Is it just me? Am I the only one who is shocked at the movies being made lately? They are either disappointing or appalling or a dreadful combination of both. I'd almost given up on watching them to be honest, until I read The Help. I could envisage so many terrific scenes from this inspiring and humorous novel and was encouraged at hearing the movie was getting great reviews. So many terrific characters, particularly the awkward ugly duckling Skeeter who I was longing to see transformed on screen into a hip and independent, free-thinking 60s woman.
But the Age Of Aquarius never arrived. The movie was so dumbed down it was bland, much like a number of other well rated ones I've come across lately. All the characters had been watered down to be at best tastefully amusing and politically correct.
Hilly was supposed to be fat. Yes, FAT! - and greedy too! (Are you not supposed to say that word out loud these days least you offend someone?) Skeeter and her mother's relationship was supposed to be difficult and prickly. The rich conservative boyfriend was supposed to get the flick, not the other way around, when Skeeter finally gained enough confidence to realise he was a jerk. And Aibileen was supposed to take the enormous leap from Blue to White Collar Worker when she rightfully took over the Miss Myrna column in the big finale. But instead Aibileen the maid just walked off down the pretty Southern street as the credits rolled on with no job and no prospects and, like the other characters, no development. I was shocked that the movie had rated so well!
The biggest compliment I can give The Help was that I could at least sit through it without cringing, which is more than I can say for the other movies I've seen lately. If I only had a mild dislike of Keira Knightly before I can now confidently say I positively loathe her. Her histrionic performance in A Dangerous Method was almost too painful to watch and I very nearly walked out but persevered just so I could see Freud. Apparently Knightly prepared for her role by watching a documentary on Tourette's syndrome, but I couldn't help thinking maybe she'd hired Alien by mistake and modelled her jaw on the adult Queen... In the end I admit I found the movie an interesting and thought-provoking flick and was glad I'd sat through it, even with Knightly's annoying Eastern European accent grating at me - and the terrible gnashing jaw (which should by rights have had its own credits at the end: 'Assistant to Miss Knightly's jaw', etc, etc).
But really, you want to enjoy a movie, not just be content to have seen it through to the end, surely! So, imagine how excited I was then to hear my husband say he'd just seen a really fabulous movie, and he was keen to watch it a second time with me - it was that good.
The Divide. ... this movie left me speechless. It was nothing short of HIDEOUS! The plot was about a group of people trapped in a skyscraper basement following a holocaust who all turn on each other and do revolting things. It was almost as if the writer had said 'Right, what's worse than starvation? I know, let's abduct someone's child. Then... hmmm, let's chop up a dead body with an axe, put in some torture and then rape and sexual slavery and Oh! to finish - let's burn people and escape through a cesspool!'
I couldn't get the images of this nightmarish movie out of my head for days, and stayed up reading many wholesome chapters of Anne Of Green Gables to my children in an attempt to purge myself of the disgustingness of it... My husband and I had heated discourse on the movie - I couldn't believe he'd watched it TWICE when I'd rather not have seen it even once! An R rating was not enough for this movie, it should have been D - for Disturbed!
So in an attempt to redeem himself my husband chose another movie to watch when his mother was staying with us. Expounding the virtues of this one, he assured us it had "won lots of awards!" and, knowing I'm usually a fan of independent films threw in that it had been claimed as a masterpiece at the Sundance Film Festival. Coaxed back to the screen I settled down next to my mother-in-law to watch Shame. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the title perhaps... or had Tim read out the synopsis.
The movie is about a nymphomaniac and Michael Fassbender, who played Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method was now stripped of his moustache and spectacles - in fact, stripped of everything - and walked around with his sizeable penis hanging out for most of it. Had I not known it was Michael Fassbender in the movie I dare say I might not have ever even realised it was him as many of the scenes featuring him are filmed from the waist down, and, (call me naïve!) but its difficult to tell one man masturbating from another in my opinion. Thankfully after the movie was over my mother-in-law was keen to retire having an early flight in the morning to catch, which was a relief really, because I didn't quite know how to tackle the cinematic discussion which was sure to follow about threesomes and being sucked off in a gay bar...
But don't despair - there is actually one movie I have seen lately which I do recommend. Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Moody and beautifully acted with the luscious AND talented Ryan Gosling in great form, enhanced by a dreamy soundtrack. Minimal talking and just what a movie should be: Less is definitely more.