Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wow! I can never watch that fantastic piece of cinema again!

This evening I was driving home, listening to a Pandora "quick mix" on my phone. "Hoppipolla" came on. It was the music played behind the Children of Men trailer a few years ago and it set my mind on a cinematic drift. Specifically, trying to recall what movies do I never want to see again? I do want to see Children of Men again sometime, but Honey tells me I shouldn't.

Allow me to explain, briefly. Honey saw Children of Men sometime last year. He highly recommended it. Said it was really stirring and urged me to see it so we could talk about it. So, a few months later, when he was out of town, I rented it and watched. With the company of a few beers (and a playful dog). "So what did you think?" he asked eagerly when he got home. I told him I liked it, but I wanted to see it again to really soak it in. Then I told him I was kinda buzzy when I watched it. "You were drunk?! You need to watch it again sober. If you were sober, you would never want to see that movie again! Watch it again - no beer! - and then we can talk!" It's been probably 9 months since that conversation. I have yet to sit down and try again. But that conversation - and the idea of a negative visceral reaction to a film - was brought back by the simple piano plunks of Sigur Ros.

So what movies can I never watch again, because my reaction was so visceral?

In no particular order, here are a few that come to mind:

1. A Clockwork Orange. A guy I was "messing around with" when I was freshman in college had this movie. We started the evening with several wine coolers (shut up, I was 18) and a viewing of Pink Floyd's The Wall and moved onto this classic later in the night. I have never had a stomach for cruelty in film or on the page. When Malcolm and his thugs invaded the home of the couple and rape the wife in front of the husband, I felt violated, myself. I felt like something had been taken from me. Not my innocence, but a part of my soul, maybe. Maybe my disgust at the scene was partly because I was watching this movie as the only woman in a room full of boys - all of us drunk - who just raved about how great this movie is. Seriously? Doesn't make me feel particularly great - or safe. I know, I know. Clockwork Orange is supposed to be about the relationship between violence and entertainment and moral authority and corruption and yadda, yadda, yadda ... Fine. I got that. Doesn't mean I can ever stomach it again. Rape in cinema? Hurtful. Rape while disabling the victim's partner? Wrenching.

2. Pan's Labyrinth. I really loved this movie. I can't ever watch it again, but I loved it. The fantasy. The beauty in the grotesque. The personal mythology. The Spanish language. Extraordinary soundtrack. (Couldn't shake the lullabye for months.) Yea!! I actually tried watching this again. Honey had rented it. I went downstairs while he had it on, caught about 3 minutes of it and had to go back upstairs. Again: the cruelty. And the cruelty in this film was particularly brutal. A son killed in front of his father - not shot, or anything simple and clean; bludgeoned. Routine torture. Self-surgery. Probably more rape; I blocked a lot of it from my memory. Icky and tragic stuff. And the world that the little girl creates for herself (or maybe really exists) is only marginally better than the hell in which she lives outside her imagination. Technically beautiful film. Eats your heart. Honey agrees that it's a movie he can never watch again. To be honest, I haven't found anyone who's said they can, or have.

3. Schindler's List. Confession. I have actually seen this movie more than once. Twice. But can you take a wild guess as to why I don't want to see it again? Cruelty! The second and last time I saw it was over a decade ago. It was on broadcast TV, no commercials, and maybe no editing. (I'm blanking on that, to be honest.) I guess this is one of those that I don't necessarily want to see again, but it's so gripping and frankly, culturally and historically important, that I would again. Like when we have kids, I won't hesitate to show them this when they're mature enough to grasp it all. [Sidebar: Growing up, my parents were fairly strict about rated-R films. We weren't allowed to see them before age 17. Schindler's List was one of the few exceptions. I was 16, my brother was 12. My folks sensed that this was bigger than the MPAA. I remember it being important for them that we saw it. Like when Dad took me to see Ghandi when I was six. Sub sidebar: That same year, The Secret of NIMH, an animated - though dark - flick about mice. NIMH terrified me. Dad had to take me about 3 times before I could handle it. In the end, I loved it. Ghandi, a 4-hour ouevre stuffed with strife and violence, was apparently just right for my 6-year-old movie palate. That one, I dragged Dad to thrice! What kind of mind is that?]

... okay, I've totally digressed at this point. I can't think of any other films, at this point, that I'd rather not see again, based on a negative visceral reaction. Anything turn your tummy?


Anonymous said...

The Pianist. Amazing film, never want to see it again. I saw it in the cinema with a friend who had told me it was a black comedy. Oh the trauma.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, I have seen Pan's Labyrinth twice, but I knew when all the appalling bits were coming and shut my eyes. Such an incredible film.

JoeinVegas said...

Sophie's Choice.

Virginia Gal said...

Unbreakable, for the scene in the house.

Dead Man Walking again for that rape and killing scene in the beginning (when we see the crime that put him on death row committed).

Like you, it was just to much for me to stomach..I know bad stuff is out there in the world, but I just couldn't watch it.

Molly Malone said...

Pearl: congrats! you with the second view prize. i couldn't re-watch, even with my eyes covered.

Joe: still haven't seen it. not sure i could, really.

VA Gal: Honey can't watch Dead Man Walking twice for that reason, too. I've seen it 2 or 3 times - I just ffwd over that section. it's a beautiful story overall.

Darla D said...

Silence of the Lambs, even though I loved it. Wouldn't ever watch Sophie's Choice or Dead Man Walking once - just hearing about them was enough for me. Pan's Labyrinth. Donnie Darko. Probably not a Clockwork Orange, either. I'm a book and movie wimp! Unless it's supernatural horror. Yes, I'm strange!