*Originally published on White Cover Magazine…
I have seen a lot of movies. Like, way too many… and then again, I haven’t seen many, many films that everyone must consider to be the sort of epics you can’t die without sacrificing and hour or two for. Some of the films I haven’t seen, I suppose they’re the favourite films of many people. Or – even more infuriatingly – they’re the films people consider to be the one constant in their life, the thing they first saw and said, “Okay, I expect a higher standard now.”
I’ve had films like that. Pulp Fiction was one. Stuff from Alfred Hitchcock – Psycho, then The Birds, and eventually Rear Window and then Vertigo, which I never got when I first watched it in 2000, when I was 12 – and Steven Spielberg, too. I first loved Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan because they were about war, either with the Germans or with dinosaurs, and because they blew my eyebrows off my forehead. Jurassic Park and Private Ryan both completely redefined their genres, and Hollywood altogether. You can’t watch a movie about World War II anymore without seeing something that steals from that opening scene on Normandy Beach. You can’t watch a monster film without seeing a puddle tremor, or without seeing something like a T-Rex fling an SUV over a cliff, or without seeing a Goldblum-like character steal every scene with his wit.
And of course, Spielberg borrowed from others. I mean, every director has borrowed from Hitchcock, obviously. He was the king. The godfather of 21st century film. And I’m sure Hitch stole, too. Sorry, borrowed.
So without further ado, here are the films I haven’t seen… the ones you certainly love, the head-scratching omissions from my history that will cause you to lose whatever respect you might have had for my tastes.
10. Apocalypse Now
I’m a pretty awful person, so I’m more likely to see the documentary made about the filming of Apocalypse Now – called Hearts of Darkness – than I am to actually watch Coppola’s film.
Plus, I know it ends with Brando on his back and whispering, “The horror.” I think I get what it’s about.
I must admit, of any of the films in this article, Chinatown is the one I want to see the most. It’s iconic in every sleazy way, and Jack Nicholson owned the Seventies.
I feel legitimately cheap and lazy for having not seen this one, but the universe went and got rid of every rental story around me, so I don’t know where to find it. And I’m far too illogical to just pay $10 and rescue it from Walmart’s bargain bin.
It’s 32 years old and over three hours long. I’ll just go to Wikipedia.
It’s like Mars Attacks, right?
6. A Clockwork Orange
Copy and paste what I wrote for Chinatown, and ad lib the film titles.
5. Life is Beautiful
Gotta admit, not seeing this… I do feel pretty guilty. In my soul and stuff. Probably because it’s about the Holocaust.
4. Citizen Kane
I refuse to believe The Godfather – actually, The Godfather: Part II – isn’t the greatest film of all-time. I refuse to believe it. So, I can’t see the one film everyone says might just be greater.
3. The Terminator/Terminator 2
Never saw it when I was a kid. Now, Arnie’s just ironic.
I know the final word is, “FREEDOM.” I think it’s an answer in Trivial Pursuit.
I was pretty young when it came out, so I never watched it. I always meant to. But now it’s on Netflix, and it’s just in front of me all the time and I think, “If it’s that easy to see it now, why do I need to see it?”
Netflix has, I must admit, ruined my desperation to watch almost anything I haven’t seen. I’m much more likely to re-binge-watch episodes of Community or How I Met Your Mother, even stuff I’ve seen a hundred times, or sit down for my 18th viewing of Midnight in Paris or Jerry Maguire than I am to invest in Braveheart. It’s just a fact.
1. Annie Hall
What would draw anyone under 18 to this movie?
It’s 40-plus years old, it’s about a loser-looking guy with a quirky girlfriend – and when you’re under 18, quirky girlfriends aren’t cool yet – and there are a lot of big words and references to people you don’t care about, like Marshall McLuhan or Truman Capote.
Plus, the whole ‘breaking down the fourth wall’ thing – where Woody Allen sort of became the first to intentionally and institutionally talk directly to the camera right in the middle of a movie – has been done since. You can’t just stumble on Annie Hall anymore and go, “Wow, this is revolutionary,” just like you can’t watch a Hitchcock film in 2014 and think, “Oh boy, this is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.”
The only way to understand pioneers or pioneering things is to research why everyone else says they’re so important, and then to enjoy them in your own time. Think of when your teacher made you read The Old Man and the Sea or The Great Gatsby. Chances are, you hated them. But now? You’d eat that up, just like they did in the Twenties and the Fifties.
The fact I have a weighty, intelligent film like Annie Hall at the top of this list, ahead of popcorn fun like Braveheart and Terminator, showed tell you I’ve done the research. And I’m close to crossing it off this list.
NOTE: I know all you Woody-files are pretty pissed that I mentioned how I’ve seen Midnight in Paris countless times and then proceeded to tell you I’ve never seen his magnum opus. He he.