Films I Haven’t Seen: The Dirty Secrets
You know that secret list everyone has of films they haven’t seen? Not the list they tell everyone about. I’m talking the one that you don’t ever mention, because no one would ever guess that you hadn’t seen those movies, and it would be really embarrassing if they did. I’m talking the really big stuff. Of course, what constitutes “big” depends on how deep you are into movies. At my level, there isn’t much. Believe me. I tried.
The impetus for this article came when, yesterday, for the first time, I watched Rashomon. For some reason, I made it almost 24 years without seeing it. For someone like me, having seen all the movies I’ve seen, no one would even think to guess that I haven’t seen Rashomon. And that was my big secret. Of course, Rashomon is one of those films where, even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve seen it. Everyone knows the plot of the film because it’s been repeated so often. But I’d never actually sat down to watch the film. And that’s what counts. Kind of like how, last year, until I saw it for the Quest, I’d never actually watched Rear Window. Weird, right?
And we all have that list. That “dirty little secret” list. The films that you’re so embarrassed you haven’t seen, if you even see the title of the film in print, you get paranoid. “Is my face turning red? They’re gonna know. They know I haven’t seen it.” And god help you if it comes up in conversation. You have to stay deathly silent. But not silent enough so as to make it obvious. Because you can live with your friends knowing you haven’t seen Schindler’s List. But telling them you haven’t seen The Dark Knight — out of the question. They’d look at you sideways. “How the hell did you manage to make it this far without having seen that?”
So, in the interest of getting things out in the open, I’m going to give you my list of films that you’d think I’d have seen by now, but in reality, I haven’t.
I’ll preface my list by saying — at this point, there’s just not that many films that I haven’t seen. I’ve done a very good job of combing through the list of films that’s out there (which, with the exception of new stuff, is finite. The list of movies from 1948 is not going to change), attacking it from multiple angles. I entered the game with a healthy amount under my belt, and I saw a lot of stuff in college, be it in class or on my own. Then, since I graduated, I did the Oscar Quest. Which is the equivalent of when the barber uses the low number buzzer on your hair. Just lops it off. Then I began my Top Tens by Director list (which I’m still working on now. It’s a list of, at this point, 165 directors, and lists of top fives or top tens of my favorite films they’ve made. Of course, coming up with a top five or top ten for each director necessitates the viewing of more than five or ten films. So I managed to see a lot of movies because of that), which is the equivalent of them taking the next higher number buzzer to smooth out everything. And a nice amount of hair comes off, but it’s really just the big stuff they missed the first time. And throughout all that, I’ve been doing these Top Tens of the Decade lists (1950 goes up in less than a month). So once all that’s done, all that’s really gonna need to be done is some minor trimming and hitting those spots here or there that need some work.
So, in trying to come up with this list (which was insanely difficult), I tried to keep it to only the “essentials.” I’m using Rashomon as my example. They need to be films where it makes no sense that I’ve managed to avoid them for this long. That’s a “dirty little secret film.” You don’t expect me to have not seen Rashomon, but my not having seen Risky Business (which I haven’t actually seen yet) is not really that big of a deal. All right, I haven’t seen it. That can be remedied. But Rashomon is like — “You’re a huge film person. You’ve seen practically everything. How have you not seen that?” (And by implication… “How have you not seen that, yet have seen Shakes the Clown?” … the answer to which is, “Because Shakes the Clown is the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies.”)
So my criteria for the “dirty little secrets” list — which is going to serve as the criteria for all “dirty little secrets lists,” since if I’m not mistaken, there are not very many of these out there, since who wants to talk about this sort of stuff when they don’t have to? So let’s lay down some rules to help others to do this in the future — is twofold:
1) It has to be a film that, if people found out you haven’t seen it, they’d react, “Really?”
- You may need to specify who that group of people is. (For instance, people in my age group, especially women, would find it unthinkable that I have never seen neither Clueless, Heathers, nor Ten Things I Hate About You. One of my friends would especially find it unthinkable that I haven’t seen Heathers because not only did she write a 20 page paper on it, she also went as them for Halloween and worked for the guy who produced it. But I’ve never even seen it.)
- The ideal version of the “dirty little secrets list” would include films that would make everyone go, “Really?”, when they found out you haven’t seen them. Stuff like The Godfather, or Shawshank. Huge, huge movies. Or even seminal things like Willy Wonka. That’s the absolute ideal version.
- Another fine point of this is — a lot of this also depends on where you are in terms of your movie watching. I have a friend who hasn’t seen Star Wars. But we don’t bother her about it because she hasn’t seen any movie. We don’t rush to show her big things like that, or The Matrix, which I’m pretty sure she also still hasn’t seen, because just getting her to watch any movie is a big deal. So her list would obviously include those films that make people go, “Even people in comas see that.” But if you’re someone who is a film major, your list will probably include stuff like Citizen Kane or Gone With the Wind. Those classics where you’re like, “Yeah, never saw them. I know…” It all depends on where you’re at. The key is to go for the biggest films that you know you need to see, and…
2) It has to be a film that you are actively ashamed of not having seen. When that film comes up in conversation, you need to have that reaction where you get really awkward and try to hide it.
- I said up there, you’re okay with letting your friends know you haven’t seen Schindler’s List, because all right, you never saw it. They go, “Yeah, you should see it,” but it’s not unfathomable that you haven’t. But you do not let your friends know you haven’t seen Dark Knight, because then they’ll go, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” It needs to be a film you’re ashamed to tell people you haven’t seen.
- Or, at the very least, it needs to be a film that you know you really need to see/one you probably should have seen by now. Maybe you’re a film major who hasn’t seen Gone With the Wind, and you’re not ashamed you haven’t seen it, but deep down you know, “I really should see that.” You know you need to, because that’s what someone on your level should do. So if you’re cognizant of the fact that you need to see it, that counts.
Also, I’m not counting films you’re deliberately not seeing. If you haven’t seen Titanic, and it’s because you refuse to see Titanic, that’s your own damn fault.
(Though I do have a situation like this on my list, but, when you read it, you’ll understand why I left it on. Plus, at my level, there’s really not much that counts as a “dirty little secret” anymore.)
In attempting to come up with this list, I narrowed my search to two places: Netflix and my hard drive. I initially went to IMDB’s Top 250, but that’s completely useless. (The Avengers is currently #31, ranked above Citizen Kane. I have no use for a list like that.) Then I tried AFI’s list of Top 100 films, which is equally useless, but in a different way. I already knew which two films on there I hadn’t seen (which are gonna be the first ones on my list). Then I tried the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? list of Top 1000 movies. But I had to stop after the first 75 because it was so goddamn pretentious. Actually, those two lists are perfect representations of the two groups of film people I despise the most — the IMDB crowd and the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? crowd (more on them in just a second). So I had to find that objective median, which brings me to what is most often the objective median in any situation — myself.
So I looked on Netflix, saw what I have in my queue, as well as some stuff they recommended for me (since I’m fastidious about rating everything I see, because it’s very helpful in letting me know what I haven’t seen. Anything that keeps coming up is shit that I know I probably need to see at some point). Then I went on my hard drive, where I have a huge folder of movies I’ve compiled for viewing TBD. Just a bunch of films where I’m like, “I should see them, but when I have time.” So I looked through those. And that pretty much covered 90-95% of everything, since I’ve been doing those Top Tens of the Decade lists. I’ve combed through every single year from 2012 all the way to (at this point) 1940 (since I have done a preliminary sweep of the 40s as preproduction). There’s really not that much that I’d have missed. The only real possible omission could be a film that I had on my watch list for the top tens, and for some reason or another, didn’t watch it at the time, and then forgot about. So it’s entirely possible that there’s something I just don’t realize is there. But even so, I’m calling that I have somewhere around a 98% inclusion rate. There’s really not much else. (And if there is, I’m leaving it open for people to tell me what I might be missing.)
One last thing I’d like to say, before I get into the list — just one rant. Allow me to indulge. I’d like to make one thing abundantly clear before I start the list.
This list is (for me, anyway, given where I’m at) mostly subjective. Everyone pretty much has their own ideas of what is and what isn’t essential. Aside from the first two films on the list (and one other), I don’t really consider anything I need to see to be that essential. I just consider them films that have been seen by so many people that I should just see so that way I’m not on the outside of that discussion. I might not want anything to do with the discussion, and actively avoid the discussion, but some films are just so ubiquitous in the film culture that you just need to see them for the purposes of seeing them. And, not that what I’m about to say is the most likely of scenarios, but it is possible. Because I know, something like this, if anything were to happen, this would happen.
I’m going to say at the end of this list for people, if they can think of anything that’s major that I might not have seen, to let me know. But I know that when I do that, people are not going to understand what I mean. I’ll say, “Let me know if you think there’s any film that belongs on this list,” and someone will say — and I’m picking this film totally at random because it just popped into my head — “What about Paris, Texas?” And I haven’t seen Paris, Texas, and I don’t even know why that popped into my head. But that, to me, is not a film where it’s a completely ridiculous proposition that I haven’t seen it yet. A lot of people make it to 24 without having seen Paris, Texas. That’s not what I’m looking for. I don’t want a list of films I haven’t seen that I should probably check out at some point. I want films that I haven’t seen that are so big, it’s pretty crazy that I haven’t seen them yet.
The other thing that I know people will do, because it ties into this notion of “the canon,” is suggest a lot of foreign films. Now, to me, unless a foreign film is unquestionably major (going back to the example of Rashomon), I don’t really see it as unreasonable that I haven’t seen it. And while I’m sure there are some foreign films I haven’t seen that are huge classics (like Pather Panchali. I haven’t seen that yet. But that’s not something I should have seen by now. It’s a film I just should see), they’re not really essential enough for me to feel bad about not having seen them yet. Put it this way: You don’t feel bad about not having already seen The Bad Sleep Well and Stray Dog. You feel bad about not having already seen Rashomon and Seven Samurai. Maybe this comes down to my opinion on foreign films, which is long-winded and I’ll try to boil down as quickly as possible, but that’s just how I see things. Now, here’s my rant:
Im not big on foreign films. And there are three reasons for this. First: A lot of the time, I don’t really see what makes them so great, or, in many cases, better than some American films. Like Kurosawa. I like Kurosawa. A lot. But I don’t see him doing anything in his films that’s absolutely mindblowing. They’re just good films. He’s not reinventing the wheel. He’s just making good movies. I feel like the reason people put certain films (not necessarily Kurosawa, I’m just talking foreign films in general) on that higher pedestal is because they’ve read these lengthy papers scholars have written about them, declaring them to be these masterpieces. So people sit down to watch something like Fanny and Alexander, knowing what’s been said about it. And as they watch it, I bet most people are going to be extremely bored, not really know what’s going on, and not really enjoy themselves, either. But they’ll come out of that movie and go, “Man, was that great,” because the idea is that it is a great movie. So they go into it thinking it’s a great movie, see it, don’t really get it, but then end up with, “Well, even though I didn’t get it, it is great.” Now, the film is very well-made, don’t think I’m attacking that film. But I don’t see what makes that film any better than The Band Wagon. I just don’t. I appreciate Fanny and Alexander as a film, but without us putting so much stock into all those scholarly articles written about it, it would be absolutely no different than a classic American movie.
Which brings me to the second reason I have a stigma (of sorts) against foreign films (though I think of it more as an equalizer. Since I feel people put them on a pedestal, so my reaction is to knock them off of it and treat them as though they were just like everything else): critics and scholars. Not all of them. But I tend to lump the majority of them into one of the two groups of film people I despise the most: the extremists. They are the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? group. The ones who revere the overly pretentious stuff and demean the “trash.” Whereas the other extreme is the IMDB group who eat up the trash and ignore the good stuff. I try to ignore these people. (My way of thinking about it is this: if you’re someone who had Meek’s Cutoff on your top ten list, but not Hugo (and you know the implication of that statement, don’t take it on face value and say, “What’s so wrong about that?”), I ignore you. Similarly, if your top ten list for 2012 is going to have The Avengers on it, and you don’t know what The Tree of Life is (again, ignore the specifics. You know what I’m really saying), I’ll also ignore you.) Now, mostly I’m dealing with the first group, because they’re the ones that write these lengthy articles about how some obscure Argentinian film is a masterpiece of cinema, meanwhile none of us have ever heard of it, and the film is nothing more than 157 minutes of a man trying to find a four-leaf clover in the desert and then getting trampled by horses in the end. And there’s almost no dialogue, and the entire film is one long tracking shot that moves from right to left. And then they deride films like The Artist because the narrative is simple and because it doesn’t break any new ground.
It reminds me of what a friend of mine said in college: “I don’t like films that have all that bullshit in them, like a plot or character development and stuff.”
This was said in complete seriousness.
I can’t listen to what they say, because they are essentially the same as the IMDB crowd, only they’re able to get their message out in a more erudite way. The IMDB crowd shouts on a message board and are loud and obnoxious about it because they don’t know any better. The They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? crowd writes these scholarly papers that then trickle down and end up affecting the way most of us middle-grounders end up thinking about the films. When really all that’s happening is extremist shouting. These are the same people who will eviscerate a popular film when it comes out, and then in twenty years, when it proves to be a classic, refer to it with nothing but praise. And never once do they come out and say, “Yeah, I was wrong about that.” So I don’t care (for the most part) what scholars think are essential films. I really don’t feel bad about not having seen Wild Strawberries yet. I’ll see it, and I may even love it. But for me to feel bad about not having seen it just because it’s on lists of films created by people who can’t (or won’t) appreciate an X-Men movie is a ludicrous sentiment.
And my point there is that it’s always the foreign films with these people. Also independents, but also mostly foreign. Short term indie, long term, foreign. Go down the They Shoot Pictures list. Count how many in the first 200 you’ve never even heard of. I’ll tell you flat out, I’ve seen thousands of movies and I probably haven’t heard of almost a quarter of that entire list. And you know what’s not on that list? Dark Knight. (And The Thin Man, but who’s quibbling.) So there’s no median. You’re either letting populism run rampant or letting pretension run rampant. I feel as though I’m completely alone in the center of all this. Can’t a brother love X-Men and Last Year at Marienbad the same amount?
The third reason I’m not concerned with having not seen certain foreign films is because — circling back to the first point — I don’t see the appeal of many of them. To me, they’re just like any other film, only with subtitles. The fact that they’re foreign means nothing to me. How does this film affect me as I watch it? Do I enjoy it, or am I sitting there, wondering what all the fuss is about? Like all films. So that being the case, I don’t treat them as being any different from American films. And my way of thinking is, “Why would I rush out to go see all these foreign films when there are hundreds of films made right here, in this country, that I haven’t seen?” To me, Wild Strawberries is no more important than They Drive by Night or The Petrified Forest. So never will I ever feel bad for not having seen it yet. I will see it, and in no way will my feelings on foreign films affect how I watch it, but I’ll never feel bad about not having seen it yet. That’s my point here. And it was an excuse to get in that rant about how much I can’t stand most film people.
Now, let’s get to the list. We’ll start with the big guns, since you need to just yank off the band aid and get it all out into the open. It’s like that scene in In & Out where all the old ladies are sitting around, revealing things they never told anyone before. And that one lady says, “I hated The Bridges of Madison County,” and they all gasp. That’s what this is.
I’ll also say that, past #1 and #2 (which are actually three films), I don’t really care about not having seen the rest of them (Edit: And #3. There was a late inclusion), and to me, it makes perfect sense that I haven’t seen them. You’ll understand when I get to them.
So here’s my list of dirty little secrets. The films that I haven’t seen that you’d probably never guess that I haven’t ever seen:
1. The Gold Rush / Modern Times
- Somehow I’ve made it 23 and a half years without having seen two of Chaplin’s most seminal works. Which is strange, because I’ve seen every other feature the man’s directed, save Monsieur Verdoux and A Woman of Paris. I’ve watched A Countess from Hong Kong and A King in New York before The Gold Rush and Modern Times. These are, without a doubt, my two biggest dirty secrets. I’m putting them together as one because they’re both Chaplin. My reasoning behind how I could have made it this far without seeing them is — shit happens. I didn’t really start quantifying all the stuff I hadn’t seen until after college, and by that point, I got into the Oscar Quest, which was just so many films it was impossible to find time for these two. (Of course, there was time if I really wanted there to be, but isn’t that always the case with films on this list?) And then I started doing the Top Tens of the Decade lists, which gave them an expiration date. That is, I know for a fact that a day will come (and even know when that day is) when I see them. But, at this point, I still have not seen either Modern Times or The Gold Rush. They’re the only two films on AFI’s Top 100 list (either version) that I haven’t seen, and are easily the two films you’d never guess I haven’t seen.
2. Once Upon a Time in America
- A late entry to this list. I only realized this at that last minute. I’ve owned this film for years and never actually found time to sit and watch it. In fact, my owning the film has probably actively aided in my not seeing it. I actually take it so for granted that I have seen this that when I went and checked my Top Ten lists to see if there was anything that’s on there that I actually hadn’t seen, I didn’t even notice this one. This is on my Top Ten for 1984 and I’ve never even fucking seen it! The reason for that is because, when I did a preliminary list, I put it on there (figuring, “Oh yeah, I’ll see it and of course I’ll love it and leave it there”), and then when it came time to proofread and make sure I’d seen everything I put down, I saw the title and just skipped past it, because I assumed I had seen it. How odd is that? But I’ve still not seen this movie. And I should feel really bad about it. But for some reason my brain is under the impression that I have, so it doesn’t treat it as that big a deal. But it is. It really is. I need to get on this one, soon. (Remember this in six months when I’ve probably still not seen it. … though just for my having said that, I’ll almost definitely see it very soon. That’s how it works with me.)
3. The Rules of the Game
- This is big for me because it’s on a lot of those “Best Films Ever Made” lists. I’m not wholly surprised I’ve yet to watch this, but I haven’t. I do know that I should, so there is that feeling there of, “I really need to get on this.” It probably won’t get as big a reaction from most people as these next two films will, but to me, now that Rashomon‘s off the list, this is the big gun that’s still on there, purely canon-wise. (P.S. I’ve also not seen The Big Parade or The Last Laugh yet. I have them both, but haven’t watched them. They’re not dirty little secrets, but I haven’t seen them and know I should. Just to get out there what I feel my biggest absolute classics are that I’ve yet to see.)
4. Donnie Darko
- This one is on purpose. I wanted to put it here because this is the one that pisses everyone off. And that’s exactly why I haven’t seen it. I got into movies (for serious) around high school. So, 2001/2002. Which is when this movie came out. I knew vaguely of it, but not really. And over the course of high school, this film got more and more noise. In high school, there are a certain group of films — and if you hang around IMDB long enough (or, what really did it for me was playing all those movies quizzes on Sporcle. If you’ve played enough of those, you know exactly which movies I’m talking about. Because you’ll be taking a quiz, and it’ll be shit like, Goodfellas, Fight Club … films in that general “high school” mindset, where you haven’t actually seen that many great films, so those are like, biblical texts … and then these films will always also be there) you’ll know exactly what they are — that people just go apeshit over. This is one of them. Memento is another one. Boondock Saints is another. They’re films that people grab onto and love violently. Or vigorously, to make it humorous for like three people. They shout their loves of those movies. And they do it in such a way that it becomes annoying to hear them go to the same three movies all the time. That’s cool, when you’re 16 and Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski and Reservoir Dogs are the three “best” films you’ve ever seen. But if you grow as a film fan, and you’re into stuff like Rio Bravo and Bridge on the River Kwai, and people are still yammering on about those same three movies — you get sick of it.
- Now let me backtrack and clarify what I’m saying. Nothing against any of the films I just listed. I liked Memento a lot, and I’d seen it before it became what it is. Though it is probably my least favorite Nolan film. Some of that has to do with the fact that people used to (and still kind of do, to an extent) talk about it like it was the second coming of Christ or something. I wasn’t into it that much, so I pushed it aside and let them have it. Boondock Saints, on the other hand, was a film I saw because everyone was talking about it. And it would always come up on those pages, “If you liked this, then you’ll love Boondock Saints.” Because all the people who liked what I liked loved that movie. So I saw it — and it didn’t do anything for me. The first time they did the nonlinear action sequence it was fun. The next three times they did it, it wasn’t. So I enjoyed the film, but to me it was just there. And people’s loud opinions on the movie (coupled with the fact that they’d shout about it like it was the absolute truth, and I’d be sitting there thinking, “I know you haven’t even seen Casablanca, and you’re telling me I need to see something that’s just a decent action movie?” and just hating them for being so obtuse) made me automatically think negative things when I think about it.
- I have a theory about how I approach movies. I call it the Night of the Living Dead theory. In this scenario, I’m in the house. I’m safe in the house. And the film is out on the porch, trying to get in. And people are the zombies. (I find this theory has many apt parallels to life.) Now — if I bring the film in before other people get to it, then it’s safe. It’s inside, it’s with me, and they can’t get to it, no matter what they say or do from outside. (Like Juno. I saw that when it was in super limited release. I loved it. It was with me. And then it popped. And people went from loving it to overrating it to turning on it and hating it. And none of that affected me, because the movie was already safe with me. And people’s opinions didn’t matter.) Now, on the other hand — if the people do get to a film before I see it — it’s contaminated. It’s going to, in some way, affect how I see the film. Here’s where my analogy twists a little bit, since, in a zombie movie, once someone is infected, it’s over. There’s no going back. I don’t treat movies like that. I think of it more like radiation. Like Silkwood. When they go to Meryl’s house and the whole place is just covered in radiation. If people get to a film before I can pull it into the house, it’s contaminated. And depending on the level of contamination, it’s going to affect my opinion. Just a little contamination — I can deal with that. A slightly larger amount, it’s gonna feel funny. Like if you ate a steak that was lightly irradiated. It would taste off. And that might affect your enjoyment of it.
- Now — cycling back to something like Donnie Darko — if a film is that contaminated by other people, it becomes impossible for me to even see the film without a guarantee that I’ll hate it. People were so crazy about Donnie Darko that it became so utterly tainted for me that there was no way I could ever see it and not despise it. And in my experience, it’s just not fair for me to see a movie in that frame of mind. It happened with Pan’s Labyrinth. People went nuts over that movie, and then I said, “Fine, I’ll watch the fucking movie,” and I hated it. And it wasn’t until like seven months later that I was able to watch it with an open mind and go, “Actually, that was really fucking good.” (That also happened to me with District 9. Though, there, people talked about it, I saw it, I hated it. Then I was able to watch it again with objectivity and was able to go, “Actually, that was pretty decent.” Though, there, I still don’t really like the film all that much, and people’s talk about how great it was coupled with the completely unnecessary Best Picture nomination make me automatically go negative on that one when it comes up.)
- So, up until now, there was no way I could ever watch Donnie Darko without despising it. And I would have just treated it like a tumor (kind of like how I treat Napoleon Dynamite), because I’d know how a large majority of people felt, and I’d know I didn’t feel that way. So it would be this tumor that you can’t get rid of that’s just there. And every time people would bring up the movie, you’d just get angry, and that would only increase the hatred. There are some films that I’m just like that with. (Don’t even get me fucking started on Garden State…)
- But this film — there was a chance it could be saved. I just had to wait to watch it until I could reach the point of objectivity. I just had to wait until the contamination levels were manageable. However, the problem with this film is — it’s volatile. I’d leave it alone for long periods of time, and it would become less contaminated. But then some schmuck would randomly bring it up out of nowhere in the complete wrong way, and that would add another year and a half of me not being able to see it. Plus, I’ve had multiple people (who know me well) tell me that I wouldn’t like it. They said I probably wouldn’t like the movie, and that it was better that I didn’t watch it if I was at all negative on it. So I was really giving this one time to cool off. And I still am. I need to wait for that day to come where I can just pop it on, with no preconceived notions, and just watch it. I may still hate it, but at least I’ll have given it a fair shot. But that’s why I haven’t seen this yet. I feel as though it’s a film most people would react strongly to hearing me say I haven’t seen it. Just like this next one…
5. The Fly
- 1986, not 1958. I’ve seen 1958. I actually really like the 1958 version. This one I’ve managed to still not see, even after my Top Tens of the 80s article. The reasons for this one are part spite and part disinterest. As in — I don’t like horror movies. And I’m not the biggest Cronenberg fan (true Cronenberg. History of Violence Cronenberg is not the same as Crash Cronenberg. I’m talking fucked up bodily horror David Cronenberg), and this film has a stigma for me. It’s the kind of thing where — people far too often consider this film better than it (probably) is. And I make that assumption because it’s always the same people who do it. It’s the same people with the same tastes (or the same people copying the tastes of the internet majority). Let’s simplify it and just call it “the internet.” People on all these movie websites. They love this movie. They love all these horror movies. They love Carpenter’s The Thing. I like Carpenter’s The Thing, but I think Howard Hawks’s The Thing from Another World is better. It’s just a set of tastes that I don’t have. And it’s not the difference in tastes that gets me, it’s the annoying conviction with which people flout those tastes. It’s one thing to say, “I’d have loved it if Andy Serkis got nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and another to say, “Why the fuck are they gonna ignore Andy Serkis?! He was better than all those other assholes that are in contention! Again, they ignore the true best performances and it’s all about (finish douchebag internet Oscar rant).” Right there — I’m spiteful. Not only do I not want Andy Serkis to not be nominated, but I now have to lessen my outward opinion of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, simply because there is a vocal majority that is, in my opinion, vastly overrating the film (and the performance). People call this film a masterpiece when I know — even without having seen it — it’s not. Calling this film a masterpiece is like calling The Avengers a masterpiece. At best it belongs in a specific subsection of greatness. Not general greatness. I’d allow this to be called a masterpiece, of horror, but not a general masterpiece. I don’t have to have see it to know that. And the reason I know that is because I’ve seen so many movies — it’s like when you’re a seasoned poker player. I can play the hands without even looking at the cards because I know how to read the players.
- So all of that is how I’ve managed to not see this until now. I guess you can say it’s a lesser extent of Donnie Darko. I’m waiting for objectivity, but that’s easy enough. It’s also the fact that I have a bunch of mother movies to watch, and this is a horror, so my aversion to that genre (it’s so boring to me) makes me dread having to watch it. Still, it’s a big movie that I haven’t seen.
- P.S. while we’re on horror. I also haven’t seen Poltergeist, The Omen or any of the Evil Dead trilogy. I do not feel bad about any of this, and am in absolutely no rush to see any of these. They’ll be the shit I deal with once I’m done with all the interesting stuff.
With the late edition of Once Upon a Time in America, that bumps what was my #5 out. But since I already wrote it up, let’s leave it as an unofficial #6, because I know some people are gonna be like, “What?!”:
6. The Notebook
- This one was a toss up. It was either this or A Bug’s Life. I haven’t really seen either. I’ve seen about twenty minutes of both. I felt like this one would get the stronger reaction. A Bug’s Life is the one that fascinates me more, though. Because somehow I made it this far without having seen that. I’ve seen every other Pixar, and will have seen every other Disney by the end of the summer (by which point I’m sure I’ll watch it), but it’s weird that somehow, that film has eluded me. But anyway…
- Yeah, haven’t seen The Notebook. I watched the first 20 minutes once. I stopped with the two of them laying down in the middle of the road. I missed the optimal time during which to see this (when I was a 14 year old girl). I was too busy watching stuff like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Great Escape to bother with this. (And I have a penis.) But the film is so ubiquitous in the youth culture now that it’s kind of a big deal that I haven’t seen it. But to me — I don’t feel a need to see it past, “Well, everyone’s seen it, so I guess I should just watch it and get it over with.” And even that — I’m not really someone who feels a compulsion to go along with everyone else. If anything, it’s the opposite. So, I’m not really concerned with not ever having seen this. I’m sure I’ll think it’s some standard shitty chick flick anyway, when I do see it. I guarantee you, however decent or good The Notebook may be — it’ll never be Love Story.
- Oh, yeah, also, while we’re here — let’s add Sleepless in Seattle (and even Notting Hill) to this one. I’ve never seen Sleepless in Seattle. Notting Hill I don’t give a fuck about. So whatever. It just is another chick flick that I haven’t seen. And Sleepless in Seattle, I’m sure I’ll watch it one day, but I haven’t seen it. I don’t feel bad about it, but I thought you should know I’ve never seen it. I don’t do sap. I don’t like sap. You know when I like sap? When it traps mosquitos inside of it and hardens and then we can resurrect dinosaurs from it. That’s when I love sap.
So those are my big 5. Well, 6. Not really that major a list, right? Mostly the first three. The two Chaplins are really the only ones that I feel any guilt about. And Once Upon a Time in America. Then Rules of the Game, I know I need to get on it, but I’m not rushing out to see it this instant. I know I’ll watch it by the end of the year. The rest — I don’t really feel bad about. Especially The Fly. At most I feel, “Well, I should see it,” but it’s in that way of, “just so there’s nothing people have with which to attack me.”
Other films I found that I haven’t seen (for one reason or another): The Public Enemy, Little Caesar (both of which I own, which actually may be the reason I haven’t seen it, because when you own it, it’s always, “Well, it’s there, I can watch it at any time,” and then you just don’t), To Be or Not to Be (the Lubitsch one. This I also blame on my owning it, as well as having seen the Mel Brooks version. Again, though, all three of these are gonna be seen for the Top Tens list), Rudy (maybe this stood out to me because of all those years of it being on TNT at 9 am every goddamn weekend. But, yeah, never seen it). Then, I’ve already said Risky Business. Oh, also Footloose. The original. Saw the remake, not the original. And Flashdance. Haven’t seen that one either. Nor have I seen Enter the Dragon or Mommie Dearest. None of these, though, are really very major (Public Enemy‘s pretty big. But I don’t think of that as on the level of Once Upon a Time in America). They’re just ones I haven’t seen.
But you see how relatively minor my list is. That’s not that bad, for those to be my films. (Especially if you compare it to your list. Talking to you, person with the first stone in your hand…)
So those are my dirty little secrets. Everyone has these blemishes. These are mine. I hope you all appreciated my bravery in airing my deepest, darkest secrets in the interest of an open discourse.
Also, if there’s anything you think I may have missed (good luck with that), let me know.
The real question here, though, is — what’s on your list?