Wednesday, February 14, 2007

That's it! I'm outtahere.

In my life, I have walked out of very few movies. And to put that in perspective, I can probably own to have seen thousands of movies in my time (many of them, over some dozen years, from the same seat in the same cinema), and this isn’t counting video cassettes, DVDs, SKY or TV screenings.

But no matter how awful, boring, or insulting to my intelligence, the number of films I have abandoned midway can be counted on one hand. I even sat through a scratched, and baffling screening of The Colour of Pomegranites, although a mate who attended with me did complain to the projectionist at the absence of a car chase.

I got to thinking about all this yesterday, after describing a movie that I did stay the distance for, Hybrid, which is about the man, Milton Beeghly, who invented early hybrid corn varieties, and the movie is literally as exciting as watching corn grow, which is what you do for pretty much the whole running time, in hindsight, I should have fled at the first closeup of a corn field maturing in slow motion.

I remember being at a very late film festival screening of Reanimator, which is one of the most hilarious (“Herbert West has a perfectly good head on his shoulders… and another on the table in front of him.”) and grisly stories ever committed to film. The movie opens with an autopsy being performed for the benefit of watching med students, the doctor doing the honours instructs the class “…and you peel the skin away from the skull just like an orange”. And as they showed that skin being peeled orange like, the first of many dozens of patrons began leaving the theatre, we’re like 30 seconds in. The audience sontinued to stream steadily out until almost the final scene, in stark contrast to the very first Hong Kong film shown at a festival, The Iceman Cometh, where the largely chinese audience continued to enter the theatre (and proceeded to converse loudly) right up almost to the final scene.

I was made of sterner stuff as far as Reanimator went, the movie is frickin brilliant. Jeffrey Combs, who plays Herbert West, earned a cameo in Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners on the strength of this performance.

The film that I most vividly remember walking out of, was called The Ghosts (Das Gespenst), and coincidentally it was at another film festival that I encountered it. The programme notes claimed it was a comedy. Laughs were promised. Not only, but controversial laughs, because it had a reputation for being blasphemous.

But who knows? I didn’t get that far. I watched the so-called special effect as the statue of Christ came to life, I watched him turn into a snake, and back, and meet the nun with whom he would purportedly form an intimate relationship, but I didn’t see the relationship develop because I gave up after what seemed like a 30 minute scene of two characters (supposedly the comic relief) squatting back to back & trying to shit into shot glasses… not even the promise of hilarious blasphemy could justify the ennui of this scene. And so I left after not a single laugh or smirk.

Some years later I also walked out of Jim Jarmusch & Johnny Depp’s Deadman, but that was because I had flu & was feeling sick.