I am afraid I love bad movies and hate good movies

I’m afraid I love bad movies and dislike good movies. I feel like I’m right, but the fact that I consistently react in the opposite way of everyone else makes me wonder if maybe it’s not them, it’s me.

I felt like a heartless heathen when It’s a Wonderful Life finished, and my sister and my friend were sobbing in eachother’s arms. I sat there, secretly thinking “meh that was corny” and feeling appalled at myself.

It’s not just black and white movies, but even kid’s flicks. Everyone loved Disney’s Frozen: I do not like it at all, a visceral gut reaction of annoyance (first and foremost– the conflicted snow princess ultimately didn’t save herself but had to be saved by her ditzy sister in a very underwhelming way… [long rant here]). And then I love love love a movie like Treasure Planet which was apparently the biggest flop in Disney history (I still think it is arguably the best disney film of all time).

And then there is a movie like Gravity. I was bored out of my mind for the two hours, and spent most of the time appreciating the religious symbolism but pitying the well-meaning director who probably went bankrupt producing this preachy flop. And then I discover it was a smash hit. One of the biggest scifi hits in history.

And for scifi alien invasion movies — I was seriously underwhelmed with Aliens and barely cared about Independence Day, which, I gather, are both classics and box office hits. But then I find myself totally crazy about Edge of Tomorrow and Battle Los Angeles — both of which did not do well at the box office, and I am told, suffer from bad acting and cliche writing. And I don’t just mean I “like” them, I mean I watch them a dozen times and feel like all the characters in them are real people. The characters in them seem (to me) easily ten times more dear and awesome then the characters in the “good” scifi movies.

At least my obsessive love for Deep Impact is shared by others — this movie did ok at the box office, and has a cult following. So I’m kinda normal there. And as a teen I bawled my way through A Man For All Seasons and the German film Sophie Scholl: die letzen Tagen, which both are long boring movies where people have quiet table conversations and quietly get executed. I thought I wasn’t a pragmatist, and liked people who died for their ideas.

Apparently not? I just saw Of Gods and Men. I thought I was going to love it — it is based on a true story of Trappist monks who died in the ’90s in North Africa. They are peaceful, and treat the sick at their clinic, regardless of religion; hence they get criticized by the government for caring for the anti-gov’t rebels as well. In the end, they are beheaded in a bungled hostage deal. I thought I was going to be inspired by it.

Instead — augh — I sat there watching it, and feeling like a horrible new atheist. I kept feeling like the Abbot was an ego-driven wannabe-martyr who was emotionally manipulating/pressuring his fellow monks into dying a pointless death with him. One monk, Brother Christophe, made your heart bleed–he was younger and didn’t want to die. He also seemed genuinely puzzled by why they had to die–and at one moment he asks the Abbot “is this just so we can be heroes?” My heart screamed, yes, yes, Christophe, get away from this scheming Abbot who wants your death for his beatification! In the end Christophe trustingly accepts the Abbot’s decision, for some vague religious explanation that had nothing to do with helping other people at all –just being a hero. The film did not portray their motivation as concern for the local Algerians, but rather, merely the Abbot’s desire to be a dead hero, and his arm-twisting of his fellow monks into it through “gentle” religious instruction that was nine-tenths guilt trip (e.g. “if you really loved Jesus….) .

And it wasn’t a martyrdom of “we did the right thing and got caught” (e.g. hiding Jews in WWII) or even a “we are backed against the wall and have no choice” (e.g. refusing to start a civil war which gets you deserted by your impatient army, and then getting assasinated with nowhere to turn). Rather, this was a “hehe, I didn’t jump in front of the truck…I just didn’t get out of the way…” Now, if they had been taking care of someone who was sick, so they didn’t leave to save that person’s life….it would have had a point. But instead, most of them just stick around to take care of farm animals, oh, and also tell a teenage girl that falling in love is important (ok…).

And then, in the one moment where the Abbot can actually do good–e.g. when the extremist-stabber-of-15-yr-old-girls turns up to be a Nice Guy with Religious Feelings….does the Abbot try to convince him of peace and love and the gospel? Nope. He just sits around and waits to be killed. Look here, come on, if you really love someone who is violently murdering people, you would try to get them to change their ways. It isn’t “loving” to be the codependent enabler revelling in your own heroism while making no effort to actually help real people.

Instead, they just seemed to be pointless victims of the Abbot’s deranged religious sentiments that cause so much human suffering FOR NO POINT. He doesn’t rescue people, he doesn’t save people, he barely helps people, and then he makes all his brothers die FOR WHAT? He says it is for ‘love of Christ’ and for ‘love’ but exactly who this love is directed towards (other than generic abstract nouns) and what good this love causes (except to make a bunch of men quiet-talking passive sheep)?! It seemed a wretched thing, an opiate, that pays such a ghastly cost in life (e.g. Christophe’s, or the other old monk who says that he might as well die because he has nothing else to live for).

I know everything I just typed in the above paragraph sounds like a new atheist attacking religion. Woe is me. I don’t want to feel this way, but I do. That movie made me feel like an angry atheist.

Meanwhile, everyone else I know loves this movie, it was so inspiring, etc. What is wrong with me?

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4 thoughts on “I am afraid I love bad movies and hate good movies

  1. I agree with your sister, Bekah! Comparing quality & box office gross is a depressing enterprise.

    If it makes you feel better, a lot of people agree with you on these. I think Edge of Tomorrow wound up being really popular critically (Google tells me it got 90% positive reviews). A lot of people love Independence Day, but I don’t think there are too many people clamoring to insist that it’s a great movie or anything. It’s a Wonderful Life is SUPER cheesy, most people just like it anyways. And I didn’t like Frozen either.

    And I wouldn’t worry about it too much. : ) I’m not sure there’s much reason to classify movies into “good” or “bad,” unless you’re looking at them from a particular technical angle (script, directing, cinematography). That’s all valid, and good places to think about criticism. But as for overall movies – there are so many details that every movie has something “bad” in it, and whether someone classifies it as a good or bad film is a much more personal decision that’s going to come down to which things they value most or which things they’re least bothered by.

    When one person loves a movie and another person hates it, I think it come down less to which of them is right and more to the fact that each of those people wanted different things from it.

  2. Thanks guys! Maybe that is what it is. I hope so. 🙂

    Though the most embarrassing thing (which I left out of the post) is how obsessed I got with the Noah film, which is (1) a terribly cheesy to absurdly ridiculous movie with a (2) depressingly sad / blasphemous message. I haven’t figured out yet what the draw is for me, I think I’ll re-watch it; and if I figure it out, I’ll blog on it.

  3. I haven’t seen Noah, so I can’t really say. But from what I’ve heard about it, I don’t think it’s weird that someone would like it. From all accounts it wasn’t a lazy movie, and the writer/director probably put a lot of thought and effort into it. Even if it didn’t work out in a lot of ways, it was a person trying to say something, so it makes sense that you & others would be affected by it.

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