Feb 25, 2009

Slummin' it

My dad, who is brilliant and has many other redeeming qualities, has an uncanny ability to recommend movies to me that, as it turns out, I won't like.

Movies He Has Recommended to Me (a partial list)
Sense & Sensibility
Usual Suspects
Sexy Beast
Slumdog Millionaire

Movies He Recommended to Me That I Liked (a complete list)
Sense & Sensibility

The funny thing is that a lot of the movies that he likes begin as cult favorites (he always sees them at that point) and ultimately become (a) very popular among American audiences and/or (b) Academy Award winners. And I still don't enjoy them, even once they become mainstream and even if they win Oscars.

It used to not be as important to me as it is today that movies end fairly happily. But since I had kids, I've become a Total Snob about movies ... and not in the way that most people are movie snobs. I need dry humor and a happy ending for it to rate high on the scale. Watching the nightly news and trying to pay my bills is enough reality for me ... I don't need to be reminded of all the Bad Things that can happen to you when I'm actually PAYING to be entertained. I think the last movie I watched on purpose that I knew wouldn't end well was Mystic River, which, while fantastic, put me in a funk for at least a week afterward. I DON'T NEED THE FUNK.

At Christmas, Dad came home from Slumdog Millionaire saying it was one of the best movies he'd ever seen, that we had to see it, that it was just terrific! Given his track record, I was skeptical, but he was So Enthusiastic! It seemed like we Couldn't Go Wrong with this one! So we went to see it on New Year's Eve. Now, I can appreciate the movie for what it was; the acting was superb, the location filming unique, the story compelling. But as I later told Dad, I just couldn't enjoy it because of the continual hardship and tragedy for the children, and even though it ended "happily" -- which sometimes, as in the case of
Shawshank Redemption, can redeem it -- I couldn't get over the fact that I didn't believe that those two characters would ever get over what their lives had comprised up to that point. (And that concludes today's lesson on how to write a run-on sentence, thankyouverymuch.) It was very hard for me to watch. If not for the dance sequence at the end, which took me out of the movie enough that I was able to use that as a lasting image instead of, say, the kid who had his eyes torched out of his head, I would have left even more emotionally damaged than I did.

I'm far too empathetic to characters to be able to withstand these types of movies. I've always been that way, from the poor Star Wars characters who got caught in that trash compactor to the Karate Kid getting beaten up repeatedly ... I threw up during both of those movies. And I STILL have nightmares about a scene in Amistad that I accidentally saw at a friend's house eight years ago in which slaves had cement blocks chained to their ankles before they were thrown overboard a ship. I just can't handle it.

Kudos to Slumdog for the eight Academy Awards that even I can admit it deserved ... I just wish I hadn't seen it! But I AM thinking of talking to Dad each year and making a list of all the movies he recommends, then starting an Oscar pool at work. I could use that money to help pay some bills.


Patrice said...

then i DON'T recommend Kite Runner, although it is an excellent movie. :)

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Kite Runner's never been on the list, for all of these reasons! I know better than to read the book or see the movie! But THANKS for the warning. :)

Sarah T. said...

I still can't figure out how you don't like a movie like "Slumdog," but you watch Prison Break every week. Prison Break is way more dark, disturbing and depressing (to me).

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

I suffered through season 2 of PB and gave it up for good last season. Didn't watch any of season 3. But in general, I DO have more patience for TV, I suppose because it's just 42 minutes of my life I'll never get back, not three times that. I don't really understand my own logic, but there you have it.

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