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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Scarlett, you ignorant slut!

Jason Bennion reports on Premiere Magazine's list of the twenty most overrated movies. Here's the list, with the ones I've seen in bold, with comment following those films:

20. American Beauty

19. Chicago

I don't have a feel for how highly this film is "rated", so I can't honestly say whether I think it's "overrated" or "underrated". I found it entertaining and stylish, with a lot of clever wordplay in the songs. It's kind of depressing that these days, a musical can only be made by positing the numbers as fantasy sequences in themselves (since apparently audiences can no longer be trusted to accept that the entire film is a fantasy wherein people start singing to full orchestral accompaniment) and by shooting the numbers in a way in which editing almost masks the performers' inability to dance.

18. Clerks

Haven't seen it in years, but I keep intending to. I loved it when I rented it almost a decade ago (although The Wife, if memory serves, didn't like it so well). I'm a big geek at heart, so I'm probably squarely in Kevin Smith's audience. (In fact, this is the only Kevin Smith film I've seen! I have work to do.)

17. Fantasia

Huh. I love this movie (even though the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony sequence drags quite a bit), and I wish the original concept -- give the animators a piece of music and let 'em go to town -- had caught on better. The follow-up film from a few years ago also has some really good stuff in it, although it includes a depressing amount of comedy in between the numbers. I'd love to see a Hayao Miyazaki version of Fantasia.

And yes, the movie is even better when you're drunk. (And toward the end of the Bach Toccata and Fugue sequence, why is there a walking tooth in the middle of all the abstract stuff???)

16. Field of Dreams

Overrated, my ass. Next.

(I've actually visited the Dyersville, IA location where the film was made. Sadly, no old ballplayers emerged from the cornfield.)

15. Chariots of Fire

I haven't seen Chariots since I was a kid, so I have no real read on whether it's overrated or not. But I remember being highly impressed with it, especially since it came out when I was entranced with fare like Raiders of the Lost Ark.

14. Good Will Hunting

Again, how highly rated is this film to begin with? I liked it. Good script. Not a great film, but undeserving of any backlash, in my opinion.

13. Forrest Gump

Dammit. I always feel like I should hate this movie, but I never can! Every time I watch the damn thing it sucks me in. That either means that something's wrong with me, or that it's actually a good movie and I'm resisting the siren call of the backlash. (I firmly believe that only Titanic has ever suffered a greater backlash than Gump.) I just find the film a lovely fable, but I can never quite figure out what its message is supposed to be. And maybe that's it: there is no message. You just do the best you can with what you've got.

(By the way, the "Life is a box of chocolates" thing was parodied wonderfully in the X-Files episode "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man", when the CSM sits on a bench beside a homeless person and opines thusly:

"Life is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So you're stuck with this undefinable whipped mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there's nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while there's a peanut butter cup or an english toffee but they're gone too fast and taste is fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits of hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts. If you're desperate enough to eat those, all you got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers."


I don't think William B. Davis ever got the credit he deserved for his portrayal of the CSM.)

12. Jules and Jim
11. A Beautiful Mind
10. Monster's Ball
9. Moonstruck
8. Mystic River
7. Nashville
6. The Wizard of Oz

You know, I used to think that this movie was overrated as hell, but I've changed my mind. I went to see it in a theater with The Wife some years ago when a restored print was issued, and the thing is friggin' magical. And there's some stuff in there that's downright iconic. Sure, the last scene is overly maudlin, and I've also wondered what happens immediately after -- do they still have to give up Toto?)

5. An American in Paris

OK. This movie is absolutely overrated. Sure, the songs are pure gold -- they're Gershwin. But Leslie Caron has never done it for me; her dancing is mechanical and icy, which is the last thing you want for a Gene Kelly dance partner. The movie's overlong, and its romantic story is lacking in chemistry. I've never cared for this film.

4. Easy Rider
3. The Red Shoes
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey

I dunno. I've always loved this film. I don't try to delve overly deep into its story or philosophical import; I find it works well both as an epic and in its central section as a mystery and horror film.

1. Gone with the Wind

Ugh. I've never seen the fuss here. I've never understood why it takes more than three hours of screentime, and however many years of story-time, for someone to tell Scarlett what to go do with herself. As for all the historical wartime stuff, I always found it hard to care, because I've never bought into the myth of the South as some kind of noble, wonderful place. (In disliking Gone With the Wind, I turn out to be in pretty good company -- Terry Teachout doesn't much like it either.)

Jason also suggests some additions of his own to the list, which I was about to do when I realized I'd made several such suggestions a long while ago). Specifically, though, I think that The Usual Suspects, Scream, Saving Private Ryan, Dead Poets Society, the Alien movies (well, the first two, since everyone thinks the last two are crap), Se7en, and Highlander are all crud.

1 comment:

KevinP said...

I've always maintained that I don't have any room in my life for someone who doesn't like "Field of Dreams."