Terry does indeed know where to insert the knife–and has a wicked twist of the wrist when it’s called for. Another critic
pretty well-versed in the art of punishment is Ebert, who has posted this list of the worst movies he has had the misfortune of seeing. It’s a nice enough little parade of potshots.
I wonder, though: wouldn’t it be so much more fun if one had, you know, seen more than a handful of these movies? (If you have–I’m sorry.) I recently took part in an impromptu summit meeting on bad movies while waiting for Wedding Crashers (not at all bad) to start, during which my friend averred that to make a truly bad movie, you must have pretensions to goodness or, better yet, greatness. I think I agree.
Is it news to anyone that “Baby Geniuses” is terrible? How much fun is it to stick your finely honed pin in “Halloween III”? Once in a while Ebert’s list gets a little more controversial, and that’s where the fun begins. For example, he hates “The Usual Suspects”: “Once again, my comprehension began to slip, and finally I wrote down: “To the degree that I do understand, I don’t care.” Now we’re getting somewhere. This is the kind of movie that has actual fans who may take one’s derision as an indictment of their judgment and taste. More like this, please.
Which leads to a question. What are your favorite sacred-ish cows to slaughter? And by “sacred-ish,” I mean revered, or at least taken seriously, by your own peer group. You know: movies it actually costs you something to cut down. I can ridicule “American Beauty” or a lot of other Best Picture winners until I’m blue in the face, but it takes a Jarmusch-directed roll of the eyes to really get my friends’ attention. (About Jarmusch, it’s not all that fair a blanket judgment, as I haven’t seen a thing the man’s made since the highly unwatchable “Night on Earth,” while most of the JJ fans I know seem to pin their fandom on “Dead Man,” unseen by me. Still, “Night on Earth” was bad enough to instantly tar many a Jarmusch film as of then unmade, and I don’t regret missing any of them. But I’m certain to break the boycott at last for Bill Murray in “Broken Flowers” even though I’m growing a little weary of Murray’s indie-film rounds-making. It’s starting to remind me of the way every city needs their Frank Gehry structure, and a lot of them look interchangeable–these days every young Turk director needs a Bill Murray performance, and a lot of them look pretty interchangeable as well. Give me Bilbao and “Rushmore” and let’s move on already.)
But as I was saying: if you were to draw up your own Ebertesque hit list, what would the most controversial entries be? Email me.