(Editor’s Note: After discovering the movies that the staff hasn’t watched they’ve all been fired. We will rebuild with people who actually enjoy watching movies.)
We’ve all got that movie right? The one that we keep saying we’re going to watch and never do. The movie that when we tell other people we haven’t seen it they kind of question whether or not they should trust our opinions on movies anymore. That film that has defined a generation and been referenced by hundreds of other films since its release, but we only know it from those references. Yea, we’ve all got one of those.
They’re our white whales. We know we should watch them. We know we could watch them, and yet we just don’t watch them. It’s only a few hours out of our lives, and judging from what everyone says about them, a very well spent few hours, but we just never take that time to do it. For a film critic, such as myself, it’s even worse. We’re supposed to be the ones with the infinite database of movies stuck in our head. How can someone telling you about the latest movies do so with a clear conscious when they haven’t seen all the classics? It can weigh pretty heavily on a guy like me.
So it is with much trepidation and a little bit of fear that I finally publicly admit that I, Matthew Creed Razak, seasoned film critic, professed movie nerd, with a degree in Film, have never seen There Will Be Blood. Yes, for more than a decade I have somehow avoided Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece and only seen snippets of one of the greatest performances of all time from Daniel Day Lewis. It’s sitting in my house. I have the DVD. I have just never watched it.
I do know all the cultural touchstones from the film and I’ve even been known to blurt out, “I drink your milkshake!” every once in a while, but I’m only pretending to know what that even means. It’s just that every time I think about putting it in I think about a Paul Thomas Anderson movie and I think about it being 2 hours and 38 minutes, and then I watch an episode of Doctor Who instead. What’s stupid is that I know I’ll love it, I just have to start it. Every Paul Thomas Anderson movie I watch (I’ve seen almost every other one) is exactly like that; I’m not excited to start it but by the end I’m enthralled and love it. I just haven’t worked up the gumption to get over the “not excited” part for There Will Be Blood.
It’s even more crushing because Daniel Day Lewis, one of the greatest actors the world has known, makes so few films. We go so few chances to see this man perform, and here’s possibly his best work, and I just haven’t seen it. I’ve watched the milkshake scene on YouTube, but that’s it. There’s an entire film of him being that good and I just haven’t put the disk in to watch it.
Worse still, I vote for awards! In 2007 I hadn’t seen one of the best films of the year with the best performance of the year, and I couldn’t vote for it. My personal shame knows no bounds, though, I still feel like I would have voted for No Country for Old Men anyway. I don’t know that for sure, of course, because I still haven’t watched There Will Be Blood.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Director: Stanley Kubrick
There’s pretty much nothing I can say to justify myself in this situation — my only consolation is that at least I’ve seen Elf (looking at you, Chris). No, 2001: A Space Odyssey has just never appealed to me, somehow. It’s one that I know has been parodied to death, if The Simpsons is anything to go by. I admit I ought to have seen more of Kubrick’s work beyond A Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove, and 2001 has been hailed as a masterpiece by countless critics and spectators, exploring our very humanity. So why, in a world where I can easily sit and watch a three-hour epic like Endgame multiple times in the cinema, did I never make it past the opening sequence? Why do I still get it confused with Planet of the Apes? And more to the point, why doesn’t this bother me?
It’s not a lack in attention span. It’s not that I doubt the film’s virtue. And it’s not even that I’m not a big sci-fi fan — I am. If I’m being brutally honest, Kubrick bores me (yawn). He’s always seemed to me way too preppy a name to warrant me watching. Why go to lengths when hundreds, thousands, of others have sat in my shoes before and pondered what Kubrick was trying to achieve through his space exploration epic? It may be in the territory of postdoctoral students to dwell on his work night and day, but I find the pacing of his other work much too slow, too heavy, too academic, to bring me much enjoyment. I can appreciate the effect this film has had on modern cinema ever since, but I hate to admit that 2001 brings out the worst in me. Sorry to all the Kubrick fans, but I just simply don’t have the time or energy to try to sound smart and reel off my favorite insightful observation about the great auteur. Someone else is bound to have done it much better than I have, which I think is about as weak an excuse as I can muster. — Sian Francis-Cox
Director: Richard Donner
You would think that someone who loves comic books and superheroes would have seen one of the most iconic movies of all time, but no. I am ashamed to admit I have never actually sat down and watched the first Superman film in its entirety. Sure, I have seen clips here and there and even heard the iconic soundtrack many times but for some odd reason I just never watched it growing up. I do recall it being on TV quite a lot, even as of late, and still I don’t watch it. I would say it was simply because I got caught up in so much of the newer versions of Superman and DC’s films and of course the MCU. Superman starring the late, great Christopher Reeve just never crossed into my movie watching time.
Maybe it was the outdated look and feel to it that just made me go “meh.” And why waste my time with a movie from the late 70s? Another reason I could say is that I didn’t really have anyone to sit me down and say, “Hey, you need to see this.” When I learned what this month’s feature would be I knew which film I would pick and it was a no-brainer. I do have a lot of other iconic movies I have never seen but I’ll leave those for another post. With all the advancement in CGI and special effects films, today will I still enjoy Superman for what it could do with what it had access to back then? I am certainly willing to try. –– Tarah Bleier
Director: Orson Welles
Wait! What? I am a film critic and I haven’t seen what is regarded as the greatest film of all-time! Yup! I will own it and I will tell you why. Times have changed. People have changed. Interests have changed. And there is no way in hell a two-hour long movie made almost 80 years ago is going to be captivating cinema.
I am proud of the fact I took many film classes in college that helped me develop a taste for cinema and quality and lack thereof. But some of the films that we were forced to watch, (I see you The Birth of a Nation, you racist, racist film, you!) were not good. In their time they were remarkable and innovative and brilliant, but that was then and this is now. And that was school. A time when we were forced to do things we didn’t want to do. But you know what? I graduated… thank you very much! And now in my spare time, I watch things like wrestling, John Wick movies, and then I take naps. So, sorry Citizen Kane, your time to enrich me has passed. — Nathan McVay
The Indiana Jones Series
When I was growing up, I mostly watched cartoons and the occasional live-action series like Power Rangers. Because of this, I missed out on a lot of childhood classics that my generation grew up with. There are plenty of classics that I could throw out, but I feel like the most egregious omission from my film library would be any Indiana Jones movie. And unlike most other movies that I haven’t seen, I don’t even know the plot of any of the movies through cultural osmosis.
I guess my biggest reason for not seeing it is that I honestly just don’t have a passion for watching it. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I’m so disinterested in the adventure of Dr. Jones, but I think it has to do with the fact that I got my dosage of well off, charming heroes traveling around the world and defeating bad guys through other franchises. That’s why I love James Bond so much. James Bond filled the gap for me that Indy filled for others. James Bond was always so cool to me, while Indy just felt gruff and unpleasant. Plus, now I can safely say that I never had to watch Harrison Ford climb into a fridge when a nuclear bomb goes off. I’ve seen many a dumb moment, but that is not one of them. — Jesse Lab
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Psycho is a movie I have to keep reminding myself I haven’t seen. It exists in this weird space where I feel like I’ve seen it, where I know the beats, major shots, and sequences, and yet I know for a fact I’ve never sat down and actually watched the film. I hear it’s pretty good. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s seeped into our collective pop-culture subconscious.
There’s never been a moment in my life in which someone hasn’t been riffing Psycho. I’ve seen plenty of shows and movies either satirizing or ripping off the Hitchcock classic — the shower scene, the skeleton mother, the face of Norman Bates. It’s like the entire entertainment industry is some annoying friend that can’t stop going on and on about just how good the movie is, recapping scenes over and over and playing it like some kind of inside joke, and the thought of watching it has become more of a chore to be a part of something than a genuine interest in checking out a thriller from one of filmmaking’s macabre masters.
I’ve seen Rear Window and Vertigo, anyhow. I’m sure I’m fine only feeling like I’ve seen Psycho. — Kyle Yadlosky
It’s a Wonderful Life
Director: Frank Capra
“Two for …Wonderful Life please.” “Sure thing.” “Oh it’s such a sweet, sweet movie, this time of year…” “Ah, I’ve never seen it.” “You what.”
So went my conversations every holiday season during my years working at a wonderful arthouse movie theater. We’d show the Frank Capra classic for a run of a week, with families and their rosy cheeks and scarfs all ready for… joy and cheer, I guess?
Straight up, I’m no Scrooge. I love the holidays! Why can’t we just get along all the time? But something about good ‘ol Jimmy Stewart moping and discovering the joy of life on a Christmas Eve, well, it just doesn’t do much for me. Or at least, I think it doesn’t. I wouldn’t know! I haven’t seen it!
It doesn’t help that with something to expressly seasonal my own stubborn inclinations would prevent me from watching it any time other than the snowy final days of December, in tandem with the alleged joy and goodwill on screen. So every year Christmas rolls around and I’ll be sitting there, sipping my hot beverage thinking “Hm, should I watch It’s a Wonderful Life..?” More often than not, I proceed to rewatch For A Few Dollars More or Hard Boiled, or some other twisted holiday “tradition” I might conjure up.
Maybe this year! — Sam van der Meer
Director: Michael Curtiz
For one reason or another, I’ve never seen Casablanca. I’m not unfamiliar with the film, having ridden Disney’s now closed “Great Movie Ride” more than a dozen times, but I’ve never caught an opportunity to watch it. This is mostly strange not because I watch classic movie channels (which I don’t), but because I’ve purchased both the DVD and Blu-Ray for my mom as Christmas gifts. You’d think I would have sat down to experience the movie at some point.
Maybe it’s the fact that I know the ending or that the film is 46 years older than me, but I just haven’t seen it. There is actually quite a bit of classic cinema I’ve yet to see, either because I’m too busy playing newer video games or don’t have much interest, but Casablanca is often heralded as one of the greatest of its era. It would make sense for me to partake of its glory and see how it shaped the films we watch today. Maybe I’ll do that, or maybe not. It might take a 4K Blu-Ray release that I get my mom to finally drive the point home, though. — Peter Glagowski
Director: Martin Scorcese
I feel ashamed to be admitting this, but it’s time I come clean. Having seen uncountable sports movies and many Scorsese films, this should’ve fallen perfectly in the middle of my sports and movie venn diagram. But, for one reason or another, it has not played across my television screen. It’s got everything going for it: A true story, boxing, Scorsese, and a young Robert De Niro. It is a superfecta that I should be watching right now instead of typing this, but here we are. If this is my Moby Dick, call me Lazy.
The fact of the matter is that typing out these paragraphs has reopened my eyes to the lunacy that Raging Bull is on my Never Watched It list. If anything, putting the words out into the world and baring my shame is cathartic, and now I can start the healing process. Or, you know, I could just press play. — Nick Hershey
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“Slaves you were, and slaves you remain, but the terrible penalty of crucifixion has been set aside on the single condition that you identify the body or the living person of the slave called ‘Spartacus’.”
“I am Spartacus!”
“I’m… Well… I guess in theory and in solidarity with my comrades here I will claim to be the eponymous fellow from the 1960 Kirk Douglas vehicle, but I have a confession to make. You see, I love Stanley Kubrick’s films, and I understand the historical and political significance of Spartacus after the Red Scare, but I’ve just never seen the movie; it is the only Kubrick movie I haven’t seen. Hell, I’ve somehow watched Killer’s Kiss twice, and I don’t think that one’s all that good. The film’s place in Hollywood history is fascinating regardless. Dalton Trumbo was a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist, and Spartacus was the first major film released in which a blacklisted screenwriter wasn’t working under a pseudonym or uncredited for their work. And yes, Kubrick was essentially a fill-in director on Spartacus who never felt completely in control of the production, which was Douglas/Trumbo’s baby. Douglas fired previous director Anthony Mann and contacted Kubrick because they worked together on the incredible WWI film Paths of Glory. But…”
“What are you trying to say, bald-headed, bespectacled hipster who we will crush and destroy?”
“I’m… I’m going to watch Spartacus soon, okay?” — Hubert Vigilla
Star Wars: A New Hope
Director: George Lucas
I was a film snob well before I knew it because I always bemoaned being born a generation or two too late. Not because I wanted to fight in World War II or something, but I always loved westerns so much more than any space movie. So I never went out of my way to see Star Wars and thus have never seen A New Hope despite having seen nearly every other film in the franchise. Growing up the Star Wars prequels were coming out, meaning fans were at a fever pitch. Being all of 5 when The Phantom Menace released, I saw it and the other two as well, at least partially to appease a certain Star Wars obsessed fifth-grade teacher. The Return of the Jedi came next at a Mormon friend’s birthday party with his entire family, including his mom who skipped Jabba’s Palace fight because she didn’t like Leia’s portrayal in that scene. Then nothing.
It’s not even indifference to important movies in film history that I haven’t seen the original first film. At Blockbuster, I had to choose between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, and the employee pushed me into the dark side, I suppose. At this point, I’ve seen Solo, guys. SOLO! But I still have not searched out the movie that spawned a franchise that has kept me mildly entertained for more than two decades. I’m sure I’ll catch it on TCM in a few years, or not. Space is kinda boring, ya know? — Bradley Sexton
Director: William Friedkin
It’s a crime I haven’t seen this movie. I own this movie! I love horror movies and I’ve never seen what is considered one of, if not, the best horror movies ever. How does that happen? I keep telling myself I’ll just sit down and watch it one day. I bought it with a distinct plan to watch it around Halloween for the first time. I just never followed through due to one reason or another.
You have to admit that the legacy surrounding this movie is insane. I think that’s part of what’s kept me away. If people keep telling you something is the best, well you tend to raise your expectations a bit. I keep thinking that once I watch this that I’ve seen the highest point and any other horror movie will let me down. This has so many elements of horror movies I love too. It’s got demons, possession, and a side of atmosphere. The numbered Conjuring movies are some of my favorites, so this seems like the granddaddy of all movies like those. The little I’ve seen looks incredible and the praise is out of this world. I’m just not sure I’m ready to let go of the dream that is The Exorcist, yet. — John Morey
Director: Jon Favreau
Is the opposite of a Christmas miracle a “Christmas crime?” If that’s the case, I may as well be a Christmas criminal. In the pantheon of holiday movies that everyone gets obsessed about for an entire month, Elf starring Will Ferrell is certainly up there. It was one of those movies that had a trailer that I felt looked stupid as a child, but to my surprise, it’s become a popular culture staple. I missed it in theaters, not out of any sort of protest, but I guess it just wasn’t on my family’s radar at the time. Sixteen years later, I still haven’t seen it—again, not out of any stubbornness, but just because it isn’t something I’ve thought to put time into. The most ironic part of all of this is that I own the damn movie.
Seriously, I’m staring at the DVD cover as I am typing this. It seems like the sort of juvenile sweet treat I would appreciate as an adult, something that would have still held up over a decade afterwards. But alas, I have been unwilling to give the 90 minutes. Perhaps it is due to an internal aversion to Christmas media—while I do love the holiday and the excuses to be with friends and family, I tire of the music and films quite easily. Perhaps the cynical side of adult me sees Elf as part of that cycle. Still, director Jon Favreau has come such a long way in his career since then, so perhaps it’s worth visiting out of respect for his work. I’m sure it’ll be better than Love Actually. Fuck that fucking movie. — Chris Compendio