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"It's woefully Overrated" says Richard Schickel


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> {quote:title=Filmgoddess wrote:}{quote}You can't blame the Academy for that but the individual countries that submit the entries each year. If they're picking films to represent their country that are not "represent of what's going on in world cinema" (and what do you actually mean by that?) then only those countries are to blame.

That's true - it's either proof that every other country has the same middle of the road taste as we do or it suggests that they pick what they believe will have the best chance with Academy voters - but the Academy gets to pick which flims ultimately end up on their slate and it's always what one would expect. When I noticed last year's winner, In a Better World, featured poor Africans I knew immediately that it would win - I was right.

 

My original quote was "A poor representation of the state of world cinema." Sounds pretty straightforward to me - this is not the best the world has to offer.

 

"Obscure, weird Asian films" - If you mean "Asia Extreme", I don't care about that, but if you mean Still Walking or Yi Yi or Cafe Lumiere or Still Life, you're way, way off the mark. Obscure? Maybe. Weird? No, people just don't want to try and work with the films they watch anymore.

 

Those two films aren't particularly special in the wide scope of things, nothing to get excited about. "Secret" isn't bad but "World" is pure Oscar-bait.

 

Certified Copy was better than every film in the Best Picture category last year, let alone the Foreign Language category, which doesn't even come close. 50 years ago a film like it would have some chance of getting mainstream press - not anymore, and that's a shame.

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I find that my reaction to some movies will evolve if I see them more than once. And I also have to be careful that I'm not turned off a film just because I don't like being told by some "expert" that the movie is "great." I prefer to trust my own reactions.

 

For example, the first time I saw VERTIGO, on a huge screen during the theatrical re-release in the 80s, I was very underwhelmed. There was a lot of press coverage of that 80s re-release of Hitchcock films, with most mentioning that this was the first chance in years to see his masterpiece, VERTIGO. I saw all of the re-releases on the big screen (VERTIGO, REAR WINDOW, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, ROPE, THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY), and VERTIGO ended up being one of my least favorites of those films (along with TMWKTM).

 

But since then, I've seen VERTIGO several times, always on TV (or tape/DVD). The second time I remember thinking, "That was better than I remembered." By the fourth or fifth time, I was thinking that the critics who proclaimed it a masterpiece might just be right. This film all about obsession may be just a little thin on plot, but the actors who portray or react to the obsession are just outstanding, and Hitchcock's visuals are among the best he ever did. It's just a matter of personal opinion, of course, but that's where I've ended up with VERTIGO. I'm very glad I gave it a second chance -- simply because it happened to be on TV when I had some free time.

 

Many of the other "overrated" films I didn't have to give a second chance because I loved them from the start. For example, I saw CITIZEN KANE on the TV late show when I was in high school, long before I ever heard anyone call it the greatest film ever made, and I just loved it -- couldn't take my eyes off it. I just found it tremendously good entertainment, and only much later learned about why it was considered "great."

 

Same with GRAPES OF WRATH, GONE WITH THE WIND, 42ND STREET, THE THIRD MAN, STAGECOACH, THE MALTESE FALCON, BONNIE AND CLYDE, and some of the others that have been mentioned -- I just liked them because they entertained me, without really thinking about why they were "great." (Although there times when my immediate reaction was, "This movie is great." I remember coming out of my first viewing of THE THIRD MAN when I was in college, raving to my friends about how it was a work of art. I think my friends were kind of embarrassed by my overly enthusiastic exhortations, and I suppose they were probably right that I didn't need to express my opinion quite so loudly.)

 

(Regarding GRAPES OF WRATH -- everyone's entitled to their opinion, and if you don't like it, that's fine. But I just wanted to say that even though Fonda's speeches don't sound very realistic -- in that they're not something you'd expect someone to say in real life -- I think they do express feelings that many people actually have. I don't really care that they're not realistic.)

 

Of course, I have my own list of overrated movies, but they're usually modern ones. For example, as much as I've tried (and I have), I just don't enjoy most of Steven Spielberg's movies. He seems like a very talented guy, but there's something about E.T. or CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, as well as several others, that just leaves me cold. (I always enjoy JAWS, however.) Same with Tim Burton's movies (except ED WOOD) -- they almost always sound like movies I would like, so I go to see them, and I'm almost invariably disappointed.

 

It's hard for me to think of many "great" films from the golden age of Hollywood that I don't agree actually are great. Maybe I'm too easy on classic films, but I almost always enjoy them (even when they aren't considered "great" by the critics).

 

 

 

There are certainly some likely "great" films that I just don't have much interest in seeing -- such as Kurosawa's films. I'm just not that interested in the costume dramas that he seemed to do much of the time. But on the one occasion that I saw a Kurosawa film -- THE SEVEN SAMURAI -- I did enjoy it, and could easily understand why it was considered great. But it's just not the kind of film I'd seek out because I'm not tremendously interested in the subject matter. (That can easily change, however. I can remember when I thought musicals were silly and westerns were just dusty and boring. But I now have many, many favorites in those genres, because I gave them a chance until I saw some that I liked.)

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BingFan, interesting to read your take on *Vertigo* . I too saw the Hitchcock "missing 5" on the big screen when they were rereleased in the early 80's. I found *Vertigo* very hypnotic to watch in the theatre, but I think that film really loses a lot of its punch when on the tv set. Even watching it uninterrupted, commercial free TCM style doesn't work well for me. Maybe the big screen experience spoiled me. I should see *Vertigo* again in a theatre. There are also a lot of other films I would like to see "big".

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A Hitch film that I think is over-rated is *The Trouble with Harry.* Maybe that doesn't fit with the definition of "over-rated", because it certainly isn't the first film people mention when they're talking about Hitchcock. But it seems as though anyone who has seen it, loves it. And I just don't get it - everyone in this film seems just a little too precious, a little too quirky. So for me, in the Hitchocock canon, it's over-rated.

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BingFan, allow me, a Kurosawa lover, to recommend some of his films that are not costume dramas. They are modern, and you might like them, especially if you are a film noir fan:

 

*Stray Dog*

*High and Low*

*The Bad Sleep Well*

 

 

Film Goddess,

In *The Grapes of Wrath*, Tom Joad's experiences were commonplace then. His reactions, namely stiff resistance and refusal to accept repression, were exemplary, but not common. Fortunately, they were not unique, either. Many did speak out, and resist. Most people would be overcome by what he experienced. Dislike this fine film if you will. But, if you continue to think it unrealistic, you need to read up on the history of the era.

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> {quote:title=darkblue wrote:}{quote}

> > I guess Schickel takes this stuff REALLY seriously. He gets pretty woeful at the slightest provocation

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> Ebert's just as bad, if not worse.

>

Sorta on topic...I remember the late Gene Siskel about have a fit on the Carson show when Ebert said he didn't get Clark Gable's appeal....

 

BingFan, excellent post! I recall seeing(parts of) Casablanca many times as a kid....my parents LOVED the film. Even saw it in a theatre once in St. Louis. Never cared for it...but of course I knew the film...then one day I caught it not giving it any real thought...and noticed how many funny lines there were in it...and how good even the charactor actors with the smallest rolls were good...and finally the film grew on me, to where I will watch it most anytime it's on...and would put it in my top ten now...some films hit you right away, some don't for whatever reason....still waiting for the day I feel the same about Citizen Kane as I do Casablanca....

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ValentineXavier wrote:

BingFan, allow me, a Kurosawa lover, to recommend some of his films that are not costume dramas. They are modern, and you might like them, especially if you are a film noir fan:

 

*Stray Dog*

*High and Low*

*The Bad Sleep Well*

 

You can add Drunken Angel to that list while you're at it. I'm not a fan of costume dramas, either, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating Kirk Douglas or Bette Davis in their many other films that were set in the present. In terms of great acting, dramatic tension, and connecting fiction to the moral dilemmas of the real world, there's not a single film *ever* produced by Hollywood that can top High and Low or The Bad Sleep Well. Those who dismiss foreign or silent films for reasons of convenience simply don't know what they're missing, not to mention that in the case of Toshiro Mifune they're missing an actor who towers above any male actor that Hollywood has produced for the combination of versatility and emotional depth.

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> {quote:title=darkblue wrote:}{quote}

> > I guess Schickel takes this stuff REALLY seriously. He gets pretty woeful at the slightest provocation

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> Ebert's just as bad, if not worse.

Roger Ebert is very inconsistent. His movie reviews depend on his mood that day. He'll get all sanctimonious about violence against women and give a movie one star because of it, and then give 4 stars to some hideous foreign film that has a 20 minute graphic rape scene. He has never had any credibility with me...he's sort of the casual movie fan's favorite movie critic.

 

Regarding something being "overrated"....that is more of a reflection on the viewer. It really has nothing to do with the quality of the movie. If a piece of art has been praised for decades, then it probably has merit. If you don't find merit, or you hyped yourself up into impossible expectations, then burden of proof is on you...it is not the art's fault (see the absurd EXORCIST thread on here for an example).

 

The Mona Lisa ends up being a tiny little oil painting surrounded by 6,000 Japanese tourists...so everyone just shrugs, marks it off their bucket list, and moves on. It doesn't mean it's not a masterpiece.

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It's a work of fiction and I'm sorry but if you find a character who speaks in complete Steinbeck sentences in the situation that those characters find themselves in "realistic" then I'm not the one who needs to read up on my history.

 

I'm an English teacher. Have been for 35 years. No one in the Great Depression or anywhere else in the history of the poor spoke in that "high-falutin" way that Steinbeck depicts.

 

Puh-leeze, as the kids say.

 

"Many did speak out and resist." What that has to do with this picture is beyond me. THE GRAPES OF WRATH is a sanctimonious portrayal of a white-washed view of one side of what happened during the Great Depression. Realism is THE BICYCLE THIEF. Wrath is just a sanctified view of history by a crafty Hollywood director at the top of his game. It's not only BORING, it's a bore.

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Very true about Ebert. What an odd creature and inconsistent. It's okay to depict abuse or a horrid rape scene -- according to his reviews it would appear -- as long as there are subtitles.

 

As for Siskel. He lost all credibility when he became so enamored of John Travolta in the wretched SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER that he went out and bought the white suit Travolta wears in the film. That's creepier than anything you'll find in George Romero film.

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> {quote:title=ChorusGirl wrote:}{quote}

> Regarding something being "overrated"....it is not the art's fault (see the absurd EXORCIST thread on here for an example).

>

> The Mona Lisa ends up being a tiny little oil painting surrounded by 6,000 Japanese tourists...so everyone just shrugs, marks it off their bucket list, and moves on. It doesn't mean it's not a masterpiece.

>

Many words and terms come to mind with regard to The Exorcist "Art" is not one of them.

 

ps- what have you got against the Japanese? (Besides the whole whale hunting/ "Hello Kitty" obsession?)

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> {quote:title=AndyM108 wrote:

> }{quote} ValentineXavier wrote: BingFan, allow me, a Kurosawa lover, to recommend some of his films that are not costume dramas. They are modern, and you might like them, especially if you are a film noir fan:

>

> *Stray Dog*

> *High and Low*

> * The Bad Sleep Well*

>

> You can add Drunken Angel to that list while you're at it. ... Those who dismiss foreign or silent films for reasons of convenience simply don't know what they're missing, not to mention that in the case of Toshiro Mifune they're missing an actor who towers above any male actor that Hollywood has produced for the combination of versatility and emotional depth.

>

ValentineXavier and AndyM108, thanks very much for the Kurosawa recommendations -- I'll check them out, perhaps the next time TCM shows them. I'm definitely a noir fan, so these sound like just the ticket.

 

In general, I do enjoy foreign films, but tend to like the ones that are set closer to the present day, within the 20th Century (same with Hollywood films), although there are definitely exceptions. For example, I was able to appreciate, and watch repeatedly, a "costume drama" like *The Seventh Seal*, once I gave it a chance. (I first saw it about 30 years ago on the big screen at Cleveland's old New Mayfield Repertory Cinema -- on Halloween!) I'm hopeful that I'll be able to find a starting point with Kurosawa, because there seems to be a fairly strong consensus that his work is worth seeing!

 

> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:

>

A Hitch film that I think is over-rated is *The Trouble with Harry.* Maybe that doesn't fit with the definition of "over-rated", because it certainly isn't the first film people mention when they're talking about Hitchcock. But it seems as though anyone who has seen it, loves it. And I just don't get it - everyone in this film seems just a little too precious, a little too quirky. So for me, in the Hitchocock canon, it's over-rated.

> }{quote}

I count myself among those who love *The Trouble With Harry*. My wife and I watch it almost every fall, and never tire of it -- and part of what we like is the quirky humor, being the only full-on comedy that Hitch did in his own style with his own sense of humor. (*Mr. and Mrs. Smith*, while an enjoyable comedy, doesn't really seem like a Hitchcock film to me.) But you're right, the humor is definitely quirky, and since it's central to the movie, if you don't care for the humor, you won't like the movie.

 

In addition, I don't know if the other commenter was serious about John Forsythe, but I've always enjoyed him in *The Trouble With Harry* -- I think his performance, like those of the other cast members, is perfectly in tune with Hitch's sense of humor here. But I guess it's a matter of taste -- I'm not sure I could point to another Forsythe performance that I enjoy nearly as much, so maybe it's that I just love the movie as a whole, more than having any strong opinion of Forsythe's role as a separate thing (if it's even possible to consider it that way).

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Its been a very, very long time since I saw any episodes of John Forsythe in his "Bachelor Father" tv series. But didn't he play his character somewhat in the same way as his "Trouble With Harry" character? I say this because the first time I saw "Harry" in the theatre (early 80's) to me he seemed to play the part like his tv Bachelor Father character. (Of course he did the movie years before the tv show)

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