Sunday, August 21, 2005

Walk This Way

Looker has a post that nicely evokes the crushing, poignant moment when you realize the movie you are watching wasn't worth the effort it took to get to the theater. At this point, the question becomes: To walk, or not to walk?

The Siren almost never walks, which may prove she's an optimist after all. Or it may prove she's an indolent little thing at heart. Maybe both. It definitely proves I'm stingy with film dollars and plan carefully before I go to the cineplex. I can recall only three movies I ever walked out on. All of them were in the days when I'd see four or five movies a week, and so could afford to view a few stinkers.

The Moon in the Gutter. The music swelled, and for the third time, Nastassia Kinski turned around with one tear rolling down her face. The Siren said to her companion, "I don't have time for this," and went out into the East Village night to grab a drink, a decision she's never regretted.

Once Upon a Time in America. The Siren knows there are many cinephiles who admire this one. Well, I did not like it, Sam I am. Here's the point where I walked: Robert DeNiro rapes the girl of his dreams, Elizabeth McGovern, in the back of his limo after a party. He gets out of the limo, the chaffeur drives McGovern home, he's alone on the beach, the violins sigh ... and I realized that Sergio Leone wanted me to feel sorry for this guy.

Rather than comply, I left.

(Years later some people tried to tell me that I had seen the first-release butchered version, and really I needed to see the uncut version. So instead of 140 minutes of linear structure, misogyny and straining for the The Godfather's profundity, I'd get 226 minutes of flashbacks, misogyny and straining for The Godfather's profundity. I think I was better off the first time.)

One of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. My tenderhearted, well-mannered roommate had an unaccountable love for slasher movies and I went thinking it would be some kind of a campy diversion. I have blanked out whatever it was that made me leave, but I told him I was going home and I did. After that we stuck to attending the middle-to-highbrow stuff together and he took dates to the slasher movies.

That's it, near as I can remember. I don't think the time I stomped out of the living room while some relatives were watching Jackass counts. (God I hated that movie. It wasn't enough that I wasn't watching. The idea that anyone, anywhere, let alone in the same house, was watching it was well-nigh unbearable to me.) It's certainly much easier to turn off a DVD player than to walk out of a movie. There are a few I wish I had walked out on, including Broken Arrow and Baise-Moi.

So the Siren asks her patient audience: ever walked out on a film? what was it? Anything you should have walked out on, but didn't?


surly hack said...

I should have just walked out of Interiors. Instead I stayed and laughed out loud at it, riling up other patrons. At one point I whispered to my friend "He's going to rape her" and so he did, next scene. She asked me how I knew it was going to happen, and all I could think of is that I was so tuned in to the level of overwrought badness that it was the logical next step.

Tania said...

Ugh, I should've walked out on Baise-Moi, too, but I kept thinking maybe there would be *some* moment of redemption, some artistic value that would emerge. It was one of those moments in your young life when you learn something, and this time that lesson was, "You can't always trust the French."

I wish I walked out on "Dancer in the Dark," still the most painful cinematic experience of my life. And "Kids."

"Broken Arrow" was totally unwatchable, and John Woo should be ashamed. ("Face Off" was better, though.)

I too almost never walk out, but then again, now that movies are $10.75 a pop I almost never go out. It's all Netflix now.

Oh yeah, and any Atom Egoyan movie. I'm sorry I sat through "Exotica" and "The Sweet Hereafter." I know a lot of film geeks love him, but to me, it seems like his films are almost entirely populated by autistic people, and so humorless they make a Bergman movie look like the Marx Brothers. (At least Bergman's interesting.)

Uncle Gustav said...

I walked out of the theatre during Octopussy, The Age of Innocence, Ju Dou, and Mondo Trasho. The only one I've gone back to is Octopussy, because I know that with a little fine-tuning and a lot of cutting, a decent 007 movie could be buried in there somewhere.

After forty insufferable minutes, I ripped the DVD of Amélie out of the player, and would've tossed it out the window had it not been rented.

In the last decade, there have been well over a dozen recent releases that I just couldn't get through on DVD, such as Dancer in the Dark and Dodgeball.

I watched the film of Chicago from beginning to end, even though the impulse to run was strong. But I realized that it was an excellent example of how not to film a musical and savored its shortcomings as a justification for my mistrust of post-'70s American cinema.

And I fell asleep in the theatre during Raiders of the Lost Ark, only to wake after the place had been locked up for the night. Removing the 2x4 "security system," I made it out through the emergency exit at two or three in the morning. There was nothing in that movie to keep me interested, so I dozed off.

girish said...

Wow, tastes do range wide don't they?

Yes, I was one of those who walked out of Baise-Moi.

Okay, don't yell at me please but...I'm a huge fan of Dancer, I think it's one of my favorite films of the last five years. (I like pretty much everything Lars has done). And I also love Exotica and Sweet Hereafter.

I lasted fifteen minutes with Amelie on DVD. Maybe I should give it a real chance sometime.

Diane said...

I have never walked out for the same reasons you listed. Another walk out vote for Baise-Moi. Ugh.

The Joy Luck Club. *gag* I am scared to death that Memoirs of a Geisha might have this vibe. American directors don't know how to handle stories involving Asians without getting sappy and pseudo poetic.

I should've walked out of Natural Born Killers. Terrible din of a movie.

I knew before I even purchased the tickets for Kiss of the Dragon that it was going to be nauseatingly awful (I took my little cousin to a movie and I promised him he could choose). Cannot even list how many moments I wanted to zip outta there.

Planet of the Apes, yikes! Again, I didn't choose this movie. It was so walk-out-able. And Helena Bonham Carter's ape look really freaked me out.

There are so many films that I patiently had tolerated, in the hopes that there would be some artistic value that I could take away. The price hike in movies ($10.75 to $14 in my area) only reinforce my hope (like you, I'm an optimist!). This said I only go to the theatre for the films that I really want to see or the ones that really need a theatre to look and sound their best.

However, with the future being with DVDs, perhaps there will be a lot less time wasted. I have surprised myself lately with how many DVDs I've ejected.

The Siren said...

Baise-Moi seems to be winning this in a walk. Tee-hee.

Diane: I am not very optimistic about "Memoirs of a Geisha." In the first place, it ain't gonna stack up against Mizoguchi or Naruse, that I would bet the rent on. Gong Li should be great as Hatsumomo. The bad news for me is that Sayuri is Ziyi Zhang. Gah, she has nothing of an adult's emotions about her acting at all.

Surly: I didn't see Interiors. I saw September so I figured I'd suffered enough.

Tania: I liked The Sweet Hereafter, but can still see what you're saying. It's a bit like an ice sculpture.

Girish: It's funny how many people hated Amelie. My husband and I saw it just a couple of weeks after 9/11 and it was the first time we had laughed in a while. So it's possible our affection is rooted more in what it did for us than what the movie actually is.

Flickhead: You've reminded me that I tried to get my friend to leave during Octopussy but she just got mad at me so I had to stay. That was one bad Bond.

Diane said...

ITA re: Ziyi. She ALWAYS plays an insipid, spoiled, feisty princess-y type. I can think of several Japanese (hello, Japanese for a Japanese geisha) actors who should've been cast, but alas, they don't have the growing international name recognition. Incidentally, since the Crouching Tiger fame, she has really annoyed me. For one thing, I don't understand the clamor about her so-called beauty. She's all right, but I don't get all the attention AT ALL. There are so many more beautiful Asian actors--'course they all remain in their country. Therein lies the problem.

surly hack said...

I wish I had walked out of 29 Palms--extreme annoyance alternating with boredom followed by intense anger is not an enjoyable experience. Thought provoking? The only thought it left me with was I wish I hadn't seen it.

I fell asleep during Legend.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I usually stay and watch movies through the bitter end. I walked out on Lina Wertmuller's Blood Fued, and a badly dubbed French sex farce with a forgotten title. With DVDs I sometimes run them at high speed. I also walked out the first time I tried watching The Exorcist as the theater was full the guy sitting next to me had a noisy stomach.

The Siren said...

Surly: Falling asleep is a whole different category, in fact my husband just suggested it. (He walked out of Star Trek III, it turns out.) My favorite was a friend who actually managed to fall asleep during Bullet in the Head (a film I liked a lot).

Peter: I have never seen any Wertmuller, but I will remember I have been warned about Blood Feud.

Diane: As usual, we are completely on the same wavelength. I don't find her especially stunning either, so there is really no compensation for her one-dimensional acting.
I may see the movie for Gong Li, though. Big fan. And THERE'S a beautiful woman, still.

katiedid said...

My husband and I walked out of a Beat Takeshi movie. I can't even remember the title: I think I have blocked it, because I was that offended we plunked down our hard-earned money for that exercise in boredom. Seriously, it was bad. Wathcing paint dry has more plot and character development that whatever it was we tried to watch.

Looker said...

Wow, what an honor to see that my post helped inspire all these memories of unpleasant moviegoing experiences. What I've remembered since writing that post is that I tried to walk out of Schindler's List (not a bad movie, but an offensive one). I was watching it with my housemate in a multiplex in Poughkeepsie. After two hours I simply couldn't stand it anymore, and I walked out, thinking I'd slip into another movie and meet my housemate afterward. But all the other movies had let out and didn't start again for another half hour. And my housemate was the one with the car. So, defeated, I returned for the final hour.

Another stinker I wanted to leave, by the end of the opening scene, was A Kiss Before Dying, with Matt Dillon and Sean Young. But I had traveled to far to get to the theater (this was San Francisco, 1991) that I simply resigned myself. The movie was so ineptly made that it was actually kind of fascinating--not a single scene worked. I must sign off now and check who made that cursed thing.

Here's to walking out.

Lance Mannion said...

I don't think I've ever walked out on a movie, even when I was working as an usher in a movie theater and could go to all the movies at other theaters in the chain free. I've hated many movies, but my hatred kicks in after the lights go up.

I can think of several I wished afterwards I hadn't seen. Fried Green Tomatoes. Grand Canyon. The Abyss. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

But usually I'm glad to have seen the movie even when I didn't like it. Fame, I hated that one! But I was glad I saw it.

I think that I like going to the movies so much that even when the movie stinks I still have a good time.

Since we've had kids, though, we've had to be much more selective about which movies we go to, we don't risk movies there's a chance we won't enjoy, so I haven't seen anything I've hated in a long time.

Last DVD I gave up on was Kenneth Branagh's Love's Labour Lost. Fifteen minutes in I was appalled. 20 minutes in I was embarrassed for everybody involved and turned it off.

The Siren said...

Has anyone looked at the IMDB reviews for Baise-Moi? I love the ones that claim people who disliked it didn't get the point. I got the point, I just didn't think it was worth making.

Looker: It's amazing how many people had huge artistic problems with Schindler's List, considering how the general public reveres that movie. Seems like every film blogger I read had *major* problems with it. My problem was the same I have with all of Spielberg's "serious" movies; he doesn't trust the audience. He thinks he must beat them over the head with the obvious or the little darlings won't know what he's saying.

Lance: Aw, I liked Fried Green Tomatoes, and I'll tell you why. As an Alabama native, it was kind of refreshing that when the Klan showed up, they had come over the border from Georgia. Usually the second someone in a movie goes to Alabama, you can start counting down the minutes until some horrifying racist shows up and says "Boy ..."

Katiedid: I am cracking up over the Beat Takeshi thing. He is a huge favorite with Mr. Campaspe. He loves to tell the story of how we went to see "Boiling Point" and I dug him in the ribs about five minutes in and hissed, "Why the hell did you take me to see a baseball movie?" Utterly weird movie. I still don't know whether I liked it. I do know I don't want to see it again.

carole said...

Silence of the Lambs, hands down. I had no idea of what it was about or I never would have gone in. I'm sorry I waited as long as I did.

And in spite of the fact that Julianne Moore was the star-The Forgotten sucked. HATED IT. Wanted that two hours of my life back . It was trite and ludicrous. So was her film with pierce Brosman, the title of whaich also escapes my memory.

katiedid said...

Beat is a FAVORITE of your husband's?! Wow. I guess the old chestnut is true: "different strokes for different folks."

Now you should do a post on falling asleep during movies. The first I ever fell asleep in was Awakenings, a serious Robin Williams film, if that tells you anything. Anyhow, after that, the friend I went with just would NOT let me live that down. At all.

I also snoozed during Wings of Desire. I think it might have been early on in the movie, too. The "human-sympathetic" angel was in a tent with this circus lady fixing herself in the mirror, and... dunno. Fell asleep. No one woke me, because the two other people I came with fell asleep, too.

Exiled in NJ said...

Twice this past month, evenings have been hijacked by Pam's sister-in-law for dinner and then, surprise, DVD. The first time we took separate cars, thank god! I could not stand "The Notebook." Almost any film with a tinkling piano, poor acting and with its strings showing drives me out. Last night we took one car, but thankfully Pam also excused herself and I from the Coen disaster, The Ladykillers, after about 45 minutes.

Only I had seen the original; I hope my grating teeth did not spoil the film for anyone. My brother-in-law-to-be requires subtitles because of poor hearing. To sit there and read Wayans' continual MF's was embarrassing, and Irma P Hall doing a George Stevens' mother-in-law bit made it worse.

Of course we had a good dinner, and we did not pay $10 each, but sometimes free films aren't worth the bargain price.

One fair warning: any film made from a Russell Banks novel will see people leaving. Somehow Etoyan missed something, perhaps by moving the location from the depressed Adirondacks to Canada(?). I have seen people not be able to take Affliction.

Someone else is in my corner on "Lambs." Friends and family look at me like I am crazy when I go on about Michael Mann's Manhunter, and Brian Cox as their beloved Hannibal. Cox as Lecktor is not another of Hopkins' Alec Guinness imitations.

surly hack said...


I seldom fall fully asleep, but often I nod off for a second or two, and wake with a head jerk...I remember watching television with a friend in high school who fell asleep during Libery Valance and woke during the(forgotten)film that followed. For several minutes I had him thinking he was still watching Valance, patiently explaining how they had left the west for the urban, modern east. Then "Wait a minute..." Well, he WAS tired.

boisdejasmin said...

I should have walked out on one of the Star Wars, but I just fell asleep.

I did not finish watching Quills and Sense of Snow. Vanilla Sky was walk out worthy for me, especially since the Spanish version is so much more superior.

I just saw that Memoirs of a Geisha will come out soon, and even though I am definitely going to see it, I am not holding my breath for either a cinematic genius or an authentic portrayal. I agree with Diane--it is rare to encounter a film about Asians that does not go down pseudo poetic and Confucius/Mao melange of philosophy route. I really liked the book though.

Peter Nellhaus said...

I also am a fan of Beat Takeshi aka Takeshi Kitano. Thanks to Netflix I've seen most of his films. The Siren may want to check out a very atypical film that he wrote and directed, but did not act in, A Scene at the Sea, a very kind and gentle film. As far as Memoirs of a Geisha is concerned, I have concerns that this is made by people who think all Asians look alike for an audience that thinks all Asians are alike.
If any American director was going to make the film, it should have been Paul Schrader as he actually knows about Japanese culture.

Uncle Gustav said...

Kitano also directed and starred in the kinder, gentler Kikujirô, the story of three men and a little boy. There is an underlined and elementary moral to it, paper-thin and nearing the point of transparency. And though some found it enthralling (if not enchanting), I wanted to ring the kid's neck after twenty grueling minutes.

Security Dog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Security Dog said...

I Heart Huckabee's'. Did you know what was going on? Was it really worth making a tedious film about the directors psychiatric experiences?

'Coffee and Cigarettes'...God, now there's conceit. One idea, not even a great one stretched over 90 minutes.

The most recent Bridget Jones film made Baby Jesus cry as well. Walked out with a very upset wife who kept saying "look what the fuckers have done to her".

Pretty much every film Kidman has made since 'The Hours' sucks as well. If I were an actor, and someone asked if I wanted to do something and that Nicole Kidman is attached, I'd politely decline: she has the kiss of death about her these days.

I spent 15 minutes with her and Ferrell, then decided that checking the oil in my car was more productive. Don't get me started on the comic book adaptations and TV re-makes.

Must. Lie. Down.

Exiled in NJ said...

This post has brought back a memory of pre-teen self and sister being dragged to The Robe by Mom, in one of her 'got religion' periods. Must have been after she'd seen Bishop Sheen on TV. The film did boffo box office, and Mom must have been inspired, for she then hauled us to the sequel, Demetrius and the Gladiators. But she marched us out about a third of thw way through when she realized it was a Victor Mature biceps picture. Never did see it.

The Siren said...

I am beginning to feel a bit like a cinematic Miss Lonelyhearts, overwhelmed by the atrocities we've all endured.

Silence of the Lambs was a movie I liked when I saw it, but developed a lot of problems with on second viewing. Which is a different category altogether ...

rusha said...

F: As you know I read your blog regularly and love it! (At work, it provides much needed distraction)

This one made me laugh, uproariously, (again, much needed!) and can't resist responding...

Have to disagree with you about the Godfathers -- too beautiful, even in its misogyny and its controlled violence and the last of Al Pacino's great's all been downhill since then, with him shouting his lines in every movie after!! It makes me want to shout back at him...'what the hell's wrong with you, Al? Put yourself together!'

Soooo glad there are others out there who think Dancer in the Dark is a stinker -- (I don't walk out of movies, instead, I just sit and seeth, the idea being that walking out is rude; but have realized that sitting there in agony is much worse as I grunt and hiss and snort) Dancer in the Dark: don't get me anyone could think that it was remotely, slightly good, let alone winning those stupid oscar awards that never go to the deserving films...clint eastwood over martin scorsese!! (sorry F. you knew this was coming.)

'Tarnation,' hands down, was the worse, the absoltue worse, thing I have ever had the misfortune of seeing and looked desperately for a way out, any way out, but, alas, I went with friends, (P and M.) who loved it!! I was so angry I could barely breath and then not to be able to spew venom once it was over, out of respect for my friends....I think I was sick for days. I kept wanting to shout at the screen and the film forum (where great films are usully shown, but not this one) 'serious' audience: 'Who the hell cares!'

Someone wrote "You can't always trust the French" I haven't trusted the French in the Cinema since the 60's, with the exception of a mysterious Godard film/documentary that's thrown our way....thank God!

Amelie, what a goddamn horror.

I read here much dislike for Ziyi Zhang -- and agree that her performance has thus far been vapid, but in '2046' Wong Kar Wai's latest film, she is absolutely stunning! Beautiful to look at and her performance is profound (F: mature acting through and through, here)and subtle and all of those adjectives we attribut to great acting. The film as a whole doesn't work as well as 'In the mood for Love' but worth seeing anyway.

F: sorry for going on and on....

The Siren said...

Rusha, darling! so good to see you here, even (or especially) in full-on Rant mode. LOLOL!

To clarify - I *loved* the Godfathers, it's the Sergio Leone "Once Upon a Time in America" I can't stand. In fact there's only a couple of Leones I can watch without wanting to do something else. Anything else. His reputation just mystifies me, though "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" was fairly entertaining.

'2046' is opening in Toronto (or may have opened already) so I will try to check it out.

You should take a look at Flickhead and Filmbrain's sites; they've been blogging about some French films from the 1970s that Mr. Campaspe also likes.

rusha said...

oops, sorry F., reading and writing too fast from my desk at work..

Cristina said...

I saw 2046 last fall and found it beautiful but disappointing compared to the director’s earlier work, but didn’t walk out. Although it looked more expensive than his other movies, it wasn’t a step forward intellectually, emotionally or aesthetically. The two Wong Kar Wai movies I enjoy most are HAPPY TOGETHER and the mini-film he did for BMW a few years ago starring Mickey Rourke.

The movie I hated the most in the past five years and I walked out of is DOGVILLE. BREAKING THE WAVES gave me nausea and I hated DANCER IN THE DARK but I still had a soft spot for Bjork then, now gone, but not until DOGVILLE did I really want to beat Lars Von Trier up.

I also walked out of Arnauld Desplechin's PLAYING IN THE COMPANY OF MEN, because it was boring but his KINGS AND QUEEN is a great film.

Lack of transportation prevented me from walking out of Chris Marker’s SANS SOLEIL, and Visconti’s THE DAMNED, both of which have their moments but are way too long. I’ve also been unable to finish Francois Truffaut’s LES DEUX ANGLAISES ET LE CONTINENT and I’ve rented it three times.

Tania said...

Wow, what a thread this is! You're mining a vein of unexpressed despair! I'm definitely not going to see Memoirs of a Geisha in the theater. That's a Netflixer. It would've been cool to see Schrader do it—Mishima was such a great film. In a parallel universe, a better movie has been made.

And I will say this: at least having Chinese actors playing Japanese in an American movie is better than having Mickey Rooney play Japanese. That's progress.

P.S. I can't believe I left out Hollow Man. Repressed trauma.

surly hack said...

I failed to mention that when I fell asleep during Ridley Scott's Legend (all that damn fairy dust worked on me like the poppies in Oz) I woke up in Shogun Assassin 3. Ah, the days of the wacky double-bill.

dissed said...

Alien. I walked out on Alien. The question is, why did I walk IN to Alien?

surly hack said...

dissed: Exactly. I was going to ask why anyone would walk into Bewitched or a second Lars Von Trier movie(I saw Zentropa, and the heartless chill of that film was enough for me).

But then I must say that I have enjoyed several of the Takeshi Kitano films savaged here.

The Siren said...

Dissed! you found me! :D

H., I didn't hate Boiling POint, I wouldn't say I'm sorry I went, I just ... didn't get it.

Eriol said...

I haven't walked out of a movie thus far, but sometimes I wished I had walked out of The Passion of the Christ. A slasher movie disguised as religious art.

My mom routinely falls asleep during movies and has two categories for her sleeping experience. A good sleep is when the movie was very relaxing so she sleeps well. The Polar Express was a good sleep for her. (My experience was "Yes Virginia there is a and he's Josef Stalin with goose walking elves).
A bad sleep is when she doesn't feel good about a movie, so she falls asleep. She had a bad sleep during The Terminal.

surly hack said...

C: I understand how Takeshi Kitano would divide audiences. I have to work a bit to enjoy him a lot of the time.