else either. But there, as I said, are some films that have big followings that I just flat out don’t get.

These are just a few.

Keep in mind, I am not giving anyone grief for liking these films, merely stating my case for not liking them, so keep it in your pants unless you are willing to be civil.

Blade Runner: Granted, by the time I was actually shown this film in its entirety it was the early 2000’s, and it had long been part of the Science Fiction Nerd’s zeitgeist (and, hell, that of any decent film fan in general), but for one reason or another, I’d never got around to seeing it. And then I did – and all it got from me was a resounding “meh”. Sure, it looks pretty, but beyond that, it’s a pretty yawn inducing plot; actors who are either borderline sleepwalking through their roles, or filling them with so much overwrought ham that even Dennis Hopper would tell them to dial it back a bit; and ideas that never get fully realised or explored to anything close to satisfactory levels (which is a complaint that I have with pretty much all Philip K Dick adaptations).

300: First things first, as far as comic book adaptations go, 300 is one of the more accurate that I’ve ever seen. It’s just that the source material is paper thin, dull, incredibly overrated and the weakest effort that Frank Millar turned out. And it shows even more on screen, with a film that is devoid of life and soul, having them replaced with sweaty pecs, CGI blood and so much slo-mo that the film would be shorter than your average sitcom were it to be removed. And none of it raised more than a yawn from me.

Napoleon Dynamite: Don’t get me wrong, I do like awkward nerd centered humour as much as the next guy (my love of things such as Revenge Of The Nerds, Mr Bean, the works of Wes Anderson and pretty much everything that Andy Kaufman did show this to be true), however I have always found this film to be painfully unfunny and soulless at best, calculating and “cult movie by committee” at worst. For months leading up to release, all I heard was “great new cult film”, “hilarious” and frikkin’ catchphrases from the film (don’t even get me started on the fact that this bloody film forced me to change my manner of speaking for fear that people would think I was quoting it). Now, I am no stranger to being marketed to, but everything about this film – from leadup, to advertising, to the film itself and the fandom it spawned, just screamed “calculated effort to market to awkward nerds by a company that never gave a shit about them until it realised they had money to spend” and “see this freak – this is what you look like to us, now dance for your new nerd hero” to me (much like my distaste for The Big Bang Theory). And that’s not even the half of it – seriously, I could write an essay on all the things that I hate about not only this film, but everything Jared Hess has put his name to.

Casablanca: Yeah, yeah – I’ve heard it all before; “it’s a classic”, “everyone loves it”, “critical darling”. You know what? No, it’s bloody not. It’s a middling, at best, love story that was saved from mediocrity by the fact that it featured a cast of people who were pretty beloved at the time, with a couple of leads who were the Hollywood IT couple of the day. You know what? So was Gigli, and it gets lambasted by all and sundry. And to prove to you that I am a fan of other films that are critical darlings, and classics in their own right – among my favourite films are Citizen Kane, The Third Man and The Maltese Falcon; all who share more than passing similarities (cast, plot point, genre, etc) to Casablanca. To me, this film is one of the prime examples of “only as well looked on as it is, because there was nothing else better at the time” – well, there is now, so we should be able to look on this as the middle of the road flick that it truly is.

Scarface: Thankfully, the love for this film seems to have now limited itself to idiot thug rappers and douchebag frat bros (much like another film that I could talk about – The Boondock Saints). And, really, I shouldn’t rail against this film as much as I do, as I have yet to watch it all the way through – I’ve tried on a couple of occasions, and given up about 30 minutes in both times. To me, this is just the worst excesses of the 80’s, filled with more neon, “gayness” and garbage than even Batman and Robin. And to top it all off, to me it’s one of DePalma’s worst films, made all the more glaring in that it comes between two of his best.

I could rail on and on about other films that people love but I don’t, no matter how much they try to push, but I won’t. I have to save things for other columns, because who knows how long it’ll be before I run out of mental steam again.

That’s my lot, and I am outtie.

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