Maybe I don’t consider my time quite as precious as other people. Or maybe my standards for what I find to be a worthwhile movie-watching experience are abnormally low. Maybe I just need to find a way to justify the amount of time I spend watching movies that are widely regarded as trash, because the possibility that I’ve wasted hours to years of my life on this stuff is terrifyingly depressing.
Whatever the underlying reason, Christopher Walken’s speech from the movie A Late Quartet has resonated with me since I saw it last year, because he sums up my approach to “bad” movies quite beautifully, speaking about a lesson from an old music mentor. “Try not to focus on mistakes,” he says. “I can be grateful…for even one singular phrase, one transcendent moment.”
It’s a liberating approach if it’s applied to movies. If a movie shows you one kind of scene you’ve never experienced before, one feeling you’ve never felt before, a novel image you’ve never seen before, an idea you’ve never contemplated before, or a tone you’ve never encountered, for me this is a worthwhile experience, one that has left you better off as a human being than 100 minutes prior. Focusing on mistakes is easy, and from my perspective, pretty boring. Mistakes or flaws are everywhere, and rarely possess any kind of significance. It also gets in the way of actually discussing and thinking about the merits of a piece of work, which is made up of far more than a few sloppy moments.
Here are 6 movies that I hope illustrate this point, that it’s possible to emphasize the good stuff, even (particularly) in movies that aren’t hailed as great work. For the rest, leave that to the morons who judge by counting faults.