Friday, January 13, 2006

The Norm tag on films

Norm tagged me (and Cloud) on this via Eric: 'two films I think are good and most people don't'. Eric came up with Flash Gordon (1980 - yes THAT one) and Pushing Tin (the John Cusak film: which, since I am rather fond of the lovely boy Cusak I could possibly persuade myself to watch if it wasn't for the fact I just feel bored WITLESS by the very premise of the film).

Anyway, Norm couldn't quite bear/think of any way to identify two films he liked that no one else did, so he opted to list films he hates that most other people love: Pulp Fiction, The Wicker Man, Body Heat, Crimes and Misdemeanors, The Usual Suspects, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sideways. Yikes. I think that list pretty much sums up some of my favourite films! Forgive me Norm!

Anyway: first the Eric version.

It's hard to know what to go for with this, so I can understand Norm's plight. Heaven's Gate, as I have written before, is a real favourite of mine despite all its 'faults', but there is something of a critical groundswell that now gives it some kudos for its efforts. For a variety of reasons, I love the original voice-over version of Blade Runner far more than the Director's Cut. I think chiefly this is because I like the ambiguity of the original version regarding Deckard's status as a replicant (I studied the film in a Post-Modernism module at Uni - yes, it was ridiculous thing to study but man it was fun!). Those two cover the under-rated and the issue of version preferences - you could also include there liking cheesy US remakes over foreign film originals [sorry, but I actually am not wild about The Seven Samurai - recognising its genius and all that but I'd still rather watch The Magnificent Seven! Same goes for preferring Vanilla Sky over the original Open Your Eyes (Abres Los Ojos): a very rare instance of actually choosing a Tom Cruise film... ]

You can also go down the route of the 'not very well known': Cloud and I adore The Girl on the Bridge (La fille sur la pont starring Vanessa Paradis and Daniel Auteuil) for being wonderfully erotic, funny and sad, but I can scarce think of anyone else I know who has even heard of it let alone likes it. There is also the zone of films by directors that when they came out were seen as flops: The Hudsucker Proxy probably falls into that category but I will not say a word against it. At the time, Coen bro fans were largely baffled by this Capra-esque homage, but I think it is just lovely. Besides, I rather have a long-term fondness for Jennifer Jason Leigh, not least for her much-despised portrayal of Dorothy Parker. And of course there is always the matter of films starring people you love: If Only (aka The Man with Rain in his Shoes) never set much alight in the cinema world but will always succeed in making me swoon with delight!

So what would I choose as my two films? Do I go for cheese or obscurity? Ill-thought of or plain old disliked? Here are my two choices:

ONE) Last Action Hero. Yes, I know THAT film. The one everyone seems to hate with a vicious avengeance. Sorry, but I actually really like it. It's stupid. It knows where the walls are, and - though this is nothing to do with the film as such - for the wonderful moment when Alan Rickman (sorry, Charles Dance) opens the door as the villian... well, that just adds the topping. I can't think of anyone who likes it - apart from Cloud - but I think its hugely enjoyable.

TWO) another genre-busting film in the mould that made so many hate LAH: is it a kid's film (too violent), is it an action film (too much silly comedy), is it meant to have a moral to it (huh?) why does it star that annoying person? So I proudly present my second "oh my god everyone hates this movie" selection. It's Toys. Yes, again, a "THAT film" reaction. Robin Williams. Stupid violence. Daft storyline. But I'm sorry, I like it. I love kooky old Joan Cusak. I love Michael Gambon hamming it up as the villian. I love LL Cool J being just... well, stealthy! It has almost zero WORTH as a film, but I do like it. When I want to watch worthy, intellectually stimulating stuff - even stuff that is fun in a better way than this - well, I can do that. But this film is just enjoyable. Sorry.

So to the Norm proposal: films that you just do not get why people rave about them. This, as Norm proved is easier to go through. You really do not want to waste time on them. In some instances they are films I have not been able to bring myself to sit through - though they are well known enough to have seen SOOO many clips that it feels as if I have been Alexed into watching them repeatedly.

* There's Something About Mary: in fact the whole Meet The Parents / Farrelly Bros style of pratfall humour: sorry, slapstick hurts my soul. I'm excluding the Marx Brothers from this category because they were GOOD. And I'm sorry but the closest I get to liking Robert De Niro doing comedy is the awesome The King of Comedy... which is a totally different type of funny.

* American Graffitti: FACT: only the songs are good

* The Remains of the Day: Merchant Ivory stuff is 'oh-mi-god-so-worthy-I-am-going-to-have-to-rip-my-eyes-out-for-entertainment-this-is-so-DULL!!!!' I know many of you will hate me for not seeing the great intelligence and elegant beauty of this type of film but it just pains me.

* Prospero's Books: beautiful but it's a series of stills for a coffee-table book and NOT A FILM!!!! I will probably be slaughtered for this but I actually thought The Baby of Macon was a much better film and that pretty much puts me in a category of one 'cos I'm not even sure that Peter Greenaway himself would agree with that (though I would say that I still think Greenaway's best works were Drowning by Numbers and his TV film on lightening strikes, Act of God. I suspect Cloud would go for the majesterial The Belly of an Architect with the incredible Brian Dennehy who, of course, we were lucky to see performing on stage last year).

* The Shawshank Redemption: maybe it's that 'word of mouth' thing and we just missed the boat on this, but I have NO desire to see this. I can't even bring myself to watch it now, though we have had enough opportunities, partly because everyone raves about it SO incessantly. I think I'm going to have to be very old before I give in to seeing this.

* Mystic River: Over-rated... sorry, but all the great acting in the world can't make this anything more than the really quite disappointing story that it is.

* 2001: A Space Odyssey: VERY VERY DULL... sorry. I like sci-fi but this is just... I'm with HAL. Ditch the humans [Honourable mention in the dull-as-ditchwater-sci-fi category: Silent Running]

So there you have it. A selective list of films I love that you hate and vice versa. Oh yeah, and can I state for the record: I LIKE The X-Files Movie.


AnnaWaits said...

I *like* Pushing Tin!

HolyhosesRob said...

I love SF, too, and I think 2001 (short story stretched to novel length and then film) is boring, as well. I also think Star Wars is utter bilge.

I'm with you on The Magnificent Seven, and I also prefer the Bridget Fonda "Assassin" to Nikita, and the Meg Ryan version of "City of Angels".

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

HolyHosesRob - you are well right! I really really like Assassin (with Gabriel Byrne and Nina Simone)... and though I feel I SHOULD like the the Peter Falk original of Wim Wenders I will admit to sibbing furiously at City of Angels.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

It's late: I do of course mean SOBBING... not "sibbing"... whatever that means!

HolyhosesRob said...

Bridget Fonda is ace.

Paul said...

Sideways was a really good film about the California wine country and the search for romance.