I’m not a big fan of movies. It’s not something I say very often because I know how it sounds. I once said it to my writing teacher, and she looked at me as if I had two heads. What kind of person says that she asked me, and I didn’t really have a good answer for her back then. Or one I was willing to say out loud.
I have an answer now, though it may still not be a good one. I learned to read when I was very young, and even before that, I pretended I could read. My mom tells a story of how when I was two, I would hold the newspaper in my hand and study it as if I were reading–but it was upside down. Even then, I knew the world of words was for me, and I wanted in. I taught myself to read so by the time I was in grade school, I was reading with ease. It was my escapism, and I loved opening a book and being transported into another world. I could go anywhere and do anything without leaving my house, and I was all in from the moment I could put a sentence together.
I never wanted to go out and play–I would rather read a book. I read the dictionary in my spare time, and I tackled War and Peace when I was ten because it was the biggest book I could think of. I gave up after five hundred words because I couldn’t keep track of all the nicknames and who was doing what to whom, but I did give it a solid try. I read The Scarlet Letter around the same time, and even then I thought it was bullshit that Hester bore the brunt of the punishment for the ‘sin’ of committing adultery.
I read all the Little House on the Prairie books, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden (I loved mysteries, even then), and whatever else I could get my hands on. Some of it was age appropriate, but much of it was not. I loved Bridge to Terabithia, A Wrinkle in Time, Pippi Longstocking, and all the trashy teenage romances I could gobble up.
In contrast, Superman was the first movie I saw when I was about seven, and it gave me nightmares for months after I saw it. I saw and hated Star Wars when I was a kid, and I never really cared for the Star Trek movies. ET was OK, but not really my jam. I didn’t see many movies when I was a kid, and I was fine with it. I found movies to be limiting, to be honest. Books allowed my imagination to run wild, whereas movies dictated what I saw and heard. When I write, I don’t do much description at all, and I know it’s a shortcoming on my part, but it’s because I always skip long descriptions whenever I read. I’d rather imagine the visuals myself than be told in excruciating detail what I should be seeing. You can see why this would be an issue for me when I watch a movie.
In addition, if I read a description of something horrific happening, it affects me, but it doesn’t stick with me for months after. If I see something horrific, however, then I can’t shake it from my brain. The clearest example is Angelina Jolie bullying Brittany Murphy in Girl, Interrupted and the latter later hanging herself on her shower curtain rod. The image of her limp, lifeless body hanging from the curtain rod became the fodder for my nightmares for years after I saw the movie. It’s as if my subconscious brain couldn’t differentiate between reality and make-believe, and I would be traumatized every time I dreamed about it.
Whatever intangible thing books have that allow me to escape into them, movies just don’t. I can lose myself into a book, whereas I’m almost always conscious I’m watching a movie. In addition, the things that other people seem to value in a movie, I don’t. I didn’t like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, or Casablanca, three American classics. Another thing I don’t like about American movies is that they have too many good-looking people in them. If you watch foreign movies, there are people who look like actual people, which makes it easier to believe the stories. In America, even dramas are filled with beautiful people, which makes it harder for me to suspend my disbelief. It’s no surprise that my three favorite movies are Irish (Once), Australian (Japanese Story), and American indie (The Station Agent), respectively.
Anyway, without further ado, here are five movies I hated that are almost universally loved. They’re not in any particular order except the last one which is my least-favorite movie of all time. Before I start, however, an honorable mention to The Big Lebowski. I really wish I liked the Coen brothers because they’re from here, but I don’t. I know this movie has a fierce cult following, but I thought it was….dumb. Boring and silly and just, ugh. Not even the luminous Julianne Moore could save it. The only reason it’s not on the list is because of one scene: the ‘funeral’ scene in which Walter rants about ‘Nam before scattering Donny’s ashes all over The Dude. The Dude loses it and screams as Walter apologizes, and then they hug. That’s a brilliant scene and enough to keep this movie off my list. Also, it’s too meh to engender actual hatred in me, so there’s that.
Pulp Fiction. I didn’t see this when it first came out because I knew I wouldn’t like it. Many years later, I dated a guy who said it was his favorite movie, and they were playing it somewhere for some reason, so he wanted to go see it together. I should have said no, but being an idiot, I said yes. From the opening shot until the closing credit, I fucking loathed this movie. The highly-stylized dialogue, the poorly-written characters, the too-hip-for-school vibe all got on my goddamn nerves, and I hated it. Hate, hate, hated it with every fiber of my being.
Afterwards, my boyfriend asked me what I thought, and I unwisely told him. Then, he said he couldn’t be with someone with my worldview and dumped me. Yes, a guy broke up with me over Pulp Fiction.
Titanic. Went with same guy, now ex-boyfriend, and a friend of his. He assured me I would love this movie, even though I had already told him I was fairly certain I would hate it. Yes, I realize that I have amazing taste in partners. Believe me, it’s one reason I’m determinedly single. I found it pretentious and bloated and boring as hell. Choosing to focus on a highly-sanitized romance instead of the actual event was a bad choice, and even Kate Winslet’s tremendous boobs didn’t stem my resentment.
Once the Titanic hit the iceberg, I was rooting for the ship to sink. After an hour of people running around and screaming, I was tempted to stand up and shout, “Sink already, damn it!” I actually laughed out loud when Rose and Jack were clinging to a biiiiiiig plank and Rose says, “I’ll never let you go, Jack!” Then she fucking lets him go.
I mean, look at all that space! She could have moved over and let him up, but no. Then she would have had to live with him and probably would have ended up hating him after fifty years of marriage.
Side note: I went to see Dangerous Beauty with this same guy as friends. It’s about a courtesan, blah, blah, blah, and there’s one guy she really likes and he likes her, too. After the movie, the guy I was with was raving about how it’s the best love story he’d ever seen. I looked at him as if he’s crazy and said, “She’s a courtesan who sees him for an hour a week. She doesn’t have to pick up his dirty underwear from off the floor or yell at him to put the toilet seat down. That’s not love–that’s a fantasy.”
It was the sex, guys. It was pretty damn fantastic. Lust makes you put up with some stupid shit.
Se7en. This movie felt like it was trying to say, “Look how brutal I can be!” and was patting itself on its back for it’s increasingly grotesque murders. The acting was great across the board, but I found it utterly trite and boring aside from the graphic brutality, and the only thing I liked was that it ended with Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in the box. This movie thought way too highly of itself, and apparently, so did other people.
Love Actually. It pains me to put this on the list because my beloved Alan Rickman is in it, but it’s utter trash. It’s horrifically misogynistic, despite so many women loving it. Hugh Grant is attracted to a woman he works with even though she’s grotesquely hideously fat as commented on frequently throughout the movie (she’s not. At all). Colin Firth falls in love with his maid in a foreign country even though she can’t speak English. Presumably, her catering to his every need is enough for him to love her. Kiera Knightley’s new groom’s best friend is in love with her and makes a play for her the night after her wedding (if I remember correctly) by showing her the video he took of her wedding which only shows her. Not creepy or gross as fuck at all!
Alan Rickman is married to Emma Thompson, and it’s actually the best story in the whole sorry lot. They’re a couple who’ve been together a long time, are comfortable, and he’s tempted by a young tart at the office. It actually felt real, although young tart can’t hold a candle to Emma Thompson. I also liked Laura Linney’s character, but her storyline is bogus as well.
Lindy West wrote an incredibly funny but dead-on rant about the movie. Read it here. If you want to watch a good Alan Rickman romantic comedy, watch Truly, Madly, Deeply, instead. *deep sigh*
Amelie. Guys. This movie. Guys. GUYS. This is my most-hated movie of all times. My god. The rage I feel about this movie is very out of proportion to the actual movie, but I feel so goddamn betrayed. What it purports to be (and what other people see in it) and what it actually is (to me, anyway) are such diametrically-opposite things. Amelie is supposed to be this quirky, lovable, lonely young woman who charms her way across Paris I guess?, helping people around her (and herself) find love. What she really is, however, is a manic pixie girlfriend personified, and a liar to boot. She manipulates the people around her, justifying it with the fact that she’s making their lives better. Shouldn’t they get to decide that? Who died and made her god?
In addition, she acts like a child when dealing with the man she has a crush on. She can’t talk to him directly, so she leaves messages and does all sort of childish things that would cause a normal adult to run in the opposite direction. I remember watching the end of this movie and wishing her crush would just hop on his motorcycle and zoom away from this hot mess of a woman, but of course, that didn’t happen. This review encapsulates much of what I disliked about the movie, though it doesn’t capture how much I loathed the movie.
I think it’s because I read all the hype before I watched the movie, and I felt as if I was bait-and-switched as I was watching it. Incredibly precocious and twee, and AAAARGH.
Anyway, I am probably not the best person to ask about movies because I can think of a dozen of things I’d rather do, but there you go. My top five most-hated movies of all time. Do with it what you will.