The Master – another brilliant movie I probably won’t enjoy

The Master is coming out – it stars Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman and critics are raving about it in that “best film I’ve seen all year” way.

I read the review – the acting sounds brilliant, Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to see it. It carries the classic hallmarks of the Amazing Critically Acclaimed Movie that I am not going to enjoy. I’ll be impressed, but will I have any fun? Even a lot of black humour films just make me cringe. I couldn’t watch a lot of Seinfeld because I couldn’t stand watching George humiliate himself. I also have trouble with Sacha Baron Cohen’s movies. I enjoyed about 2 minutes of Borat and I hated Bruno. It was just embarrassing. I haven’t seen The Dictator because I’ve learned my lesson.

So many movies are in this category and now I have a sense of what to avoid, thanks to these excellent films:

  • Doubt – I love Meryl Streep but this was not fun to watch
  • Requiem for a Dream
  • No Country for Old Men
  • The Road
  • Leaving Las Vegas
  • Rachel Getting Married and the other wedding film, Margot at the Wedding – not painful but cringe-worthy
  • Fargo – I know it’s supposed to be funny but I found it painful, although I loved the Frances McDormand character
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • Lars Von Trier films – Breaking the Waves, gah; Melancholia, double gah
  • Precious
  • Larry Clarke’s Kids – I had nightmares for weeks after this one
  • Once Were Warriors – ditto
  • Paris Trout  – ugh
  • Eyes Wide Shut – for god’s sake
  • Baise-Moi – my French isn’t very good; I didn’t research this before going with a group; I thought it would be a charming French film with subtitles – subtitles yes, charming no! I actually had to leave.

It’s not that I don’t like dramas or indie films, but certain things I find really repugnant to watch. Or I’m embarrassed for the actors. Or the subject is just so depressing. I read a lot; I know bad things happen but it’s just so disturbing to see it presented visually, I’m depressed for days afterwards. Sometimes these films are boring and painful. That’s entertainment!

(While I’m talking about painful movies – this is painful, but worth seeing):

I saw the Japanese film Graveyard of the Fireflies a few years ago; it’s animated, so I didn’t realize how harsh it would be (it was made by Studio Ghibli, the same company that produced Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away). It’s harsh. I cried so hard I had to put a pillow over my face so I didn’t wake the kids. It’s a really good, very powerful, heartbreaking, anti-war film. But when things are animated we tend to have certain expectations. (I blame Disney for this.) Things go downhill, but eventually the cavalry arrives. The cavalry doesn’t arrive in this one. I should have known; Japanese films don’t follow the same storytelling patterns Western ones do. I was so upset afterwards I couldn’t sleep; I had to go downstairs and comfort myself with ice cream. I told the story to Justin the next day and he got teary just hearing my description. I arrived at Japanese preschool to drop the kids the next morning and my face was all messed up from crying all night and the other moms were like, “Are you ok?” All I had to say was, “I saw Graveyard of the Fireflies last night.” They had to process that into Japanese but then they were all, “Ohhhhhh.” But I recommend it. It’s as important a film as Schindler’s List. It’s also, like Schindler’s List, based on a true story. I know; waaaaaah! snif

Yet I love certain types of horror movie. But that’s another post.

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