July 26, 2012

Movie Confessions Blogathon


I'm not usually someone who spends much time writing about myself on this blog. I'll throw in a few tidbits here and there, but most of the posts are focused on specific films. This week's posts are following a different pattern and taking a more introspective look. Nostra at My Filmviews has put together an excellent blogathon that tackles interesting confessions from movie fans about their blind spots, unconventional opinions, and other fun details. I'm a bit late to the party but decided to participate after reading so many great pieces from fellow bloggers. Without any further unnecessary rambling, let's get to the questions!


Which classic movie don’t you like/can’t enjoy and why?
I'm not the type of person who aims to take down the sacred cows of the film world. It's way too easy to dismiss an older classic as boring or dated. Even so, there are some big movies that don't really work for me. A prime example is John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, one of the major standards from the detective genre. Humphrey Bogart is solid in everything and does his best, but I'm not that engaged in the mystery. Even with the fun supporting performances from Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, it didn't keep my interest. My main issue is Mary Astor, who doesn't work as the femme fatale and can't stand up to Bogart. She plays such a pivotal role in the story that I couldn't get over the miscasting.


Which ten classic movies haven’t you seen yet?
I've been knocking out my blind spots through my List of Shame series, but there are lots of major choices to see. In no particular order, here are 10 prominent classics on that list:

Yojimbo (1961)
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Ace in the Hole (1951)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Patton (1970)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
The Great Dictator (1940)
The Wages of Fear (1953)
The King of Comedy (1982)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Have you ever sneaked into another movie at the cinema?
No. I haven't ever watched more than one movie with a single ticket. I'm not really a daring guy in that way. I did go to see a few R-rated movies before I was technically allowed to watch them. When I was 16, I tried to go see Unforgiven with my brother and two friends and figured it wasn't a big deal. The ticket taker stopped us and made a big hubbub about us being too young. We had to go back to the box office and pick a different movie. Two of us were under 17 and ended up seeing Sister Act instead, which was quite a change.


Which actor/actress do you think is overrated?
Judging an actor can be extremely subjective because it relates so much to the roles they play and how they're presented by the director. Regardless, one of the most head-scratching young actors is Shia LeBeouf. It's possible that my thoughts are clouded by his dumb off-screen behavior and participation in the Transformers franchise.  Looking at actresses, I've been disappointed by the performances from Nicole Kidman for a long time. I feel like she gets a pass because of strong work early in her career.


From which big director have you never seen any movie (and why)?
I've caught at least a few films from most of the greats but have plenty to see. Directors that I've missed include Eric Rohmer, Samuel Fuller, and Bela Tarr. The one that sticks out the most is Rohmer, who's known for focusing on characters more than plot. Personal favorites like Richard Linklater are often compared to him, so it's in my wheelhouse. I expect that once I check out one of his movies, I'll have to do a full marathon.


Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?
I'm can't say that there are many hated films in my collection, but I have found that my excitement about certain movies isn't shared by a lot of bloggers. In particular, it's been surprising to hear negative comments about Noah Baumbach's Kicking and Screaming. I'm also a huge fan of Whit Stillman's films, which are an acquired taste for some viewers. Damsels in Distress is one of my favorites of 2012 so far.


Have you ever been “one of those annoying people” at the cinema?
I've always tried to be a courteous moviegoer and never use my cell phone or chat during the movies. I need the occasional bathroom break thanks to large sodas, so I'll sit on the aisle when I can. There was one moment in the past while seeing the Christopher Walken supernatural film The Prophecy. I can't remember why, but my friends and I were chatting too loudly about the plot inconsistencies. A guy a few rows in front of us turned and yelled "shut up!" with a lot of anger. I sunk so low back in my chair that I nearly disappeared. I will say this the only time that's ever happened, but I still think of it to this day.


Did you ever watch a movie, which you knew in advance would be bad, just because of a specific actor/actress was in it? Which one and why? 
I'm drawn to films more by directors than actors, so that's usually when I run into trouble. Sticking with the question, I have watched a few stinkers with Nicholas Cage. I didn't expect the films to be bad, however. With Lord of War, I'd heard good things and figured that Cage might be crazy. Instead, he plays it straight and tries to make us feel for an arms dealer. It doesn't work, and a few clever scenes aren't enough to energize the story.

Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles? 
No. Subtitles aren't going to convince me to skip a movie. I will admit that there are rare times when I'm not ready to focus and might choose a different title. However, this relates more to the types of movies than the specific inclusion of subtitles.


Are there any movies in your collection that you have had for more than five years and never watched?
I typically don't buy DVDs or Blu-rays without having already seen the movies. The exceptions are releases that I review for PopMatters, which I'll keep if they're worth re-watching. There are some titles that I've purchased or received as gifts and haven't watched again. I've never checked out the original Star Wars trilogy since I picked them up on DVD a while back. I'm not sure it's been five years, but it's been a long time. I watched those movies countless times with my old VHS copies, which I'm still holding because they lack the silly changes from George Lucas.

Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?
I run a pretty tight ship around here. If I think a movie sucks, it's not going to last too long. With recent movies, I pick up most from the local library and don't take many buying chances. It might seem like I'd have few titles, but I've put together a solid collection. There are still plenty of films that I own and would love to revisit in the near future.

Do you have any confessions about your movie watching setup at home?
Not really. I have a pretty modest set-up compared to a lot of film lovers. We have a 32" LCD TV, Blu-Ray and DVD players, and your standard Sony sound system. The room is fairly small, so the size of the TV isn't an issue and still provides a good experience.


Any other confessions you want to make?
I'm going to finish with a revelation that doesn't paint me as the most open-minded cinephile. During the early days of Netflix, I decided it was time to check out Lawrence of Arabia for the first time. I had an old-school plan with three DVDs at a time, and the acclaimed classic sat at my house for a while. Finally, I took the plunge and watched the first 90 minutes. The visuals were stunning, but I wasn't in the right mood and stopped it. Amazingly, I've still never watched the rest. I haven't gone out of my way to avoid it, but it's just happened that way. This is a mark of shame that must be rectified in the future.

There are many great posts from this blogathon on Nostra's site. Check them out!

6 comments:

  1. I think The Maltese Falcon is overrated, too. I still like it, but not nearly as much as most cinephile-type people do, and not nearly as much as a lot of other Bogart noir films.

    And Kicking and Screaming is awesome! Who's saying it's not? I'll kick and scream at them. :)


    I think Nicole Kidman has turned in a handful of really great performances spread throughout her career, but she's annoyingly inconsistent both in quality of films she chooses to do and quality of her performances. But To Die For (1995), The Others (2001), The Hours (2002), and Dogville (2003) are all unimpeachable, I think. Heh, maybe that's what you mean by "early in her career." I haven't seen it yet, but based on what I've heard, Rabbit Hole might be a more recent addition to that list. Have you seen it?

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    1. I've heard a few different podcasts looking at Baumbach where they ripped Kicking and Screaming apart. The one I remember the most is Sound on Sight. I don't get it at all. I'll start laughing just thinking about some of the scenes and throwaway lines.

      I haven't seen Rabbit Hole, and I did hear some good things. I was thinking more of the last 5-10 years, where I feel like she's getting by more on her name than great performances. I haven't seen them all; some didn't even look that interesting.

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  2. I can't believe you haven't seen Star Wars! I can't even imagine my life without Star Wars! Here's my list, though - I'm sure you'll find some of my film transgressions blasphemous too. Have mercy!
    http://thegreatkh.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/movie-confessions-blogathon.html

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    1. Sorry if my post was confusing. I've seen Star Wars many times but haven't watched my DVDs. I've seen it on VHS and TV a lot over the years. I'll check out your post when I get the chance.

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  3. Aha, so that's what your Lawrence of Arabia confession was! :D I hope you do see it all the way through soon so we can compare notes when I finally get to it as well.

    I'm with you on LaBeouf and Kidman. It's unfortunate how the latter's career has deteriorated over the years. I will give her credit for a strong performance in Rabbit Hole, but that's a rare positive in the last several years.

    Fun post, Dan.

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    1. Eric, I'd like to go back and watch Lawrence of Arabia. I know that I didn't give it a fair shot. It might be a little while before I see it; I have a bit of a backlog at this point. Still, I'm looking forward to checking it out.

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