ONE STAR MARGARETS
by Ross Sharp
The first in what may be a series of brief posts about movies I’ve hated over time.
Or it may be the last. I’m a little inconsistent at times …
Somewhere in urban USA a white man sits on a kerb with a black man, after an incident of sorts (of what, I do not recall), and they talk of their lives, lives previously unknown to each other, they talk of their circumstances and such, and they find understanding, connection, that they have more in common than in difference, despite their class or colour, and I am sitting in the cinema way back then, the early 1990’s and I blurt out (softly, for I am not, and never have been one in the habit of blurting in cinemas) …
“What a load of simple-minded fucking rubbish!”
I am watching Lawrence Kasdan’s 1991 film “Grand Canyon”.
And it’s really beginning to give me the willies.
In other scenes, here are a couple of beautiful people, husband and wife, with a beautiful life and a beautiful home and a beautiful kitchen filled with every zinging, pinging, time and touch sensitive, buzzing, whuzzzing, whirring and whipping appliance known to humankind, and they are whining about their sad and empty and unfulfilled lives until, lo and behold, one of them finds a baby in a fucking shrub or something and suddenly … There Are Sunbeams!
At which point I realise I could not give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about any of these peple and I’d like to go home now …
Chris Parry, efilmcritic … “Relating to these characters is no easy task for most in the audience because they’re just so darn verbose. Every character feels like they’re standing on a soapbox as they launch into spirited diatribes about life, the universe and nothing. Every incident feels staged, and because of that lack of reality, it comes across as almost safe. Gangbangers walk away when politely asked to. Homeless people dispense sage advice. Cops hold your hand as you tell them about your faltering love life.”
… They talk in that way only some Americans can, every miniscule moment in life, every minor event, action or reaction weighted with great meaning and significance, all of it delivered with doe-eyed sincerity, dripping with a desperate need for understanding and acceptance, on and on and on they go, and the only thing I’m thinking is “Oh, for the love of God, will you all just shut up and get on with something!”
I have not seen this film since that time, and I would need to be dragged, in chains of steel, kicking, screaming, to see it again, and if I were to have prior warning that that would happen, and that that would work, I would arrange to smuggle in with me a small pocket-knife so that I could stab myself in the eyes with it before opening credits rolled.
I was with a few friends when I saw it, and later we all went out for food and a few drinks and I told them of my intense, visceral loathing of this film, and they told me they quite liked it, and so we argued back and forth for a bit, but because we were all friends, it was all very open and civil, until I may have concluded matters by telling the three of them, “Your taste is in your arse”, and filling my mouth with some cake and a slurp of coffee and going home.
I recall that it was not too long before this that I, with these same three friends, went to a screening of Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire”, a film they thought intolerably dull and tedious, but one I found to be a joyous, celebratory and beautifully hypnotic meditation on the magic of love and life – Peter Falk delightedly clapping his hands together at the simple joy of a cigarette and a cup of coffee on a frosty night – and so later, we all went out for some food and a few drinks and we argued back and forth for a while, all very open and civil, until I may have concluded matters by telling them all to go fuck themselves with sticks. And going home.
Either my taste in friends is shit or theirs is.
But “Grand Canyon”?
To borrow from the late Rogert Ebert, I hated that fucking movie.
One star, Margaret.