Empirical proof: Nothing comes anywhere close to “The Graduate”

I’ve always been aware, on a superficial, untested level, that “The Graduate” stood in a league of its own, defying characterization.

I suppose you could call it a sort of dark comedy, if you like, or social satire, or whatever. But try to think of another movie that makes you think and feel anything like what “The Graduate” does. You can’t.

I had empirical confirmation of that tonight. I saw it among the “Watch Instantly” flicks on Netflix. I didn’t need it in my queue because I have it on DVD, but I clicked on it to put it in my queue just to see how the algorithms of Netflix dealt with it.

And as I suspected, it could not come up with movies like “The Graduate.” Look at the lame attempt above. “Kramer vs. Kramer?” “The Paper Chase?” Both fine films, but neither of them anything like “The Graduate.” Aside from the incidental presence of Dustin Hoffman in one of them, which is meaningless.

And please, do not mention the execrable, silly “Tom Jones” in the same conversation.

Netflix is far from infallible. But it generally does a better job than this. Take another quirky film, “The Usual Suspects.” A challenge, yes?

OK, there’s nothing exactly like it maybe, but some of these selections — “Memento,” “Blue Velvet,” a Hitchcock or two — at least get its range, landing in a loose pattern around it. I’d throw some of these out, though (“Eight Men Out?” Fine film, but doesn’t fit here), and throw in a Tarantino, or “The Professional.” None score a direct hit. But they come a lot closer than anything does to “The Graduate.”

13 thoughts on “Empirical proof: Nothing comes anywhere close to “The Graduate”

  1. bud

    I’d through some of these out, ..

    After you vilified The State for the improper use of “their” and now this?

    Indeed The Graduate IS kind of in a league by itself. There have been numerous films dealing with “Cougars” since then but this was infidelity issue but this one was the first, and best. Although I will say that Kramer vs. Kramer was at least in the same ballpark. Very different movies but a bit closer thematically than you give it credit for.

  2. Brad

    As for the typo, which I appreciate you pointing out:

    1. Excuse ME for throughing — I mean, throwing — something up onto the blog (the blog I do by myself and basically don’t get paid for) at 10:30 at night when it struck me. It was then, when I was tired and ready for bed, or never; I blog when I blog.
    2. This is going to happen on the blog. Everyone, but EVERYONE, needs an editor. I have no one but y’all to read behind me. My time to write — much less to look back at what I write — is extremely limited. So thank you for pointing it out (but no thank you for saying I’m somehow hypocritical or unfair for doing so, as I hope to make clear in item 4).
    3. I didn’t vilify anyone, but I did criticize. And it was WIS, not The State. Which is why I didn’t really vilify. They’re TV people; I don’t expect precise writing.
    4. This wasn’t a simple case of mistyping. This wasn’t, for instance typing “their” when you meant “they’re” or “there” which happens all the time to people who know better but are in a hurry (which is why everybody had an editor in the days before the business model to pay them collapsed). No. This was a deliberate choice of the wrong word. The lede of the story used “their” to refer to a singular antecedent, specifically “An elderly driver.” This was chosen perhaps in true ignorance, which is still inexcusable, even in a broadcast journalist. But it most likely was chosen in an act of mushy indecision, based in a long history of what is commonly called “political correctness,” but which is really imprecision based in a fear of offending feminist sensibilities, either by being specific about gender (which is idiotic, who could really object to being specific about the gender of the subject, if you know it?) or aversion to the perfectly acceptable but long-abandoned convention of using the inclusive masculine pronoun. Of course, that’s more with reference to a hypothetical single person. It’s different when you’re talking about a particular person. With a particular person, one of the first things you should determine (at least as soon as learning he or she is “elderly”) is whether that person is a he or she.

    OK, so you don’t know the gender of the elderly person? Fine. It’s all good. All you have to do is write the following:

    “An elderly driver was ejected from a car in a traffic accident at the intersection of Taylor and Gadsden streets, according to Columbia police.” Or “An elderly driver was ejected from the vehicle in a traffic accident…” (Oh, and tell me — how sure are you this person is “elderly?” By using that term you may be implying culpability, because it suggests someone who perhaps should not be driving. So be sure.)

    Not elegant, but at least you don’t commit an unpardonable sin against the language. And you would only do this if you had to post it before finding out the gender of the driver, which, if you were working for me, you would be finding out in one quick hurry — at which point you would immediately update the lede to say “his” or “her.” Which has not happened yet.

    It was more than a typo.

  3. Steven Davis

    Didn’t your mothers tell you it’s impolite to correct peoples speech in public?

    Just what we need another Grammar Police Cadet.

  4. Doug Ross

    On The State website yesterday I saw this headline:

    “Four year old deputy’s son shoots himself”

    It was there most of the day but now has been updated to:

    “Deputy’s son, 4, shoots himself”

    Brad – have you ever pursued the option for users (maybe registered ones) to edit their own posts? I often type on my phone and don’t always proofread what I wrote… until after I hit submit and see immediately that I left out a word or misspelled something. Please look into that feature.

  5. Brad

    Steven, to quote Dr. Peter Venkman — “Back off, Jack; I’m a professional.” This is what I do. It’s certainly not all I do, but no one who does not like it should hang out here.

    And Doug…

    I’ve looked into it, and don’t have the slightest idea how to make that happen. I want to make it part of a grand redesign that I hope to do when I have the money to pay someone to do it or get to the point that I’m not too embarrassed to ask someone to do it for free. So… if you want new features that I don’t know how to provide, get some people to buy ads on bradwarthen.com. Lots of them.

  6. `Kathryn Fenner

    “As for the typo, which I appreciate you pointing out”

    uh, “your”

    Netflix only rates the films based on how much it thinks YOU”LL like them.

    Also, what up with 155 items in your Watch Instantly queue? Kinda gluttonous….

  7. Brad

    Either “you” or “your” works.

    And I regard the queue as sort of a library of stuff I might want to see, or HAVE seen and might want to see again — a far more likely source of an hour’s entertainment than even what was offered when I had a gazillion channels… just a few days ago (sob).

    No, seriously. It’s kind of cool having 155 or more things that, among them, should contain something I would like to see at any moment. Which is not as true of even the most diverse cable. I found that with cable, if I wanted to spend an hour perusing the offerings of the next few days and setting the DVR, I could amass a set of things that offered me choices. But it took an hour, most of television being, as it was said, a vast wasteland. This is less time-consuming, and more eclectic. And a whole lot cheaper. WAY better than buying them on DVD.

    Increasingly, I see little difference between having a good movie in my Netflix queue and having it on my DVD shelf. And it’s cheaper.

  8. Steven Davis

    Like I said Brad, “Didn’t your mothers tell you it’s impolite to correct peoples speech in public?”

  9. Brad

    Well… maybe you’re right. Maybe it should be 4.

    Of course, you have to understand I’m sparing with my stars. I really have to LIKE it for it to get 3.

    Thing about “Memento” is, it was wonderfully done — what a great plot concept!

    But, even though I own it on DVD, I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it for a second time. Yes, it’s awesome. But that tension building to the final, horrible realization… now that I know, I don’t want to go through it again.

  10. bud

    I give extra credit (or stars) to any movie that’s reasonably original. Even if it lacks the basic criteria for judging it a good movie I have to at least value the effort to be different.

    I understand there is a new “A Star is Born” movie in the making with Leo Decaprio starring. Does that guy ever survive a movie? This will make the fourth version of that rather indifferent plot.

  11. `Kathryn Fenner

    “your” is the only correct choice, since it modifies “pointing out” which is a noun–gerund to be precise…unless you are using the West Columbia form of the possessive pronoun, as in, “Get you lazy a$& offa my truck.”

  12. Brad

    Yes, I know that you can cite a rule. I know that “your” is proper. I’m telling you that in normal usage, either works. At least, for what I was trying to say.

    The way I wrote it is a guide to what I was thinking, even though I may not have done it properly. I was saying more than that I appreciated the act. I said I appreciated my readers for doing that. I appreciate YOU, not merely “your doing that.” Now, yes, the proper, grammatical, formal way to do that would be to say, “I appreciate you FOR pointing that out.” But as I wrote it, I felt like the “for” was implied. Or perhaps I meant to type “for” and just skipped over it, in which case bad on me, but I think my meaning was clear. All I know is that my intention all along was to express my appreciation of the role that readers play on a blog of backing me up, since I have no one to edit me at this end. That was my point.

    And in the end, as I’ve said a billion times to obsessive-compulsive copy editors, the goal is clear communication.

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