Posted: July 20, 2010 in 3x
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It’s not that I think these are bad films (I do about one of them), I usually wouldn’t bother if that was the case, just move on. But these are hailed by a lot of people and annoy the hell out of me.

OFFRET – The Sacrifice (1986, Andrei Tarkovsky)

So we have the aging and soon to be dead intellectual, who thinks he is so brilliant, and whatever he says or thinks about the world is so important, that he doesn’t have one (not one!) conversation with anybody, just long monologues with his little boy, who – as presumably everybody should – stays silent and listens to the wisdom he imparts on the world. Oh, heavens, but he is dying! And this brutal fact is not like in the case of all human being…no, his case is special, because he is the wise guy, whose death is just so unfair, that he cannot accept it. So his death is paralleled with the end of the world (nuclear, the fashionable cause for the end of the world in those times), and he can (has to!) make the supreme sacrifice of sleeping with the young, beautiful maid to save the world.

I never had the reflex of Freudian reading of anything, but this film just screams for it. A man incapable of accepting his own pending death, not to mention his carnal desires, alone in the midst of his family (presumably through his own fault, he probably tried to preach wisdom to his wife too instead of just being her husband), his feeling hurt for nobody appreciating his genius as they no doubt should, the superficial, stupid, ingrate bunch! Anyway, so these are his attitudes towards his pending demise. First he tries to become immortal by handing down his views of the world to his son. The common mistake to think we live on in our kids. Then he tries to pray a lot. How touching, to discover our god when we need them the most! And then he has the final delusion that the world is about to end. His world certainly will, so what’s the point of all the rest, right? But out of prayer and the goodness of his heart, he realizes he can and must save the world. By sleeping with the maid, of course. Only ordinary mortals, lacking metaphysical depth would consider this simply cheating on his wife and taking advantage of the young woman. Genius intellectuals don’t cheat and don’t take advantage of women. They make a sacrifice to sleep with them, if it’s their last resort, if it means saving the world.

INTO THE WILD (2007, Sean Penn)

A young man, socialized in libraries, decides he has to follow his irresistible urge to reconnect with Nature (mandatory capital letter). Being a typical city-boy, he knows that Nature is us, our home, and our true self that we lost and corrupted with all this technological nonsense that gives us clean water, edible plants, warm clothes and housing and so on. So he rushes back to the arms of his long-lost Mother Nature, only to find she is not so warm and loving after all, in fact, she bites him in the ass. And he dies. What did we learn from this, kids? Presumably not to mystify and personify nature, to read up on winters in the north and the “strange” behavior of rivers that they tend to flood when snow melts, and for the love of Pacha Mama, lick your finger when reading a book distinguishing edible and poisonous plants in the wild!

KATALIN VARGA (2009, Peter Strickland)

This is the one hat is not only annoying, but also bad. Why a director who doesn’t speak Hungarian would insist on making a Hungarian-speaking film is beyond me. Especially since he says he wanted to make a universal, timeless, ballad-like crime and revenge story. But one needs the right setting for these sorts of dark tales, right? And what could be a more perfect setting for this than the place most people in the Western world are not even sure whether it exists or it is fiction? Yes, Transylvania. Completely covered in dark, tall forests that emanate annoyingly mystical and multi-awarded (Berlin!) music when you look into them. Only patches of villages interrupt these mighty woods, with people who are basic, dark, original to the bone, dressed in traditional festive clothing taken from museums when they go out on the fields to work with tools they clearly never held before in their hands, speaking in Budapest slang but with a heavy Seclar accent. Only some bad guys and some kids speak Romanian, also with a heavy Seclar accent. The only means of transport in these rough surroundings is a horse driven cart; the paved roads are there just to annoy the horses. Top that with a few clichés about crime, remorse, suicide and forgiveness and with the mandatory “women leading a traditional way of life in the mountains but sleeping in sexy, short, see-through nightgowns” and you have a guaranteed success!

  1. […] on my list of the most annoying films I can think […]

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