Monday, January 18, 2010

A Fun Controversy

NSFW: My nomination in the Foreign category. Lina Wertmuller.
A clip from the worst 'serious' movie I've ever seen, the original
Swept Away, a remake of a Brit comedy, The Admirable Crichton,
transformed into a ridiculous communist manifesto. Even worse
than the Madonna remake that won her a Razzie and offered the
saving grace of finishing off her so-called acting career for good.

FOR MOVIE FANS ONLY. Ben Shapiro is an enfant terrible of conservative stripe who has, apparently out of the blue, produced a list of the most overrated movie directors.

Here are excerpts from his screed I almost completely agree with. There's this:

It is one of the great travesties of artistic justice that no one remembers the writers of great movies – nobody knows Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, for example, but everyone remembers Frank Capra.  Together, those three wrote It’s a Wonderful Life.  (Together, Goodrich and Hackett also worked on The Diary of Anne Frank, The Thin Man, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Father of the Bride.)

Directors get too much credit when a movie goes right, and too little blame when a movie goes wrong.  There are certain directors, however, who get credit even when movies go wrong.

And this:

David Lynch:  Pure and absolute suckage, with the exception of The Elephant Man.  Lynch is one of those annoyingly “deep” directors we’re all supposed to puzzle over.  Forget it.  There’s nothing worth puzzling.  He’s as empty as they come, and he makes up for it with graphic sex scenes...

And this:

Woody Allen:  He’s pretentious and unbearable.  His movies are like nails screeching on a chalkboard, only with less humor.  He is as nerdy as Peter Orszag, but he acts out his fantasies and illuminates his insecurities in film and expects us all to watch.  It’s okay for a director to be self-centered – Orson Welles was famously self-centered.  But you actually have to be an interesting person in order to spend that much time focusing on yourself.  Allen isn’t.  He’s a whiny narcissist with sexual inferiority issues.  And no one except for him cares about the status of his penis.  As a side note, he made Diane Keaton into a “legitimate actress,” which alone should qualify him for the Seventh Circle of Hell.

And definitely this:

Martin Scorsese... His films are entirely devoid of anything resembling likable characters.  They are cold and calculating and ruthless – and boring.  Nobody cares what happens to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed (in fact, in one screening I saw, people cheered when he got it in the head).  The Aviator takes as long to tell as Howard Hughes did to live.  Gangs of New York featured a brilliant performance from Daniel Day Lewis, and not much else (on a side note, there is no excuse for killing Liam Neeson in the first ten minutes of a film).  Casino is nasty, brutish, and long... Raging Bull is gross.  Mean Streets is gross and soporific.  Taxi Driver is perhaps the most overrated film in Hollywood history — dreary, grungy, and subzero.  Scorsese has never seen a main character he liked, a villain he hated, or a pair of editing scissors.

I disagree with some entries and we can get to that if you're interested after you read the whole list. The comments on it at Big Hollywood are just as much fun. It's great to read how people react when their sacred cows are smacked suddenly across the face. They're so incredulous they can't even respond coherently.

What do you guys think of Shapiro's list? And who would be on your list and why? Be as voluble and provocative as you want. We could all use a diversion from the news...

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