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In 1996, “Anotonia’s Line” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. However, I just thought the film was rather depraved and nasty. This is not because I dislike Dutch films–there are many wonderful Dutch films (such as “Black Book”, “Twin Sisters” and “Yes Sister, No Sister”). It’s also not because the film features gay characters–there are tons in “Yes Sister, No Sister” and I adore this movie. Read my IMDB review below to find out more:
I felt VERY frustrated by this movie. It had so many WONDERFUL elements but the overall package was hopelessly baffling because it appeared as if the writers had no idea WHAT type of film they wanted to make. At first, the movie seemed quirky and comical when one of the characters imagined seeing grandma getting up out of the coffin during her own funeral while the statue of Jesus comes to life. I was excited, because I like surreal movies like “Happiness of Katakuris” or “Raising Arizona”. BUT, just as quickly as these images came, the movie completely changed direction. This sort of thing happened again and again in the movie–as if the film had eight different writers who combined their stories without creating decent segues to join the stories. Comedy, philosophy (not the fun type–the “life is futile and then you die” type), sex, love, lesbianism, anti-church rhetoric, ultra-feminism, child prodigy stuff, sexual abuse, murder, etc., etc. all thrown together do not make ONE coherent film but either many separate movies or one big mess. How this film got the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture, I am uncertain, as it had too many holes and left me so unsatisfied. Perhaps it was a slow year. Or, perhaps AMPAS (the Oscar people) just have contempt for traditional morality and so they are rewarding this film for its stand against traditional values.
A final note: although these many story elements are perfectly acceptable for adult fair, this is NOT a film for kids as the subject matter is VERY mature. Also, I was deeply disturbed by the families portrayed in the film because apparently, NOTHING was private or adult in this extended home. Two examples come to mind: the one scene where EVERYONE is making love like sex-crazed weasels so loudly that the little girl yelled at them to be quiet so she could get to sleep AND the scene where this same person (now an adult) is debating whether or not to have an abortion–while each child in the family tells her their opinion! This is sick and the family demonstrates a complete lack of reasonable boundaries. I’m not suggesting adults need to be prudes, but the idea of putting kids in these situations seems abusive and disturbing. If these types of situations are thrust on kids, what’s next–showing them step-by-step photos of a prostate exam?
Here are a few reviews for some Best Picture Oscar winners that just seem insanely overrated. Watch them if you like, but you might just want to avoid them as the films are tedious and awful. What do you think?
The Last Emperor–It’s hard to like a film when you couldn’t care less about the central character.
This film is a wonderful example of the Best Picture Syndrome. A dull film receives many Oscars (including Best Picture) and suddenly it’s considered a “masterpiece”. My theory is that the year the movie premiered, it must have been a very bad year in general OR it confirms that many on the Oscar committee LOVE to vote for giant epic films that are visually stunning (but unwatchably dull). I also wonder if many who voted never actually saw the film–if they had, many would have died of boredom and couldn’t have voted for the film!
My biggest problems with the movie are the turgid pacing as well as the general unlikability of the main character. When the Communists imprisoned this deposed emperor, I could sympathize with the revolutionaries and was shocked they didn’t put him to death! His life was lived in complete self-indulgence and he didn’t seem to care one bit for “his people”. So, for the only time in history, I found myself rooting for the Chinese Communists! If you DID actually enjoy this film, I can suggest several other epics that are dreadfully dull and overrated: “The English Patient”, “Gandhi”, and “Ryan’s Daughter”.
This is NOT to say that I hate epics or long movies–just not ones where you could care less for the characters (with the exception of Gandhi) and where the pacing is so slow. If you are not a glutton for punishment, try watching” The Big Country” (one of our greatest Westerns), “Ben Hur” (wow), “Dances with Wolves”, “Chariots of Fire”, “The Best Years of Our Lives”, etc. Make them LONG and BIG but give them characters you care about and pace them better!!!!!!
Gandhi—Superficial and often inaccurate
“The Last Emperor”, “The English Patient” and “Gandi”–three recent movies that won tons of Oscars but were ultimately pretty boring and unappealing to the common people. You may not appreciate me for saying this, but it is a fact that all three films were not exactly box office draws and the average bloke would rather see most anything other than these LONG films. And, I say long not due to their length, but to their slow and plodding pacing. And, of course, they are rewarded for this by the Oscar. So, in recent years Oscar = Dull or overblown film. While I certainly didn’t hate the film like many of my students, I could understand their feeling that the whole thing was a bit too long and slow going.
This film is a pretty decent general overview of the life of Gandhi. However, as a history teacher, I gotta admit that there were a lot of liberties taken with the truth. While the overall message is true, some details are not and many aspects of Gandhi’s strange personal life were omitted (such as his attitudes towards parenting, his sleeping habits, etc.–all VERY odd indeed). While I hate to see films that trash good people and focus on the weird, this film nearly elevates this man to godhood–making him seem super-human, not just a great man. After you see the movie to do an internet search or pick up a biography on the man to get a more 3-dimensional view of this extraordinary character.
PS–I know I will be hated for demeaning the name of Gandhi, but I strongly agree with the other posts that preferred or at least recommended the movie UHF because of its parody on GANDHI–“GANDHI II–he’s back and he’s looking for revenge”! Funny stuff, indeed!
The English Patient–It’s about as romantic as a case of the clap!
Years ago, I saw an episode of SEINFELD in which Elaine described this movie as a colossal bore that seemed to go on forever (though less than 3 hours long, it did seem to go on for an eternity). I should have taken her advice and avoided this movie like the plague. The first tip-off that it would be a bore-fest was that it had won so many academy awards. In recent years, several amazingly dull films have been the recipient of arm loads of awards but were box office poison because the public couldn’t stand them (another example of this would the the sterile LAST EMPEROR).
My wife and I were amazed at how much we disliked the film. The “love” affair between the leads was completely unbelievable and stupid. One minute, they hate each other and the next they are copulating like crazed weasels! And, to top this off, these were perhaps the ugliest stars ever seen naked on the screen. I kept wanting to shout “put it BACK on–PLEASE”. In fact, they were such an unappealing couple that I strongly recommend parents send their teenagers to watch this film. The sight of their naked bodies is perhaps the strongest enticement towards abstinence known to mankind!
However, the ugliness of the film doesn’t end there. Towards the end, in order to try to save his lover’s life, the male lead makes a deal to help the Nazis….yes, Nazis!!! Who cares that they were trying to take over the world and liquidate a few million?! All his character cared about was his sweetie. Oh, and did I mention that along the way they ended up killing her husband? Nothing says romance like this film!!
Why is this movie so overrated? It almost always is listed among the greatest movies ever made and I once again ask WHY? First, I need to point out that I am a bright, well-read and highly educated person. So, yes, I did understand the imagery and “hidden significance” of the movie. Despite this, I still MUST point out that the first 9 hours (yes, I know it WASN’T that long–but it seemed like it was) of people dancing around in primordial human/ape costumes was awful and the end was an artsty-fartsy mess (one minute Keir Dullea was flying through space, the next he was an old man in a sterile room and the next he was a giant embryo–wow, how stupid can you get?).
Despite my warnings, I seem to be one of only a few voices who hated the movie on IMDB (though it does get 5 stars from me for SOME of the music and great special effects). I don’t understand everyone’s fascination with Stanley Kubrick. Yes, “Paths of Glory” was excellent as were “Spartacus” and “Dr. Strangelove”, but movies like “2001” as well as “Barry Lyndon” (STERILE, LONG and DULL) and “Clockwork Orange” (a smart plot but also an over-indulgent and sick film that portrays rapes and violence too brutally) make me think about the story of the ‘Emporer’s New Clothes’. In essence, people fall over themselves praising his “artistic genius”, while the average person finds some of his films often give them headaches!
The only positive about the film that make it a possible must-see is that it helped to raise the genre of sci-fi to a new and more artistic level. The special effects were brilliant and groundbreaking, but it certainly DIDN’T make sci-fi fun or interesting!
With all my choices for overrated films, I am sure I’ll ruffle a few feathers. What do you think and why? Let me know.