Richard at The Humpo Show has tagged me to get involved in this Unpopular Opinion Tag (Films edition), and I thought it would be great fun since I have to pick three films generally loved by most people, but which I find undeserving of all the hype and explain my choices. Thanks again, Richard!
In particular, the rules are as follows:
- Pick three movies which most people like, except you;
- Tag a minimum of five (or more) other people;
- Thank the person who has tagged you.
So, without further ado, I pick American Beauty (1999), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Be warned, spoilers ahead.
I. American Beauty (1999)
IMDb score: 8.4; Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%.
I am a fan of Sam Mendes (see “Revolutionary Road” (2008) and “Skyfall” (2012)), but “American Beauty” is just far from being a great film everyone thinks it is. The film is just a pretentious and self-indulgent portrayal of middle-class family life in the suburban USA. It may appeal to the audience because of its strong performances, alluring direction and cinematography, and its beautiful soundtrack, but its self-conscious, manipulative play with the its melodramatic narrative leaves much to be desired, and all of its characters are unlikable. Through the narrative of our already dead protagonist, middle-aged Lester, “American Beauty” looks at the example of a middle-class suburban life cynically, romanticising the exploitation and commodification of female bodies, the maniac and perverted pursuit of underage girls, and the use of drugs, among other things. The film thinks Lester, played by Kevin Spacey, is another “Great Gatsby”, who died being misunderstood by everyone and because of some unfortunate series of events. In fact, the film glorifies a protagonist that is abusive and manipulative, and that is only too happy to gain and exploit the attention of young girls to satisfy his own sexual needs (Lester Burnham is an anagram of “Humbert learns” (from Nabokov’s controversial “Lolita”). Though some of its scenes are entertaining, the film’s overall self-importance is just laughable, and the messages its sends are, if not shocking, then definitely very tasteless.
II. Dead Poets Society (1989)
IMDb score: 8.0; Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%.
Peter Weir (“The Year of Living Dangerously” (1982)) has crafted a film about a group of teenage boys under the welcoming and “liberating” influence of their English teacher, Professor Keating (Robin Williams), at the prestigious private school. Williams gives a powerful performance, but the script is filled with so much self-conscious sentimentality that the film becomes dull, predictable and, finally, unbelievable. In the film, Professor Keating employs unconventional teaching methods, including instilling in young minds the “carpe diem” (seize the day) motto, and the want to jump on tables. However, the whole film’s approach often slides into incessant lecturing of its audience. It is not only the group of boys in the film, whose minds and sentiments are being moulded, the film manipulatively attempts to provoke emotions from the audience, but does so so overtly and clumsily, that the whole outcome is ridiculous and overbearing. However, this is only part of this film’s problem. It is ghastly the way “Dead Poets Society” romanticises suicide, there is no other word for it. We all know of Goethe’s hero or other medieval poets who may have committed suicide, in despair, to escape their misery. However, here, when Neil commits his suicide (because he cannot go against his father’s will), his action is neither romantic nor brave…nor even desperate. If anything, the film suggests that victimising yourself by killing yourself is a beautiful method to show mankind your true fighting spirit – in case one’s father disagrees with one’s choice of profession. The film is both ludicrous in its dramatisation and gross in its messages.
III. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
IMDb score: 7.0; Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%.
This film is about a group of teenagers who venture into countryside in search of thrills and entertainment, and who encounter some scares along the way, or, at least, that is what it looks like at first glance. I will not go into the detail exploration of the film’s satire on all other horror films made, nor on its “intelligent” twist. All that I will say is that the film is neither genuinely scary, nor genuinely funny…nor “genuinely” clever for that matter. The lovers of “true” horror will find “horror” in “The Cabin in the Woods” at first cliché and then very much expected, and, therefore, not scary; and those after amusement, must find sequences in this film so ridiculous that they are sad, rather than funny. Moreover, the ending is underwhelming and too self-assured. It elicits surprise, but also annoyance. All in all, “The Cabin in the Woods” is a silly, “part-this, part-that” mess. It can even be described as a crash-course for dummies on metaphysics and horror satire, whatever you choose, and even its originality is questionable as it combines previously done horror flicks with “The Truman Show” (1998)-twist.
Finally, I tag these five awesome bloggers:
- Jason’s Movie Blog
- Jade’s The Ü (Reviews & Stories)
- Let’s Go to the Movies
- Renate’s Popcorn & Film
Be free to get involved even if you have not been tagged, or share your opinion on the movies above or your own choices below!