Friday, February 22, 2013

Movies That Got a Strong Reaction

These 14 movies made me react passionately, angrily, even in disgust. Good or Bad... the list is all over the spectrum.

1. Compliance (2012)

I simply couldn't like this movie. My mom suggested, after we watched it, that I give it a higher rating, but I can say that I definitely got nothing positive out of this infuriating, sickening, and seemingly endless experience. How could something like this happen? How could a group of seemingly functional people be this stupid? I was basically yelling at the screen throughout the film.

2. The Living and the Dead (2006)

Definitely a disturbing movie. The performances, setting, cinematography etc. are designed to make you feel as bad as possible, and do you know what? I love it! Powerful, painful, and sometimes tender, "The Living and the Dead" is true to director Simon Rumley's vision and fearlessly conveys that vision. And although I see James (Leo Bill's character) as a tragic figure, I can see why other viewers might not feel the same way.

3. Buddy Boy (1999)

The character of Francis haunted me on and off for months after watching this. Aidan Gillen was pitch-perfect playing a twitchy, stammering, devout, and painfully shy young man. I felt like I could relate to his struggle to understand a God who loves us and a God who will send us to Hell for our indiscretions and the ensuing emotional falling-out. A challenging and exciting first feature.

4. Dancer in the Dark (2000)

Believe it or not, this was even rougher for me than Von Trier's "Breaking the Waves," though I adore that movie and Emily Watson's performance. Bjork in this is very good too, and the musical sequences are strangely well-suited for the film. The last ten minutes are hard to watch, and this movie left me in a dismal mood, because it was so painful.

5. Tyrannosaur (2011)

There are few movies that can reduce me to sobs and shudders with the finesse of "Tyrannosaur," a visceral heart-wrencher involving desperation and abuse. Paddy Considine grabs hold of your heart and doesn't let go, and the strength of the performances overrides any qualms you might have about the brutality of the whole operation.

6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

After a so-so first film, the "Transformers" franchise took a turn for the sh***y with this inane, poorly constructed, and enthusiastically crude installment marketed directly at horny teenage boys and slow-witted adults. There's not much to say about the plot between Megan Fox, Megan Fox's ass, the vile little leg-humping robot, the horny little dogs, the rap-jargon-speaking twin robots, and the offensive (and sadly true) assumption that Michael Bay could get enough cash off the masses to make a third movie, which I hear, is no better than the second. An utter fail.

7. Twilight (2008)

Truthfully, I have never seen this movie, nor do I ever plan to. However, I read the book, which has given me the warning to avoid the rest of the franchise for the rest of my natural life. Twilight proved that any piece of putrid crap can become popular if it is marketed right and appeals to a certain demographic. This novel is light vampire porn for teenage girls, starring a fragile, virginal, and utterly boring teenage girl and her brooding undead vampire boyfriend, two of the dullest protagonists in modern fiction. Read (and presumably, watch) at your own risk.


8. Hachiko: A Dog's Story (2009)

Oh boy, oh boy. I may claim to be a cynic and fan of the grotesque and gory, but like most people I have Kryptonite: cute dogs. I hate to see any dog suffer, and if I watch a dog suffer, whether it be in a movie, in a story, or in a photograph, I cry. I watched "Hachiko" at a friend's house, and by the time it ended, I was a sticky sobbing mess, and it didn't end there. I cried for 30 minutes, 1 hour after the movie was over, so everyone could see what a massive p***y I actually am. I was an inconsolable wreck. And to any potential viewers I warn you ... don't watch the movie in any place where you have a reputation to uphold. You have been warned.

9. Marley & Me (2008)

As a dog person, I found the first half of this adorable and the last half devastating. I actually think Owen Wilson does a pretty good acting job here.My brother (14) and sister (9) think I'm ridiculous for crying at movies like this.

10. My Dog Skip (2000)

Kids beware! I watched this sobfest when I was about nine, and when the bootleggers hit the dog with the shovel, my brother, who was about five at the time, burst into tears. That got me started; we cried for a long while and could barely stop crying throughout the dog's recovery and eventual death from old age. So this is up there with "Marley & Me" with sad dog movies that advertise themselves as kid's movies but will reduce a sensitive kid to a puddle. Not a bad movie overall, though.

11. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

This is tough for a PG-13 movie, and the fact that it involves small kids makes it harder to take. As for me, I don't like kids much (I know, I'm not a delight) so I can't honestly say how much the age of the characters affected me. Anyway, I never read the book all the way through, so the ending came as a shock. Really makes you thinks about the inhumanities of the past and the present. And yes, I cried but not like a b***h (this I reserved for "Hachi," sob-inducing dog-death tragi-porn.)


12. An American Crime (2007)

Catherine Keener plays a cold-hearted, sadistic b***h, and the movie sheds light on the innate darkness in human beings -- even children. All this would be rough enough without the delicate, heart-breaking performance of Ellen Page as Kenner's victim, Sylvia Likens, or the fact that the whole thing (!) is based on a true story. It is incredible to what a extent a sick person can find blame with an innocent. Little Johnny (Kenner's character's son) made my stomach turn.

13. Treacle Jr. (2010)

I added this because it was so memorable for me and because I hated Riann Steele's character so much. Yes, women can be abusers, and it frustrates me so much that some people can't seem to see that. Anyway, Aidan Gillen's mentally slow character takes a lot of s**t through the film, but the tone isn't dark overall, and is quite comedic at parts.

14. The Lovely Bones (2009)

My reaction to this much-anticipated release was disappointment. First of all, may I just say that Stanley Tucci was GREAT in this, so chilling and convincing as a sociopath. But the book was one of my favorites, so beautiful, so delicately written, so profoundly told, and Peter Jackson was simply not cut out to tell this story. The grace of the novel was in its subtlety and, well, subtlety isn't Peter Jackson's trademark. Get ready for a lot of big budget effects in a film that should have been about the emotional repercussions of the rape-murder and the parents' quiet grieving. A miss.


  1. Thank you for listing those movies where the dogs suffer I will certainly avoid them, can't stand it when it happens too even if it's only scene with the dog being scared or killed.

    Twilight books are horrible but I found the movies to be campy and entertaining fun, actually. They did manage to get few really good actors to appear there, mainly Michael Sheen.

    I agree that Tucci was great in TLB but yeah the film was a huge fail for me.

  2. Nice list. Love that you included both good and bad reactions.

    Transformers 2 and Twilight! Ha, now we're talking. ;)

  3. Great list, Sarah, there's definitely some moving movies. I just now realised that the girl from Compliance is the same one from Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23...! Irrelevant, I know.

    Twilight is not so bad... I've never read the first book. Only the second (boring), the third (okay), and half of the fourth (not good). But the films are good fun, particularly the first one, which I genuinely liked, and the fourth one. Haven't seen the fifth. The other two films you can skip. Oh and yes, Bella is even more annoying on screen, and Lautner, poor thing, is not very gifted, but the rest of the cast is quite alright. Maybe you should give a shot!

    Hachiko and Marley & Me got so many tears from me, special relationships between people and animals are so beautiful. The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas is also a real shocker. (oh, and I'm not a huge fan of kids either, more specifically, between the ages of 5 and... well, 20, to be honest.

  4. How can you NOT cry at Marley & Me? Tears are an absolute must, especially if you have ever owned a pet. I've read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; I don't know if I am ready for the movie. As for the Twilight series? They are what they are. I personally love the series, and while the movies are not going to win any Oscars, they are still good fun as long as you don't go in with any high expectations.

  5. Yeah I was a mess too in Marley and Me. Absolutely killed me. Glad I didn't see it the cinema. Looking forward to seeing Compliance though despite your write up.

  6. In defense of Compliance, while I completely understand why you aren't giving it a thumbs up, that reaction of discomfort and rage is probably exactly what the filmmaker was going for. :-)

    I basically agree with everything else you wrote. Except that I don't love The Living and the Dead as much as you do. I do like it, but well, you know. Who does love The Living and the Dead as much as you do? :-) I think your assessment of the adaptation of The Lovely Bones is spot on.

    Great post!

  7. I haven't seen any of these, but I read The Lovely Bones. The Living and the Dead looks intriguing and lol about Twilight. I can't watch films where dogs die either, its just too much. I have The Boy in the Striped Pajamas in my que on Netflix and I hope to get to it soon.

  8. I've only seen 3 of these, but I am gonna look into the rest (except Transformers, not my bag). Twilight is absolute crap. I went and saw the first 4 films with my bff at the time and now I am slightly curious how it ends, but I'm not sure if I am curious enough to see it badly enough unless it happens to come on TV and I have nothing else to do. I loathe Belle for having zero personality and I detest Edward because he is a possessive, emotionally abusive, manipulative stalker. How do people think this a book about true love? It's not.

    I agree that The Lovely Bones' nuances were lost in the film, although it wasn't as bad as I expected and Stanley Tucci was spectacularly creepy.

    I loved The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I loved the book, too.


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