Friday, April 1, 2011

the Graduate--a review

Have you ever hated something completely lauded by your peers as being brilliant? A band, a book...I'm taking about the opposite of guilty pleasures. How about a classic Oscar winning film? It's tough, isn't it, to go against the grain of a strong consensus. Peer pressure's one thing, but my confidence reaches a whole new level to say that I thought the Graduate was an absurd pile of crap.

Mike Nichols won a best director Oscar for the classic. Hoffman, then 30 playing a 20 year-old, won praise for his first major role as Ben the neurotic, naive, bourgeois-bored depressed and obsessed dumbass.

Anne Bancroft is a stunning, sexually desperate cougar, clad in enough animal prints to have invented the term used now for older seductresses saturating reality television and night time soaps. And Katharine Ross is confused and rebellious. Everybody else is an asshole, breeding assholes. In fact the film is a giant asshole smorgasbord; with a great soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel.

Does the film's much-barbed commentary on generation gaps, the alienation of youth, and mid-life complacency define the 60's Zeitgeist, making it thought-provoking and hilarious? Maybe to some people who lived it and want to look back reminiscing the good old days of hippies and dumb love and all that. But how am I supposed to believe Hoffman's character Ben had enough mojo to get seduced by a beautiful older lady, friend of the family type, and also fall for that lady's daughter after one date to the burger shack?

Not only that, but Ben becomes obsessed and stalks the daughter!, at her school, following her around like some lost psycho, professing his desire to marry her over and over again, while she can have her pick of the campus being one of the most beautiful girls there. The Graduate's entire premise, though I do see what sacred attempts it made to preserve a mess of controversial issues in 60's society, was utterly obnoxious.

On a lighter note: If I ever meet someone who can eloquently defend their love for the film, without time-capsule cliches, with any explanation aside from saying "it's a classic!" or "It's Hoffman at his best!" I will be more than interested to hear what they have to say.

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