- 3 Months of Movies (I)
- 3 Months of Movies (II)
- 3 Months of Movies (III)
- 3 Months of Movies (IV)
- 3 Months of Movies (V)
For about three months I have been watching movies on a regular basis again, after a long hiatus of about 5-7 years. This resurgence in movie-watching was inspired by my year 11 English course students who had to write film reviews. After I read some reviews that made movies I didn’t know sound really interesting, I decided I should start watching them. Well, this evolved into an almost daily movie festival that makes me very happy because I had forgotten (or buried) how much I love movies. Eventually all of this lead to this blog (with some help by Noam Chomsky) because I really wanted to write down the thoughts about Man of Steel or The Wolf of Wall Street that kept me awake at night.
Anyway, since I am well into the routine of writing about a movie every other day and there is no movie that I want to write about right now, I thought I take a look back at all the movies I’ve seen and pseudo-scientifically analyze what I’ve seen. The mixture of the movies is pretty diverse (you’ve probably seen the list) since I don’t just watch movies I really want to see (besides the fact that I want to have seen every movie ever produced) but mostly movies recommended by my students or movies that are topics of podcasts, which makes it more interesting to look at. I’ll try some parameters to see in how far the movies apply to the issues I mostly talk about here. And yes, I like statistics. I'm looking at all the movies from the bottom of the list up to I Am Number Four.
Since April I’ve watched 74 movies. Most of them are from this or the previous decade.
My ratings show a normal average of 5,8 out of 10, including 5 movies I really loved and 4 movies I utterly hated.
I watched most movies because of podcasts or recommendations, which will probably change in the future.
19 movies included some kind of stereotype, including Arabs (Lawrence of Arabia), Asians (Crank: High Voltage, The Karate Kid), dwarves (Love Guru), homosexuals (Skyline, Mannequin, The Taking of Pelham 123), mentally disabled people (Gigli), Africans (Blood Diamond), Persians (300), African-Americans (The Blind Side), Americans (My Name Is Khan), indigenous people (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) and nerds (Real Genius, WarGames). Not mentioning some movies that were just a collection of stereotypes and clichés (Old Dogs, Whatever Happens in Vegas, All About Steve, The Greatest Show on Earth). You may have noticed this list does not include stereotypes of women because this deserves a whole category for itself. I find that list shockingly long considering that most offenders are from the last two decades. This is not a list of clichés because that would be even longer. Movies that consciously try to defy stereotypes are very rare, the only good examples I see are Four Lions and Letters from Iwo Jima.
Depiction of Women
In this category my movie sample fares even worse. In 31 of 74 movies women were depicted in a stereotypical or inferior way. Some are worse than others (Crank: High Voltage, Miami Vice) but overall it is a sad statistic. Only 12 movies had women in leading roles and only 10 featured what could be called a strong female character (and even some of those 10 are arguable). Some of the movies with female leads are Sucker Punch, a movie that does not know what it is doing with its portrayal of women, The Back-Up Plan and All About Steve, in which everyone but the movie knows its lead women are insane or The Lovely Bones, in which the lead character seems to have found paradise because she was raped and murdered. Other offenses include women just thinking about motherhood (WarGames, The Back-Up Plan), women as a trophy prize (Mannequin, I Am Number Four, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), women being stupid (The Seven Year Itch, Singin' in the Rain, Pain & Gain), women as sex objects (Get Carter, Drive Angry), women being evil (Season of the Witch) or simple passiveness that seems to be rooted in the female gender (Skyline, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Man of Steel, Daybreakers).
7 movies have a lead character that is not white and Western. Out of those, 4 are black, the rest are Asian, Indian and Arab. Again, not a great quota out of so many movies.
15 movies criticized society in some way. This might not seem much but I was actually surprised that it was so many. Sure, these include Pain & Gain or My Name Is Khan where the criticism is somewhat questionable but still, it’s more than you could expect from a medium that not always uses its potential to make the audience think. 9 of these movies I would really call thought-provoking, which, not surprisingly, are mostly some of the best movies of this list.
The best movie is somewhat easy for me. I gave five movies a 10, so I loved all of them. Interestingly, three of those five movies were recommendations from my students, so they know good movies. Django Unchained is great, but I can see where you could question Tarantino’s methods, This Is Spinal Tap is very, very, very funny but did not make me think, 12 Years a Slave made me think a lot but maybe too much, Four Lions is clever and brilliant but… it’s not The Wolf on Wall Street. As I wrote, watching a three-hour-movie and afterwards feeling like watching it again right away must mean something. This movie is so entertaining despite everything it does, it makes you laugh and cringe and think at the same time and the main performances and the direction is perfect. So, Wolf easily wins (thanks, Lara!).
Worst movie is more difficult. I gave four movies a 1, so let’s see. Mac and Me is awful but funny, I hated Crank: High Voltage but I can see how the movie is intentionally crazy. Now, Old Dogs is a terrible, terrible movie that is hard to believe in every way, so it comes close. But Battlefield Earth is simply unwatchable, boring and stupid, so despite agreeing with the general public, this is the worst of this bunch.
That’s my review of three months of movies. As long as I continue watching so many movies, I’ll do this again in three months.