Home > Real Life > Hey man, you gotta see this

Hey man, you gotta see this

The entire topic of classic movies has always been a somewhat nebulous one, because there are all these landmark films that “everyone should see” that are, like much of the literature I am compelled to read in school, crap. I can accurately pin down when I realized this fact, because it happened after I viewed the “classic” science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. (As an aside, it is worth not that I probably saw this film during or shortly after 2001. )It was a public screening at the local science museum, and I remember sitting through most of it scratching my head and wondering why this was so interesting.

I actually had a similar experience with the only other Kubrick film I’ve, seen, Full Metal Jacket. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t make me get up out of my seat either. I actually enjoyed the first half with R. Lee Ermey as Sgt. Hartman more than the latter half that was supposed to show “the way things were” in Vietnam.

Now, I’ve seen these films once each, and it’s entirely possible that I missed some deeper artistic level to the films, but that is itself missing the point of my argument: they’re just not “classic,” in any meaningful sense I can find.

On the topic of Kubrick films, I have two rather strong associations from what I’ve been told about two of his other movies. The first is A Clockwork Orange, which my father has described as painful to watch; from everything I’ve seen about it, this seems to be something of a consensus. On the other hand, I have it on good authority that Dr. Strangelove is an excellent film; I’m actually meaning to get around to seeing it one of these days. Take that as you will.

And while I’m contradicting my own thesis (“classic” movies are junk, for those of your who left your notebooks at home), I believe the Die Hard series bears mentioning. I just finished watching the third movie in the series, after seeing the first, fourth, and second, in that order. And they are uniformly awesome. After seeing the fourth movie with some friends, I heard them attempting to rank it among the other three; I couldn’t really contribute because I hadn’t seen the middle two. But now that I have, I’d have to say that any ranking for me would be impossible. They’re just such quintessential action flicks that the antics of John McClane grab at the heart of any American. Because that’s what McClane is: a top-notch American.

In the fourth Die Hard, at one point, during a driving scene, McClane’s hacker sidekick asks him why he does all of this, running around the country and thwarting evil plots. After acknowledging that it’s been a long string of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he states that he has to because if he doesn’t, no one else will. He’s got to be the hero.

One a sort of related note, I find it interesting that Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth movie, was released as Die Hard 4.0 outside the States. I guess the rest of the world doesn’t understand living free?

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Categories: Real Life
  1. Bob
    July 13, 2007 at 11:19 am

    As a part-time film buff and former aspiring filmmaker, I have something of a conflicted relationship with Stanley Kubrick. When I see his films I can’t deny the craftsmanship or, moreover, the power of his artistic vision. But I find that I can admire his ability as a filmmaker without necessarily liking his films.

    I think “2001” is mostly an impressive achievement, although it might be necessary to add the qualifier “for its time.” It has aged better than any other SF film from the 1960s, and I’m still impressed at how flawless the visuals are. If only the story made sense. It would be a better film if the last half-hour were chopped off.

    I agree that “A Clockwork Orange” is painful to watch. I’ve seen it once, I think, and probably appreciated it on some level, but I have no desire to see it again.

    And I also agree with the recommendation of “Dr. Strangelove.” But if you watch the special-edition DVD, don’t watch any of the supplemental documetaries. Hearing Spike Lee’s opinion of how “Dr. Strangelove” is relevant to today’s political situation did not enhance my appreciation of the film.

  2. July 17, 2007 at 1:46 am

    “Classic” tends to mean “really freaking great at the time”. Such as Dickens. I suppose it was great when it was written, but these days? I believe the phrase is “no dice”. So yeah, all these movies are kinda strange and leave you scratching your head, but you have to realize that they’re classics because they did something that no one had ever done before; something that’s probably become more mainstream and commonplace these days.

  3. Ruth
    July 24, 2007 at 10:51 am

    I rented Dr. Strangelove in last week’s batch of movies, but didn’t get to watch it. Guess I know one of next week’s picks. And it was in 2001 that we saw 2001. I remember having to get up during the scene that he was outside and all you could hear was his breathing, cause I relized it was making me breathe strangly. Isn’t that when we saw the bicentennial film as well(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZRGEYcHMvk)? I seem to recall them remarking how similar it felt to the end of 2001.

  1. May 12, 2008 at 12:09 pm

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