Citizen Dame 5: Movies We Don’t “Get”

The Dames watch a lot of movies. In fact, that’s our job. But there are some movies we just can’t help but not feel the love for. A recent question on #FilmTwitter asked what are the movies you “just don’t get,” i.e. the films we just can’t understand the love for. The Dames shared their opinions and you can do the same in the comments.


I’m pretty vocal about movies I can’t get behind. The five films below are features I’ve been known to say “just aren’t made for me.” I know they all have their own legions of fans, but I ain’t one. of them.

An American in Paris (1954)

This is easily the most critically acclaimed film on my list, winning six Oscars in 1955, including Best Picture. It’s also my least favorite musical and Gene Kelly film. I’m very finicky when it comes to musicals. An American in Paris is up there with Gigi and My Fair Lady as a movie where I don’t get the love for it. Sure, the songs are catchy and Gene Kelly’s dancing is great. But I can’t get behind the yucky plot, predominately how Leslie Caron’s teenage love interest is manipulated by older men. I also think the pacing is slow as hell. This is Kelly’s vanity project and, boy, does it feel like it.

Zoolander (2001)

I talked about this one on the show, but I can’t wrap my head around why everyone loves this vapid story of male models. I’m a fan of Stiller’s stupid characters like Dodgeball’s White Goodman and Tropic Thunder’s Tugg Speedman, but I didn’t find anything funny about Derek Zoolander. I understand the film is intentionally sending up models, fashion, and media culture, but I didn’t find it funny. I didn’t find the jokes inventive. Is it too inside? This is a movie where the more I question why I don’t like it, the more my head hurts.

Arrival (2016)

What? Did you expect a different Denis Villenueve movie on this list? Yeah, I could have picked Sicario or Blade Runner 2049, but Arrival is the one I don’t love or hate enough to have an opinion. It’s the “meh” film in Villenueuve’s filmography for me. Amy Adams is great, but her relationship with Jeremy Renner’s character is boring as hell. They’re ONLY together because, by the law of movies, two opposite sex characters working together must bone by the end. And some of the plot conveniences are just that. Seriously, a cell phone conversation is the deus ex machina for the entire film. I almost wish I hated Arrival because I could have at least had something to say about it during awards season.

Ghostbusters (1984)

I’ve been told by many a fanboy – and, yes, predominately boys – that Ghostbusters is the best, most funniest movie to ever be made. So with this praise in mind I gave it a watch for the first time seven years ago. Guys, I hate to tell you, but I’ve seen WAY better. Ghostbusters is a film I almost wish I saw as a 7-year-old, maybe the nostalgia would have helped. Or maybe I needed a penis. Really, I don’t get the blind adoration for this feature. It’s fine, plain and simple.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

I’ve told people not to recommend I watch movies from the late-’70s because I tend to hate them. The era is best known for a big backlash post-second wave feminism and it’s felt in the cinema which tends to hate on women a lot. Saturday Night Fever is still a movie I get angry comments about online, and I wrote the review over five years ago! I like the soundtrack, for starters. The issue is the movie is 2-hours of asshole men being assholes and we’re supposed to praise them? (I say this as a question because “apparently” “it’s satire, obviously.”) I don’t know, but I wanted to strut out of the house and break this DVD after watching it.



There are certain movies that everyone in the world loves and I just assume either they’re taking crazy pills or I am. This is by no means a comprehensive list, because there are so, so many. But here are a few that have convinced me that people are nuts and if you love these films, yes, you are nuts too.


Citizen Kane (1941)

Yeah, I said it. For decades this film ranked #1 on a million different lists of “greatest films of all time” and I just scratch my head. It’s…fine? There are definitely things that are just as applicable today as they were in the ’40s, but I just don’t love this and find it one of the most overrated movies of all time. It certainly deserves a spot in, like, a top 100 list. But the very best? Not so much. Y’all crazy.

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko (2001)

I don’t get this movie’s popularity and I just don’t get this movie. I mean, if I have to google the end of your film to try to figure out what happened and I STILL can’t figure it out, that’s a problem. It feels like a completely disjointed mess that people interpret in a million different ways because it doesn’t actually mean anything, so it can also mean whatever they want it to. No thank you.

Paris Texas

Paris, Texas (1984)

Such an interesting premise, but it is lost on me with long, drawn out scenes that just never feel like they go anywhere. I saw this years ago at a retrospective screening at Sundance in a crowded theater of excited festival goers and I still just couldn’t get into it. Overly long and ultimately boring, I don’t get why people love this movie, or, really, anything by Wim Wenders. I’m sorry, Sam Shepard! I tried!

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood (2007)

I hate this movie with every fiber of my being to the very depths of my soul forever and ever, amen. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like movies with no one to root for. But not only did I not have anyone to care about here, I actively wanted every character to die in the end. And then I was disappointed all over again when that didn’t happen. It would make me so happy to never again have to be reminded this is a thing that exists because it’s the literal worst.

La La Land

La La Land (2016)

Oh, come on. You knew this was coming. Sorry, Pasek and Paul. You kids know I like you, but the music in this movie is boring as hell. The dance numbers are uninspired. The notion that this movie presents a strong female character in Emma Stone is so laughably wrong that I just throw my hands up in the air and wonder what even was the point of the last several years of trying to advance women in film. If THIS is a strong female character, I’m just done. Damien Chazelle deserves congratulations, though. He found a way to make me dislike Ryan Gosling. I used to think that was impossible.



No one actually likes these films. Y’all just pretend you do.


Memento (2000)

Really, I could put nothing but Nolan films on this list. But I won’t. I’ll just focus on one of my least favorites, the gimmick that is Memento. Many hail it as Nolan’s best work and I think it is the perfect example of what a con artist he is. Memento’s central conceit – a movie told more or less backwards, from the perspective of a lead character with short term memory loss – is an interesting one, but it’s hardly ground-breaking. Cinema has any number of films that play with memory and sequential time, and unlike Rashomon, Last Year at Marienbad, or Mulholland Drive, Memento is entirely dependent on its gimmick to be a decent film. Once we understand the order, and what happens, it’s just a rote neo-noir, incapable of standing up under its own narrative weight. It’s a con job.


Vertigo (1958)

Hitchcock was the reason I got into studying film, and he remains my favorite director. Though he did make some bad films – looking at you, Topaz – even those usually have some points of interest, some performance or feat of cinematography that makes them rise above the mundane badness of some directors. And many of Hitchcock’s films are undeniable masterpieces.

Vertigo is not a bad film, but whenever someone mentions it as the greatest Hitchcock film, I begin to look at them askance…especially if they’re male, and especially if they try to argue that the film is really a love story (or is proof of Hitchcock’s psychology – we really need to stop psychoanalyzing directors, you guys). While there’s a lot of interesting stuff in Vertigo, I just don’t get anyone who can watch Hitchcock’s oeuvre and say that it outstrips Psycho, Rear Window, Notorious, Shadow of a Doubt or, hell, Sabotage. There are overlong passages that go nowhere, some serious issues with the color palette, and a looseness in narrative structure that is somewhat unusual for Hitchcock, who usually hated to waste a shot. Hardly a failure, certainly not bad, but nowhere near as impressive as some have made it out to be.

Oh, and if you think it’s a love story, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself.


Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind has suffered in recent years, coming under fire for its racism and ahistorical romanticization of the antebellum South. As well as it should – the film’s antiquated treatment of race might have been typical for 1939, but it’s made worse by the fact that it valorizes an early version of the KKK, and perpetuates the myth of the “happy” slave. But even if you can get past the racism, it’s still a big budget melodrama with a perpetually unlikable heroine at its center – a woman who never, not once, learns to be a halfway decent human being, despite going through hell. Yes, the performances are good, as far as they go, but the script is poor, and the film outstrips itself by the time we hit the two-hour mark. How this film still manages to top Best Ever lists is beyond me.


The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Speaking of films that shouldn’t be at the top of lists, I’ve always been perplexed about The Shawshank Redemption’s staying power. It’s not a bad film at all, but it’s not terribly memorable either, outside of a few general references that tend to make it more than it is. I don’t dislike the film, but I don’t get why anyone would consider it particularly great. I’m convinced this movie is only beloved by film-bros who don’t watch anything prior to 1980.


My Fair Lady (1964)

Whispers: I don’t get Audrey Hepburn. Yes, she’s a decent actress, but she’s always struck me as very one-note, and most of her films depend on her gazing wistfully into the distance while a (usually older) man tells her what to do. There are a number of Audrey films that I don’t get, but My Fair Lady is just…not good. Her accent is atrocious – why didn’t they get Julie Andrews, again? – and she doesn’t even do her own singing in a goddamn musical. The film itself is overlong, turning on the frankly bizarre romance between Audrey and Rex Harrison, who has all the charm of an old shoe. The costumes are pretty (and so is Jeremy Brett), but that’s hardly enough to make this a halfway decent film. Stop saying it’s good. It’s not.



Full disclosure, I went to film school in the indie film haven of the University of Colorado in Boulder. They tout their indie cred hard there, like Stan Brakhage hard. Anyway, y’all know me. I’m a classic Hollywood girl born and raised. As such, I have a lengthy list of movies I just don’t get…

Donnie Darko (2001)

Okay, can you hear my eyes rolling from here? I think I’ve watched this movie in almost every film class dating back to film 101, and I just don’t get it. In fact, I think I’ve repressed most of it from my mind by this point. I remember one thing… Jake Gyllenhaal is in it. Wait, I remember one other thing, I found it boring, trite and cliched. That’s about it.


Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

I desperately wanted to like this movie. I think I was the perfect age for it, too! I remember sitting down with roommates to watch this in the dorm as a freshman in college and, once again, nothing. I didn’t find it funny; rather, it felt boring. I still don’t understand the characters, and will usually respond with a blank, clueless face when someone still tries to reference it in conversation. Just… meh.


Requiem for a Dream (2000)

*Throws roll of film on ground*

*Drops Lighter*

*Spits on Ground*

*Walks Away*

Sorry, not sorry.


The Big Lebowski (1998)

This is a hard one to include on the list. I find parts of this movie incredibly funny. In fact, I’ve done my fair share of quoting “The Dude” myself. However, aside from the parts of this film which are continually included in montages and retrospectives, I’ve never been particularly into this movie. Parts of this are great, but it’s not a complete package for me. There are long stretches I just don’t get.


The Deer Hunter (1978)

*Returns to Requiem for a Dream fire*

*Drops this film into flames*


Once again, sorry, not sorry.


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