Let’s blather for a moment on my favorite subject, shall we? It’s a movie meme, courtesy of SamuraiFrog!
- Which classic movie don’t you like/can’t enjoy and why?
Gone with the Wind. I think this one is probably a victim of its own reputation for me; all my life, I’d heard what a great, important, landmark movie it was, etc., etc., so when I finally saw it at the age of 19 or 20, I was incredibly disappointed to discover it was essentially a soap opera populated by characters I really didn’t like very much. (I’m sorry, but Scarlett O’Hara is a selfish, shallow little bitch who deserves everything she gets; I occasionally encounter women who hero-worship her, and I just do not get the appeal. I also tend to watch these women very, very carefully…)
- Which ten classic movies haven’t you seen yet?
Geez, I could list a lot more than just ten, and I’m somebody who actually likes old movies and watches them fairly often, and could probably be considered pretty well-rounded in my viewing, at least compared to the average schmoe. There are just so many movies out there after a century-plus of filmmaking.Also, I think answering this question depends somewhat on how we’re defining “classic.” Are we talking about stuff that makes the Sight & Sound list? (For the record, I’ve actually seen quite a few of those.) Do we mean the black-and-white and/or studio-era stuff? Or does the definition extend to what I think of as fairly recent films, like Reservoir Dogs and Fargo (neither of which I’ve seen, but which people talk about as if they ought to be considered classics)? What about cult classics and movies that are so bad they attain a sort of perfection? Also, what about foreign classics? I have to confess I haven’t seen many foreign movies aside from the handful I was exposed to in my film-history classes back in college, and a slightly smaller handful of things I’ve stumbled across on my own, so again, many of those that are talked about as great and enduring pieces of cinema have eluded me.Anyhow, here’s a completely random list of those titles that leap immediately to mind as ones I think I ought to see but haven’t gotten around to, not counting the two already mentioned:
- From Here to Eternity
- The Usual Suspects
- The Sound of Music
- Raging Bull
- The Magnificent Ambersons
- All About Eve
- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
- The Hidden Fortress
- Have you ever sneaked into another movie at the cinema?
I can’t think of a specific occasion, but I’m sure I must have at some point or another. Hasn’t everyone?
- Which actor/actress do you think is overrated?
Christian Bale. I know everybody loves him right now for being the “definitive” Batman, yada yada yada, but I’ve never been very impressed by him. There’s something about him I find tremendously off-putting and unlikable, almost a subliminal revulsion… and I felt that way even before his much-publicized prima donna tirade against some poor DP who accidentally wandered into a shot during filming.
- From which big director have you never seen any movie (and why)?
Darren Aronofsky. No particular reason, except nothing he’s made so far has appealed to me very much.
- Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?
James Cameron’s Titanic. I don’t know that it’s generally hated, i.e., I don’t have any real sense of what percentage of the population dislikes it, but I seem to find myself defending it in conversation pretty often. The thing that really amazes me, though, is the degree of dislike people feel for this movie. I mean, the people who hate it really bloody-well hate it, and they want to make sure you know they hate it, and exactly why they hate it, and then they want you to concede that deep down, you kinda hate it too, because apparently it’s the Worst Movie Ever (said in the perennially disgusted voice of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, naturally). And I just don’t get that level of bile, I really don’t, because the movie works for me. I like Jack and Rose, I like Kate and Leo’s performances, I buy their romance, the dialogue does not make me cringe, I think the runtime is just what it needs to be… hell, I don’t even question Jack dying at the end because he didn’t climb onto the piece of wreckage. (Yes, there does appear to be room on the piece of wood for two people, but it’s not necessarily buoyant enough to keep both of them out of the water, which is so cold that most people are freezing to death instead of drowning; in other words, if he’d climbed on too, they probably both would’ve died.) The only thing in the movie I really don’t like is Bill Paxton. Good lord, could that man ever act? So yeah, I like this movie, lots of people don’t, and much like politics and religion, there’s no convincing each other we’re right. I seem to have this same problem with the Star Wars prequels and the fourth Indiana Jones flick, too. I concede they weren’t great movies, but they also weren’t the soul-sucking disasters that so many claim them to be. There were aspects of all of them I found endearing enough to overlook their flaws. And I still like Dances with Wolves, too.
- Have you ever been “one of those annoying people” at the cinema?
“Annoying people” meaning a distraction to others? Yes, I’m afraid I have. Once, back in that film-history course I mentioned, when I got a little bored with the featured film one week and started doing the MST3K thing with a friend. I figured it wasn’t that big a deal, since the movie was silent. It’s not like I was talking over the dialogue, right? Well, wrong. I was being an ass, and a woman sitting in front of me put me in my place over it by telling me to either shut up or leave. I was humiliated, I was angry, I had a not-very-nice epithet of the sort I usually reserve for Scarlett O’Hara on my lips… but she was right. I had no excuse, no defense. I still feel a deep shame when I remember the incident. And I don’t do that sort of thing anymore, at least not in public viewing situations.
- Did you ever watch a movie that you knew in advance would be bad, just because of a specific actor/actress was in it? Which one and why?
Yes, a flick called The Man with the Screaming Brain. There was no way, realistically, that a movie with a title like that was going to be any good, but it starred Bruce Campbell, and he’s awesome, and a screening of The Man with the Screaming Brain was included with a book-signing event a few years back that offered a few seconds of actual face-time with Bruce, so I figured it would be worth it. He’s one of the coolest people you could ever have the fortune to meet (he even complimented me on the shirt I was wearing that night!) But The Man with the Screaming Brain was, not surprisingly, a horrible movie. Ye gods, was it bad. Not quite Alien Apocalypse bad, but still…
- Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles?
Nope. I’ve got no problem with subtitles, and honestly, little patience for those who do. They’re not that difficult, people.
- Are there any movies in your collection that you have had for more than five years and never watched?
Yes. I’m not proud of it, but I do. The fact is, I tend to buy DVDs at a greater rate than I actually watch them, and things tend to back up. Especially now that I can buy complete seasons of television series for about the same cost as a feature film. I have probably hundreds of hours of TV and movie viewing sitting around that I haven’t gotten to yet…
- Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?
I have a lot of movies that generally get classified as “guilty pleasures” — a term I resist, by the way, because taste is subjective, and if you like something, you ought to feel free to like it without qualification — but I’d say the worst ones are actually ones I bought because I was swept up in a momentary hype situation but later lost interest in. Minority Report comes to mind… I really liked it when I saw it in the theater, figured I had to have it when it came out on DVD, but now doubt if I’ll ever have the desire to watch it again.
- Do you have any confessions about your movie-watching setup at home?
“Confessions?” What, like I’m ashamed I don’t have one of those custom home-theater theme rooms that look like the bridge of the starship Enterprise or something? No, I don’t. I have an HDTV and an upconverting DVD player, as well as a still-functional VCR for the handful of things I can’t get in a digital format, and that setup is just fine for me. I got over the home-theater thing a long time ago; I’d rather spend the money on a trip to Europe or something.
- Any other confessions you want to make?
Yes. You got me. I’m the killer. I did it behind the snack bar with a film splicer.