Monday, October 29, 2012

800 Words: My Cultural Heresies - Slightly Less Old Movies

-          Preston Sturges is droll, not funny.

-          I’ve never seen a single film by Visconti or Rossellini. I haven’t seen The Bicycle Thief since I was roughly seventeen and I know I didn’t finish it. The only DeSica movie I know I’ve seen from beginning to end is In The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, and it’s fantastic. So in case it ever occurs to anyone to ask me a question about Italian neo-realism, anything I say on the matter will be a lie.

-          Jean Cocteau is everything about France which I can’t stand. He thought fascism was an interesting aesthetic choice, didn't know a person who wasn't famous, and dabbled in enough art-forms to show that he wasn't particularly talented at any of them.

-          In a hundred years, it’s quite possible that Alfred Hitchcock will be as synonymous with movies as Beethoven is with music and Shakespeare with literature. And that development would terrify me. I often think to myself that his movies are Greek Myths for the modern era in which everything we ever knew about human relations is recodified and turned completely upside down. I love Alfred Hitchcock, but as I begin to approach middle age I grow ever more disturbed with the lack of anything we’ve been taught to recognize as human nature in his makeup. Is my problem with Hitchcock, or with human beings?

-          Rear Window is not necessarily the greatest movie ever made. But it is surely the most perfect.

-          Of the great Hitchcock movies, Vertigo is the worst. Though nevertheless a great movie, it has long passages that are clumsy, cheesy, and just plain dull. Its new place at the top of the Sight and Sound Poll of the Greatest Movies Ever Made is quite depressing.

-          I watched Psycho at 12. The perfect age for it. As I had no idea what would happen, that experience is to this day both the most scared and delighted I’ve ever been by a movie in my entire life.

-          Rebel Without a Cause has long since dated for most people and made teens want to yell at James Dean to get over himself. They’re wrong, James Dean is still a perfect reflection of them.

-          The Searchers has the most unwatchably bad scenes of any great movie ever made (this is John Ford after all…)

-          Singin’ in the Rain is the Glee of its time. Enjoyable, strangely avant-garde and brilliant-seeming at times, and utterly annoying if you watch more than a half-hour of it once every year.  

-          On The Waterfront is a good movie. It’s not great, it’s not bad. It’s not a paean to good citizenship or to snitching. Shut up about On The Waterfront!

-          Billy Wilder should have been born fifty years later and made sitcoms for HBO.

-          There isn’t a single Billy Wilder movie that doesn’t have a collection of amazingly brilliant moments. Yet not a single Wilder picture adds up to the sum of its parts (The Apartment comes closest).

-          When people say that they love Some Like It Hot, they really mean they love the middle third and the last line.

-          The first time I watched Some Like it Hot, the women in the room repeatedly had to close my mouth for me. Marilyn Monroe was amazingly hot, and sadly still is. Men are hard-wired to long for women with huge boobs and low self-esteem. We can’t help it.

-          If you have to have watch movies by one director whose every movie is a stirring paean to mid-20th century liberal clichés, make sure it’s Otto Preminger and not Stanley Kramer.

-          Twelve Angry Men SUCKS!

-          If you want to be sad, look at a list of Orson Welles’s unfinished projects. … or look at this...


 Critics love David Lean’s early movies. I’ve never seen them. But I’ve seen his later ones, and critics love them too….

-          The staying power of Lawrence of Arabia is utterly mystifying. It’s a three-and-a-half hour movie about sand that manages to glorify imperialism and be insulting to Arabs.

-          I could watch a Jerry Lewis movie, or I could just keep watching clips of the highlights from his telethons. 

-          Retro science fiction is like new science fiction – the trashier, the better.

-          I’ve tried watching Robert Bresson many times. I expect to keep trying until I’m dead.

-          Max Ophuls is the kind of technical master you fall asleep to while admiring.

-          I don’t understand why Jean-Pierre Melville is amazing, I just know that he is and know from a very deep place.

-          Jean-Luc Godard has managed to get away with not being punched in the face by me for the last fifty-three years. For the first twenty-three of those years, it can be excused by the fact that I wasn’t born yet. For the next thirty, the fault was entirely mine.

-          The 400 Blows is amazing and I find it difficult to get through with a dry eye.

-          Jacques Tati is the French Charlie Chaplin. But the fact that nobody ever made him into a god makes me enjoy him far more than I ever did Chaplin.

-          It’s a shame Ingmar Bergman retired when he did, he was becoming a really great director…

-          The Seventh Seal is a good movie, which troubles me. Because a movie that pretentious should be truly heinous.

-          How is Akira Kurosawa considered a master director when he wasn’t even the second-best Japanese director of his era?

-          Rashamon is on my short list of most overrated movies ever made.

-          Ikiru has one overwhelmingly moving scene. The rest of the movie I can take or leave.

-          Every Kurosawa-lover do me a favor. Go on Netflix, find Ugetsu and Sansho the Baliff and watch them immediately. They’re the two most famous movies by Kenji Mizoguchi and they’re both samurai related. If you don’t forget about Kurosawa forever, I’ll be surprised.

-          Yasijiro Ozu’s ‘Tokyo Story’ is the most moving movie I’ve ever seen. If you get through it without crying… don’t tell me. I won’t like you.

-          No moviemaker has ever captured life as we live it half as well as Ozu did. He’s Chekhov, he’s Brahms, he’s Neil Young. He’s completely ordinary, and that’s what makes his movies such a miracle.

-          I’ve been contemplating the meaning of Antonioni’s L’Avventura for seven years, and what I still don’t understand is… how did anyone ever come to watch a movie of his after seeing it?

-          I’ve never seen The Mouse that Roared. I’m scared to see it, because it has the funniest premise of any movie I’ve ever heard.

-          I feel like Luis Bunuel and I would get along, but I still haven’t seen a single movie by him.

-          At the very top of my list of movies I need to see is ‘The Apu Trilogy.’ Unfortunately, I’m in a fight with my local video store about a movie I know I returned (Our Man in Havana in case you’re wondering) and they claim I didn’t. I’m too lazy to get Netflix. Screw you. It’s my blogpost and I’ll go on digressions if I want.

-           Stanley Kubrick is a filmmaker whose sole reason for existing is to piss me off.

-          The only funny person in Dr. Strangelove is George C. Scott.

-          2001 is the single most overrated movie I’ve ever seen. No interpretation of this movie changes the fact that we spend at least a half hour of it STARING AT A RECTANGLE!

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