Crossposted from MY LEFT WING

Having finally got around to seeing a film that definitely qualifies as one of the more under-seen (ergo under-appreciated) releases of last year, it occurred to me that we might be missing many cinematic gems solely because they were badly marketed — which is often the case simply because of absurd political shifts at the studio level.

It is a little-known fact (little known outside Hollywood, that is) that many excellent films get swept under the marketing carpet simply because they were created or championed by people whose replacements at the studios where they were made want to dismiss everything having to do with their predecessors. It’s shamefully adolescent behaviour — but then, if shameful adolescent behaviour were outlawed in Hollywood, we’d still be listening to radio plays broadcast out of New York.

So, without further ado, my latest addition to the woefully long list of The Best Movies Nobody Saw:

3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Starring Christian Bale, Russell Crowe and
the only-getting-better-with-age Ben Foster

It’s a remake, and I never saw the original. Maybe the title was a problem; ever notice how many movies with numbers in the title bomb?

Granted, it wasn’t technically a “bomb” — generally a film has to fail critically as well as commercially to warrant that label, and in the case of 3:10 to Yuma the critics almost universally recognised a new classic in this one.

As is far too often the case, 3:10 to Yuma‘s relative commercial failure resulted in its exclusion from most of the major awards nominations; doubly criminal, because it not only deserved such recognition, but would surely have garnered a wider audience had that recognition been bestowed. I would argue that 3:10 to Yuma is not only the best Western since Unforgiven — to say nothing of being one of the best Westerns ever made — but that it arguably rivals that film as the best Western made in the past 35 years.

I won’t bother giving you a synopsis or going into detail regarding the acting, writing, direction, cinematography or set decoration; suffice to say the result in every single category imaginable surpasses most known standards of excellence.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In a twist on the scientific truism, for every great, critically lauded film that nobody saw there is usually a really shitty, critically lauded film that nobody saw. That’s just one of the things that makes it so damned hard to sort through the cinematic wheat and chaff when it comes to that vast array of films that never see the box office light of day; Critics Can’t Be Trusted.

After all, if you listened to the critics, you’d have rushed right out to see, say, The Savages, which sucked monkey balls.

Sure, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney are great actors. Doesn’t mean they can drag a shitty story into the pantheon of cinematic masterpieces — though if you bought into the near-universal critical acclaim bestowed upon their performances in The Savages last year (and the attendant requisite acting nominations), you might have been among the seventeen people who actually saw it in a theatre — and probably among the sixteen who demanded a refund on principle’s sake.

More likely, you joined the people in a slightly larger group who added it to their Netflix queues and forced themselves to sit through two hours of the most saturnine, torpid, depressing and self-indulgent bullshit ever perpetrated upon a gullible, critic-credulous audience.

Yes, dear readers, I fall into the latter category. Count me, then, as one of many who likely watched the end credits in stunned, angry disbelief: “THIS DRECK made the critics sit up and say ‘Bravo!’???”

The Savages sucked. Period. And no amount of thespian acrobatics from Hoffman or Linney could EVER have made it suck less, though bless them for trying. On the other hand, DAMN them for bothering in the first place.


Which movies make your lists?

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