Defend a Maligned Movie

 

I don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” – why should I feel guilt because the critical groupthink scorned something I think has merit? It’s not as if those individual critics don’t pull the shades and watch something the rest of the priesthood demeans. (Unless Marty Scorcese gave it a nod in an interview, and then it’s time for a Fresh New Look.) I also don’t believe in watching bad movies to revel in their awfulness, unless there’s some meta-level payoff. (Plan Nine really is the apotheosis of true unintended hilarity.) I’m watching something right now that makes eyes roll if you try to make the case for its importance, but that’s not important right now. (No, I’m not watching Airplane!) I’ll hand it off to you: defend a movie dismissed by the gatekeepers.

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  1. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    We had a movie fight recently along those lines. https://ricochet.com/847526/ricochet-movie-fight-club-question-38/

    Personally I’ll defend Terminator Salvation against those critics who try to write it off. It’s even better now that Terminator: Dark Fate further soiled the franchise. 

    • #1
  2. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    I usually have difficulty describing why I like things, as I learned in childhood that closely examining why I enjoyed something would quickly lead to me not enjoying anything at all (early onset OCD), so I generally just accept that there is no accounting for taste, that there is rarely, if ever, a consistent standard that separates entertainment which appeals to me from entertainment which does not, and choose not to worry about it.  Nonetheless, I’ll try:

    The Pirate Movie, a parody of The Pirates of Penzance: the songs are catchy, the characters are fun, and the Pirate King is given an awesome performance.  There is an unavoidable nostalgia factor, as I grew up with this movie and spent many hours enjoying it with my sisters, it was almost like a Rocky Horror Picture Show experience at home, but with less irony (at least on my part, as I was the youngest, and probably shouldn’t have been watching this movie).  A whopping 9% critic rating at Rotten Tomatoes (and a 76% audience score).

    • #2
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    I’m going to be a little pre-emptive here and defend a movie that the gatekeepers never loved and in eleven or so months will be maligned big time: Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Its 50th anniversary comes up in December. As with 2001 and other major films, the 50th is usually the final “big” remembrance in the press. When still-remembered films reach their 100th, that’ll change. Every previous milestone of Clockwork, like its 25th, were occasions to trot out the two leading theories concerning this still-controversial movie. I don’t fully believe either of them, but here they are, in their partial goodness:

    One, A Clockwork Orange, for all of its shocking imagery, is a sobering, essentially Christian lesson about free will, humanity’s inability to overcome its worst impulses, and the evils of scientific attempts to control the mind. 

    Two, A Clockwork Orange, despite its cleverness in design, music, and filmcraft, is essentially just a pretentious porno rape comedy with gaudy costumes and science fiction overtones, a heartless smirking leer directed at men who think women deserve what they get. 

    The first option is what Anthony Burgess has been saying since long before the film opened. Okay, there’s truth in it, but…there’s also at least a little bit of truth in the second, and I say that as a Clockwork defender. The movie was made and released in a strange cultural era where unlimited sexy was arousing female sensitivity to sexism. 

    That’s what’s going to kill Kubrick’s meticulously earned reputation come this December. Malcolm McDowell will be under pressure to denounce the film, and it will be claimed that today’s Left puritan attitudes are clearer, sharper, truer than 1971’s. 

    I have another theory: the movie wasn’t made out of high-minded concern about governments and mind control drugs. Nor was it blind to the cruelty, the literal violation of the body and self that we sum up as violence. On the contrary, look at Kubrick, a diminutive, proud son of a neighborhood doctor who ventured into the wide, wilder world of Greenwich Village and other areas of Manhattan. The unprecedented crime wave of the Sixties drove him and his family from New York; it was largely fear of urban violence that brought him to the quiet countryside of England, then and now the third leading center of making films, at least in English. Less than a month into the release of the film, Malcolm McDowell gave a quote to The New York Times: “The liberals, they hate Clockwork“. He was right. A few weeks later (Jan 27, 1972?) Stanley Kubrick chimed in with his own article, headlined (not by him) “Now Kubrick Fights Back”. In its day, the film was understood to be a bitter satire on the inability of civil authorities to take violent crime seriously. 

    • #3
  4. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Anyone up for defending Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Not I.

    Iron Sky. I liked that movie a lot more than critics. Rotten Tomatoes has this movie at 40/37% … I think they’re not watching this movie as a comedy. Its very funny if you watch it in that frame of mind.

    • #4
  5. Postmodern Hoplite Coolidge
    Postmodern Hoplite
    @PostmodernHoplite

    Actually, I can’t defend Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 Starship Troopers. It’s an awful mis-interpretation of Robert Heinlein’s classic analysis of the nature of citizenship and civic virtue, turning a great book into a wretched send-up of comic-strip “Fascism” (with a solid dose of juvenile T&A thrown-in for good measure.) By ANY objective standard, it’s a terrible piece of cinema.

    I don’t care…I know I shouldn’t, but I’ll still queue it up and watch, laugh at its over-the top violence and silly uncomprehending “critique” of Western Civilization, and enjoy it from start to finish.

    • #5
  6. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Not so much maligned as just ignored…I still think Hostiles (2017) is the best movie ever seen by only me and three other people:

    It is a hard movie. (As the credits rolled my wife turned to me and threatened to slap me when we got to the parking lot for taking her to it on “date night.”) The characters are hard. The subjects are hard. The interactions are hard. (It will drain you by the end.) But the backdrop for the journey is the American West at its most beautiful. (There is a 1-2 second clip of the group photo scene before the “parade” that is my favorite part of any movie ever.)  Plus it has Christian Bale and Ben Foster in it. Great movie.

    • #6
  7. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    I’m going to be a little pre-emptive here and defend a movie that the gatekeepers never loved and in eleven or so months will be maligned big time: Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

    I disagree. It’s revered by the groupthink critic intelligencia as are all things Kubrick, erroneously in my opinion. They’ll never cook up their sacred cows. 

    • #7
  8. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    I’m going to be a little pre-emptive here and defend a movie that the gatekeepers never loved and in eleven or so months will be maligned big time: Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Its 50th anniversary comes up in December. As with 2001 and other major films, the 50th is usually the final “big” remembrance in the press. When still-remembered films reach their 100th, that’ll change. Every previous milestone of Clockwork, like its 25th, were occasions to trot out the two leading theories concerning this still-controversial movie. I don’t fully believe either of them, but here they are, in their partial goodness:

    One, A Clockwork Orange, for all of its shocking imagery, is a sobering, essentially Christian lesson about free will, humanity’s inability to overcome its worst impulses, and the evils of scientific attempts to control the mind.

    Two, A Clockwork Orange, despite its cleverness in design, music, and filmcraft, is essentially just a pretentious porno rape comedy with gaudy costumes and science fiction overtones, a heartless smirking leer directed at men who think women deserve what they get.

    The first option is what Anthony Burgess has been saying since long before the film opened. Okay, there’s truth in it, but…there’s also at least a little bit of truth in the second, and I say that as a Clockwork defender. The movie was made and released in a strange cultural era where unlimited sexy was arousing female sensitivity to sexism.

    That’s what’s going to kill Kubrick’s meticulously earned reputation come this December. Malcolm McDowell will be under pressure to denounce the film, and it will be claimed that today’s Left puritan attitudes are clearer, sharper, truer than 1971’s.

    I have another theory: the movie wasn’t made out of high-minded concern about governments and mind control drugs. Nor was it blind to the cruelty, the literal violation of the body and self that we sum up as violence. On the contrary, look at Kubrick, a diminutive, proud son of a neighborhood doctor who ventured into the wide, wilder world of Greenwich Village and other areas of Manhattan. The unprecedented crime wave of the Sixties drove him and his family from New York; it was largely fear of urban violence that brought him to the quiet countryside of England, then and now the third leading center of making films, at least in English. Less than a month into the release of the film, Malcolm McDowell gave a quote to The New York Times: “The liberals, they hate Clockwork“. He was right. A few weeks later (Jan 27, 1972?) Stanley Kubrick chimed in with his own article, headlined (not by him) “Now Kubrick Fights Back”. In its day, the film was understood to be a bitter satire on the inability of civil authorities to take violent crime seriously.

    I think the book was your “one” and the movie “two.”  Loved the book; hated the movie, because it bastardized the book, turning if from a morality play to porn/violence.  I read the book several times.  Saw the movie once and never looked back. 

    • #8
  9. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    About 15 years ago, there was a Nicholas Cage movie titled Knowing, which was a nice little creepy suspense thing about a girl who put a piece of paper covered with numbers into a time capsule 50 years ago.  The numbers turn out to be Longitude Latitude and casualty counts for a whole bunch of  different events (plane crashes, 9/11, etc – spoiler alert – the list ends with EE – “Everybody Else”).  It took a horrible, horrible wrong turn in the last 5-10 minutes that ruined the entire film for me.  You cut that out and it was actually pretty interesting.

     

    • #9
  10. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    PH beat me to it in (#5). Starship Troopers is the only movie I routinely describe as a guilty pleasure movie, and the one that immediately leaps to mind.

    I’ve never seen A Clockwork Orange, but I read the novel when I was almost certainly too young to appreciate it. (The same is true of 1984 and Animal Farm.) It left a significant impression, even then. I think I don’t want to watch the movie, though I think the book is worthy of rereading.

    • #10
  11. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I think all movies should be preserved, as art as well as historical value, and that includes anything that would be considered racially charged (today that would be just about anything).  It would also include movies by people who have been in trouble and convicted, actors and directors. That includes books too – no censoring.

    As far as some of the really bad ones, TCM had an old sci-fi movie on a few weeks ago from the early 1960’s I think, maybe late 50’s, that was deemed ‘the worst movie ever made’, so naturally we were intrigued. It was so bad I can’t even remember the name of it…..Ha! The flying saucers really looked like hubcaps, and the aliens were creating zombies that killed people, something like that. I didn’t think the acting was that bad, except for this one cop, who seemed to keep pausing when it was his turn to talk, like he was trying to remember his lines.

    • #11
  12. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    PCU is not just a 90s comedy, it’s prophecy.

    • #12
  13. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Not only is die hard a christmas movie, but the first three films are a deeply religious and christian parable on the impossibility of salvation through works.  John McLane is Job mixed with Candide.  He saves his wife from terrorists…. on Christmas…. TWICE…!!! He still ends up divorced, alone, and failing to cope with the crippling PTSD.  Then even after saving NYC from a string of bombings in schools, he remains estranged from his family and friends (if you accept the 4th film and 5th films at all)

    John McLane is an exemplification on the idea that there is literally nothing we can do to earn love or salvation.  The setting of the first films at christmas only highlight the christian nature of the films through juxtoposition, in that Christmas is the season where we celebrate the birth of our lord and savior, which is the only path to salvation.

     

    • #13
  14. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    If it is maligned then it was probably bad and I don’t remember it if I watched it. I didn’t know that Rings (US version of Japanese horror movie) was a very poorly received end to the Ring trilogy. I saw it in theaters and well, it was fairly scary and creepy and I thought generally well done if overly long. It certainly wasn’t horrible but it has a really really low rating and it isn’t anywhere near that bad. 

    But then again, I scare fairly easily. When those doors slam shut in the dark hallway? It gets me most every time. 

    • #14
  15. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    One of my favorites is The Loved One, a satiric look at the funeral home business in Hollywood, or Los Angeles. There is something to offend just about everyone in this film.

    • #15
  16. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I don’t believe in “guilty pleasures” – why should I feel guilt because the critical groupthink scorned something I think has merit?

    My guilty pleasures are frequently things I agree have no merit. Like Malibu Shark Attack.

    No merit. But I’m vastly entertained none the less.

    • #16
  17. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    One group of maligned movies are action comedies.

    In general, critics prefer serious movies. Also, it is very difficult to balance.

    I’m the guy who mutters “that doesn’t make sense” throughout any movie. That’s a problem with a movie that takes itself too seriously. Thus, ironically, my seriousness lets me find movies that do not take themselves too seriously to be less of a problem.

    My first maligned movie is Last Action Hero.

    • #17
  18. Dan Pierson Coolidge
    Dan Pierson
    @DanPierson

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    PCU is not just a 90s comedy, it’s prophecy.

    At least once a month, I say some variant of “You can major in Game Boy if you know how to (BS).” 

    No one ever knows what I am talking about. 

    • #18
  19. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    Thus, ironically, my seriousness lets me find movies that do not take themselves too seriously to be less of a problem.

    My view of Desperate Housewives was that it didn’t take itself seriously. The theme music having the same composer as The Sims likely helped that perception. I enjoyed it because of that.

    I can’t tell if Soaps and Tel a Novellas are to be taken seriously or not. Jane The Virgin as an actual tel a novella that satirizes tel a novellas makes it a lot of fun, as well. Another in the “doesn’t take itself seriously” category.

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. Gene Wilder wrote and directed. Gene Siskel didn’t like it. Pauline Kael didn’t like it. So much for Siskel and Kael.

    • #20
  21. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    One group of maligned movies are action comedies.

    In general, critics prefer serious movies. Also, it is very difficult to balance.

    I’m the guy who mutters “that doesn’t make sense” throughout any movie. That’s a problem with a movie that takes itself too seriously. Thus, ironically, my seriousness lets me find movies that do not take themselves too seriously to be less of a problem.

    My second maligned movie is Knight and Day.

    • #21
  22. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    One that comes to mind is Robert Altman’s Popeye. It was a sprawling mess of a movie, and yet I have always found it compelling. I’m a sucker for world-building, and the movie does such a terrific job of creating the world of Sweet Haven (and its large cast of characters) that it’s fascinating to watch. Honestly, I don’t even remember all that well what the actual plot of the movie is, but it almost doesn’t matter.

    • #22
  23. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    I’m a sucker for the always-goopy Cronenberg. Especially eXistenZ. A real mind-bender.

    https://youtu.be/HAdbdUt_h9M

    • #23
  24. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    One group of maligned movies are action comedies.

    In general, critics prefer serious movies. Also, it is very difficult to balance.

    I’m the guy who mutters “that doesn’t make sense” throughout any movie. That’s a problem with a movie that takes itself too seriously. Thus, ironically, my seriousness lets me find movies that do not take themselves too seriously to be less of a problem.

    My second maligned movie is Knight and Day.

    Knight and Day is friggin’ AWESOME!  One of my favorite movies.  Plot makes no sense, but it doesn’t matter,  because it’s just plain fun.  And the actors are clearly enjoying themselves.  Tom Cruise does everything but wink at the camera.

    • #24
  25. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    I’ve only seen it once, many years ago, so I can’t vouch for it directly, but my brother insists that Ishtar is a really funny movie.

    • #25
  26. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    I wouldn’t know what is panned by critics because I never pay attention to them. That anyone would pay them to bloviate has always been a mystery. That anyone would read them has always been a mystery.

    • #26
  27. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    James Lileks: I also don’t believe in watching bad movies to revel in their awfulness, unless there’s some meta-level payoff.

    You don’t have to watch bad movies because Mystery Science 3000 did it for you!

    As for maligned movies, I like The Abyss and Prometheus.  In Prometheus, Noomi Rapace does her best acting job since the Dragon Tattoo series, IMHO . . .

    • #27
  28. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    One group of maligned movies are action comedies.

    In general, critics prefer serious movies. Also, it is very difficult to balance.

    I’m the guy who mutters “that doesn’t make sense” throughout any movie. That’s a problem with a movie that takes itself too seriously. Thus, ironically, my seriousness lets me find movies that do not take themselves too seriously to be less of a problem.

    My second maligned movie is Knight and Day.

    It looks almost like a ‘never-released-in America’ Jackie Chan movie.

    • #28
  29. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):
    Knight and Day is friggin’ AWESOME! One of my favorite movies. Plot makes no sense, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s just plain fun. And the actors are clearly enjoying themselves. Tom Cruise does everything but wink at the camera.

    Seen the extended version?

    • #29
  30. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    OK, it must said, Paint Your Wagon is an awesome movie and Clint Eastwood’s singing is pretty good too. It gets a lot of knocks because its a musical, with Lee Marvin and Clint, “Partner”. The plot is simple and solid. The marriage situation is hilarious. But I like the singing.

    And, for trivia purposes, this is not the only movie Eastwood sings in. Can you name the other?

    • #30