The old grad school game, reimagined: following Chris’ comment that he almost felt embarrassed that he hadn’t ever seen McCabe and Mrs. Miller, two versions of the Shame game.

1. What ‘great film’ have you not seen (that you seriously regret not having seen)?
Me: Renoir’s Rules of the Game. I even own it, and still haven’t watched it. Pitiful.

2. What ‘great film’ do you shamefully not like/enjoy/appreciate? (NOTE: NOT those films others call great but you despise. Instead, ones you shamefacedly would avoid disparaging unless pushed.)
Me: Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. I know I should like it, but…. every time I try again, I stop liking the movie after the scorpion fight.

(Another version might be: What ‘mediocre film’ do you secretly love, one you know is NOT good but nonetheless cherish? Jeff, you’re only allowed one answer.)

27 thoughts on “Shame”

  1. Too many: Birth of a Nation, City Lights, Greed, Intolerance, High Noon, the original King Kong, the last half of Lawerence of Arabia, Modern Times, Battleship Potempkin, The Passion of Joan of Arc, the final two installments of the Apu Trilogy, chunks of The Searchers, Stagecoach, most Fassbinder films, L’Atalante (so, silent films and westersn have not been high on my list). I abhor mediocrity but if you are talking about guilty pleasures . . . well, that’s a tricky one. Joe Verses the Volcano: I haven’t seen this movie in years but I remember really enjoying it even though critics ravaged it. Does Peggy Sue Got Married count? I think its a damn good film.

  2. 1. weekend

    2. i am never embarassed about stating my dislikes; i think i lost a job once by disparaging persona at a lunch. and i’m quite vocal also about my low regard for most altman. so, this is tough for me. well, maybe vertigo.

    (is it time for us to make those top 10 over-rated and under-rated film lists again?)

  3. I, too, have not seen (or not been able to sit through) Birth of a Nation and Intolerance. I have not seen a number of important movies by Truffaut and Godard. I have not seen many movies of the classical hollywood cinema. In fact I see less and less! and most shamefully I did not watch The Leopard though I had the goddamn disc from Netflix for six weeks!

    2. I hate Harold and Maude (a cult film for many) and I also feel Persona is tremendously overrated. I hated American Beauty. I also hate High Noon–I mean, go fight your own battles, you self-righteous prick.

    3. I love the Road Warrior, but I don’t feel the least bit guilty over it. I also love Death to Smoochy, which was roundly panned when it came out.

    and for the record, jesus h. people–The Wild Bunch, Vertigo, McCabe and Mrs. Miller are three of the greatest movies ever.

    chris–I’d start with The Searchers and Passion of Joan of Arc–they are two remarkable films.

  4. Okay, #3 — Smoochy and Joe vs are exactly what I was looking for. Road Warrior is not, because it is so damn good. Smoochy sucked, though, and Joe could easily be my answer. Or every scene in Bachelor Party with Tom Hanks, a film that is execrable whenever he is off-screen, but terribly funny when he’s there.

    A few films I really adored as a kid used to be called mediocre (Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, Vacation) by many, but now have been critically recuperated, so I guess that’d be cheating. So….The Pink Panther Strikes Again. I keep reading in reviews of the Martin atrocity and of the dvd re-releases that this is a stale, middlin’ film… but I’m a sucker for every inch of its cheap gags, from the false-poison-needle-bosom of one assassin to the stupid laser-destructo-beam plot to Clouseau’s melting nose and laughing-gas-inspired giggles.

    I also am a sucker for John Carpenter, for almost everything, even Vampires and Escape from L.A.

  5. I don’t know if this quite fits Mike’s category but I’d say I like Abel Ferrera a great deal though every movie he makes gets roundly denounced. but I love most of his stuff from Ms. 45 through The Addiction to the most recent one I’ve seen The Blackout, I guess, though, King of New York is now rightly considered a masterpiece.

  6. Hey, is anyone playing fair? The avalanche of comments here indicates that, on the contrary, we don’t need to get pushed hard at all. There’s some glee here. The point is that it should bring you no pleasure, right?

    Even Mike isn’t playing fair. Mike, no one has ever pushed you to voice your true opinion of The Wild Bunch. I recall you give that one up freely.

    And Jeff, Vertigo is supposed to leave you cold.

  7. i’m playing fair. i’ve rarely voiced my lack of love for vertigo. all kinds of smart people love it and say smart things about it, and i’d love to be able to join in.

  8. I thought Vertigo was one of the most overheated movies around–I mean the guy jumps at a phantom nun ringing the bell? among other sensational bits….

    I also have a liking for B-list horror movies–I believe I enjoyed every installment of Hellraiser so far.

  9. Okay, fair’s fair.

    2. You’re right. I *do* feel bad about my general apathy toward Peckinpah, but I am not quiet about it. How about most Almodovar. I tend to like–oddly–his more conventional films. His older big cult/critic favorites… I feel I ought to like, but, for instance, Women on the Verge was a snore. I usally just nod and say ahuh, yes, hmm, oh…. and avoid commitment.

    3. I really, really like Castaway and Forrest Gump. I realize that I am pretty vocal here–and unapologetic–but I think it still counts because these are not my precious B-films or easy-to-love cultish pics but big Hollywood doozies with lots of mainstream press. And my Mom loves ’em, too–I can name on my two hands the number of films we both appreciate.

  10. mike, the last 15 minutes of castaway (everything after he gets off the island) is one of my favourite movies. i like to say that if zemeckis was french the entire movie would have been after he got off the island*. hanks growing a beard and talking to a volleyball? not so much.

    i agree with you re almodovar. i like his recent movies far, far more than the ones that made his reputation.

    *just as if spielberg were french saving private ryan would not have had a symphonic score and private ryan would have been an utter bastard.

  11. i prefer the movie my way. somebody is ringing a damn bell sometime. and the main point is that Vertigo’s a great movie!

    I would also like to see Mike’s version–maybe with Adrienne Barbeau playing the nun. and if you are making fun of Hitchock’s freudianism you might consider the point that he is not using freudianisms for their “meaning” but for their suggestive power–he makes the symbols explicit because they work cinematically and make the films more complex rather than less so. Take a look at Marnie–freud there is just one piece of the crazy puzzle! I don’t think Hitchcock ever takes Freud as symbolic or as revelatory of signficance.

  12. John caught my little joke–it wasn’t Hitch- or Sigmund-bashing, it was PeeWee-loving. I never pass up an opportunity to quote it.

    Another variant on these questions might be: What film is often touted as the best (of a director, of a genre) when you actually prefer a “lesser” film?
    Vertigo would obviously qualify as the “masterpiece” that many would seemingly knock off that throne. (I’m a big fan of that, but love The Birds.) And it’s probably no surprise that I’d tout After Hours or the segment “Life Lessons” over Raging Bull or other Scorsese. I’d also rather see Goodfellas than any combination of The Godfather films.

  13. michael, let me clarify that i don’t think vertigo is a bad film, by any means. i just can’t get as excited about it as most of the rest of you can, or as into it as i get into so many of hitchcock’s 40s movies: shadow of a doubt, notorious etc.

    i was going to say that my favourite scorcese film is king of comedy but have decided to go with a home-movie he made when he was 15, that only 32 people have seen. it’s titled man getting hit in the groin with a football. it works on many levels.

  14. I like Ambersons as well, but every time I watch it I can’t help but think of what might have been . . . it gets a bit frustrating. Kane, on the other hand, feels aesthetically coherent–its universe remains intact.

  15. i discussed this recently with a colleague who also does not like kane. i put forward my theory that someone who says that kane is not a great film is mostly doing so for effect. my own favorite welles is touch of evil but the greatness of kane cannot be denied, even if much of what is cinematically startling about it was cribbed from lang.

  16. i just saw ambersons and jeff is right, one cannot but think of what it might have been. all the same, i hadn’t seen it in many years, and never in english (in italy we dub everything), so it was a genuine delight. i love lucy’s character: she’s very mysterious and baffling, yet totally convincing. and there’s something about the embracing of or failure to embrace modernity that makes this film a good one to watch against the leopard. give it another try, michael?

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