Saturday, July 16, 2005

Survival of the fittest

I had the misfortune of spending two hours of my life last night watching the miserable piece of cack called, you know (I am not even naming it). Before I attack it, a disclaimer:

I am not squeamish but I strongly resent the depiction of brutal death in a film to create an effect. This is the reason I will never see the Titanic, a melodrama capitalising on scenes of people drowning like rats, or most splatter films. Of course, it is not slaughter or burning or disembowelling or shooting as such I have problems with, it is the way they are shown and their narrative and cinematic purposes (so, no problem with David Lynch or Tarantino whatsoever). In fact I am perplexed and annoyed by the fact that the public are so intolerant towards the depiction of "gratuitous sex" (what does 'gratuitous' mean in the context of sex? I mean, non-reproductive sex is 'gratuitous', right? Haha) and, at the same time, so ok with films where people are freeze-drowned screaming helplessly, or are zapped into cinders in the foreground, or have steel blades disrupt their respiratory system a tergo for being stupid teenagers, or are slowly devoured alive. This was one of the reasons I hated the new Spielberg piece of [place own term here], a miserable return to what the industry thinks he does best, after the brilliant Minority Report.

Then comes the rest of the reasons: that maximally annoying girl screaming relentlessly, the bathetic ending ('bathos' is not potent or pompous enough to describe it), the obscurantist politics underlying the narrative, the pukifying 'family' subplot, Tom Cruise planting grenades into a harvesting machine's tight anus (I wish it looked half as good as it sounds), the lamentable music score. Above all, the film is an assault on the audience, a shameless sensory and ideological overkill: panic, disgust, misery, horror, helplessness, gore, paranoia and fear, fear, fear. All in dizzingly high doses. The film acts as a sort of a cinematic Inquisition, ensuring the message inculcated will not be lost on anyone: we are helpless, we are vulnerable, we are fertiliser; although there are no more nukes to wipe us out, humanoid slimy-looking Arabs (sorry, aliens) will either burn us up leaving only our clothes hovering in mid-air or will suck our blood dry. A tequila sunrise and some night driving afterwards only partially alleviated the effect of this overdose.

(Ok, my favourite scene: all-American denizens killing each other for an SUV. Hohoho.)

Incidentally, if you want a subtle, really chilling and genuinely terrifying take on the topic, go see 28 Days Later.

8 Comments:

Blogger ιονκ said...

I think what matters most is that movies will be viewed and consequently superimpose their message; it matters less of what people think afterwards. Thats why so much $$$ are spent b4hand to advertise films, maximizing the number of viewers b4 there are many expressed opinions about the show.

17/7/05 03:52  
Blogger Allotrios said...

(since we are on the topic movies) we rented recently "Morvern Callar"
Brilliant.

17/7/05 12:51  
Blogger Francis S. said...

We came out of the movie wondering what actually had happened, and why we had just wasted our time.

18/7/05 12:50  
Blogger Dolan said...

Wasn't overly impressed either. However, the SF summer foghorns have been making me edgy lately...

18/7/05 21:49  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

I'm not sure that Tarantino isn't gratuitous in exactly the same way as the movies you avoid. Reservoir Dogs was spatter for nerds. I wouldn't even pay to watch Kill Bill. Tarantino's fantasies just don't do it for me.

19/7/05 08:04  
Blogger Loxias said...

There is a difference between what British censors describe as 'comic violence' (which, grosso modo, is what Tarantino puts on show) and the wickedness of the fancy-tickling, voyeuristic, horror-inducing kind you find in a wide range of films.

(I also think Reservoir Dogs was not a great film.)

19/7/05 10:24  
Blogger 42 said...

I only see movies like that if they're set where I live. parts of [that movie] were shot here in Bayonne, New Jersey, which is where I'm currently living. I still haven't seen it, but will when it's available on DVD. for the same reason I own a copy of "Volcano" because I used to live right behind the Los Angeles Museum of Art that burned so well in that film, and there was a certain unidentifiable pleasure in watching Wilshire Blvd go up in flames on screen as I watched this awful piece of dreck 50 meters from the exploding La Brea Tar Pits.

the dreadful "Miracle Mile" was set in my apartment building as well, so there's at least two crap movies shot there :)

5/8/05 07:22  
Blogger Loxias said...

david,

are you maybe the producer of these films? Is there something you have been meaning to tell the world?

;-)

What happens to the art inside the LA Museum of Art in 'Volcano'? I am asking because I haven't seen the film. Or is there no art inside it anyway?

Questions, questions...

5/8/05 22:06  

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