Matt Zoller Seitz posted this message on Facebook yesterday. Can you imagine the frailty, the utter whimsicality and thoughtlessness of a relationship that goes south over differing opinions about Brooklyn, for God’s sake? It’s not that strong of a film. It’s tender and plain and affecting, but it doesn’t connect with strong values or ethics, not really. It’s mainly an early ’50s social-mood piece. I wouldn’t blink if a girlfriend told me she didn’t like it. Nor would I break up with her if she ordered take-out pizza for dinner and forgot about the red onions, despite my having requested this. Not worth the sweat.
If, however, a girlfriend were to review my list of the 160 all-time greatest American films (which I posted on 7.24.15) and announce that she doesn’t like, say, 40% or 50% of them, then we’d have a problem. She can dislike some of them…fine. It’s okay if she’s not a fan of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre…fine. or Out of the Past, Raging Bull, Who’ll Stop The Rain. Too cynical, too rough-and-tumble, too male-ish. But she can’t say there’s not a lot to worship about Paths of Glory, Zero Dark Thirty, Blow-Up, On The Waterfront, Shane, Notorious, Au Hasard Balthazar or Groundhog Day.
Women can be astonishing in their pre-conceived attitudes about certain films. An actress I got to know a couple of years ago had never seen Paths of Glory, and she didn’t want to because she didn’t want to see, she said, “a war film about guys getting shot and blown up.” She’d never read a single damn word about Stanley Kubrick‘s anti-war masterpiece. (That in itself was a huge problem.) I had to use all the usual erudite arguments plus all the charm and cajoling I could muster to get her to watch it with me. She finally got it, of course, but without me in her life she never would have. She would have pushed it away until her dying day.
Women can be completely strange about movies. They just want to see what they want to see.
In response to MZS’s Brooklyn anecdote, Sasha Stone wrote, “Really? Who doesn’t love Brooklyn?”
My response: You can reject Brooklyn, if you so choose, for the following three reasons: (a) Saoirse Ronan‘s faithlessness when, having quietly married Emory Cohen, she returns to Ireland and starts to swoon about staying there with Domnhall Gleeson, (b) the sense that the entire Irish populace has resolved to do everything in its power to persuade Saoirse to stay, and (c) the fact that Emory is too short for her — she clearly has him by at least an inch and perhaps five or ten pounds. This could have easily been fixed if he’d simply worn lifts, but director John Crowley didn’t feel it was important, which is bullshit and doubly so by early 1950s standards.
Short-tall differences have always been a very significant factor among 90% or 95% of women since the beginning of time. They all prefer guys who are at least their height if not a bit taller, and in the straightlaced early ’50s this was even more of a mantra, a requirement or an expectation. So it’s just not real-world in Brooklyn to have a jockey-sized boyfriend with a girlfriend who could take him in a wrestling match. What happened, I suspect, is that Crowley wanted to demonstrate to the film industry how unjudgmental he is (no size-ism or height-ism!). The problem could have easily been remedied with lifts. Crowley knew it was a problem, and he chose to ignore it.
Excerpts from “Parting of the Ways,” posted on 7.18.15:
Almost everyone has experienced at least one movie breakup moment. Even if the decider didn’t act on it right away. You know what I’m talking about. Any time you fall for a film you always want to see it two or three times, at least, and so you take the hot lady of the moment to see it and she doesn’t get it — she’s either mezzo-mezzo or distracted and hates it or whatever. And right away you know.
You might continue to see each other and have some really good times, but that sinking feeling tells you it’s never going to pan out, not really, because she wasn’t wise or seasoned or deep enough to get that film. Because rejecting exquisite films is a blade of grass that tells you a lot about the universe of that person.
I would never break up with a woman if she didn’t like Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom. That’s a highly respectable film but very tough to watch, and I would never think less of someone who actively hates it. Ditto Repulsion, My Darling Clementine, Repo Man….the list goes on. But I once secretly decided to part company with a dazzling blonde who used to gasp and scream in bed when she said she didn’t like David Fincher‘s The Social Network.
I also once decided not to go on any further dates with an otherwise attractive lady after she said she really liked the wrong Reese Witherspoon movies — Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, This Means War, Like Water For Elephants. It would’ve been a horse of a different color if she’d said she loved Witherspoon in Election, but she hadn’t even seen it. Case closed.
Then again I might fall harder for someone if they said they don’t like Django Unchained or Inglorious Basterds.
Another form of vague movie anguish is when a woman you really like in a strictly-friends sort of way falls head over heels for The Social Network, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Why is life so unfair at times? Why can’t the girl I find immensely attractive and whose naked bod is one of God’s greatest glories…why can’t she get The Social Network the way my platonic friend does?”