I will be the first to admit that I have the strangest taste in cinema. At times, my views on certain movies are inconsistent, as I love aspects of certain films but when those are in any other film they suddenly don’t work. As such, there are many films I cannot stand, but others adore.
Some of these films still escape me to this day, while others just don’t resonate with me. Regardless, these are the films that I have tried desperately to enjoy and find as lovely as others have yet, for one reason or another, make me angry.
Before that, let me clarify this by admitting that I am not at all saying any of these are bad movies. These are just the explanations why these films don’t leave an impact on me. If you like or love any of these, that is wonderful and I mean that. I may disagree with you, but there is nothing wrong with that. Just a difference of opinion.
Let’s start with the most obvious one. When I started my journey through cinema, critics put the most praise on three particular films, “Citizen Kane,” “The Godfather” and “Casablanca.” I respect the filmmakers of both “The Godfather” and “Citizen Kane” and will freely admit both films are wonderful works of art.
Not so much with “Casablanca.”
To my recollection, I have tried to watch this one three times in my life and each time it put me to sleep. To me, there is no substance to this film. No bite or drive to keep me interested.
I believe the reason this film fails to leave an impact on me is the same reason “In A Lonely Place” or “The African Queen” didn’t do much for me either: Humphrey Bogart is not a romance man. Don’t get me wrong, Bogart is a wonderful actor, just not when you put him next to a beautiful woman and tell him to love her.
Maybe its because Bogart appears so much older than his female counterpart, thus making the romance uncomfortable. Or perhaps it is Bogart’s gruff and sometimes emotionless face that makes it hard to understand how he feels.
One thing I will admit I’m terrible at is reading body language. Perhaps Bogart is using his lack of emotions to signify his removal from reality, or that a little eyebrow twitch is supposed to mean something. I wouldn’t know because it is all the same to me.
Nevertheless, I don’t buy into the romance between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and thus the rest of the film falls apart. It has some wonderful dialogue, but that’s about it. Not enough to keep me interested.
“Blade Runner” (1982)
This is a matter of style against substance.
To me, “Blade Runner” is nothing but style and very little substance. It is slow, takes its sweet time with telling us the plot and chooses to me more philosophical about the differences between humans and robots, if there is any difference.
If you like that kind of style, great. I prefer my films to leave an impact on me, not just put me into a state of mind. All I got out of “Blade Runner” was many wonderful futuristic visuals and not much else.
In a similar film, like “2001: A Space Odyssey” which is also mostly style over substance, there is still enough to think about as there is to admire. Much is left up to the imagination, but that is the joy of art. There is so much open to interpretation that everyone can walk away from “2001” with a different experience.
With “Blade Runner” there isn’t much ambiguity, except for whether Decker is a Replicant or not.
This is another one that puts me to sleep. Visuals alone can only keep my interest for so long, especially when the film moves so slow.
Originally, this slot was going to be every Ingmar Bergman film, but seeing how I’ve only seen a few Bergman films (mostly because “Persona” turned me off from his other work) and I like “Wild Strawberries” I felt that was unfair.
Instead, let’s go with a film that continually pissed me off with its inactivity and pacing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film move as slow as “Persona.” There is literally a point where they show the same scene twice, just with a slightly different camera angle.
I don’t care if there is supposed to be a metaphor or meaning behind that. If you have to resort to doing “Mystery Science Theater 3000” style riffing of the film to stop you from turning it off, there is something wrong with the movie.
To me, the worst thing a movie can do is have incredibly slow pacing and combine it with nothing interesting going on. I can’t recall anything noteworthy in the story of “Persona” and it moves like a snail. I even hesitate to call “Persona” a film. It is more like a test of patience.
“Eraserhead” (1977) & “Mulholland Drive” (2001)
If there’s anything to take away from the last two films on this list, it should be that I do not care for surreal films.
Do not take this to mean that I hate David Lynch. I enjoy his work, especially “Blue Velvet” and “The Elephant Man.” I like those ones because they have an understandable plot and do not leave me with so many unanswered questions.
When I finished both of these films, I was left in a cloudy haze, unsure of what I had just experienced. I don’t necessarily hate them, as much as I don’t get them. If that was their point, that’s fine. By doing so, the film refuses to answer two basic questions that any movie should, “How?” and “Why?”
Films like these are better understood upon multiple viewings. Yet, to get me to rewatch something it had to get my interest the first time I watched it. “Eraserhead” and “Mulholland Drive” failed to do that.
One of my personal favorite episodes of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” is “The Touch Of Satan.” In that film, any time the two main characters have any sort of discussion, there is a ridiculously long pause between their lines. Like both of them are just getting out of bed or have massive brain damage and it takes them minutes to come up with simple thoughts.
“Drive” is exactly like that. Any time Ryan Gosling is in a conversation, its like his mind is somewhere else and he just suddenly remembered the other people he was talking to. All I could think about during “Drive” were the riffs made in “The Touch Of Satan,” like saying a train could pass by during the pause or that everyone drank a quart of Robitussin before shooting the scene.
As such, it ruins any scene with dialogue, which is most of the film. It feels unnatural, needlessly slow and boring.
Annie Hall (1977)
I’ve said this in the past, but I feel that Woody Allen is a tedious filmmaker. At times, he gives us some wonderful and poignant movies, like “Crimes And Misdemeanors” and “Midnight In Paris.” Other times, it is chore to sit through his films. “Annie Hall” is one such film.
This one is rooted deeply in Woody Allen’s personality and the belief that his narcissistic attitude is funny. That him complaining about his overbearing mother or overpriced coffee is hilarious. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it falls flat.
“Annie Hall” is like most comedies. If it makes you laugh, then it will stick with you and you’ll think its great. If it doesn’t, then you continually look at the clock and ask yourself when it will end.
If you like Woody Allen’s behavior and style of comedy of picking on little and unimportant matters, then you’ll like “Annie Hall.” If you find that repetitive and uninteresting like me, then it won’t hold any water.
“Aguirre, The Wrath Of God” (1972)
When I first watched this film, I was told I would enjoy it because it was similar to “Apocalypse Now” as I had just watched that film and feel in love with it. Boy, did I get a huge surprise when I found it was nothing like “Apocalypse Now.”
My problem with “Aguirre, The Wrath Of God” is the pacing, like most films on this list. Its another example of combining a really slow pace with nothing particularly interesting happening. The film takes its time to show our characters rafting down the river and everything they had accumulated during their journeys, except we don’t get to see much of their adventures. Just the aftermath and the effect it is having on the characters.
It is one thing to build up an atmosphere and tone, but another to pad out the film with characters just staring blankly at their surroundings while saying nothing and hoping that passes for entertainment. For crying out loud, do something!
Those are just some of the films that I cannot stand yet others love. Again, these are merely my own opinions and not judgments against those who like these movies. If you disagree with me or feel that I am being unfair to any of these films, please let me know. I would love to hear what you guys think of these films.