Sometimes I lie. I’m not proud of it, and I should really curb it, but every now and then when people ask me if I’ve seen a certain movie or read a certain book, I find myself just nodding without thinking while my Loud Mean Self voice says, “What the hell, you huge idiot? You’ve never seen that. You’re a freaking liar. They’re about to ask you a question, and it’s gonna be so obvious that you lied, and you’ll finally be exposed as a filthy philistine*.”
So here I am, coming clean, admitting that I’ve never seen these six’classics’ that I’ve previously claimed to have seen. As penance, I went ahead and asserted what I’m pretty sure they’re about, just to show how easy it is (I think) to pick up enough secondhand information to pull off a passable identity as film-literate. Or maybe you, who have seen all of these films and are not uncultured trash, will be horrified by my inept summaries. If so, please tell me, I clearly need the help.
1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Sorry, Mom. Sorry, Orie. I was so enthusiastic about this lie, too. I just wanted to seem cool. I did start reading the book but I got distracted by a new Libba Bray release so I hardly feel I can be blamed. As penance, I will watch this movie three times, Clockwork Orange style, and then draft an in-depth report on the book.
I’m pretty sure this one is about Jack Nicholson at an insane asylum, and maybe there are birds. Although the flying and the nest could both just be metaphors and I could sound like a real idiot right now, but I’m comfortable with that possibility. There’s a plot twist, I think – maybe the call was coming from inside the house the whole time? God, I don’t know, I’m going back to reading Rebel Angels.
2. The Graduate (1967)
So this wasn’t necessarily a lie, I just sort of nodded along when an ex-boyfriend was listing off classic movies that I must’ve seen. To be fair, I had seen all of the other ones in that list except for Eyes Wide Shut, which he made me watch. It had a profound impact on me at seventeen years because what the eff, Tom Cruise.
But I’m pretty sure this movie is about Sean Penn having sex with an older woman. If there’s more to the plot, I don’t know it and no one else seems to either since that’s legitimately all I’ve ever heard about this movie. Maybe the song Mrs. Robinson was written for it? Or used in it? Look, I know the song, so I should at least get partial credit.
3. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Okay, this one is a little cheat-y since I’ve read the play, but I lied about seeing Streetcar in an undergrad lit class in a scoffing, transparent, ‘of course I’ve seen it’ moment. I just panicked, man. This girl with cool bangs and severe glasses was staring at me expectantly and I didn’t want to be the only fool who’d never seen this classic cinematic masterpiece.
Anyway, this movie is definitely about Marlon Brando screaming ‘STELLAAAAA’ in the pouring rain and also casually beating his wife. Or maybe they left that out of the movie. I don’t know, I’ve never seen it.
4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Yeah, I really shouldn’t have referenced this one above, since I haven’t seen it either. I don’t even know when I lied about this one specifically, just that it happened a lot. I’ve been maintaining the facade of having seen this movie mainly so I’m never forced to watch it, since I saw Nymphomaniac and that was quite enough Kubrick for me.
This movie is about a guy having his eyes held open by little metal arms and being forced to… watch something? Movies? Torture videos? I don’t know if he’s being punished or if he’s being experimented on or what, but I am happy not watching someone watching something against his will. Because I assume it’s against his will. But after seeing Nymphomaniac, maybe it’s just a kink. I should really stop judging Stanley Kubrick’s magnum opus by Nymphomaniac.
5. The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
This was a dumb lie because it was to my three-year-old. She was looking at covers of DVD’s ina store and she wanted to take this one home but I was like ‘no, Lucy, we can’t get that one,’ and so she reasonably asked why not. Quick on my filthy dishonest feet as ever, I just responded that I’d already seen it, and she accepted those words at face value. What a fool, trusting her mother.
Anyway, this movie is about a brave little toaster. I honestly do not give enough of a fuck to find out more. It looks ridiculous. Anthropomorphic kitchen appliances are too much of a stretch for me, and I’m disgustingly affected by an overabundance of empathy**. If you glue googly eyes onto a potato I’ll probably feel a pretty strong primal instinct to care for it, but a toaster with a cartoon smile just doesn’t have the same effect.
6. Pulp Fiction (1994)
I’M A FRAUD. This is simultaneously my worst and easiest movie lie, since I very much enjoy Quentin Tarantino’s more recent masterpieces (Django, Inglourious Basterds, Christoph Waltz). But my oldest friend is literally a film student/producer/production assistant and he knows everything about movies and I was like, fifteen, and he was like ‘and of course you’ve seen Pulp Fiction‘ and I just was like ‘pfff of COURSE!’
I say my easiest lie since it is so incredibly simple to get away with faking having seen this movie. References from it are laced all into our pop culture, and I’m fairly certain I don’t even need to see the movie to know the entire plot. Then again, I might have just been operating under a misconception this whole time.
This movie is about John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson being criminals. Samuel L. Jackson is called Jules and says ‘motherfucker’ a lot. They shoot someone in the head in the back of a car and it gets all over the interior and one of them – Travolta? – is really bummed about that. Uma Thurman dances with limp wrists and twisty ankles and plants the seed of Tarantino’s foot fetish in the minds of film reviewers everywhere. Tim Roth holds up a diner with a pistol and says ‘honey bunny’ a lot to his ladylove/accomplice. Jules and Danny Zuko shoot more people. Bruce Willis is there. There is a suitcase that never gets opened, or maybe I’m conflating that with the package in Castaway (which I have seen).