Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Blacklist: Five Films I Hate That Everyone Else Loves

When I was a young lass with barely a handful of overreactions and needlessly capitalised opinions to call my own, I had a school teacher who offered me this sage advice when it came to debating: "Don't rant.When you rant, we stop listening." Which - don't get me wrong - was all well and good within the confines of structured debating competitions largely dominated by chinless male adolescents whose sense of self-importance was directly proportional to how much they wished their voice would just drop already.*But this is a blog, so sorry Mrs Edwards, I am going to rant my little digital socks off.

In summary, the following films are abominations and deserve to be fire-bombed out of existence.

The Jane Shakespeare Blacklist: Five Films I Utterly Loathe That Everyone Else Inexplicably Loves (and Obviously CONTAINS SPOILERS For Those Films)

Now look.Most of the time, I get by ok despite being an emotionally neutered wasteland of a human being whose ability to respond appropriately to the adult world has been unalterably decimated by years of learning my life lessons from TV. I grew up reading books and then I went to university to read more books and realised that watching shitty children's films on the internet was much quicker and less effort. I feel more strongly about television about than I do about some actual human relationships (when I started watching Orange is the New Black, I genuinely think I was more psyched to spend time with my Netflix account than I was with my first boyfriend). What I'm saying is that I watch a lot of stuff, good and bad, so I don't usually judge others on their choices (in fact I detailed my love of crap TV ). However, there are a few films, just a few, that I loathe and every time I say I loathe them, someone looks at me like I just expressed indifference towards a Youtube video of an ocelot forming an unlikely friendship with a penguin.**They're both small animals, I get why it's cute, I just...god, don't you people have anything better to do with your lives? You could be writing blogs justifying your deep-seated aggression towards humanity. Anyway, here they are.

5) Titanic

Now this is an obvious choice to kick things off and maybe kind of a cheat because actually there are a lot of people that don't love it. It's just that the people who love it really love it. And I hate those people. I've also never actually seen it all the way through. I just can't. Every time it comes on TV, I think, "This time, this time, I will respond to this film that makes people cry their innards out through their noses." And every time I have to stop watching because I can feel bile rising in my throat at the first few strains of that Celine Dion wankfestival of over-literal interpretation of the concept of undying love. It brings out the absolute worst in me. It only takes a few minutes and I'm treating human tragedy like it's the funniest thing I've ever seen (cf also: Forrest Gump). Also obligatory mention of get on the fucking door.

4) The Lion King

This is potentially where I lose some friends.But actually let's be clear.I do not hate The Lion King.But I am happily indifferent to The Lion King.But the world, as always, will not let me be."How can you not like The Lion King?" they gasp, as though I have expressed a neutrality towards breathing oxygen, and that incredulity has pushed me dangerously towards hatred.Easily, is the answer.Bloody easily.Anthropomorphism has never been my thing, not ever, and when I watched Bambi as a kid I asked my mum whether Bambi's mum had just been shot and she nodded sadly with soft, compassionate motherly eyes ready to leap to the rescue of my tender psyche and I said "oh ok" and went back to wondering what exactly his dad had been doing all that time.Nature is not cuddly, it is red in tooth and claw, and it will thank you for showing some respect (I mean you Ang Lee). Also if I want to read Hamlet I will definitely just read Hamlet.So let me be, in my joyless, loveless bubble.I'm not telling you not to enjoy it but I will not pretend I enjoy it either.I am the Andy Murray of film watching, refusing to smile, and winning at Twitter.

3) 500 Days of Summer

I have been told so many times by so many folk that I just didn't "get" this film.No, you see, it is a deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, the magical quirky girl who pinwheels into the life of the male protagonist and heals his damaged first world soul, it is a warning against projecting unmanageable expectations onto someone.Is what they say.Well, no.Is what I say.Because a) if that were true, why is the last thing we see in the film Joseph Gordon Levitt hitting on an identical woman (Zooey Deschanel just wasn't the right Manic Pixie Dream Girl! Keep searching, entitled white boy, there's a Manic Pixie Dream Girl out there for you too!) and b) even if the film was pointing out the folly of their relationship, so what?The idea that putting women on a pedestal ends badly is not a blinding revelation.I think most of us do not need a film to tell us that you cannot build a lasting relationship on shared love of The Smiths.

It is not a deconstruction of the trope because it does nothing to deconstruct the trope.The story is still told from the viewpoint of the aforementioned lost boy who pursues a woman because she symbolises a meaningful existence and ultimately 'wins' her, despite her free-wheelin' ways and initial reluctance.The fact that he loses her again means nothing for, as the film makes clear, he will do this again and again and again.A deconstruction would tell her story, show her agency and inner life rather than just informing us that she totally has them, and focus on her choices because of what they mean for her, not as and when they affect him.In the end, it still reinforces the stereotype that women's lives are plot points in men's stories.No amount of non-linear storytelling and cutesy Expectations v Reality set pieces can disguise that.It's hollow, it's twee, and it challenges nothing.Mic drop.

2) Juno

It is not the miracle of central heating or the tender embrace of a lover that keeps me warm at night, it is my hatred of this film.It nourishes my soul.It gives me energy.Why?Because it's fucking annoying.Basically.But oh, such annoyance.My intolerance of this film is nigh on Biblical.The smug Dr Seuss dialogue, the lazy mumblecore performances, the appalling manner in which Michael Cera continues to exist, the vicious desperate straining towards being alternative (and yet at the same time so painfully afraid of offending anyone - no it's totally cool that you support abortion! It's just not for our did-we-mention-ADHD-but-not-in-a-way-that-is-ever-really-represented-as-anything-other-than-edearing-in-an-offbeat-way heroine!Oh, and by the way, all abortion clinic picketers are also quirky and adorable!).At no point does this film celebrate anything difficult or unusual or uncomfortable (spoilers: the baby ends up with sweetly middle class Jennifer Garner, bad Jason Bateman with his ephebophile tendencies is banished, and Ellen Page goes to the prom with Michael Cera, the poor, poor girl) and it pretends it does because it comes packaged in The Moldy Peaches***, ironic euphemisms for penises, and a fucking hamburger phone.I really hate that fucking hamburger phone.

1) Love Actually

Ok, this is it.The big one.I don't want to overreact here but everyone involved in this film deserves to be put up against a wall and shot.Even you Colin Firth.Especially you, for trying to trade off against Darcy goodwill by jumping into a lake.Every character in it is a borderline horrendous sociopath and every one of its hoard of dead-eyed paycheck-visualising actors has done a better performance than this at some other point in their careers, and for Kris Marshall, it was his mugshot when he was arrested for drunk driving.This film goes out of its way to tell you that any option - literally any option - is better than just talking to a woman.Hold up passive aggressive placards about how your entire existence has been destroyed by a woman having the temerity to marry someone else, learn to play the drums, buy a woman on the white slave trade market, decide you have no future together because she committed the heinous crime of electing to look after her brother instead of having sex with you, offer to have her ex boyfriends killed because they called her fat (because no woman of yours will bear the shame of being called fat) but for the sake of all that is holy, do not simply talk to her about your feelings, she will not respond to your simply and sincerely expressed feelings.

Oh Gentle Reader, I cannot truly express to you the depths of my antagonism towards this film.I hate it with the gnawing, churning, all consuming darkness of a black hole, and were I possessed of ungodlyreality-altering powers, I would rip it out of existence itself and send it spitting and cursing back into the howling chasm from whence it came.I hate the way, the truly tragic way, it takes actors that I like - Laura Linney! Andrew Lincoln!forever to me to the most perfectly cast Edgar Linton there ever shall be, decent and strong-jawed and faithful! - and buckles them into this devil spawn of a roller coaster ride to hell.Oh, I am sorry Linney, Lincoln, Firth, Ejiofor, Freeman and company (Not you, Knightley.Never you.) but I cannot forgive your presence in this cynical money sink of a film (that does not - has never - really believed that love is, actually, all around but knows that you will believe it for long enough in your wine-addled Yuletide fugue of loneliness and existential despair to rent it off LoveFilm or add to the royalties by watching it on repeat) on the basis of previous and subsequent good form.

And the turtlenecks.Dear weeping Jesus on a two-wheeled canoe, the fucking turtlenecks.

*I was actually really good at debate.I once did a public speaking contest where they invented a prize to give me because I had written my speech the day before and not followed any of the rules about structure or having an actual argument but was apparently "utterly charming". But I am fucking charming, so you know.

**Actually that does sound fucking adorable.

***Who I liked before this film, goddammit.

A/N: Bonus Extra Episode of a TV Show I Hate That Everyone Else Loves, Incidentally Also Written by Richard Curtis: Vincent and the Doctor (Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 10)

Snow Patrol is just the tip of the appallingly twee iceberg here.No one - no one - can straight-facedly call someone "my friend" in continuous prose and not sound like a twat.Just - just go and watch it again, and this time listen to the dialogue.Consider the incredible crassness of the metaphor of Vincent van Gogh being haunted by an "invisible monster" (DEPRESSION THE REAL MONSTER IS DEPRESSION).And ask yourself whether you actually thought it was good, or whether you just felt like you should because Matt Smith and Bill Nighy compared their bow ties.

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