Undefended: I Take It Back

You feel intimidated. Ten minutes in, you think, “This can’t be going anywhere good. I should probably get while the getting is good.” But you have nothing else to do, nowhere to go, nothing else to watch. So you sit and you sit and you sit and you do not like it one little bit. This week, five movies you would unsee if you could.

Thomas Banks:

  1. Brazil (Recovering from this one practically calls for a support group)
  2. Kingdom of Heaven
  3. King Lear (Jean Luc-Godard adaptation)
  4. Godfather III
  5. American Beauty

Remy Wilkins:

I’ve gotten really good at turning movies off and the sort of things that get past that are the low-threshold comedies that (regrettably) my apathy allows. I’m tempted to just list mine as: [unspoken] and [for His mercy endureth forever] but for the sake of history:

  1. Django Unchained
  2. Cloud Atlas
  3. eXistenZ
  4. Kingdom of Heaven
  5. Whatever Works

Brian Murnion:

  1. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)
  2. V for Vendetta (2005)
  3. Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
  4. The Brown Bunny (2003)
  5. Gummo (1997)

Brian Murnion remarked: Remy, I love your list, mostly because I actually like half of those films. I wish I could unsee Cloud Atlas just so I can watch it again, not because it was a great film but because it was a good viewing experience when I watched it.

Justin Spencer:

  1. Requiem for a Dream
  2. We Need to Talk About Kevin
  3. Crash
  4. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy
  5. Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III

Remy Wilkins remarked: I went with Movies That Annoyed Me to avoid having to list Paul Rudd movies. V for Vendetta is a good choice for that, but I remember so little from it that I went with Whatever Works. I also toyed with Vanilla Sky, but I can forgive forgettable films. Spencer, you win. That list is grotesque.

Joshua Stevenson:

  1. Happiness (1998) – I’ve never actually recovered from this movie.
  2. Event Horizon (1997) – This movie was the threshold of adulthood for me. As traumatic as circumcision.
  3. Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) – Roman Polanski introduced me to the notion of a comic/horrific turn in the very last moment of this movie, and turns like that remain compelling to me. It’d be nice to be free of that programming.
  4. Trailer for Child’s Play 2 (1990) – Because children are still developing and need their rest, and maybe I’d be 6’5” if I hadn’t seen it.
  5. TV version of Blade Runner (1982) – Nearly as traumatic as Event Horizon for introducing the idea of a person (replicant) without a soul who experiences annihilation upon death. I’d prefer to have dealt with this in my teens rather than at 8 or 9.

Brian Murnion remarked: Basically, just about anything by John Waters or Todd Solondz should be unseen, I think.

Jon Paul Pope:

  1. Fight Club – This may be the first movie I ever took “seriously,” and I’ve met a lot of people my age who say the same. I really wish I’d had that experience with almost any other movie.
  2. Somewhere in Time – A robust appetite for melodrama was whetted by by this film at an inappropriately young age. My early impressions of romantic love would have been far different and probably much holier had I never seen this film.
  3. Happiness – The worst thing I’ve seen in my adult life. Thanks for that reminder, Stevenson.
  4. All Dogs Go to Heaven – When Disney dropped the ball for a decade, weirdo Don Bluth took over. This movie was ridiculously touted as children’s entertainment by every babysitter in Houston, TX in the early nineties.
  5. Melancholia – I don’t think this is a bad movie. I just wish I hadn’t seen it.

Elizabeth Stinnette:

  1. Dune. The only reason I watched was for extra credit…for theology class. Yes, this actually happened.
  2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. At least, I wish I had seen it when I was older. I still can’t watch the film because it terrified me as a child.
  3. Gulliver’s Travels (with Ted Danson). The most tedious waste of three hours I’ve ever had.
  4. Somewhere in Time. I agree with Jon Paul—though I hated it as soon as I saw it.
  5. Mousehunt. Stupid. Just plain stupid hijinks.

Joshua Gibbs

  1. Moulin Rouge. Like Jon Paul, I gained a robust appetite for melodrama at a young age, though A Far Off Place (1993) was the film which did it for me, and I still count this as a very good film which was helpful to me. I am glad the first film about romance that I really felt deeply was this one. Moulin Rouge had a similarly strong impact on my understanding of romance, though this film is toxic.
  2. A Thief In The Night. The apocalyptic end times movie about the Antichrist from 1972. I saw this when I was about nine years old. It was a VHS copy of a VHS copy of a VHS copy, which gave it the look of something ancient, profound, prophetic. Every time the house got too quiet, I feared my parents were gone forever and that God hated me.
  3. Mosquito Coast. A really fine movie, though I saw it for the first time when I was only ten years old. I felt strange for days afterwards, and when I described how I felt to my parents, they said, “This is called depression.” I wish my introduction to psychologically troubling movies had come much later in life.
  4. Fight Club. A ruthlessly effective and degrading redefinition of masculinity.
  5. The Doom Generation. A really loathsome movie in and of itself, though I want to treat it as an icon of a huge glut of gritty late-90s independent films I watched right after I moved out of my parents’ house which were a catastrophic waste of time, corrupting my understanding of storytelling (thus causing me to waste time writing trash) and debilitating my imagination.

Sean Johnson:

  1. American History X: Definitely master work from Norton, but a film I’d like to unsee.
  2. Billy Madison: I spent a lot of years as an idiot. I can’t prove a 1-to-1 correlation, but unseeing this one might’ve helped.
  3. Lawnmower Man: the terrible movie that inexplicably returns to my thoughts more often
  4. The End of the Affair (1999): Nothing worse than images from a (miserably) failed adaptation coloring my own mental imaginings of a favorite novel.
  5. Fanny and Alexander: so I could watch it again for the first time. And while it didn’t make my top 5, I heartily agree with Thomas that I’d unsee Godard’s Lear if I had a few more tokens.
Joshua Gibbs

Joshua Gibbs teaches great books, collects records and jogs to work. He and his wife have two children, both of whom have seven names. He tweets at @joshgibbs and blogs for the CiRCE Institute.

4 Responses to Undefended: I Take It Back

  1. I’d like to add :

    Vanya on 42nd Street- Is something going to happen? Is something going to happen? Is something going to happen? Nope. Just a bunch of people rehearsing a play.

    Rounders- A fun movie but I feel it had a bad influence on myself and many of those around me.

    P.S. once rented a movie and upon returning home discovered that I had been given “Gummo” by mistake. I still have no idea what that was supposed to be.

  2. Happiness was like a car wreck that I couldn’t look away from… but I’m not sure I would take it back.

    Gummo, on the other hand…

    There was point a couple of years ago where my job was paying me once a month to come into work and do absolutely nothing – yes, it’s a gov’t job – so I went to the movies… and while I don’t think it’s my fault that my job did this, the fates determined that every movie I watched would be horrible. I still can’t imagine why I ever thought I should pay $10 to see Clash of the Titans or Thor… I remember leaving the theater angry.

    Finally, I kinda hate most of those 80’s teen flicks that are imbedded in my head. I wish I could not recall any quotes from Long Duc Dong.

  3. I think we’re moving a little away from the supposedly “undefended” nature of the lists, but I like explanations so I’m not really complaining.

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