Plenty of fine films are easy on the eyes and ears, but not all of them. This week, five great movies that you can never summon the energy or courage or humility to watch. And why?
- 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days: Is the greatest film I will almost certainly never watch again. It is a film about an illegal abortion in 1980s Romania that is astoundingly anti-abortion and absolutely harrowing in every sense of the word. It is not the movie we want, but it is the movie we deserve.
- Most movies by Ingmar Bergman: The Seventh Seal was a little dull imo, Wild Strawberries was better but I hate the visualization of dreams (ahem, 8½, which I will also never watch again), Persona and Tinsel and Sawdust were fine, and I loved The Virgin Spring, Smiles of a Summer Night and Fanny and Alexander, but tbh I will probably never watch them again. My knowledge of cinema and technique would be improved by rewatching them, sure, and my love of the latter three films would be increased with a reviewing I am also sure, but I would rather spend time with the directors I love the most: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrei Tarkovsky, Terrance Malick and Paul Thomas Anderson.
- Eric Rhomer: Apparently I enjoy watching paint dry <https://vimeo.com/8688973> since I have enjoyed every Rhomer film I’ve seen, but so far they haven’t spoken to me since we’ve met and I’ve made no plans to get together with them again. Perhaps we could be fast friends, I think I would do fine if I was trapped on an island with them, and I will happily track down the ones I haven’t seen, but none have yet proved to be sociable enough to watch again.
- Everything by Quentin Tarantino: I keep telling myself that I’m done with him and people keep telling me that he’s worth watching and I keep falling for it. But I’m done. He’s like Kubrick: talented, but with such a grotesque view of humanity and such sickening agnosticism that I hate to be in the room with him for the length of a movie. The only Kubrick I’ve seen twice is 2001 and the only reason I watched it a second time was because the first time I watched it it was in fastforward with some Beethoven blasting. And it was better the first time.
- Lawrence of Arabia: It’s a beautiful film. We will never see another film like it. I will never see the film that is it.
Rikki Elizabeth Stinnette:
- Schindler’s List: It’s a profoundly horrifying account of the Holocaust—which is what makes it hard to watch. This fictionalized film more emotionally draining for me than the similar documentary, Night and Fog. Perhaps because Spielberg makes us grow attached to several of the characters.
- Ace in the Hole: While it’s a brilliant satire of bad journalism ethics, Kirk Douglas’s heartlessness makes me cringe. A true downer.
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: I guess many people say this is a classic. When I watched it at 8 years old, the creepy boat trip left me traumatized. I’ve sworn off the movie for life.
- To Catch a Thief: I don’t want to scandalize any Hitchcock fans out there, but this movie bores me. And I’ve seen it twice.
- The Man who Knew Too Much: Again, sorry to all the Hitchcock lovers, but I felt like the suspense was lacking. And what’s “Que Sera, Sera” doing in a thriller?
- Apocalypse Now: This is right at the head of the list of movies I keep telling my wife she needs to see to understand the basics of 20th century cinema, but after two years I still can’t bring myself to hit Play on Netflix.
- Upstream Color: Look, I get that this is a magnificently ambitious movie. But every time I try to rewatch it, in hopes of appreciating it, the fractured style and frustratingly oblique presentation just leave me cold.
- The Master: This movie has two of the best performances I’ve ever seen and I hope I never have to see them again. I feel about PT Anderson the way Remy does about Quentin Tarantino.
- Se7en: I respect the heck out of David Fincher, but I will never be in the mood to watch this again. Never ever ever. Ever.
- Solaris: Dear Tarkovsky, I know your movies have a lot of great ideas in them, but this is just too long. It could use more George Clooney.
- Magnolia: When I walked out of a theater back in January of 2000, I thought, “That’s the greatest film ever made,” and precious little has happened since then which has genuinely challenged that thought. I’ve seen the film ten times, but not at all in the last ten years, and that out of worry it won’t live up to my expectations anymore, but also because watching “Magnolia” is the cinematic equivalent of sprinting a 10k.
- The Wrestler: Aronofsky’s best film is also his most grueling. One of a handful of films for which my immediate response was, “God just has to save everyone,” because it is simply too miserable to think that miserable lives are followed directly with miserable eternities.
- The Godfather: While I have no problem acknowledging the excellence of this film, the length just kills me. I’ve finished this one once and dropped out three or four times, and each time I turn it off, I say, “This is really good,” as I do so.
- Synechdoche, NY: I thought this was terrible the one time I saw it, but it’s stayed with me, and I think that if I watched it again it would make a lot more sense and come off as far less self-indulgent that it did at first, but still, I get tired just thinking about watching Phil be miserable for that long.
- Straw Dogs: Probably best viewed as a myth, much like Psycho or Night of the Hunter, but I needed to get baptized again after I saw this the first time and I don’t have the money for a proper baptismal party just laying around…