Summer 2001

Le Cine Crappe Reports



A brief story in the New York Times last fall about a coven of connoisseurs of bewitchingly awful movies intrigued the Editor of CUNY·Matters. After pursuing several false leads-involving a shadowy fourth man, a mysterious Burmese falcon, and a private eye from Georgia who frankly didn't give a damn-he was finally able to make contact with the spokesperson for the group, historian Carol Berkin, who was absolutely fearless about acknowledging her affiliation in this context (The Graduate Center and Baruch College). Asked to describe Le Cine Crappe, as the club calls itself, and to poll its members on some recent and some all-time exquisitely bad movies, Berkin gamely filed the following report. Clearly, the club's motto could be taken from Mae West's memorable boast in I'm No Angel: "When I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better." Editor's Warning: rent these a.y.o.r.

he origins of the club are shrouded in mystery. . .or at least they're vague. Formally, Le Cine Crappe started about three years ago, but small groups of those who would become charter members had been going to bad movies together for a few years before that. As of this May, we are about 20 members strong, and a full complement for an outing can run to about 15. Members include professors, magazine editors, and free-lance reporters, but the heart and soul of the club are grad students.

Five Cuny stalwarts of Le Cine Crappe: from left, Matthew Cotter, Kris Burrell, Carol Berkin, Angelo Angelis, and Mark Sgambettera.

The members were polled recently and asked by CUNY·Matters to identify favorites (if that is the word) in two categories: all-time drop-dead awful movies and all-time crappy movies that, in the Mae West sense, are irresistibly delightful. Here, then, are winners of Le Cine Crappe's much unsought-after Empty Popcorn Box Awards.

Note: these are lists of six, the usual "10" being considered by us too cruel and unusual.

The Worst of the Worst
Number one on everyone's list. This movie taxes even the most liberal imaginationby putting Dustin Hoffman and Samuel Jackson underwater with Sharon Stone in a spherical apparatus, in which they encounter a mysterious alien thingy that turns a person's wishes into reality. After seeing it, club members rose spontaneously, clasped hands, and begged to be allowed to forget Sphere. Club member Angelo Angelis summed up: "A marathon of stupidity. . .even worse that Warren Beatty's Ishtar."

Dudley Do-Right: As a fan of Brendan Fraser from the beginning and an equally devoted fan of "Rocky and Bullwinkle," I awaited this film with horribly mistaken anticipation. The only believable character was the horse. Club member Inara Angelis's thumbnail squelch: "It did not do right by me."

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: This movie we considered an insult to all who lived through the 60s and remember drugs fondly-in the historian's sense, of course. It was not like that. How could LSD trips be so boring, and what a waste of Johnny Depp. Popcorn was of no avail.

Unbreakable: A more honest title: Unbearable. Samuel Jackson as a lunatic in a wheelchair spouting comic book Ayn Rand, Bruce Willis as an unfunny version of Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners-oy!

UB571: A submarine by any other number might have been better. History gone wacky: the wrong country doing the right thing. As one Club member quipped, "UB crazy if you think this is about WWII." Why did no one think to plant some explosives under the director's chair...or in the writer's mouse?

The Patriot: Heroic Mel, sans kilt, reprises rescue of the world. But get this: a wealthy South Carolina planter who makes money growing corn. . .workers who are hired hands (and probably get pensions). . .and an Anglican minister dressed like some 17th-century New England puritan! Club member Adam Reichman: "Best comedy of the year."

The Best of the Worst
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut: Loved by us all. We still sing "Blame it on Canada" at the slightest provocation. We are hoping that the Devil and Saddam Hussein are making the marriage work.

Exit Wounds: Steven Seagal is a bona fide hero. Who wouldn't feel safe with him in a dark alley? The man kicks serious butt. Slimmed down again, but regrettably without his famous pony tail, Seagal makes a great comeback after two real disasters (which of course we saw) set in Alaska and Appalachia. Way to go Steve-o!

The Mummy: This movie had everything-adorable Brendan, a librarian with sex appeal way beyond Marian, a dashing Arab hero, and a really scary wad of bandages. Bugs eating bad guys! What more can one ask from a film?

Charlie's Angels: The guys voted this one in. They still have glossy photos of their favorite angel in their lockers and offices. Several club members have shrines to Drew Barrymore. And we all, male and female, applauded Lucy's dominatrix scene.

The X Files: FBI agents Mulder and Scully almost kiss. Damn that bee! As most of us are devoted fans of the series, our delight here was no surprise. We will never eat corn on the cob again without some sense of doom.

The Faculty: This was bound to win us over: aliens invade a school and they are all teachers. And Earth is saved by teenagers! Who says you need high SAT scores to be a hero?