I wanted to like these films, I really did. Not because everyone says they’re good and I wanted to fit in, no; I wanted to like these films because I enjoy cinema. There’s nothing I like better than settling down to a great film, and it’s always a crushing disappointment when I leave a cinema screen feeling that an eagerly anticipated film just hasn’t lived up to the hype. Generally, a film is on a list like IMDB’s Top 100 because it’s just a fantastic film, and if you think otherwise, that’s because you’re wrong and don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s just fact. I’m all for free speech and individual opinions, but there comes a time when you’re just wrong. With that in mind, here are ten films that I wanted to enjoy, but couldn’t, quite possible because I’m wrong as well...
Casablanca (1942) IMDB Rating: 8.7/10
Casablanca is the epitome of the ‘good film that I need to pay more attention to’. I’ve never sat all the way through it, but I’m sure I’ll like it. It’s Africa, it’s WW2 and as I understand it, it’s got hard-boiled dialogue to rival Hemingway and Raymond Chandler. In other words, it’s right up my street. However, in this age of Twitter and Instagram, it’s so hard to focus on something black and white that isn’t a picture of someone’s food. I think the knowledge that Casablanca is regarded as a good film did not help. This is what made me want to watch it, but at the same time, it sort of made me think ‘why bother, I sort of know what to expect’. Because it is a classic, it’ll be easily accessible and stick around for a long time, so I’m sure when the time comes, it won’t be hard for me to watch it again, Sam.
The Network (1976) IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
The Network focuses on the breakdown of a TV newsreader, and how the titular network exploits this messiah complex to boost ratings. I don’t know what made me switch off from this film, but halfway through I was sort of thinking ‘Ok, I know what you’re doing...’ and then didn’t expect much more to happen. Maybe I was wrong. I do like Faye Dunaway and Sidney Lumet and the themes of exploiting the weak are as relevant as ever, so it’s ripe for another watching at some point, I’m sure...
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) IMDB Rating 8.7/10
It most likely is a wonderful film, but a Christmas movie with angels and an uplifting moral at the end? Please. If it isn’t Die Hard or Home Alone, it’s not a Christmas movie you need to watch; there’s enough faux-goodwill knocking about at that time already. Bah humbug.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) IMDB Rating 9.4/10
This movie is number one on IMDB’s top 100 movies ever made and number 4 on Empire’s list of the top 500, so I know this is a controversial choice. BUT. Isn’t it just a little bit overrated? From the looks of things prison is bloody horrible, and, like prison, this film stretches on and on, with not much happening at all. The ending is great and Morgan Freeman’s narration is the stuff of legends. Understand, I’m not saying this is a bad film, I’m saying it’s not the best film ever made. I’ve enjoyed it, but I’d sooner watch a hundred other films before I watch it again.
The Hangover (2009) IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
Looking back at this trilogy, it’s easy to see the first Hangover movie was by far the best. However, at the time, it seemed just a little bit too slapstick for my tastes, and didn’t quite hold up to the Judd Apatow comedies that had funny words as well as funny action. However, having said that, it is a film that I’ve gone back and re-watched many times and now thoroughly enjoy. Back in 2009 thought, there was a sense of not wanting to disagree with my mate who claimed it was ‘the best fucking film I’ve ever seen!’
The Graduate (1967) IMDB Rating: 8.1/10
One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen is when my pal Joe began singing The Sound of Silence to a bus full of hung-over middle aged couples, heading into Amsterdam. The standing ovation he received was well deserved, as is the praise The Graduate has received. Much like The Network and Casablanca, I knew this was a film I wanted to see, but familiarity ruined any sort of suspense and I lost interest about 2/3rds of the way through. Definitely one I need to check out again, once I’ve finished staring at my fish tank.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001) IMDB Rating: 7.7/10
Ok, so 7.7/10 doesn’t qualify this remake of the 1960 film as a classic in anyone’s books, but plenty of people still bang on about how great it is. It’s not. It’s a 3 star film, which hinges on the faces of 3 stars (see what I did there? I should write scripts). Anyway, Pitt, Clooney and Damon carry this film, supported by a host of less famous faces. Damon is the most likeable, and he isn’t even in the film that much. I’ve grown ambivalent towards Pitt recently, but Clooney is someone I just don’t see the appeal of at all. I’ve quite enjoyed him in a lot of films (The American, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, A Perfect Storm) but I’ve always been very aware of him being ‘George Clooney’ and because I’m not a middle aged woman, I’ve not found much there to pull me into his films. Sorry, G.
Crash (2004) IMDB Rating 7.9/10
Paul Haggis’ Crash is good, but it’s not the sort of film that people need to bang on about every time it’s on TV. The first time I saw this film, I thought ‘wow, great, I’ve enjoyed that’, but the presence of Bullock and Brendan Fraser put me off repeat viewings. Also, more people need to watch Cronenberg’s Crash. Not necessarily a better film, but certainly one that’ll get you thinking/make you sick.
The Lost Boys (1987) IMDB Rating 7.1/10
I came to this film during the height of all that Twilight twaddle, so I must have been a bit prejudiced against it. Having said that, it was a great, enjoyable 80s flick with cheesy effects à la Indiana Jones and a great sense of adventure, à la The Goonies, but it did feel like I’d seen it all before. Most likely, this is because Lost Boys defined this genre and every film I’d seen before had been a rip off, but it’s hard to watch classics retrospectively and not have the experience tainted by the memories of subsequent, inferior movies.
Dune (1984) IMDB Rating 6.5/10
Whilst 6.5/10 isn’t a terribly impressive rating, you’ll always see Dune on best film lists and there’s always someone ready to bang on about how great it is. As with Lost Boys, Dune helped define the genre of the space opera. It’s got giant worms, retro personal force fields and beards upon beards. Frankly, it’s fucking nuts. Dune is, undeniably, a classic, but even in comparison to the original Star Wars trilogy it feels dated. Frankly, sci-fi has grown so much as a genre and the SFX are so vastly improved these days, that it can be hard work checking out earlier work. If Star Wars Ep. VII turns out to be awful, I might give Dune another chance; otherwise...it’s not looking good.
Honourable Mention: Wall-E (2008) IMDB Rating: 8.5/10
Ok, I haven’t actually seen Wall-E and I do want to, but I’m just. not. ready, you see. Let me take you back to 2007, a year before Wall-E came out. Apparently, a year is not too early to start promoting a new film, especially if it’s a Disney movie designed to steal the hearts and wallets of kids and adults alike. During the dark depths of winter 2007 I was apathetically serving up popcorn to braying mobs of goons in my local cinema and every. single. shift the TVs in the foyer would play the Wall-E theme tune, at least once every half hour. Six months of this ensured I never wanted to go near that film. Years of counselling have got me past the first few bars of that theme tune, and I can only hope one day I’ll get to enjoy the movie without wanting to stuff flaming rags in my ears.
So there it is. Want to tell me why I’m wrong? Hit me up on Twitter.