If you were to take the feeling I get when I watch a great movie either for the first time or the 100th time and turn it into a colour, it would be a rainbow. A rainbow coated with every smile ever smiled by every beautiful woman from all of time. A rainbow that when it appears majestically in the flawless blue sky is heralded by an orchestra of a million angelic voices singing a harmony so beautiful that statues are made to weep at it’s elegance.
My love of movies has touched me in this blissful way time and time again. You really should envy me.
To experience this euphoria I’ve had to wade from a sludge of other movies that have made me feel indifferent, bored, frustrated and sometimes down right angry. This movie going equivalent of kissing many frogs before finding a prince is what I’m going to share with you dear reader today, as I take a break from my usual love letter to cinema and instead present a Dear John with four films that for one reason or another I hate.
Incidentally these are by no means the worst films I have ever seen, nor do I think they are actually “bad” films. Two of them actually considered all time classics. But they are films that for differing reasons have pissed me off and have left me feeling wretched.
Bridge over the River Kwai (1957)
Bridge Over the River Kwai won seven Academy awards including best picture. It was voted by the British Film Institute as the 11th greatest British Film of the 20th Century. It was voted the 24th Greatest War movie of all time in a poll by The Telegraph recently.
But this based on a true story of British POWs building a strategically valuable railway bridge for their Japanese captors gets zero love from me. Even as a young kid watching this for the first time I took an immediate dislike for the film.
Why does this recognised classic of cinema get so much hate from me? Well it’s the main character Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson played by Alec Guinness who I frankly find one of the most obnoxious, pompous arseholes I’ve ever witnessed on the screen, a man I could find no empathy or sympathy for even with his supposed redemption in the final scene of the film.
The part in this film that really “grinds my gears” is the stand he makes when he is ordered by the camp Commandment to send off the Officers to work on the bridge. This arsehole refuses as it’s against the Geneva Convention to have the Officers do manual labour and he ends up tortured and forced into solitary confinement in a metal box, without food or water. So yeah you can say this is a heroic, defiant move, except it’s only the Officers who he’s standing up for. The regular enlisted men, oh yeah that’s fine for them to be used as slave labour but asking the Officers to work well that’s just not fucking cricket is it old chap?
So this posh twat goes into the box and comes out again weaker and weaker but still refusing to cave in. And how do the enlisted men respond? By telling the silly sod to get his head out of his stuck up arse and get helping them with the work? Nooooooo they bloody love him for it. Jeez everyone knows their place.
I know I’m hating the player and not the game, because there was no clause in the Geneva Convention against enlisted men being forced to work, but still this unfairness and inequality in war fills me with rage. I have the same outrage whenever I see a film on the Titanic and the First Class passengers get to go off in the lifeboats while us regular lot are held back. First Class means you get a comfy seat and a better meal, it doesn’t mean you’ve more right to live.
But worse is to come when Nicholson winning the battle with the Commandant sees the substandard job that has been done on the Bridge so far. Outraged he takes charge and pushes the men to work on completing a superior Bridge to the one originally designed and on time, even getting the wounded prisoners and shock, horror The Officers to help with the effort. So this loon is effectively collaborating with the enemy all so we can proudly show the Japanese our good old fashioned British engineering skills.
He even tries to save his precious Bridge from being blown up at the end by allied saboteurs.
While I realise this is the point of the film, to show the obsession that has taken over his reasoning I absolutely hate this guy with a passion and I want to cheer when he gets his.
It’s also unsettling when you discover the real story of the POWS who worked on the Bridge. The conditions in the camp and for those put to work were far worse than a 50’s film could depict and the idea that the men worked diligently and willingly to complete the bridge is clearly false. Workers were forced to comply with the Japanese but still managed to delay and sabotage work on the bridge (risking death by doing so) which was done with the encouragement of the real life Lieutenant Colonel Phillip Toosey.
Remember people the only war worth fighting is a class war.
Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1987)
Add this one to the “Dazza doesn’t get the appeal file!”
When I was fifteen, lots of the girls in my class were quoting some new film with the delightful term of “jumping” or “going for a jump.” The film in question was Rita, Sue and Bob Too and from what I was told was all about the afore mention trio spending the film having threesomes, which for a fifteen year old male sounded a bit of all right.
When I eventually saw this film (I think airing on the darling station Channel Four) any preconceptions I had about this being a sexy little romp were soon dashed with a film I personally found grimy, crude and at times depressing. It was all the signature style of British director Alan Clarke who specialised in such gritty films as The Firm, Scum and Made in Britian, which like Rita, Sue and Bob Too were great example of the Social Realism the British Cinema excelled in.
But in the words of Spinal Tap “Too much, too much fucking Social Realism”….sort of.
The film is set in an impoverished area of Bradford where two teenage schoolgirls from the rough part of he city (Rita and Sue obviously) get a job babysitting for a couple who live in a better area. When giving the girls a lift home the father Bob pulls the car over and talks the girls into having sex with him one after the other. After this the three try to continue to meet up on a regular basis for a “jump.”
I’m probably coming across as a snob but I found the characters loathsome and vulger. Bob is frankly a creepy predator, the girls are foul mouthed and rough as sandpaper (although you have sympathy for them as they have poor home lives, Sue’s father being particularly aggressive and you realise Bob is probably the only excitement and escape they have in their bleak lives). Naturally events come to an end when Bob’s wife discovers the affair which results in an headache inducing public mass argument with Bob, the girls, the parents and Bob’s wife yelling at each other while their equally rough neighbours watch and yell encouragement. In all the yelling and screaming even Bob’s wife comes across as unsympathetic, blaming the girls and saying Bob wouldn’t be a man if he turned them down when presented on a plate.
Bob’s wife leaves him. Rita ends up pregnant and suffers a miscarriage. Sue gets an Asian boyfriend and splits with him after he’s racially abused by her parents. Finally the film ends with Bob diving into bed with them both again.
The film was a hit and is remembered with a weird fond nostalgia as it celebrates its 30th anniversary. The film is well made and the performances scarily realistic at times (Sue’s Dad is one of the most convincing violent drunks I’ve ever seen and for years I was convinced this wasn’t an actor) and is unflinching, uncompromising and a cult classic of British 80’s films. Yet I still found it bloody horrible and a miserable experience to watch.
I would also like to point out that this is not representative of all “Yorkshire, working class life” as some reviews have seemed to try to label it as.
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Sometimes I take a punt on a movie knowing hardly anything about it. Like with this film where all I knew was Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling were in it and it involved a guy on a motorbike robbing banks. Sounds like it can’t go wrong right?
On the face of it Place Beyond the Pines has an interesting premise and narrative structure. Ryan Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider with a travelling carnival (this is back in his moody phase where he had one blank expression throughout an entire film) who quits the life when he discovers he has a baby son from one of his past visits to a town.
Wanting to help support the child (which the baby’s family are none too keen of) Gosling takes to robbing banks on his motorcycle. When one robbery goes awry he’s pursued by rookie Cop Bradley Cooper and after being cornered in a house seems about to give himself up is shot and killed. The story then follows Cooper who has gained respect from his colleagues and is taken into a corrupt clique of corrupt cops led by Ray Liotta, who Cooper eventually turns against and testify to bring the group down.
Years later Cooper has used his fame to carve a career in politics, although his personal life is a shambles with his wife leaving him and his unruly teenage son getting into trouble with drugs. By chance his son and Gosling’s son Jason unknownst to him that Cooper was the one who killed the father he never knew.
Storywise it’s great, with a good circular narrative that brings the consequences of the actions of the fathers to the lives of their children. There are also some good, low key performances. It’s an ambitious film. But God is it a drag to sit through.
I have a personal code of honour of never leaving a film at the cinema until the end (I even sat through Independence Day: regurgance all the way) but this film took the down to the wire. It was touch and go for a while.
It’s not bad by any means but it’s so slow and it gets more laborious and downbeat the further it goes . Seriously it makes Manchester by the Sea feel like fucking Die Hard. It’s also not helped by there being zero levity throughout the film. By the end of the film I felt like I’d been there so long I didn’t care about the resolution to all these daddy issues, I just kept thinking of pine needles and wanting to stick them in my eyeballs to give me an excuse to go home.
I can appreciate this film, but God I would never sit through it again.
Rotten Tomatoes gives this an 80% postive which is almost the amount who gave Suicide Squad (which I love) a negative, so I think there is a nice yin and yang there of where my movie tastes land.
Wolves at the Door (2017)
I’ve not seen this movie and I’m never seeing this movie. There is a school of opinion that if you don’t see a film you forfeit all rights to talk about it. That’s a fair point. But sometime a movie comes along that has a premise that I find so repugnant, so distasteful I have no qualms about given a big fuck you to without ever seeing it.
The film may be great. Of it’s type it maybe the greatest film of all time. But I will not waste my time finding out.
I learned about this film when the trailer for it popped up while I awaited Get Out to start. The trailer starts with LA in 1969 and a bunch of young people getting ready for a party in the suburbs, with a little tense feeling of this being a horror film where things are going to take a nasty turn for the worse.
Then the caption “INSPIRED BY THE INFAMOUS MANSON FAMILY MURDER SPREE” appeared and I started to feel sick to my stomach as it became clear that this is a home invasion, slasher film based on the night where members of the Charles Manson “family” cult slaughtered four people in their home, one of the the eight and half month pregnant Sharon Tate.
Now I have no problem with a film being made about a true life crime. This year will see the release of a film on the Orlando club terror attack which appears to be a tasteful, moving account of the build to the murders and a sensitive portrayal of the victims and the aftermath.
However that is not what we’re getting here. This is no examination of what led to the events of that night, the investigation into the killings is not followed and the aftermath of the act that is said to culturally have killed the sixties is totally ignored. The entire film is set on what happened on that night, a ghoulish exploitation that reduces a real, tragic brutal murder to being fodder for a voyeuristic slasher movie.
It’s in vile taste and doesn’t even make sense for a drama point of view as there is no suspense from this premise as the tension of wondering who survives is gone because we know from history no one does. Anyone watching the film is essentially just waiting to see each person repeatedly stabbed to death with the finale being the pregnant Sharon Tate begging to be allowed to live long enough to deliver her baby (apparently she offered to go freely as her attackers captive until she had given birth) to no avail.
Censorship is an ugly beast and I am in no way suggesting that a film like this should be prevented from being made. But there is such a thing as taste and restraint and I think this film crosses a line. Make a home invasion movie by all means, have everyone killed in it, but don’t desecrate the pain, suffering and violent end of real people to promote your movie. Incidentally the film apparently ends with the stills of the four real people murdered just as one last cash in.
Fuck this film and fuck the people who made it (i’m not going to legitimise them by naming them).
After all this negativity I feel I need to redress the balance with something to bring a positive reaction.
So here’s a vid of a bodybuilding kicking pink flamingos.
Next time I will be back to my usual self with awesome four films featuring: Adam West struggling to get rid of a bomb, Gary Cooper makes a stand, a French remake of a British film that was itself a remake of a 70’s British police show and things get weird for two hitmen.
Peace and love everyone.