Reactionary Oscar-Winner

In response to today’s news that Robert Zemeckis‘s Forrest Gump has been added to the National Film Registry, here’s a reposting of a piece I wrote in October 2008:

“I have a still-lingering resentment of that film, which I and many others disliked from the get-go for the way it kept saying ‘keep your head down’, for its celebration of clueless serendipity and simpleton-ism, and particularly for the propagandistic way it portrayed ’60s-era counter-culture types and in fact that whole convulsive period.

“Every secondary hippie or protestor character in that film was a selfish loutish asshole, and every man and woman in the military was modest, decent and considerate. These and other aspects convinced me that the film was basically reactionary Republican horseshit, and led me to write an L.A. Times Syndicate piece called ‘Gump vs. Grumps,’ about the Forrest Gump backlash.

“No offense to screenwriter Eric Roth, who’s a good fellow and a brilliant writer.

In response to which an HE reader named “hcat” said the following: “I have the same problem with Gump. While it flows well and is quite funny throughout, I hate the way it continually rewards Forrest for his stupidity and punishes Jenny for her exploration.

“What especially irks me is the fact that it criticizes the counter-culture and the hippies, but cues up their music every time they need a quick nostalgia hit. Gump is a country boy and the soundtrack should have been wall to wall Oak Ridge Boys. But that way I can’t imagine it being anywhere near the hit it was.”

96 thoughts on “Reactionary Oscar-Winner

  1. Jesse Crall on said:

    hcat was absolutely right. I enjoyed Forrest Gump immensely as a kid, mainly because it’s different settings, high emotions, and pop soundtrack made for a fun viewing experience for someone who hadn’t seen many adult flicks. But man, it’s simplistic and, Jeff, you’re right, offensive to the counter-cuture. I’d still give it an A- but it sure ain’t Pulp Fiction.

  2. It’s like people don’t “get” such a simple movie. The entire point is that everything works out for the simpleton, even when he’s unaware of the reality and dangers. That’s why it’s funny. The movie makes fun of Forrest’s skewed point of view throughout.

    And Jenny wasn’t “exploring,” she was running away from all her problems and hooking with druggies and abusive men. The scene where Forrest recounts his story to her on her deathbed is probably the best scene in Zemeckis’ career.

    Along with the “I wanted Pulp Fiction to win so that means it sucks,” the Gump backlash from people has always seemed disingenuous to me.

  3. hcat is definitely right, but I love how Jeff can go from reactionary Republican horseshit in one sentence to good fellow and a brilliant writer.

    Jeffrey Marie Antoinette Wells wants to eat his Mahi Mahi and ride the dolphin too.

  4. I agree with you guys on Forrest Gump, but Pulp Fiction is no masterpiece either. The dialogue has aged poorly and the non-chronological timeline tires after repeat viewings.

  5. How does the lack of a linear narrative “tire” you?

    Citizen Kane must be torture.

    And fuck Forrest Gump. Jeffrey and hcat are right on the money; all those boomers got duped by that soundtrack and cheered on a movie that was telling them they’re all a bunch of hypocrites and opportunists. Imagine George W. Bush running for president in 1996 on the tails of that movie; he would have won in a landslide.

  6. Reactionary Republican horseshit….expect a lot more of it as the WASP majority peters out, and always remember Wells, most people ARE stupid. In this country especially where people are punished for being right and richly rewarded for being disastrously wrong. People don’t want to see movies about smart people, they feel left out and resent it deeply.

    “I agree with you guys on Forrest Gump, but Pulp Fiction is no masterpiece either. ”

    Disqualifying statement.

  7. It is a wretched, evil, bilious piece of exceedingly well made tripe. When I say that to people who like it they think I’m crazy to call such a “loveable” movie evil. But then, the devil wouldn’t make a song you couldn’t dance to.

  8. I saw “Forrest Gump” about three months before it came out. (crappy looking, not-done-yet CG and all!)

    I thought it was great. My only problem was the over-obvious music cues, really. But then I saw it baggage-free. It always seemed to me like a comedy, and much of it is very, very funny.

    Somebody somewhere planted the idea that it was a “Republican movie” and the backlash began. Give me a fucking break. What a bunch of pussies you are. It’s like you sense a film doesn’t 100% stick to the typical Hollywood baby boomer bullshit 60′s history framework and suddenly it’s “Atlas Shrugged”.

    I think too many people read way too much into it. Relax. It’s a fine piece of entertainment, not a milestone of historic significance.

    Also…. enough with the Gump vs. Pulp Fiction nonsense. How’s this…. they were BOTH really good. Eh?

    Why this endless obsession with creating a dividing line? Us versus Them. You like the “Social Network”? Great. Then you have to agree that “The King’s Speech” SUCKED. “Moneyball” or “The Artist”? Chose one! You can’t like both!

    It’s why Wells is so fucking tiresome this time of year.

  9. @Actionlover I find arguing about movies to be pretty damn fun, but I agree that the Us versus Them often reaches ridiculous points. As I said above, Forrest Gump still rates well enough for me because the acting is great and there were moments that were stunning, like Forrest running across a desert sunset or the Napalm in Vietnam. When Zemeckis let the actors and camera carry the film, he had portions of a masterpiece. But the other commenters above are also correct in pointing out the really faulty messages put forth by the film. It takes a “Greatest Hits” look at America and too often resorts to cliches or dopiness. But again, it reached heights at times that few films have in my lifetime.

    As for Social Network Vs. The King’s Speech, hell, I thought The Fighter was the best movie of 2010…

  10. Also included in the Registry this year are The Silence of The Lambs and Rodriguez’s El Mariachi.

    But the other commenters above are also correct in pointing out the really faulty messages put forth by the film

    The movie is so obviously being satirical about it, that I fail to see how someone can take it seriously politically. It’s like believing Kubrick actually supported nuclear war or something. The unintelligent war veteran lucks his way into national fame, and fortune. You could read that as an indictment of America if you wanted.

  11. Like Gump and Pulp Fiction, both have their flaws though. The Thurman/Travolta segment is a top slog for me today. Pulp Fiction probably has Tarantino’s most memorable if not necessarily best individual scenes. In terms of pure enjoyability from start to finish I’d probably rate Pulp Fiction fourth after Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Bastards, and Jackie Brown.

  12. “Action lover” is a Republican-favoring, simplistic-minded bigmouth so naturally he’s going to say “chill down” on Gump vs. Grump. It’s a rancid film and a library deiight, I’m sure, for millions of George Bush supporters.

    I never said I hated or even disliked The King’s Speech. All along I confined myself to saying it had no business taking the Best Picture Oscar from The Social Network, and that people who voted for it in this capacity had degraded…nay, shamed themselves and the Oscar tradition. It’s victory over TSN was roughly analogous to The Greatest Show on Earth defeating High Noon for the 1952 Best Picture Oscar. Otherwise I felt it was a fairly decent film with above-average to very good performances. I liked it. It was fine.

  13. @lazarus

    It’s not physically tiring. I figured you would understand that it was tiring of how edgy Tarantino thought that was. It’s completely irrelevant. Magnolia and Memento use it effectively.

  14. In my rebellious mind of youth I hated Forrest Gump when I was young. Especially hated that it beat Pulp. And then I saw the movie. You have to have some quite rotten heart and mind to hate Forrest Gump. Beyond all the ideaological battles, there comes a time to it’s just great to dream of great positive stories. it’s like The Sound of Music or Singin in the Rain. there’s a naivity to these type of movies that just have to accept and join the ride. or maybe not and just stay unhappy. your choice.

  15. Jeff, I think you’re reading into elements of Forrest Gump than can certainly be interpreted as conservative but are hardly absolute. Robert Zemeckis has made significant contributions to the Democratic Party and I highly doubt he would make a film that supports the “foul and evil qualities of Bush (or Reaganomics, for that matter).

    Here are some examples of events in the film that show a liberal slant:

    Spoilers:

    The war in Vietnam kills Forrest’s best friend

    The army uses Forrest as a soldier and ping-pong champion then casually dumps him

    Forrest feels excessive pride when Jenny tells him that their son is intelligent

    Yeah, the Black Panthers are assholes but that’s hardly a narrative stretch

    Forrest’s generosity allows the black woman who always cooked for others finally be cooked for (lame, yes, and problematic that the white man has to help out the black woman, but that’s more limousine liberal-esque than right-wing

    I’m a Socialist dove, so politically, I’m left of left, but I think Forrest Gump’s largest flaws lie within its cheesiness and plot contrivances. If you have specific examples that show a clear-cut right-wing agenda that aren’t tempered by liberal ones, I’d love to hear them, though. It’s an interesting debate.

  16. I…. I can’t…. but…. I agree with Rashad (that physically pained me).

    The movie is about how lucky some mentally challenged guy is, and how, while he may not have the smarts, he has some talents (like ping pong) and is kind and gentle and loving. It’s about how you shouldn’t treat anyone with disrespect or hatred because you don’t know what they’re capable of.

    The movie doesn’t punish Jenny for “experimenting”; it punishes her for being a coke head who fucks every guy who walks by. Every time we see her, she’s doing something considered lowly (stripping, doing hard drugs, etc). It’s not like she said “well, I’ll just do acid this once” and then never does it again. No, she’s letting a guy do a line off her ass as she blows some other dude to pay for her 8 Ball.

    By your logic, Requiem For a Dream is saying how you shouldn’t try to start a business or try to lose weight.

  17. “Every secondary hippie or protestor character in that film was a selfish loutish asshole,”

    Well, you know, maybe he was just anticipating what they’d become.

  18. “Every secondary hippie or protestor character in that film was a selfish loutish asshole.”

    Since most of the hippies or protestors were whites from middle/upper middle class families–yeah, they were “selfish loutish assholes.” Most of them could give a fuck about the Vietnam War or Civil Rights. All they cared about was doing nothing and getting high all day long. And they used the “peace” movement as an excuse for their narcissism. You didn’t see that many blacks protesting in Berkeley because they couldn’t–they had to work for a living! Not like the lazy students who had mommy and daddy paying almost everything for them. I grew up during the 60s and I can tell you the “hippie movement” was a joke. It didn’t end the Vietnam War and it sure as hell didn’t bring peace to the world. What did it bring? The Manson family. Altamont. Crazy shit like that.

    I always saw Forrest Gump as a zen movie. Unlike most Americans who feel they always have to be in control of their lives, I didn’t see Gump being that way. He just let things happen and went with the flow. Isn’t that what the zen buddhists believe in? That’s why I liked Gump. It showed how messed up the hippies were, and how someone like Gump had a much more successful lifestyle than the hippies. Let the bashing begin.

  19. Politics aside, Sinise and Mykelti Williamson (and Robin Wright) are beyond reproach in this.

    I think Drew McWeeny’s been making this argument of Wells’ as long as AICN’s been around and even before that, and it has merit and FG has the misfortune of having become, yes, this Us Vs Them BOGEYMAN that cost Pulp Fiction (or Shawshank, depending on your vantage point) its Oscar legitimacy… But I know for a fact, anecdotally and speaking only for myself, I was JUMPING UP AND DOWN over it having bawled in the aisles on opening weekend… then when Pulp came along and seemed like THE movie of the era and just mind-blowing and revolutionary, I was ranting about how much Gump sucked and how Hanks was overrated, it should be Travolta, etc etc… I’m sure there’s a middle ground here where it’s probably a really good movie, if you can tune out whatever politics you find disagreeable…

    But it’s definitely not much on rewatch value, mostly because I find it too depressing. Especially that “she died on a Wednesday” or whatever thing Hanks says at the end, which ranks up there with “Deer Hunter” score as some shit that’ll change my mood for a week if I hear even a split second of it.

  20. How is this even a discussion? Nevermind the politics – that stupid fucking feather being lofted through the air by the most treacly, saccharine, diabetes-inducing, Ken-doll-flat-NOTHING-between-the-legs score imaginable seals the doom on “Forrest Gump” for me. And I say that as somebody who’d say it was a three and a half star movie the first time I watched it.

  21. Wow, this truly is an amazing conspiracy.

    So, not only is Forrest Gump a secret Republican Party propaganda film, somehow the two Bush’s conspired during Clinton’s term to get it awarded Best Picture by one of the most acclaimed liberal organizations in the USA.

    This is an astonishing story you’ve unearthed here Jeff.

  22. If anything, the most damning evidence against Forrest Gump is that it spawned a chain of truly awful seafood restaurants that are prominent in most coastal tourist towns.

  23. “….by the most treacly, saccharine, diabetes-inducing, Ken-doll-flat-NOTHING-between-the-legs score imaginable…”

    I was going to make note of the depressing score, but then I realized I was conflating it in my mind with the REAL most depressing, treacly, saccharine score of imaginable– Terms of Endearment– and couldn’t remember what the actual FG music sounded like.

    Anyway, wasn’t it Alan Silvestri, and didn’t he go sort of MIA from big pictures for like a decade-plus after Gump, only to resurface recently?

  24. Let’s focus on something positive about the ’94/’95 Oscar race, like the fact that by some miracle, Kieslowski’s Red (the actual best film of the year) managed to score nominations for not only cinematography and screenplay, but for direction as well.

    I’d wonder aloud how the fuck that managed to happen, but the answer is Harvey Weinstein, who thankfully didn’t blow his entire load on promoting Pulp Fiction that year.

  25. According to IMDB, Silvestri has been working pretty steadily on various studio films (including all of Zemeckis’ films) since Gump without really any noticeable gaps.

  26. Huh… Maybe I was thinking of Elliot Goldenthal, who sort of dropped off after his 90s heyday, or one of those whammy-guitar action dudes like Mark Mancina they never use anything– I used to get him mixed up with Silvestri, because Silvestri did stuff like Ricochet.

    Hard to believe the man who did the rousing DELTA FORCE THEME did that Gump treacle.

  27. @Lex

    Nope. According to IMDB, Silvestri did The Parent Trap, Stuart Little, Castaway and a bunch more big name stuff here and there. Mostly stuff you don’t particularly remember how well it was scored

  28. The best wide-released film that year wasn’t ‘Gump’ or ‘Pulp’…it was ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. The real travesty was that film getting shut out entirely.

  29. @Scream780 I’d still go Pulp #1 but Shawshank was amazing. Greatest ending in film, maybe, and it would have made for a great adapted screenplay winner alongside Pulp’s win for original.

    I’d like to see all of us try to come up with a list of objectively great films. Like, what would every thoughtful, non-trolling member of this site (or Awardsdaily and InContention) consider an A/A+ flick. Casablanca, The Godfather, GoodFellas? Because based on these comments even Pulp Fiction falls short. Gump proves that even a massively successful and Academy-lauded movie gets (sometimes fairly) lambasted by generally informed people.

  30. I’d wonder aloud how the fuck that managed to happen, but the answer is Harvey Weinstein, who thankfully didn’t blow his entire load on promoting Pulp Fiction that year.

    it’s more that the film was disqualified from the foreign language category and there was a push among Academy members to put it up in main categories as a sort of compensation (see also: Kurosawa’s directing nomination for Ran in ’86)

  31. I never got the effusive Shawshank love. It’s good for sure, but mostly for Freeman, and not Robbin’s sort-of-but-not-really mentally challenged performance. It’s one of the weakest efforts from Deakins, but I blame Darabont for that, as none of his movies ever look more than AMC level tv quality.

  32. “”Action lover” is a Republican-favoring, simplistic-minded bigmouth so naturally he’s going to say “chill down” on Gump vs. Grump. It’s a foul & evil George Bush film — I agree.”

    (bears repeating)

    Beautiful. Simply……beautiful.

  33. How I despise Forrest Gump. Its so obviously an attempt to clean up the messy but massively important mind shift of the 60s with familiar conservative tropes…listen to your mother. Respect authority. Don’t trust new ideas. Drugs are bad. Sex kills. Ah!!

    Makes me throw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it long enough to write this. Pulp fiction wasn’t perfect, but it’s more influential, more daring, and more full of life and energy than fucking Gump could ever hope to be. Worst best picture screw up in my lifetime, easy.

  34. How I despise Forrest Gump. Its so obviously an attempt to clean up the messy but massively important mind shift of the 60s with familiar conservative tropes…listen to your mother. Respect authority. Don’t trust new ideas. Drugs are bad. Sex kills. Ah!!

    Makes me throw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it long enough to write this. Pulp fiction wasn’t perfect, but it’s more influential, more daring, and more full of life and energy than fucking Gump could ever hope to be. Worst best picture screw up in my lifetime, easy.

  35. “Kieslowski’s Red (the actual best film of the year)…”

    Lazarus, always bringing up some bullshit.

    Pulp Fiction and Natural Born Killers are the two UNDISPUTED MASTERPIECES of 1994, and both of them are ABSOLUTELY better than old-ass Casablanca, with Bogart and his stupid voice and bad acting and no swearing or nudity.

    Was it Lisa Schwartzbaum who said “Shawshank Redemption is a cult movie for squares”? Whoever said it, it’s one of the best lines of all time. There should be a whole book devoted to CULT MOVIES FOR SQUARES. Prominently featured also would be Sneakers, Frequency, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, among others.

  36. Shawshank’s hardly a cult movie. #1 on IMDB, with more votes than any other film.

    It’s not the best film of all time. But it connects with a lot of people.

  37. She said it in like ’95 or ’96.

    Shawshank is really good, but it shouldn’t crack IMDB’s top 2,000, let alone be ANYWHERE near the #1 spot. I think I’d half-heartedly argue in terms of cinematics, Forest Gump is a better movie than Shawshank. And, yeah, yeah, Quiz Show from ’94 has some fans, but NOBODY NOBODY rewatches that white-man bullshit, while they all sit around watching THE SPECIALIST every time it’s on Cinemax, probably the most-rewatched non-Pulp/Shawshank movie of ’94.

    Also KILLING ZOE is the work of gods. Then as now, I hardly even know what this RED/WHITE/BLUE shit was, but I’m sure it’s in 1.85 with muted Miramax dust-white sheen and no style. Pulp Fiction admittedly even has the MIRAMAX SHEEN, aka the ugliest/dullest look in movie history. Why did all their movies look so under-colored and drab and without popping colors?

  38. @ Jesse – I don’t dislike ‘Pulp’, just strongly prefer ‘Shawshank’.

    @ Lex – Kieslowski isn’t for everyone, but he’s got style and substance in spades. Cookie-cutter Miramax of the 90′s, he ain’t. Tarantino himself said ‘Red’ should win the Palm d’Or when Pulp won it.

    I know you’re a big fan of ‘Melancholia’ – so don’t be afraid to dip your toe in. ‘Blue’ is a very similar film in many ways. Start with that one…if it doesn’t grab you, so be it.

  39. What the hell is so great about Casablanca? It’s hard to find a less charismatic movie star than Bogart, and Bergman is SO BLAND! The story is super predictable, it looks like it’s shot in a basement with theatre sets, and people break into song, the SAME song, over and over. As much as we complain about movies today it’s hard to think of a less interesting era in American film history than the 40′s, when the money-men controlled everything and directors hardly had a say on who photographed or wrote a movie, or even who got cast. A time of pure business. Thank God for Kane

  40. I never thought that Gump was right-wing reactionary horse-shit.

    As a european I thought it’s hilarious you just have to be a simpleton to get rich, successful and famous in the US of A.

    And… as someone pointed out above: The Vietnam sequence is a masterpiece. An Anti-War-Movie-Miniature.

  41. I also really don’t know how Forrest is rewarded. I mean, he has to endure peer abuse as a child, gets sent to Vietnam, where, even if he saved his best friend, probably saw a lot of other fellow compatriots get killed along the way, and has the one person he loves die on him, while he’s forced to raise a son on his own. And at the beginning, he’s on crutches, FFS.

  42. Pulp Fiction is close to great, and maybe that’s enough. Gump? It had it’s moments, but overall it was ok. Shawshank? The book was better.

  43. TEAM ACTIONLOVER for me. I park in HIS garage on this one.

    FG is a great movie. So is Pulp Fiction. So is Shawshank (a perfect example of the wisdom that comes with reflection over time, something TRULY LACKING from this blog, where NO ONE ever learns a God Damn thing from the passing years).

    I never read politics much into FG, but sure, it’s there, and the reason Jeff and his foul, bilious ilk hate it is because it’s RIGHT: selfish people are assholes, and NO ONE in American history was (is) more selfish than Jeff’s generation.

    NO. ONE.

  44. FG is a Rorschach movie: tossing half-developed ideas on the screen knowing some of them will reach the emotions of some of the viewers. I have seen at least 10,000 movies, and this is the one I hate the most. Completely phony from start to finish.

  45. Ed Wood was my favorite movie released in 1994, and since I don’t give two shits about the Academy Awards, that works out fine for me.

    I never had any problem with Forrest Gump’s “political message.” Like most Zemeckis films, I always assumed it was a gimimick movie that was just an excuse to show off the latest film tech. I liked it fine until the interminable running back and forth across the U.S. sequence, which I thought undercut just about everything that happened before it. Forrest inadvertently invented the smiley face. How the hell does that fit into the “political narrative?”

    I swear, sometimes this site veers dangerously close to “there’s a Red [stater] under my bed!” territory.

  46. I really love Pulp Fiction, but it isn’t perfect. It kind of reaches a plateau of insane brilliance with the gimp sequence, and pretty much runs out of steam after that. I’ve always had trouble with the Harvey Keitel bit – the idea that these stone cold professional hit-men need to phone a friend because there’s a dead body in their car seems somewhat implausible – most of he stuff he tells them to do, like cleaning out the blood from the car, would hardly require the presence of a criminal mastermind.

    “A cult movie for squares” is a brilliant description of Shawshank. I remember back in the day, Shawshank and Braveheart were the absolute top two movies for squares.

  47. Pulp Fiction is literally the movie that opened my eyes to the power of cinema; it’s the film that changed my life. I have no hesitation in saying that it’s one of the best and most important movies ever made.

    That being said, in retrospect, 1994 was a PHENOMENAL year for movies in general:

    Leon

    Natural Born Killers

    Gump

    Pulp

    The Hudsucker Proxy

    Clear and Present Danger

    Ed Wood

    Crumb

    Quiz Show

    Speed

    Reality Bites

    Four Weddings and a Funeral

    True Lies

    Nobody’s Fool

    Dumb and Dumber

    Cobb

    Interview with the Vampire

    Stargate

    Shawshank

    The Ref

    Fresh

    Crooklyn

    The Mask

    Ace Ventura

    Jesus H. Christmas, Jim Carrey had his three best “silly” comedies released in the same year!

  48. All those things that you hate about Forrest Gump Jeff? That’s what I love about it the most. THE single most subversive film of the last 25 years, does $600M+ worldwide and pinches at least 4 Oscars off Pulp Fiction and it’s hipper-than-thou zeitgeist while it’s at it. Incredible.

  49. Paul Bartel once more gets the shaft since both Secret Cinema and Death Race 2000 deserve this honor. Gump? Is Paramount too broke to fed their cash cows?

  50. @ Bob Violence: Good call, but it’s also kind of amazing that Kieslowski was getting the same treatment/respect as an old master Kurosawa. Shows how quickly his star rose in the early 90′s.

  51. The relationship I have with Forrest Gump is similar to one I’d have with an old friend or relative. In some encounters the drama seems too mawkish and the comedy comes off as too cynical. And then sometimes the comedy & drama cut very deeply.

    What’s interesting about Gump now for me is that the period of American history this very popular movie covered has been completely replayed over the past decade with little awareness and outrage from the public.

  52. Here, here, actionman.

    Seriously, guys, read Joe Leydon’s article on this before commenting. You see what you want to see in Forrest Gump, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. Forrest Gump’s a great movie. Maybe it hasn’t aged as well or has the rewatchability of Pulp Fiction of Shawshank, but if we compiled everyone’s slams of every movie made on this site, one could conclude there’s no such thing as a good movie.

  53. What about El Mariachi getting in with the $7,000 lie attached to it? The movie that made it to the screen cost a little more than roughie that made it onto the VHS tape demo.

  54. STAND AND DELIVER?!?!?!?!?!

    “HEEEEEY, Finger MAAAAAN!” Really, Olmos RULES ALL in that and it was a Karate Kid III-level HBO rewatch but in the day, but so was LEAN ON ME, and I don’t see that getting into any registries. “You smoke CRACK, BOY? YOU DO, DONTCHA?” Is Stand and Deliver really an accomplished piece of filmmaking? It ends with a dorky calculus exam, and I couldn’t tell you who directed it. If they wanted a Latino experience movie, it should’ve been EL NORTE.

    Or BOUND BY HONOR, BLOOD IN BLOOD OUT.

  55. Did someone just say PULP FICTION peaks after the gimp scene? What the living fuck?

    “You give that fucking nimrod 1500 dollars I’ll shoot him on general principle…”

    “Truth is, you’re the weak, and I’m the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying Ringo, I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd…”

    LOCK IT UP. GAME OVER.

    I guess you can say no movie is “perfect” but PULP FICTION is a stone cold masterpiece. More than that you can put it on the shelf as a paradigm shifter like CITIZEN KANE and STAR WARS.

  56. Also, yeah, Natalie Portman in THE PROFESSIONAL was a big formative fave from 1994. ESPECIALLY the dress-up sequence where she’s doing her Little Imitations. CUUUUUUUUTE.

  57. “You’re fuckin’ my shit up RIGHT NOW. You’re gonna fuck my shit up BIG TIME if Bonnie gets home.”

    The third act is the funniest shit ever, ESPECIALLY every beat of Travolta’s performance, and the only time ever where QT’s special brand of bad acting really works. And to criticize it being about the Wolf coming in and just bossing them around to do a menial clean-up job is to miss the joke so entirely, I can’t even imagine what you get out of the rest of the movie.

    “Maybe if I had some Lava…”

  58. …. and Lex was 42 years old in 1994.

    No one can rag on Pulp Fiction. NO ONE. It suffers from being (poorly) imitated and overexposed, neither of which are its fault.

    The only person who gets a pass on ragging on Pulp Fiction is DZ. Because he has a head wound, he can’t help hating QT like he can’t help his drooling.

  59. Sheeze. It’s a funny, at times sweet, at other times sad little film based on a funny novel.

    Don’t some of you feel a little ridiculous reading SO MUCH into it? Like it was made by the Koch Brothers and the Bush family on a secret sound stage at Haliburton in order to brainwash the masses into not thinking the 60′s were as groovy as we all know they were and to vote Republican.

    I don’t have a problem with someone not liking the film, but holy shit, people. Get a hold of yourselves.

    (“Forrest being really good at ping pong was an obvious metaphor placed in the film by known right-winger Zemickis to demonstrate his support of Reagan’s ‘trickle down” economic theories, and for that alone, I’d like to murder everyone involved with the film, including Sally Field!”)

  60. “The third act is the funniest shit ever, ESPECIALLY every beat of Travolta’s performance”

    Travolta has that “yeah I know I fucked up, just shut up about it” look on his face throughout the whole scene and the comic timing with him and Samuel L is brilliant.

    “It’s fucking dangerous to have a raccar in the red? I’m gonna blow.”

    “You’re gonna blow, well I’m a mushroom cloud laying motherfucker! I’m superfly TNT, I’m the Guns of Navarone!”

    “What the fuck are you’re doing?”

    “Drying my hands”

    “You’re supposed to wash them first?”

    “You watched me wash them!”

    “I watched you get ‘em wet!”

  61. And perhaps the most amazing part of Keitel’s Wolf performance is that he played almost the exact same type of part (though from a completely different angle) the year before in Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda (Lex, the floor is yours.)

  62. “Sheeze. [Gump is] a funny, at times sweet, at other times sad little film based on a funny novel.”

    What a weird defense of the movie. It’s in no way a “small film” – it deals with 40 years of American history, made hundreds of millions of dollars, took a basketful of Oscars, launched Tom Hanks into superstardom, and now the National FIlm Registry wants to preserve the movie for posterity. We’re not talking about “An American Carol” here. The movie’s had a huge impact and resonated with a lot of people – it’s perfectly fair to look closer at the movie to see why.

    As for me, I’ve always thought Zemeckis had a great sarcastic sensibility in his filmmaking. ‘Used Cars’ is hilarious in how cheerfully corrupt everybody acts, ‘Romancing The Stone’ has a lot of fun upending action movie and romance cliches, and there’s even a nice streak of social humor running through ‘Roger Rabbit’ (“only a Toon would have thought of the Interstate Highway system!”). So I think of ‘Gump’ is Zemeckis’ tongue-in-cheek look at a world where achievement, fame, and recognition gets awarded to a well-meaning idiot while those around him fail, but one where he shows neither tongue nor cheek in the movie itself.

  63. Well, I’m being shot down on all sides, but I’ll say it again: Pulp Fiction has ran out of ideas after the gimp sequence. If the Wolf segment is meant to be ridiculous, it makes such little sense, even in Tarantinoverse terms, that it doesn’t work as humor. And it includes the no doubt well-intentioned, but just plain weird spectacle of a nerdy-looking white guy (the director) having Sam Jackson stand to attention while he parades the n-word in his face. Even by the movie’s own surreal standards, that whole bit just doesn’t work. The final diner scene features some excellent back and forth between Travolta and Jackson, but it lacks the manic invention and tension of the earlier Thurman od or Gimp sequences, and the “Be cool like Fonzie” bits are probably where the Tarantino-speak feels most affected. That said, I’m not on ragging the movie; I think its brilliant, and I’d gladly re-watch it anytime.

  64. The best part about the whole debate is Hollywood is 90% Liberal, and the academy, the group that votes on the Oscars is 95% liberal. Also the 60′s counter culture was in part of the time, rebelling against a liberal president “Johnson”. That you could pull George W into having anything to do with a Hollywood movie is amazing. Its simply a good movie, that Libs and republicans enjoy

  65. I’ll be the first one to agree that Jenny’s story in “Gump” is INCREDIBLY problematic – and something that keeps it from being a truly great film – but in the same way and for much the same reason that a THOUSAND other “fallen woman” arcs are. The whole madonna/whore bullshit STILL has a powerful sway over lots of men – yes, even reflexively-liberal democrat-voting men who make and/or star in Hollywood movies.

    But as for the rest of the film… I’ve never quite “bought” the meme that it’s some kind of stealth propaganda-piece (intentional or otherwise) to attack and/or roll-back 60s social-progress. The film is fairly cynical about EVERYTHING happening outside of the personal issues of the main cast, for one thing: Yeah, the Black Panthers are caricatures but so is the ENTIRE U.S. army outside of Lt. Dan; I mean… do people MISS that whole huge stretch where the drill-sergeant guys keep declaring that Gump – a simpleton is some kind of ideal recruit?

  66. “The whole madonna/whore bullshit STILL has a powerful sway over lots of men – yes, even reflexively-liberal democrat-voting men who make and/or star in Hollywood movies.”

    Of course it has, and WHY SHOULDN’T IT? Men, despite whatever liberal-nice-guy douche tam-wearing bass player in Belly/Hole alt rock Women’s Studies pretensions they might feign, when you get down to it, men want to POSSESS WOMEN. They are what we most desire in life, and the idea of some other slob-encrusted VD-ridden shit-skid dude corrupting your chick is the fear that makes the world go ’round. Because the sex act is an invasive one, and the idea of a corrupt penis infecting your chick is the easiest trigger to RAGE, PURE RAGE (TM Jack Ryan) in all the galaxy.

    MovieBob, you always pretend to be like this “hey man, it’s all good” dove liberal fair-shakes dude, but if you were in love with some vintage Robin Wright piece of tail and she was out having trains pulled on her at the commune, you would become a MASS MURDERER. Which is a thing that DOES bother me about FOREST GUMP– and, WAIT FOR IT, BECAUSE A GOOD POINT IS ON ITS WAY– SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which WELLS LOVES but is the SAAAAAAAAAAAME NARRATIVE of this genial simpleton douche standing around like an asshole waiting for his beloved to stop getting sexual abused so he can finally make his move. That neither Patel’s character nor Gump feel any Paul Schrader movie/Scorsese/Jake La Motta FURY at a beautiful woman HAVING SEX with people who AREN’T HIM just smacks of either bullshit, or the most weak and pussy-whipped male protagonist imaginable.

    In real life, ANY GUY would go FULL LA MOTTA at a beautiful girl “experimenting,” because they will be CORRUPTED and probably catch diseases.

    And in the words of Andrew Dice Clay, “So it’s okay if a guy fucks 100 girls, but if a girl does it she’s a whore?” Dice: “Right.”

  67. VicLaz2, dammit you left out the BEST part of that exchange- the casual name-dropping of Lava brand soap.

    Little details like that make that movie. Without it, QT’s writing is precocious stuntwork randomly inserted like a stand-up recycling stage routines in a movie (“Royale with Cheese”, anyone?). With it, even the most fantastical movie moments feel somewhat more “lived in.”

  68. And once again, about 90% of HE’s commenters prove they’re about 182.3% more mentally well-balanced and fair-minded than Jeff himself is.

    Two words, Jeff: Norma Desmond.

  69. And WHILE I AM ON A ROLL,

    This is something that smacked false in both FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS and NO STRINGS ATTACHED, there is no man, NO MAN, NO MAN EVER, who is OKAY with the idea of a hot chick they like having had OTHER SEX. In both those movies, Kutcher/Timberlake are all whooping it up with their fuck-buddy, all OKAY, COOL hearing her sex stories. Chasing Amy is one of the few non-Scorsese/Ferrarra/Spike Lee movies to get the attitude right that most men have, which is hearing ANY sexual escapade of a pretty girl makes us RAGEFUL, JEALOUS and hair-triggered. Like some 33-year-old chick I was seeing a little when I was 23 told me some sex story from her “young, carefree” experimental days, and I wanted to go all Chris Penn in THE FUNERAL browbeating her for being a whore who’d contaminated her innocence.

    Women should be PLIANT, DEMURE, and INNOCENT, and this whole Boomer-era EVERYTHING GOES Beatty-Christie where any guy wouldn’t want to commit MASS MURDER from hearing about his chick having other men inside her is TOTAL insanity. The best scene EVER is Summer of Sam where they go out and swing, then afterward Leguizamo tells Sorvino what a whore she is– THAT is the male mind, not Forest Gump being all unfazed that his dream girl is out doing lines off dude’s dicks.

  70. Okay, maybe not a “small” movie, but a risky one nonetheless.

    (also, you can’t really hold the film responsible for what happened after its release…they didn’t know it would be as successful as it was)

    Ask anyone who was at Paramount at the time. Lansing and the rest of the execs were crapping themselves over the fact that they were pinning their hopes on “Forrest Gump” to be their big summer release. Other than Hanks’ presence there was nothing terribly commercial, (in the summer blockbuster sense) about it. Not a sequel, not a comic book, not a disaster film, etc.

    Anyway, it just might be the backlashiest movie ever released.

    It’s not the film’s fault it made a shit load of money and won the Oscar.

  71. Time for a Scorsese reboot: “Who’s That Knocking On LexG’s Door?”

    As for:

    “you can’t really hold the film responsible for what happened after its release …”

    Sure I can. Those movie tickets didn’t buy themselves. The film’s marketing didn’t keep it in theaters weekend after weekend. The Academy didn’t give it awards randomly (and the master Oscar conman, Harvey Weinstein, was on the other side pimping out ‘Pulp Fiction’). No, all those awards, money, and attention was the result of the movie itself.

    (Now, I don’t hold Zemeckis “responsible” for that, any more than Springsteen is responsible for “Born In the USA” being used as a Reagan anthem. A director guides a movie to release, but once it’s out there, it should be looked at on its own terms. Right, George Lucas?)

  72. A1 gets it. Zemeckis has always had irreverent humor in his films, even the BTTF trilogy as well.

    Lex: That’s part of Forrest’s lack of understanding. He has an excuse being handicapped. Patel was just a punk bitch

  73. Wow, this thread really took off — sorry I missed most of it.

    The one thing I’ll add here is that if Shawshank Redemption is “a cult movie for squares” (GREAT line), then Forrest Gump is probably “a black comedy for squares.” Decent movies, to be sure, but both are overrated all to hell (IMHO).

    (P.S. — Love your list of kick-ass ’94 flicks, actionman…a pretty awesome year, indeed).

  74. Okay, so I lied about only adding one thing, but there’s simply too much juicy meat in this thread to pass up.

    I’m more or less a Pulp backer when it comes to ’94 (unparalleled influence, opened my eyes to the possibilities of cinema beyond strictly entertainment) , but Natural Born Killers is, simply put, one of the most nerve-wracking, unsettling, paranoid set of images ever committed to celluloid.

    It’s interesting to me that a guy like Oliver Stone would officially dedicate THREE entire pictures to the “Vietnam experience,” but — in the end — it’s his film about two sociopathic killers on the lam that (arguably) captures the id-driven, unnervingly dark underbelly of the fallout from that War far better than any of them.

  75. SCAGNETTI ON SCAGNETTI.

    That bit with TL Jones showing Sizemore around the prison is the best shit in any Stone movie, ever… as is the total throwaway where Sizemore kills some random hooker in bed. And the kamikaze shots of his devil face covered in blood.

  76. “One camera all you can muster?”

    “You ain’t that big of a star yet, you cocksucker.”

    I’m a big horror guy, but — to this day — NBK is an exceedingly difficult sit (and that’s absolutely to its credit).

    I mean — with the way culture’s recently accelerated, how many other 15+ year-old flicks somehow still seem modern, let alone slightly ahead of their time?

    Stone-cold masterpiece, and anyone who doesn’t rank it among the very best of the ’90s (at least in the same breath as PF) is really missing the boat, and needs to revisit it ASAP.

  77. Actionlover is the only person here who even mentions Forrest Gump, the book. Has anyone else read it? That novel is completely batshit insane. Aside from the growing up in the 50s and playing football stuff, Jenny, Lieutenant Dan, Bubba and Vietnam, the movie is COMPLETELY different. In the book he gets shot into space with a lesbian astronaut and a male orangutan named Sue, crashlands on an island populated by headhunters, is taught how to play chess by a British cannibal, becomes a grand master and sends a chess tournament into chaos by ripping the world’s biggest fart, becomes an amateur wrestler known as THE PROFESSOR who loses a fixed championship match to THE TURD, then becomes a homeless harmonica savant in Georgia and teaches his lifelong companion Sue the Orangutan how to play a keyboard and panhandle for cash.

    No one appreciates how Eric Roth turned this story into something totally different, something more somber and thought-provoking … even if some of the thoughts provoked have to do with its glib treatment of very heavy thematic material. As an adaptation it’s an A-plus.

  78. Zemeckis is also the guy who made a movie about how it was actually black people who stole rock-and-roll from a white guy in the first place. When you hear them talk about what their early ideas were, that was actually the big one — Marty goes back in time and invents rock and roll.

    I’m not saying this to bolster the point that he has a weird conservative agenda; I just think he has a weird sense of humor.

  79. He does have a strange sense of humor, oftentimes even sneakily subversive (take another look at Roger Rabbit, Used Cars, & even parts of BTTF — esp. that whole incest subplot).

    But I don’t really think Eric Roth intended this as a comedy, which is probably part of why the movie has such a fucking weird feel to it (Benjamin Button — for all of its problems — is much, much more tonally consistent).

  80. I don’t buy the “republican-ness” of FG. Never cared for it, there’s lots of films worthy of the National Registry that I don’t care for. What I wonder about though, is the mission of NFR, lets spend the money on more films like Twentieth Century or Life and Times of Harvey Milk that have very little commercial value relative to FG. Paramount should have plenty of incentive to preserve FG.

  81. Because QT knocks off very well, and many times from sources most people haven’t seen or have forgotten about. He makes them feel fresh and alive, whereas other knock-offs begin and end with that feeling – that they’re knock-offs.

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