Recently, for some reason I don’t understand, Vertigo was suddenly declared the best movie of all time. Although I’m relieved that the title was taken away from Citizen Kane, I found this new choice just as troublesome.
I have a confession to make, one that’s bound to cause old ladies to clutch their pearls in shock and make babies cry:
I absolutely cannot stand It’s a Wonderful Life. I never liked it when I first saw it 30 years ago and I still can’t stand it to this day. And no, it’s not just because it eventually supplanted the far superior The Best Years of Our Lives as a movie classic.
Ever have one of those movies that you not only just don’t like but absolutely detest? A movie that you develop such an intense hatred for that you can’t even think about it without feeling the bile gurgle in your throat? I have a lot of movies like that, too, but if I had to pick the one I hate the most, it would be Forrest Gump.
So, when I heard that Jonathan Demme recently passed, I had the same reaction as everyone else: oh no. But then this other weird thing happened. Even though I recognized his name and remembered that he was an esteemed director, it took me a few seconds to remember just what he was esteemed for. That’s when I went, “That’s right. Silence of the Lambs.”
Gravity had all the elements of being a masterpiece. It had mind-blowing special effects, an interesting story line, tons of action–packed sequences and great cinematography. Yet for some reason, a lot of people came away from the movie feeling underwhelmed. I know that for me, personally, the movie–in spite of its beautiful visuals and amazing technical wizardry–fell flat.
Like everyone else, I have an “overrated movies” list. And if I had to make a top 20, Fargo would make it onto that list, easily.
I didn’t want it to be overrated. You see, back in the day, I was kinda sorta a Coen brothers fan. I adored Raising Arizona because of how quirky it was, and though I didn’t really love their other movies as much as that film, there was still a quirky charm that I always appreciated about their work. So with Fargo, I expected a movie that I probably wasn’t going to love wholeheartedly but would adore for the typical Coen brothers sensibility.
Instead, I came across a film that couldn’t have been less like a Coen brothers movie. Worse yet, it didn’t even come close to living up to all the acclaim it’s generated over the years, not by a long shot. Below are the reasons why:
Everyone has this fear as they get older that somehow, new junk is going to supplant the classics in status. Anyone over the age of 40 and maybe even 35 knows what I’m talking about. We’ve all had that queasy moment when we’ve come across internet comments raving that Batman Begins is ten times the movie that 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Godfather were.
As much of a problem as this can be, it’s the least of any aging person’s worries. Why? Because sometimes it’s not “new junk” that supplants the classics, but old junk as well.