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Movies that got great reviews that you hated! (and state why)

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Posted on Jun 17, 2012 7:18:59 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 17, 2012 7:21:25 PM PDT
"Arsenic and Old Lace" (1943)

Leonard Maltin gives this one 3 1/2 stars and found it "hilarious." I never did.
I think the problem is that I don't really like Frank Capra's films. "It's a Wonderful Life" really isn't too wonderful.
"Arsenic and Old Lace" immediately betrays its origins as a play.

Cary Grant: In this film, his antics and facial mugging upon seeing the dead body in the window seat are simply not funny and unrealistic -- just silly. Cary Grant was an actor who simply got better and better as he got older. In this film I thought he was terrible. In "North by Northwest" and particularly "Charade" he was absolutely wonderful. By that time his camera presence and humorous style had become finely tuned and subtle.

Priscilla Lane: She was dull in Hitchcock's "Saboteur" and dull in this one as well.

John Alexander (as "Teddy Roosevelt"): After the first time, his repeated dashes up the stairs yelling "Charge" become boring and stagey.

Jack Carson as the police officer is, well, Jack Carson.

Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre: Only with their appearances does the film begin to come to life.
Raymond Massey is funny by not trying to be funny but playing his role absolutely straight in a zombie-like way. Lorre as Dr. Einstein is very funny living in perpetual fear of Massey for botching up Massey's facial-change surgury. But even they can't keep the film afloat with the unending trips to the basement with bodies to bury.

I'm sure this piece is much better on the stage than as a film and I never thought Capra good at adapting a play to a film.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012 7:59:02 PM PDT
Bruce Taylor, re: 'Arsenic and Old Lace'
...nearly all excellent points made about that most tedious, and over-raved about, of allegedly classic would-be comedies.
Cary Grant was fine in many early roles ('Holiday'; 'The Awful Truth'; 'His Girl Friday', et al.,) and not-so good in some later ones ('Houseboat'; 'Walk Don't Run'.)
So I don't believe it was a straight line of progressively better acting in his career. Else, I agree with all you said about this unfortunate version of a nicely anarchic play.

Totally overpraised, toothless attempt at "black comedy" by Capra, who evidently had the play explained to him by a secretary rather than reading it himself.
This is by far the worst thing Grant has put on film. Not quite the worst Capra has done. Not when things like 'Lady for a Day' and 'Riding High' still exist.

Posted on Jun 17, 2012 8:53:59 PM PDT
I'm honestly shocked that I'm the first one to bring up Avatar. But then I could probably write a book on why I despise this movie. Well, not right because I've only seen it once. I'd have to see it again (not like I have interest though).

And except for the two Terminator films, I despise James Cameron. There. I said it.

I can't say that I hated X-Men: First Class. I walked into it with a friend when I knew nothing about the series and was hoping to learn something on the story's origins. Unlike Batman Begins, the film taught me nothing. It had great effects, but a lacking story.

And I think I've grown to the point where I can't stand Finding Nemo. I'm amazed by how many people that love this movie. Honestly, Toy Story and the Incredibles are the Pixar films to see. And maybe Monsters Inc.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012 10:38:04 PM PDT

Thanks for your comments. After I wrote that, I took Arsenic off the shelf (not the poison, the movie) and decided to run it again to see if I was unduly harsh in my evaluation. No, I think I was right. Cary Grant was even worse than I remembered from my previous viewing -- impossibly embarrassing and tedious throughout. I still think the picture was saved by Raymond Massey who was really funny to see in that kind of role (right after "Abe Lincoln in Illinois?") and Peter Lorre, really good here and he really didn't play his part here much differently than he would have done in a serious role. Edward Everett Horton was fun as usual. I realize I glossed over Cary Grant's career somewhat, not having seen several of his other pictures. As comedies go, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" was a much better picture and Grant was good, if a little stiff, in Hitchcock's "Notorious," considered to be one of Hitch's best films but not among my top five Hitchcock favorites.

But, surprise! Going through Arsenic's credits, who wrote the screenplay but the Epstein brothers! But I think, as you say, the problems with the picture were with the direction and acting. The music was by Max Steiner and, once again, I was amazed at how similar Max Steiner's and Dmitri Tiomkin's composing styles sometimes were. As I read, Arsenic was completed in 1941 but release was delayed to 1943 because the stage play was still running -- and by the end of 1941, nobody was in much of a comedic mood anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2012 10:41:55 PM PDT
Balok says:
@Bruce G. Taylor:

> No, I think I was right. Cary Grant was even worse than I remembered from my previous viewing --
> impossibly embarrassing and tedious throughout.

Cheer up, buckaroo, you're not alone. I thought that Cary Grant, who certainly was capable of doing comedy, was woefully miscast in _Arsenic and Old Lace_. It's been years since I last saw it -- I don't make a point of revisiting movies that I really disliked -- but as I recall, my impression was of someone who has no idea of what he's supposed to be doing and is floundering about wildly. Or as we used to say in the days of my misspent youth, he's flailing with both flippers.

Posted on Jun 17, 2012 11:52:18 PM PDT
Cavaradossi says:

"Have you watched any Sherlock yet?"

Yes, indeed, I've seen Season One. I have commented on how much I enjoyed the first episode (the pilot) in The Alibi Lounge. You were right about the second show dipping in interest - too convoluted by half. I was having trouble keeping it straight and my attention did flag a time or two. Still, Cumberbatch and Freeman carried me through. They make such a superb pair I'm hard pressed to think of a better pairing at the moment. The third got back on the high quality track. For me, one of the drollest moments was when the young black female detective, who doesn't approve of Sherlock's involvement with the cases, has a conversation with John, saying his interest in his friend's efforts has become a hobby. She urges him to find another to get him away from Sherlock. After the two men have passed her in leaving, she calls dryly to Watson: "Fishing. Try fishing." I found this and her delivery so funny that I rewound the disc three times to hear it. I still chuckle at the memory. Episode three was also rather complicated but more comprehendible than two.

I regret to say the details of the cases are beginning to fade for me. Clearly, it will take a return visit to them to get them fixed in memory. The actor playing the homicidal cabby was quietly impressive, as is Rupert Grant as Lestrade, something that can get overlooked because his role isn't as overtly impressive as those of the two leads. The actress playinh the long-suffering Mrs. Hudson is also wonderful in the part.

I have two of the second season episodes recorded off the air, but, sadly, not Scandal in Bohemia. That will have to wait until the discs are released, probably in a year.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 8:40:16 AM PDT
Hikari says:
Good news, buddy. Sherlock Season Two is available on DVD right now from Amazon and other fine retailers!

US DVD release was on May 22nd, so it's quite new. You don't have any need to wait a minute more to make that your own.

These British programs air at home approximately 4-6 months before they are shown on PBS. "Sherlock" aired in the UK in December and January and was shown on PBS in April. So the British Region 2 DVD is always available first. One upside of having to wait for months for the broadcasts over here is that the US DVD follows swiftly. Sherlock's three-week run was concluded in mid-May and they launched the DVD the following week, to strike while Sherlockmania was still hot.
That was Phil Davis as the cabbie in the first episode, and he is a ubiquitous face on British episodic television as well as films. You can see Mr. Davis in a guest-starring role in the first episode of "Case Histories" with Jason Isaacs, and with Judi Dench & Cate Blanchett in "Notes on a Scandal".

I am hoping very hard that Gatiss and Moffat write an upcoming episode with a meatier role for our Lestrade. Mischief Girl is hoping the same. It's a waste to cast Rupert Graves and then not use him much. Perhaps Dr. Watson will be indisposed and Sherlock will have to take Lestrade along (grudgingly) on one of the cases. Rupert does get a hilarious moment in "The Hounds of Baskerville", and is quite a bit more on the scene for the final episode of Season 2, The Reichenbach Fall.

Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) also has quite a few moments to shine in Season 2. And most particularly does little Molly the morgue tech (Loo Brealey). You have much to look forward to. Much. ;-)

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 1:12:21 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2012 1:16:20 PM PDT
Cavaradossi says:

Thanks door the tip. I went to Netflix and they have Season Two now. I put the two discs at the top of my cue, interrupting Season One of Forever Knight, a vampire detective series from the nineties I never saw.

I just rented another vampire detective series, Moonlight, this time from 2007. Unlike Forever Night, which had about a three season run, Moonlight was shoved back in the coffin (in this case a fancy freezer) after 16 episodes. Too bad, because I was liking the show a lot.

P.S. Netlfix says there will be a very long wait for Sherlock. Clearly, they didn't get many sets of a show they suspect may be of interest to only a select audience. Betcha there's no very long wait in getting Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows! Netlfix probably acquired a warehouse full of DVDs and BDs of that new title!

Based on the first Downy SH movie, I can wait awhile to see it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 1:45:40 PM PDT
D. Larson says:
Trust me, everybody brings up "Avatar". And hates it. Yadda, yadda, "Dances With Wolves", yadda yadda CGI cartoon, yadda yadda antimilitarist yadda ecofreak.

It astonishes me that a movie that everyone hates so much still made the billion dollars. If everybody hated it, I mean. But announcing hatred for Cameron is kind of like saying one doesn't like kale, and expecting a round of applause.

Ditto "Crash". That's the bad "Crash", not the brilliantly creepy Cronenberg "Crash". I have never understood the amount of loathing directed at this harmlessly so-so slice o' life picture. Great? Of course no. Entertaining? Modestly. Worthy of the Inquisition?

I doubt it. There are a hundred much worse movies released every year. But now that nobody alive still remembers "The English Patient", "Crash" catches all the flak.

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 2:07:09 PM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
D. Larson

I'm not one of the reflexive James Cameron naysayers. His giving us Aliens, The Abyss, and Titanic puts him in a good list as far as I'm concerned. I also didn't dislike Avatar particularly, I just haven't been in any rush to see it again, unlike the titles I mentioned.

The loathsome Crash, on the other hand.........

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 2:16:36 PM PDT
Cavardossi: I've grown to almost despise Titanic, but I must concede grudgingly that the effects are top-notch, no matter how much I hate the screenplay.

D. Larson: I was the first person to bring it up on this topic. Everyone went to see three times because they are so easily manipulated by its pedestrian story and its wowing effects.

And I still haven't seen "Crash".

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 3:59:27 PM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
Pastor of Muppets

"And I still haven't seen 'Crash'."

Consider yourself fortunate!

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 4:09:52 PM PDT
Happigirl says:
Kalifornia--so slow, didn't really get anywhere
Royal Tannenbaums (sp?)---the big actors in this couldn't save it
Dead Poets Society--almost 2 hours of my life I wish I could have back
Caddyshack--why it's a classic is beyond me

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 5:20:11 PM PDT

I'm with you on 'Avatar'. I finally saw it when it was re-released the following year, and was slightly impressed by its technological advances, and deeply unimpressed by its recycled Frankenstein-patchwork plot, and only-serviceable acting. No desire to see it again. But I did not hate it. It's not worse than the sequels to 'The Terminator'.

On the other hand, we don't see 'Titanic' the same way. I have always loathed that one, made roughly (and I mean *roughly*) three attempts to sit through it all the way.
A ghastly movie, almost as bad as 'True Lies' was, to me.
To this day, the only one I'm really grateful for in Cameron's cannon is the first 'Terminator', and about half of his next two movies were alright, nothing special.

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 7:00:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2012 7:13:48 PM PDT
'Shakespeare in Love' - Pretty ho-hum romancer masquerading as an artsy costumer and trying too hard to be clever.

'Silence of the Lambs' - Thoroughly disgusting film that made me sick to my stomach. Jodie Foster's performance is lackluster and Anthony Hopkins overacts in the extreme.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 8:02:42 PM PDT
veussanfurs: That's disappointing. Silence of the Lambs had some really great dialogue.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 8:22:59 PM PDT
It was just a bit too gross-out for me, sorry. I know a lot of people like that film.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 9:10:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 18, 2012 9:11:42 PM PDT
D. Duarte says:
That's surprising that your screen name is a reference to an S&M classic yet you're easily grossed out? Hmmm...what's that about? ;)

I suggest you never watch "Salo," it would kill you. Makes "Silence" look like Romper Room.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 9:15:23 PM PDT
LOL, I don't know, I guess I've got weird tastes. I actually like 'The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover' and that's pretty graphic, so go figure. But that's more of a fantasy/allegorical scenario, not something that's supposed to be reality-based like 'Lambs' is. Guess it's all a matter of taste I suppose.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 10:00:58 PM PDT
Balok says:

> 'Silence of the Lambs' - Thoroughly disgusting film that made me sick to my stomach.

I didn't think that it was disgusting; I just thought it was dumb, especially the ending. I did think that it was cool that they used Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum as a stand-in for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 10:01:32 PM PDT
Balok says:

Forgive my curiosity, but do you at least have shiny boots of leather?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 10:07:45 PM PDT
Haha. I've got shiny boots, but they are not made of leather (and I'm not a vegan either). I think Lou Reed would probably be ashamed of me. ;o)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 10:11:02 PM PDT
It's disgusting AND dumb. Can you imagine an actual serial killer acting like Anthony Hopkins did in that film? It's very far-fetched. I still can't believe it won Best Picture, just like I can't believe 'Shakespeare in Love' did either. But the Academy has made a lot of dumb choices so it's not surprising.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 10:23:18 PM PDT
D. Duarte says:
At the time of its release, I thought "Silence" was gritty and involving. Though it might seem tame today compared to where we've come cinematically.

Did you see it when it first came out? I guess I saw it as a dark mystery.

PS--Anyone ever notice that house speaker, John Boehner, looks and acts exactly like Buffalo Bob?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2012 10:29:26 PM PDT
D. Duarte says:
Venus, yeah that's interesting because I thought "The Cook, The Thief..." was a lot more gross than "Silence..." :-)

I don't think even Hannibal Lector ate "that" body part! Oy vey!
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Discussion in:  Movie forum
Participants:  30
Total posts:  98
Initial post:  Jun 13, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 24, 2012

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