This is my 400th post. I’ve been kicking around some thoughts for several months now and I’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of a movie review/recommendation, I’m going to write something that I will simply term a “discussion starter”.
Many people have films that they consider guilty pleasures. They write about them from time to time, almost as a confessional. The thing is, these movies usually are ones that a large number of other people like, too. They are often movies that are fun to watch, but don’t have much depth to them. Just like most everyone else, it’s easy for me to write a recommendation for one of these films simply because I liked it. I also have no problem sharing my liking for these films in comments on your sites.
Over the last several months, though, I’ve noticed a trend in myself. I am far more reluctant to leave a comment that is critical of an all-time classic movie. Sure, I will tiptoe around it some by writing things like “I felt it didn’t live up to the hype”, “for whatever reason it just wasn’t for me”, or even “I realize I am in the small minority here, but I didn’t like it.”
All of those are qualified statements weakening the message, which is this – I didn’t like, and maybe even hated, this critically acclaimed, very popular movie. I’ve thought about why a guy confident enough to stand by all of his likes (me) is reluctant to stand behind his dislikes. I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes down to “being taken seriously” as a “movie person”.
As I mentioned, everyone has movies they love even though they know they are not that great, so they have no trouble sharing their pleasure. What I think may be just as common is having movies that you don’t like, even though you know they are considered great by most others. Saying that we feel that way about a film, though, is an invitation to having all our opinions on movies no longer being taken as seriously. “How can you dislike that film?! I love it! It’s an all-time classic. I’m not sure I can trust your recommendations on other movies now.”
I’ve decided to take the risk and come clean on two movies I secretly hate. “Hate” is a strong word for me, and I don’t use it lightly. I can find something likable in almost every movie. There have been only a handful of movies I would say I truly hated, but among them are a couple of classics.
I decided I needed some guidelines on what makes a “great” movie:
- It should be a film at least 25 years old so that a generation has gone by where it has been hailed as great.
- If possible, it should be both critically acclaimed AND liked by general movie goers.
- And it won’t be one of the trendy, easy targets like Ordinary People beating Raging Bull or other Oscar controversies. Hating Raging Bull? Now that would definitely qualify.
I also needed to eliminate choices where I felt the movie wasn’t that bad, but simply didn’t live up to the enormous hype surrounding it. I know some people have watched Citizen Kane and their reaction was “that’s it?” (I love it, by the way.) I’ve had that reaction to some classics, but I didn’t actually dislike them. No, it has to be a film that I truly disliked, where I maybe even had to force myself to continue watching it so I could at least say I had seen the whole thing and have an informed opinion on the film.
Okay, here goes. (deep breath) The great movies that I secretly hate are The Shining and Annie Hall. There are several others that fall into the “dislike” category, but for now I will concentrate on the two that generated the strongest negative reaction in me. I will write about these two movies in Part 2 of this post tomorrow.
So, there are my confessions of two great movies that I hate. Please let me know your thoughts on the topic in general. Do you have “secret hates”? In addition, what do you think about the concept of “discussion starters” being posted here from time to time? It’s not like I lie awake at night thinking Deep Thoughts, but I do have other ideas for discussion that I have been kicking around in my head.