Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Overrated

For every classic that lives up to the hype, there always seem to be the spoiler, that classic movie that no matter how many times you watch it you can not get into them. This has been a topic that I've been thinking on a lot recently, and I've decided to just list off what I believe to be the 5 most overrated classics of all-time. Obviously, not everyone will agree with me, but it is here that I must be honest and fess up. But before diving into what I don't like, I'll just list off a brief list of classics I adore:

Star Wars, E.T., Rear Window, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Bonnie and Clyde, American Grafitti, The 400 Blows, 8 1/2, Singin' in the Rain, Seven Samurai, Casablanca, and a great many more. Now, on to the Overrated:

5. The Graduate - This movie may have been significant in its day, but there are way more movies from this same period that are more significant and are better movies; Bonnie and Clyde and Easy Rider to name a few. Sure, this movie gave Dustin Hoffman his big break, and that should be enough, but when the subject matter is A.) this awkward, and B.) this oddly paced, not to mention, C.) the characters motivations bounce around like a ping-pong ball, it's hard to enjoy it. My opinion, if you wanna check out a fantastic movie from director Mike Nichols, watch Regarding Henry in one of Harrison Ford's finest moments as an actor.

4. Vertigo - To even list an Alfred Hitchcock movie on this list pains me, but in this case it had to be done. Vertigo is the most hyped of all of Hitch's movies; so many people tell you that if you like his other work you'll like Vertigo, but unfortunately that isn't the case for me. I love Rear Window, Notorious, North by Northwest, but Vertigo just does not succeed for me. The story is very much interested in being a sort of deconstruction of Hitchock's usual thrillers, and when he starts trying to explain the supernatural elements of the story with a Sherlock Holmes styled deduction, I am completely lost. What can I say? Hitch is one of my favorite directors of all-time, but Vertigo just isn't one of his best works in my opinion.

3. The Third Man - This film noir involving Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten was misleading from the very first frame. The movie wants to be a deconstruction of the genre while refining it at the same time, and it does not work. The movie lacks any real suspense or mystery, and seems to be more interested in just stringing us along on this wild goose chase searching for the mysterious "Third Man" and giving us nothing but deflated excitement in the end. For a better film noir that serves as a deconstruction of the genre, while refining it, give Akira Kurosawa's classics Stray Dog or Drunken Angel a shot.

2. Blow-Up - Much like The Third Man, this is a movie that I don't like for similar reasons. Where's the suspense? There's a mystery, he wants to uncover this murder he thinks he's caught in a photograph, but when the Beatnik acts so non-chalant about it, if he doesn't care, why should I care? Yeah, I know, this movie needs to be seen as a capsule of its time, of the Hippy-Beatnik culture, free love, and how things like murder aren't important in the grand scheme of things, but its a movie that its message does not jive with me. And so what? I feel like I saw a 90 minute movie that pretended to have a story but really didn't, and I have to say, I think that was the intent. If you like that sort of stuff, then it might be worth checking out for you, but not for me.

1. Breathless - The Granddaddy of them all, cited as one of the most influential movies of all-time, and you know what, I don't like it. Jean Luc Godard's movie is a story, much like Blow-Up and The Third Man, that nothing really seems to happen throughout the course of the story. Are we supposed to care for these characters who think they're so cool, that they're beyond the rest of us? As for the almighty jump cut, I have seen it utilized in many movies where it works to great psychological and thematic effect, but this does not seem to happen here. The jump cuts are erratic, do not add to the story, and seem to me more of a mistake than an artistic choice made by the director. If you want to see the best of the New Wave, watch The 400 Blows from Francois Truffaut, a finer director in my opinion.

So there you have it, now that I've probably ticked off at least 99.99% of the readership. Have at it, say what you think of what I got right, and what you think I got horribly wrong in the comments section below.

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