Nov 19 2009

James’ List of Shame

If you’ve been following me on Twitter (or Facebook) recently, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting a lot of updates about my “list of shame.”  Basically I’ve been trying to watch a lot of important movies lately, ones that, as a film major and a hopeful filmmaker, it’s ridiculous that I have not already seen.  So as I watch these films, I announce that I have “knocked them off the list of shame,” so to speak.  I’ve gotten a lot of ridicule for admitting to not having seen these movies, and I was certainly prepared for that.  After a few of these, I’ve gotten requests to see this list of shame.  Until this point it was not really a physical list, just a mental list of important movies that I see hovering around the tops of lists like the IMDB Top 250, the AFI 100 Films, 100 Years, etc.  But since people have been asking I thought it might be fun to make this list less imagined and more physical.  To start us off I’m going to list some of the films I’ve recently watched from this list.  If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll have noticed these already, if not, you’ll begin to understand the caliber of film that I have somehow neglected.  Please do not badger me for not having watched these, I have already completed these items.

Top 5 Movies I’ve Recently Struck From the List of Shame

  1. Godfather part II
  2. Schindler’s List
  3. Reservoir Dogs
  4. Taxi Driver
  5. Apocalypse Now

Okay those items are huge, I know.  But at least they’re done with now, right?  Now that I’ve lost all my credibility as a film “critic,” let’s do a quick explanation.  A lot of the things on the list are on there for one or more of the following three reasons: violence, drugs, or other disturbing shit.  In terms of movies I saw as a child, I definitely leaned more to the “overprotected” side than the see any R rated film as a 5 year old side.  Because of this, I didn’t have quite the desensitization that many film viewers do.  For a while I was easily upset or unnerved by this type of content, and have therefore specifically chosen not to see them until this point.  But in the last few years I’ve built up somewhat of an immunity to these things, and so I’m trying to tackle them as quickly as possible.  Keep in mind, I write a review for Film Duel every week and try and keep up to date on what comes out in theaters each weekend, so there’s not as much time for these items as you’d think there would be.  Another note, I try to keep these items out of the Film Duel column, they’re really just too big and legendary to tackle these days.  On the other hand, I’ve removed The Dirty Dozen from the following list because we will be tackling it in Film Duel.

Top 10 Remaining List of Shame Items

1. Goodfellas

Martin Scorcese is a director that I really wasn’t exposed to at all until film school, and even then we weren’t shown any of his films in my classes.  I knew of him of course, seen him in commercials and very aware of the importance of his greater films, but I’d never seen any of them due most likely primarily to the level of violence he’s known for.  But I was so intrigued by the concept and cast of The Departed, that I had to give it a try.  Since then I’ve slowly been catching up on his important movies, but haven’t made it to this one, which is considered by some to be his best.

2. Saving Private Ryan

I traditionally have not liked war movies.  I was told by some that they couldn’t make it through the beginning of this movie because it was so violent.  When this movie came out I was still avoiding this type of movie, and I never really took the time to catch back up.  I’m a huge fan of Steven Spielberg though, and having just recently trekked through Schindler’s List it’s time to do his other big war film.  By the way I’ve seen bits and pieces of this one, including the beach scene, but never front to back.

3. Braveheart

Same thing, I heard rumors of people vomitting in the theater due to how violent this movie is.  I didn’t want to put myself through that at the time.  But so many people have this in their favorite movies lists that I really shouldn’t ignore it.  I still don’t care that much either way, but it’s a reputable movie that everyone gawks at when I say I don’t see it.  Once again, I’ve seen the first battle scene, but nothing else.

4. The Shining

I never really liked horror movies in the past.  It wasn’t my thing.  And though I wasn’t usually horrified while watching them, I was very scared of the idea of watching them.  When I picked movies horror movies weren’t really even in consideration, so why would I choose to watch this?  Lately I’ve exhausted a lot of the classics in other genres, so I’ve started to delve into horror and found that I actually like quite a few of the classic horror films.  This is one that I still haven’t gotten to, and considering the film and Kubrick’s legendary status, I really should.  I’m not in love with everything I’ve seen of Kubrick’s work, but I’ve at least found some appreciation for it, so I’m looking forward to this one.

5. No Country for Old Men

I love the Coen Brothers.  I love every movie they’ve ever made.  Some a little more than others, but I’ve even found things to like in Intolerable Cruelty.  I’ve seen every movie they’ve made except for two.  The first is The Ladykillers because I’ve heard it’s so bad and it looked bad in trailers.  If need be I’d probably watch it to complete their filmography.  The other is No Country for Old Men.  I didn’t see this because, once again, I was told it was very violent and unrelenting.  I’m told though that it’s very good and I can’t bear to miss a good Coen brothers movie anymore.  This one is particularly embarassing because it was best picture during a year I was in film school.  (I may or may not have the blu-ray rented as of this morning, *cough*)

6. A Clockwork Orange

Kubrick again.  There’s two big factors here.  For most of my life this film just hasn’t really interested me.  I’m not that into the whole rebel against society thing, and I’m also not in to the paranioa of the government thing either, and my impression is that these two things are at least part of what drives this movie.  Secondarily, I’ve heard great things about the book and would kind of like to read it first now that I’ve gained some interest.  But recently I think I gave up on the idea of reading it any time soon, so I might as well knock this off the list since it tends to sit so high on AFI and IMDB lists.

7. Seven

Here we see creepy violence and grotesqueness keeping me from seeing a movie again.  The plot though has always interested me, since I like a good murder mystery, and one that involves the seven deadly sins as a calling card seems particularly intriguing.  I’ve even had friends tell me quite a bit about it, and I Love the 90’s ruined the ending for me.  Still, I hear it’s good and would like to knock this off the list now that I’ve become a little more desensitized to violence.

8. The 400 Blows

This is on here because, being one of the most important films in the French New wave movement, it’s kind of important to my knowledge as a film maker and as a “film critic.”  I don’t know why we didn’t watch this in European Cinema class, maybe we did and I didn’t show up.  I don’t have an objection to subtitles or black and white like a lot of viewers do, it’s just something I haven’t gotten to.

9. Last of the Mohicans

I really have no reason to have not seen this film other than neglect.  There was nothing stopping me.  Apparently it’s a better film than I realized because a lot of people have recently pointed out that it’s a glaring gap in my film watching experience.  Now I know, and it’s pretty high on my blockbuster queue, but then again my blockbuster queue is huge, which is why a lot of these things are on here.  Love Michael Mann and Daniel Day Lewis though, so it should be real enjoyable when I get around to it.

10. Midnight Cowboy

I don’t really like movies about drugs, and this is about them, right?  I actually don’t know that much about it, but I know it originally had an X rating, which felt like a big deal to me when I was a kid.  I haven’t been actively avoiding this film, just haven’t cared enough either way.  It seems like kind of a downer too, which is something I’m usually not in the mood for.  Anyways as with all of these, it’s well regarded and should probably be knocked off the list at some point.

Another note, there are three items in this article that don’t really fit with the three “causes” I mentioned above.  Last of the Mohicans and The 400 Blows haven’t been seen strictly due to neglect, while Schindler’s List used to be on the list simply because I was never in the mood to get depressed.  This is not every list of shame item; I figured beginning with the ten most important was a good place to start and I can probably show you guys a new one at a later point.  So I will be trying to watch all these items in the next few months.  I am undecided as to whether I will be doing any commentary on these as I see them, my inclination is not to write about them, but if I see some interest in my opinion I may reconsider.  Finally there’s one more little list of films I can share with you.  These are films I considered putting on the List of Shame, but eventually decided not to because I have specifically targeted them as films I simply do not want to see.  I could change my mind on these at some point, of course (right now, the most flexible would be Trainspotting).  Also, there are a lot of other films that I’ve intentionally decided not to see because of their content, but these seem the most important.

Top 5 Films I Refuse to See

  1. Requiem for a Dream
  2. American History X
  3. The Exorcist
  4. Trainspotting
  5. The Deer Hunter

So there you have it.  As you can see from this and my last feature article, I have a propensity for lists.  You will likely see more of these as I simply love making and reading them.   Let me know what you think.  And… let the berating begin.

7 Responses to “James’ List of Shame”

  • Tim Says:

    James!! This could hurt your street cred as a movie critic. I strongly suggest you go home right now and watch all of those movies. Grab a cooler of Red Bulls and your favorite snack foods, and a pee jar – and don’t get up until you have seen them all. — Why do you refuse to see those 5 great movies? You will see Clockwork Orange and Shining but not these?

  • James Goux Says:

    @Tim I know my street cred is seriously at risk here. I’m putting it all on the line hoping for points for honesty? Anyway I’ll be getting to the big 10 as soon as possible. As for the movies I refuse to see, it’s possible that down the line I’ll change my mind, but right now I retain the reasons mentioned above.

  • jonathan Says:

    really braveheart? come on! we are watching it tonight now.

  • Nick Cox Says:

    ahh! james! Really, it’s not so bad, I understand. But, I must say, as someone who similarly dislikes ultraviolence, horror, etc., trainspotting isn’t that bad, it’s actually fairly amusing, completely different concept than Requiem for a Dream. You might actually like it 😉

  • anton Says:

    i keep thinking that a film critic who has a list of shame like this would be kind of like the 40-Year Old Virgin (a film that was recently discussed on this very venue). we’re like the Seth Rogans and Paul Rudds giving you sh*t about it, but in reality we just want you to find your Catherine Keener. =P

  • James Goux Says:

    @Anton Well, I do love me some Catherine Keener.

  • Kurt Lindgren Says:

    I can definitely relate to your explanation for not seeing lots of the more violent films when you were younger. For example, I can remember watching Goodfellas in the now-defunct Porter Theatre, and being totally scared and disgusted. I wanted to turn my head away and cry, while my older cousins were loving it. I have lots of catching up to do as well, all while falling further and further behind every year.

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