Defending Dune: I like Dune, having seen it twice. Once at my house, once at a friends. Both times have something in common (other than Dune). I was drunk, and getting more so.
It is not true that all films seem better when you’re drunk. Films you know well often seem much longer. Films with a serious moral point, or with beautiful and haunting camerawork, or with a complex yet coherent narrative, generally do not suit the inebriated eye. Films like Dune, though, which are basically a series of ridiculous and gaudy setpieces, are terrific when you’re drunk and can either shout at the screen (in company), or go ‘oooh’ on your own. Additionally, because it makes no sense, if you stumble in halfway through or fall asleep before the end it doesn’t matter*. Should Matthew Barney’s Cremaster cycle not appear on this list – and looking at the list so far you can have a fair guess as to whether it does – Dune and for that matter The Fifth Element are a pretty good substitute (assuming booze is added).
I would take Dune drunk over most alright films sober, which is why I supported its nomination. In most artforms some respectability is attached to the idea that the context a work is experienced in is crucial, though of course the assumed ‘norm’ changes all the time. In music for instance a perfectly acceptable critical gambit is to say that some band or other sounds better live; in books there’s the tacit admission that certain novels will read better on a beach than in a living room. Enemies of dance music will regularly say that it only sounds good if you’re off your head, as if this was some kind of criticism: it isn’t, and some films are like that too, and for me Dune is one of them.
*(except that Dune has one of the best endings ever, when the preternaturally wise young girl turns to camera and sez “FOR HE IS THE KWIZATZ HADERACH” for all the world as if it’s meant to explain anything.)