Week in Review
I admit it: I'd never seen The Graduate until November 5th. There were other films in my queue during this year that are undisputed classics that I had never seen: From Here to Eternity, Aguirre The Wrath of God, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, to name three. I've seen all manner of cinema trash starring the likes of John Stamos and Ashton Kutcher, but there are great films I've missed. One of the categories of films I added in when filling up the queue were films I've always meant to see but never got around to watching for one reason or another. Needing a "can't miss" quality film, I put it near the top for this week's selection. But I knew while watching it, that I couldn't see it for what it really was at the time since I had seen all the movies that heavily stole from it.
There's a few films that are made that change the way many films are made later. Pulp Fiction changed the way dialogue is written and the tone of many action films. The French Connection reinvented the chase scene. The Godfather was imitated poorly by almost every mafia film that followed. Star Wars presented a brand new model of releasing and marketing films that is still with us today. The twenty-something angst film was invented with The Graduate in the year that many Gen Xers were being conceived.
The nineties gave us way too many films about Gen X flakes that were bored and without direction: Reality Bites, Singles, and Kicking and Screaming. Instead of Dustin Hoffman, we have Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, and Eric Stoltz: each of them are fun in their proper roles, but have nowhere near the range of Hoffman. "We have our college degrees, but what are we supposed to do?" "I'm not interested in a coporate job I want to pursue my passion!" It's not new, it's what your parents thought, guys.
This decade, the formula is a bit different but it's still there. Garden State. I Heart Huckabees. Lost in Translation. All the Wes Anderson films. We still have Ben Stiller, and now Bill Murray joins him. Now, a lot of it is "I have success, but it's not fulfilling." "I'm quitting my corporate job to pursue my passion."
I don't know enough about the history of soundtracks to know where The Graduate fits in to the whole scheme of things, but I do know that the soundtrack to this film was a number one album. I'm not sure where this started, but I do sit through films where it seems as if the film is made to have a hit soundtrack and to sell records more so than being a good film.
But worse than having the sentiment and style stolen, is the fact that great films like these are spoiled for us before we are ever old enough to appreciate them. We know what Rosebud is before the first scene of Citizen Kane, we've seen the last shot of Casablanca enough to imitate it badly, and kids today know who Luke's real father is before they are old enough to read the first title screen of Star Wars, much less seeing the next film in which the paternal revelation is made. And like these others, I knew all the pertinent plot points of The Graduate and how the last ten minutes of the film went. In case you just moved to this country, I won't ruin any of these films for you.
I'm a true film nerd, not a film snob. A film snob will watch Fellini but not Jerry Bruckheimer. I admit I see a lot of garbage, but I've seen more of the great films than most people. How can a guy like me go his whole life without watching this film? This is the extent of my nerdiness: when presented with the "what would you do if you knew the world was ending tomorrow?" question during a freshman mixer at college, I said I would hit the videostore. Nerd!
There's a few films I purposely haven't watched because I don't want to run out of films by certain directors I like. I don't want to watch the last of the Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, and John Waters films that I haven't seen. There are Westerns, film noir, and musicals that also fall into this category. I'm waiting for the really bad day when I need a film to excite or inspire me, and there's nothing like watching a film for the first time.
In the end, The Graduate lives up to the hype. It's a fun film that's well shot, and it's worth it even if you know every single beat of the film. I'd feel like a moron for having seen this yesterday and not making it my pick of the week. So if you're at the video store or filling up the queue tomorrow, instead of picking up Little Man, give The Graduate a whirl if you haven't seen it.
I saw two films in the theater this week.
The Departed at The Empire
Add The Empire to the growing list of theaters that sell coffee inside. Sure, it's Starbucks, but it's better than nothing. I could be wrong, but I think they had new seats in there as well. You really should see Scorsese's work in the theater to judge it. He shoots his films with the idea that it's going to be on the big screen when seen. If you get a chance to see his great films like Taxi Driver at an art house, check it out. While not one of his best, this is a much better cop film than anything else of the genre out there. Nicholson and DiCaprio both deliver great performances. Someone tell Matt Damon to cut down on the botox.
Shortbus at The Embarcadero
Normally there's good coffee here, but some noncoffee drinker was on shift. Ugh. I didn't finish it. Shortbus is like a bisexual porno version of the movie Crash, for better or worse. I hated Crash, found little to like about its characters or plot. I felt the same about Shortbus, but at least there's lots of explicit sex to break up the bad dialogue.
12 DVDs this week. 425 DVDs in 309 days. 75 DVDs left in the next 56 days for a pace of 9.38 per week.
Total Viewing Time: 30 days, 12 hours, 34 minutes