Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Did you like it?

While I was at TIFF this year, I got asked this question a lot by people in lines (one tends to spend as much time in lines for movies as in actual movies at the festival) and I realized it's not an easy question to answer about some books and movies. For me, movies (perhaps more than books) can be really great, and I can even say that I loved them, but not really be able to say that I liked them...

There are certainly lots of movies I've been riveted by and/or felt like I really got something out of, but that I can't say I "liked". Some stories are simply too difficult to like depending on the subject matter or style or whatever.

Here are some examples of movies I've seen in the past year or two that I would recommend to others, or that really affected me in some way, but that I can't possibly apply the "like" word to:

Shame (talked about that one here)

Meek's Crossing (a very bleak and quiet film I saw at the 2010 festival, staring Michelle Williams about a group of pioneers in a wagon train totally lost in the desert on the way to California and running out of food and water fast)

Rabbit Hole (a really great film with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckart playing parents mourning the loss of their four year old son)

Thirteen (not a film I saw at the festival, but one that will scare the crap out of any parent of a young girl, or basically anyone who knows or ever was a young girl.)

Hard Candy (just jumped to mind. First time I ever saw Ellen Page and she is no Juno in this movie...)

Beautiful Boy (a movie Molly and I saw together at the 2010 TIFF -- poor Molly, I picked her some tough films -- that was about an almost divorced couple coping with their son having done something horrific. Similar plot to this year's TIFF film We Need to Talk About Kevin, which I didn't see, but I'm sure I will when it comes out.)

Elles (A French film I saw this year, starring Juliette Binoche, about a journalist interviewing young student prostitutes for Elle magazine and then having a sexual awakening of sorts of her own)

Drive (The Ryan Gosling film about a stunt car driver who drives getaway cars for crimes on the side and gets caught up in some bad (and very violent) business because of a (married) girl. A lot to "like" about this film--Ryan Gosling for one--but ultimately too violent and bleak to apply the term "like" to, I think. But I was enthralled and would acutally see this one again.)

Irreversable (This one's not so recent, from 2002, but it immediately sprang to mind as I was thinking about "difficult" films I'm glad I saw but couldn't say I "liked".)

I'm sure I'll think of more movies from this year's TIFF tomorrow. Or moments after I press Publish on this post.

Interestingly, I can't think of any books to add to the list right now. Perhaps because I typically don't finish books I'm not "liking". Oh, maybe I could put Lolita on the list. Admired certain things about that book, but most definitely did not like it. Oh, and Sons and Lovers (I'm going back to high school English class now. Detested that book -- I'm convinced that D.H. Lawrence hated women), but kind of loved it, too.)

How about you? Any books or movies you kind of loved but really can't like?


Stephanie Doyle said...

Wow - one totally comes to mind and I never would have thought of it this way. Sucker Punch. It's like this horrible dark awful comic book story - but it's all about girl power and inner strength and I loved it... but I don't know that I liked it.

Eileen said...

Oh, absolutely! For books . . . I recently read Still Alice which was moving, emotional and exquisitely written and completely devastated me. It's about a woman with early onset Alzheimer's. Also In the Lake of the Woods. That one's older, but I read it just as we went to war in Iraq and I cried for days. Oh! Another one that I'll never forget, but didn't exactly "enjoy" would be Wallace Stegner's All the Little Live Things.

Now . . . movies that are like that . . . I can't believe I'm drawing a blank. Pan's Labyrinth? What was that one years and years ago with Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton? I cried for hours after that one. Oh! I've got it! Ordinary People!

Maureen McGowan said...

Steph, I was so excited about Sucker Punch when I saw the trailer, but then never went to see it for some reason. It's one where I let reviews affect my decision on whether to go, I think.

I've been meaning to read Still Alice. Must. The ones on my movie list weren't just sad or scary, they were freaking hard to watch but without any humor to offset the bleakness or violence. Still... riveting in some way. (I must be a really sick person.)

I want to see Ordinary People again. It's been years (decades...)

Since I read your list, I'm trying to decide whether to put the book Room on my list... But I actually think I can say I "liked" that book in spite of the content. I think the way the author chose to show the content through the eyes of a small child both made it more horrific, yet also easier to handle in a way... You hate to think of what the kid (not to mention the mother) went through, but at the same time you admire the mother (or I did) for giving him as magical a childhood as she could, given the circumstances. It makes the story almost whimsical even though we know she's getting raped... Bizarre, but true.

Eileen said...

Not bizarre. I agree about Room. I had a harder time reading Chevy Stevens' Still Missing. Seeing it all through Jack's eyes helped me process it differently. There were plenty of times during Room that I was white-knuckled on that book, but with Still Missing I was actually hyperventilating.

I don't know whether or not to recommend Still Alice. I'm still a little heartsick over that one. I'm tempted to try her next one, Left Neglected. I'm hoping it won't hit so close to home. I love Genova's writing style, but I can't do another book where I just sit there and weep right now.

Am going to check out Sucker Punch. I'm not sure I've ever even heard of it.

Anonymous said...

I need to check out sucker punch as well. I loved In America, but never felt the need to watch it again. And read Sons and Lovers and loved it while I read it but never felt the need to revisit it.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I read left neglected!!! Can't say I liked it - there was nothing, absolutely nothing about that book that wasn't stressful to me. Good book - talk about it lots - can't say I liked it.

Deer Hunter. Important movie, glad I saw it, never need to see it again. Can't say I liked it.

Beautiful Boy. Maureen had fun torturing me at that film fest "yes, maureen please, let me come along with you for some movies, but nothing sad, nothing about children getting hurt."

I thought of Room first thing, but I loved that book, for all the reasons you just said. White knuckled and crying...I loved it.

I loved Pan's Labryinth - horrible stuff, but I just loved it.

I don't see Bleak movies anymore, not unless Maureen makes me. Although right now I am so entertainment starved - and I mean starved - I'll watch anything.

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