In Praise of Cinematic Cheese

In Praise of Cinematic Cheese August 25, 2016

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(image via Pixabay)

We’ve already established by now that I am the only critic on the whole of the internet who liked the re-make of Ben-Hur. Even I admitted that it was cheesy as all get out, but I still liked it. And I stand by that. I like a good cheesy film now and then. Cheese is good for you. Taken alone, it’s constipating, but in combination with other foods? Cheese is great.

Nobody appreciates a good cinema cheese anymore. I’m not talking about a genuinely bad film like God’s Not Dead Two. There’s an aesthetic to that as well, but it’s an aesthetic of mockery. Today I’m talking about a cheesy, inauthentic, over-the-top romp where two thirds of the appeal isn’t in the movie itself but in the fact that the director actually had the gall to try to do what he did. A film where you’re shaking your head at what you’re being asked to swallow and all the while gobbling it up. Not exactly comedy, but you do laugh. You can’t believe that the five-star chef just served you a bowl of baked macaroni, but you gobble it down because everybody likes baked macaroni. It’s cheesy.

Take Kaiju movies, for example– that venerable Japanese genre which can easily be undervalued by Westerners. The first Kaiju movie, Toho Studios’ Gojira, was a terrifying serious art film about nuclear war.  There was nothing Cheesy about Gojira.  Then the Americans got ahold of it, edited and dubbed it into oblivion and called it Godzilla: King of Monsters, which is trash. But subsequent Toho Studios Kaiju films have largely been neither serious nor trash, but cheese. Watch the original Godzilla Versus Mechagodzilla some time, if you can. Or, if you’re not offended by some very salty language, you can watch this gentleman’s hillarious video recap and review of the film. Godzilla Versus Mechagodzilla is cheese. It’s ridiculous. It’s over the top, it makes little logical sense sense, it’s breathtaking that a professional director would foist King Cesar the shih tzu dog on us as an ancient guardian spirit. And it’s a lot of fun, not in spite of its offbeat nature.

And then there’s the Peplum.


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