14 October, 2007

Not Again: 24 Great Films Too Painful To Watch Twice

AV Club:

"1. Requiem For A Dream (2000)
2. Dancer In The Dark (2000)
3. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928)
4. The Seventh Continent (1989)
5. Winter Light (1962)
6. Bad Lieutenant (1992)
7. Straw Dogs (1971)
8. Audition (1999)
9. Sick: The Life And Death Of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)
10. Come And See (1985)
11. In A Year Of 13 Moons (1978)
12. Safe (1995)
13. Irreversible (2002)
14. Boys Don't Cry (1999)
15. Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)
16. When The Wind Blows (1986)
17. Leaving Las Vegas (1996)
18. Jonestown: The Life And Death Of Peoples Temple (2006)
19. S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003)
20. The Last House On The Left (1972)
21. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
22. United 93 (2006)
23. Lilya 4-Ever (2002)
24. Nil By Mouth (1997)"

I'm not sure 'great' applies to some of those but I think most are worth seeing at least once.


Anonymous said...

I would add Schindler's List

Oli said...

Or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrade. Found that really hard to watch at points, it was just so dour. But great.

Helen Smith said...

Hello Robin, thanks for the link.

I try not to watch anything too upsetting, so I've hardly seen any of the films on your list. But I'd add Breaking the Waves. It's wonderful but heart-breaking and bleak.

Andy Conway said...

I walked out of Requiem for a Dream hating everyone connected with it, miserable misanthropic arseholes.

Only just had the 'pleasure' of Irreversible, without doubt one of the bleakest, nastiest films you are ever likely to see. At least I now know what a cat feels like having its nose rubbed in shit.

Lucy said...

Ah, fantastic*. A list celebrating at least 2 films in which rape figures, not to mention a whole load of others depressing as shit.
*That was sarcasm in case anyone missed it.

Not aimed at you though Robin, keep up the good work. Or else. Remember the death ray... Just cos I've moved doesn't mean its aim is not still trained on Birmingham.

Robin Kelly said...

Schindler's List is where I first noticed this. Normally I would have bought the DVD of such a good and powerful film but never did and avoided it on TV.

Of course the problem with dour films is that The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrade was out of the movie theatres before I had a chance to see it. But I'm reminded to add it to my rental list.

I saw Requiem for a Dream doing my usual trick at the time of not reading anything about it and wasn't prepared for the depressing tone. Although I stayed till the cruel and bitter end.

Despite Emily Watson, I would agree about Breaking the Waves but the fact that the film's too long is also a factor.

The rape in Straw Dogs could not be more different from the rape in Irréversible. In both cases they are catalysts for male revenge but Irréversible is a more complex film and not exploitative. Straw Dogs suggests women enjoy being raped.

Andy Conway said...

I actually think Straw Dogs is a much more complex film than Irreversible, Robin. The former deals with very subtle gradations of manipulation and power games (of which rape is one example - and doesn't she *pretend* to enjoy it in order to get away alive? That's how i remember it anyway) and is, in the end, cathartic.

Whereas the latter is just sixth form manicheanism (an obscure branch of Catholicism that believes the world was created by Satan and all humanity is evil. I believe Graham Greene was a fan.)

I think the key thing is catharsis. Films like Schindler's List explore evil while still holding on to the belief that humanity is basically good.

Films like Irreversible and Requiem for a Dream are made by people who believe that there is nothing redeeming whatsoever in our existence. It's trendy to think that that's more 'real', but I say bollocks to them.

Robin Kelly said...

Andy, there is still a lot of debate about Straw Dogs and different interpretations of that rape scene are possible but Sam Peckinpah, the director, said in an interview: "To start out with, she asked for the rape." I think the idea is that she wanted to be raped by her ex-boyfriend because she still fancied him. When her ex-boyfriend's friend wants to join in that's when she stops enjoying it because she didn't fancy him.

I saw the Rob Zombie Halloween and thought,"life's too short, I should be watching something more life-affirming and positive instead". I hesitate to say this but if it was 'real' and had something to say which challenged me rather than simply cutting people up for the fun of it then it might have been different.

I think there should be room for both the pessimistic and the optimistic filmmakers. We all have different voices and Requiem for a Dream had something to say about addiction and Irréversible had something to say about violence and revenge. I might disagree with the way one film did it and agree with the way the other did it but both challenged me and made me think.

I believe Manichean film-making is found more in the typical Hollywood studio films where it is simplistic good versus evil; black and white and no grey.

Andy Conway said...

Technically, a manichean film would be evil vs evil!

Coincidentally, I've only just this weekend come across this quote from Tolstoy:

"The best stories don't come from good vs. bad but from good vs. good."

Myles McLeod said...

I'd also add The Deerhunter. Myles

Robin Kelly said...

Although the impact of the Russian Roulette sequences in The Deer Hunter was lessened for me when I heard no such thing happened in real life.

There's now a few films about the Iraq war coming out soon but getting enough people to see them just once is going to be tough.