There are some films, however, no matter how popular or critically acclaimed, that I can’t deal with. They’re movies that make me feel dirty. After viewing them, I feel like I need to take a shower… using a strong antibacterial soap.
The funny thing is that I usually know in advance which movies will do this to me. For years I swore I’d never see “Pulp Fiction”. Desiring to improve my writing skills and having heard nothing but effusive praise for Tarantino’s script for many years, I watched it. Hit the showers.
Actually, it wasn’t the worst movie in that respect. Another darling of the critics is Charlie Kaufman. Everything he does is greeted with the enthusiasm of a royal coronation. I will admit that his scripts tend to be clever. Pretentious and self-obsessed, but clever. Also, “American Beauty” and “The Departed” had me scrubbing down to the hypodermis.
I can appreciate such films on a certain level, but there’s no way I can enjoy them. Why would I want to watch a bunch of nasty people doing nasty things to each other? I’m certain that I am not alone in this revulsion. That would explain why those movies are rarely if ever among the top-grossing films in any given year. They win awards, but few people want to endure them. And I don’t want to write them.
I have nothing against dark films as a class. In fact, one of my favorite films of all time, The Conversation, is pretty bleak stuff. But it’s also brilliant in every way. Another, “The Elephant Man“, an uncharacteristically tender movie by the generally twisted David Lynch, is a wonderful film experience that I regularly recommend. It’s dark and hard to take at times, but it is also a radiant tribute to the human spirit. (Somehow, this Jekyll-and-Hyde filmmaker also made the compassionate and poignant – and G-rated! – “The Straight Story“.)
So I guess I’ll endure the movies I’m “supposed” to see, but when it’s time to sit down to watch a movie I enjoy, I’ll put on “The Princess Bride”, “Back to the Future”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Remember the Titans”, or any one of the others in my library that bring joy to my heart and make me feel a little better about life.
And I’ll put the shower off for another day if my family will allow it.