Saturday, January 22, 2011
There are certain movies that They always cite as examples of "bad movies," and Ishtar (1987) gets mentioned more than any other. Yet I remember liking Ishtar when I first saw it. I re-watched it a few years ago, in case I was high the first time, and despite a bit too much tomfoolery, and the inclusion of a Superfluous Love Interest, it still entertains. The leads (Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty) play off each other well, and the "bad" songs (by Paul Williams) are the best part of the film. Writer/Director Elaine May said it best: "If all of the people who hate Ishtar had seen it, I would be a rich woman today."
Anything Else (2003) was panned by many critics who were put off by Jason Biggs' and Christina Ricci's impersonations of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, respectively. But, once, when Alan Smithee found himself stuck waiting for someone in a strange apartment in New York City, he read the only book he could find, "Tuesdays With Morrie." Anything Else is the only antidote to that book he has ever found. Jerry (Biggs) receives advice from father-figure David (Woody Allen), except the advice is always terrible. Hilarity ensures.
As long as we are discussing good bad movies, Alan Smithee would like to mention a bad good movie. Saving Private Ryan (1998), which was very well reviewed, was as emotionally manipulative a film as has ever been made. You can see the calculation in every scene, and as a result, the film is awfully predictable (or maybe that was because we'd seen some of the scenes before, in Full Metal Jacket and other films). Many veterans of D-Day remarked how realistic Saving Private Ryan was, which only proves that realistic films are not necessarily good ones. Spielberg has always been a master technician, and he has occasionally used his talent to stunning effect (as in Minority Report (2005)). But this film is an insult to the viewer's intelligence.