Sunday, March 16, 2008

once: one time too many

Does anyone know the going rate for two hours of my life? Because I need a refund. Yes you read correctly. I just endured a movie whose intended audience, I am certain, is lobotomy patients. Who are deaf. The offending movie? Once.

Listen, I know how it is. We intellectual types are supposed to get all swept up in the ephemeral charms of the latest indie art house movie du jour, and then strut around like peacocks expounding upon all the profundities, subtext, deeper allegories, ad nauseum. Or maybe faint on our fainting couch, which we keep nearby in the event of a life-altering experience such as The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. P-l-e-a-s-e. If ever there was a case of the emperor's new clothes, it was The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I have seriously almost had my teeth knocked out for denouncing this movie, despite the fact that it had absolutely no merit whatsoever.

My teeth may be in even greater jeopardy now, because I am here to warn you, much like the soothsayer, against this movie. First of all, I really went into it with an open mind, which doesn't happen very often. Second of all, as soon as it opened, I hated it. The main character, a guy whose name I couldn't decipher for all the mumbling, was supposed to be a gritty, lovable, average Irish Joe, but instead he was the ratty, crusty, bug-eyed roommate you had in college whose neediness knew no bounds, and whose teeth knew no dentist. His name, roughly translated, may have been Arhflgnm or something. Onto the girl, whose name, I think, was also Arhflgnm. My major beef with her was that she reminded me of Love Actually's Lucia Moniz (Aurelia), but was in fact, not her. I kept waiting for her to become Lucia Moniz, but it never happened, and I never forgave her. So he's this haggard musician playing for pennies on the curb, and she wanders up to him and they decide to spin their palpable lack of chemistry into lyrical gold. What ensues is 90 minutes of the same song, set against a hole where there ought to have been a plot. You know it's bad when you're scanning the streets of Dublin for a McDonald's, or anything to connect you to what you're watching. So they play songs, and he grins his desperate grin, and she smiles shyly but never takes off her coat the entire movie. It's as though the writer, no wait, there couldn't have been a writer because there was no plot. So, it's as if someone set stream-of-consciousness to a movie, but all they ever thought about was "ummmmm..." If it were a dance, it would be the insecure kid in the corner shifting his weight back and forth.

Apparently I was born without a soul (or, more likely, I sold it to buy some clothes at Old Navy), because scads of people in my life are gushing about this banal bullshit, er, movie. My own mother, who BOUGHT it, argued that my lack of enthusiasm for the story could only be explained by a serious character flaw on my part. And I am afraid to tell Gabrielle my verdict, for fear that she will get medieval on my ass with her various "craft" implements. I'm just so curious how there can be such a discrepancy between friends who agree on so many other points? Danskos are fabuloso, this movie is shit. Why is that so difficult? Can't we just get along? I fear an angry mob will soon appear, weapons in-hand, to pummel me for my ignorant, callous, misrepresentation. When they arrive, I shall tell them, "You think my hating this movie is bad, Karen hates the Muppets!"


gail said...

i hadn't even heard of this movie, so i looked it said it got 'extremely enthusiastic reviews' and that the characters don't have names, just 'guy' and 'girl'. i believe your review. great honesty. what did you think of the english patient? that's the one i think of that everyone loved and i did not.

B Kinch said...

Was it worse than that hiking movie Adam rented a while back? I love that the girl's name is the same as the guy's :)

Sam said...

I also haven't heard of this movie.

But I absolutely love your redirect at the end of your post! Way to deflect the mob!!

gabrielle said...

it doesn't anger me that you didn't like it. i actually wasn't sure that you would. i think there is definitely a quality about both 'eternal sunshine' and 'once' that is really focused on a sentimentality --- a delicate little whisper of tenderness --- that turns a lot of people off.

i'm cool with that. we don't have to adore the same movies.

now, adore the same pens, and make the same lists --- this is a MUST! ha!

Cheyenne said...

gail--i'm not sure i have any friends left to lose after this, but i hated the english patient.

i have an all-fulfilling relationship with sense & sensibility. it's all i need.

b--yes worse than the hiking movie, which at least had a story, flimsy though it was.

sam--i am a master at deflection.

gab--i'm glad you're not angry, and i am fully aware that i lack the component which allows me to be led by sentiment alone. i need something on which to gnaw, while i cry, lol.

pam--you're a chicken. :)

Jacob Blankenship said...

Eternal Sunshine was shit, and the English patient was boring shit. There I said it. You can come hide in the closet with me.

Haven't seen Once. But I am sure it, too, is shit. lol

I think, however, that the quintessential movie that really separates people into two distinctly different groups of human beings is Donny Darco. You either love it, and think everyone else who doesn't is a moron. Or visa versa. Absolutely black or white. There is no gray area. Just like life.

PS: What is this wretched Hiking movie of which you speak? Into the wild?


Tim Ferrell said...

I like Once and Donnie Darko both. But You'd be crazy to expect the average person to like either. They're just so specialized.

mental chatter said...

Thanks, Chey. Now they are all pounding on MY door to attack me!

That is beside the point. The movie sounds rather dull - like that dull, aching headache I get every now and then. The one that feels like a baby rat chewing on my brain. Seriously though, could it be more painfully dull than The English Patient?

Cheyenne said...

karen, it was exponentially worse than the english patient, which at least had the decency to star ralph fiennes.