Saturday, September 4, 2010

What is a movie vegetable?

When discussing movies with friends, certain titles come up that I found very underwhelming but that I still feel obligated to recommend. Two examples that come immediately to mind are Gone with the Wind and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

To a modern viewer (well, at least to me), Gone with the Wind is downright melodramatic and cheesy. Of course Clark Gable is still the essence of cool with his lack of giving damns, but come on, "tomorrow is another day." That's Nicholas Sparks crap. Still, it's a movie that needs to be watched. When adjusting for inflation (which is only fair) it is still the top grossing movie of all time (sorry Avatar). It was an absolute phenomenon following the smash hit novel of the same name. It is an antebellum South classic strongly tied to American culture of the late 1930s when another great war was looming.

I feel is it vital to know when, where, and why movies were made before watching them. You need to have a basic understanding of the world the filmmakers were living in when they created it.

2001: A Space Odyssey is very slow paced with little plot and less dialogue. Many people today find it comically drawn out with mundane space operations set to dramatic classical music. I didn't dislike it, but I have a hard time supporting it. But, again, it needs to be watched. References to it still abound 40 years after its release (in Wall-E, for example). One has to also consider the state of sci-fi before this Kubrick-Clarke collaboration. It was mostly campy Flash Gordon action and alien invasion stuff. A Space Odyssey pushed the genre to existentialist extremes.

So there are certain movies that while you might not enjoy everything about them, they are still good for you and essential viewing for any self-proclaimed movie buff. Eat your vegetables.

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