Part I yielded by far the most fruitful comment thread of my nascent blogging career, so before I move on to Part II, I feel I should address a couple of issues that were raised by you, my Dear Readers...
1) First, let me say right off the bat, that I in no way shape or form endorse the ludicrously misogynistic, homophobic comments contained in the Louis CK, American Beauty clip from the likes of Jim Norton and Nick DiPalo, I just endorse their view of the movie. Sorry if that turned you off, but I thought it provided a fairly accurate portrayal of what true middle age desperation and sexual frustration looks like, and you've got to admit, rose pedals?
2) Never let it be said that I'm not open to persuasion, but I've decided, based on your comments, to grant a reprieve to Fight Club. Perhaps I was too harsh, so I will say that it officially does not "suck", feel free to enjoy it now unburdened of the fear of being deported to one of the Leader's cultural correction camps. I just feel that if you're in your twenties or older and are still blown away by this movie (Ed Norton, Brad Pitt= Same PERSON!!??!?) you should probably grow up.
Now on to a few other atrocities...
IS THAT MY OSCAR IN THERE!!!
The plot of this movie unfolded with all the crackling tension of watching stock footage of hot dogs falling off a rack, culminating with a reveal about as satisfying as your average shaggy dog story. Watching this movie felt like passing a kidney stone, and not because I was genuinely moved. I didn't care at all about any of the characters, and other than a cameo by Eli Wallach, I found the acting to be cynical exercise in humorless mugging. Again, it was an enormous bore, that were it not for the A-List cast and the imprint of Clint would have been fast forgotten. This movie proves that all it takes is the mere suggestion of Clint's grizzled face and gravely voice to make film critics wet their pants. Take some "adult" themes, dead/molested children, mix with respected actors, add Hollywood legend, shake, stir, accept Oscar.
The Shawshank Redemption
The Green Mile with an only slightly less magical negro...
Sorry Tim Robbins, two for two today, you're a great actor, I went to high school with your kids, but I have to go on record as saying this sacred cow is in bad need of an Apocalypse Now style sacrifice to good taste. Defenders will say this movie is about the power of faith, hope, and the enduring human spirit, and I will say it is precisely because of said hope and faith that I hate this movie. Anything ostensibly about the power of hope to conquer all is just about the most cynical thing I can imagine as it engenders a sense of entitlement to a future you have no control over. Even the title is phony, "Redemption?" Tim Robbins' character was innocent, why is he redeemed? It would have been a lot cooler if he actually did go OJ on his wife and her lover, only to escape from prison and end up living the good life completely free from the punishment of law and conscience. That would be an interesting movie, but like every other Frank Darabont film, Shawshank traffics in the worst kind of cynicism, the kind that Hollywood millionaires peddle to the desperate because they think they need to "uplifted" by a diabetes inducing ending, but only after being put through the crucible of anal rape, wrongful imprisonment, and an impossibly evil warden, why he didn't have a mustache to twirl while putting Andy/Jesus in the hole, I have no idea. Give me Stallone's Lock-Up anyday over this garbage.
I don't think I need to say too much, other than I'm routinely amazed how many people take this movie seriously. It's fine if you enjoy it as high camp or just delight in it's grisly violence, as I do, watching a man get his skull caved in, or a line of horses being impaled is always a hoot, but a good movie? Oh good lord no. Its crimes against history and common decency are too many to mention, but I'll just say that the entire plot can basically be boiled down to, Death Wish: Scotland. As I said in my tribute to the late Patrick McGoohan--who played the Adolf-like King Edward the Longshanks--you can fuck wit the Scots all you want, but raping and killing their wives? Maybe the biggest mistake the British Empire ever made. Is this movie about the power of freedom and liberty, and how you have to fight/kill for what you believe in? Keep dreaming, just throw it in the pile with every other Mel Gibson movie, which are all about one thing and one thing only: the purification of the body and spirit through inhuman levels of torture and barbarism. (Bonus: in the comments let's see if you can name a single Mel Gibson movie, in which his character isn't tortured horribly.)
Requiem for a Dream
Shorter This Movie: Don't Do Smack...
Now we're getting into dangerous territory...it's one thing to dismiss much beloved middle-brow fare like Shawshank and Braveheart, but what about the work of an "indie" auteur like Mr. Darren Aronofsky? Sorry, but starting with the absurdly pretentious title, this movie is just awful, a two and a half hour exercise in grinding down your audience like a pencil stuck in a sharpener. There was not a single minute of this movie that didn't hit you in the face with a wall of shrieking noise or epilepsy inducing editing. It had all the subtly of an after-school special directed by a coked up Leni Riefenstahl. Hey I've got an idea for a movie, it's about four people who completely shit their lives down the drain! Excellent! It's about like "addiction" and "society" man, and how we're like all junkies now. Hey, if it's "raw" and "edgy" enough, critics and young people alike will lap it up like the dogs they are. Micheal Bay movies assault your senses too, they're just about jive-talking robots, not hopeless drug addicts. At least it had the always great Keith David, and introduced the phrase "ass to ass" into our lexicon.
Every Single Wes Anderson Movie Ever Made
Williamsburg: The Movie.
This is bound to be the most controversial, so I'll break it down like this: I'll spot you Bottle Rocket, and maybe even Rushmore if I'm being charitable, but from then on it's one big shitsicle culminating with The Royal Tenenbaums and a continuing slide into precious irrelevance and some Brazilian guy doing Bowie songs. In Part I, I accused Fight Club of being responsible for everything from the Haditha massacre to the VT shooter, a tad too much I agree, and besides it was Oldboy that set off the Hokie holocaust, but today I'm going to lay at Wes Anderson's doorstep responsibility for an atrocity far worse than those...I speak of course of the modern urban hipster. I think of Wes and his twee films every time I take the L Train and inevitably see some kid with "ironic" facial hair, or perhaps wearing bowling shoes, or maybe dressed like a turn of the century Cockney boot-black or really just anyone exuding an embrace of impossible "quirks" as a substitute for character or having an interesting point of view. His crimes against humanity are too many to name, so I'll just focus on Tenenbaums as the prime example of the "quirkification" of the American indie film. Here's a family that wears matching track suits! The sister is missing a finger, the brother a suicidal tennis pro, oh and Bill Murray looks woefully into a camera. None of these people exist in anything even close to reality, and what's worse other than the way they dress or their wacky antics, they have no personality, and like the movies they're in, say nothing even remotely plausible, interesting, important, or even funny.
As always, feel free to disagree or add suggested additions in the comments.