Three years ago, I finally got around to seeing a movie called Prometheus, because I was tired of every-freaking-person I know constantly telling how, “This movie will blow your mind, man. If you don’t see it, and you don’t like, you’re officially too stupid to function.” Well, I saw it, and I guess I’m “officially too stupid to function.” I found the movie to be visually appealing, and the acting was much better than I expected it would be. But, overall, I didn’t think much of it. Yes, I got all the “nuanced” intricacies about the frailty of human existence and the endless search to find meaning in life, etc., etc., etc (so please spare me the 2000 word email, philosophizing to me about how I must not have truly “gotten” the plot because I don’t love the movie as much as you do). When I saw the movie everyone from my old college roommate to my own mother bombarded me with why I’m wrong not to appreciate the stupendous beauty of it all. All of this is strange to me because when it comes to movies I’m a firm believer that brilliance is in the eyes of the individual viewer. You and I can watch the same movie, and leave the theater with completely different perceptions about what we just saw; neither one of us is wrong and neither one of us is right about whether or not we personally connect with a film–it either hits us intellectually and/or emotionally, or it doesn’t. Thus, I’m more than willing to agree to disagree with anyone whose opinion differs with mine on this Prometheus movie, or any other movie I may have enjoyed/disliked in the past. However, I’ve noticed that a lot of people simply cannot let it go if someone doesn’t enjoy their favorite film as much as they do; therefore, they must convince you about how awesome their favorites are, or shun/ridicule you for your inability to appreciate the “great nuances” of the mindful plot they are so keen on.
This post isn’t going to be a review on Prometheus. Instead I want to briefly list and discuss four movies that most people I have met are willing to get in fistfights about if I so much as dare to share my lack of enthusiasm for them. If you are a semi-regular movie watcher you have probably heard of these films, and if I say something that offends you, remember that this is just my take on the matter, and not meant to be an absolute verdict on anything. Ready? Okay, let’s start in reverse:
4. Napoleon Dynamite (2004): The fan following this movie developed early on in its release amazing me to no end. It was quoted everywhere, by everyone. People had “Vote for Pedro” shirts within weeks of its first showing; not to mention, the dance scene was reenacted by more random people in my acquaintance than I’m willing to admit. Personally, the movie bored me. I know it was meant to be quirky, and kind of dopey, and I can definitely understand how this adds to the charm for those who enjoyed it. But it bored me. In the end, I left the theater convinced that Napoleon wasn’t socially ostracized by his peers because he was nerdy, but because he was kind of an asshole. And I find it hard to sympathize with a protagonist whose well-being I don’t give a shit about.
3. From Duck Till Dawn (1996): Oh. My. Gawd!–People love this movie. At least, people who have lived/interacted somewhere within my general vicinity. I don’t know if it’s because Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney are in it, or because Robert Rodriquez has somewhat of a cult following amongst movie fans, but everyone has been preaching to me about the brilliance of this movie since the 7th grade. Like I said before, I get it. It’s witty in many places, and the action scenes are original for its time (especially the scene with the crotch-gun). Also, the fact that it’s supposed to be a bit corny didn’t elude me either. Yet, there is a point at which corny because silly, which in turn because stupid. Three-quarters of the time the human survivors were stuck in that bar (after the initial vampire attack/brawl), I found myself thinking, “WTF is the point of this scene right here?” [Like the part where, after being attacked by a horde of vampires, and finding themselves having to fight an entourage of newly made vampires, and being possibly surrounded by another innumerable horde of vampires outside, the character Frost starts reciting an overly dramatic war story from the Vietnam War that the other characters just can’t help but calmly listen to, becoming oblivious to the dangers of their surroundings. If I was there I would have slapped that guy’s face in the middle of his story and stated, “There are fucking vampires around us. I don’t give a shit about what you did in motherfucking Vietnam. Now, grab something sturdy and help me board up the windows & doors, jerk.” But that’s just me.]
2. Scarface (1983): Arguably one of Al Pacino’s most memorable roles, the criticism this movie usually gets stems from its excessive depiction of violence, drugs, and profane language (which is, ironically, also the primary reason why so many people enjoy the film). I couldn’t care less about any of that, and would personally never discount a movie just because it made use of some colorful material. My problems with the movie is the pacing, the sloppy editing, and the beyond belief feats performed by the characters in what is supposed to be an otherwise reality-based movie (I mean, come on, how much cocaine can Tony Montana snort without passing out? How many bullets can he take without at least tipping over?). Nevertheless, I found myself in an awkward spot when this movie comes up in casual company, because I do see value in it. I enjoy watching Al Pacino be Al Pacino, but with a Cuban accent. But I have to be honest that it isn’t as great to me as it probably is to you. A simple statement that’s usually more than enough to arouse the content of any suburban gangsta within earshot.
1. Deliverance (1972): This movie is ranked as one of the top achievements in American cinema. In 2008, it was even selected for preservation by the American Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” My indifference to this movie has been suggested as the ultimate proof of my ineptitude in casting any opinion on movies whatsoever (possibly a worthwhile thing for the readers of this post to consider when evaluating my opinion here). Let me first start off by saying, no, I am not offended by this movie because of its depiction of Southerners. I am unimpressed by this movie because it nearly bored me to death when everybody promised it would be, “the most horrifically thrilling film in existence.” I wasn’t. In fact, I found it to be pretty tame–allow me to explain, before you condemn my philistine judgment. When I first saw this movie I was about nine years old, and I fell asleep before the character Drew died on the canoe (belated spoiler alert). Years later, I decided to give it another shot, convinced that my initial apathy was caused by my prepubescent brain being unable to fully appreciate all the subtle “nuances” (there is that word again. I just hate that word so much) of the plot. Yeah, well, I was left bored again. Only this time I couldn’t blame youth or anything else. Although I could appreciate the aesthetic beauty of the setting, I’m someone who cannot be swayed into liking a movie because it has pretty trees or a mesmerizing lake in the scenery; the plot and the characters matter to me. The problem here is that for this movie, they didn’t. The movie was slow, but not in a way that focused my attention further into the details of the plot. The dialogue didn’t make me ponder anything deep, despite the annoyingly constant attempt by the script to throw armchair philosophy at me ad nauseum. The characters weren’t as engaging as I would have liked. Moreover, nothing [absolutely nothing] in the movie caused even the slightest bit of terror or unease or disturbance within me. And yes, I’m aware there is a suggested male-male rape scene; no, it didn’t even cause me to flinch in horror for a second (by than I guess I was too comatose from boredom to care). For 109 minutes, I was just bored. I’m willing to accept that the problem is with me, and not the film, but I cannot pretend to have liked something I didn’t. If you disagree, then we disagree.
I should mention that the above movies are not, in my opinion, the worst movies ever made. They are simply a list of movies I didn’t like and appreciate as much as most people I’ve met in my life have. Trust me, if I was to make a list of movies I genuinely hated, these four wouldn’t even crack the top 10 (except maybe for From Dusk Till Dawn, that scene with the Vietnam Vet really pissed me off).