1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. was one of those things that adults forced upon children in the misguided belief that children enjoyed it, sort of like clowns. And like clowns, I never thought that E.T. was spectacular nor inspiring, and as a young child this movie filled me with such terror that I still have miniature panic-attacks whenever it comes on television. The story of an alien that resembles a glob of poo winning the hearts of children before becoming sick and slowly dying conjures all of a child’s worst fears about death and abandonment. However, what makes E.T. worse is that it added a new fear which I’d never had until this film, the idea that at any moment men in Hazmat suits could break down the door and quarantine me for whatever twisted experimentation pleases Big Brother. My reaction, even as a child, was wishing fiery death upon the government and wondering why that family didn’t ante up with guns and go Ruby Ridge on the feds. I remember my sister crying so hard in the theater that we had to leave. Don’t get me wrong, I love Spielberg, but this movie never filled me with “wide-eyed wonder” so much as it left me in wide-eyed terror.
Where’s there’s a pothead, a twenty-something that watches pride fights, or a guy named “Dopey” who wears baggy over sized shirts embossed in glossy lettering there’s sure to be a copy of Scarface resting near a DVD player. If you chose to sell drugs after high school you were issued either a poster or a t-shirt with the visage of Tony Montana just to remind all your friends that you were some high-rolling kingpin even though you lived in a trailer behind your mom’s house and most of the drugs you were intending to sell went straight up your own nose. I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, just that it’s a great movie for really stupid people who like it for all the wrong reasons. Try explaining why Dog Day Afternoon was a better role for Pacino and watch them look at you like a lobotomy patient before going back to playing Grand Theft Auto.
3. Pulp Fiction
I’ve tried to like this film, Lord knows I’ve tried. But I just don’t get it. To me this is one of those movies that illustrates my biggest grudge with Hollywood, and that is a gratuitous, meaningless exhibition of violence brought to you by people who supposedly detest it in the real world. What a paradox that is. I can’t imagine having such a deep personal contempt for something and choosing to celebrate it with a bucket of popcorn. “I hate abortions – but man do I love to watch them performed!” To me, and this is simply my humble opinion, I always felt like this was an exercise in situational ugliness given not a moment’s consideration for what any of it means to the characters. Instead of asking questions it chooses to snap witty dialogue back and forth during scenarios like “we just blew the kids fucking brains all over the car, geez what a mess!” I can’t imagine what reaction Hollywood would have had the scenario involved a young jew being thrown into an oven at Aushwitz, but then again, I guess if the jew isn’t black it’s just not as amusing. Besides, anytime there’s a Tarantino film I enjoy always get this feeling like I’m being conned somehow. Like I’m being sold stolen property while Tarantino’s trying to convince me it fell out the back of a van.
4. Star Wars: A New Hope
I loved Empire Strikes Back. Mainly because when I was six years old there was nothing in this world that could do for my imagination what a battalion of AT-AT’s storming across the surface of Hoth did. If I’m ever a dot-com billionaire my first order of business is going to be building my own fleet. Then onto Burning Man. But the original is kind of obnoxious. Han Solo’s alien bounty hunter is wearing a leather vest and a green turtleneck. Luke is kind of a bitch. So is Leia, and both robots, and chewbacca. Darth Vader doesn’t do much. In fact, it’s mostly galactic incompetence that allows the pajama-wearing rebels to sneak around causing mischief. Half of the movie is just backstory explaining everything that Lucas would eventually bring to crap in the second trilogy.
5. Do The Right Thing
They should’ve called this movie “Do Whatever You Want Then Bitch When There’s Repercussions”. Maybe it’s the part of me that grew up under a Reagan-loving Republican, but this film always pissed me off. Basically this film tries to create a parallel between the selfless heroes of the civil rights movement and a bunch of fucking low-lifes who start a riot because they aren’t allowed to hang a picture of their black hero on the wall of a restaurant they don’t own, work at, or have any business being in. The fact that two black men get arrested for assault by white cops doesn’t instill in a me a sense of social awareness, it just makes me glad that when you try and strangle somebody you go to jail. And the film’s “Fight the Power” mantra (Flava of Love”, anyone?) is repeated ad nauseaum to the point that I want to just sign over a check to whatever caucus they’re asking me to support because Jesus fucking Christ, I get it, you’re angry.