Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Four star forgettables

A few days ago I happened to see a picture of LBJ on TV. For whatever reason, the image called to mind a dialogue exchange between John (Bruce Greenwood) and Bobby (Stephen Culp) Kennedy in Roger Donaldson’s Thirteen Days (2001). There’s no great significance in this—except that it’s the only thing I clearly remember from the film. I also remembered that I’d reviewed it, been favorably impressed and gave it four stars. Did it deserve those four stars? Re-reading my 2001 review, I suspect it did, but I’d need to see it again to swear to that.

What most struck me, though, was that it’s just one of any number of perfectly fine movies that came and went that simply didn’t have that special spark that made them stick in the mind. With that in mind, I took a quick run through the movie review archives in search of other such titles. Even admitting the quixotic nature of the archive (I know some titles are just plain missing) and its peculiar-to-non-existent mode of alphabetizing, I turned up quite a few movies that fell into this category, or into related ones. Occasionally, I’d see a four, or even five, star title and not recognize it, only to discover that I hadn’t reviewed it. Sometimes this was easy. I knew darned good and well that I never gave Armageddon (1998) four stars or Hardball (2001) five stars.

A great deal of the time when I couldn’t remember a title, I’d discover that it was a documentary. This didn’t surprise me. I admit that I’m not really that keen on documentaries—regardless of their worthiness—and I often find myself reviewing ones that hold little personal appeal for me. I am as against female genital mutilation as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean I actually want to see a documentary about it. And let’s be honest, the draw of any documentary is predicated on the viewer being interested in the topic. More to the point, how many of us have watched a documentary (and, no, concert films don’t count) multiple times?

Generally, the films I spotted fell into one of two categories. There were the merely overrated, which is a hindsight thing and not exactly what I was looking for. It’s pretty easy to second guess the validity of an opinion formed on one viewing that allowed minimal time for reflection. And believe me, I am only too aware of such “what was I thinking?” moments as Signs (2002) with its preposterous four stars. I’m equally cognizant of my early attempt at forced objectivity with Cast Away (2000) where I “divined” that audiences would probably enjoy a couple hours of Tom Hanks communing with a volley ball even if it didn’t do much for me personally. (And I couldn’t and can’t deny that it’s well done for what it is.)

After excluding documentaries, there was only one title I had completely forgotten and had to read the review in order to find out what it was. This actually occurred a little while back with the film Focus (2001). Even after being assured by someone that I had indeed seen it, I had to look it up whereupon I learned that I had seen it, I had reviewed it and I even gave it the full five stars. Regardless, I remember almost nothing about the film. Is it a good movie? I suspect so. I don’t think I could have been that far off-base, but it certainly lacked something if I can remember it only dimly. I mean, after all, I remember Dude, Where’s My Car?, the stirring saga of a couple of mouth-breather stoners that I feel assured is a much lesser film than Focus.

The lion’s share of titles came under the heading of “oh, yeah” when I encountered them. I didn’t need to look up Thirteen Days to remember I’d seen it and reviewed it. The same is true of such movies as 15 Minutes (2001), After the Wedding (2006), All Over the Guy (2001), Along Came a Spider (2001), The Anniversary Party (2001), Art School Confidential (2006), Bend It Like Beckham (2002), Black Hawk Down (2001), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001), Enemy at the Gates (2001), Hearts in Atlantis (2001), K-PAX (2001), Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002), Spy Game (2001), and The Sum of All Fears (2002). (I must confess I was amused to find that a porn film called The Sum of All Rears lay in the wake of that last.) Even granting that most of the titles listed there are from 2001 and 2002, it’s still instructive of more than the passage of time. (There are some movies I haven’t seen since 1972 that I remember.)

I have nothing against any of those titles—apart from Nicolas Cage’s Chico Marx accent in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I could go through them and sort out their position relative to each other, or note the fact that The Anniversary Party is more interesting as an early example of a movie shot on video, but to what end? (I should note, however, that I gave that one four stars and it was changed to five by the then editor.) The point to all this is simply that these actually are good movies, but good isn’t enough. There’s something lacking.

Looking over those titles, I’m hard-pressed to imagine that a single one of those movies is anybody’s favorite movie—and I can imagine an awful lot of downright weird or even ghastly choices for someone’s all-time favorite. I might be appalled by being told that somebody’s favorite movie is Transformers, but I wouldn’t actually be surprised. The real problem is that it’s impossible for me to believe that any movie cited there could generate sufficient passion to accomplish that level of devotion. Does anyone actually love any of these movies? With the possible exception of Bend It Like Beckham, I doubt it, but I’m willing to proven wrong. In fact, I’d like to be proven wrong. It’s kind of sad to see movies of some merit just sitting there unloved.

But really, look at those titles. What would you think if you went to someone’s house and found those titles on their DVD shelves? My first thought might be “Wal-Mart dump bin,” since there are a lot of us who’ll shell out five bucks for something we might watch some day. (If you wonder why I have Gore Verbinski’s The Mexican [2001] and Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula [1992], that’s the explanation. Then again I have lots of odd things because the studios get delusional around awards season and think someone will put Legally Blonde[2001] on a Ten Best list. ) Otherwise, I’d have some questions. I wouldn’t think there was something wrong with that person, but I’d be curious as to the motivation for the purchases. They’re sort of the filmic equivalent of beige walls—almost on the way to being the “sofa-sized” paintings of movies. Maybe that’s harsh, since a case could be made for each of these films, but not by me—at least to the point of owning them.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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100 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Four star forgettables

  1. Tonberry

    I’d have to look at my movie collection to see if there is something I own that I’ve completely forgotten. Because for the most part, when I buy movies it’s usually for some reason, even those five dollar bin bargins. The last two things I picked up from the bin were “Edward Scissorhands,” because it is a damn fine movie in that sea of mess and “The Adams Family,” simply because when I saw it as a child, I thought it was about The Adams Family killing off every guest that would visit them. Turns out I was very wrong, however I didn’t regret buying it.

    It was when I was putting together my personal top 8 of this year (so far) that I had trouble filling out the last couple of entries. I just couldn’t remember the rest of what I thought was good stuff, and put “Drag Me to Hell” just to round off the list (Speaking of which, it got a lot of buzz for being ‘the best American horror film in years, yet I must be the only one who remembers “1408”.) I thought it was fun, but I don’t really have a drive to see it again.

    Also, I used check out movies that have been nominated for Academy Awards (only because its got the name), and I know there have been quite a few of them I’ve seen, but can’t remember a thing about.

    I’ll look at my collection and get back to you.

  2. Ken Hanke

    The last two things I picked up from the bin were “Edward Scissorhands,” because it is a damn fine movie in that sea of mess and “The Adams Family,” simply because when I saw it as a child, I thought it was about The Adams Family killing off every guest that would visit them. Turns out I was very wrong, however I didn’t regret buying it.

    Oh, good stuff — and I consider The Addams Family at least pretty good — finds its way into that bin sometimes. Most of the “Road” pictures with Bing and Bob have been in there (what was Wal-Mart thinking stocking those in the first place?). Altered States and Exorcist III have shown up, too, as I think have The Tenant and The Tailor of Panama.

    Speaking of which, it got a lot of buzz for being ‘the best American horror film in years, yet I must be the only one who remembers “1408”.) I thought it was fun, but I don’t really have a drive to see it again.

    It’s okay, but I wouldn’t go past that. Overall, that’s the kind of buzz that only serves to illustrate how little people remember.

    Also, I used check out movies that have been nominated for Academy Awards (only because its got the name), and I know there have been quite a few of them I’ve seen, but can’t remember a thing about.

    Hardly surprising. It’s not necessarily a good barometer and it rarely has staying power. I’d be willing to bet that more people own a copy of Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster (1955) than can tell you the name of what won Best Picture that year (without recourse research).

  3. Does anyone actually love any of these movies? With the possible exception of Bend It Like Beckham, I doubt it
    I know plenty of people who love BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, although I’m not among them. Of that list, I like SPY GAME quite a bit, and still remember a lot of the film quite vividly, despite not having seen it since I was twelve. I don’t, however, love it.

    More to the point, how many of us have watched a documentary (and, no, concert films don’t count) multiple times?
    Do Michael Moore’s films count? I’ve watched BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE at least four times and FAHRENHEIT 9/11 twice.

  4. Tonberry

    Do Michael Moore’s films count? I’ve watched BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE at least four times and FAHRENHEIT 9/11 twice.

    I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen both (probably already the same as Mr. Dylan here, except for “Fahrenheit 9/11”) but those are really entertaining ‘documentaries.’ Moore’s documentaries feel more like ‘films’ than the traditional doc fare, if that makes any sense. I’ve seen quite a few documentaries, but Ken has good point in mentioning that a lot of them don’t have that replay value. Off the top of my head, besides Moore’s docs, “American Movie” is the only other one I can think of that I’ve seen multiple times.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Of that list, I like SPY GAME quite a bit, and still remember a lot of the film quite vividly, despite not having seen it since I was twelve.

    And unless my math fails me, that means you haven’t seen it since it came out — nor have you apparently felt compelled to.

    Do Michael Moore’s films count? I’ve watched BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE at least four times and FAHRENHEIT 9/11 twice.

    That’s an interesting question. Moore’s films are really some kind of hybrid, though they more or less qualify as documentaries. That they slant facts a particular way actually isn’t the problem, since nearly every documentary does that. It’s simply that “essay films” might be a more accurate term. I’ve seen the ones you mention at least twice. I’ve also seen The Times of Harvey Milk more than once, and I can imagine seeing Man on Wire again some day, but these are very rare exceptions.

  6. And unless my math fails me, that means you haven’t seen it since it came out—nor have you apparently felt compelled to.
    It came out when I was eleven, and I watched it again on DVD the following year. I haven’t felt the need to watch it since, but I imagine I’d be happy to sit through it again if it popped up on television while I was watching.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I’ve seen quite a few documentaries, but Ken has good point in mentioning that a lot of them don’t have that replay value. Off the top of my head, besides Moore’s docs, “American Movie” is the only other one I can think of that I’ve seen multiple times

    Now that does remind me of a documentary that ran on NET (PBS) back in 1970. I have no idea what it was called, but it was about Warner Bros. from the dawn of sound through the late 30s. I only saw it once, but I made an audio recording and heard it lots of times (I can even recite some of the narration, but I’ll spare you). I don’t know if that quite qualifies for seeing it more than once. At the same time, the appeal for me is completely grounded in the subject matter.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Ha! I’m one of those people who love Bend It Like Beckham. Yes, it’s on my DVD shelves, but no, it’s not my favorite film. Not even close.

    I figured it was the one with the most appeal. Bear in mind that I liked the movie. It’s just never struck me as something I wanted to see again.

    And the only people I know who watch non-concert documentaries more than once (apart from, yes, Michael Moore movies) are animal people — I’m thinking titles like The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Winged Migration, March of the Penguins, etc.

    Well, I’ve seen two of those. And I did see Winged Migration twice, but only because I reviewed it twice. While I qualify in most ways as an “animal person,” I rarely want to watch them on film for 90 minutes at a pop.

  9. arlene

    Now that does remind me of a documentary that ran on NET (PBS) back in 1970. I have no idea what it was called, but it was about Warner Bros. from the dawn of sound through the late 30s. I only saw it once, but I made an audio recording and heard it lots of times (I can even recite some of the narration, but I’ll spare you). I don’t know if that quite qualifies for seeing it more than once. At the same time, the appeal for me is completely grounded in the subject matter.
    Ken Hanke

    Was it NET/PBS? I seem to recall being mesmerized by Warners 50th. I think the whole six hours ran on network TV with two gorgeous 3 LP glossy boxed sets (that still reside by my ancient turntable) . I moved to them casette..and will eventually move to CD.

    I do agree that for a documentary to interest me enough to more than watch and forget, the subject needs to really resonate.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Was it NET/PBS? I seem to recall being mesmerized by Warners 50th. I think the whole six hours ran on network TV with two gorgeous 3 LP glossy boxed sets (that still reside by my ancient turntable) . I moved to them casette..and will eventually move to CD.

    What I saw ran either an hour or 90 minutes and was definitely on NET (it aired in the same block as them showing Once in a Lifetime). I don’t know if it was part of the series you refer to or not. When was Warners 50th? I know First National existed in the teens, but I’m not sure about Warners.

  11. LYT

    Do the Jackass movies count as documentaries? They certainly qualify as nonfiction.

    Of the list, ken, I can see Black hawk Down being someone’s favorite. Made my ten best that year. Great action movie, and I can envision someone with actual military service loving it even more.

  12. Ken Hanke

    Do the Jackass movies count as documentaries?

    No, Luke, I think those count as cruel and unusual punishment.

    Of the list, ken, I can see Black hawk Down being someone’s favorite. Made my ten best that year. Great action movie, and I can envision someone with actual military service loving it even more.

    You may be right. (I also forget that there are people who are keen on Ridley Scott.) I might be filtering this one too much through my basic dislike of (or disinterest in) war movies, though I admit it’s well made.

  13. Dionysis

    A very interesting and novel aspect of movie-watching. Among that cluster of titles you mentioned that I’ve seen (maybe half of them), I smiled over the inclusion of ‘Signs’. I recall rather liking it when I first saw it, but watched it a second time some months later and wondered “what was I thinking?” I also liked ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ (but have no interest in a repeat viewing), ‘Spy Games’ and ‘Enemy at the Gates’, both of which I’ve re-watched (and enjoyed).

    While I have nothing against Nicholas Cage, reflecting back, it seems that a number of films that I put into this category of ‘forgettables’ were Cage vehicles (and not just that abysmally bad remake of The Wicker Man) including one that received high critical praise, ‘Raising Arizona’.

    I would also agree about documentaries. Those few that I’ve watched more than once (and will probably pull out again in the future) tend to be historical or scientific in nature, although there are a few exceptions. I just watched a documentary titled ‘One for the Road’, an independent film about the former guitarist and songwriter for the British band Squeeze and his solo tour across the U.S. where he rented an RV and drove it from state to state, camping in various campgrounds (including North and South Carolina). It was highly entertaining (and it’s really not a concert film).

    Lastly, I think many can relate to picking up films from discount bins, assuming they’ll be watched at some point. I’m sure I have dozens and dozens of such titles on my shelves. Although they keep piling up faster than I can find time to watch them, I keep buying them, almost like some kind of addiction. I guess I’ll keep doing so too.

  14. Ken Hanke

    I recall rather liking it when I first saw it, but watched it a second time some months later and wondered “what was I thinking?”

    Yes, but you don’t have it on your permanent record by way of an archived review.

    including one that received high critical praise, ‘Raising Arizona’.

    I won’t argue with you on that one. Others will.

    Although they keep piling up faster than I can find time to watch them, I keep buying them, almost like some kind of addiction. I guess I’ll keep doing so too.

    Do you remember a TV commercial from the early 70s where “someone somewhere” one day disposes of one razor blade too many through that slot that used to be in the back of medicine cabinets and an entire apartment building collapses? I think that may work as an allegorical cautionary tale here. I have floor to ceiling shelves on the wall in my hallway (figure 15 feet long by 8 feet tall). It reached full status about a week ago. In the meantime, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Crank: High Voltage, In Bruges, Klondike Annie, the W.C. Fields Box set vol. 2, and a three-for of Burns and Allen movies (mostly to get Six of a Kind) have arrived on the scene. And this has nothing to do with remainder bins. Damned if I know where this is all going to go.

  15. Dread P. Roberts

    …I can see Black Hawk Down being someone’s favorite.

    I remember thinking that the filming in this movie had a nice, gritty touch to it, that seemed to be better controlled than a lot of movies like this, that revolve around a central focus on the sheer chaos element. But Black hawk Down also blurs in my mind with practically every other somewhat similar war movie. The only distinctive thing that I remember about this is the opening black screen with the quote by Plato, “Only the dead see the end of war.” I thought that was the coolest opening line for a war movie ever, but then again, I almost always enjoy when a movie opens with a clever quote, or something along those lines – like in Pulp Fiction, for example. Even though it didn’t feel quite as real, I think I actually enjoyed Enemy at the Gates more (since it is also mentioned), but I’m not really the person to talk to about war movies.

  16. Ken Hanke

    But Black hawk Down also blurs in my mind with practically every other somewhat similar war movie.

    This is an inherent problem with just about anything of this sort that isn’t Apocalypse Now (or How I Won the War, if that counts) and me. I can usually sort them out by era and/or geographical location. I guess Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front counts as an exception. But all in all the war — or battle sequence at least — that I remember most clearly is in Duck Soup.

  17. I have to be honest. Pretty much everything from this decade falls into this category for me. Don’t get me wrong, they are all fine films, but I rarely watch a movie more than once. If I do, I find that they have lost their luster. POOTIE TANG is the exception, of course.

  18. brianpaige

    I didn’t like Black Hawk Down much at all. The whole thing was so haphazard in how it played out, as in I never felt connected to anything or any character in the film.

    It’s funny to see Sum of All Fears mentioned, since basically the entire Jack Ryan series is the epitome of that “solid stuff but not amazingly memorable” category.

  19. Dread P. Roberts

    This is an inherent problem with just about anything of this sort that isn’t Apocalypse Now (or How I Won the War, if that counts) and me.

    I would also ad the boot camp scenes in Full Metal Jacket. It’s interesting though, despite how well the actual war scenes are filmed, that just doesn’t quite stick out as well.

    It’s funny to see Sum of All Fears mentioned, since basically the entire Jack Ryan series is the epitome of that “solid stuff but not amazingly memorable” category.

    I’m probably in the minority here, but I love The Hunt for Red October. The musical score alone is memorable to me. Ever since this came out in 1990, it seems to me like every other submarine movie to follow has just been a failed attempt at being better.

  20. brianpaige

    Yeah, Red October was the best of those and makes me wonder why Alec Baldwin didn’t reprise the role in the other films. I guess Ford was just the bigger draw and they figured without Connery in other films Baldwin couldn’t bring em in.

  21. Ken Hanke

    When I worked as a librarian, there were a few patrons who would check these out more than once (especially Wild Parrots, which is also my favorite of the bunch).

    I never saw Wild Parrots, though the idea of the movie intrigues me. Overall, the problem is that my limit for “oohing” and “ahing” over animal antics is reached fairly easily. Granted, it’s a lot higher than my non-existent tolerance for cute baby antics, but that’s not saying much.

  22. Ken Hanke

    I have to be honest. Pretty much everything from this decade falls into this category for me. Don’t get me wrong, they are all fine films, but I rarely watch a movie more than once. If I do, I find that they have lost their luster.

    See, now I’d be more able to say that about the 80s and even 90s. I’ve generally — generally, mind you — been more impressed with the 21st century output than any time since the mid-1970s.

    POOTIE TANG is the exception, of course.

    There’s a man with standards. Just what that means is another matter.

  23. Ken Hanke

    I didn’t like Black Hawk Down much at all.

    The only way I could really discuss this movie is to rewatch it. I don’t see that happening, especially since my memory of it strongly suggests that whatever power it might have requires bone-shaking theater sound and a 30 foot wide screen.

  24. Ken Hanke

    I would also ad the boot camp scenes in Full Metal Jacket. It’s interesting though, despite how well the actual war scenes are filmed, that just doesn’t quite stick out as well.

    That’s because they’re not distinctive in the way that the boot camp scenes were, I think.

    I’m probably in the minority here, but I love The Hunt for Red October. The musical score alone is memorable to me. Ever since this came out in 1990, it seems to me like every other submarine movie to follow has just been a failed attempt at being better

    Not that I follow the sub sub-genre very closely (my idea of a submarine movie is Yellow Submarine), but how many pretenders to the crown have there been? K-19 is the only thing that comes to mind. (I don’t know. I have really early childhood memories of being bored out of my 4-year-old mind by Run Silent Run Deep in 1958 at the Gem Theater in Kannapolis. My mother insisted we see anything with Gable in it. I think this scarred me for life where submarine movies are concerned.)

  25. my idea of a submarine movie is Yellow Submarine
    Perhaps the cast of The Hunt for Red October could be utilized in Robert Zemeckis’ upcoming creep-o-scope remake? How about Sean Connery as John, Alec Baldwin as Paul, Scott Glenn as George and James Earl Jones as Ringo?

    And Happy Birthday Ken.

  26. Ken Hanke

    James Earl Jones as Ringo

    Surely that’s a given.

    And Happy Birthday Ken.

    Thank you. Now, if I can just survive it…

  27. Dread P. Roberts

    Not that I follow the sub sub-genre very closely (my idea of a submarine movie is Yellow Submarine), but how many pretenders to the crown have there been? K-19 is the only thing that comes to mind.

    I would also add Crimson Tide (1995) and U-571 (2000), off of the top of my head. I’m not the biggest fan of underseas war-tension, but I think these are all reasonably fine movies for what they are. It’s not my intent to call these movies bad just because The Hunt for Red October is the only one I’ve ever wanted to watch more than once. U-571 gets a few extra points for chopping off Jon Bon Jovi’s head, but it also looses points for thinking the viewer is dumb enough to buy into the fact that Matthew McConaughey could ever actually be a military leader.

  28. Ken Hanke

    U-571 gets a few extra points for chopping off Jon Bon Jovi’s head, but it also looses points for thinking the viewer is dumb enough to buy into the fact that Matthew McConaughey could ever actually be a military leader.

    I’d call that a wash.

  29. Erik Harrison

    If Transformers is a cotton candy flick, then Signs is cheap Mexican food. All that cheese and beans and spices and you just gorge yourself, and then afterwards you feel sorta sick.

    Signs was interesting in that I think the general response of people is that they liked it when they saw it, some of them even gushed, but after they got out of the theatre the film began to turn sour on them. That, at the very least, is a kind of accomplishment.

  30. brianpaige

    Here’s the thing about Signs. It is a movie that flat out must be seen in the theater. There are certain scare moments that really deliver on the big screen, little noises that startle you. But at home? It’s just whatever. Those moments don’t connect.

  31. Ken Hanke

    Here’s the thing about Signs. It is a movie that flat out must be seen in the theater.

    For me, that point doesn’t hold up, because in a theater is the only place I’ve seen it. I’m sure it benefits from being seen theatrically, but my disenchantment with it came from a second theatrical viewing a few days after the first.

  32. arlene

    < <<<>>

    The copyright date on the boxed set (for lack of a better word) is 1972. I tend to believe it ran on television early 1973 . But I can be damned if I can remember where it ran.

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Warners included First National in the “50 Years” . But the damned thing ran well over 90 minutes because the highlights audio runs well over 6 hours.

  33. Ken Hanke

    The copyright date on the boxed set (for lack of a better word) is 1972. I tend to believe it ran on television early 1973

    Then what I’m talking about predates this by two or three years. I would not, however, be surprised if interviews from the documentary I saw found their way into the one you’re talking about.

  34. entopticon

    I feel differently about documentaries. I couldn’t possibly recall all of the documentaries that I have seen more than once, but a few off the top of my head are Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March, Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi, Crumb, Fermat’s Last Theorem, all of the Michael Moore films (especially Roger and Me), Errol Morris’s Gates of Heaven, The Fog of War, and The Thin Blue Line, Brother’s Keeper, In the Realm of the Unreal, Earth, Grey Gardens, Nanook of the North, The Times of Harvey Milk, Paradise Lost, Ghengis Blues, Supersize Me, Rivers and Tides, The Corporation, Manufacturing Consent, The Filth and the Fury, An Inconvenient Truth, Baraka, Capturing the Friedmans, and Microcosmos.

  35. Dionysis

    “Here’s the thing about Signs. It is a movie that flat out must be seen in the theater. There are certain scare moments that really deliver on the big screen, little noises that startle you. But at home? It’s just whatever. Those moments don’t connect.”

    I don’t know about that, Brian. I first saw the movie in the theatre; the second time was at home, but I do have a HD widescreen television and a first-rate surround system, and with no crowd chatter, the sound effects were probably even more noticeable. I still thought, upon second viewing, that it really wasn’t a very good movie (although I did like the premise).

  36. entopticon

    I actually like some M Night Shyamalan films more than most. Unbreakable grew on me after I had seen it the first time, I enjoyed Lady in the Water, and surprisingly, I even liked The Happening a lot.

    Signs however, just didn’t work for me. The directing was actually pretty good, but the story stretched artistic license beyond its elasticity. The notion that aliens traveled across galaxies to take over our planet via hand-to-hand combat, only to be foiled by a glass of water, was a little more than I could take.

  37. Dread P. Roberts

    entopticon,
    While I find Baraka to be a fascinating visual feast (I would love to see this on the big screen), I don’t know that I would classify it as a “Documentary” per se. I perceive it more as simply being a non-narrative film, that uses music and cinematic visuals to project an emotional response. It’s true that there are bits of messages being brought forth for the viewer to take into consideration, but it’s all done in such an abstract way, that each person can ultimately come to their own conclusion(s). I’m not saying that this automatically disqualifies it as a documentary, it’s just that I never saw it that way because of how it’s done. However, IMDB does list it as a documentary, so maybe this is just a broader category then I have given it credit for. After all, I’ve only seen about a third of the plethora of films you have listed.

    Also, if you didn’t already know, you may be interested to know that the director, Ron Fricke, is supposedly working on a sequel (of sorts) to Baraka, called Samsara, that is supposed to come out next year.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsara_(2009_film)

  38. entopticon

    Thanks for the heads up about Samsara. I hadn’t heard news of that yet.

    I haven’t met Fricke, but I talked briefly with Godfrey Reggio, and I was very impressed by his intelligence and humility.

  39. Ken Hanke

    I feel differently about documentaries. I couldn’t possibly recall all of the documentaries that I have seen more than once

    To each his own. Some of the ones you named I found to be a chore to sit through once. I am, I fear, unregenerate in my preference for narrative film.

  40. entopticon

    I usually feel the same way about biopics. There are definitely exceptions, but more often than not, dramatizing historical figures just annoys me and I find myself wishing they had just made a documentary.

    A particular pet peeve of mine is the tendency for TV documentaries to include dramatic reenactments. I assume they are doing it to hold the interest of young viewers with short attention spans, but more often than not it just creeps me out and I find it to be a distraction from the more interesting content.

    Which of those documentaries didn’t you like? The majority of them were lauded heavily by most critics.

  41. brianpaige

    I actually haven’t seen Signs since getting an HD TV set. The set doesn’t have the surround sound all over the room though.

    Perhaps Signs is simply a movie where the goofy plot holes shine through in subsequent viewings?

  42. entopticon

    Interesting that Castaway came up on your list, Ken. Julian Schnabel once singled it out as an example of everything that is wrong with Hollywood. He said, “You know, I watch a movie like ‘Cast Away’ and I want to, like, commit hara-kiri. The dumb lobby, the money lobby — there are companies that would rather make one dumb movie for $200 million rather than 20 $10 million movies that might have some meaning.”

    I thought it was a bit saccharine and contrived, but I certainly didn’t hate it. In fact, I thought it was a pretty poor example of the point Julian was trying to make. In my few conversations with Schnabel, I found him to be remarkably gregarious, but giving and gracious as well. I’m not surprised when I hear that others don’t like him though, because he definitely shoots from the hip, and his take on Castaway might be one example of that.

  43. Ken Hanke

    I usually feel the same way about biopics. There are definitely exceptions, but more often than not, dramatizing historical figures just annoys me and I find myself wishing they had just made a documentary.

    I like biopics — at least the ones that don’t come across like they have a stick up their butts. But I’m not sure what you object to about them. If it’s historical accuracy, then you’re almost certainly going to object to nearly all of them.

    A particular pet peeve of mine is the tendency for TV documentaries to include dramatic reenactments.

    Conceptually, it doesn’t bother me. The execution, however, is usually laughably bad.

    Which of those documentaries didn’t you like? The majority of them were lauded heavily by most critics

    I found Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi tedious. Super-Size Me, however, I positively loathed — not only for stacking its deck, but because I found Morgan Spurlock utterly obnoxious and I ended up feeling that the whole thing was really all about him. The problem — for me — with documentaries is that even the best of them are almost always too long and I rarely find them actually entertaining. I exempt Moore, the Harvey Milk film and Man on Wire from that last category. And whatever else a film does, if it doesn’t entertain me, it’s failed for me. I would far rather read socio-political critiques than watch them.

    I’m not surprised when I hear that others don’t like him though, because he definitely shoots from the hip, and his take on Castaway might be one example of that.

    Most of the people I know who don’t like Schnabel simply don’t care for his work. (The films of his I’ve seen struck me as admirable, but nothing I’d watch twice.) I’ve never actually encountered any personal critcism of him, though I do think his attack on Cast Away is overstated — even while understanding his ire.

  44. entopticon

    But I’m not sure what you object to about them. If it’s historical accuracy, then you’re almost certainly going to object to nearly all of them.

    Yep, my problem is usually with historical accuracy. It drives me nuts when they try to improve on history by adding dramatic elements. If they are going to do that, I prefer it when they just work consciously within the genre of reinvented history.

    The problem—for me—with documentaries is that even the best of them are almost always too long and I rarely find them actually entertaining.

    To me, this seems like the equivalent of a food critic saying that they don’t like Asian flavors, or multi-course meals, but we see things very differently. To be honest, more often than not, I see criticisms about length as the problem in films to say more about the lack of aesthetic training of the percipient than of the film itself. I see aesthetic appreciation as a two-way street. In most mediums, popular art doesn’t make you work for it, but better art requires effort on the percipient’s end as well. As with appreciating classical or experimental music, it generally takes effort to learn to appreciate it. And as with most every aesthetic medium, one’s attention span is something that can be developed, which explains why young people generally have such short attention spans.

    I’d imagine you would disagree, but I think that a very valuable aesthetic approach is to look at challenging material, whether it is length, genre, or narrative structure that you find challenging, which is hard to enjoy on first viewing, as potentially a subjective shortcoming rather than a flaw in the work itself. For the most part that’s a very un-American approach, except in the fine arts and experimental mediums, (we like fast food, microwaves, soundbites, and frenetically paced images and plots) but it seems more common in European countries, and I think it serves them well. Guy Ritchie not withstanding.

    As for Schnabel, he can definitely be a bit overbearing for a lot of people. He tried to capture his own bravado in Gary Oldman’s portrayal of him in Basquiat, but a lot of people saw that as predictably narcissistic on his part. I think I would watch all of his films again, because they are remarkably good.

  45. Ken Hanke

    Yep, my problem is usually with historical accuracy. It drives me nuts when they try to improve on history by adding dramatic elements.

    I could defend the art of the biopic, but I don’t see it likely to alter your view.

    To me, this seems like the equivalent of a food critic saying that they don’t like Asian flavors, or multi-course meals, but we see things very differently.

    That certainly qualifies as understatment.

    I’d imagine you would disagree

    Not entirely, but sufficiently.

    I think that a very valuable aesthetic approach is to look at challenging material, whether it is length, genre, or narrative structure that you find challenging, which is hard to enjoy on first viewing, as potentially a subjective shortcoming rather than a flaw in the work itself.

    At what point do you decide that the flaw is in the work and not in you? And how do you conclude that you really have come to appreciate whatever it is and just haven’t brainwashed yourself? How do you determine what to apply this to?

    For the most part that’s a very un-American approach, except in the fine arts and experimental mediums, (we like fast food, microwaves, soundbites, and frenetically paced images and plots) but it seems more common in European countries, and I think it serves them well

    While I would agree with the idea that we on the whole are addicted to immediate gratificaton, I see very little evidence that mass European taste in popular culture is particularly better. We often think it’s better only because they don’t export their crap as readily as we do, which is less a value judgment on their part than the lack of a ready export market it for it.

    I think I would watch all of his films again, because they are remarkably good

    That, regardless of how you want to view it, is a subjective assessment.

  46. entopticon

    At what point do you decide that the flaw is in the work and not in you?

    There are no absolutes, but usually when I have done the work of investing sufficient effort and stretching my mind as much as feasible. There is no exact point, but I definitely don’t expect the work to always immediately entertain upon first viewing.

    There was an interesting book published a few years ago, unfortunately my less than trustworthy memory is at a loss for the title, about how many of the most prominent contemporary art critics actually disliked the work of their favorite artists at first. The general thesis was that exceptional art doesn’t often immediately grab the viewer the way that more easily accessible art does, but the payoff for the percipient working hard to appreciate it is far greater in the end. I think that aptly applies to virtually every aesthetic medium. For example, much of the surrealist cartoon art that adorns many college student’s dorm walls has an immediate wow factor; no aesthetic training is necessary to appreciate it, but it is generally far more limited in aesthetic depth compared to more challenging work.

    While I would agree with the idea that we on the whole are addicted to immediate gratificaton, I see very little evidence that mass European taste in popular culture is particularly better.

    In my experience, on average Europeans are far more versed in more challenging genres, such as classical music or abstract art, and they are often even a little ashamed if they have trouble getting it, which is in stark contrast to the way that many Americans wear their ignorance of such things like a badge. I also see huge differences in attention span. That’s not to say that they don’t produce popular schlock as well. Perhaps we know different Europeans :)

    That, regardless of how you want to view it, is a subjective assessment.

    I wouldn’t go quite that far. That implies a sort of radical postmodern absolute relativism, where there is no good and bad, only the subjective whims of taste. Whereas there is certainly an argument to be made that we can’t truly escape our own subjectivity, cultural critics such as Arthur Danto have cogently argued that within the specific historical discourse circumscribing a particular aesthetic medium, there are in fact constants and objective criteria. Therefore, an aesthetic work can be good or bad independent of an individual’s subjective tastes.

    Other aesthetic theorists, such as Cynthia Freeland (we had some interesting conversations on this subject a few years ago) hypothesize that the interplay of the universally shared, hardwired cognitive architecture of the brain and the social constructs of historical discourse result in particular aesthetic criteria in aesthetic appreciation (she specializes in the philosophy of film) that transcend the subjectively idiosyncratic whims of individual tastes.

    In the case of Schnabel’s film work, the critical lauding within the cannon suggests that it is in fact successful within the particular historical discourse of its aesthetic genre, regardless of of my subjective personal assessment. His fine art, being a point of great contention within the canon, is a murkier subject.

  47. Ken Hanke

    There are no absolutes, but usually when I have done the work of investing sufficient effort and stretching my mind as much as feasible. There is no exact point, but I definitely don’t expect the work to always immediately entertain upon first viewing.

    Entertain, perhaps not. Interest me sufficiently to try digging at it? Yes, it has to do that on the first pass. The only alternate to that is that someone whose opinion I value says or writes something that leads me to the idea that a second look from a different viewpoint is warranted. You have to convince me that a given work to which I didn’t respond positively is actually worth all this effort. For me, the flaw in this is that the same case could be made that my lack of appreciation for, say, Jackass 2 is representative of my inability to grasp its quality, and has nothing to do with a flaw in the film itself.

    Whereas there is certainly an argument to be made that we can’t truly escape our own subjectivity, cultural critics such as Arthur Danto have cogently argued that within the specific historical discourse circumscribing a particular aesthetic medium, there are in fact constants and objective criteria. Therefore, an aesthetic work can be good or bad independent of an individual’s subjective tastes

    Here’s the problem with all this — you’re impressed by all this jargon-laden theorizing. I’m not. I would not even read something that was written like that. I’m reading it here becase you’re addressing me directly, but I’m not persuaded by it. I have yet to see objectivity that’s anything other than justified subjectivity. That may simply prove that I’m inherently shallow.

    In the case of Schnabel’s film work, the critical lauding within the cannon suggests that it is in fact successful within the particular historical discourse of its aesthetic genre, regardless of of my subjective personal assessment.

    So you’re of the opinion that a critical concensus offers proof of the value of a film? In other words, the fact that Million Dollar Baby is demonstrably a great film because it boasts 201 good reviews and only 19 bad ones on Rotten Tomatoes? And that any departure from that view is therefore incorrect? Not only do I disagree with that idea, but I find it counterproductive to independent critical thought, and taken to its logical extreme would ultimately rule out the possibility of later re-evaluation. Is there nothing that you are convinced is great that is generally damned? Is there nothing that is almost universally praised that you are convinced is a lox?

  48. entopticon

    For me, the flaw in this is that the same case could be made that my lack of appreciation for, say, Jackass 2 is representative of my inability to grasp its quality, and has nothing to do with a flaw in the film itself.

    But according to your own reasoning, there can be no such thing as a flaw in a film, because you don’t believe in objective criteria. Without objective criteria, there can be no flaws, only subjective preferences.

    Here’s the problem with all this—you’re impressed by all this jargon-laden theorizing. I’m not. I would not even read something that was written like that.

    Yes, I see that clearly now. You can write off the opinions of the most influential art critic/aesthetic philosopher (Danto) in the last 3 decades; it’s your prerogative. I disagree with him on some issues myself, but I do respect the great level of thinking that goes into contemporary critical theory, and I don’t think his work got to be so important by accident.

    So you’re of the opinion that a critical concensus offers proof of the value of a film?

    Yes, it does indeed. That doesn’t mean that you have to subjectively appreciate it at all, but it certainly means that by many criteria it was successful within the specific critical discourse that it inhabits. If that consensus lasts over time, and the work is canonized, it is even stronger proof. That means that I definitely do disagree with your odd take on The Wizard of Oz. To argue that you don’t personally enjoy such a canonical film is one thing, but to argue that it is a bad film is a bit ridiculous in my opinion.

  49. Ken Hanke

    But according to your own reasoning, there can be no such thing as a flaw in a film, because you don’t believe in objective criteria. Without objective criteria, there can be no flaws, only subjective preferences.

    But you can only support your view if a lot of other people have reached a concensus that a thing indeed has merit.

    Yes, I see that clearly now. You can write off the opinions of the most influential art critic/aesthetic philosopher (Danto) in the last 3 decades; it’s your prerogative.

    This comes from having a different way of looking at things.

    Yes, it does indeed. That doesn’t mean that you have to subjectively appreciate it at all, but it certainly means that by many criteria it was successful within the specific critical discourse that it inhabits.

    I cannot possibly convey how utterly I disagree with that notion.

    That means that I definitely do disagree with your odd take on The Wizard of Oz. To argue that you don’t personally enjoy such a canonical film is one thing, but to argue that it is a bad film is a bit ridiculous in my opinion

    I gave simple, cogent, coherent reasons for thinking that it’s not a very good film. You mayn’t agree with them, but they’re there. You are countering them by what? The fact that it’s come to be considered an unassailable classic? You see, to me, that’s just pointless. That’s claiming that something is good or great because a lot of other people say it is.

    Look, there’s really no point in continuing this. We have very little common ground and are only going to say the same things over and over.

  50. entopticon

    But you can only support your view if a lot of other people have reached a concensus that a thing indeed has merit.

    Indeed. That is the point. Aesthetic criteria are social constructs arising from the particular historical discourse around a particular genre within a given medium. And therefore, value judgements of aesthetic criteria exist within the circumscriptions of the particular discourse that the work arose from. That’s why we can say things like, “that’s good for a teen comedy” etc. Believe it or not, some pretty intelligent people have actually put a lot of thought into this.

    You are countering them by what? The fact that it’s come to be considered an unassailable classic? You see, to me, that’s just pointless.

    Yes, I do see. People don’t make art in a vacuum. The reason that various mediums and genres exist is because of the evolving historical discourses that circumscribe their parameters. Within those circumscriptions are indeed objective criteria, as defined by the particular discourse. The canon does in fact largely define the discourse, whether or not you think that is right or fair.

    Look, there’s really no point in continuing this. We have very little common ground and are only going to say the same things over and over.

    Righty-o then. Ironically, it does seem that we agree on this one thing.

  51. LYT

    A comment I just posted on my own site would appear to be relevant here; it’s in response to a reader assailing me for liking Jennifer’s Body (even as I admitted it could be better):

    “I would be a bad critic if I liked the movie yet trashed it in a review anyway because I couldn’t intellectually justify liking it.

    Intellectual justification isn’t always the reason for liking things. The job of a critic isn’t to agree with you, or hold the same standards you do. The job of a critic is to articulate as fully as possible why they felt the way they did. If I enjoy a movie, I am not going to craft an argument pretending I didn’t. I can acknowledge its flaws, which I believe I did above; then explain what worked for me and why.

    This is how I have always operated as a reviewer — others are likely more to your taste.”

    I suspect, Ken, that you and I are kindred spirits on this topic.

    And since you brought up Jackass 2 — its goal was to make people laugh a lot. It worked for me in that regard. If it didn’t for you, I would agree that there is no further digging to be done.

  52. Ken Hanke

    Indeed. That is the point. Aesthetic criteria are social constructs arising from the particular historical discourse around a particular genre within a given medium. And therefore, value judgements of aesthetic criteria exist within the circumscriptions of the particular discourse that the work arose from.

    But this academic approach only works in an academic context when all is said and done. It has no application to anything outside of academia. It isn’t even written for anyone but the academic in mind. You don’t honestly think that what I copied from your last post is relevant to even the average cineaste? Personally, I find it completely counterproductive and dogmatic. It doesn’t broaden discussion, it narrows discussion to its own set of rules and preconceptions.

    The canon does in fact largely define the discourse, whether or not you think that is right or fair

    It defines the discourse if you let it confine the discourse. Or do you think the canon is etched in stone and cannot be challenged?

    The real problem with all this — aside from the obvious fact that we have wildly different definitions of how a film can be judged — is that you put forth ideas that are wrapped in jargon, qualifiers, buzz-words, and someone else’s ideas. I have no idea how you feel about any of these films or how you read them. In fact, I get the idea that any reading is utterly superfluous since everything is governed by concensus — a concensus drawn from a variety of very uneven sources. By that I mean that the critical concensus is formed by both Andrew Sarris and Pete Hammond. I assume that you recognize a difference in the level of criticism we’re seeing in such a pairing?

    We are, I’m assuming, talking critical evaluation and not popular, right? Popular evaluation is a whole other world.

  53. entopticon

    I guess you changed your mind…

    But this academic approach only works in an academic context when all is said and done. It has no application to anything outside of academia.

    You couldn’t be more wrong. That is like saying that people don’t use light switches if they don’t study the physics of electromagnetism. The particular discourses that shape aesthetic mediums are social constructs, whether you see that or not. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that we can have much of a rational conversation considering your Glenn Beckesque dismissal of academia. My perspective may not be the same as yours, but I use no more jargon, buzzwords, and qualifiers than you do. Everything term that I have used is an ordinary use of the word that requires no special jargonistic interpretation. My approach may be from a different tradition than yours, academic or not, but I think it is a rather good one.

    It defines the discourse if you let it confine the discourse. Or do you think the canon is etched in stone and cannot be challenged?

    Actually no, it is a social construct whether you think you are being a rebel and an individual or not. It is not just a fortunate, magical coincidence that a billion Indian people like Indian food. Film is not a spontaneous aesthetic expression. Virtually every aesthetic decision in a film is a reflection of other films and the historical discourse that led to the creation of a particular work within a specific genre.

    We are, I’m assuming, talking critical evaluation and not popular, right? Popular evaluation is a whole other world

    I think that is an oversimplification. “Popular evaluation,” if critical and not merely a reflective account of one’s subjective experience, is in fact part of the critical discourse that defines any particular medium.

    Again, if there were not specific historical discourses that establish the aesthetic discourse that evolves to define any particular medium or genre, and therefore there were no objective criteria as defined by those circumscriptions within the context of those discourses, there would be no reason for you to write about films, because there would be no such thing as good or bad, only individual islands of subjectivity afloat in a featureless sea of relativity.

    As with The Wizard of Oz, the critical and popular appreciation of a film as established over time is what defines it as a great film, not one individual’s subjective impression. It may appear so, but the world doesn’t actually revolve around your personal tastes. If not for the historical discourse that is bigger than any one person, there would be absolutely no point in discussing films or other aesthetic works in terms of good and bad.

    I probably should have guessed that the chasm between my take on cinema and that of a film reporter (I assume critic isn’t the right term to use considering your open disdain for critical theory) who doesn’t like documentaries and constantly feels that films are too long would be a bit too wide to bridge. There was a time when I had a short attention span so I had trouble sitting through a long film and documentaries bored me too, but junior high was a pretty long time ago.

  54. entopticon

    Intellectual justification isn’t always the reason for liking things.

    It may never be the reason for liking things.

    The job of a critic isn’t to agree with you, or hold the same standards you do.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    The job of a critic is to articulate as fully as possible why they felt the way they did.

    I think that is the job of a patient in therapy. I think it can be a great thing for a critic to recognize their own subjectivity in the process, but without a degree of critical distance, it is not criticism.

  55. LYT

    It’s less up to me to recognize my own subjectivity, than it is up to you, the reader. If you know, for example, that Roger Ebert has a bias towards Alex Proyas, and you don’t, you’ll be extra careful when he recommends the latest Proyas movie. He is under no obligation to say that his own taste in that area is suspect if he doesn’t feel that it is.

    As far as critical distance, sure, if you notice things that you think others will see as flaws in a movie you yourself like, it’s advisable to point them out, and vice versa. But if your idea is that a critic should always be somewhat clinical, and never gush or vent over something that moves him or her strongly, I think no currently employed critic will ever satisfy you.

    I for one don’t trust critics who won’t occasionally admit to being emotionally moved when perhaps there is no intelligent justification to be had for same.

  56. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    So, Hanke and Entopticon — we three meet again in thunder, lightning, and in rain.

    Because I thrive on strife and ill-will, I have deigned to grace this thread with My Shekinah.

    My train filleth this website, the comment box shaketh at the voice of Him that speaketh, the whole internet is filled with My glory, et cetera.

    Accept then in thy mouth, O Entopticon, a live coal from off the altar, that thy lips mayest be clean in the presence of the Most High Pijonsnodt.

    And let the posters of this website rejoice before Me, for I come to judge this thread with righteousness and with truth.

  57. LYT

    “If not for the historical discourse that is bigger than any one person, there would be absolutely no point in discussing films or other aesthetic works in terms of good and bad.”

    Maybe for you. The VAST majority of readers I come in contact with, say that what they want from a review is to know what the movie’s about and is it any good. The former is fairly objective; the latter ideally should be something they can discern from what the critic writes, knowing said critics biases, which he or she has an obligation to be as transparent about as possible. i.e. If you love documentaries and know that Ken doesn’t, then he writes a review of a new documentary that gives it some credit, you should know that you’ll likely love it, whether or not he is being “objective” by your calculation.

    Generally, we are not writing for the ages. We are writing for the person who wants to see something that weekend.

  58. Ken Hanke

    “I would be a bad critic if I liked the movie yet trashed it in a review anyway because I couldn’t intellectually justify liking it.

    Intellectual justification isn’t always the reason for liking things. The job of a critic isn’t to agree with you, or hold the same standards you do. The job of a critic is to articulate as fully as possible why they felt the way they did. If I enjoy a movie, I am not going to craft an argument pretending I didn’t. I can acknowledge its flaws, which I believe I did above; then explain what worked for me and why.

    This is how I have always operated as a reviewer — others are likely more to your taste.”

    I couldn’t have said it better. In fact, it could be my own statement — and I may indeed have to say something like it when my Jennifer’s Body review appears in this week’s paper.

    I suspect, Ken, that you and I are kindred spirits on this topic

    It would seem so.

    And since you brought up Jackass 2—its goal was to make people laugh a lot. It worked for me in that regard. If it didn’t for you, I would agree that there is no further digging to be done

    Believe me, I have no intention of digging into Jackass 2. I am wholly not in sympathy with its humor.

  59. Ken Hanke

    I guess you changed your mind…

    Well, when you decided it was necessary to unload some more of your rules for judging movies…

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure that we can have much of a rational conversation considering your Glenn Beckesque dismissal of academia.

    Well, I see you have now wandered into your favorite form of discourse — the personal insult. You really should work on that. Talk to travelah maybe.

    It may appear so, but the world doesn’t actually revolve around your personal tastes.

    No, nor does it revolve around the dogma of Arthur Danto, even if your world does.

    I probably should have guessed that the chasm between my take on cinema and that of a film reporter (I assume critic isn’t the right term to use considering your open disdain for critical theory) who doesn’t like documentaries and constantly feels that films are too long would be a bit too wide to bridge.

    Believe me, I have no desire to cross any bridges with you. And, you know what, there’s no such thing as a single unified critical theory to which everyone subscribes. I’d think you’d know that — just as I’d think you’d know there are distinctly different schools of film criticism. And I have the credentials to back up my status as a critic and as a film historian, do you? Of course, we’ll never know because you do all your posting behind a screen name.

    I think that is the job of a patient in therapy. I think it can be a great thing for a critic to recognize their own subjectivity in the process, but without a degree of critical distance, it is not criticism

    So where’s your distance in criticizing the critics? Now you’ve weighed in against two guys who actually get paid to review movies. Hey, that makes Luke and me part of what makes up that concensus you rely on to validate your opinions.

    Is there anyone who posts on the Xpress site you’ve disagreed with who you have not alienated?

  60. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    That is like saying that people don’t use light switches if they don’t study the physics of electromagnetism.

    That analogy has no legs. Electricity powers light switches. Film criticism analyzes something that exists independently, and while that analysis may inform future filmmakers and critics, cinema itself can exist without theory.

    And therefore, value judgements of aesthetic criteria exist within the circumscriptions of the particular discourse that the work arose from.

    In other words, quality is objective according to subjective standards, which is a tautology.

    If you want to carry this point to its logical extreme, Hippler’s Ewige Jude is a great film because it adheres to aesthetic criteria circumscribed by the discourse from which it arose: Nazism.

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure that we can have much of a rational conversation considering your Glenn Beckesque dismissal of academia.

    Rationality isn’t an empirical quantity. It’s nothing more than consistency within a closed system. Mr. Hanke’s opinions are consistent with his critical paradigm; therefore, they are rational in their own terms — circumscribed by their particular discourse, you might say.

    The point remains that academic theories, which are philosophical rather than scientific theories and are therefore beyond empirical validation, have no bearing on reality except insofar as filmmakers and critics accept them.

    You know the real conservative anti-intellectual I see in this thread? The guy who’s arguing for objective standards of art against the value of individual opinion.

    Everything term that I have used is an ordinary use of the word that requires no special jargonistic interpretation.

    Maybe, but you’re using those terms in such a limited and limiting capacity that you might as well be speaking the Ascian language.

    Actually no, it is a social construct whether you think you are being a rebel and an individual or not.

    He’s not questioning whether it’s a social construct; he’s questioning whether a social construct can or should have any bearing on the intrinsic value of a film. And “intrinsic value” isn’t something you can determine objectively, anyways.

    I assume critic isn’t the right term to use considering your open disdain for critical theory

    He doesn’t disdain critical theory; he just recognizes the limits of critical theory — viz., that it is an interpretation of and not an element of reality. Hence the word theeeeeeory.

    There was a time when I had a short attention span so I had trouble sitting through a long film and documentaries bored me too, but junior high was a pretty long time ago.

    And after an even longer time, you will learn that there is nothing undignified about calling a film overlong. There’s a difference between “challenging” and “boring”, and even the highest of high brows can admit that fact.

    In any case, your point is moot, because Mr. Hanke has praised any number of long films, the most recent being Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which he specifically praised for maintaining his attention despite its length and its largely somber tone.

    It is not just a fortunate, magical coincidence that a billion Indian people like Indian food.

    Of course not, but there’s no means scientific or philosophical to prove that any food is good- or bad-tasting beyond individual preference.

    there would be no such thing as good or bad, only individual islands of subjectivity afloat in a featureless sea of relativity.

    Heavens to Murgatroyd, how could we live like that? It would be — why, it would be almost exactly like living on the planet Earth.

    Look, kid, maturity is about dealing with ambiguity. You can circumscribe that in your discourse and smoke it.

    It may appear so, but the world doesn’t actually revolve around your personal tastes.

    The world doesn’t revolve around anyone’s tastes, personal or collective. The world revolves around Tomislav Pijonsnodt.

    without a degree of critical distance, it is not criticism.

    Criticism is nothing more than the evaluation of art by any standard, conventional or otherwise. You’re using the phrase “critical distance” to mean “adherence to conventional critical standards”. Those standards would never have arisen in the first place without the convergence of the subjective evaluations of multiple critics. Cinematic canon is canonical because it represents the widest cross-section of the critical community.

    Unfortunately, critical standards eventually become so abstracted that they become ends unto themselves. For instance, the Renaissance masters studied composition because they recognized that certain proportions are naturally pleasing to the vast majority of (but not all) humans. Once they had codified compositions that were pleasing to the vast majority of (but not all) humans, their standards of composition became so ingrained in artistic culture that we now care more about composition itself than about pleasing the eye, which was the original goal of the study of composition.

  61. Ken Hanke

    It’s less up to me to recognize my own subjectivity, than it is up to you, the reader. If you know, for example, that Roger Ebert has a bias towards Alex Proyas, and you don’t, you’ll be extra careful when he recommends the latest Proyas movie. He is under no obligation to say that his own taste in that area is suspect if he doesn’t feel that it is.

    Actually, I think Ebert made note of this in his review of Knowing. Fact is, though, that if you read a critic long enough you’ll spot both the things he or she is biased for and against. No one who’s read my stuff in any depth is likely not to know that I’m keen on Ken Russell, Richard Lester, Tim Burton and Wes Anderson, to name but a few. Or that I’m not inclined to like Clint Eastwood and certain types of indie films.

    I for one don’t trust critics who won’t occasionally admit to being emotionally moved when perhaps there is no intelligent justification to be had for same

    I don’t either — and I don’t trust critics who don’t have things or artists that they genuinely love. If they don’t, I don’t understand why they even got involved in doing a job where they’re going to be underpaid and villified by readers.

  62. Ken Hanke

    So, Hanke and Entopticon—we three meet again in thunder, lightning, and in rain.

    Does this mean the hurly-burly’s done?

  63. Does this mean the hurly-burly’s done?
    I tried to do the hurly-burly at a school dance once. Damn near threw my back out.

  64. Ken Hanke

    Maybe for you. The VAST majority of readers I come in contact with, say that what they want from a review is to know what the movie’s about and is it any good.

    You left out one — they like it if the review is entertaining, too. Actually, I have a number of readers who go straight for the bad reviews because they anticipate that those might be funny.

    Generally, we are not writing for the ages.

    Why doesn’t somebody tell me these things?

    Actually, it’s largely true. There are exceptions, but it’s mostly true. One of my books, however, has been in print since 1989. You don’t get that kind of longevity in 500-1000 word reviews, and you oughtn’t think you’re going to.

  65. Ken Hanke

    Mr. Hanke has praised any number of long films, the most recent being Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which he specifically praised for maintaining his attention despite its length and its largely somber tone

    Don’t forget those five stars I gave to O Lucky Man! and it’s a full three hours long.

  66. Ken Hanke

    I tried to do the hurly-burly at a school dance once. Damn near threw my back out.

    You should never throw your back out. You might need it one day.

  67. Don’t forget those five stars I gave to O Lucky Man! and it’s a full three hours long.
    You gave Return of the King five stars and that’s a full nine hours long, at least six of which are false endings.

  68. entopticon

    “Well, I see you have now wandered into your favorite form of discourse—the personal insult. ”

    Actually Ken, I meant that quite literally, as a plain fact, not an insult. The type of anti-intellectual tripe that you have been spouting does indeed bring Glenn Beck to mind. And seriously, read your own posts sometime you sanctimonious hypocrite. There is no danger of you ever being referred to as pleasant Hanky.

    Where the hell did I say that I am a professional film historian? What a pathetic argument. Seriously, I couldn’t give a flying #@$! about your credentials, because your reviews speak for themselves. You are a movie reviewer with the attention span of a gnat who doesn’t like documentaries because they are “too long.” I have a different point of view than you. Lump it.

    And by the way, the Lake House did not prove what a great actor Keanu Reeves really is.

  69. entopticon

    THX Puffinstuff, I’m sorry, but the crap that you substitute for intelligent discourse doesn’t merit much of a response. I never said that I don’t value individual opinions, but clearly you are too dimwitted to get that. I only wish that you could see for a moment how overconfident you actually are in your juvenile stabs at philosophical depth.

  70. ou are a movie reviewer with the attention span of a gnat
    Ken gave five stars to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It’s three hours and twenty one minutes long.
    Other films he gave five stars to include O Lucky Man, at three hours and one minute long and Apocalypse Now Redux at three hours and two minutes long.
    Questioning his attention span is probably not the tack to take here.

  71. Ken Hanke

    Questioning his attention span is probably not the tack to take here.

    Jeremy, he has no tack to take. The guy is a long-winded troll, who has pulled this same crap in virtually every thread he’s been in where he disagreed with someone, which is virtally every thread he’s ever been in.

    Once more entopticon proves himself unable to have a difference of opinion without name-calling (I was waiting for the word “hypocrite” to show up, since it always does) and descending to his inevitable playground tricks. (Deliberately misspelling my name, that sure put me in my place.)

    The fact that the fellow takes himself way too seriously as he tries to see how many times he can cram the words “discourse,” “aesthetic,” “genre,” “criteria” and “circumscription” into a single sentence and has absolutely no sense of humor is as pathetic as it is annoying.

    I have finished wasting my time on any discourse with him, and I’d suggest you do the same.

  72. Dread P. Roberts

    Unfortunately, critical standards eventually become so abstracted that they become ends unto themselves. For instance, the Renaissance masters studied composition because they recognized that certain proportions are naturally pleasing to the vast majority of (but not all) humans. Once they had codified compositions that were pleasing to the vast majority of (but not all) humans, their standards of composition became so ingrained in artistic culture that we now care more about composition itself than about pleasing the eye, which was the original goal of the study of composition.

    Very well put, Mr. Pijonsnodt. I’ve more or less mentioned the same thing in past discourse over art. This brings back fond memories.

    THX Puffinstuff, I’m sorry, but the crap that you substitute for intelligent discourse doesn’t merit much of a response. I never said that I don’t value individual opinions, but clearly you are too dimwitted to get that. I only wish that you could see for a moment how overconfident you actually are in your juvenile stabs at philosophical depth.

    I don’t have any desire to get in the middle of all of this, but I do want to stand up for Pijonsnodt. I don’t really know any of you, so I’m (obviously) left to surmise an opinion solely off of the comment posts. Pijonsnodt posts are consistently well-written, humorous and entertaining. Insulting ones maturity and/or intelligence should not be based solely off of the fact the you simply disagree with someone. In the end, this type of dismissive, rude behavior only serves to make the insulter look bad, and discredit their own reputation.

    Mr. entopticon,
    Why would anyone bother to take the time to listen to what you have to say, when you resort to childishly hurling insults. It significantly taints the value of your argument, and I for one was taking the time to read what you had to say, until you resorted to doing this. Please try to defend your argument like an adult, or people will just roll their eyes, and dismiss your posts as absurd (kind of like I’ve ended up doing in the past with a certain Mr. Tim Peck). I’m really not saying this just to insult you; but to help you. Intelligent debates are sooo much more enjoyable (for everyone) than stupid arguments. If people don’t respect you, then what’s the point? Keep the subject relevant, polite and mature, and most people will pay attention and respect what you have to say, even if they don’t always agree. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.

  73. entopticon

    Ken, I may be long-winded, but I am not a troll. Again, you are a hypocrite. I am guilty of nothing more of expressing my point of view, and you attacked me personally for it. You even attacked the very language that I used, so I responded in kind.

    All of your whining about what a nasty ogre I am who uses too many terms that you don’t like aside, my argument, that instead of being entirely subjective, aesthetic criteria are formed and circumscribed by the evolving historical discourse that contextualizes them, not just subjective whims, is still right, and your assertion to the contrary is still wrong. In fact, I don’t think I have encountered someone seriously making your argument since the 1980’s.

    Most of my communication about aesthetic interpretation and appreciation has been in the context of helping grad students working in the area with their theses or helping authors on the subject fine tune their arguments for their books. You may not appreciate my opinions, but there are people who do. The terms and language that are employed in the process may not appeal to you, but that doesn’t make me wrong.

    I honestly had no idea of what you were talking about when you said that I deliberately misspelled your name. After scrolling back I see the error, and I think that it is indeed you who takes himself too seriously and doesn’t have much of a sense of humor. It was a harmless misspelling, that’s all, but I will keep it in mind for future use. There is little danger of anyone ever calling you “pleasant Hanke.”

  74. entopticon

    Dread P. Roberts, that may be one of the strangest posts ever. I am assuming that you don’t actually understand a word in THX Puffinstuff’s posts, because on a regular basis he makes childish personal attacks while ranting on about how great he is. That’s the schtick of his character. His actual arguments are truthfully pretty lame for the most part. He wasn’t even arguing against the actual points I was making. He was arguing against silly caricatures of my arguments that he invented to spin along with his usual free-associative nonsense.

    My point, that aesthetic appreciation is not entirely subjective, because it is in fact framed by the historical discourse that the medium evolved from, so there objective criteria within the context of the particular discourses, is not actually very controversial among people who have been doing serious work on the issue. It is not my responsibility to counter every armchair philosophical rant distorting the actual arguments.

  75. Ken Hanke

    people will just roll their eyes, and dismiss your posts as absurd (kind of like I’ve ended up doing in the past with a certain Mr. Tim Peck).

    That’s a very apt comparison, since both are utterly devoid of humor and specialize in picking fights, derailing threads and almost never responding to direct questions.

  76. entopticon

    What’s the strange obsession with claiming that I am devoid of humor? If I wanted to take the time, I could literally cite hundreds of cases of my employing humor here. I may be on the prickly side at times, but your claim that I am without humor is nonsense. For what it’s worth, I don’t exactly find you to be very funny either.

    I tried to respond to every question that you asked that didn’t appear to be rhetorical. It’s possible that I missed something, but your hyperbole about me almost never answering direct questions is a joke.

    The truth is, until you started attacking me personally, all I did was make a reasonable argument. If you want to just make crap up, save it for your reviews.

  77. Dread P. Roberts

    I am assuming that you don’t actually understand a word in THX Puffinstuff’s posts, because on a regular basis he makes childish personal attacks while ranting on about how great he is.

    I simply don’t have any recollection of seeing him make a extensively insulting, or self-absorbed, post that was intended to be taken seriously. Usually when his posts are in this sort of context, it is so off-the-wall silly, that I don’t see how anyone could take it as being anything more than harmless ‘all-in-good-fun’ humor. It is only when a post is clearly, intentionally and seriously mean-spirited that I find it bothersome. If he actually has made these types of posts in the past, then I’ve either not read them, or I just don’t remember them. It does, however, appear that the two of you have a history of hostility toward one another, so I’m sure there are things that I don’t know about. But from what I’ve read, you seem to come across (intentionally or not) as being less humorous, and more serious, in your aggression. The truth is that I don’t like this kind of crap from anyone, so I’m not trying to single you out. But saying that other people are name callers doesn’t make it any more defensible. I’m sorry, but that just looks childish, and I honestly don’t want to just write you off as being completely childish, so please don’t resort to these measures. These things always just escalate, and nothing gets accomplished as an end result.

    It is not my responsibility to counter every armchair philosophical rant distorting the actual arguments.

    No it isn’t, but if you’re going to attack someone, then you should back it up with logical reasons for your disagreement. Otherwise, just don’t attack them. I hope that makes sense.

  78. entopticon

    “No it isn’t, but if you’re going to attack someone, then you should back it up with logical reasons for your disagreement. Otherwise, just don’t attack them.”

    I did, I just didn’t go into depth about it because I don’t have much interest in dissecting his straw-man arguments and goofy free-associations point by point. I certainly would have had more patience if I hadn’t already waded through some of that silliness in the past. His humorous schtick is what it it is. If it floats your boat, so be it, I just find that it doesn’t always warrant a serious response. He is probably an intelligent person beneath the pro-wrestling-style narcissism schtick and clumsy, overconfident argumentation.

  79. Ken Hanke

    So does anybody have anything to say about good movies that are simply forgettable, despite their merits?

  80. Dread P. Roberts

    So does anybody have anything to say about good movies that are simply forgettable, despite their merits?

    I’m sure that I do, but I can’t for the life of me remember the good movies that I’ve managed to forget.

  81. Dionysis

    “So does anybody have anything to say about good movies that are simply forgettable, despite their merits?”

    Well, that is a bit tricky, but personally, I can think of a number of comedies that I found “good” but forgettable for one basic reason: as good as a comedy may be, I rarely watch it a second time as it tends to lose its humor (a few exceptions, and they tend to be more of the slapstick type of humor or have a big outrageous quality to them…Blazing Saddles comes to mind). And even this is really not quite on the mark, as they may not really be as much “forgettable” as they are simply unable to deliver the same impact again, so they have slim chance of a repeat viewing.

  82. entopticon

    Yes, it may in fact be that the memorability of a film has just as much to do with the brain states of the percipients at the time of viewing as it does of the content of the film itself. For example, if you were tired or distracted at the time of viewing the film, you will be less likely to remember it well.

    Studies have shown that when we have distractions, we don’t actually increase our brain’s activity, we divide it. Therefore, when your attention is divided, less neuronic activity goes into storing the memory. For example, studies have shown that when you talk on the cell phone while driving, you don’t increase your mental activity to compensate for the distraction, your mind simply divides its attention so you focus less on your conversation, and less on the driving. The same would apply to watching a film.

    Studies have also shown a link between sound and memory, so it is likely that the soundtrack and sound editing may actually play a significant role in remembering a film. The reason for this is that there is an overlap in the brain areas for sound processing and memory, so the cognitive architecture of a single region of the brain serves a dual function. It is the reason why we often repeat a phone number aloud to ourselves while we search for a pen and paper to write it down.

    A third factor is the connection between emotion and memory. In people and animals it has been shown that if there are strong emotions attached to a memory, we are more likely to readily recall on it. Sometimes that even surfaces subconsciously, as with people who were abused at a very young age.

    The connection between emotion and memory is one of the basic tenets behind neuro-linguistic programming. By attaching particular emotions to a memory or belief, the pattern of the thought can be overwritten. That’s why an effective propaganda or issue film will trigger emotions that create lasting neuronic impact.

    With film, there are many cases that we might enjoy a film, but there are no acute emotional triggers, so our bodies/minds do not release the chemical signals (particularly dopamine and serotonin) that instantiate the massive neuronic activity that cements the neural pathways of memory. Therefore, we may actually remember bad films in some cases where strong emotions such as disgust are triggered, and forget more cerebral films that may be far more interesting, but lack the fireworks to trigger the neural chemistry that makes a strong neuronic imprint.

    A final, curious connection is between smell and memory. Like sound, there is an overlap in the brain’s architecture between smell and memory. It is theorized that this is actually the basis of deja vu; we smell a familiar smell and it stimulates a memory, making us feel like we are reliving an experience. It is actually a form of synesthesia. In that case, things like the smell of popcorn or the cleaning agent used to mop up the aisles might actually trigger lost memories connected to the original experience of watching a film.

  83. Ken Hanke

    I’m sure that I do, but I can’t for the life of me remember the good movies that I’ve managed to forget.

    Yes, that does make the proposition tricky.

  84. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    Dread Pirate Roberts, in recognition of your martyrdom in defense of My honor, I swear unto thee in Mine own name that when I come into My kindgom, thou shalt be devoured first of all and without protracted suffering. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

    Don’t worry about me, though — my skin is tougher than cast iron. When the OB/GYN tried to circumscribe my discourse, his scalpel broke. But I still adhere to aesthetic criteria in that regard, if you catch my drift.

    His actual arguments are truthfully pretty lame for the most part.

    So rebut them. Go ahead, make my day.

    I don’t think I have encountered someone seriously making your argument since the 1980’s.

    Thus confirming my longstanding suspicion that you haven’t actually left the house in the last thirty years.

    You really should work on that.

    Well, let’s be fair: yes, the kid needs to work on his personal insults, but he shows promise. Entop, if you practice in front of a mirror every day — and I mean every day, even when you’d rather be outside playing baseball with your friends — someday, you too could be a great insulter.

    Just a couple of tips from an old hand at the dozens: your insults are directed at people so abstract that they probably don’t exist outside of the minds of political cartoonists. You want to really devastate your opponent, you’ve got to get specific. Like so: Ken Hanke only has to eat every three months because of the enormous reserves of fatty tissue in the bags under his eyes. And if he ever needs a snack, he can lick the particles of previous meals out of that scruffy beard.

    I was waiting for the word “hypocrite” to show up, since it always does

    I defer to Sean Patrick Reilly: “The thing about the stupid is that they think they’re just like you and me. As far as they know, they’re clever and observant. And when they think they smell hypocrisy, they are on the case!”

  85. Ken Hanke

    Ken Hanke only has to eat every three months because of the enormous reserves of fatty tissue in the bags under his eyes. And if he ever needs a snack, he can lick the particles of previous meals out of that scruffy beard.

    Slander and libel. Tara and diddle. Balder and dash.

  86. Dread P. Roberts

    Dread Pirate Roberts, in recognition of your martyrdom in defense of My honor, I swear unto thee in Mine own name that when I come into My kindgom, thou shalt be devoured first of all and without protracted suffering. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

    Thank you kindly, O merciful one.

  87. Ken Hanke

    Slander and libel. Tara and diddle. Balder and dash.
    Simon and Garfunkel. Hall and Oates. Wheeler and Woolsey.

    Well, I can’t top Wheeler and Woolsey, but any of these would make good law firms.

  88. Dread P. Roberts

    Well, I can’t top Wheeler and Woolsey, but any of these would make good law firms.

    Pesonally, I would go to the Simon and Garfunkel law firm, under the alias name Darkness – so long as they always greeted me as their “old friend.”

  89. Tonberry

    This was entertaining, thought provoking, and a good way to shave an hour off a very slow day at work. For that, I am thankful. Once again, Mr. Hanke proves that he can hold his own as a leading man. Yet, we all know that a leading man needs a good villain, a foil, to make a truly great thread; and for this, entopticon provides in spades. The whole time in this tense, nail-biting, opposition of the two I kept wondering “Where is entopticon going with this?” And you will too. His delivery may throw you off at first (a little to convoluted for my tastes), but stick with him. His final, surprisingly succinct, line is ingenious. When that climatic moment arrives, you will find yourself oddly in agreement. Thankfully, it doesn’t end on a snore, but a good joke about, get this, law firms. You have to read it to believe it folks.

    The supporting cast is to be complemented as well. Jeremy Dylan and Dread P. Roberts have always proved their posting chops, and there is a fantastic cameo made by LYT. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq., however, is the show stealer. There is a good chance he’ll get an Oscar nod for this. One minute he’s making you laugh with his comedic words (“Don’t worry about me, though—my skin is tougher than cast iron. When the OB/GYN tried to circumscribe my discourse, his scalpel broke.”) and the next minute, he’ll turn around to make a constructive argument that will make you say “Damn, that was good.” You may envy him a little on just how well he posts.

    Bravo to all the players, bravo to Mountain Xpress for hosting these Screening Rooms, and bravo to Mr. Hanke for writing conversation inducing columns.

    4 1/2 stars.

  90. Ken Hanke

    I loved “Cast Away”, if that counts for anything

    I guess it counts as a statement that you loved Cast Away, which I doubt anyone wants to challenge your right to have done.

  91. Andrew

    Sorry for the late comment. For my own part I find that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been less able to keep a running mental tab of what’s good, bad, and the reasons why: almost everything except uniquely memorable viewing experiences (whether good or bad) gets pushed into the Walmart Remainder Bin of my mind.

    Technology may have something to do with it – in the pre-internet days I found that I tried to make a mental catalogue of the movies I liked according to some sort of classificatory logic, but for the most part if I forgot something, I forgot it. Now, with IMDB, Netflix, and 500 channels of movie reruns, I’m constantly confronted with a large number of movies that I now recall as “having seen” but only have a vague recollection of.

    That being said, certain movies have stood the test of time for me – Witness, LA Confidential, and Memento have survived repeat viewings, but I now find most of the Frank Darabont films, including Shawshank, unwatchable.. When I saw Hearts in Atlantis in a nearly-empty theater on its opening night, I seriously thought my avid movie-going habit was a sign of some kind of affliction, and I still feel that way.

  92. Ken Hanke

    Now, with IMDB, Netflix, and 500 channels of movie reruns, I’m constantly confronted with a large number of movies that I now recall as “having seen” but only have a vague recollection of.

    There’s a definite case of overwhelm in this — especially when you start factoring in the new movies you see and the fact that the list is ever growing, it’s only that much worse. Just thinking about that I realize that in new releases alone — exempting older movies caught up with at the same time — I’ve probably added 1500 titles to what I’ve seen since I took this reviewing gig. If I dwell on that long enough, I’ll need to lie down for a few days.

    I now find most of the Frank Darabont films, including Shawshank, unwatchable..

    I won’t give you an argument, but confess that my view is colored by having had someone living with me for a year-plus who endlessly watched the same three movies — Shawshank, The Big Lebowski, Drowning Mona — over and over. I never want to see any of those again. Prior to that, I’d have probably said I find Darabont’s films overrated and largely inessential.

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