Unfinished Business: 5 Movies I’ve Never Watched Through To The End
There are some movies that are so compulsively watchable that I can’t help but return to them again and again. Put Dirty Dancing or The Philadelphia Story on an endless loop and I will be perfectly content. However, there are other movies that for a myriad of reasons I’ve never watched through to the end. Sometimes I get bored, sometimes offended, occasionally confused and often sleepy. It’s not so bad when this happens with a movie that is universally acknowledged as a clunker, but the majority of the films listed below are either beloved, or at least admired for their creativity and audacity. Still, each one lost me long before the credits rolled.
Four out of five of these movies are like my great white whales–only, you know in movie form–taunting me for my lack of patience and/or courage every bit as cruelly as Moby Dick haunted poor, crazy Ahab. The last movie, however, will likely remain unfinished for making me break my golden movie rule: if I pay money to actually sit in a theater to watch a movie I will not walk out (except for the one time I did).
Roughly ten minutes into Terrence Malick’s maybe masterpiece, maybe collection of nonsense known as The Tree of Life, I hit the eject button on the DVD player. If I were still in college, I would have eaten up the solemn trippiness of the film’s meaning of life, we’re all connected manifesto and went back for seconds, but now I’m older, wiser and have a lower tolerance for random images, voice-overs and Brad Pitt being earnest. Many people swear it was exquisite and I hope to one day revisit it, but for now if anyone asks me what it’s about I’m going to say flickering light, cityscape, sad family, Brad Pitt. Close enough?
I like a good ghost story, but serial killers? Unless they’re named Dexter Morgan, I don’t want to hear about it, and that goes double for cannibalistic serial killers. However, as a movie fan and as someone who writes about movies, I feel duty bound to watch the greatest movie villain of all time, Hannibal Lecter, do his thing. The problem is Anthony Hopkins is just too good. And Ted Levine? Possibly even better at traumatizing me. I’ve tried and tried (and tried) to make it to the end of The Silence of the Lambs, and each time I make it roughly to the point of Buffalo Bill’s creepy dance scene before I just can’t force myself to keep going.
One day, I’m going to conquer this film. Just not today. Or tomorrow.
My brother recommended this film to me, and shortly afterwards we had a discussion about what is and isn’t appropriate to recommend to your kid sister. I don’t consider myself a prudish film watcher. I love The Dreamers, but around the time Marlon Brando ruined butter for me, Last Tango in Paris and I went our separate ways.
The 40 Year Old Virgin was my first brush with Judd Apatow, and I wasn’t ready to embrace his particular brand of humor at that juncture in my life. It seems absurd now that I couldn’t make it through the film considering I love nearly every member of the cast, and I honestly can’t remember which scene turned me off– but it seems like it involved Catherine Keener in some way. At the time, I couldn’t help but feel that the film was making a complete joke out of one man’s sadness, and it was a joke I didn’t find particularly funny.
Since then I’ve become a bit of a Apatow devotee with a deep appreciation for the ways in which he marries raunch with genuine heart, but I still haven’t revisited the film that made him a household name. I hope that when I do, I’ll find that it has the same silver lining of goodness that makes the boy’s club humor of his other ventures work.
Now we have reached the one and only movie that made me walk out of a theater.
Oh, Jack Black. I do have certain affections for his boundless energy. I can even see why Kate Winslet decided he was a dreamboat in The Holiday, but I was not the target audience for Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. It was loud, it was crude and, frankly, the first 30 minutes gave me a headache. This is the only movie on the list I’m perfectly happy to never bother finishing. (But I still love you, Jack Black.)
I know I’m not the only one with movies left unfinished. I showed you my list, shameful as it was in some places, now I want to see yours. Hit the comments to share your unfinished movie business.
Follow me on Twitter @sljbowman