Friday, 9 September 2011

Giving up on a film

Have you ever given up on a film? I'll usually watch anything to the end, but with Confessions I couldn't be bothered. And it wasn't even a bad film. A Japanese teacher gets revenge on her insane students, very slowly and usually in slow motion. It winds along with all its different threads coming and going, and doing it all so stylishly that I lost interest. About half way through I thought about turning it off. That's a dangerous thought. What if I miss something brilliant? Maybe I should just skip through it. So I press fast forward. Nothing to watch in that scene. Or that one. I skip the whole chapter. And the next one. And the next one. Then I'm watching a bit of the end. And the film is gone. It was that easy to throw it away, and I didn't really regret it. Sitting down to watch a DVD or some Blu-rays, it's like you're making a commitment. It just wouldn't be right to stop watching it halfway through. It would be messy. It's probably the same impulse that makes me finish books I don't really like. Everything has to be completed and put back in its place. So how boring or bad does something have to be to turn it off?

I've watched some really bad films to the end, getting more annoyed and angry. I still don't think Confessions is a bad film. I just thought I'd rather be somewhere else. Like in bed, where there isn't so much difficult art. I feel a bit sorry for it. They put in all that effort. Never mind.


  1. I consider 'Confessions' to be somewhat of a nihilistic masterpiece, but I'm sure most will agree that it's far from an easy ride to sit through. It's without a doubt self-indulgent to some degree, but fact is that it ultimately does make a point and deliver a message. I also thought that the ending was quite brilliant, but I guess that's more a matter of a opinion than anything else.

    Fact to the matter is, I wouldn't really blame anyone for not managing to sit through a movie like Confessions. Such films are clearly done mostly in disregard to entertainment value. Some will find it worth sitting through while other will not. It's all about taste, really.

    As for me, I did not use to bother sitting through a movie when I was younger if it did not manage to capture my interest, but as I've grown older and come to appreciate the art of filmmaking more, I've come to a point where I rarely turn a film off before it's actually finished. As a matter of fact, I don't even remember the last time I turned away from a movie.

    However, I'm sure there are a couple of flicks out there that even the greatest of movie aficionados wouldn't be able to sit through.


  2. Thanks for the comment.

    It's interesting to think it's done with a 'disregard to entertainment value'. I'd never thought about it like that. I did actually find the first act entertaining but I quickly lost patience after that. I'm convinced it's the style that turned me off. And maybe if I'd watched at a different time, in a different mood, I would have liked it.

    As for the ending, I wouldn't know. It was a rented copy, so it's gone now. I may never know.

  3. I very, very rarely if ever fail to watch a movie to the end. I can't re-call the last one I gave up on. But the most recent one in which I grited my teeth through to end was Audrey Hepburn/Burt Lancaster's The Unforgiven. The first 40 minutes are an absoltue mess and I came bloody close to pushing eject repeatedly!
    As to books though if I can't read or enjoy it it gets tossed. Unlike movies which may only take up two hours of your time if they stink a book can take a day or days to finish. For me there are too many books I want to read before I leave this world so I don't persist with the bad and move on to the good!

  4. I turned off 'Legend' with Tom Cruise because I found it so ridiculous, and I'm willing to put up with a lot when it comes to fantasy films. Only lasted maybe half an hour with that.

  5. I can't stand forwarding or not watching a film to the end, just like I can't stand not finishing a book, but so often when I've finished the film or book, I think "Why the hell did I waste my precious time on this?!". That's why I decided it's okay to give up on a book or film, if I really feel like I'd rather do or watch something else.

  6. Brent - I've stopped reading plenty of borrowed books, but I feel like I have to put the effort in with those I've bought. They're usually good though.

    Ruth - Half and hour is pretty drastic. Must have been really bad.

    Mette - I suppose we shouldn't be so kind to artists who aren't holding our attention. That's meant to be their job, after all.

  7. I am the person who has never managed to sit through The Godfather.

  8. I often will stop watching a film part way through. Just this evening I watched 10 minutes of an old movie on Netflix, 25 of another, 5 of the next, 15 the next and finally gave up and went to read a book. I have very little patience with films. Even though I studied film in school, it never really captured me the way it does some people. I understand the techniques and the art behind it, but many movies seem to simply be meaningless escapism and they don't interest me. I guess you could say I understand them but don't appreciate them.

    A movie has to be pretty good to have me sit through all of it. Or I have to have be in a theater. I never walk out of a theater, it's too much of a waste. Rather than throw $15 down the toilet, I will suffer through a bad movie.

  9. Titus - I probably should have given up on The Godfather Part 2 when I watched it for the first time, without subtitles. I thought the Italian bits were just meant to be clever, and you weren't really meant to understand it. No... I should have pressed the subtitle button.

    Kid - I could be as laid back as that. Maybe.

    Sydneylk - Even if I've paid for a film at home, I have to sit through it. Sometimes meaningless escapism can be the best sort, can't it?