Friendship, The Shawshank Redemption And A Strange Case Of Cinematic Stubbornness

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Friendship, The Shawshank Redemption, And A Strange Case Of Cinematic Stubbornness

By TK | Think Pieces | March 13, 2013 | Comments ()


It started in college.

Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption, based on Stephen King's short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption," was released in 1994. I never caught it in the theater. A year or two later, during a summer vacation, one of my very good friends mentioned it in passing. I told him I'd never seen it.

"You've never seen Shawshank?"
"You gotta see it. Really good movie."

And then we went about our lives.

Another couple of years passed. We graduated, we both moved back to Massachusetts, where we continued our friendship. One day, at a video store, it came up again.

"Aw, man. Shawshank Redemption. So good. I almost feel like watching it again."
"Yeah? I've never seen it."
(incredulous) "WHAT? Still? You gotta see it."
"Yeah, I'm not really in the mood right now. How about Big Trouble In Little China for the 53,000th time?"

Time passes. We eventually became roommates. One day, he comes home from work, videotape in hand.

"I rented Shawshank! You're absolutely going to watch it this weekend."
"Sounds good. Let's get blind stinking drunk." (Not my exact words, but definitely my intent)

We go on a weekend-long bender, and the movie is never watched.

But now, the die has been cast. One of my many, many flaws is my unreasonable, frustrating, and inexplicable stubbornness on really random issues. It drives my wife crazy. There are some things that I just despise with no good reason, or with reasons that only make sense in the dark, buzzing corners of my brain. One of those things is being told that I have to do something, or that I absolutely will like something. I dig my heels in and squinch my eyes shut and that's the end of it.

And so here we are, 19 years after the release of The Shawshank Redemption. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. It made the (revised) AFI's 100 Movies... 100 Years list. This very week, it was mentioned on this very site on one of our great Seriously Random Lists. It is near-universally beloved. It is available to rent for $1.99 on Amazon Instant, a far cry from the days of renting it for $5.00 from Blockbuster. It is a mere click away, the cost of a candy bar or a bottle of water. I wouldn't even need to rise from my seat, from the very seat I sit in as I type this.

But no. It is 2013, and I still haven't seen The Shawshank Redemption. It feels foolish now. An irrational, childish bullheadedness. It's embarrassing. When I tell people nowadays, they look at me like I told them I that I like to expose myself in front of nuns -- disgust, with a touch of bafflement. And yet... I still haven't seen it. Watching it now feels like it would be caving in, capitulating, almost as silly as not watching it all these years. I know, OK? I know. There's no logic or reason to this. It is almost certainly a wonderful film that I would doubtless appreciate. But this refusal to bend, to break, to overcome my own obstinacy has become a part of me now, a strange and enduring piece of me that I for some odd reason simply cannot change. This is made all the more ridiculous given who I am... someone who loves -- honestly and truly loves -- movies. Yet this peculiar hobgoblin, this particularly foolish consistency, refuses to leave me. So perhaps that's who I am now. A comic book geek, a movie buff, a lover of books and music and games and the outdoors, a husband, a father, and a friend. Who has reluctantly, shamefully, come to admit that he is missing out on one of the great cinematic achievements, for no good reason other than a 20 year-long vendetta against being told what to do.

I don't even have a good reason for writing this, other than the cathartic release of finally trying to put it out there for all to see. We all have these foibles, I suspect. My wife has never seen "Firefly," despite my insistence that she'd love it (she totally would, you guys). We started watching it once together, three years ago. She fell asleep, and that was the end of it. I'm sure many of you are scoffing and harrumphing and judging, and that's fine. But I'm willing to bet that each and every one of you has something like this, some version of The Shawshank Redemption that has been with you for so long, regardless of thought or logic or reason, that it's now simply a part of you, even as you acknowledge that you might be all the better without that part. Maybe it's not just the movies we've seen that forge common bonds. It's OK. Feel free to talk about it in the comments, if you like. Others might judge you. For once, I will not.

That friend who recommended it? He's still around. We hang out, we go camping, we have the occasional adventure/mishap. He came to South Africa to be the best man in my wedding, and I went to Mississippi to be the best man in his. He had his first child six weeks after I had mine, guaranteeing that our friendship will continue into the next generation. We still talk about music and movies and comic books and video games. Every now and then he shakes his head at me, bemused by my stubbornness. And I'll be honest -- that's part of who we are now. And I guess I'm OK with that.

Why Are Young Starlets So Eager To Debase Themselves? | 5 Shows After Dark 3/13/13

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Lucy

    I have the same thing with The Straight Story. I just can't, not least because of the (general) condescension of the recommender, and have refused point blank to do so on many occasions. Also, the Wicker Man. But I have seen the Shawshank Redemption. You should watch it, you'd love it...

  • Buck Forty

    I've never seen 'Dirty Dancing'. Evidently someone put a baby in a corner, and someone else had the time of their life, but quite frankly I don't care.

  • And all this hubbub about the movie coming out brought this to mind: Veronica Mars.

    Never sen a single second of it. I'm not in the slightest bit interested.

  • wsapnin

    I am the same way about " Beaches" for the exact same reason. I now feel like I would be cheating on myself if I watched it. Plus it comes in very handy in games of "I Never".

  • damnitjanet

    Way late. I've never seen: Labyrinth; The Dark Crystal; Sherlock (I WANT TO); Veronica Mars; 500 Days of Summer; or ANY of Sex in the City. Of all those, I am damn proud to have not watched My Little Princess Pony, but wonder what the hell is wrong me that I haven't seen the others.

  • DuBois

    I'd definitely recommend Sex & the City... years ago, back when I would frequent one of the most vile corners of the internet, Craigslist Rants & Raves, I became aware of just how much hatred there was for S & t C from a certain strain of embittered misogynists. (For them the show embodied everything they hated about the New York women who wouldn't date them (that's not exactly how they put it, but I'm pretty sure that's what they meant.))

    I'm not saying that every second of the program is stellar, but I have fond memories of it overall, and will no doubt watch it all again sooner or later. (As a point of reference, other half-hour shows I love include Cheers, Larry Sanders, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, Extras, & The Simpsons. I know, not exactly an outside-of-the-box list...)

    And I'm a dude, and straight, by the way (on Rants & Raves there seemed to be an idea that no one like me could possibly like S & t C).

    I haven't seen the movies, and the trailers for them have not given me any desire to do so... they give the impression that Darren Star decided, "Let's take all the worst aspects of the show and make them into movies!"

    I fear that the movies will "taint the brand" over time, and that some people who are exposed to them before they have seen the show will assume the show was not as good as it actually was.

  • Zirza

    Mine is Snatch. Everyone keeps telling me it's great and that's exactly why I refuse to watch it. It's good to hear this type of obstinacy isn't just in my perverted little mind.

  • kirbyjay

    Mr Kirbyjay insisted that I watch Weeds. I put it off until Season 5 because, like you, I didn't want to be told that I would like something when I didn't choose to watch it in the first place. It's like they think they know what you like better than you do. Am I right? If I wanted to watch it, I would have watched it.

    Anyhoo, it was rerun season so I gave it a shot, and loved it....and then I didn't. It totally wore out it's welcome and I ended up hating Nancy Botwin AND Mary Loiuse Sarah Jessica Stuart Parker and I blamed Mr. Kirbyjay and I yelled obscenities at him and we got in a fistfight and the police were called and he was arrested and put in jail and the kids were taken away and we lost the house and now I live in a Hundai and bathe in the river and have to use the internet at Best Buy......

    So hold your ground TK. Bad things could happen.

    P.S When I visit him in jail he says I should watch Banshee....I'll love it. There is obviously no rehabilitating in prison

  • DuBois

    On the one hand, I understand where TK is coming from, because I usually don't feel compelled to watch things on the same timetable as other people, but I almost never say, "I will under no circumstances ever watch [fill-in-the-blank], because like Bartleby the Scrivener, I prefer not to..."

    Sure, I'll never see The Godfather Part III AGAIN, because that way I can pretend it doesn't exist, and thus it won't taint (the sublime) TG & TG Part II by association, but that's rather different than not seeing it even once.

    For me, categorically refusing to see this or that film would be foolish... what if I had never seen certain movies that I love (Amadeus, Boogie Nights, Excalibur, Broadcast News, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Princess Bride (ahem)...) not a welcome thought.

    Why would I assume that this or that widely beloved movie that I've never seen wouldn't join the company of those movies (and dozens of others) as cherished parts of my movie-viewing experience that I would happily and repeatedly revisit over the years?

    I didn't get around to seeing The Big Lebowski, The Royal Tenenbaums, or The Shawshank Redemption until LONG after I knew it was "essential" that I see them, but that was simply due to my understanding that there was no rush, as I'm going to live forever... there wasn't a thought of, "Nope, not gonna happen." (And AS it happens, I wasn't blown away by any of those movies... I didn't think any of them were bad, but none of them lived up to my expectations.)

    But I don't regret for a moment seeing them.... on the contrary, now they're "out of the way."

    A few years ago, a couple friends more or less RIOTED when they found out that I had never seen Once Upon a Time in the West... I didn't rush out and meet their demands that I see the film ASAP, but I did see it a couple years later, and I'm very glad that I did, because it's an incredible film... in a way it's a shame that I knew about the movie long before I finally got around to seeing it, but, well, I LOVE it when I see a movie (or listen to a song, or watch a TV show) long after it's first available (sometimes these things were available long before I was born), and I realize, "Holy cow, this was out there all this time, waiting for me, and only now am I lucky enough to have it in my life..."

    I think that's a good feeling to have, because what's the alternative? To have seen everything and listened to everything that would appeal to me? Ugh, what a horrible thought.

    I've already seen the majority of the movies mentioned in this thread, but I would never categorically refuse to see any of the ones that I haven't seen (like The Fifth Element, or Manhattan Murder Mystery (although I've seen most of Woody's other films, and I'm a big fan of Manhattan, Husbands and Wives, Hannah and Her Sisters, Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Love and Death, Zelig, & Broadway Danny Rose, and urge the Woody avoiders in the thread to check them out)... why would I refuse to see them? Maybe I'll have quite a treat in store for me whenever I get around to seeing The Fifth Element and/or Manhattan Murder Mystery.

    Oh, the past couple years I've started to focus more on television, catching up on shows like Mad Men, Luther, Downton Abbey, Damages (haven't seen Season 5 of that one yet), The Walking Dead, The Killing (I know some people have a chip on their shoulder about that one, but I'm one of its defenders), Louie, Justified, & Breaking Bad... I'm paying more attention to the "pressure" to see those, simply because if you're somewhat immersed in popular culture (as I certainly am), it's hard to avoid spoilers, harder than it is with movies, I think.

    (By the way, I started streaming the pilot of Damages a couple weeks after 666 Park Avenue started... I probably wasn't 15 minutes into Damages when I thought, "Why the hell am I still giving 666 'a chance.'? Why bother with so-so television? Why spend time on things you're indifferent to? That time then robs you of time better spent with awesome stuff like Damages.")

  • Mrs. Julien

    I started to watch Godfather III once, then Michael Corleone (in voiceover) said "anyways" and I was OUT!

  • DuBois

    Hey, any reason that gets you to stop watching that movie is a good reason as far as I'm concerned...

  • trixie

    *deep breath* It's a Wonderful Life. I know, I'm sorry, it just looks so sappy and annoying! Of course, I also hate Christmas carols so, there you go.

  • pumpkin

    I've been forced to see it many times (my Jewish family watched it every year when I was growing up). I just don't like it. You're right. It is sappy and annoying. And it's not because I don't like Christmas movies or Jimmy Stewart.

  • DuBois

    I finally saw it, and it's not bad, but I didn't feel like I had been depriving myself by not seeing it... I'd rather see Jimmy in The Philadelphia Story, Rope, Winchester '73, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, & Anatomy of a Murder a couple more times before I bother to consider seeing It's a Wonderful Life again.

  • Mrs. Julien

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Destry Rides Again, Harvey...

  • DuBois

    I saw Valance a couple years ago, and thought it was decent, but I didn't take to it like the movies on my list. I haven't seen Destry or Harvey... yet.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    I'm right there with you.

  • koko temur

    i resisted the wire and arrested development for YEARS. i watched the original star wars thrilogy last weekend and only because i got myself one of these silly american boyfriends.

  • Lovely Bones

    Why would resist such things?

  • koko temur

    i think TK explains it above rather nicely .

  • Lovely Bones

    Okay, okay, point taken, I understand. Sometimes I forget that people are constantly pushing Arrested Development and The Wire on everyone around them and just get caught up on how much I love them. And I really cannot relate to the resisting being told to check something out issue, but I can relate to sheer, indignant stubbornness any day.

  • koko temur

    I did love all of this when i watched it. And i knew i would as i was resisting. I just needed to wait out the breathless pushiness.

    The real tragedy if the human condition is our unability to freaking learn. I mean, all discribed above does not prevent me from pushing firefly aggressively.

  • Four Eyes

    Scoff if you will, but for me it's Clueless. Well over a decade has passed and I still can't motivate myself to watch it. My friends have tried everything short of strapping me to a chair with my eyelids held open with matchsticks and I still haven't seen it.

  • Lovely Bones

    Since s/he won't bite, I have two words: Ferris Bueller.

  • e jerry powell

    Nope. Me neefer. I had Heathers and I loved it, there was no need for smug-ass Alicia Silverstone.

  • DuBois

    And I can't co-sign on your Alicia hate... she was charming in Clueless... when I saw the film, I thought, "This girl is the next Emma Stone!"

    (Granted, Emma was 6 years old at the time, and not yet an actor, but anyway...)

  • e jerry powell

    I will allow that at the time Clueless came out, we didn't know that Alicia Silverstone was a brutally self-righteous vegan.

    She's not as perpetually annoying as The GOOP Lady, but no one is.

  • DuBois

    I don't have a personal dislike for Alicia (or even for Gwyneth, who I'm guessing I would get along with less well than I do with my friends, but still better than an uncharitable assessment of her based on her image would suggest), but even if I did, I wouldn't let that stop me from seeing her in a movie I was interested in.

    I have no doubt that some of the actors in movies that I like are assholes, liars, bigots, and/or various other unseemly things (although I don't claim to know for certain which specific actors are like that, except for certain Mel Gibson-ish exceptions), but I'm not nominating them for a Jean Hersholt award, I'm just watching them play a role, and it's easy for me to separate that from the actors themselves.

  • e jerry powell
  • DuBois

    I'm sensing sarcasm... so you're NOT really avoiding Clueless due to your dislike of Alicia... so you CAN separate actors from their roles just like me... so "she" was a HE, that's what "the secret" was... okay, everything is clear to me now...

  • e jerry powell

    Now that I review her total resume, I have seen:

    Batman & Robin. And that's it.

    It's also the last Batman film I saw. Silverstone didn't make it bad, that was all on Joel Schumacher.

    Okay, I don't hate Silverstone, but I do find her self-righteous veganism (and really, that's all the media looks at about her anymore) profoundly annoying (and I could say the same about the most ardent members of PETA), and really, given her fewer-than-forty current credits, I've seen exactly one title. She hasn't been in all that much, and not much of what she's been in has intrigued me enough to haul my ass into a theater (or change the channel on the TV).

    I have all manner of capricious reasons for not watching stuff, though. Kind of the theme of the thread, in a left-handed way.

  • DuBois

    I haven't paid too much attention to her vegan activism... I sorta recall... to google I go... ah yes, she pre-chews her baby's food. I wish I could italicize my shudder at that.

    Anyway, I've seen far more of Silverstone's film ouevre than you have, TWICE as much, in fact, because I've seen Clueless AND Batman & Robin.

    Yeah... at the time of Clueless, AS seemed like she was on the cusp of... well perhaps mot massive stardom, but at least some years of prime ingenuedom... that sure didn't happen.

    I watched her TV show "Miss Match," liked it, & would have stuck with it if it hadn't been cancelled with alacrity. (And let's not confuse Miss Match with Miss Guided, another short-lived show I liked, starring (the criminally under-appreciated) Judy Greer...)

  • DuBois

    I think you're missing out by skipping Clueless (and for the record, I'm a huge fan of Heathers)... when it came out I had an acting teacher who was raving about it... I checked it out at (the dearly departed) Cineplex Odeon Encore Worldwide, and thought, "Wow, Roberta was on the money about this, Clueless is terrific!"

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    You couldn't be more right.

  • e jerry powell

    But I do always try to squeeze more right out of everything. :-D

  • Lovely Bones

    As a side note, Heathers is the best teen comedy ever made. Period.

  • e jerry powell

    Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup.

  • Lovely Bones

    I can beat you on having not seen teen comedies that everyone adores and are astounded by the fact that you haven't seen them.

  • e jerry powell

    One time when I sacrificed and saw a movie that a friend wanted to see badly:

    Event Horizon.

    Enough said.

  • Lovely Bones

    "I watched a movie that my friend wanted to see once. It was *terrible.* Never again."

  • e jerry powell

    That's about it.

    I was kind enough not to drag him to see Todo sobre mi madre two years later, so we're still friends.

    And, for the record, he didn't care much for Event Horizon either.

  • Comic Book Guy? Dat you?

    Also, come on, Firefly is kind of boring at first. I grew to love it, but that pilot...yeah.

  • e jerry powell

    On the other side, there has been one time that I've gotten off of my zeitgeist-resistance and found out that the friend that was pushing me was actually correct: Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon! The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & and Her Lover!

  • I refuse to see Les Miserables - any version of it, ever. When I was in eighth grade (granted, 13 is a particularly rebellious age) my English teacher made us read the 2100 unabridged brick that is Victor Hugo's "masterpiece." I don't care how good the acting is, or how wonderful the music. It just brings me back to a very dark place. Like, an if I ever come across that teacher, I may have to hurt them, place.

    My sibling, on the other hand, refuses to see Shakespeare in Love because it won the Academy Award that year instead of Saving Private Ryan. I get his point, but that's a stupid reason not to see a great movie. That's like choosing to watch The Artist but refusing to watch The Descendants or Moneyball or Midnight in Paris (which may be the only Woody Allen movie that I've ever liked.).

  • e jerry powell

    My reasoning:
    a) I like Cate Blanchett better, so I watched Elizabeth three times.
    b) I loathe and despise The GOOP Lady. Will never see a film she's in. Loathe her with the white-hot fire of 10,000 suns.

  • see also my response to F'mal DeHyde, although I will say that it is far and away Paltrow's best performance.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I refuse to watch Shakespeare in Love as well but that's due to my intense and irrational dislike of Paltrow.

  • Which I completely get as a legitimate reason - why would you want to spend 2 hours with someone you despise? My brother, on the other hand, refuses to watch because another movie didn't win an award? I call shenanigans.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    I read it around that age, but that's a book you have to *want* to read in the first place because it has some sections that are just brutally dull. I can't imagine what the class went through with the beginning stuff with the priest or Valjean deciding if he should turn himself in and not let the other guy take the fall, or the random revolution talk and drowning man (Hugo and Tennyson, WTF?). Even Hunchback would've been a better choice, but then the man is passionate about preserving medieval architecture and he tells you, there's no avoiding that. Fewer asides, though. And it's shorter. Still good.

  • Lovely Bones

    Why do so many people hate on everything with the priest? The first two acts of that book are the only ones that I liked. I loved Valjean's interactions with the priest, I loved Fantine, I loved Valjean devoting himself to Cosette, all of that. (Okay, and I like Javert's arc, but anyway) But then fucking *Marius* gets introduced, and everything goes to shit. Marius is such an awful, bland, not even remotely compelling character, and he suddenly hijacks the role of protagonist. He ruined that novel for me. And I *did* really want to read that book, Jo. I had to fucking argue with my mum for weeks to convince her that I'd read it in time for school, as my choice for summer reading.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Ah, funny story. I did enjoy Jean and the priest's interactions, it was a lot the stuff before that, where they were cataloging the objects in his residence that got tedious. But after that, yes, they really good. The nuns were good, too. You're just dying to see them lie for the first time and they come through.

    I HATE Marius. Supercilious little shit. He can take adult-version Cosette (I'm so pretty) straight to Hell with him. I don't want to talk about it.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    they were really good interactions, rather. And then the priest let him go *sniff*.

  • Megnadoodle

    I can't believe I am about to admit this on my beloved Pajiba, but, okay, deep breath: Star Wars. Well, actually, technically I have seen Star Wars Episode I (it was released when I was in high school and I saw it in the theater), but that's it. And yes, I am very aware of how much seeing Episode I does NOT count as actually seeing Star Wars. It's not that I don't want to see them, I just never have. So there you have it.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Only saw Episode I. I know that's NOT what you want to do and blah, blah, blah. But at this point, who gives a shit? Okay, everybody gives a shit, but...I just...don't. Nothing personal.

  • Lovely Bones

    That's okay. Really. It's a culturally significant series of films, without a doubt, but at the end of the day, they're blockbusters. Very good, important blockbusters, but blockbusters. There could be so much worse. You're not one of those knobs further down the thread that haven't seen the Godfather.

  • I feel so close to your wife. I've tried to sit through Firefly about 10 times and couldn't make it past the first infuriating half-hour.

    I didn't watch It's a Wonderful Life until last Christmas. I know it's like an institution here but it's definitely not where I grew up, so I just never got around to it.

    Still never seen Pulp Fiction. It was up on Netflix forever and I had it on my queue but I just...never bothered. I kept going past it, thinking 'one day'! and now I just won't bother with it unless it shows up on TV. Maybe.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    The only part of Pulp Fiction that I've seen is the scene where the two...guys save that other...guy from getting shot. In the following scene, they're riding in a car, one...guy's gun accidentally goes off and it blows the...guy's head off, making the previous scene a moot point. I screamed, then laughed and my sister changed the channel. She had already seen it and decided that it was probably a bit 'advanced' for me. Forget that I was 25 when this happened. Sigh. Interestingly Kill Bill (for the most part) was too cartoonish to have an effect on me. Maybe there's hope (no, there's none).

  • Jess

    Mine is Jurassic Park. I even own the damn movie (it was a gift, mind, in the hopes I might actually watch it).

  • Brite

    Dare I say it on this site? I have NEVER seen The Princess Bride...nor do I expect to at any time in the near future. *awaits revocation of Pajiban posting privileges*

  • DuBois

    Name 5 of your favorite movies... no, name 50 of your favorite movies, because that way I'm sure you'll have one that I can say, "Well, a fan of '--------" would probably like The Princess Bride."

    I love The Princess Bride, I've seen it multiple times, and, life span permitting, will see it multiple more times in the decades ahead. I've noticed that a couple people in this thread have seen it and didn't like it... this disturbed me too much to reply directly to them... disturbed perhaps isn't the word, but I was... a little confused. I didn't know that there were people who have seen The Princess Bride and not liked it. (Yes, logic tells us that every single movie ever made is disliked by someone out there, I just mean that it hadn't actively OCCURRED to me that there are people who dislike The Princess Bride.)

  • Carrie

    TK, if you haven't seen Shawshank yet, it will probably be a let down to see it now. It *is* great story-telling, and the movie is pretty much perfect in every way, right down to Tim Robbins' hair -- but, after 19 years it could never live up to the build-up, especially since you've certainly heard all of the spoilers. Bummer you didn't see it 15 years ago.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser


  • Bert_McGurt

    Testify! Shawshank is the one movie that everyone (friends, family, coworkers, bus preachers, liquor store buskers, dairy inspectors, fireworks salesmen, unicyclists, llama enthusiasts...) gives me sh*t for not seeing. I don't particularly mind, even. I know I do the same thing to people all the time - heck, just yesterday I was extolling the virtues of The Dude to an unknowing coworker. And I'm frequently incredulous at those who've never seen Spinal Tap.

    And it's not even that I don't WANT to see it, but it's been built up so much that it's been elevated to legendary heights that I need to make sure I watch it properly. I don't want to watch it in fits and starts all cut-up on Sunday afternoon TBS. I don't want to watch it on the plane ride to Chicago for work some random Tuesday. I want to find the perfect day, the perfect time where that little voice says to me "It's time to watch The Goddamned Shawshank Redemption, Bert."

    One day.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Every person I know to whom I've shown Spinal Tap has hated it, so now I don't bother with recommendations to anyone who isn't my sister. It just doesn't work.

  • e jerry powell

    For me, anything related to Douglas Adams. Books, movie, anything at all.

    I did capitulate, slightly, on Frank Herbert, because of a mostly-sexual fixation on Kyle MacLachlan and Sting. As a result I did get a little absorbed in the SyFy Dune sequels for a few days.

    Oh, and I am a total holdout on all things Rowling and Tolkien as well.

  • I posted this above, but it bears repeating. ("bears" wink):

    "A narrative kind of guy" by his own admission, Mr. Julien couldn't get
    into Hitchhiker's Guide either. Douglas Adams is a lot like P.G.
    Wodehouse: You don't read it for the plotting; you read it for the
    insanely clever turns of phrase. They are not producing so-called
    literature, they are master craftsman so brilliant at their work that
    they elevate it to an art form.

  • e jerry powell

    Well, as far as insanely clever turns of phrase: G.B. Shaw, Oscar Wilde...

  • e jerry powell

    Fair enough.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    does the genre do it for you at all?

    Dune the movie is awesome. The SyFy ones...not so much.

  • e jerry powell

    Not really. I've never been able to force myself to read speculative fiction, either. Like I said, I was mostly drooling over Sting and MacLachlan.

  • Lovely Bones

    Awesomely terrible, sure. I enjoy the hell out of it, but that doesn't make it less of a bad movie. Come on, we all know Lynch should never have been contracted to make a blockbuster.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I can't bring myself to find it terrible - not in the same way that Flash Gordon is awesomely terrible. I also found it really true to the book - I read the book afterwards and found it pretty much redundant.

    Is it really any worse than Star Wars? For some reason, I just buy into it. (and it probably makes it worse to say I didn't watch it until I was early 20s.)

  • Lovely Bones

    I suppose my feelings on Dune come from the stance of being a huge Lynch fan more than anything, as much as I love sci-fi, as I've never followed the Dune series. Like I said, Dune was him being asked to do something he really didn't want to do, didn't have the resources for and never should have been asked to in the first place. It's tonally a mess, with unnecessary surrealism and faux-profundity, to the same immense degree that *Zardoz* possesses these traits. And isn't Dune supposed to be social commentary on older history? The film certainly utterly failed at that. So yes, it is worse than Star Wars.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    interesting. I take it pretty much at face value. I find the profundity/faux-profundity to be pretty much exactly what is in the book. I don't find it particularly surrealistic; not like Lynch's films set in the "known" universe. (I don't really care for Lynch's work on the whole.)

    Also never read it as a social commentary (never heard that, actually). I like the movie Dune, and the book, but there's no fandom in it for me, not like McCaffrey or LeGuin's series got me.

    Zardoz. Now *that* I haven't seen in full, but when I find the right fella, that is gonna be a delightful-terrible Saturday morning watch-in.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Holy crapping, crap! How did I forget about the Harry Potter series of which I've experienced nothing? Fly your little broom, bitch. I don't care.

  • Lovely Bones

    I still have a lot of respect for you, but you're a monster, mate.

  • e jerry powell

    What can I say? In a lot of ways, I'm willfully contrarian, in exactly the ways that TK describes..

  • ravingmadscientists

    Man, as a fellow movie buff and book lover, all I can say is: I am so sorry for you. For denying yourself the sheer joy that is watching "The Shawshank Redemption."

  • gutpunchprod

    19 years? *whistles*

    I think of Shawshank now, as I thought of it then when I left the cinema upon viewing. It was good. But not great. A kind of greatest hits of all the other prison movies you've ever seen, but without the triumph of 'Papillon', the brutality of 'Ghosts of the Civil Dead' or the laughs of 'Take the Money and Run'

  • BobbFrapples

    I was like that about Rosemary's Baby. My sister had to actually sit on me to make me watch this film. I have no excuse as to why I was avoiding this film, I just couldn't watch it until someone forced me to.
    "He has his father's eyes."

  • Jerce

    I still haven't watched Brokeback Mountain. It's in my movie queue; but it just keeps...getting moved down...'cause a recent cool movie gets watched ahead of it...I'll get to it one of these days.

    Question for you, TK: Why did you want your wife to watch Firefly? It's because it is really good and it made you happy, and you love your wife and you wanted to give her something that would make her happy--yes? That's the impulse of your friend and all those other people who can't figure out why you won't watch Shawshank. They like you and they want to share something good with you.

    No judgment here--do what you want with your time. But I will gently say that Shawshank really is a fine piece of film art and you would probably like it.

  • yemayah

    You make the most important point here: it is about people who care enough to want to share something, share an experience with someone they value. Possibly just because they do value someone's opinion. Ultimately, I doubt that the person who wants to share a book and/or film would care if the person likes or dislikes said entertainment. There is some core of emotional or personal content or identification with such, that a person wants to share, even if the only reason is for discussion over a glass of wine or cup of cocoa. That is special.

    The ironic part of TKs point is that, in reality, no one is really telling or making anyone do anything, and resistance to watching something because of this perception is, IMO, a form of narcissism. Avoidance out of spite or to prove a point or as a matter of ego is narcissism. Does it no occur to ask the person what it is they like about said film, book, etc., and why it touched them and/or why they enjoyed it.

    Resistance because someone touts certain media (popular or not), or because of media hype is totally different than not liking content, subject matter or because the content is too disturbing at a certain time or place in one's life. Boredom is a legitimate reason if, after repeated attempts, one cannot finish or get through something, It is also legit if the very thought of trying to get through something freezes the brain. I do not like sports movies: it took me a long time to see Rocky1 and recently Moneyball.

    I cannot tolerate Dr Who, the hype or the fandom, but I have taken the time to watch because my brother & sister-in-law love it, insist I will love if I watch and it provides a means of closeness/sharing. (Four viewings of Avengers was enough, though, LOL). We have a lot of things to be close about, participate together and discuss, but I only get to see my sisters and brothers and mom at Christmas, and part of what we do is watch DVDs. By the same token, my younger sister and mom stubbornly dig in and decide they won't like anything I like, even sight unseen. It's a game, but we are close enough that there are other things to bond over. I never force it, but I miss the sharing part.

    Absolutely, there has to be prioritization due to time limitations vs all the choices out there, compounded by social media. Everything is not relative. For a professional reviewer, however, it is a matter of job integrity to view certain films, especially should the occasion arise for comparative reviews. How can one not watch Lawrence of Arabia if only for comparative discussion of the art, film editing and cinematography among other aspects? Or to aid in finding subject matter/themes for review or to discuss the collected works of David Lean or some other director. I read and listen to a lot of what I consider toxic opposing political viewpoint so that I can discuss and write argument.

    An acquaintance of mine got bent out of shape and resistant after I suggested this film (she loved film and wasn't sure what she and her husband should see that weekend). I made it known it was my #1 fave film, but my motive was not to push the film (I didn't), it was that it was on a limited run, restored, and on a BIG screen (The Ziegfeld in NYC) decades ago, probably never to return (and it hasn't). To this day I never understood that contorted type of resistance.

  • Speaking as a man who basically puts "Shawshank" any time I need my faith in humanity restored (more or less every week) and watches every movie people I know have good taste in movies tells me "Oh you HAVE to see it", I am flabbergasted. Respect.

    I have to ask TK, do you think you WILL watch it someday, and if you do, will you say "but I saw it when *I CHOSE TO SEE IT*" while acknowledging how awesome it is? Or are you pretty sure you will be one of maybe, I don't know, eight people in the modern world who hasn't seen it?

  • Silence of the Lambs, A Clockwork Orange, and Blue Velvet. I decided, a long time ago when I was in a fragile place, that those films would be both disturbing and memorable, so I said no. I'm fairly sure I've seen more disturbing films - generally by accident - but I've held to my resolve not to see those. Occasionally, I consider it, but so far, it hasn't happened. And I'm okay with that.

    I did see Shawshank. Once. I won't ever watch it again, even though it was really good.

  • e jerry powell

    I went through a David Lynch period, but it wasn't very long-lived. I think I did Eraserhead and Blue Velvet in one night. Sleeping was out of the question that night, too.

  • Lovely Bones

    An Eraserhead and Blue Velvet double feature would lead straight to pleasant sleep and sweet dreams, personally.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I watched Silence. Eh. The performances are great though. But serial killer is not my thing. I know it's more than that, but still, serial killer is a LOT of it.

    A Clockwork Orange I couldn't make it more than 20 minutes. I will try again someday. And I should read the book.

    I'm not a huge Lynch fan.

    I do think that those are the *right* kind of movies to avoid, if you know it's going to upset you more than the art is worth.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Oh, thank God. I haven't watched Orange because someone who is as big of a wuss as me has no business watching that but my reactions to Silence and Blue Velvet were identical to yours; I just can't handle violence, it's my problem.

  • Lovely Bones

    Guh, and you're generally so awesome, Jo. I do understand where you're coming from, though. I'd literally lose a majority of friends and family's fondness if I gave everyone I knew shite over not being able to stand violence.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Every time I try to get past it, I just don't. I'm the most quivering pot of jelly on the planet--to the point where I'm just embarrassed and don't bother watching most movies with other people. I find pretty much everything about myself pretty irritating, but my babyish attitude toward violence is in the top five.

  • Lovely Bones

    If it's any consolation, I'm really bad about real violence, like, much worse than the normal level of human reaction to actual violence, even about pictures with relatively mild violence. It comes from being a pacifist and generally fairly soft person. I just have an easy disconnect between simulated violence and real violence, which a cinephile pacifist kind of needs.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    It's a good system. And for the record, I'm someone awesome, almost as awesome as you (complete departure from what I just said about myself, but we're loosey-goosey). I'm not wild about the real stuff, myself: I don't respond well to roadkill.

  • Lovely Bones

    Considering those are some of my favorite films, just seeing that first line listing them was enough to send me into a senseless rage, but after reading all of that... That is completely valid and understandable. You really shouldn't feel obligated to see them, and I respect your resolve, even if it's a resolve to avoid what I consider a few of the best films ever made. Kudos.

  • See that's the thing. I know on some level I would find them interesting, and I have been assured that they're brilliant, but I have this inability to remove images from my brain, so if I'm almost sure they'll bother me for a long time, I avoid certain movies. I watched Se7en by accident - no idea what I was walking into, just agreed to go with a friend - and had nightmares for several months. I still try not to think about it. Strangely, I was cool with what was in the box. It was what came before it that bothered me. Strangely, 91/2 weeks bugged me for months, too. I never know what's going to set off my subconscious. Sadly, that keeps me from reading most horror - even good horror.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Same. Everyone tells me that Se7en, while good, is a movie that I should never, ever see. I get frustrated with my own wussiness.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Don't do it. It's vile.

  • Lovely Bones

    I am sorry that you're troubled by that. I largely lack visual memory, which can be a pain at times. I adore Seven as much as those other films, though I've never seen 9 1/2 weeks. Not particularly interested in it, either.

  • pfeiffer87

    I have a similar relationship with Shawshank Redemption. I even bought it cause it was 3 quid and I have an irrational impulse to buy cheap dvds. It's sitting on my shelf a year after I bought it - still in the selophane. I keep putting it off.

  • Jezzer

    I am that way with "Firefly." When it first came out, I resented it because I was a big BtVS fan, and Joss had moved on to work on Firefly while leaving Buffy to go to ruin under the reign of Marti Noxious. He supposedly still had full creative control, but I knew -- I KNEW -- the decline of BtVS was a direct result of Firefly.

    And to this day, I refuse to watch it.

  • gatesong

    Totally get it. Happened to me with Napoleon Dynamite.

    Still, though. SHAWSHANK. You owe it to yourself.

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