Thursday, October 30, 2008

I could have joined the NSA, but they found out my parents were married - blogathong

This is an entry for the blogathong, which I heard about from Scary Scary Quite Contrary. I don't know many details about it other than people are expected to write a blog a day, Monday to Friday, for the next 14 days. I like that idea. I've been too lazy lately.

Send all complaint letters to sexmahoney@gmail.com.



When approaching anything in life, we have to keep a clear understanding between what we like and what is good.

I understand that you think your wife, girlfriend, or daughter is plenty attractive, but that doesn’t mean they would make a great pornstar.

If we fail to remain objective then we’re worse that those religious zealots who assume they know the answer to everything just because they read it in a really old book; that same logic means that your grandmother is the supreme authority on blowjobs by the simple virtue that, during the Great Depression, she gave so many of them.

On the interspecies objectivity scale, human beings rank somewhere between plankton and krill.

That’s why I’m not surprised when I hear peoples’ picks for the top ten movies of all time.

I recently went back and watched some of the movies that I adored when I was a child or an adolescent, and, not surprisingly, many of them no longer seemed as genius as they once were.

So, I present to you, the top ten most overrated movies of all time, but, before I get into that, let me talk about my selection criteria.

I’m looking for overrated movies, that is, movies which were critically and commercially successful and yet still suck. If the movie won an Oscar, broke a record for box office earnings, and appeared on the AFI top 100 list, then you can bet it’s probably going to take a drubbing.

Of course, I’m not going to stop at the big budget Hollywood titles; anyone can make fun of popular entertainment because it takes itself so seriously that it’s like beating up a retarded kid for his milk monkey and making fun of religion, any idiot who can string a few nouns and verbs together can do it. While commercial success is one of the criteria by which I’m selecting movies for this list, I will also include a list of independent and art house films held in high regard by a significant portion of film critics and aficionados.

In addition, just to show you that I’m not throwing feces in my toilet paper house, I will also include two top five lists of my own, one highlighting the movies that are technically proficient and deserve praise for their ability to fire on all cylinders, and the other a list of my five favorite films that I like despite, or because of, their lower quality.

Keep in mind that the list is not an indication of the film’s overratedness.

With that in mind, let’s get to the list.

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Sex Mahoney’s Top Ten Most Overrated Films of All Time




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Apart from special effects, there’s nothing particularly special about the first Star Wars; it’s the same old story that theater goers were tired of seeing in Westerns and War films; however, the addition of space seemed to convince people that this was somehow different than John Wayne and Audie Murphy killing Injuns and storming the beaches of Iwo Jima. Star Wars comes first on the list because there are a lot of people who like this movie, but refuse to admit that it’s poor, even by 1970s standards.

I do like Star Wars but it is a terrible movie, and, more importantly, it paved the way for other terrible movies to come after it; I know it’s unfair to blame a progenitor for their offspring, but people still throw bags of flaming shit at my parents on the street, so I feel perfectly justified in trashing this intergalactic garbage.

Star Wars inaugurated the long line of bloodless action films, where people get shot, die, but never bleed. If you’re going to have a lot of death in your movies, then show a little bit of gore. I’m not much for realism in art, but there comes a point when it becomes too ridiculous.

There’s a reason why wipes went out of fashion in films.

*

This film is overrated for more or less the same argument as Star Wars, but so much longer. The battle scenes are pretty sweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed them when I played video game versions of the movies, but the long, pointless dialogue in which characters appear in extreme close-up to reiterate their unchanging desires or motivations make the whole series a nine hour snoozer.

If you must watch these films, skip the middle seven hours; watch the first hour of the first film, and the last hour of the last film. It actually makes a decent movie.

I have sat through some crappy movies in my time, but when, the first time I watched the third installment The Return of the King, I saw that there was over an hour left after the ring’s destruction, I bowed out and fast forwarded through the ensuing inaction. I did give the series another chance in 2007; I rewatched the whole thing, including the ending that missed. Still shitty.

*

I used to love The Godfather… when I was thirteen. As a grownup, the movie seems poorly constructed, badly written, and only decently directed. The biggest problem with the film is Michael’s sudden turn from college boy to cop killer to mafia don. The reason is falls apart is the film’s expression of time. Events happen over a few months in the first half, skip over a few years in the middle, and end with the events of a few months in the second half. This is what happens when you adapt a book to the screen, change almost nothing, but cut out the things that explain what happens in the end.

The story is nothing spectacularly new; it had appeared in medieval dramas throughout the middle ages and renaissance. In fact, The Godfather resembles a Shakespeare play, albeit one without much of a plot.

I can’t think of a single, decent drama where everyone dies in the end. Even Hamlet suffers from that lackluster, and unoriginal, way to end a story. When mass death resolves the dilemma of the main plot, you can bet that it’s because everyone involved in the production was either so full of themselves that they thought they were being original (which is what happened when I wrote a book about a boy who travels back in time in a mid-80s Delorean to save his alien friend from artificially cloned Dinosaurs who run amock in Chinatown) or they were so tired of working on the movie that they just killed everyone and called it a night.

The most important thing to remember about The Godfather is that it is a fictional story that closely resembles the Bush family’s history in America, and most people, even the ones who like The Godfather are sickened by the Bushes.

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Isn’t it weird how all the money in the world can’t buy you happiness? That’s the entire movie.

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Remember the good old days when watching a spoiled, rich, racist delude herself into thinking that the gayest looking white man in the history of acting is her one true love, was considered a fun way to spend thirty five cents at the cinema?

I’ve known plenty of men and women like Scarlett O’Hara; they make me sad.

*

White man goes to the farthest reaches of the world to battle other white people while using various brown people as either tools or human shields… but with Judeo-Christian overtones.

Again with the wipes. Enough already.

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Take any crime drama. Pop the DVD into your player. Set it to play the tracks randomly. Genius.

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You know, it’s strange. Sometimes something will happen that changes the way you look at the world, and you want to try to make sense of it, but there’s no explanation for why bad things happen to good people, or why some good people turn bad for the littlest things.

May I hit you with my bolt gun?

I like the Coen brothers, I really do, but not when they try their hand at straight up crime drama. Fargo was genius but only because it didn’t take itself as seriously as this long winded melodrama.

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Apart from seeing Jennifer Connolly go ass to ass with a nameless, warm body, there was nothing in this movie that was different from any after school special your local board of education made you watch in health class.

Extreme close-ups and fast cutting ensue.

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Take the scene in Animal House where Tom Hulce is talking to Donald Sutherland about being in a universe that’s a tiny speck of dust on a giant’s fingernail, or something along those lines, add Keanu Reeves and everything that you learn in the first few weeks of Intro to Philosophy and you’ve got yourself a movie.

Just don’t think about the plot too long or too hard, or your brain might burst inside of your fitted baseball cap.

Sex Mahoney’s Top Five Best Films




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The entire movie takes place inside one room, but moves along at a nice clip. It’s just people talking, laying out an argument, and it goes down smooth.

This is one of the most technically proficient films in the history of the medium. They got everything just right.

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This is one of the few movies where a director going nuts with the camera actually works without distracting the viewer from what’s happening in the film.

Plus, you can practice your Orson Welles impersonation.

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This is an example of solid writing from start to finish. Instead of wipes, they use interstitials as if the movie were a book, which works well with the voice over narration, and who among us can say we never fell in love with our adopted siblings.

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This movie is ungodly boring and long, but I watch it every time it comes on TV. With a bare, minimal story, this film captures a claustrophobic feeling and builds it into a healthy paranoia. HAL 9000’s death scene is the most non-graphic, disturbing thing I have ever seen.

Why don’t you open the pod bay doors?

*

Good allegory is one of the hardest things to write, particularly for the screen, since ethereal concepts like Good and Evil often play out like ham-fisted caricatures of real people, but here, those caricatures are the people. When they mix in with folks from the real world, they seem garish and grotesque by comparison. Throw in a few washed up movie stars and directors to add a touch of morbid realism and this thing stays solid throughout.

This is the American dream at its most threadbare.

Sex Mahoney’s Top Five Favorite Films




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I hated this movie as a child because I didn’t understand it. Now I understand everything except for why that watermelon is sitting there. Plus, the whole thing is set in New Jersey; not actual New Jersey, but movie New Jersey, which is really Canada.

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I poo-pooed this movie when it came out, but ended up watching in on September 14th or 15th, 2001 at my friend’s downtown Manhattan apartment while tripping my balls off on mushrooms. I laughed so hard I think I threw up. This is the funniest movie ever made.

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If there’s ever a moment when you feel completely jaded by the political process in America, watch this movie. It teaches us the valuable lesson that, if you never give up the fight, eventually your enemies will feel so bad about their dirty tricks that they will try to commit suicide in the Capital building.

*

When it comes to love stories, they don’t get much better than this, plus it’s packed with laughs. Quite possibly the best movie of all time; there’s nothing special about it, but it works on every level.

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This movie has become a cliché of itself, but there’s a reason why it’s as well known as it is… its copyright expired and TV stations like movies they can show for free, but it’s still good. While most people remember it for the Clarence the Angel schmaltz toward the end of the movie, that is but a small portion of the complete film, and, the setup for that famous sequence actually makes the sap work. Every time I watch this movie, I cry; that doesn’t happen often, so I only watch it once a year. If a film can elicit a genuine emotional response from me, quite possibly the least emotive person I know, then it’s doing its job.

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So that’s the list. Please feel free to tear it apart, add your own, or argue with me about the validity of my assertions.

I always think that doing a blog like this will be much easier than my usual shtick, but it always takes so much longer. You think I would have learned my lesson by now.

Sex Mahoney for President


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