Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline

Great films I never want to see again.

Today I saw this article featured today on IMDb about great films that are too painful to view more than once. I'm so glad that someone else feels that way about certain films, the films that are relegated to the upper left quadrant of my film graph.

Of the twenty-four movies listed in the article, I had only seen one, which was Boys Don't Cry, and I totally agreed with the authors' assessment that it's too painful to watch more than once. Also on the list was another Hilary Swank film, Million Dollar Baby, which I kind of wanted to see after it won all those awards, but then I found out (a)what it was about and (b) that it was written by Paul Haggis, who wrote and directed the Academy-Award-winning Crash, which is one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen, so I don't think I'll be bothering with Million Dollar Baby, because it seems like it'll either be depressing or stupid, or perhaps some combination.

Other films that I would put on the list of films I'm glad I saw once but never want to see again are Apocalypse Now, A Clockwork Orange, and Munich. The former two are movies that I watched because I had to for a class, and was glad I saw them for their cultural significance, but boy was it ever painful. In that class we read the books on which they were based and then watched the movie. I found it difficult to get through Heart of Darkness because I had difficulty focusing on it, which was not a problem with Apocalypse Now but I still had difficulty getting through it because it was terribly gruesome. Okay, war is bad, I get it, thank you, I felt that way from the beginning. Whereas I actually enjoyed reading A Clockwork Orange because it was fun trying to decipher the language, and so by the time I fully realized what was going on I was too involved to stop, had I the option. Also, books (unless they are illustrated) are not a visual medium, so even if violence is graphically described, it's still, to a certain extent, left to one's imagination. The individual reader has the choice of whether or not they're going to stop and really try to visualize what's going on or just let the words form sort of a dim outline in one's mind, which is what I do most of the time. Film, being a visual medium, offers no such luxury. Here's what I don't get about the movie version of A Clockwork Orange, though: Kubrick decided to leave off the last chapter of the book, wherein we find that the gratuituous violence was just a phase that the protagonist eventually grew out of on his own, which doesn't make a lot of psychological sense and therefore doesn't seem realistic; what I don't get is that nothing about that movie is remotely realistic (I know that it's supposed to be futuristic, but even something futuristic should bear some resemblance to the world as we know it, shouldn't it?) to the point where I can't even take it all that seriously, so why not leave the fanciful ending intact? Thinking about it further, I think I kind of get it; it's not a question of being realistic, it's a question of being nihilistic, or postmodern, or some such pretentious nonsense, so fine, whatever.

Munich I watched because Tony Kushner contributed to the screenplay, and I like Angels in America, but this, unfortunately for me, was no gay fantasia. As it happens, at the time I saw it I was getting over a cold and was seized by a coughing fit and had to watch the last half hour or so either in the hallway or at the very back of the theater lest I disturb the other movie goers. I should have taken that as a sign and went home, but I'm always reluctant to give up one things without giving them a fair chance, so I thought, "It's Tony Kushner, it's Steven Spielberg, surely there must be some redeeming qualities coming up." (At the time I wouldn't have said, "It's Eric Bana, it must have some redeeming qualities, but I would now.) But no; the thing that makes it a quality movie is the relentless moral ambiguity of its characters, so no redemption in the form of catharsis, which is what I mean.

I don't know why I felt the need to say all this, because most of it is stuff I've said before. I guess I just read that article and I got preoccupied with those films to the point where I had to get them out of my head, similar to when you get an annoying song stuck in your head. Perhaps this was ultimately more masochistic; I won't be able to tell until I know what dreams may come tonight.
Tags: films
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