Thursday, July 21, 2005

You Know, I've Never Seen That

It's hotter than July and I'm cranky. Today, I give you: biases.

I like my sci-fi movies doomy and dystopic (2001, Blade Runner), and not overly plot- and action-driven. I have a prejudice against lavish period epics both old and new. I used to think that violence in movies was cool, but now it seems such a bore — unless the filmmaker does something really interesting with it (Cronenberg, Woo, Peckinpah, Haneke). I don't just loathe corn, I fear it — Bollywood can do that to you. And finally, I don't get fantasy.

Self-Styled Siren has a large list of movies to be seen (and not seen). It reminds me that I've never seen the following:

  • The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
  • Any Star Wars movie except Star Wars, which I thought great fun at the time.
  • Willy Wonka. I didn't grow up in the U.S.
  • Fight Club.
  • Lawrence Of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.
  • Gladiator.
  • Forrest Gump. Not even Capra-corn, which is the one kind I like.

So, I ask you: What movies have you not seen that everybody else has? And why? And do you really really recommend any of the movies above?


Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Of the films listed, I haven't seen Willie Wonka. I saw all of Gene Wilder's films except that one because I felt too old to see something aimed at kids. Otherwise, except for Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, I feel like I've seen what "everyone" else has seen. Of you're list I recommend Fight Club. Gladiator is pretty good. I saw Dr. Zhivago while sipping rum and coke in a theater. Lawrence of Arabia is the most over-rated film in my opinion, and I saw it three times! Second time was a critics' screening for the 10 year anniversary. Third time was to see if Lean's complete version was any better. Of the Stars Wars films, I like The Empire Strikes Back, but also recommend the films by Irvin Kershner in general. I've seen several films by Ray and Nair as well as a couple of Bollywood films. Maybe you should recommend some Indian films that are out on DVD that you feel are essential.

July 21, 2005 10:44 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks for the idea, Peter. Sounds like a cool idea for a post.

July 21, 2005 10:46 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

See Lawrence of Arabia as soon as you can.

July 21, 2005 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Well, the first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. So I can't say anything about it. For the rest, I offer my honest opinions. I think Lord of the Rings looks great, but I didn't find Peter Jackson's method of telling the stories or of directing his actors very compelling. I was very young when Star Wars came out, and (becaue of that) thought it was the Greatest Film of All Time. I had all the toys, books, and memorabilia. But now that I am grown and have seen many, many more films, I can't help but feel that Lucas sort of makes films for children, and I certainly think the prequels are, to put it mildly, unfortunate. I'd recommend both Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, even though in style and substance they seem dated (L of A is worth it for Peter O'Toole's performance alone). I'm torn on Gladiator. I think some of its sequences are really good, but overall, to me, the film is kind of cartoonish. And, finally, Forrest Gump: I've seen it a couple of times but still can't quite say anything good about it.

As far as films I've missed, I haven't seen Tokyo Story, I've never sat all the way through Casablanca, I've never seen The Lion King, I still haven't caught up with The Godfather II, and I saw The Passion of the Christ but wish I hadn't.

(P.S. Rules are meant to be broken. I'd recommend Fight Club with some reservations. Fincher is very talented, but the movie isn't as smart as it thinks it is.)

July 21, 2005 1:30 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

I'd see the two David Leans. The first time I saw Lawrence was, god help me, in a pan-and-scan video version. I thought, this is good, but what's all the fuss about? Lawrence of Arabia demands not just a big screen, but something like the Ziegfield in New York, where I finally saw it.

I also saw Doctor Zhivago at the Ziegfield and I love it, though I am not going to try to convince anyone their life is incomplete without watching it. Gigantic glossyflossy romance, dazzlingly beautiful in parts. It's an interesting comparison with King Vidor's version of War and Peace (I like that one for Audrey Hepburn's performance).

Did you ever see Lean's Madeleine? That was such a great movie and it's unobtainable in North America so far as I can tell.

July 21, 2005 2:12 PM  
Blogger girish said...

No, I've never even heard of Madeleine. I only know some of his early B&W stuff, which I like and sorta naively assumed to be antithetical to the (assumed) gigantism of his later stuff. But I need to give the later movies a fair shake.
Is Madeleine one of his later ones?

July 21, 2005 2:20 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

No, it's an earlier one, 1949. You can see clips on the BFI website, here:

I really liked it, partly because the case is the one of the most fascinating I've ever read about. I had recorded it from a Channel 13 showing one night but then lent it to some IDIOT who recorded over it. I don't agree with this writer that it is cold and uninvolving.

July 21, 2005 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Filmbrain chimes in with his less-than-humble opinion:

Willy Wonka - YES! A Must see!
Lawrence of Arabia - Ditto. In fact, go, right now, rent/buy it, lock the door, unplug the phone, and get lost in it for four glorious hours.
Gladiator - Absolute rubbish. Waste of time.
Forrest Gump - This film makes me see red. Radically reactionary film in liberal clothing. Utter shite, and dangerous to boot. Yes, in America even an idiot can grow up to be rich/famous. Wahoo. Avoid at all costs.

July 21, 2005 3:11 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Lawrence and Willy Wonka seem like clear winners, and I also want to brace myself and check out Fight Club. And Madeleine sounds like a genuine find. Thanks, peops.

July 21, 2005 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Here in DC, it's hotter than Georgia asphalt and I'm cranky, too. Or maybe just lazy. It doesn't matter....

But here's my contribution to the game: Of the six Star Wars films, I've only seen the original Star Wars, which was entertaining enough, and the first film in the new trilogy. I don't even remember the name, so that shows how excited I was by the film.

I haven't seen Gladiator (not interested, thanks), and I wish I'd never seen Forrest Gump for the very reasons that Filmbrain mentions. I've also never seen any of the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films, probably due to some knee-jerk anti-pop bias that I wish I didn't have. I haven't seen many of the recent Disney animated films (too many to name). Hmm...maybe I'll crib your idea and post it on my blog, too.

July 21, 2005 4:48 PM  
Blogger James said...

I haven't seen many of the ones on your list:
The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
Fight Club.
Lawrence Of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.
The latest Star Wars
Sound of Music
Ten Commandments
Probably almost any "pop" film that everyone else in the world has seen.

July 21, 2005 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I did some research on David Lean's Madeleine. MGM was scheduled to release an eight film Lean set. With the Sony buy out of MGM, the release is either delayed or cancelled. Speaking of Lean, I'm surprised that Ryan's Choice isn't out on DVD either. If you're going to see see Lawrence of Arabia, DVD Beaver has some interesting info on the different versions available.

July 21, 2005 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

If Filmbrain had used a lot more profanity he would have come pretty close to expressing my hatred for Forrest Gump. I also really hate the violence-is-heroic-if-done-for-revenge genre, which includes Gladiator, Braveheart, and the Iraq War.

The last time my 8-year-old niece visited we watched Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back on my projection system, and I have to admit that those two films still work -- Empire, especially.

July 21, 2005 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

Oh yeah, add Braveheart to the films I wish I hadn't seen.

July 21, 2005 11:39 PM  
Blogger Mike Slagor said...

in my opinion, you can live without them all except wonka and
fight club. if you can spare the four hours, watch arabia - i saw it on the big screen which would make a huge difference.

but wonka and fight club are well worth seeing BECAUSE THEY'RE
FUN!!!! they can be taken in different lights, you can read
deep into both, but they're overall fun films - so i highly
recommend those two.

In terms of movies that I've never seen - Gone with the wind and On the waterfront? Anyone have anything to say about those?

July 22, 2005 10:24 AM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Slagor, my opinion, for what it is worth:
Gone with the Wind - absolute necessity. Artistic merit aside, I think it is essential to understanding the way some people romanticize the pre-Civil War South.

On the Waterfront - the acting in this one is a landmark. I can't discuss my favorite scenes without spoilers, so I'll just say there is a reason actors still idolize Brando. Rod Steiger is nothing to sneeze at, either; in some ways he is even more touching than Brando.

July 22, 2005 12:48 PM  
Blogger Mike Slagor said...

Campaspe -

Thanks for the insight, they're going to the top of my queue right now, bumping out Gigli and AFI's Tribute to Carrot Top...


July 22, 2005 1:52 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Cute. OK, so I fell for it. But, all kidding aside, I really do have "The Devil Bat" ready to go in the DVD player right now. So I'm not one to talk.

July 22, 2005 8:19 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Forrest Gump is interesting to me for all the ways it's different from the novel, which was heavily satirical, vicious, and showed Gump as a complete asshole, as dull-witted as in the film but also arrogant and self-centered. I think the film is competently edited but not so impressive, really, and predictable in parts (all the important ones), and too "cute" by half. Also, yes, it pretends to be liberal but really it isn't.

I thought Gladiator was a crap film, not worth my time.

Lawrence of Arabia is fascinating.

About your question of films I hadn't seen--I hadn't seen that Capra Christmas film until last year, when I finally rented it and wondered what all the hoopla was about. Similarly, Mon Oncle is typically praised through the roof but it bored the hell out of me. Maybe I was in the wrong frame of mind to watch it. I was extremely annoyed by it, and happy when it was over.

July 27, 2005 2:55 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, I'm a big Tati fan and can't see his movies (including Mon Oncle) too many times. But it's a slightly odd, and cinematically unfamiliar brand of humor. (One can't draw comparisons to others like Chaplin or Keaton, for example). Perhaps if you tried his previous film, Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, you might like it more, it's a bit different.

July 27, 2005 6:17 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

I haven't seen Monsieur Hulot's Holiday yet, thought I did see Playtime, and enjoyed that one much more than Mon Oncle. I haven't given up on Tati yet. :-)

July 27, 2005 7:00 PM  

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