Confession time: I don’t like The Walking Dead.  I watched the first two seasons before turning away when I realized I didn’t care if any of the characters died.  Moreover, I’m generally not a fan of zombie stories.  For lack of a more thorough explanation, it’s just not my thing.  It never has been.  I share that in response to a recent AV Club article which asked several of its writers to weigh in on which artists/bands/performers they cannot connect with, despite knowing full well that they are great?
Katie Rife: I’m already ducking from all the tomatoes that are going to be thrown my way for this, but I fell out of love with Wes Anderson after The Life Aquatic. I’m not saying he’s not a good director—the artistry is obviously there—or that he hasn’t created a signature visual style. But where many find his genteel quirkiness endlessly charming, I find it irritating, mostly because the novelty of his visual motifs wore off for me a while ago. (Another fetishistic tableau of perfectly symmetrical everyday objects? How whimsical.) And yes, I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Ralph Fiennes was really good in that movie, and it did deserve to win the Oscar for production design. Like I said, I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into it. But can you imagine sharing an office with Wes Anderson? He’d spend half the day sharpening the pencils on his desk so they lined up just so. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Mike Vago took on a similarly beloved director:

In 2007, cineastes everywhere were in a heated debate over which great American filmmaker(s) had delivered the bigger masterpiece: No Country For Old Men, or There Will Be Blood? For me, the choice was easy. I’ll go see anything the Coen brothers do as long as they’re making movies, but for the life of me, I can’t stand Paul Thomas Anderson. I did like Boogie Nights, but not as much as the critical consensus. It was a collection of scenes—some of them fantastic, mind you—but it never quite held together as a whole. And then there’s Magnolia. He opens the film with a meditation on stunning coincidences, to prime us for a film without a single coincidence. There’s no one to root for, as Anderson seems to hate all of his characters. Every single woman in the film is shrill and hysterical in every scene, as if he decided coked-up Julianne Moore from Boogie Nights was how all women act all the time. And the plague of frogs was just plain stupid. I did intend to give the director another chance, but then he cast Adam Sandler in his next movie, and he lost me for good.

I don’t completely disagree with either of them.  My favorite Paul Thomas Anderson movie is easily Boogie Nights, but I understand someone describing it as feeling more like a collection of brilliant scenes than a complete movie.  And I always watch and intellectually appreciate Wes Anderson movies without actually engaging with any of it.  I can still laugh at George Clooney in The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel, but Wes Anderson’s signature visual flourishes are always off-putting for me.

What about you?  Are there are any giants of cinema you just don’t get?  Or super popular, critical beloved film/shows?  Are you a Mad Men hater?  Do you not get why everyone seems to have gradually agreed that The Shawshank Redemption is a classic?  If so, I’ll tell you why – it’s because it’s awesome, and I won’t hear anyone who says otherwise.  For shame!  Andy + Red forever!

Well, that got out of hand really fast.  I’ll be more civil in the comments if you let me know which pop culture golden goose you just can’t get into.

Source: AVClub

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Posted by Kelly Konda

Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

27 Comments

  1. To my shame, I was only mildly impressed by Fargo. I recognize it’s great but… I love the FX show by the same name, and since I saw it first, I feel as though that gets in my way of enjoying the movie.

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    1. The first exposure can be killer. I’m the opposite. I saw the Fargo movie first, and as a result I was very reluctant to even give the FX show a chance. However, that was more about me assuming I knew what was basically going to happeon on the TV show (I was wrong). In truth, I’m not actually a big fan of the Fargo movie. I thought it was overhyped back in ’96. I’m more of a Big Lebowski/O Brother Where Art Thou kind of fan when it comes to the Coen Bros.

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  2. I feel the same way about the Wes Anderson’s oeuvre; I waited for sooo long (at least it seemed that way) to watch The Darjeeling Company; and I remember another film fiend I knew who kept harassing me to watch the film so we could discuss it. Finally did. And there was just no spark of interest. But I can still go back and watch Rushmore (love “Mister Bill Muwy”) and The Royal Tenenbaums (big Hackman fan, too).

    As far as an individual film goes, not sure if I posted this here (??), but I was disappointed by The Maltese Falcon. (I’ve got my tomato-proof jacket on right now…) Just didn’t like the chemistry between Bogie and Mary Astor. Honestly, I’d take Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in “Double Indemnity” over Bogie and Astor in “MF” any damn day. There. Said it. (Just wild about Billy.)

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    1. Like the AV Club writer said, the problem with Wes Anderson is that his once-charming visual palette has never changed, and as a result the charm quickly wore off. Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums are still enjoyable because you can still watch them and see a director perfecting his style, but by the time you get to Grand Budapest Hotel you might struggle to see any substance behind so much form. That being said, there are some beautifully directed sequences in that movie, and Ralph Fiennes is really funny.

      I saw The Maltese Falcon for the first time in a film class, and at that point I had seen it either specifically parodied or the general Bogie PI act parodied so much in pop culture that I actually struggled to really get into the movie. That’s the only time I’ve ever seen it, and my lasting memory of it is of a movie which kind of seemed like a decent film noir, nothing special. History obviously disagrees with me.

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  3. Also, sorry for the double post; but I wanted to make sure you were aware that I nominated you for a Blogging Recognition Award. This is the link to the post (as per my obligation to provide the link):

    https://theretrospectivereel.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/nightlies-blogger-recognition-award/

    Reply

    1. Oh, wow. Cool. Thank you. I had somehow missed this. I’ll have to look into this now.

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  4. I just cannot stand 2001: A Space Odyssey. I appreciate the craftsmanship with which it was created, the painstakingly difficult special effects, the incredibly detailed designs, but it just falls apart for me as a narrative, and it’s so slow…
    I will not judge Kubrick’s filmography as a whole until I’ve seen more, though.

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    1. I think that’s the only Kubrick film that I have seen but been told numerous times that all his films are particularly slow.

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      1. I can handle a slower film, as long as the characters are interesting, and, in 2001, excepting HAL, that’s not the case.

    2. Ditto everything you said about 2001. In general, I am not a Kubrick fan. I don’t even like his version of The Shining, mostly because I think the story is better served by a protagonist whose deterioration is gradual and ultimately tragic. I don’t think the Jack Nicholson version brings any of that. He seems likely to turn on his family at any moment. However, I’m likely swayed there by the fact that I read the book before seeing the movie. I’ve met very few who agree with my opinion of the movie.

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      1. I guess I love the Shining film as a separate aesthetic achievement: cinematography, music, acting, and atmosphere (including the outstanding set design: wow). But, yes, I would agree with you about the film vs. book: after reading the novel earlier this year, I realized WHY Stephen King was upset by the adaptation: Jack (in the book) does indeed deteriorate more slowly, and we have much more sympathy for him since he’s a very bright individual, and has a richer mental life than the crass and despotic version from the film. And he’s an alcoholic; that’s much more clear in the book.

      2. Haven’t yet seen The Shining, but I plan to. The problem I have with Kubrick is that his movies are almost too methodical, if you know what I mean.

  5. Where to begin?

    Since this article started with a TV show, I will start by saying I never liked “Family Guy”. Some people complain of its superficial sameness as the Simpsons and poor animation – both are valid points. However I watched a couple of episodes and got tired very quickly of the constant cutaway gags.

    When it comes to film, I saw “City of Lost Children” when I was a first year university student. Gosh, the colours of that film made me sick.

    The directors I most don’t care for are Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palmer.

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    1. “Family Guy” is a tough sell. It is a purposefully lazy and crass show, enough that South Park devoted multiple episodes to tearing the whole show apart, as if Parker and Stone were offended by “Family Guy”‘s notorious laziness as storytellers. So, I get why the cutaway gags would turn you off. I dunno, though. It’s kind of hard to explain why, exactly, but I have seen every episode of that show. It’s something I watched in college at a time when such rampant guy humor really appealed to me, and ever since then I sort of dig all the random pop culture jokes and parodies.

      Wow, not a fan of Scorsese and De Palma? I didn’t see that coming mostly because Scorsese is so beloved. I don’t really go for all of his mob movies, but I can dig the heck out of stuff like The Aviator and Shutter Island. De Palma, on the other hand, I’m totally with you. If you want to watch someone do a lot of interesting things with a camera, watch a De Palma movie. If you want to watch something that has a legitimately original and interesting story, maybe think again about watching a De Palma movie.

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  6. When I watch Grand Budapest Hotel I was first intrigued by the cinematography, but I also got tired of it very, very quickly. It was a very static style which bored the eye very quickly.

    The work of the W-something siblings is not for me. I am one of the few who never thought that there was anything deep about the Matrix and their work since then has confirmed my initial opinion. I tried Sense8, but more because I am a Babylon 5 fan, but it is always the same, great idea, overly preachy execution.

    Nolan is also a hard sell for me. I like some of his movies, but the strong emphasis he puts on meaning over characters tends to put me off.

    Shawshanks redemption is one of my favourite movie. I actually watched it in theatres…more or less accidental. It was one of those “well, let’s pick a random movie” things. I went into it totally blind and was blown away by it. I wish I could experience the movie again this way.

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    1. I think the highly touted “deepness” of the Matrix movies was overblown, but I will never take that first movie away from The Wachowskis – the first Matrix is still fantastic. The sequels? Not so much, and pretty much everything else the Wachowski’s have done has been admirably ambitious but borderline unwatchable.

      I didn’t catch Shawshank until maybe 1996 or 1997. I know I watched the 1994 Oscars and saw Forrest Gump win all those awards, but I have no real memory of Shawshank also being up for so many awards (along with Quiz Show). I’m pretty sure I had no idea what it was. I came to it on video because for a long time there I was a huge Stephen King fan, and I finally found out that Shawshank was a Stephen King movie. I loved it instantly and wish now that I could have seen it in theaters.

      The last movie I picked blindly was Robert Redford’s The Conspirator. I had no idea who had directed it, what it was about, who was in it. All I had to go off was the blackish title card above my head at the ticket counter at my local multiplex. It was a really cool experience, seeing something so blind like that. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away the way you were with Shawshank. It was more like a “Eh, that’s wasn’t bad” kind of thing:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Conspirator

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      1. The last I watched blindly (though not in theatres, one just gave it to me) was Divergent. And what can I say, I actually liked it and was a little bit surprised how much flak the movie gets. I guess it kind of helps that I avoided most of the other young adult movies which recently came out, so Divergent felt less done to me, and I actually liked the actors and a lot of the staging.

      2. That honestly sounds like the best possible way to watch that movie.

      3. The interesting thing is that the friend who gave it to me is not really tuned into the internet…therefore she most likely watched it blind, too, and she liked it, too.

  7. Always an interesting topic! With regards to the two Andresons I love, love, love Paul Thomas Anderson and There Will Be Blood is one of my all time favourite movies. But I do find it difficult to engage with Wes Anderson’s movies. They are beautiful to look at and you can’t fault the craftmanship but there’s just too much…surface. It’s all too pretty, and that distracts me.

    I have never been able to get behind Star Wars, sorry. I tried as a child, I tried as an adult, I tried as an adult with children, those movies don’t do it for me. Incidentally, my two boys didn’t really like them that much either, so maybe it’s genetic 😉 I do appreciate anything nerdy though, so don’t mind people going gaga over it.

    I also never got the hype around Gladiator when it came out. I honestly feel like I watched a different movie from everyone else? It was just so meh.

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    1. Wow, Star Wars. Really? This is like that How I Met Your Mother episode where Ted’s new fiance watches Star Wars for the first time and hates it. Is that even allowed? Can anyone really not like Star Wars?

      Well, clearly you do, and I actually kind of get it. I grew up on the movies meaning they are all wrapped up in nostalgia, but I don’t re-watch them. I never felt compelled to buy them on Blu-Ray. I have my old, little-used DVD box set. I’m good. I like the Star Wars universe, but I don’t obsess over it. I don’t know if I would like the movies if I watched them for the first time as an adult. For one thing, pop culture osmosis might have already ruined all the plot twsits for me. For another, they might look a tad silly, or remind me of more recent movies I like which ripped off Star Wars without me realizing it.

      I am more or less with you on Gladiator, though. I saw it. Russel Crowe was pretty good. It seemed like a fairly decent movie, not the big deal everyone else said it was.

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  8. The Tree of Life, Wes Anderson’s movies, Frasier, MASH, 1996’s Fargo and the list, it seems, is endless. Citizen Kane too

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    1. Oh man, The Tree of Life is a big one for a lot of people. I’m also with you on Mash and Fargo, although I actually love Frasier. Citizen Kane is one where the “Best Movie of All Time” label has done it no favors because it’s actually really, really good. It just shouldn’t be watched this kinds of expectations hanging over you, although I say that generally. You might not have those kinds of expectations when you saw it.

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      1. Yep, just like The Godfather. ‘Greatest movie ever made’ tag just messed it up for me. It only works for The Shawshank Redemption and Schindler’s List

  9. I’m a big Tarantino fan, but I just wasn’t a fan of Django Unchained. I know that’s blasphemy since it was a huge hit with the critics, but I found it to be very uneven, tonally. It seemed to be trying too hard to replicate Inglorious Basterds. Also, I think Tarantino’s love of Spaghetti Western ihomages works better when he’s not working in a western setting. There were some great performances, but I don’t think it really lived up to the critical hype.

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    1. I actually agree. Django was overhyped, and I think it kind of falls apart once Christoph Waltz takes out Leo and officially turns the movie over to Jamie Fox.

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  10. Lost didn’t bang my box nor does the Walking Dead. I do not find Martin Scorsase as brilliant as a lot of people seem to.

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