Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

Over the weekend as I lay dying on my couch from some virulent, resistant strain of Booger County influenza, I watched a few movies–mostly British mysteries. I’m a sucker for a Scottish accent and it really does me good when I’m febrile. The husky voice of some hot Scot rattles around in my brain and I don’t care that I’m on the verge of death.

Once I was feeling a wee bit better, I decided to watch the movie, The Devils (1971) directed by Ken Russell, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed. I didn’t feel better for long. I like movies with religious themes and even like movies that deal with the darker side of religion–not The Exorcist though. No way, I’d go that dark. My friend lent me his The Devils DVD. I don’t know the guy very well, but I have a lot of respect for him. He’s got a dark, twisted side that I can truly appreciate. So, when the movie started and I was really confused about what was going on, I decided to give it a go anyway. Like I said, I respect the guy. There’s no way he’s going to commit 2 hours to a worthless movie.

Well, I continued to watch and I have to say I found the storyline interesting. It’s set in 17th century France. There’s a nun who’s sexually obsessed with the local priest. The priest is a major womanizer, but actually falls in love with a woman, performs his own marriage ceremony and openly lives with his wife while remaining a priest. Then we have an ambitious Cardinal who is influencing the King. Priest stands up to Cardinal’s men. Cardinal gets all pissy about it. Cardinal’s men convince whacko nun to testify that she was seduced and bewitched by the priest. Chaos rules. Okay, I might have missed some important details, but you get the idea.

Great story, right? Well, it was frenzied, choppy and the soundtrack was disconcertingly discordant. I’m not sure what disturbed me the most…the gaining of “truth” with the use of forced enemas, the naked nuns on the statue of Christ or the nun’s hallucination where she licks the blood from Christ’s wounds. All I can say is, “WOW!” I’ll never forget this movie, that’s for sure.

I’m glad I watched it, but I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive my friend. 🙂 I should know better, I’ve already been scarred by friends who have recommended movies. One pal forced me to watch Deuce Bigelow. Said it was the funniest movie ever! That’s 3 days of my life I’ll never get back. Oh, and Mr. Taster-Editor made me watch 2001: A Space Odyssey. I was bored when the apes started playing with the monolith thingie. So, not a fun night for me.

The Devils is in the top three movies along with, American History X and Oldboy that were recommended by friends that I’m glad I watched, but I’ll never forgive my friends for recommending them. I like light, fluffy movies that are forgotten before you slip them into the pretty, red envelope and ship them back to Netflix.

American History X (1998) starring Edward Norton was recommended by a really good friend. She’s great. Smart, funny, witty as hell, reads incredible books–loves my writing, so she’s a good judge of literature. With all those qualities, surely her movie suggestions would be fabulous, right? The only reason I finished the movie was because she recommended it.

A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did. How nice. The dude is a FORMER neo-nazi and he’s protecting his little brother. Sounds innocent enough–well, except for that whole skinhead thing. My stomach clinches when I think of this movie. Ed Norton was fantastic, but the level of violence in the film was too much for me. I became physically ill during a couple of the scenes. Realistic and gritty. Seriously, I have no idea how I managed to watch the entire film, but it was thought provoking.

Oldboy (2003) directed by Chan-wook Park is a Korean film recommended to me by my critique partner. I trust this man with every word I write. Over coffee one day, he told me about Oldboy. He made several disclaimers, but the one that sold me was: “If I was dating someone I wouldn’t let her know I liked this movie until we’d been together for a long time.” Yeah, I get it now. If some guy I just started dating told me this was his favorite movie, I’d be hightailing it out the door. The movie is dark, sick, twisted, and messed with my head for months.

After being kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days. Sounds mild enough, right? The first thing the guy does when he is freed is go to a cafe and order a octopus that he eats alive! That’s the mildest thing in the movie. It’s filled with violence, brainwashing, torture and body mutilation. And oh yeah, incest. I watched in horror as the story unfolded. When I figured out who the bad guy was and why he was doing what he was doing, I prayed I was wrong. Once, the truth was revealed, I remember going numb. Brain freezing. Stomach roiling. Hands shaking. The level of depravity required to even think up the storyline is beyond me. There’s nothing light or fluffy about it and it’s fascinating. You can’t turn away. And it will stick with you for the rest of your life.

I’ve learned my lesson. The only person I’m taking movie recommendations from is my mother. I think The Apple Dumpling Gang is her all time favorite!

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Comments on: "Movie Recommendations from Friends" (20)

  1. Madison Woods said:

    Claire, I’m glad you went into detail about the emotional impact of these movies. I don’t think I’d like any of these. There’s only one romance I wouldn’t watch again but loved the first time around and that’s Braveheart with Mel Gibson. Generally, I just avoid movies altogether.

    • Madison, I only saw Braveheart once too. It’s way too darn long to sit through again and the violence in it was too much for me. Love Actually and Under the Tuscan Sun are more to my liking.

  2. Dear Claire,

    I think I have the anecdote for your problem. Try “Waking Ned Devine”, a comedy that will leave you feeling much better. Thanks for your commentary on the films you watched. I enjoyed the reviews.

    • Yes, Denton! That’s what I’m talking about. I loved Waking Ned Devine. Quirky, funny, charming, fluffy, light. Leaves you smiling. Can’t go wrong!

  3. :Waking Ned Devine” is beautifully done, humorous and grand down to the Parting Glass song at the end. I am not into dark movies myself. But I do like movies such as Shawshank Redemption for it’s profundity and Schindler’s List for it’s portrayal of courage in an evil world. But the movie that haunts me the most is “Sophie’s Choice.” If you haven’t seen it, I would hate to tell you why and ruin the plot, but it remains to be the movie that sticks in my mind after seeing it years ago…

    • Sharon, I enjoyed Shawshank Redemption. I’ve never had the guts to watch Schindler’s List, but I did see Sophie’s Choice. Wow. That is definitely a movie that sticks with you forever. I think about the impact watching the movie had on me and can’t even fathom the pain the women went through that actually had to do that. That’s why I’m better off in romcom world. No deep thoughts required.

  4. mgmillerbooks said:

    Wow. You’ve got some really twisted friends, Claire.

  5. Oh, holy cow! What kind of movies are these????? Here are my suggestions:
    Practical Magic
    Quiggy Down Under.
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Field of Dreams
    Dreamer
    Harry Potter
    Milo and Ottis
    Just to name a few. No hack-em-ups, no horror, just good old fashioned movies!

    • I like the way you think, Ruth! We can have a movie marathon anytime you want! Stay away from Mikelyo!! Ha!

      • mgmillerbooks said:

        *Ahem*. Mikeylo also likes such films as:

        Baby Doll
        La belle et la bete
        Big Bad Mama
        Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
        Elmer Gantry
        Giant
        The Godfather
        Gone With the Wnd
        Humoresque
        It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
        The Last Picture Show
        Mildred Pierce
        A Place in the Sun
        Some Like it Hot
        A Streetcar Named Desire
        The Taming of the Shrew
        What’s Up, Doc?

        So there.

  6. Ruby Blue said:

    Hey, hey, hey, now!!! Watch out on dissing American History X–that is a film about redemption, damn it. REDEMPTION–you know, people can change and can even (try to) change others. Okay, so it is no Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I’ll grant you that. I’m guess you aren’t going to take my recommendation to watch Robert DeNiro in The Mission? Okey, dokey then. But I am definitely with you on staying away from anything, I mean anything, set during any manifestation of The Inquisition–not much hope there. Oh, ditto on loving Waking Ned Devine but then I also loved Breaking the Waves–(don’t watch it.)

    • Oh Ruby, I was wondering if you were going to chime in. Yes, you’re right. American History X is a movie about redemption and a whole lot of freaking violence!! I actually really liked Breaking the Waves. I know, go figure. I watched it when I was in Kaktovik, so I was starved for anything other than a night at bingo. It did bother me. For months. Great film.

      Nope. Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows are banned at my house.

      Mikeylo, Gone with the Wind? Really? Shoot me now. I do agree with Some Like it Hot. That’s a fun one. The Godfather is in my Netflix queue. I’ve never seen it and it was recommended by a friend. I’m going to regret listening to him, aren’t I?

  7. Ruby Blue said:

    P.S. Don’t watch Old Yeller either.

  8. Check out “The Man From Earth” I’ve seen it a couple of times and will watch a few more times. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_from_Earth

    • Hey Ric, I’ve added it to my Netflix queue. Don’t make me make “Never watch movie recommendations from your family members” my next blog post! 🙂

  9. If you want, after you seen the movie you can come on my podcast, The BookCave and tell me what you think.

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