Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: On hating movies

We’re all guilty of saying it, I think. “God, I hated that movie” is a phrase that just rolls off the tongue. I’ve certainly said it myself, but isn’t “hate” an awfully strong word—and an even stronger emotion—to expend on a movie? Step back for a moment and think about it. Isn’t this giving a lot of bad movies simply a lot more power than they could possibly deserve? In reality, isn’t “I hated that movie” mostly a knee-jerk reaction to a less-than-sterling time at the movies and an overstatement of some enormity?

I never thought about this until about 10 years ago when someone on a message board claimed that he hated some Hammer horror picture or other—I think it was Brides of Dracula (1960), but it doesn’t matter much. I thought, no, he really doesn’t mean this. He can’t honestly be expending this much energy on what is at worst a fairly innocuous vampire movie. So I asked him if he didn’t think this sort of energy might better be directed at something—oh, I don’t know—actually worth hating? On something truly morally repellent as opposed to something he merely thought was bad? Well, this was as a red flag to a bull. It earned me several paragraphs on why he hated this movie.

Well, being someone who doesn’t always know when it would be wiser to keep his mouth shut, I foolishly pursued the topic. (Now, bear in mind that I really had no dog in this fight. We’re talking about a movie I’m pretty much ambivalent about whatever Hammer it might have been, except for three or four titles.) How had this movie offended him? Was it oppressing someone? Was it running for president and threatening his peace of mind? Did it in some way outrage his moral sense? Did it advocate some line of thought or action he found repellent or dangerous? No, of course, it did none of these things. It was simply a “bad movie” and he was, he informed me, well within his rights to hate it on that basis. And, yes, that was true. But good Lord, if I actually hated every bad movie I’d ever seen, I’d be worn out from the stress of it.

One week ago—in fact, at exactly the time I’m writing these words—I slogged my way through Furry Vengeance. It wasn’t merely bad, it went all the way into the realm of absolutey God-awful. It is a dreadful, dreadful movie that I resent having sat through and I even more resent the idea that people are paying money to watch. But do I hate Furry Vengeance? I’d say it’s a borderline case, but ultimately what is the point in hating it? It’s here today, gone tomorrow and will be forgotten in three months. I’ll remember it when I go over the 2010 releases at the end of the year in search of the best and worst films that came out. But it’s a movie that’s slated to end up in the obscurity of the Wal-Mart dump bin. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a gigantic “Who cares?” that’s hardly worth hating—unless you happen to end up watching it.

Very often movies that I will come to “hate” have less to do with the movies themselves than with the response to them. For instance, I think the Twilight movies are abominable. I found them both painful to sit through, laughably bad and just downright stupid. But I suspect the intensity of my dislike for them has as much to do with the fact that garbage like this could be so spectacularly popular—and that it will spawn more of the same. That’s depressing. It became more depressing when the suitably talentless Catherine Hardwicke was replaced with the actually talented Chris Weitz for the second movie. Now comes word that Bill Condon—Bill Condon who made Gods and Monsters (1998) and Kinsey (2004)—is directing the fourth installment. Talk about squandering substrantial talent on an obvious cash-grab. I’m sure it means a hefty paycheck for Condon, but I still think we should get together and stage an intervention.

Are there movies that I honestly hate for themselves? Oh, yes. There have been a few movies over the years that I have indeed hated. I can tell the difference between these and movies I just dislike while I’m watching them. I hadn’t actually realized this until I was watching Zack Snyder’s 300 (2006) when my viewing partner leaned over part way through the film and noted, “You’re really getting pissed off, aren’t you?” I’m still not sure how he knew this, but he was dead on. The film was literally making me angry as it played out on the screen. And, yeah, I do hate this movie—something that caused a lot of angry commentary from readers.

Without wishing to re-open that can of worms (though inevitably this will), 300 struck me as right-wing claptrap of the xenophobic variety that also managed to ooze homophobia (ironically, while peddling beefcake) and other dubious messages throughout its CGI-athon of macho nonsense. Nothing has changed to alter that take on the movie. I was thoroughly appalled and repelled by the film. I still am. No argument has changed that because no argument has convinced me that my response is invalid.

I once had the misfortune to sit through Harmony Korine’s Gummo (1997). I know quite a few people who insist that Korine is an important filmmaker and that Gummo is some kind of masterpiece. Frankly, it’s the kind of independent film that could make me run screaming to see a Michael Bay movie. It is supposed to be profound in some esoteric fashion that seems grounded in the believe that existence is a miserable, futile business. Alternately boring and repulsive, I loathe this movie with every fiber of my being. Its primary function seems to be to prove that you needn’t have even rudimentary talent to make a movie, so long as what you make is unpleasant. The law of art as nasty medicine will always be with us.

I could certainly include both of Eli Roth’s Hostel movies on any list of movies I hated for themselves, but that’s so much tied to a basic distaste for the the torture porn sub-genre of horror that it seems like it’s giving Roth’s exercises way too much credit. They and their brethren seem more and more like an aberrant offshoot of horror that has largely burnt itself out. Even the Saw movies—that inevitable Halloween staple—seem to be losing traction. As such, these things are well on their way to becoming too negligible to bother with.

Is there anything else? Oh, most certainly, but I’ll close this on what is quite possibly the film I hate more than any other—Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump (1994). Loaded with Oscars, praised to the skies and viewed as something that one dare not love, this remains my personal bete noir of movies. My one line “quick rating” review on Rotten Tomatoes—“Gets my vote for the most offensive, morally repugnant film ever made”—I find has garnered four user comments. One agrees with me, one wishes they could see the whole review (sorry, the one line is it), one misunderstands my ire, and one simply writes, “i hate you. go to hell ken!” I dearly love critical discourse.

So why do I hate Forrest Gump? Well, because it’s the most offensive, morally repugnant film ever made. OK, I’ll explain, though let me also stop to note that it’s also an obnoxiously stupid movie right down to that imebecilic bromide it popularized. You know—“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Well, in my experience, you’re gonna get a piece of chocolate out of a box of chocolates. Sure, it might be the cool cherry cream or the savoy truffle, but it’s going to be a piece of chocolate of some kind. And of course, the movie is the classic magical mentally-challenged main character yarn of the Oscar bait variety at its most virulent. In that regard, it’s just more dumb goo that has plagued movies for a very long time now. (And that hopefully Tropic Thunder [2008] has killed for all time.) But there’s more.

Now, I expect to be told that I’m “overthinking” the film, but really this all stems from a growing visceral response that happened while I was watching it. The more I watched, the more this film like seemed like some kind of right-wing wet dream. Consider that your main character (Tom Hanks) is the ultimate good little do-bee (as they used to say on Romper Room) who never questions anything and does just what those in authority tell him. And what happens? Why, he comes out on top every time. Because he’s such an unquestioning specimen, even God is on his side. God even uses a hurricane to wipe out all the other shrimp boats to make Forrest and friends fabulously wealthy! (The movie does not record whether Forrest gave all those who lost their livelihood minimum wage jobs—with or without health insurance—in his crustacean empire.)

On the other hand, there’s Jenny (Robin Wright), the great love of Forrest’s life. Now, not only does she question everything, but she’s presented as pretty clueless about it as she attaches herself to whatever anti-establishment movement comes her way. The movie constantly presents her as something of a buffoon in this matter, while the casually conforming Forrest seems to know the real path to happiness is doing what you’re told. Bad Jenny. Bad, misguided Jenny will, of course, pay for the sins of her wayward ways and die of an unspecified virus that is obviously AIDS before the end of the film. Could there possibly be a greater paen of praise to the benefits of conforming, keeping your mouth shut and accepting the status quo than this movie? Is that overthinking Forrest Gump? Or is it just stopping to think about it at all? I’m inclined to think it’s the latter, but in any case, I do truly hate this movie.

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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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133 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: On hating movies

  1. Daisy Hilton

    “For instance, I think the Twilight movies are abominable. I found them both painful to sit through, laughably bad and just downright stupid. But I suspect the intensity of my dislike for them has as much to do with the fact that garbage like this could be so spectacularly popular—and that it will spawn more of the same.”

    I doubt that your hatred could compare to that in literary circles of the source of those films: Stephanie Meyers’ novels.
    I work for a major bookstore chain so, I hear the mature, adult, intelligent comments about this series.
    I’d say that more than 90% of the people I talk to on a daily basis regret ever having read the books and are looking for a literary balm of some sort. The other 10% are pre-pubescent to not-yet-old-enough-to-vote females who are enthralled by the antics of Jacob, Edward and Bella and would like to read more from the author’s pen.
    The solution to the former is to turn them onto the works of Charlaine Harris (or even Dan Simmons, F. Paul Wilson or Stoker himself); the latter’s solutions involves involuntary incarceration – preferably on an island outside of territorial waters.

  2. Steph

    I started reading your column and I swear I was just looking at the top of it when I asked myself what movie do I HATE with a passion of a thousand suns? FOREST GUMP!

    And then I scrolled down and saw you HATE this POS as well! Ha Ha Ha.

    There are a lot of movies I don’t like and many, many actors I truly do hate but no movie hs ever pissed me off so much as FG. It’s good to know I’m in good company.

    In fact, 2 friends and I saw it separately and later confessed that we all walked out of it at different points in the movie, mostly agreeing with your assessment.

  3. Steph

    OK. I started reading your column and I started wondering what film I hated more than any other. THe answer was Forest Gump. I SWEAR I thought this before I scrolled down and saw that you and I are in agreement!

    Interestingly enough, 2 frieds of mine as well as myself saw FB on separate occasions and it wasn’t until a few days later that we connected and realized we ALL walked out of it after waiting to see if it could be saved by a great ending (like maybe blowing Forest up). It wasn’t.

    To this day, though I hate a lot of actors and films, nothing stuck in my craw like this POS.

  4. contentpersephone

    I truly truly hate the movie “Pretty Woman” – will *never* understand why so many women put it on their list of “faves”.

  5. Ken Hanke

    would like to read more from the author’s pen

    I would rather read of her encounter with a steam roller, but I would accept a promise never to write again. Not even a grocery list.

  6. Ken Hanke

    To this day, though I hate a lot of actors and films, nothing stuck in my craw like this POS.

    The funny thing is that I suspect most of the people involved had no conscious realization of the underlying messages.

    Sorry for posting twice. My comments are showing.

    Since these comment sections are moderated, posts do not appear until someone has cleared them. I am not sure why since I have been no evidence that anyone actually reads them before clearing them, but nonetheless they do not appear instantly.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I truly truly hate the movie “Pretty Woman” – will *never* understand why so many women put it on their list of “faves”.

    I can’t say I hated it — except that it peddles one great whacking lie after another — but I certainly didn’t like it.

  8. LYT

    My friend and colleague Andy Klein initially stood up for Forrest Gump with a reading that few others have had…he was convinced that the filmmakers had intended it as satire on a level deeper than was perceived, by giving us a classically conservative hero, but making it clear he was totally clueless and lucked into his success (a la Being There, I suppose, though I’ve not seen that one).

    Andy does consider this the most significant position he’s taken on which he may need to reverse himself.

    A movie I hate is Gladiator. Just awfully made, yet it won Oscars and people still think it’s good.

    Most of the stuff listed in this column, though, falls under my category of awesomeness. Gummo, Michael Bay, Saw and Hostel movies, 300…I am a fan in each case.

    Twilight and Gump, though, are easy targets you cannot go wrong with. Though I hate Philadelphia possibly more than Gump.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Gummo, Michael Bay, Saw and Hostel movies, 300…I am a fan in each case

    You might could make a case for me with Saw, but the others…no. In this case, your idea of awesomeness is my idea of vomitable.

  10. Ken Hanke

    May I join you on the anti-GUMP bandwagon?

    This is by no means an exclusive club. Climb aboard.

  11. entopticon

    A number of years ago I remember reading an article about an informal survey of prominent art critics that found a surprising commonality; that most reported that when they first encountered the work of the artists that they hold in highest esteem, they actually had very strong negative reactions. The gist was that a lot of critics believed that if a body of work is truly great, it is also truly challenging, and that is likely to be met by a reflexive, strongly negative response.

    I have heard music theorists express identical sentiments. Studies in neuroscience actually found that for 95% 0f all people, music has to be very familiar in structure, or there is a strong negative response. As I recall, they found that for that 95% of the population, the novelty in a musical composition could not vary more than 15% without eliciting a strongly aversive response.In order for most people to feel comfortable, they need to be able to anticipate the majority of the beats and notes before they happen. For example, when Schoenberg’s atonal works were first premiered, many in the audience became enraged, and some are even reported to have left the theater to vomit.

    Strangely, film seems to have an opposite effect sometimes. We can watch some of the most offensive films imaginable and walk away somewhat ambivalent, but some of the most mediocre, banal drivel elicits outrage in us. For the most part, after the initial outrage, the only cases where I would say that I truly hate a film are in instances where there is something that I find morally repugnant, but there are films that I can find very morally repugnant, yet still acknowledge some well executed craft.

    I suppose there may be parallels there with extremely formulaic genres like Nash-trash and pop-soul. They can definitely make me want to tear my hair out before too long, much more so than experimental music, no matter how brash.

    Of course, much of the time it is very, very idiosyncratic in the end. Observe and Report was a film that incited quite a bit of outrage here, and many felt that it was morally repugnant. I thought it was funny, but not great, and not particularly offensive. Many loved Pirate Radio. I thought it was pretty mediocre, not particularly funny, and far, far more offensive than Observe and Report, because it seemed to actually celebrate that sort of behavior rather than just satirize it. That’s just my take.

    When I first saw Lars von Trier’s Dancer in The Dark I found it painfully annoying, and was astonished that so many people had recommended it to me. I actually thought Bjork was good in it, but what drove me insane about it was the absolutely horrible quality of the dialogue. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was part of the Dogme95 experiment, and all of the dialogue was improvised. That explains why it was so insipidly plain. My personal tastes tend towards films that many feel are overwritten because the dialogue is so carefully crafted, such as Hal Hartley films. I may have seen Dancer in the Dark with very different eyes if I had known the rules of the film experiment prior to watching it, and I may not have had such an extremely negative response. Or maybe I would have.

  12. entopticon

    On Forrest Gump, when I first saw it in the theater, I too found the right wing conservative politics and anti-intellectualism to be pretty off-putting, but I thought it was just very mediocre in the end. Of course, for a right wing film, that makes it an all time great, because let’s face it, right wingers rarely make art of any value, no matter what the medium. The reason for that is really not very complicated. Successful art generally requires the ability for the creator to step outside themselves and see things from the percipient and/or character’s perspective. And if right-wingers had the ability to see from others’ perspectives, they wouldn’t be right wingers in the first place. As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day, but you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Strangely, film seems to have an opposite effect sometimes

    Well, I’m not sure I’d agree with that. There are just too many films that provoked strong negative reactions when they came out that have since been re-evaluated, so the dynamic isn’t that different when all is said and done. When you’re talking offensive in terms of film, you’re talking something different than you are in the realm of music. People tend to be just as upset by movies that challenge their sense of narrative structure as they are about atonal music. Both require getting used to, and both are easier to get used to after aspects of the shock of the newness have been assimilated into other works.

    And you’re in two very different spheres when you talk about painting and music as opposed to movies. Movies are by and large much more of a populist thing — for better or for worse. (I’d say it’s a mix of better and worse.)

    Of course, much of the time it is very, very idiosyncratic in the end. Observe and Report was a film that incited quite a bit of outrage here, and many felt that it was morally repugnant. I thought it was funny, but not great, and not particularly offensive

    It came very near being on my list of movies I truly hate. It didn’t make the list simply because it’s pretty much a non-starter and is negligible. It died at the box office and I’ve seen no large degree of evidence that it has since become a film with a large following. It’s just another obnoxious (to me) forgotten movie that never was very well known.

    Many loved Pirate Radio. I thought it was pretty mediocre, not particularly funny, and far, far more offensive than Observe and Report, because it seemed to actually celebrate that sort of behavior rather than just satirize it. That’s just my take

    Setting aside the question of whether Pirate Radio is mediocre and not particularly funny (I’m firmly in a diffrent camp, which I’m sure you know), you would have to explain to me what the “that sort of behavior” is, how it relates in any way to Observe and Report, and just exactly what it is that Observe and Report satirizes for me to understand the criticism. I would be hard-pressed to think of two movies with less in common.

    On Forrest Gump, when I first saw it in the theater, I too found the right wing conservative politics and anti-intellectualism to be pretty off-putting, but I thought it was just very mediocre in the end

    I’d call it mediocre, too, but that doesn’t change my moral revulsion at the thematic elements. More, neither I nor the film exist in a vacuum, making the praise and popularity of its mediocrity factors I find impossible to ignore.

  14. Chip Kaufmann

    While I completely concur with your evaluations of FORREST GUMP and 300. 300 I truly hated (but I was expecting to) while with FORREST GUMP (which I had no clue about)I simply said “Give me a break!”. The movie that I found the most truly offensive and repugnant because of its misogyny and utter nihilism was SIN CITY. I can’t remember ever leaving a movie theater as angry as I was after seeing that film. Needless to say I still can’t bring myself to watch it again to try and reevaluate it. Maybe in another 10 years.

  15. Ken Hanke

    The movie that I found the most truly offensive and repugnant because of its misogyny and utter nihilism was SIN CITY. I can’t remember ever leaving a movie theater as angry as I was after seeing that film. Needless to say I still can’t bring myself to watch it again to try and reevaluate it. Maybe in another 10 years.

    See? And to prove how subjective this is in so many ways, I liked Sin City and wasn’t offended by it. Maybe I should watch it again with your comments in mind.

    By the way, I should probably admit to being utterly disgusted by The Green Berets when it came out and I saw it for the only time.

  16. LYT

    “just exactly what it is that Observe and Report satirizes”

    I would say that Observe and Report satirizes the kind of “wacky man-child makes good” comedies that usually feature Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler as some over-the-top, immature spastic who nonetheless has a heart of gold and eventually saves the day and gets the girl.

    O&R presents such a character in a manner closer to that in which he would ACTUALLY be received by the real world in such instances, and demonstrates that such behavior is actually slightly creepy in its way. Then it gives him the same kind of happy ending anyway, but there’s a queasiness to it, like it wasn’t quite earned the right way.

  17. entopticon

    Setting aside the question of whether Pirate Radio is mediocre and not particularly funny (I’m firmly in a diffrent camp, which I’m sure you know), you would have to explain to me what the “that sort of behavior” is, how it relates in any way to Observe and Report, and just exactly what it is that Observe and Report satirizes for me to understand the criticism. I would be hard-pressed to think of two movies with less in common.

    The film isn’t really fresh in my head so I can’t go into great detail, but there was certainly some pretty extreme misogyny in Pirate Radio. It was an all boys club, and most of the female characters were painted as one-dimensional sex objects except for a lesbian who was consistently mocked. Women were passed around like paper plates. Two of the guys even tried to pull some kind of switcharoo on a woman, to fool her into unwittingly have sex with one of the guys, which certainly fits any legal definition of rape, and it was written up as wacky hijinks. One of the guys coerced his girlfriend to have sex with and even marry an unwitting dupe, as part of his plan for his own selfish ends, and again, just wacky hijinks. Women were brought in, literally by the boatload, with the expectation of having sex with the crew. Again painted as harmless “boys will be boys” hijinks. And on and on.

    It certainly wasn’t the most offensive film that I have ever seen, but I did find it to be kind of offensive at times, and certainly more so than Observe and Report. I am not saying that you are wrong for your outlook on it, but mine is different.

  18. John r

    I guess this is something of a coming out party. I had learned to bite my tongue about Forrest Gump, because voicing any displeasure about this “wonderful example of modern film-making” brought more vitriol than standing in front of a conservative congregation wearing a “Miroslav Satan” hockey jersey.

  19. Frank Ash

    I too was utterly disgusted by “The Green Berets” when it came out and I saw it for the first time.
    In fact it actually made me vomit, but luckily I was at the drive-in so I just had to open the car door.

  20. Ken Hanke

    I would say that Observe and Report satirizes the kind of “wacky man-child makes good” comedies that usually feature Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler as some over-the-top, immature spastic who nonetheless has a heart of gold and eventually saves the day and gets the girl

    Now, I get to accuse someone of overthinking a film, because I really feel you’re giving this thing credit for far more intelligence than it has. To me, it’s just another Judd Apatow wanna-be, only a particularly unpleasant one.

    O&R presents such a character in a manner closer to that in which he would ACTUALLY be received by the real world in such instances, and demonstrates that such behavior is actually slightly creepy in its way. Then it gives him the same kind of happy ending anyway, but there’s a queasiness to it, like it wasn’t quite earned the right way

    First of all, it strikes me as a lot more than slightly creepy, but more I see no indication that there is any desire on the part of the filmmakers to deliberately induce this queasiness. You’re having nearly the same response to the movie I did, but arriving at the idea that its unpleasant tone is intentional.

  21. Ken Hanke

    The film isn’t really fresh in my head so I can’t go into great detail, but there was certainly some pretty extreme misogyny in Pirate Radio. It was an all boys club, and most of the female characters were painted as one-dimensional sex objects except for a lesbian who was consistently mocked.

    Well, it would be hard for it not to be an all boys club in that it focused on a group of disc jockeys in the mid-1960s. Female disc jockeys were, as I recall, pretty rare at that time. There scarcely are any female characters apart from the lesbian (who I did not find to be mocked and who was in fact allowed to find a partner in the course of the film). Otherwise, there’s Young Carl’s mother (Emma Thompson), who is presented as an example of an early sexually liberated woman. There’s Young Carl’s girlfriend, who is something of a mix and could be viewed as an example of misogyny, since she throws him over for another guy before coming back to him.

    Women were passed around like paper plates.

    This may make it no better, but it’s more that the women pass themselves around like paper plates. That, however, is probably not terribly inaccurate as a depiction both the sexual freedom that was being experimented with and the sort of groupie business that came with rock ‘n’ roll fame.

    Two of the guys even tried to pull some kind of switcharoo on a woman, to fool her into unwittingly have sex with one of the guys, which certainly fits any legal definition of rape, and it was written up as wacky hijinks

    Perhaps because it didn’t come off that didn’t bother me.

    One of the guys coerced his girlfriend to have sex with and even marry an unwitting dupe, as part of his plan for his own selfish ends, and again, just wacky hijinks

    No. The girlfriend did this on her own hook. Not only was she not coerced into it, but the person she was after had told her not to do this. Again, that may make it more misogynistic, since it paints the girl in a worse light. I would make a case that it’s actually a less flattering comment on a level of hypocrisy that was inherent in the age. The very use of the slightly mocking “love” song “Elenore” — a jab at the generic nature of so many pop love songs.

    Women were brought in, literally by the boatload, with the expectation of having sex with the crew. Again painted as harmless “boys will be boys” hijinks

    Again, I would disagree since the women are bringing themselves in by the boatload for the express purpose of hoping to hook up with these radio personalities. That doesn’t strike me as boys will be boys hijinks, but merely a view (possibly exaggerated — and even more so in the uncut version) of the sexual tone of the time.

    Am I saying you’re wrong? Only in certain specifics. Your reading is your reading and is certainly within your rights to make.

  22. Ken Hanke

    I had learned to bite my tongue about Forrest Gump, because voicing any displeasure about this “wonderful example of modern film-making” brought more vitriol than standing in front of a conservative congregation wearing a “Miroslav Satan” hockey jersey

    You may not recall it, but there was a time when you got much the same response by not believing that E.T. was one of the greatest films ever made.

  23. DrSerizawa

    I have contempt for many movies based on what I feel is stupidity or incompetence. Hate is not a word I throw around lightly. It’s used too freely and used to try to shut people up. You can merely criticize mildly some idea or subject online and what will often follow is a load of accusations of being a “hater” from those immature types who can’t stand even the idea of an opposing viewpoint.

    I do hate movies that pretend to be “true” or a documentary but instead are cynical propaganda pieces. Left or Right oriented makes no difference to me. “Sicko” or “Expelled” makes no never mind to me. A pox on them all.

    I figure that true “hate” comes in when a deep seated belief (political or religious) gets gored. I try to seek the truth in life wherever it leads. Sometimes it’s unpleasant. But being lied to and manipulated is worse.

    Oh and I hate ET too.

  24. Rick Hays

    all tom hanks movies are bad. forrest gump is, by far, the worst, most disgusting movie i have seen. sling blade, essentially forrest gump with a knife, is equally as bad.

  25. Ken Hanke

    You can merely criticize mildly some idea or subject online and what will often follow is a load of accusations of being a “hater” from those immature types who can’t stand even the idea of an opposing viewpoint

    Whenever anyone uses “hater” they lose as many or more points with me as using LOL or OMG would have.

    I do hate movies that pretend to be “true” or a documentary but instead are cynical propaganda pieces. Left or Right oriented makes no difference to me. “Sicko” or “Expelled” makes no never mind to me.

    Here (he said preparing a defense for liking films that support his own beliefs) we somewhat part company. In part because of the parenthetical, but also because nearly all documentaries are agenda driven. It remains then for them to not insult my intelligence and to entertain me or at least hold my interest as the basic requirement. I would probably, I admit, still loathe Expelled if it was well-made, didn’t insult my intelligence or entertain me, but fortunately that wasn’t tested.

    Oh and I hate ET too

    There we have no point of argument.

  26. Ken Hanke

    You can merely criticize mildly some idea or subject online and what will often follow is a load of accusations of being a “hater” from those immature types who can’t stand even the idea of an opposing viewpoint

    Whenever anyone uses “hater” they lose as many or more points with me as using LOL or OMG would have.

    I do hate movies that pretend to be “true” or a documentary but instead are cynical propaganda pieces. Left or Right oriented makes no difference to me. “Sicko” or “Expelled” makes no never mind to me.

    Here (he said preparing a defense for liking films that support his own beliefs) we somewhat part company. In part because of the parenthetical, but also because nearly all documentaries are agenda driven. It remains then for them to not insult my intelligence and to entertain me or at least hold my interest as the basic requirement. I would probably, I admit, still loathe Expelled if it was well-made, didn’t insult my intelligence or entertain me, but fortunately that wasn’t tested.

    Oh and I hate ET too

    There we have no point of argument.

  27. Dionysis

    There have been a few movies that I disliked intensely, probably even muttered ‘I hated that film’ from time-to-time. Usually, it’s less the actual film per se but some other element, more likely actors I don’t like (no matter what they’re in). One film I really disliked, in fact, almost really ‘hated’ was The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; I know it got positive reviews and many loved it, but it left me not just cold, but feeling yucky for days.

    However, for the most part, any film that has certain people (I’m not sure I will go so far as to call them ‘actors’) such as Paulie Shore, Steven Baldwin, John Schneider, Robin Williams, Jack Black (see a pattern here?) and a few others. Of course, if I know they’re in a film, I’ll likely skip it anyway.

    I also hate crummy remakes in general.

  28. Dionysis

    On the previous post, I meant ‘Rob Schneider’, not John (although he’s pretty lame too).

  29. entopticon

    Now, I get to accuse someone of overthinking a film, because I really feel you’re giving this thing credit for far more intelligence than it has.

    In this case Ken, I think you are definitely, demonstrably wrong. You aren’t wrong or right to feel that Jody Hill was unsuccessful, because that is subjective, but he is on record in numerous interviews stating his intentions, which were very similar to what LYT described. You might not like the outcome, but there is no question that Jody Hill put the sort of thought into the film that LYT described, and then some. In fact, what LYT described is essentially a trademark of his work.

    First of all, it strikes me as a lot more than slightly creepy, but more I see no indication that there is any desire on the part of the filmmakers to deliberately induce this queasiness.

    On this issue as well, it is not a matter of opinion, you are definitely just wrong. Jody Hill’s primary goal was to induce that queasiness, and he talked about it repeatedly in numerous interviews. The two films that were particularly influential on Observe and Report, which you aren’t a fan of as I recall, are the awkward enough to make you squirm in your seat films, Taxi Driver and King of Comedy (Scorcese’s two best films in my opinion). He specifically talks about how in films like that, when the standard triumph over adversity narrative is applied to an unlikable, broken, emotionally stunted protagonist, you find yourself feeling repulsed queasiness over their victory, as opposed to the standard formula intended to elicit heartwarming glee etc.

    Here are a couple of quotes from an interview to support the fact that it was indeed his intention:

    On films like Red Dawn:

    “I definitely feel like Ronnie watched those movies and took them to heart. And we play with movie clichés, like sorta pseudo–Cameron Crowe, but twisted. I hope people feel themselves caught up in a Cameron Crowe moment, but the visuals are so fucked-up that it kind of produces a really uncomfortable feeling. Like, people applaud and then they stop: “Wait, what the fuck am I applauding? He just murdered somebody.”

    And:

    “On the set, and beforehand, we were constantly talking about The King of Comedy, and, in fact, Taxi Driver, Straw Dogs, Shampoo. The end was heavily inspired by the way King of Comedy and Taxi Driver end, where it’s kind of a victory but it makes you wonder: Is it a dream? Is it really a victory? Is it just kind of weird? Like the whole thing is based in realism — and then you twist it at the end and it makes people feel weird.”

    For or better or worse, he may or may not be successful, but Jody Hill certainly thinks about other levels of meaning in his films (and on East Bound and Down). One more quote from the same interview:

    “We wanted to tell a good story, but the themes that run through it hopefully just represent some type of bigger picture. It’s certainly not a political film by any means, but I don’t think it’s a disposable comedy, either, where there’s no greater subtext.”

  30. Jonathan Barnard

    Ken,
    Reading your discussion with Entopticon about “Pirate Radio” made me think about an earlier discussion we had about the film. You had heard that Orbit customers didn’t care for it much, and you wondered if their not liking the film was perhaps connected to “anti-boomer” sentiments. I suggested that perhaps it was the other way around—perhaps you liked it so much because it brought back coming-of-age-memories connected to the sixties (you know sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, generational and moral certainty…). I could see attractive qualities to the film but wasn’t in love with it, and I said that I thought my ambivalence may have been connected to being a little bit younger than you (I was born in 1962). I suggested that a more relevant coming-of-age film for me might be “Almost Famous”: The sixties party is over; a lot of people crashed hard; pick up the pieces and get on with your life. Like Entopticon, my wife and daughters didn’t care for Pirate Radio much at all, in part because they objected to the idea of girls enjoying being passed around “like paper plates.” “Almost Famous,” on the other hand, dealt with the music-as-an-aphrodisiac theme, but made it clear that however much boys liked passing around girls like paper plates, the girls might not equally enjoy it.

    Now I read that “Forrest Gump” is one of the films you hate most, and I’m thinking that maybe there really is something to your identifying strongly with the sixties. I’m hardly in love with the film (like Entopticon I’d describe it as mediocre) and I fully see your political criticisms of the film, but why does a southern idiot conformist from that era having good luck bother you so much? I mean there are many films making far worse political statements. How about “Birth of a Nation”? Maybe your identification with the youth movements of the sixties made you particularly sensitive to Forrest Gump’s rejection of them.

    You may find my psychological analysis obnoxious and glib. I’m sorry if you do. All I’m trying to say is that personal identity issues can influence one’s strong likes and dislikes of films and other works of art. And we all identify with things for various reasons, including me. My wife is Taiwanese. Since Ang Lee’s earliest films (“Pushing Hands” and “Wedding Banquet”) dealt explicitly with Taiwanese-American marriages, my identification with that early subject matter is probably one reason why I eagerly await his films and respond so well to them. Maybe your background—growing up in the south and coming of age in the sixties—has something to do with why you adore “Pirate Radio” and loathe “Forrest Gump.”

    Now, to be really obnoxious, I’m wondering if the “hubris of youth” theme in “Crouching Tiger” offended your flower-child sensibility. Maybe that’s why it didn’t make your top 100 of the decade list…

  31. entopticon

    On Pirate Radio, Ken, most of what you said was a rationalization based on realism, but it’s not that I am arguing against the realism of what I see as the extreme misogyny in the film. It’s that it celebrates it. Recognizing that the world of rock and roll celebrity was full of womanizing and misogyny, and therefore representing it that way is not a problem for me. It was the fact that it was actually celebrating it, if not promoting it by making it look like it was all good fun that irked me.

    On the case of the woman that they tried to trick into having unwitting sex with a stranger, I’m not sure how the fact that they got caught makes it all ok. I understand that that was how the film intended to portray it, as if it was all in good fun, but that’s what creeped me out about it so much.

    I certainly don’t think it was the most offensive movie ever made, and that sort of hyper-male film that celebrates that sort of behavior is pretty standard, and represents real cultural trends, but I found it to be more offensive than usual. Perhaps my expectations for the film, or my mindset going into it had some influence on that.

  32. Ken Hanke

    In this case Ken, I think you are definitely, demonstrably wrong. You aren’t wrong or right to feel that Jody Hill was unsuccessful, because that is subjective, but he is on record in numerous interviews stating his intentions, which were very similar to what LYT described.

    OK, since he said that was aim, that was his aim. I still think it’s a lousy film, but I will happily concede that he did it deliberately.

  33. Ken Hanke

    I fully see your political criticisms of the film, but why does a southern idiot conformist from that era having good luck bother you so much? I mean there are many films making far worse political statements. How about “Birth of a Nation”? Maybe your identification with the youth movements of the sixties made you particularly sensitive to Forrest Gump’s rejection of them

    Perhaps, but I’ve never claimed that Birth of a Nation isn’t morally offensive. Does it touch a nerved with me in the same way? No, but in large part that’s because it’s 95 years old and is thankfully not especially relevant to today. Also, it’s openly offensive. Much of what I object to about Gump is that it’s underhanded in what it does. And even if you strip it of its 60s aspect, it would still be a cry for conformity and if you do what you’re told everything will be fine, but if you don’t… That has little to do with era per se.

    Now, to be really obnoxious, I’m wondering if the “hubris of youth” theme in “Crouching Tiger” offended your flower-child sensibility. Maybe that’s why it didn’t make your top 100 of the decade list

    No, sorry. It didn’t offend me in the least. I just didn’t think it was all that great, which probably has more to do with the fact that action scenes tend to bore me if they go on very long than it has to do with the film’s thematic content.

  34. Ken Hanke

    On Pirate Radio, Ken, most of what you said was a rationalization based on realism

    And on plot points you misremembered.

    It was the fact that it was actually celebrating it, if not promoting it by making it look like it was all good fun that irked me

    Well, we’re not going to agree on this — except that we’re seeing it differently probably because we’re very different people with completely different baggage — but that’s not at all what I come away with from the film. A celebration of the era and the music, sure, but I just don’t see the problem with the possible exception of the “near rape” scene.

    It may surprise you, but of all the things I’ve heard against the film, the remarks on here are the only ones I’ve encountered — including ones from women — that found the film offensive. I’ve heard it slammed as lame and as unrealistic and as too sold of speechifying the qualities of rock, but no one has previously told me they were offended by it. That doesn’t make you and Jonathan wrong, but it is interesting to me. Then I am often surprised by what does and doesn’t offend people.

  35. DrSerizawa

    Here (he said preparing a defense for liking films that support his own beliefs) we somewhat part company.

    Well, duh. I would like documentaries that support my own beliefs too. However the libertarian sort are non-existent. Best I can do is pretend that “Team America” is a documentary of sort. A documentary with really over-the-top profanity.

  36. Jonathan Barnard

    I never said I was “offended” by “Pirate Radio.” I enjoyed it, actually. I just didn’t think it was a great film. And it has turned out that I misrepresented my wife and daughters’ opinions, which I’ve just double-checked. They saw it before I did, and when it came to Asheville Pizza and I said I was going to see it (partly because Ken was so enthusiastic about it), my wife recommended I not waste my time, saying it wasn’t all that good a film and mentioning critically the “boatloads of adoring female fans.” I mentally connected the dots (wrongly it turns out), turning her comment into political criticism about the way it was depicting sexual relations. She says it wasn’t political criticism: she just thought it was cheesy (especially the boatloads of fans at the ending). And my daughters have told me that, unlike their mom, they actually liked the film. All that said, however, I find it odd, Ken, that you can’t see at all where Entopticon is coming. In depicting the sexual relations between male rock celebrity and female groupie, it does take the teenage boy’s wet dream approach. It’s obviously less nuanced in this regard than a film like “Almost Famous.”
    Although we all have strong political opinions in my family, we never get too worked up about the politics of films. Maybe that’s a fault; I don’t know. I was actually struggling to come up with films that I truly hated. Among films mentioned here as being hated for political reasons, my reaction to seeing “Forrest Gump” was “meh.” “Pretty Woman”: “groan.” “Sin City” I felt was definitely coming from a twisted place but I actually liked the film, because I thought the look and feel of it was so different and engrossing. “300” did make me feel, well, “icky” in a way that no other film has. It gave the impression as if the director had sadomasochistic tendencies, that he was likely someone who would masturbate or take sexual pleasure from scenes of violence. I’d never see it again, but I’m still not sure I would say I hated it. It’s almost like I give it credit as a work of art for producing a strong reaction of disgust in me.

  37. LYT

    entopticon pretty much said what I was going to say. I will add that in many ways, Observe and Report is Jody Hill’s least successful (aesthetically) version of his usual themes, because it isn’t as clear at first. Normally, Danny McBride is his star, and McBride excels at playing unlikable. Casting Rogen, who’s known for nicer, cuddlier types, seems to me an attempt to be even more subversive (though it was also because McBride was so busy with Tropic Thunder that he couldn’t play the lead, and only made a cameo)…but I also think it confused a lot of viewers by being a slightly off, twisted version of what people expected from Rogen.

    I confess to being slightly confused after seeing it, but the more I thought back on the movie and read other reviews of it, the more I liked it. One example, I guess, of where critics are definitely still relevant to me.

  38. Ken Hanke

    I never said I was “offended” by “Pirate Radio.”

    I didn’t mean to imply you did, but you reported the existence of it.

    All that said, however, I find it odd, Ken, that you can’t see at all where Entopticon is coming. In depicting the sexual relations between male rock celebrity and female groupie, it does take the teenage boy’s wet dream approach.

    I didn’t say I can’t see where he’s coming from, merely that I don’t feel it personally. And there, I think, is where we get into the realm of the unprovable, since the whole tone of the movie feels so completely non-malicious to me that I end up feeling it’s pretty blameless in intent. I fully see where he’s coming from, though.

    It’s obviously less nuanced in this regard than a film like “Almost Famous.”

    The aims seem so completely different to me despite some similarities in subject matter. Pirate Radio is not out to really examine the downside of all this, though I do think it hints at it.

    Although we all have strong political opinions in my family, we never get too worked up about the politics of films. Maybe that’s a fault; I don’t know.

    I suspect it’s primarily a question of temperament. It’s an interesting point to consider.

    “Sin City” I felt was definitely coming from a twisted place but I actually liked the film, because I thought the look and feel of it was so different and engrossing

    That’s probably about where I am on it. I think — though I could be wrong — that Chip’s objections are more visceral than political. I badly need to watch that again. Now, if I can find the time…

  39. Jonathan Barnard

    Uh-oh. I meant “where Entopticon is coming FROM.” In context, that’s a prety amusing slip…

  40. Ken Hanke

    I will add that in many ways, Observe and Report is Jody Hill’s least successful (aesthetically) version of his usual themes, because it isn’t as clear at first.

    The thing I find interesting about this is that I actually like the film even less knowing that it’s deliberate. This is perhaps a barometer of my shallowness.

  41. Ken Hanke

    I would like documentaries that support my own beliefs too. However the libertarian sort are non-existent

    I can see how that would be, yes. One of the key problems I find with all documentaries that set out to make a difference is that my burn-out factor on them is pretty quick — even when I agree with them.

  42. Ken Hanke

    Uh-oh. I meant “where Entopticon is coming FROM.” In context, that’s a prety amusing slip…

    Yeah, but I figured what you actually meant.

  43. rertmr

    It seems as though many of the commentators simply used your article as a jumping off point for declaring their hatred for certain movies. Interesting.

  44. rertmr

    It seems as though many of the commentators simply used your article as a jumping off point for declaring their hatred for certain movies. Interesting.

  45. Dread P. Roberts

    Ken, have you watched “In The Company of Men” yet? I’m still interested in your opinion.

  46. LYT

    Nice, Dread P. No discussion on hating movies can be complete without mentioning Neil LaBute (whom I generally like).

  47. Ken Hanke

    It seems as though many of the commentators simply used your article as a jumping off point for declaring their hatred for certain movies. Interesting

    It’s pretty much what I anticipated actually.

  48. Ken Hanke

    Ken, have you watched “In The Company of Men” yet? I’m still interested in your opinion

    I’m interested too, but I still haven’t seen it.

  49. Ken Hanke

    Nice, Dread P. No discussion on hating movies can be complete without mentioning Neil LaBute (whom I generally like).

    I have only seen four of his movies — Possession, The Shape of Things, The Wicker Man, Death at a Funeral. I liked the first two. I thought the third was hysterically funny, even in that wasn’t the intent. And I disliked the last pretty intensely — certainly not worth the energy of hating, though. I suspect I have yet to see one of the ones that pisses people off.

    I realize, however, that I have been remiss in one area as concerns films that I could be said to hate — an entire school of filmmaking: mumblecore.

  50. I have been remiss in one area as concerns films that I could be said to hate—an entire school of filmmaking: mumblecore.
    Would someone mind explaining to me what in the hell ‘mumblecore’ is exactly?

  51. entopticon

    Why on Earth would it be surprising that people would talk about movies that they hate in the comments section on an article about hating movies? It certainly would have been very interesting if no one talked about movies that they hate in a discussion about hating movies.

  52. Jonathan Barnard

    Re: Neil Labute

    “Your Friends and Neighbors” definitely had a bleak view of human nature that I can imagine some might find rather off-putting.

  53. entopticon

    The thing about Your Friends and Neighbors, as with In The Company of Men (a much better film in my opinion) is that as bleak as they were, they in no way condoned or celebrated the unconscionable behavior represented in them. The immorality wasn’t in any way glorified or even excused. For what it’s worth, I haven’t cared for anything that he’s made since Your Friends and Neighbors.

    Simply having detestable characters in a film is just fine with me. The only time that it really bothers me is when those characters are used to justify or aggrandize poor behavior. Natural Born Killers crossed the line a bit for me. It may not have intended to glorify the immoral behavior in it, but it kind of did.

  54. Ken Hanke

    Would someone mind explaining to me what in the hell ‘mumblecore’ is exactly?

    I’ll take a shot, which will probably cause someone hipper than I am to descend with eyes clinched and fists blazing.

    One online definition reads: “a genre of low-budget movie using nonprofessionals to depict mundane postcollege or early adult existence.”

    In The New Yorker David Denby described it in part this way: “Mumblecore movies are made by buddies, casual and serious lovers, and networks of friends, and they’re about college-educated men and women who aren’t driven by ideas or by passions or even by a desire to make their way in the world. Neither rebels nor bohemians, they remain stuck in a limbo of semi-genteel, moderately hip poverty, though some of the films end with a lurch into the working world. The actors (almost always nonprofessionals) rarely say what they mean; a lot of the time, they don’t know what they mean.”

    Those both seem pretty accurate to me. It seems to me to be grounded in the belief that the guff you and your friends talk about after some wine and weed really is fascinating.

    There’s some argument over what is and is not mumblecore. I’ve seen Humpday both called it and not called it. I’d say it qualifies. I’d say that that quasi-pseudo-documentary about Michael Cera and his girlfriend qualifies, but I’m not sure it’s considered legitimate. I know Juno has occasionally been blasted as an attempt by the mainstream to co-opt and commercialize the form.

  55. Ken Hanke

    “Your Friends and Neighbors” definitely had a bleak view of human nature that I can imagine some might find rather off-putting

    I haven’t seen it, but I usually don’t care for the “life is a bottomless pit filled with snake turds” hopeless school of drama, though there are exceptions to this. I’m good with coming out of a film feeling completely pole-axed and shattered, but I don’t get much out of just coming out depressed.

  56. Dread P. Roberts

    The thing about Your Friends and Neighbors, as with In The Company of Men (a much better film in my opinion) is that as bleak as they were, they in no way condoned or celebrated the unconscionable behavior represented in them.

    You’re right, the behavior on display does not seem to be condoned to me either, but that isn’t the issue. The issue with, say, In The Company of Men (since I initially brought that one up) is this narrowminded, steriotyping viewpoint; which egotistical Labute indirectly preaches to us seemingly less intelligent beings that, in the end, ALL men are despicable bastard pigs. And he does so in such a way, as if to say, “look, see how artistically brilliant I am? You can’t argue with me, because this is just the reality of the way things are.”

    I’ve known people who think they’re smart, because they think they ‘get it’ when it comes to Labute’s supposed art. It’s like Labute thinks he can just project this crap all in the name of art, and nomatter what the message is, people will simply accept that he must have a valid point.

  57. entopticon

    The issue with, say, In The Company of Men (since I initially brought that one up) is this narrowminded, steriotyping viewpoint; which egotistical Labute indirectly preaches to us seemingly less intelligent beings that, in the end, ALL men are despicable bastard pigs.

    You may be right about that. It’s not exactly what I took away from the film, but I have limited knowledge of the director, and that can certainly influence one’s outlook. From what I recall from over a decade ago, he was a somewhat sheepish, socially awkward little Mormon guy that technically wasn’t allowed to watch his own films because of their R rating. I haven’t really kept up with his work, because for me, everything that I have seen from him since the first two has been pretty terrible.

  58. Ken Hanke

    I’ve known people who think they’re smart, because they think they ‘get it’ when it comes to Labute’s supposed art. It’s like Labute thinks he can just project this crap all in the name of art, and nomatter what the message is, people will simply accept that he must have a valid point

    I haven’t seen the film, but there are people who think they’re smart because they like things that almost no one else likes and/or because the things are unpleasant, downbeat and depressing. (Boring is also often a barometer of quality.)

  59. Jonathan Barnard

    I haven’t seen “Company of Men,” and I’ve only seen a 45 minute segement in the middle of “Your Friends and Neighbors” (on Taiwanese cable, before I was called to dinner by my mother-in-law), so I should reserve ultimate judgment. The experience I had was something akin to watching a trainwreck about to unfold: I had a perverse desire to continue watching, and certainly would have, if it hadn’t been dinner time.

    And I agree with entopticon: Labute definitely didn’t seem to be glorifying their behavior.

  60. Ken Hanke

    And I agree with entopticon: Labute definitely didn’t seem to be glorifying their behavior

    Intent is a tricky proposition at best. Audiences are apt to read what they want to read into a thing. The classic example, of course, is the fact that Norman Lear never intended Archie Bunker to be a hero, but a lot of middle America took him that way. Think of that scene in Richard Rush’s The Stunt Man where Peter O’Toole talks about a friend director who made an anti-war film — a good one — and when it was shown in the man’s hometown military enlistment went up 50%.

    Really, unless the filmmaker has told you what he intended, it’s a reading of the film, based in part on your own experiences, worldview and baggage. And if the filmmaker has told you his intentions, how are you sure that he’s actually telling you the truth?

  61. Jonathan Barnard

    Fair enough, Ken.

    I guess I mean to say that I didn’t find the characters very sympathetic.

  62. Ken Hanke

    I guess I mean to say that I didn’t find the characters very sympathetic

    I wasn’t criticizing you — or at least that was not my intent!

  63. Jonathan Barnard

    I didn’t mean to suggest you were criticizing me, Ken. I was just saying you had a valid point.

    Back to my experience with that bit of “Your Friends and Neighbors”–

    Entopoticon mentioned Labute’s Mormon heritage. I think I had read an article about his plays before I saw that bit of the film, so that I also knew Labute was a Mormon. Perhaps one reason I found the film intriguing as well as distasteful is that I was thinking: “A Mormon wrote this?!”
    Which is just to say that earlier knowledge of all kinds always influences one’s experience of a film.

  64. Neither rebels nor bohemians, they remain stuck in a limbo of semi-genteel, moderately hip poverty
    My gag reflex is already kicking in.

  65. Ken Hanke

    My gag reflex is already kicking in.

    I don’t know if I exempted Paper Heart from my list because it tanked so badly that it seems utterly negligible, but Justin can attest to the fact that I kept getting progressively angry as the movie unfolded. Then again, I’m not sure hardcore mumblecoreans would accept this as mumblecore.

  66. Son of Rufus

    I’m too lazy to read all the comments that already have accumulated on this article, which is greedy since I’m about to leave an extra long one.

    My aunt alerted me to this article and I knew I had some reading to do. Discussing favorite/hating movies and music is a favorite pastime of mine. I don’t have a favorite movie or album but that is mostly because I believe it is impossible and I take syntax way too seriously. But I do have movies I don’t care for, some I maybe even hate.

    I slogged my way through Furry Vengeance

    I’d guess it’s harder to hate movies when they are free. But this movie is so irrelevant. Who could hate it?

    For instance, I think the Twilight movies are abominable. I found them both painful to sit through, laughably bad and just downright stupid. But I suspect the intensity of my dislike for them has as much to do with the fact that garbage like this could be so spectacularly popular

    Exactly, it is so obviously made just to make a profit that you can’t hate it either (I like that “anti-tobacco” ad that is trying to prove tobacco companies are secretly influencing you to smoke but to me it said that movies like Twilight are just made to make money any way they can).

    I can tell the difference between these and movies I just dislike while I’m watching them. I hadn’t actually realized this until I was watching Zack Snyder’s 300

    Don’t know about your 300 opinion but it is an opinion so I can’t really argue about it, plus the exaggerated circumstances do support you. My take on 300 is that I hate it as a movie buff but if I’m with a bunch of guy friends, have had a few beers, and it’s like 3 AM I have the ability to suspend judgement and enjoy myself (terrible I know).

    I know quite a few people who insist that Korine is an important filmmaker and that Gummo is some kind of masterpiece. Frankly, it’s the kind of independent film that could make me run screaming to see a Michael Bay movie.

    Now we’re talking. My most reoccurring “Gummo” is not quite an independent film but still loved by most, “Remember the Titans”. “Oh it’s about race relations so it’s automatically a great movie”. Same thing with most movies about Africa. They are praised just on the merit of talking about problems in Africa, not on their cinematic merits, or lack thereof (I’ve discussed “Blood Diamond” ad nauseum and would prefer not to debate it more). Also, “Garden State” could fit in this category since some people think they’re cultured and into indie films/music if they like it (don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a nice movie, just not amazing).

    Eli Roth’s Hostel

    Waste of time to discuss. Just tasteless.

    So why do I hate Forrest Gump? Well, because it’s the most offensive, morally repugnant film ever made. OK, I’ll explain, though let me also stop to note that it’s also an obnoxiously stupid movie right down to that imebecilic bromide it popularized.

    Never really analyzed “Forrest Gump” that closely but I can understand your arguments. I’ve really only watched it maybe once, all the way through, not on cable.

    Anyway, awesome article Ken. Please keep making cool articles like this. The inner workings of hating and liking art (movies in the case of your articles) is such an interesting topic. I knew I should have studied pop culture instead of business in school. But I’ve just graduated so I guess it’s a little late for that.

  67. Ken Hanke

    My aunt alerted me to this article and I knew I had some reading to do.

    And here I thought you were a faithful reader who, in part through circumstances, had just fallen by the wayside in the commentary department. Speaking of which, whatever became of your dad?

    I don’t have a favorite movie or album but that is mostly because I believe it is impossible and I take syntax way too seriously.

    Realistically, it is impossible. But I could come up with a pretty solid top 10 in both instances if pressed on the matter.

    I’d guess it’s harder to hate movies when they are free. But this movie is so irrelevant. Who could hate it?

    That’s probably easier to say if you haven’t sat through it. Of course, they’re never entirely free, since you have to drive to get to the theater. And in the case of mainstream films, my theater of choice has fountain Cheerwine (regional cherry flavored soft drink) so there goes another $4.50.

    My take on 300 is that I hate it as a movie buff but if I’m with a bunch of guy friends, have had a few beers, and it’s like 3 AM I have the ability to suspend judgement and enjoy myself (terrible I know).

    It’s either age or socialization, but I never really had friends who were quite that macho in their taste. Now, when he was a young man and not entirely sober, your father used to tend to insist we watch Laurel and Hardy in Fra Diavolo or listen to Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story (the latter seemed to be primarily for “Mandolin Wind,” which I believe was favored because it had the word “buffalo” in it).

    “Oh it’s about race relations so it’s automatically a great movie”.

    This is known as confusing the importance of the subject matter with the importance of the movie. Many an Oscar has been taken home on this basis. It’s also often a case of assuaging liberal guilt — watch the movie, go home, listen to some Billie Holiday and feel good about yourself. And I say that as a liberal. Conservatives now have their very own film of this nature (complete with token Democrat) — The Blind Side — and Sandra Bullock has her Oscar.

    Also, “Garden State” could fit in this category since some people think they’re cultured and into indie films/music if they like it (don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a nice movie, just not amazing).

    It’s a good little movie. I think it seemed better at the time than it really was. Its indie cred in terms of music might be a little compromised by the use of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” on the soundtrack (and, if memory serves, Tadpole had already used that). I suspect, however, that it was too popular to impress the hardcore indie-phile folks, who tend to prefer movies that six people go to see.

    Anyway, awesome article Ken. Please keep making cool articles like this.

    Thanks. I will try.

    I knew I should have studied pop culture instead of business in school. But I’ve just graduated so I guess it’s a little late for that

    It might be more lucrative as an avocation anyway.

  68. Steve

    I watched Forrest Gump after it left theaters, mainly because I kept being told I had to see it. I didn’t find the message terribly uplifting. Although I have to say I never thought about it as a “conserviative wet dream”, I found the character of Jenny to be selfish and unsympathetic. She basically just used Forrest when she didn’t have anywhere else to go and no other options. She only went back to him because she was dying, and then to dump their child on him. Would she ever have allowed Forrest to know his son if she wasn’t dying? I’m inclined to think not. I thought it was very sad that the message seemed to be that to love someone you had to be a selfless martyr, content to accept whatever crumbs fall from the table. What a dysfunctional “relationship”.

  69. Steve

    I would rather read of her encounter with a steam roller, but I would accept a promise never to write again. Not even a grocery list.

    Another of the many, many reasons I adore you Ken Hanke.

  70. Steve

    I have to throw my hat in the ring yet again for one of the few movies that I actively hate “Mulholland Drive”. I have been pretty vocal about my distain for the Emperor’s New Clothes nature of Lynch’s “talent” (i.e. he is lauded as talented simply because he is lauded as talented), but this movie made me react so viscerally because because of the way he did it. The early parts of the movie made it look as if some effort was being made to assemble diverse elements into some kind of plotline, but when it all went “supernatural” and collapsed into a miasma of nothing, it was just a huge raspberry to the audience, as if he was palpably saying “Look what I made you watch – HA!” I really loathe that total disdain for the audience.

  71. Ken Hanke

    Although I have to say I never thought about it as a “conserviative wet dream”, I found the character of Jenny to be selfish and unsympathetic.

    But that, I think, is part of it — she, after all, is the film’s nod to a liberal mindset of any kind.

    Another of the many, many reasons I adore you Ken Hanke.

    And, presumably, why you cut me slack for actually liking Mulholland Drive. Thing about that is, I would never argue the validity of your point of view on David Lynch — in part because there are times when I feel that way myself.

  72. Steve

    And, presumably, why you cut me slack for actually liking Mulholland Drive. Thing about that is, I would never argue the validity of your point of view on David Lynch—in part because there are times when I feel that way myself.

    LOL, not just liking it, but giving it 5 stars! Thanks for throwing me a bone. Seriously. Better that than be talked down to for not “understanding his genius“.

  73. Dread P. Roberts

    I have to throw my hat in the ring yet again for one of the few movies that I actively hate “Mulholland Drive”.

    I’m going to go out on a limb, and assume you haven’t seen Inland Empire, right? I know a lot of people hate Mulholland Drive (which is fine), but I’ve never met someone who saw Inland, and went off on how annoyingly horrible Mulholland is. The reason being – once you’ve seen that movie, Mulholland feels like childs play. If you ever check it out Steve, please be sure to let me know how you felt about it.

  74. Ken Hanke

    not just liking it, but giving it 5 stars!

    I find it fascinating. Oddly, I found it more fascinating the first time I saw it. When it started making a kind of sense on subsequent viewings, it was less so.

    Better that than be talked down to for not “understanding his genius”.

    See, I don’t tend to go that route on anything, because there’s no crime in not “getting” something. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid to me. It merely means you’re not — for whatever reason — on whatever wavelength is required. It could be said that I am not on Harmony Korine’s wavelength — and I’m perfectly cool with that.

  75. Steve

    Well thanks DP for you faith in my open mindedness. Since I am not a fan, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that I don’t follow Mr. Lynch’s latest dustbin cleaning. Unfortunately, I’m going to disappoint.

    I looked it up in Wikipedia: Inland Empire (2006) is a surrealist psychological thriller film (with elements of horror), written and directed by David Lynch. It was his first feature-length film since 2001’s Mulholland Drive, and shares many similarities with that film.

    That pretty much tells me what I need to know. I’d just as soon clean house. Or have a root canal. On the upside, it’s his first release since 2001, and it took him two and a half years to complete. Here’s to another nine Lynch-free years. Cheers.

  76. Steve

    It could be said that I am not on Harmony Korine’s wavelength—and I’m perfectly cool with that.

    Yep, I read the reviews for Trash Humpers. Didn’t seem like my cuppa.

  77. Steve

    Ooops, I forgot and used LOL above. Hopefully I have not fallen too much in your estimation.

  78. Ken Hanke

    I know a lot of people hate Mulholland Drive (which is fine), but I’ve never met someone who saw Inland, and went off on how annoyingly horrible Mulholland is. The reason being – once you’ve seen that movie, Mulholland feels like childs play

    Owing to its sheer length and impenetrability, Inland Empire is daunting and something of an endurance test. Maybe more than “something,” come to think about it. It’s maddening and seemingly endless, but there are moments in it that I truly like and think are inspired — and I don’t deny its atmosphere. For that matter, I actually like it better than Wild at Heart and Lost Highway, but I would never criticize anyone for hating it or dismissing it as an incomprehensible mess.

  79. Steve

    I would never criticize anyone for hating it or dismissing it as an incomprehensible mess.

    This to me, goes back to the ancient debate. Does the act of creation define art? Or must art convey something? If you shout a message but no one can understand it, does it count? Do you feel that Lynch is trying to say something or convey something other than confusion? The message I get is “I can do anything and you suckers will call it Art because I’m David Lynch Muahahaha!”

  80. Dread P. Roberts

    Do you feel that Lynch is trying to say something or convey something other than confusion?

    I know this question isn’t directed at me, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to put in my own two cents.

    I tend to feel that there is a little bit of both at play. I think (these are only theories, mind you) that Lynch is playing a bit of a game with his audience; but not quite in a mocking sort of way, like what you might feel. He’s having fun hiding things (easter eggs?) amidst a sea of what might seem at first to be incomprehensible. It’s a puzzle, that maybe he want people to only start to unravle on subsequent viewings. For example: The opening of Mulholland references the ‘dream state’, way before most people catch on to what it is that they’re seeing.

    The problem is that Lynch gets carried away, and most of us go mad trying to understand what he is saying. I guess, perhaps, sometimes one just has to sit back, and enjoy the pretty pictures. As a lover of cinematography, sometimes that’s ok with me – othertimes…well, lets just say I can sympathize with you Steve, dependending on my mood – and my state of mind.

  81. Steve

    other times…well, lets just say I can sympathize with you Steve, dependending on my mood – and my state of mind.

    Always good to hear from you, Dread P. I have great respect for your opinions. Just not enough to make me sit through another Lynch picture. I did tone down my former post from “latest cinematic abortion” to “latest dustbin cleaning” solely out of respect for your sensibilities.

  82. Ken Hanke

    Ooops, I forgot and used LOL above. Hopefully I have not fallen too much in your estimation

    I was tactfully overlooking it. I will continue to do that.

    Do you feel that Lynch is trying to say something or convey something other than confusion?

    Mr. Roberts has pretty deftly answered that. I think it might be more fairly said that he’s trying to convey things that are in his mind — and that’s perhaps different from saying something. In many cases, I’m not sure he knows what he’s trying to say, but I feel that most of it is more real than fake. In other words, it seems to me that this actually is the way his mind works more than he’s just trying to baffle with bullshit. Some of the stuff is clearly playfully intended — like the “Locomotion” number in Inland Empire — but I’m generally not sensing willful cinematic snake oil. And sometimes — as in the “Ain’t no big deal. You’re just dyin’ is all” scene in Inland Empire — he gets to an area that I find impossible to ignore.

  83. Dread P. Roberts

    I did tone down my former post from “latest cinematic abortion” to “latest dustbin cleaning” solely out of respect for your sensibilities.

    Please sir, don’t feel the need to tone down such wonderful wording on my behalf. I’m really not that sensitive when it comes to this sort of thing. I actually prefer the creative, extremism lingo of “latest cinematic abortion” (it’s got a nice ring to it).

    Besides, Lynch is by no means one of my favorite directors; he’s merely someone whose work I tend to view with a sort of curious fascination. I often like to be provoked in thought by a film; even if I am initially confused and frustated.

    I think it might be more fairly said that he’s trying to convey things that are in his mind—and that’s perhaps different from saying something.

    It seems like I might’ve heard Lynch say something very similar to this in an interview, when he was talking about some of the thought processs behind Eraserhead. Something about how Eraserhead was one of his favorite movies that he’s made, because it was one of his closest attempts at alluding to the dream-state of his mind. (I’m also feeling a bit of déjà vu over this conversation.)

  84. Dread P. Roberts

    Always good to hear from you, Dread P. I have great respect for your opinions.

    Thank you kindly, I appreciate that – and I enjoy reading what you have to say too.

  85. Steve

    Besides, Lynch is by no means one of my favorite directors; he’s merely someone whose work I tend to view with a sort of curious fascination. I often like to be provoked in thought by a film; even if I am initially confused and frustated.

    Well I try to watch what I say now. I was at the home of a good friend when I made a disparging remark about Mr. Lynch and I thought she was going to have apoplexy. She later apologized, but it was a tense moment.

  86. Steve

    In many cases, I’m not sure he knows what he’s trying to say, but I feel that most of it is more real than fake.

    Ok, this makes no sense to me. Why would the unconscious messages of a disorganized mind be art? Or even worth anyone’s time? Why not tour the local mental hospital to glean the scraps on knowledge from the mentally unstable? Is David Lynch the ultimate real-life episode of Being There? If so, that kind of proves what I’ve been saying all along.

    Real is fine, and I suppose, under duress, I could concede reality, or at least concede that your insights into the mind of a director would, if only by sheer volume of experience, be closer to the mark than mine.

    But it sounds suspiciously like some kind of Nell-outreach school of direction. Only in Hollywood could such a man rise to prominence.

    I feel like ending with a quote from Young Frankenstein: “You are talking about the nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind!”

  87. Ken Hanke

    Ok, this makes no sense to me. Why would the unconscious messages of a disorganized mind be art?

    I doubt if I can make it make sense to you, but it’s really in answer to the idea that he’s a fake and a put-on who is getting away with a deliberate hoax on the viewer. I’m not even claiming that it is art.

    Or even worth anyone’s time? Why not tour the local mental hospital to glean the scraps on knowledge from the mentally unstable?

    Well, the art world is filled with work from people who could be called mentally unstable. There’s a rather large difference between the mentally unstable who are nonetheless sufficiently organized to function at the level required to produce a film or a painting or a symphony or a poem or a novel, and those who are just plain mentally unstable.

    Only in Hollywood could such a man rise to prominence

    Considering the prominence of your Michael Bays and your Shawn Levys, I’d say that the odd non-commercial nut case isn’t such a bad thing. If nothing else, Lynch isn’t going to make Furry Vengeance — at least not as the one currently out was made.

    And the odd thing about all this is, like Dread P. said, Lynch is nowhere near being a favorite of mine. It’s kind of funny to be defending him.

  88. Me

    If you’re not a fan of Lynch’s weirder side watch the Straight Story it proves he not just a one note director.

  89. Jim Donato

    I used to be a Lynch fan but I eventually picked up on the fact that he was always going to insert scenes in his films of topless women in black pumps just because he was feeding an obvious fetish. Once is innocuous. Twice is suspicious. Three times is a red flag. Lost Highway was the straw that broke this camel’s back. When Lynch earlier spiced up a narrative with the occasional unexplained content or even dream-logic scene, the net result was intriguing, apart from the unmitigated disaster of Dune. That was a film that seemed directed by someone who did not understand cinematic exposition techniques. But at a certain point, he crossed a line with me and his films became formless concoctions of scenes that largely served to provide an amorphous framework for more scenes he wanted to see; usually involving topless women in black pumps. I had to move on.

  90. Jim Donato

    Since we went off on a Lynch tangent, I forgot to mention the one film that I can truly hate: the misanthropic vileness of Seven. What a hackneyed upraised finger to the human race that was! Of all of the films I’ve regretted seeing, this was the one that resonated most strongly. I’ve never been subjected to such facile nihilism in my life.

  91. Steve

    Thank you for your patience, Ken and Dread P.

    I could make the case that Furry Vengeance has no pretensions above it’s station. It’s at least honest schlock. They promise the public raw meat, slapstick and animal gags, and deliver that. I imagine it too, may occasionally bumble across moments of lucidity or greatness. Maybe you just didn’t see them on the first viewing. But that wouldn’t make the case that the director is talented, or worthy of reverence. I also wouldn’t see it either, even if such a case was made.

  92. Ken Hanke

    Since we went off on a Lynch tangent, I forgot to mention the one film that I can truly hate: the misanthropic vileness of Seven. What a hackneyed upraised finger to the human race that was!

    I’ll eschew further matters Lynchian (I may be the only person on earth who actually likes Dune) and agree with you on Seven (or Se7en, if you prefer). But then I have never liked any David Fincher picture I’ve ever seen, so it’s perhaps not surprising. The one isn’t just nasty and full of itself, it’s also painfully obvious in its plotting to the point where its surprise is laughable. And at bottom, what is it? It’s a gory horror movie pumped up for audiences who wouldn’t be caught dead going to a gory horror picture. Funny thing is, making a movie more unpleasant than a Friday the 13th picture doesn’t actually make it better.

  93. Ken Hanke

    I could make the case that Furry Vengeance has no pretensions above it’s station. It’s at least honest schlock.

    Yes, you could make that case, but I see no relevance as a comparison to Lynch. The people who made Furry Vengeance had a single goal: to turn a buck. Whatever Lynch is up to, it isn’t an attempt to make a lot of money. Otherwise, he wouldn’t make movies that are (though I hate this term as a pejorative) self-indulgent and off-putting.

    In any case, I’m not trying to get you to go to or to like or even admire Lynch’s work.

  94. Steve

    Whatever Lynch is up to, it isn’t an attempt to make a lot of money.

    Touche`. An excellent point. Sorry for hijacking the discussion. Thanks again for your patience.

    In any case, I’m not trying to get you to go to or to like or even admire Lynch’s work.

    About as likely as your lowering your rating on The Hours, and I think we both know how unlikely that is.

  95. Son of Rufus

    And here I thought you were a faithful reader who, in part through circumstances, had just fallen by the wayside in the commentary department. Speaking of which, whatever became of your dad?

    I admit, I’ve slacked off in my attention to your work but I’ve been rejuvenated by this article. It’s hard to keep my dad into internet stuff, I’ll get on him about it. BTW, my circumstances are improving and are almost finished.

    Cheerwine (regional cherry flavored soft drink)

    I am familiar with this delicious drink that is starting to show up more frequently in FL stores.

    Now, when he was a young man and not entirely sober, your father used to tend to insist we watch Laurel and Hardy in Fra Diavolo or listen to Rod Stewart’sEvery Picture Tells a Story

    Haha, that’s good stuff.

    This is known as confusing the importance of the subject matter with the importance of the movie. Many an Oscar has been taken home on this basis. It’s also often a case of assuaging liberal guilt—watch the movie, go home, listen to some Billie Holiday and feel good about yourself. And I say that as a liberal. Conservatives now have their very own film of this nature (complete with token Democrat)—The Blind Side—and Sandra Bullock has her Oscar.

    My thoughts exactly on the first point. Didn’t see “The Blind Side” but I didn’t really think it looked Oscar worthy, but there ya go.

    I suspect, however, that it was too popular to impress the hardcore indie-phile folks, who tend to prefer movies that six people go to see.

    This is true. I’m more of a music/movie nerd than elitist.

    It might be more lucrative as an avocation anyway.

    I guess we’ll see.

  96. Ken Hanke

    I admit, I’ve slacked off in my attention to your work but I’ve been rejuvenated by this article.

    Good. I’ll try to keep you interested.

    It’s hard to keep my dad into internet stuff, I’ll get on him about it.

    Point out to Rufus Mk. 1 that he has no excuses, since he’s younger (okay, so not by much) than I am, and I virtually qualify for luddite status.

    BTW, my circumstances are improving and are almost finished.

    That is indeed good news. I’d not heard anything in a while.

    Haha, that’s good stuff.

    You may also point out to your father that if he wants to counter good stuff like that, he needs to pay attention.

    I didn’t really think it looked Oscar worthy, but there ya go

    Consider — almost everyone knows what Dracula and Frankenstein are. Hardly anyone remembers what won Best Picture in 1931, however. Hell, there are probably more people now who are familiar — at least in passing — with Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster than with whatever the Best Picture winner of 1955 was.

    I’m more of a music/movie nerd than elitist

    I can identify with that in most ways.

    I guess we’ll see

    Well, one doesn’t have to work in one’s chosen field of study.

  97. entopticon

    I think David Lynch is absolutely brilliant, but I am certainly not surprised that many people can’t stand his work. I think he would be doing something wrong if that wasn’t the case. I don’t think anyone is right or wrong to like his work, but for most of us that like it, it is a bit of an acquired taste. It’s generally not the sort of thing that you can just sit back and enjoy without some work. Works that are easily accessible aren’t inherently bad, but works that are difficult to appreciate aren’t inherently bad either. There are deep seated narrative expectations that Lynch veers from, and that can be exasperating.

    Probably any person on Earth that had never tried whiskey before would find the first few tastes of a $300 bottle of Scotch to be absolutely revolting. In fact, most people would probably never come to like it, but there are people that cherish a good bottle of Scotch deeply. Likewise, I find Lynch’s films difficult to appreciate sometimes, but for me, the reward is worth it.

  98. Ken Hanke

    Works that are easily accessible aren’t inherently bad, but works that are difficult to appreciate aren’t inherently bad either.

    My only carp with that statement is that works that are difficult to appreciate are also not inherently — or automatically, if you will — good either.

  99. entopticon

    My only carp with that statement is that works that are difficult to appreciate are also not inherently—or automatically, if you will—good either.

    No doubt, and it is especially annoying when you invest time and effort into learning to appreciate a difficult work, only to find that it wasn’t worth it. More often than not, I find that if a lot of intelligent people appreciate some challenging work, I can uncover what it is that they see in it with a little work and an open mind, and that makes the effort worthwhile, but once in a while, I just can’t see the value. I do find that a lot of films that took a little work to appreciate end up being some of my favorites.

  100. brianpaige

    I find it fascinating that Ken is repelled by 300 and yet enjoys another Frank Miller creation in Sin City. Sure, Sin City is full of ultra violence, cannibalism, hookers, anti heroes, and little socially redeeming graces. It also rules.

    Here’s another category: Films you hated the first time but got the 2nd time around. I ranted about Inglourious Basterds on here upon seeing it the first time, but upon a second viewing I loosened up and “got” it a bit more.

    There are actually few films that I truly loathe and despise. The recent Wolfman comes close since I like the original so much, but in the end it’s not really important enough to hate.

    Oh I know: Decision at Sundown. By far the lamest of the Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher westerns of the 50s. I can’t explain why I hate that movie so much without giving away the ending, but let’s just say when I saw that movie I literally went off on a 30 minute long tirade about how bad it sucked. It REALLY pissed me off.

    David Lynch? His stuff is too weird to hate. I haven’t actually bothered with Mulholland Drive or Inland Empire, mainly because I found Lost Highway so utterly bizarre and impossible to understand that I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to see any other Lynch stuff. That said, I do kind of like Dune as well though I can’t help but wonder why anyone would think a knife wielding Sting had a chance against our hero in that final fight, haha.

    Which brings me to Forrest Gump. That’s a film that even back when I was in HS people hated (ironically some of my conservative classmates hated it). Perhaps a bit of context of why that film was praised is needed. In 1994 the film was praised for the very things Ken hates about it, namely that Gump wasn’t all about political machinations and being a rebel. At that point we had seen enough 1960s political protest films, so here was a complete dolt who slogged his way through that era. At the time this was considered refreshing, but looking back now that film winning Best Picture in an awesome year for movies is a bit head scratching.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the various works of M. Night Shyamalan here. The Sixth Sense is boring, sucks, and you can guess the ending about 10 minutes in. Signs gets a little worse with each viewing. The Village is a total car wreck and has a terrible performance from Adrien Brody. Lady in the Water was described by one critic as being “like watching the director masturbate to a picture of himself.” The Happening was hilariously bad. Unbreakable is really the only Shyamalan film I think might improve with repeat viewings.

  101. Ken Hanke

    I find it fascinating that Ken is repelled by 300 and yet enjoys another Frank Miller creation in Sin City

    I also like The Spirit, but in either case you’re overlooking the fact that Miller himself had a hand in making Sin City and The Spirit. And if memory serves — and it may not — Miller did not like 300. I am repelled by 300 for the reasons I stated, not because it lacks socially redeeming value.

    Perhaps a bit of context of why that film was praised is needed. In 1994 the film was praised for the very things Ken hates about it, namely that Gump wasn’t all about political machinations and being a rebel. At that point we had seen enough 1960s political protest films, so here was a complete dolt who slogged his way through that era. At the time this was considered refreshing,

    Refreshing to whom? This is nothing I’ve ever encountered in any defense of the film. This is hardly a movie in direct response to films it’s separated from by about two decades. The 1980s were hardly an era of “1960s protest films.” I find it unlikely that audiences on any large scale “had had enough” of films that hadn’t been made in some considerable time. The 80s and the second half of the 70s were certainly not rife with protest films. I would not argue that Gump doesn’t reflect its time — this is the era of Newt Gingrich and his “Conract with America,” and it fits that. (At the time there was a poll of voters who had gone with the “Contract” thing where it was claimed that75% of them believed Gump was a documentary.)

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the various works of M. Night Shyamalan here

    My guess is that he’s considered negligible.

  102. Steve

    I think David Lynch is absolutely brilliant,

    I’ll go along with the fact that he’s brilliant at getting his crap to shown at all, discussed by people, and revered as art by many.

  103. Jonathan Barnard

    “The 80s and the second half of the 70s were certainly not rife with protest films.”

    When I read this, I started to imagine foam begin to appear in the corners of your mouth.

    Off the top of my head: Hair, Born on the Fourth of July, The Deer Hunter, Missing, Salvador, Platoon, Do the Right Thing, Full Metal Jacket, Taxi Driver, Network, Das Boot, Norma Rae, Reds…

    And to throw in some Chinese-language films (because I know you always appreciate that Ken–City of Sadness and Raise the Red Lantern).

    One could easily argue (though I probably wouldn’t) that the late 70s and 80s were the heyday of the protest film, especially for mass market protest film like Born on the Fourth of July with the era’s biggest matinee idol in the lead.

  104. Dread P. Roberts

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the various works of M. Night Shyamalan here.

    Brianpaige, since you brought this up, perhaps you can help me to better understand what I perceive as somewhat confusing behavior, by a fairly decent number of moviegoers. Why do said individuals tend to dismiss Shyamalan’s films as utterly stupid, and yet they keep watching them? Please understand that I’m not trying to insult you for having seen most of Shyamalan’s movies. It’s just that I’ve noticed people saying things like this before, and I genuinely don’t understand why they keep watching his movies, if they almost always find them to be so dumb. There’s so many good movie options, that we’ll probably never have the chance to see all of them. So why waste the time on something that will more than likely (given past experience) be a disappointment?

    It almost seems like most of Shyamalan’s fame has been built off of people continually going back to watch his newest movie – after being disappointed by the last – only to find that (*gasp*) they’re still disappointed. Are you planning to see The Last Airbender? If so, then why?

    If you care to know my opinion of the guy, then I’ll oblige. (Keep in mind that I’m a lover of the fantastical, so that tends to influence my perspective.) I appreciate the fact that Shyamalan comes up with his own stuff. (Yes, I know he is inspired and influenced by other sources, who isn’t?) And he has tried (so it would seem, in the past anyways) to form his own identity. Do I generally find his efforts to be rather dumb? Yes I do – which is precisely why I haven’t seen his last two films. Do his movies upset/anger me? Hell no. I think Shyamalan comes up with decent concepts, and then he just doesn’t know how to properly flesh them out. I’ve wondered if he feels like he has to have a twist, simply because it’s what he’s become known for. Maybe he really wants to be a good writer, but he just doesn’t have the required talent to put it all together properly. So his efforts fall apart.

    The truth is, despite his failures, I’ve had some degree of respect for the guy in the past (albeit, not that much). Why? Because In an age where mainstream film tends to consist mostly of sequels, reboots and movie franchise tie-ins to anything that might make an f’n profit, he tried to be original. Now, I speak in past tense because The Last Airbender kind of gives the appearance that he’s given up on that. In this instance, I’m not going to say whether I think that’s a good or a bad thing – I’m kind of impartial to the guy (he’s no Guillermo del Toro).

    My guess is that he’s considered negligible.

    Well, yeah, that’s very true.

    I think David Lynch is absolutely brilliant

    Entopticon, no offense intended sir, but I can’t help but wonder if you’re just trying to get a rise, and re-energize an ended discussion (or so I thought), with such inflated lingo?

  105. entopticon

    Dread P Roberts, no offense intended sir, but there is nothing “inflated” about calling David Lynch brilliant. You don’t have to agree with my assessment, but countless renowned critical theorists do, so it is certainly not an out of the ordinary, or speciously inflated assessment. I think people will still be talking about his work decades, if not centuries from now. Like it or not, he is on countless lists for the most important directors of our time. In fact, recently a panel of film critics concluded that he is the most important director of our era:
    http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/page/0,11456,1082823,00.html

  106. Dread P. Roberts

    Dread P Roberts, no offense intended sir, but there is nothing “inflated” about calling David Lynch brilliant.

    Look, you’re absolutely entitled to that opinion. I’m not trying to argue the validity of your assessment (or anyone elses) in the least. It is subjective, and therefore, I would not say that it is in any way wrong. You’ve (once again) misunderstood what I meant. I used the word “inflated” to reference what looked like (from my perspective) strictly an attempt to “get a rise” out of Steve, given the timing of your statement. (Sorry, that might not have been the best word to use.) It would have been completely different under a different context, but it came across just looking like nothing but a rebuttal to Steve’s opinion. (which I’ll state is perfectly fine, before you defend your right to do so.)

  107. Steve

    You don’t have to agree with my assessment, but countless renowned critical theorists do,

    Thanks for proving my point, entopicon. In case you didn’t notice, the fact that this guy is Paris Hilton for film critics doesn’t impress me. I make up my own mind.

  108. Dread P. Roberts

    You don’t have to agree with my assessment, but countless renowned critical theorists do, so it is certainly not an out of the ordinary, or speciously inflated assessment.

    Why do you tend to like to reference how there are others in the world that agree with you? Of course there are, so what? In the end, that doesn’t really change anything. Perhaps it should be noted that I’m the type of person who doesn’t give a damn if the whole world disagrees with me. I don’t need anyone else to influence what I believe, and you shouldn’t either sir. I respect your opinion all the more when you defend it without referencing that someone else (or even everyone else) agrees with you. Just tell me why you believe in what you believe. If you can make a sound, intelligent argument all by yourself, then that is all you need to do sir – and I promise I’ll respect that, even if I disagree.

    Besides, once again, in regards to this topic, I’m not in the slightest trying to argue that you’re wrong. Please understand that.

  109. Jonathan Barnard

    To continue my last post

    ….Wall Street, Gandhi, Year of Living Dangerously, Silkwood, The Front, Matewan, Gallipoli, Breaker Morant, the Accused, Platoon…

    Ken, you are one of this town’s treasures, one of my favorite critics period, but everyone has their baggage, buttons to push, issues—what have you—and you have some serious generational issues. (60s and early 70s are great…late 80s and 90s are horrible…kids just don’t know how to protest like we did….)

  110. Ken Hanke

    When I read this, I started to imagine foam begin to appear in the corners of your mouth.

    Well, you over anticipate the level of my response.

    Off the top of my head: Hair, Born on the Fourth of July, The Deer Hunter, Missing, Salvador, Platoon, Do the Right Thing, Full Metal Jacket, Taxi Driver, Network, Das Boot, Norma Rae, Reds…

    You’ve kind of lumped together any left-leaning movie with the term “60s protest film.” Taxi Driver is really mid-70s anyway, since it came out in early Feb. of 1976. I’m not sure how Network fits in here or really Das Boot or Reds or even Norma Rae. They’re hardly “60s protest movies” — at least to my mind. Are you saying that Gump is in direct response to those? Even conceding the actual Vietnam-related films, the newest on your list is from 1989 — and these don’t actually strike me as “60s protest movies,” simply because what exactly are they protesting? A war that’s over? Are they leftist? Well, yes, for the most part, but then so are most movies if you get down to that. It took at least five years to get to someone reacting to them? I find that hard to understand or buy.

    One could easily argue (though I probably wouldn’t) that the late 70s and 80s were the heyday of the protest film, especially for mass market protest film like Born on the Fourth of July with the era’s biggest matinee idol in the lead

    I think we have a definitional difference on the term “60s protest movies.” Strictly speaking, such a film about to have been made in the 60s to be a “60s protest movie,” but even allowing for leeway — most of these Vietnam era films are more looking back in anger or sadness than protests to me. What I really want to see are some reviews from 1994 that tout it as a “blessed relief after all the 60s protest movies,” because I haven’t seen one. Ebert views it as some kind of attempt at healing the fracture of a divisive era. The Variety review takes it as a film aimed to appeal to baby boomers by hitting on identifiable iconic moments of their era.

  111. Dread P. Roberts

    Wow Steve, you posted almost the exact same thing that I did, at almost the same time – though I have to admit, you got one up on me with creative metaphor. Dag-nabbit!

  112. Ken Hanke

    As far as this M. Night Shyamalan discussion is concerned. I didn’t like The Sixth Sense and agree that its twist ought to be apparent from the beginning. I liked Unbreakable on a single viewing, but couldn’t make it through a second. I still don’t know what I was thinking with my first viewing of Signs, but its preposterousness and outbursts of just plain dubious filmmaking become more obvious the more you think about it. The Village is pure rubbish. I didn’t like it in the least — apart from some unintended laughs — but I know someone who can go on a several minute tirade about its awfulness. I actually admired Lady in the Water, which I thought actually was daring — and came as close as we’re ever likely to get to what’s really on the filmmaker’s mind. I suspected then and I suspect now that I’d be horrified to actually read the book his character is destined to be killed for writing, though. The Happening too stupid to actually dislike. This new one — with its 3D retrofit and everything — looks for all the world like a desperate bid to be a “normal” director.

    I have less than no desire to get into this whole David Lynch thing. I will, however, note that entopticon is within fair grounds by virtue of the way he phrased his original remark —

    “I think David Lynch is absolutely brilliant.”

    That’s a simple statement of fact because that’s what he thinks. It does not claim that Lynch is, merely his own feelings. Following it up with “but I am certainly not surprised that many people can’t stand his work. I think he would be doing something wrong if that wasn’t the case.” I agree with the second part and on the surface with the first, but the first does carry a tone of implicit superiority, which is bound to wring some withers — even if it intends no such tone.

    Backing it up by critical concensus is only as good as the critics coming to that conclusion — and it’s actually irrelevant to why one thinks he’s brilliant — unless, of course, that’s the reason. In that case, it becomes more “because I’ve been told he is” than stating a personal case.

  113. Ken Hanke

    and you have some serious generational issues. (60s and early 70s are great…late 80s and 90s are horrible…kids just don’t know how to protest like we did….)

    Actually, I don’t really. I think the movie period from 1964-1975 is much richer than that from 1976-1990 — but that’s on the whole. I have never said I think the 1990s suck and have quite a few movies from that decade I’d call essential. There are even some 1980s movies I’d call essential. And I’ve certainly not been short in my praise of a lot of films from 2000-2009. And really, I’m not quite the generation you put me in, because I’m a little young for the protest thing, considering I was all of 15 when the 70s dawned and barely 18 when the draft ended. The big protesting days were pretty much shot when I got there. Face it, generational issues are on both sides of the fence.

  114. davidf

    I’ve been wanting to chime in here for a while but I’ve had trouble coming up with a film that would warrant the use of the word ‘hate’. Usually, when a film is morally repugnant or in bad taste or just plain awful, I’m happy simply to disregard it. Feelings strong enough to warrant the word ‘hate’ usually come only when I find myself forced into repeat viewings, when I make the mistake of having payed full price for a given horrible film, or when critical hype for a film from people whose opinions I respect forces me to demand a better explanation for the praise given.

    For the first of the three categories, I must say, FOREST GUMP was the first film that came to mind. I’ve somehow found myself roped into many repeat viewings of it over the years (once I was stuck on a long distance bus trip for which it was the entertainment). I won’t bother repeating the criticisms already offered here; I’ll just note that I agree with most of it.

    As far as a film I payed to see in the theater that still leaves me longing for a refund, FUNNY PEOPLE was the biggest waste of time I’ve fallen for in a while. It was made even worse by the fact that I actually enjoyed the movie for a while until it totally lost its direction. I’m being kind to grant that it had any direction in the first place.

    In the case of films that received great critical response that I still don’t understand, I’d love to know what was so great about A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Actually, I understand a lot of the praise, and I enjoyed a good bit of the film, but the third act totally fell apart for me as it spiraled into cartoonish silliness. More than anything, William Hurt destroyed the film for me. Any sense of realism that formed the foundation of the first sections of the film fell apart when Hurt’s ridiculous characterization of a bumbling gangster came on the scene. Ken, I know you described Hurt’s performance as “career defining”, and he even received an Oscar nomination for it. Please tell me why?

    Another film that got great reviews but I remember hating as morally repugnant was MONSTER’S BALL. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen it to offer a worthwhile explanation for why I didn’t like it, but I’m left wondering: should I give it another chance and risk wasting a few hours on unpleasantness? Films like A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and MONSTER’S BALL leave me wanting to hear explanations of their greatness from their defenders, because the degree of praise lavished on them make me feel compelled to revisit them, but only after I’ve been equipped with alternate readings that could possibly transform my previously unsatisfactory viewing experience. If anyone feels like offering a defense of either of these films, I’d love to hear it.

  115. entopticon

    Why do you tend to like to reference how there are others in the world that agree with you? Of course there are, so what?

    Huh? You are the one that repeatedly called my simple claim that David Lynch is brilliant “inflated lingo” that was just designed to get a rise out of people. I only brought in the fact that he is considered to be the most important directors of our era by many critics to illustrate the fact that there was nothing inflated and muckraking about my claim, because it is actually pretty common. I specifically said that you have every right to feel however you want to feel about it, and that does not make you right or wrong, no matter what others think.

    I don’t need anyone else to influence what I believe, and you shouldn’t either sir.

    What the hell are you talking about? Again, I made it perfectly clear that you are free to think whatever you want to think about it, regardless of how I or anyone else feels. You are the one that asserted that I made inflated claims to get a rise out of people, when all I did is say that I think he’s a brilliant director. In the context of your aspersion, it was perfectly reasonable to point to the fact that many critics think he is brilliant as evidence that it was not an inflated statement designed for muckraking, it is a pretty common assessment. It is just my opinion, and I made it perfectly clear that you have every right to yours regardless of what others think.

  116. entopticon

    I agree with the second part and on the surface with the first, but the first does carry a tone of implicit superiority, which is bound to wring some withers—even if it intends no such tone.

    My point was certainly not to imply superiority in any way, shape, or form. I was just pointing out that he purposely tries to make challenging work, so if he didn’t turn off a lot of people, he wouldn’t be very successful by his own criteria.

    Backing it up by critical concensus is only as good as the critics coming to that conclusion—and it’s actually irrelevant to why one thinks he’s brilliant—unless, of course, that’s the reason. In that case, it becomes more “because I’ve been told he is” than stating a personal case.

    As I stated, my reference to the fact that many critics appreciate Lynch’s work was not to make a case that anyone is right or wrong for liking or disliking his work, and that is why I specified that. It was, as I mentioned, just provided as evidence that I was presenting a relatively common opinion, not muckraking to get a rise out of people with “inflated” language, as I was accused of (for simply referring to him as someone that I think is brilliant).

  117. I’ll go along with the fact that he’s brilliant at getting his crap to shown at all, discussed by people, and revered as art by many.
    It is art. All movies are art. It’s an artform. Art doesn’t mean good. Art can be awful – it’s awful art. TRANSFORMERS is as much art as THE SHINING, it’s just not very good.
    It’s like music – Phil Collins is no less music than The Beatles, The Beatles just made better music.

  118. Ken Hanke

    My point was certainly not to imply superiority in any way, shape, or form. I was just pointing out that he purposely tries to make challenging work, so if he didn’t turn off a lot of people, he wouldn’t be very successful by his own criteria

    And I didn’t say that was your intent — only that it can sound that way, especially in cold print.

    As I stated, my reference to the fact that many critics appreciate Lynch’s work was not to make a case that anyone is right or wrong for liking or disliking his work, and that is why I specified that.

    My point was — and is — that citing proof that a lot of people like a thing doesn’t make a statement about why you like it, just that these people agree with you or you agree with them. It’s not even enlightening as to whether or not you all like Lynch for anything like the same reasons. That’s my entire point.

  119. Ken Hanke

    As far as a film I payed to see in the theater that still leaves me longing for a refund, FUNNY PEOPLE was the biggest waste of time I’ve fallen for in a while

    You’re not getting an argument out of me.

    Ken, I know you described Hurt’s performance as “career defining”, and he even received an Oscar nomination for it. Please tell me why?

    Actually I think I said it was the performance of his career, but to be honest with you, I’d have to watch it again to tell you exactly why I felt that or if I still feel that way. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that the part of the film that fell apart for you was the part that most appealed to me — and that struck me as necessary to convey the normalization of violence.

    Another film that got great reviews but I remember hating as morally repugnant was MONSTER’S BALL. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen it to offer a worthwhile explanation for why I didn’t like it, but I’m left wondering: should I give it another chance and risk wasting a few hours on unpleasantness?

    It’s years since I saw it, but I just re-read my review of it and it matches my memory of it. Your charge that it’s morally repugnant is one I’m having trouble processing, but if I were to rewatch the film I might understand it.

  120. Ken Hanke

    It is art. All movies are art. It’s an artform.

    Oh, I’m not getting into this one again!

  121. entopticon

    My point was—and is—that citing proof that a lot of people like a thing doesn’t make a statement about why you like it, just that these people agree with you or you agree with them. It’s not even enlightening as to whether or not you all like Lynch for anything like the same reasons. That’s my entire point.

    Again, that may be your entire point, but it has absolutely nothing to do with what I said. Again, the critics that I cited had absolutely nothing to do with why I like Lynch’s work. I was specifically responding to the assertion that I was muckraking and making inflated claims by calling him a brilliant director. In that context, it was perfectly reasonable to point out that many critics think his work is brilliant as well, which makes it a relatively ordinary, not muckraking or inflated claim. I specifically said that it was about that issue, not about why I like his work or whether his work is good or bad. Not sure what else that I could have said there to make it any clearer.

  122. davidf

    “You’re not getting an argument out of me.”

    Oh good, because I’m never looking for an argument on here – just a discussion.

    Also, your comment on A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is compelling enough to make me want to give it another look to see if I can view it differently. And you’re right, misquoted you. That’s what I get for using quotes when I mean to be paraphrasing from memory.

    As for MONSTER’S BALL, I’m not even sure that “morally repugnant” was the right phrase for me to use, because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it. I just remember feeling that the film was a spectacle of miserableness, and if there was a lesson to be learned from it, it was lost on me. It left me with the impression that I was supposed to think the film was important simply because it dared to be so miserable. I may see it differently should I give it another viewing, but there’s the catch: I’m afraid to give it a shot lest it remain as miserable as I remember.

  123. Dread P. Roberts

    What the hell are you talking about?

    Entopticon, I get the impression that you view me as mentally inferior to you, and I just can’t possibly be right. I also think that, in a way, it’s possible that we might agree more than you might realize; but I’m not going to bother trying to explain that. I know that you’ll fight to prove yourself against whatever I might say, so I’ll just say that I think you would be a fantastic lawyer, whenever you grow up one day. (That was a joke; sorry if it was a jerk thing to say.) But seriously, you have a talent for twisting words around (you misread inflated lingo, and then twisted into inflated claims.) I just can’t compete, nor do I really want to. I’m sure you’ll have something to say in response, to try and put me in my place. But please know that I’m done with this conversation, because I feel that it’s getting a little silly, and it’s starting to go in circles for no reason.

    I’m a total smart ass, I know, and I really don’t want to piss you off anymore than I’ve probably already done. I think that despite your prideful nature, you are a smart person. And despite whatever opinion you have of me, I honestly look forward to a lively discussion with you on other topics at another time in the future. Cheers and good night.

  124. entopticon

    Entopticon, I get the impression that you view me as mentally inferior to you, and I just can’t possibly be right.

    I certainly don’t view you as mentally inferior. I don’t even know you. And as I stated, I don’t think you are wrong for your subjective opinions. Wrong doesn’t even apply. You were wrong to say that I was making an inflated claim that was just trying to get a rise out of people. I was just conveying my appreciation for his work, and it wasn’t a particularly inflated claim.

    I know that you’ll fight to prove yourself against whatever I might say, so I’ll just say that I think you would be a fantastic lawyer, whenever you grow up one day. (That was a joke; sorry if it was a jerk thing to say.)

    Yeah it kind of was.

    But seriously, you have a talent for twisting words around (you misread inflated lingo, and then twisted into inflated claims.)

    You quoted my claim that Lynch is a brilliant director, and called that inflated. I didn’t twist anything. Perhaps you misspoke, but I didn’t twist your words in any way whatsoever.

    I’m sure you’ll have something to say in response, to try and put me in my place.

    I have no interest in putting you in your place, but if you make unfounded accusations about me, I will defend the truth.

    I’m a total smart ass, I know, and I really don’t want to piss you off anymore than I’ve probably already done.

    I don’t think I’ve been even remotely pissed off, just a little annoyed that my words were being misrepresented.

    I think that despite your prideful nature, you are a smart person.

    You sure do like to insult me, even though I’ve never done a thing to you. I am unfortunately pretty slow in many ways, and relatively smart in a few. I don’t think anyone who actually knows me would describe me as particularly prideful. I may be opinionated, and I may speak a little differently, but I have no illusions about the fact that I am below average in many regards.

  125. Ken Hanke

    Oh good, because I’m never looking for an argument on here – just a discussion.

    And believe me I appreciate that. In this case, however, you won’t even get much discussion since you pretty much said it all.

    Also, your comment on A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is compelling enough to make me want to give it another look to see if I can view it differently. And you’re right, misquoted you. That’s what I get for using quotes when I mean to be paraphrasing from memory

    Hell, it’s flattering that you remembered the essence of it without looking it up.

    It left me with the impression that I was supposed to think the film was important simply because it dared to be so miserable. I may see it differently should I give it another viewing, but there’s the catch: I’m afraid to give it a shot lest it remain as miserable as I remember

    Without watching it again myself, I wouldn’t even suggest you do. I’m trying to remember if I have a copy of it around here…somewhere.

  126. Rufus

    Please excuse my late entry into this conversation. I didn’t get all the fuss about Forrest at the time, but I think anyone who doesn’t see Jenny as a victim is a HARD person indeed.

  127. Steve

    I guess that makes me hard. Yes, it was sad that she was a victim of abuse. I was too. But you have a choice in what kind of adult you become, and how you choose to live your life.

  128. Ken Hanke

    Please excuse my late entry into this conversation. I didn’t get all the fuss about Forrest at the time, but I think anyone who doesn’t see Jenny as a victim is a HARD person indeed

    Victim? Oh, yes, but I don’t think the movie wants you to like or find her in any way admirable.

  129. golden cindy

    I thought Forrest Gump was supposed to be a comedy. And I liked it. But now after comparing it to religious Republicans, now I hate it. Thanks, Cranky Hank.

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