This list is from serial Boomtown Rap commenter and now guest poster, Keyser Soze (CEO, Department of Overrated Movies).
If you take exception to any of his choices and/or his reasons for them, be sure to let him know in the Comments thread. He thinks his taste is impeccable, his authority absolute. Challenge him at your risk. Keyser riled is a savage beast. You’ll need to be ready to rumble if ya wanna take him on, quick on the draw with yer movie references, yer powers of reasoning well honed. But if you’re up to it, please do. He’s overdue for a well-aimed kick in the arse.
Enough from me. Gotta go and lace up me steel-caps…
Anyone who wishes to compile their own such list, you’re most welcome to post it in the Comments thread. You might find some inspiration by referring to the Sight & Sound Greatest Films Poll.
Now, on with the show. Keyser?
My 10 Most Overrated Movies
by Keyser Soze
Breathless, or if you must have it, A Bout De Souffle (1959) – directed by Jean-Luc Godard; starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg
One mistake critics commonly make is assuming that if something is the opposite of the routine and mediocre then it must necessarily be a work of genius. Unfortunately for such easy assumptions, it’s far more common to find that the opposite of the routine is Still Crap, albeit of a more arresting colour, texture and taste to the more regular variety. Breathless is a perfect example of this: it sho ain’t Hollywood, and that beguiled nerdy critics into eulogizing its “raw energy”, “freshness”, “vision”, yawn yawn yawn… And all the sudden editing lurches that seem to be just amateurish to the rest of us? Well, to the seasoned film critic these were Flashes of Genius. Which is why I guess that they’re film critics and the rest of us are jest regular nosepickers from the burbs.
This movie is historically significant because it started a vogue for amoral anti-heroes. Prior to this, heroes were generally admirable to some degree or other but this one was novel in the way he revelled in the idea of being a complete arsehole. Of course, there had already been Marlon and James (Dean) displaying some elements of arseholehood but at bottom they weren’t really arseholes – they wuz just misunderstood. The hero of Breathless, however, never pretended to be anything but an arsehole. In fact, he would’ve been downright insulted to be regarded as anything else.
Anyway, it may not be great art or even a decent movie but it certainly inspired a chapter in my forthcoming “A History Of Cool”: Jean-Paul made “Jean-Paul” (or any hyphenated Gallic variant) the coolest name on the block for at least three years and film auteurs everywhere with only five grand to make a movie were inspired to vomit all over the celluloid and put on Bohemian airs and become part of the Nouvelle Vogue. That’s “New Wave” to all you nosepicking hicks out there…
Four Weddings And A Funeral, directed by I can’t remember; starring Hugh ‘n’ Andie
Look, everybody loves weddings, especially movie weddings, OK? Can you think of one movie with a wedding in it that wasn’t popular? Anyways, I was thinking: if one wedding is good, why not two? And if two is better, why not three? And if…?
“Surely yer don’t mean four?!!!!!”
“Yup! It’s a stroke of goddamn genius!”
“Well, how about five, then?”
“Five? Are you kidding? Five is ridiculous!”
“Well, umm, isn’t there a chance it could get a bit monotonous? I mean, isn’t there a chance four weddings coming one after another could get a bit too much? So, how’s about putting something else in for contrast?”
“Like what, for instance?”
“Well, something dark and contrasty…something like… like… I got it! A fookin’ funeral, man!”
“Fook yeah, a funeral! In the middle of all those weddings! It can’t fookin’ miss!”
“Yeah, it could get all solemn for just a while so that when we got back into all the wedding shit the punters would be doubly uplifted! It’d be like a burst of fookin’ sunlight after the gloom!”
“A bit of the ol’ Memento Mori! Woo Hoo! Memento Mori can’t miss as long as you don’t overdo it!”
“What about the characters? I’ve been thinking: we have to have a romance between two Widely Disparate Characters. That way when they finally get together after all the trials it’ll be a bit of the ol’ Hegelian Dialectic comin’ through! Reso-fookin-lution!”
“Right on, you little bitch! And doesn’t Hugh look cute when he gets all tongue-tied?”
“Also, let’s have a load of eccentric characters as Hugh’s friends.”
“Yeah, but they can’t be just eccentric, they’ve got to be something else as well. Just “eccentric” is annoying.”
” Well, how about “loveable”, then? Everybody loves “eccentric but loveable”, it can’t fookin’ miss!”
“AND let’s make them cover all the bases. Diversity is big right now and the whole theme of tolerance for the foibles of mankind and we can all fookin’ live together and…”
“Shut up. Let’s hit the boozer.”
La Dolce Vita – directed by Federico Fellini; starring Marcello Mastroianni and NICO!
One dreary party scene after another…will it never end?
Goodfellas – directed by Martin Scorsese; starring Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro
Arresting on a first viewing but looks more and more mechanical on repetition. And the characters are all so disgusting how could you care what happens? Rather like The Sopranos in this regard.
M – directed by Fritz Lang; starring Peter Lorre
One of those ancient movies accorded classic status simply by dint of always having been so. Primitive in the extreme and only watchable from an extremely forgiving “historical” perspective.
The Committments – directed by Alan Parker; starring lots of “characters”
90s cinema had an obsession for “characters” and where better to find them than Oirland? With “characters” with so much “character” that “character” was coming out of their arses how could it fail? Music consisted of a coarsened rendition of hallowed Motown and Stax classics but the audiences were too entranced with the characters to notice the difference. Made a star for all of three and a half minutes of soon-to-be-forgotten Andrew Strong, who had the kind of “big” “emotional” voice that always has people devoid of musical instinct thinking is “great”. And thankfully modern cinema has gone back to stereotypes. They’re so much easier to live with.
Silence Of The Lambs – directed by Jonathan Demme, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster
The thing you have to understand is that Hannibal Lecter is really, really, really, really evil. Fiendishly so, in fact. And wasn’t it a stroke of luck that his first name is ‘Hannibal’? So that he could have the catchy nickname ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’? Perhaps the most ludicrous movie ever to be considered plausible by people who had purportedly made it to high school. Unless people viewed it as a piece of ridiculous camp and were just pissing themselves silently? Naw, they took it seriously!
Once Upon A Time In America – directed by Sergio Leone; starring Robert De Niro and James Woods
I like Leone’s westerns, which have all the best qualities of a simpleton – naive charm and an absence of enervating “sophistication”. This one, unfortunately, has the less salubrious qualities of simpletonhood, namely leering vulgarity combined with smutty prurience and unabashed silliness. In fact, this is in the running with Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation Of Christ for the honour of being The Silliest And Most Vulgar Movie To Ever Gain Critical Plaudits. It’s obsessed with sex, which is always a bad thing: sex may be inherently funny for all those not in its throes but the constant parading of sex as the motivation behind pretty well everything in this movie isn’t even intended to be hilarious. In fact, I do believe it’s meant to be INSIGHTFUL.
Remarkably, this would-be gangster epic is sometimes mentioned in the same breath as The Godfather – a bit like comparing Krakatoa to an imperfectly-suppressed fart.
Singin’ In The Rain – directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen; starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor
This is so relentlessly eager-to-please, so insistently “entertaining”, that I just have to be stubborn and refuse to be entertained. I prefer my movies to be a little stand-offish, to preserve just that bit of dignity. But – with its one knock-em-dead scene after another – this is like a project to elicit a series of perfectly-predicted (and, needless to say, ‘positive’) reactions. If Herr Goebbels had made it it would be denounced, but as it’s only innocuous Stanley and Gene it’s prime innocent fare of the purest kind. I feel as if I’m being assaulted by a huge mass of candy-floss.
Gone With The Wind (1939) – directed by Victor Fleming; starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh
Crap, Golden Years Of Hollywood-style. For years, I’ve been mulling over whether to pronounce this much-loved period epic as Defintively Crap Keyser Soze-style but I kept on falling asleep before I could do so with complete conviction. However, I have recently – after suffering severe traumas in the process – made it through to the end. Now I can deliver my final verdict: Crap, Golden Years Of Hollywood-style.
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