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August 27, 2005

Saturday Night at the Movies. . .

August 27, 2005 | By | 14 Comments

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One Hit Wonder?

Last Saturday night I reviewed the movie Alexander, declaring it:

“Worst. Movie. Ever.”

These three words convicted me, in the estimation of Downtown Lad, of clearly evident homophobia.

Others, however, agreed with me. And, believe me, if you haven’t seen Alexander, the whole gay thing pales in significance to the painful dialogue and tedious plot development.

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Andy and Larry Wachowski

Anyhoo. In the comments, I asked: Why do people keep giving Oliver Stone money to make movies? And reader Pat Patterson responded with a fun and interesting list of similar directors — those who have coasted their entire careers on one good movie.

So, for this Saturday night, here’s Pat’s list of Hollywood’s One Hit Wonders:

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Paul Verhoeven-Soldier of Orange,

Robert Rodriguez-El Marachi,

The Wachowski Brothers-The Matrix (not the sequels),

Robert Altman-MASH,

Woody Allen-Annie Hall,

John Singleton-Boyz in the Hood,

Oliver Stone-Platoon,

David Lynch-Blue Velvet,

Michael Cimino-The Deer Hunter

Nora Ephron-Sleepless in Seattle

So Nora Ephron is an interesting one. . . I was going to argue and say, “But what about ‘When Harry Met Sally?’ But clever! She wrote that one, not directed it. Still, there is “You’ve Got Mail.”

Okay. I know. It’s a chick flick. But it wasn’t that bad. I’m not going to the mat on it though. . .

David Lynch. Have to tell you: could not even make it through Blue Velvet. The appeal escaped me.

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And Paul Verhoeven. Wondering if anyone will want to argue for Basic Instinct? (Total Recall, even??) Looks like I need to rent Soldier of Orange.

So weigh in. Want to defend any of these guys? Add any others?

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Comments

  1. Care to find me one positive thing you have EVER written about gay people?

    Just one.

  2. Anyone who thinks “Annie Hall” is the only good movie Woody Allen made should rent “Bananas.”

    It’s hysterical.

  3. Thanks Eric, I’ll try it.

  4. You greatly underestimate Woody Allen. Yes he is plagued by his recent efforts, including the shocking affair with his future child bride. But to exclude such delightful films as Sleeper, Stardust Memories, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Shadows and Fog and his penultimate achievement Zelig is a disservice to the history of cinema. One must not judge a man’s art by the essence of the man, but how it relates to it’s time and it’s timeliness.

  5. From David Weinberger:

    At least Alexander exposes Oliver Stone for what he is: A wildly incompetent director whose subject matter has led us to excuse his embarrassingly bad productions. Find a movie of his — I’ve seen most, but not all, of them — that doesn’t have a cliche-filled script, black-and-white characters, camera-work that needlessly calls attention to itself, actors pushed into career-damaging performances, and self-righteous, unsympathetic, simple-minded political stances.

    Weinberger’s hardly a member of the Vast Homophobic Conspiracy.

  6. DL: As a general rule, I don’t believe in writing about “gay people” or any other kind of “adjective people.” People are people.

    There are several posts on this blog that refer to a friend of mine who happens to be a fairly well known gay activist. I like him a lot . . even though his politics are all wrong!

  7. But can you separate the “essence of a person” from their art?? Aren’t the two inextricably linked?

  8. Pat Patterson

    I’ll stand firm on Annie Hall being Woody Allen’s best or most noteworthy film. Until Allen made this film he was popular mainly a college following, Annie Hall was his national success, since then the only areas where his films remain popular are among critics and New York. I’m convinced that if Annie Hall or Zelig was on TV, most people would turn to Annie Hall. Every actor wants to be in either a Woody Allen or Robert Altman film for the simple reason that they can be jackasses and not suffer because no on will see the film.

  9. Charmaine,

    Recently saw Alexander and I am with you. What tedium! Having read a couple of books about Alexander I was thrilled that Hollywood had made a major motion picture about him, but Stone’s creation was about 4 kinds of boring and…strange.

    I also agree with the reader who pleads for Woody Allen getting another chance. “Take the Money and Run” was dang funny, as was “Love and Death.”

  10. Pat Patterson

    Glenn and Esbiem list several Woody Allen films that prove my point. These films are still loved and treasured by fans not the general public. I took a completely unreliable public opinion poll at the high school where I work. The very dubious results consisted of the students generally asking who was Woody Allen and couldn’t name a single film of his . While 22 of the 23 teachers I asked named ta-da Annie Hall as his best film, plus when I read the list of his films since then only 5 of the 22 recognized any of the titles. Though I did have one teacher say Woody Allen was a genius and she had seen and loved all his films, but then she also admitted to liking all of Jerry Lewis’s comedies and French rap music. How come no one has defended the films of Robert Altman or Paul Verhoeven, I actually think a case could be made for Verhoeven since at least Total Recall made a lot of money and actually got some good reviews?

  11. Oh, but many people don’t know about a quiet gem by David Lynch in 1999: Straight Story, the true story of a 73 year old man who set out on an impossibly long journey on his tractor to make peace with his ailing brother. It was veteran actor Richard Farnsworth’s last film – a worthy effort equal to his gifts – and excellent family fare.

    I’ll always be grateful to David Lynch for directing a small masterpiece, The Elephant Man, also based on a true story about a disabled man who was sorely misunderstood and mistreated, and whose life was finally redeemed by rare human kindness. I used this film to teach my kids about compassion. It is deeply moving.

  12. David Lynch did Elephant Man??!! That was a truly great movie. . .

  13. Steve Robbins

    Pat had me going a little bit, until he opined that Platoon was a hit. Whoa! Oliver Stone has simply never had a good movie, or at least none that I have seen. I’ll confess I quit after seeing Platoon, and since then have read the reviews, which have consistently served as an ongoing re-ratification my decision.

    He is a no-hit wonder. a bummer. A bad movie maker. And were I forced at gunpoint to pick one as the “best of the bad,” it would not be Platoon.

    The movie cheaply depicted American soldiers in Viet-Nam in an insulting, stereotypical fashion. That was very surprising to me, as he is a veteran of Viet-Nam. The story line (if there was one)was pathetic.

    What can I say . . . the guy is weak.

    Oh, I do agree with you that Woodie Allen has had a string of wonderful movies. He is certainly no one-hit wonder.

  14. Pat Patterson

    Platton was the 4th most popular film of 1986, at least in box office receipts and actually got generally favorable reviews. Stone is still getting to direct films and free dinners on the reputation of Platoon. David Lynch has indeed had an interesting career but is still primarily remembered for his Blue Velvet, Eraserhead and Dune, again another resting on the accolades of work done in the distant past. Going back to Charmaine’s original question, why is it that these or other directors are still getting money, from mostly publicly traded corporations, to make either to direct bad or ignored films? Plus I would probably argue that Richard Farnsworth’s best film was The Grey Fox, he also died well in The Outlaw Josey Wales.

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