Thought Catalog

8 Films that Seemed Good When We Were Young and Impressionable

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American Beauty

(1999) dir. Sam Mendes

The Academy Award winner American Beauty is generally well-liked by many and obviously received stellar reviews upon its release. But the fact is, it hasn’t aged very well. The floating bag sequence seems a little ridiculous, and as I saw more and more films, I realized that suburban malaise and strife is a common theme that goes back as far as the technicolor melodramas of Douglas Sirk from the ’50s. Not to mention that compared to Todd Solondz’s films Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) and especially Happiness (1998), American Beauty seems tame by comparison. It’s not that Mendes’ film is bad – it’s just that it’s not as great as we thought it was.

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More From Thought Catalog

  • http://twitter.com/johnbtuerk Bo Tuerk

    While I agree most of these are overrated, I still think all of them are good movies, save one: Garden State. That movie is garbage. I'd say Amelie is the best of the bunch.

  • floating plastic bag

    hmm. seems like you don't think these films are terrible, you're just using them to give us your own more obscure recommendations.

    • Neal Mackey

      I think that's what his article “5 Films That Make You Feel Smart” was for.

      • edenpotom

        Yo Mackey,

        As someone who went to school with Dan Hoffmann, and knows what he looks like, you really shouldn't have the same face as him, like on your TC page. Or write in the same style as him. Hey wait, you should just stop pretending NOT to be Dan Hoffmann.

        Stop commenting on your own articles under a pseudonym. It only gives credence to the opinion of almost every commenter here.

      • http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoffmann Dan Hoffman

        Shit you guys got me I'm also Neal Mackey. I never thought you'd find out.

      • Hoff

        This man is well versed in the knowledge of the Hoff.

  • http://twitter.com/lukebourassa lukebourassa

    I call bullshit. Yes, many films seem “so awesome!” when you first see them, and fade in luster with time.. but you're giving some very good movies a severe treatment. I think much of this is motivated by backlash for films that were cool because they were relatively unknown, and then become very well known, and thus became cool to many. Now they are institutions, so the “new cool films” are your recommendations.

    And I agree, “The Game” is terribly underrated.

    • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

      word son.

  • Fjkshdfs

    You have got to be kidding. A majority of films on this list don't deserve this treatment.

  • http://twitter.com/FTfunkj Joey Martino

    u sound like someone who is stuck in the past….always saying, “its already been done, same themes, the old version r better, ect.” News flash: close to 75 % of the movies that come out are either remakes, sequels, mostly non original ideas or screenplay..and it doesnt help the rest are just adaptations from the same themes that were used years ago and forever and or frm novels.

    • http://twitter.com/FTfunkj Joey Martino

      those movies were impressionable when i was young, they might not be some of the 'best ever,” but quality pieces of film that i still enjoy viewing.

    • Neal Mackey

      I would argue that Dan Hoffman is hardly stuck in the past; he is just attentive to the way cinema can either repeat itself in inventive, compelling ways or repeat itself in ways that are annoying. This is a basic principle governing the creation of any art. See “The Anxiety of Influence” by Harold Bloom.

      • Sneakycreak

        OMG name dropping HAROLD BLOOM! you must soooo smart!
        The Anxiety of Influence is a bunch of paternalistic psychobabble, and this article was just a cheap shot at a bunch of movies that were important to a lot of people while they were growing up. Also, saying you're never going to read anything by Chuck Palahniuk just because you hated the movie Fight Club is stupid. This writer and you should keep your myopic condescension to yourselves, and I hope you both starve to death locked in your ivory tower.

      • Neal Mackey

        Why you mad, bro?

      • MacNeal

        Why you Dan Hoffman bro, y u no use real name?

  • http://twitter.com/jcfporter Jack Porter

    I agree with most of this list, and would add Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to the Fight Club/Donnie Dark/Requiem “pretentious teen” shortlist of films for our generation.

    But just saying that you like the French New Wave doesn't prove anything. It's just another superficial layer of film hipsterdom, of which there are many.

  • Kaitlyn_Flynn

    People shouldn't have to feel bad about pointing out that some shit twee movie everyone is drooling over was done (better) 50 years ago. It happens. Whatever.

  • kzspygv

    What might have been a good piece about how and why certain movies don't age well came out like a fountain of haterade.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1415031788 Sharif Youssef

    All these films were garbage, especially Donny Darko.

  • http://twitter.com/brownnnbear Jocelyn

    most of the movies listed here are some of my favorite films [besides 'garden state', i hated that movie]

    i'll say this about aronofsky: it seems that most of his movies are just stylized really well. he has great cinematography but lacks the depth to really push his films into classic territory. i loved 'black swan' & 'pi' but 'requiem for a dream' left me really underwhelmed.

  • http://twitter.com/sandraaa_xo Sandra NB

    I actually probably like 3 of the films listed here.
    apart from that, this whole thing just really seems like an excuse for “i want to trash all the films that are really popular”
    although most never made an impression on me when I was younger so I'm seeing a totally different view here.

  • yea

    WHOA WHOA WHOA the difference between the darjeeling limited and every other live action film anderson has done is that Adrian Brody is in it WHOOAAAA

  • Spainfest

    Typical Dan hoffman bashing

  • sloppysoup

    i always hated the darjeeling limited and aside from the royal tenenbaums, i think wes andersen is a bore. but on another note, i totally understand your feelings on fight club and think they are completely valid, but i would recommend reading “rant” by chuck palahniuk (author of fight club). while it's weird and fucked up and makes minimal sense in the beginning, it evolves into a strange boy-man masterpiece. check it out.

  • Robertbenesh

    I've officially decided to never again read anything you post on this website. It's not that I take issue with all of your claims about these movies, but the way you articulate it gives off the feeling of an 8th grader attempting to seem more alternative via shallow and unfounded criticisms of films that fall into the “alternative canon”.

    • Neal Mackey

      Why you mad, Bro?

      • Hoffed

        think of TC as a big public bathroom, and Dan Hoffman as an able body young hipster taking a giant shit in the handicap stall every day. Then when the entire room fills with an unbearable stench, the hoff emerges and says “Can you Smell what the Hoff is cooking!”
        but your shit still stinks

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    Possibly watching a movie is like a drug. The first time is awesome, like the first time you see a movie and feel the catharsis. But after the fifth time, it's just whatever, like drinking water or whatever. You like it, but its not the same. Like all the 80's movies, seen them a 100 times and they lose all their luster.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    Don't hate me bro!

  • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Andrew F.

    Haters gonna hate.

  • sarahbee

    Kevin Smith films (for arguments sake, we're going to pretend Cop Out never happen, which is easily done, since nobody saw it) are still funny. Don't Care. He writes amazing dialogue.
    American Beauty is still a beautifully crafted film, even if the themes aren't new…and, yes, the plastic bag scene is eye-roll inducing
    Garden State is much better if you assume, as I did when I first saw it, that Natalie Portman's character actually has downsyndrome, and that Zach Braff is so up his own ass that he mistakes it for quirkiness and that the whole thing is actually a statement on how one-dimensional the manic pixie dream girl archetype is…..though that isn't actually why garden state was made.

    You sound like a typical film school snob….and it's okay, because I am too.
    Go on thinking you're the shit for worshiping Godard and Trufaut, heaven forbid you find yourself enjoying a summer blockbuster.

    • Kat

      I agree with you completely. I think Amelie is an amazing movie. I love Magic realism. I also love Kevin Smith (Can we forget Jersey Girl happened as well? Minus the George Carlin brilliance of course). I still think American Beauty is totally relevant. Besides, isn't it structuralism that says there are only a few sources of story line that film makers just change names and locations? I have never enjoyed Garden State, but a LOT of my friends did. I'm a film snob myself…but even my professors go and see every movie that comes to theaters. Sometimes escapist theater is essential

      • NO

        “I still think American Beauty is totally relevant”

        What do you mean “still”? American Beauty has never had anything pertinent or interesting to say, other than “this is the way Rich Left Authoritarian Hollywood needs to convince itself that suburbanites live”.

    • NO

      “American Beauty is still a beautifully crafted film”

      No. Just no.

      “Go on thinking you're the shit for worshiping Godard and Trufaut, heaven forbid you find yourself enjoying a summer blockbuster. “

      Uh, YOU'RE the one trying to argue in favor of empty, pretentious shit like American Beauty, dipshit.

  • Sinead

    The only one I agree with here is Garden State… so self indulgent, feat. manic pixie dream girl, it's just jerk off material for hipsters who have a fascination with beautiful girls with mental illness. 'Oh, you're a compulsive liar? That's so adorable! I think I love you.'

  • http://twitter.com/rahulvictor Rahul Agarwal

    I think the only thing that's changed is that you've become more pretentious.

  • Jesser

    The title of this should be “8 films that I secretly like but decided to hate on because there are more obscure versions elsewhere.” You're taking one element of each film and calling it stupid (plastic bag scene in American Beauty, writing in Fight Club) adding another element that was at some point done in another film and judging the entire thing despite the fact that a few of these films were gamechangers in some way or another.

    • NO

      “despite the fact that a few of these films were gamechangers in some way or another. “

      No they didn't. Stop lying, you liar.

  • ushdugery

    None of these films are epoch making or say something new, they're mostly just clever fun relaxing films bashing them because they are what they are isn't really worth an article.

  • Spincut

    Some I kind of agree with, but some you're totally off base, it has nothing to do with your age, just your taste. ESPECIALLY Fight Club. You hated it when you first saw it? Well there you go right there.

    Also, The Game is hardly a comprable example of youthfull angsty rebellion. Perhaps rebellion in some form, but still…..

    Anyway Fight Club certainly still holds up today, and some of your other movies, while less insulting to imply they may have faded a little, still seems like a gross misapropriation of criticism.

    • NO

      “Anyway Fight Club certainly still holds up today”

      No it doesn''t.

      Well, maybe to braindead testosterone-junkies who need cult figures and media sources to lead them like sheep, and teach them that their solipsism and self-righteousness are valid excuses for exercising wanton childish violence and destruction, but not to anyone with a working brain.

  • joyce

    ok, garden state was very obviously sentimental and made for a certain demographic of emotional teenagers, but this post is annoyingly pretentious. not every movie can be totally original and without flaws. these films are good for a lot of good reasons, despite their shortcomings and slight overwrought-ness. you just sound like an obnoxious film major discrediting well-liked movies.

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