A Rant About The Movies We Hate
I remind myself to be calm, to take a breath and let go as the lights come up after another movie bomb has gone off and taken my happy with it. The moviegoer in my gut tells me to get the hell out of there but I’m resolved to respect the effort, however often undeserving, putting together my thoughts for what will fuel the biting review to follow. The movie critic buts in, grumbles, points out the unforgivable sins and I have to agree, sigh. The filmmaker has me at odds, I know how much work goes in, the sacrifices, the tortured pain and suffering of 30 hour days and 20 hour nights, three months later you’ve got so much more work to do – just to fail, fade, find the bargain bin, you pray. Why write about the movies we hate?
I pause in the harmonious tones of the credit scroll as the movie theater cathedral rustles with the collision of praise and condemnation, bodies staggering out as strip-light guides come to life, dissecting the dark around the exit signs. What might seem like the perfect soundtrack tune to clear the room is a lost serenade to parking lot conversations and validation line confessionals, hands and feet clickety-clacking on seatbacks to the sharp and sticky floor snaps. My filmmaker spirit pipes up, searches the credit scroll for names familiar and funny, silent appreciation for the unsung work of so many, however unsatisfying another disappointing film failure. That’s when the sick feeling swells, the realization – or the foregone conclusion – weighing that I waited too long to get up and ask for my money back. Then again, I’d short change my comeback in a seething movie review – I just got to sit down and write it before another comes along to distract me. The silly fumbling dance of awkwardness doesn’t help the process, the kicking popcorn tubs and popping crinkly plastic wraps between the inevitable corn dogs on a stick, sticking you on the way out. I don’t actually remember the last time I walked out or for that matter, the last time I saw others make a ‘B’ line for the exit – but I could’ve this time, I should’ve that time and would’ve, probably. This is the reason I write about the movies we love and hate, an invitation to make all those mistakes make sense or matter in some grander sense; perhaps its just movie-blogger-enthusiast’s lasting and justified penance in the end.
As the HAZMAT suits push in from either side of the theater, brooms and indifferent grins pricking the air like the pep rally for the losing team at a High School football game, someone shoots me the look, that age-old look that says, “..hey buddy, you wanna get outta here so we can go back to standing around?” I remember that breathing trick, the in and out of it to produce a calming effect because it matters, all of this and maybe none of it until later, after I get through a review about it. Maybe here or collectively other-where, because the way of dealing with it is to talk about it and fight through if nowhere else than in the community of this.
You have to accept your first reaction that happens in your gut, before the ads and advertising, before the facts of the film begin to make you question your own lowered expectations again. Was it only another opportunity to be grand slowly, painfully worn away by mediocre imagining? It’s an emotional tug-o-war with the senses, the urge to scream out loud in fun or fear until the cheer is at the grossly overpriced and under produced, the CGI wasteland of muted emotions and stylized violence in place of just entertaining. But browbeaten into submission, choked on believing whatever is good enough is good enough, there is hope for the hopeful if only short-lived, moments in the margins and positioned paragraphs ready for rants about the movies we hate.
So I’m here to make a try, to write and see where we go, if at all because I’m not able or can’t or don’t really want to play nice for the sake of fair, it was after all big and convoluted, expensive and ridiculous. But how do you pretend to like the sticky black, bubble gum snap and sneaker shoe linoleum boogie that costs so much to be so crummy? So while on bended knee praying to our matinée idols for more, for less, for something different from this, I suggest we write about it, we write about the movies we hate. It’s challenging not to end up wandering off course, dazed, overwhelmed by buttery fresh goodness and resist when someone points that-a-way and they expect you to just move on from this movie and hope the next works instead. It should sting like a bee that thing that happens when you’ve given up all hope that interesting is going to make all the big screen real estate matter, something fun and different or at least memorable and specific – but before I can even think it through and come up with some kind of reason to never do it all over again, the first flicker of the next whatever delivers the voice that crackles up time for another round of loveable plastic wrap from smuggled foods and drinks that always sets fire to the your desperate need for another movie time quiet.
Apparently I’m not alone. We hate our movies for all sorts of reasons. People hate theaters and theater people, they hate other movie goers and especially critics; that goes for bloggers who are equally hated by the stodgy officials of film criticism, teachers and theorists and other bloggers too. We even hate the movies we love, see my forthcoming article on that and in general, movies we love to hate because they are so bad or so terribly touching we watch them in secret and don’t write about them or even utter their names. I’m writing about the movies we hate because I’m stuck between the last ten movies I really hated and how much work it is going to be to write about them while searching, desperately for a movie I really loved or will love or hope to love. There’s just so much material but at the end of this, writing about movies we hate should be some matter of conclusion, some sense of having arrived at the cliff side of eternal debates and frothy complaints and perched there, at this proverbial grand canyon, speak as if Moses on the mountain – these things I declare as matters of truth, as facts of attrition, that we’ll always have rants and raves like this – at least I hope we do.
- Five Ways To Make Sure I Hate Your Movie (fernbyfilms.com)
- Urgh, movies in the internet era (featherweightmusings.blogspot.com)
- Q&A Beloved Movies We Hate (anomalousmaterial.com)
- So Why Are Movies So Bad? (http://coreymandell.net)
- Why Bad Movies Matter (nerdist.com)
- Bad Movie Beat Down (thatguywithglasses.com)
- The Day The Movies Died (gq.com)
- Why Do You Care If Critics Hate The Movies You Like (screenrant.com)
BAM! And this it was spoken, and thus is it true.
Dear God, how much of this is exactly what bloggers and critics must feel each time those closing credits roll, only to find we’re left with an empty, shallow, meaningless, hateful film experience to which we must yet again scribe out vitriol in some kind of cohesive diatribe.
Nice work, chief. People should read this before they ever write a film review.
Yeessiirr! It did sound like it was coming down from the pulpit, didn’t it? Thanks for checking it out, and appreciate the sentiment. Now onward and upward!
I just love this! and he writes about it, calling it the movie cathedral lights. Popcorn for every one
Have to admit, you have to be able to love movies so much that when you write about them you can always see the good. No matter what. I have recently covered lots of family films for a site a write for and it has really opened my eyes – i don’t hate family films, but its not my first choice at the cinema, so to watch with a clear idea about criticism in my mind really helps. Consequently, I have learned much more in the process too so it refines my writing. I honestly feel a little sorry for people who just moan about the problems with cinema because nobody is forcing them to watch anything – and the arrogance that you can criticise something so harshly without any experience of making it yourself is a tragedy unto itself.
There are SO many good films out there – internationally and the depths of cinema history – that i have yet to see, so I’m not going to hunt down THE WICKER MAN starring Nicholas Cage just to highlight how bad it is. And if I do watch it (because I’m being paid to) then I will judge it fairly and hope that it isn’t as bad as they say.
Hey Simon — I suppose there is something, however infinitesimal in all movies that is good for us, either in the form of inspiration to imagine differently or muse on about some irrelevant thing but to be honest, I don’t always see the good or the purpose, much less the joy over that sinking feeling in my gut that comes from bad, bad movies. I definitely agree, it helps to watch all kinds of movies and indeed write about them, refining and pushing you to find ways to write about films that don’t set your sail, float your boat, or give you the wood. Definitely, it takes so much energy to just complain about movies instead of finding a way to understand what it is that makes you feel that way and perhaps learning in the process to approach them differently. I mean understanding and open mindedness isn’t going to make me like Adam Sandler films as of late, but I can talk about them and write about them in a way that invites discussion with others, learning to enjoy the criticism, not just the hot air of contempt. Interesting, actually I thought Wicker Man was considerably better than a lot of trainwrecks he’s made, you know, looking for what works instead of what obviously and painfully doesn’t. Yes again, there are so many great films out there waiting for us to find them – we just have to keep looking.
Fairness and willingness to explore, bad good or otherwise, is the hallmarks of a good movie reviewer. So many times I find reviews that never go anywhere, hardly scratch the surface, neither all love or all hate, but “It was good for a dumb comedy” stuff. It’s like, why bother? thanks for dropping by0>
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