Years ago, I finally watched Taxi Driver (1976), one of those classic movies I’d been hearing about forever but for whatever reason never got a chance to see. Going in, I couldn’t have been more excited. First, it was directed by legendary director Martin Scorsese, who I think directed one of the best gangster films of all time, Goodfellas. Secondly, I knew of the movie from its many iconic scenes (“You talkin’ to me?”) and wanted to see them in context. Lastly, being a native New Yorker who’s seen the city transformed so much from when I was a kid in the 1970s, I wanted to take a trip down memory lane.
If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times: I absolutely hate art house (with some exceptions: see Why Blow Up (1966) is the Only Art House Film Worth Seeing and Irreversible Might Be the Most Misunderstood Film of All Time).
Sighing. I am literally sighing right now as I type this. This is what I always do whenever I think about a groundbreaking movie that for no good reason at all, has been fobbed off as “overrated.” The Godfather is one of those films. Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is another.
I think that if I had to pick my most favorite Hitchcock movie, it would be Rear Window. I would even go so far as to say that it’s his best film. It’s not convoluted like North by Northwest, boring like The Man Who Knew Too Much or hit and miss like The Birds. It’s perfect. But there’s another reason why I love the movie. It had one of the most insightful commentaries on American life, one that often gets lost on viewers.
In terms of movie controversies, none frustrates me more than Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Keep in mind that I understand the complaints about the movie by both the book’s fans and Stephen King himself. An artist has the right to be upset if someone doesn’t adapt his work the way he had envisioned it. Regardless of what King feels, however, The Shining is an astounding movie and deserves its classic status. Yes, it may be a terrible adaptation of a book, but it’s a horror film masterpiece in its own right, and it always gets my goat when I hear people lambaste it as being garbage because it wasn’t like the book.
Another controversy about The Shining that gets me is the casting of Shelley Duvall. I’ve never understood the hatred against her because I always thought she couldn’t have been more perfectly cast. If it hadn’t been for her, The Shining wouldn’t have been anywhere as terrifying as it was.
Every time I see comments or reviews about Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, I hear the same complaints: it was two completely different movies, and the first half was better than the second half.
I remember initially feeling the same way as I was watching the Vietnam portion of the film. I thought, “Woe, wait a second. What’s going on? I just sat through this incredibly riveting segment about some kid who goes crazy in boot camp because his drill instructor was riding him the entire time. Now I’m in Vietnam, and it’s like that entire segment never happened. No one’s talking about it, not even the main character, Joker (Matthew Modine). And no effort has been made to connect the two segments.”
Had The Master lost his touch? Was this the movie in which I could finally say, “Kubrick finally jumped the shark”?
As someone who appreciates the craft of writing, nothing gets me angrier than the corruption of language. When you corrupt the meaning of words, you also corrupt thinking itself. How? Because it’s through language that we’re able to think and talk about reality clearly. When you start corrupting the meaning of words, everyone’s ability to talk about the things those words were meant to convey also becomes corrupted.