The Unenthusiastic Critic

“The Unenthusiastic Critic” is a special series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. For a fuller explanation of this particular form of relationship suicide, read the introduction to the series in Post # 1, Blazing Saddles.

THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974)

The Unenthusiastic Critic # 22

Continuing with our 3rd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “The Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend “N.”—joins me for a viewing of the 1974 Merchant and Ivory Tobe Hooper film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. As always, spoilers follow, so if (like my girlfriend) you haven't already seen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and if (unlike her) you would like to, you should really do that first. 

Yes, yes, I'm well aware of the fact that All Saint's Day has come and gone, and that somehow I only managed to post a couple of entries in our 2013 Halloween Movie Marathon. Real life interfered, and I apologize for that. Continue reading

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THE WICKER MAN (1973)

The Unenthusiastic Critic # 21

THE WICKER MAN (1973)

Continuing with our 3rd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “The Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend “N.”—joins me for a viewing of the 1973 horror classic The Wicker Man. As always, spoilers follow, so if (like my girlfriend) you haven't already seen The Wicker Man, and if (unlike her) you would like to, you should really do that first.  Continue reading

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HALLOWEEN (1978)

The Unenthusiastic Critic # 20

Yes, it's that time of year again, the season of tricks and treats, of candied apples and toilet-papered trees, of costumes both scary and skanky. Here at The Unaffiliated Critic we celebrate All Saint's Day in accordance with tradition, with the same time-honored rites and sacred rituals our people have been practicing since the year of our founding, way back in 2011.

We make my girlfriend, N., watch scary movies.  Welcome to The Unenthusiastic Critic's 3rd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon. Continue reading

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GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) – Part Two

The Unenthusiastic Critic #19

The Unenthusiastic Critic is an occasional series in which I convince my highly reluctant girlfriend N. to finally watch movies that nearly every other person on the planet has already seen. Today, we present the conclusion to our look at David O. Selznick's Oscar-winning production of Gone with the Wind (1939). You can read Part One, covering the first half of this extremely long movie, here.
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GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) – Part One

The Unenthusiastic Critic #19


The Unenthusiastic Critic is an occasional series in which I convince my highly reluctant girlfriend N. to finally watch movies that nearly every other person on the planet has already seen. (For a fuller explanation of this particular form of relationship suicide, read the introduction to the series here.)

In this edition, we sit down for N.'s first viewing of ten-time Oscar-winner Gone with the Wind. This is (to my girlfriend's horror) the longest movie we've ever done, and (to my own horror) the longest article in the series so far. For your sake as much as mine, I'm splitting this post into two parts. Look for Part Two to follow soon.
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BLADE RUNNER (1982)
The Unenthusiastic Critic # 18

BLADE RUNNER (1982)

The Unenthusiastic Critic is an occasional series in which I convince my highly reluctant girlfriend N. to finally watch movies that nearly every other person on the planet has already seen. (For a fuller explanation of this particular form of relationship suicide, read the introduction to the series here.) In this edition, N. and I sit down for her first viewing of Ridley Scott's 1982 science-fiction classic Blade Runner.

As always, these posts are completely spoiler-filled, so if you’re the other person on the planet who has never seen Blade Runner, proceed with caution. Continue reading

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DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)
A Conversation with The Unenthusiastic Critic

Kerry Washington in DJANGO UNCHAINED

In my review of Django Unchained, I mostly take the position that the movie doesn't really work as a movie, and that therefore the cultural debate taking place around it lends it a significance it doesn't really deserve. I still think this, but the review felt incomplete somehow. So I'm bringing in The Unenthusiastic Critic.
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JU-ON: THE GRUDGE (2003)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #16

Continuing with our 2nd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “The Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend “N.”—joins me for a dose of J-Horror as we sit down to watch Takashi Shimizu's 2003 ghost story Ju-On (The Grudge).  As always, spoilers follow, so if (like my girlfriend) you haven’t already seen Ju-On, and if (unlike her) you would like to, you should really do that first.
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RE-ANIMATOR (1985)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #15

Continuing with our 2nd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “The Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend “N.”—joins me for a viewing of the 1985 cult classic Re-Animator.  As always, spoilers follow, so if (like my girlfriend) you haven’t already seen Re-Animator, and if (unlike her) you would like to, you should really do that first.

Note: The post contains profanity, nudity, and really disgusting pictures, and is decidedly NSFW. (Because otherwise, what's the point?)
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THE HAUNTING (1963)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #14

Continuing with our 2nd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “the Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend “N.”—joins me for a viewing of Robert Wise's 1963 haunted house classic. As always, spoilers follow, so if (like my girlfriend) you haven't already seen The Haunting, and if (unlike her) you would like to, you should really do that first. Continue reading

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THE EVIL DEAD (1981)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #13

Continuing with our 2nd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, “the Unenthusiastic Critic”—my wise-assed, horror-hating girlfriend "N."—joins me for a viewing of Sam Raimi's 1981 cult classic. As always, spoilers abound, so proceed with caution if you're spoiler-phobic—or, for that matter, if you have a weak stomach.
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NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) 
The Unenthusiastic Critic #12

The Unenthusiastic Critic” is an occasional series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend “N.”  joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing.

Throughout October, N. and I will be presenting our 2nd Annual Halloween Movie Marathon, watching as many horror classics as we can fit in between now and All Saint's Day. As always, spoilers abound, so if you're the other person who has never seen Night of the Living Dead, proceed with caution.

When I proudly announced to my girlfriend that I had just about settled on the line-up for this year's October horrorfest, N. met the news with her usual combination of curiosity, excitement, and unbridled enthusiasm.

She: I don't remember agreeing that this would be an annual thing. Continue reading

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MAGIC MIKE (Movie Review)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #11

Spoiler Level: High, so don't read unless you have already seen Magic Mike, or, like me, have already decided not to see it.

I'll be the first to admit it: life really isn't fair. For almost a year I've been arm-twisting my girlfriend, the lovely N., into watching movies with me that she didn't want to watch, just so I could write up her reactions for our occasional series, "The Unenthusiastic Critic." She's sat through off-color comedies, earnest movie musicals, and a whole week-long horror fest, with nary a complaint. (Well, okay, that's a lie: she complained a lot. A lot. Like, incessantly. But that was kind of the point.)

But when it comes to a movie she wants to see, that I really, really don't want to see? Sometimes, we compromise, but once in a while she decides to give me a break and go by herself. ("I'm a nicer person than you are," she explains, quite accurately.) Such was the case with Magic Mike, the new Steven Soderbergh-directed beefcake flick starring Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. It's not that I'm necessarily opposed to two hours of watching my girlfriend drool over men with bodies much, much better than my own, but it didn't sound like a particularly good time to me either. I offered to go with her, but she perceptively intuited that my heart wasn't really in it and agreed to go by herself. Continue reading

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ALIENS (1986)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #10

The Unenthusiastic Critic” is an occasional series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend “N.”  joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. (For a fuller explanation of this particular form of relationship suicide, read the introduction to the series here.)

As always, these posts are completely spoiler-filled, so if you’re the other person on the planet who hasn’t seen Aliens, proceed with caution.

Last week, we began our creature double-feature with Ridley Scott's original, franchise-launching classic Alien, which my reluctant viewing partner declared her favorite among all the films we've watched so far for The Unenthusiastic Critic. This week, I test her patience—and push my luck—by taking us back to Planet LV-426 for James Cameron's 1986 sequel, Aliens.
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ALIEN (1979)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #9

The Unenthusiastic Critic” is an occasional series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend “N.”  joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. (For a fuller explanation of this particular form of relationship suicide, read the introduction to the series here.)

As always, these posts are completely spoiler-filled, so if you're the other person who hasn't seen Alien, proceed with caution. Continue reading

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THE HELP (2011)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #8

As regular readers of this blog know, “The Unenthusiastic Critic” is my girlfriend, N., who normally sits down with me—under protest—to watch movies that I feel represent unforgivable gaps in her movie education. This week, however, we're departing from the format, as N. joins me to watch a recent release that neither of us has seen before.

The truth is, I was pretty unenthusiastic myself, and had deliberately avoided going to see The Help in theaters. But I'm an awards-show addict, and when The Help received several nominations—not just from the (notoriously dubious) Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but also from the more respectable Screen Actors Guild—I knew I was going to have to watch it. You see, I make it a point to see as many nominated films as possible, so that when they win awards they don't deserve I can rant about them with a clear conscience. This year, I had a strong feeling I'd want to throw a proper, well-justified fit if The Help should happen to win anything, and so I decided I'd have to give it a look.

And because I couldn't face it alone, and because I thought the perspective of an African-American woman might be helpful, I approached the one person on the planet I knew wanted to watch The Help even less than I did: my girlfriend.

"You have fun with that," she said. "I'm not watching that shit." (To be fair, this is what she always says whenever I suggest we watch something for this blog.)

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IT (1990)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #7

The Unenthusiastic Critic” is a special series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend “N.”  joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. In a very special series within this very special series, N. has agreed to watch as many horror movies as we can fit in between now and All Saint’s Day. That N. really hates horror movies, is easily freaked out, and will almost certainly have nightmares all week long, makes her participation all the more admirable…and dumb…and potentially amusing. Continue reading

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FREAKS (1932)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #6

The Unenthusiastic Critic” is a special series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend “N.”  joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. In a very special series within this very special series, N. has agreed to watch as many horror movies as we can fit in between now and All Saint’s Day. That N. really hates horror movies, is easily freaked out, and will almost certainly have nightmares all week long, makes her participation all the more admirable…and dumb…and potentially amusing. Continue reading

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THE THING (1982)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #5

The Unenthusiastic Critic” is a special series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend “N.”  joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. In a very special series within this very special series, N. has agreed to watch as many horror movies as we can fit in between now and All Saint’s Day. That N. really hates horror movies, is easily freaked out, and will almost certainly have nightmares all week long, makes her participation all the more admirable…and dumb…and potentially amusing. Continue reading

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THE EXORCIST (1973)
The Unenthusiastic Critic #4

The Unenthusiastic Critic” is a special series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend "N."  joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. In a very special series within this very special series, N. has agreed to watch as many horror movies as we can fit in between now and All Saint's Day. That N. really hates horror movies, is easily freaked out, and will almost certainly have nightmares all week long, makes her participation all the more admirable…and dumb…and potentially amusing. Continue reading

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THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)

The Unenthusiastic Critic #3

“The Unenthusiastic Critic” is a special series in which my highly reluctant girlfriend joins me to watch classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. For a fuller explanation of this particular form of relationship suicide, read the introduction to the series here.

Note: The conversation around this film took some unfortunate turns, and, as such, this article should probably not be read by children, prudes, nuns, musical theater aficionados, fans of Julie Andrews, fans of Christopher Plummer, people who like The Sound of Music, people who were in The Sound of Music—or, really, anyone else on the planet. Continue reading

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STAR WARS (1977)

The Unenthusiastic Critic #2

This is the second entry in a series I’m calling “The Unenthusiastic Critic,” in which I convince my highly reluctant girlfriend to join me in watching classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. For a fuller explanation of this particular form of relationship suicide, read the introduction to the series here.

Film: Star Wars (1977)—Written and Directed by George Lucas.

(Note: We watched Star Wars. Not Star Wars IV: A New Hope, or Star Wars: The Special Edition, or Star Wars: Yet Another Version Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition, but goddamn Star Wars as it was originally presented in 1977, before George Lucas took to digitally, endlessly raping his own creation for profit. It took me a while, but I finally found a DVD set that included the original, unaltered movie as—I’m not kidding—a “bonus feature.”)

Why I Chose It: I admit, it is hard to think of any movie franchise that has suffered such a universal backlash as Star Wars, and it's all earned. By endlessly tinkering with the original films, and by producing three prequels that abandoned all the charm of the original trilogy while underlining all their weaknesses, George Lucas has squandered nearly every ounce of goodwill he ever had. It has become fashionable to denigrate the original trilogy almost as severely as the unwatchable prequels, and certainly there are plenty of fish in this barrel if you choose to shoot them. Continue reading

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BLAZING SADDLES (1974)

The Unenthusiastic Critic #1

This is the first entry in a new series I'm calling "The Unenthusiastic Critic," in which I enlist my highly reluctant girlfriend to join me in watching classic movies that she has somehow managed to avoid seeing. Read on for a fuller explanation of this particular form of relationship suicide.

There are certain movies that I assume everyone has seen. They are not necessarily the greatest movies, or even my favorite movies, but they are the films that—for one reason or another—are woven so thoroughly through the synaptic pathways of my brain that they seem to have always been there. Their rhythms shape the basic grammar of my cultural life, and their dialogue constitutes—on any given day—30 to 50 percent of what comes out of the mouths of me and my deeply weird circle of friends. (My oldest friend and I can converse for hours at a time drawing solely on our common cinematic phrasebook, without ever feeling the need to compose a single original sentence between us. Apparently—or so I've been told—other people can find this shorthand baffling and strangely annoying.) Continue reading

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