Did you like that film? Are you sure? Are you really sure?
“What is your favourite film”?
For many this question is a simple one and the answer is given without a second’s thought. Your favourite film is like a badge of honour and it says a lot about you. Upon telling a fellow movie fan the title of your beloved you nervously wait for their reaction. Have you passed the test? Is your movie cool enough? Are you to be derided as a no nothing philistine unable to form an intelligent opinion all by yourself? Oh the tension of it all.
My favourite film is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. If you feel the need to ask which one then stop reading now please. However when people ask me that ill fated question I don’t always respond as I should. I don’t wax lyrical about Tobe Hooper’s classic and explain just what it is I love about it. Instead I sometimes fall back on my number two option: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Why do I do this? Why do I shy away from firmly pledging my allegiances to one of the most visceral pieces of cinema ever made? Because I’m afraid that’s why.
In today’s society so much emphasis is placed on liking the right things. Now you’d think that I’d be old enough and wise enough to be unaffected by this pretentious charade but no, I’m affected too. Not as much as others admittedly but still enough to think twice before divulging my love for TTCM. Just picture the scene: I’m at a late night soiree where I know only a handful of the people in attendance. The conversation turns to film. “So what’s your favourite movie then Simon”? Time stands still. Will I or won’t I? I smile nervously as I utter those dreaded words, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.
Immediately the majority of people in the room have me down as some sort of deranged loon. “He likes that schlock horror genre, what an absolute peasant”. As others in the vicinity are quizzed a variety of answers come up, Woody Allen’s name is mentioned a few times, film-noir, I think the word dystopian is bandied about a bit too. I should feel like the uncultured fuckwit that I clearly am. But I don’t you see. I don’t. Because I’m unique in this room. How so you ask? Because I’m the only one telling the truth.
All these imaginary people and their imaginary choices may just be a product of my imagination but they are all too real. We have all encountered them. The type who feel that associating themselves with an obscure piece of art automatically makes them more intelligent. The type who will suppress a snigger as you dismiss their favoured work as “fuckin shite” and knowingly reply “you just didn’t get it”. I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get the hidden meanings and the references to the work of Shakespeare or Cervantes or Oedipus or whoever. Oh poor me, I am so stupid.
Hidden meanings. Since when were films about hidden meanings. It’s not a Where’s Wally competition. It’s a film. I got all the meanings. What do I win? There is no prize, I’m sorry. As a reward you can talk to all the other dullards about how you all got the hidden meanings and how bloody great you all are. Half the time the hidden meanings aren’t even intentional. I’ve lost count of the amount of film reviews I’ve read where the boorish critic meanders off on aimless tangents all based around a hidden meaning which the director probably has no idea even exists. Give me strength.
Ah yes critics. Those who criticise. I put a lot of faith in film critics and will rarely watch a film unless it’s been received to relative acclaim. I have no idea why I do this though. Is there a more pretentious bunch of clowns on this earth than that of the film critique club? I call it a club because I imagine them all meeting up for port and cheddar on a weekly basis while talking out their collective arses about the latest film releases. Yes occasionally they get it right and there are plenty of film critics whose views I trust but on the whole they’re a bunch of pompous, self-preening egotists.
Take Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. They went into overdrive on that one. It’s so authentic they said. It really captures the mood of 1970s England they said. Okay I said, I’ll go see what the fuss is about. And oh yes how very authentic it was. And how very reminiscent of 1970s England too. Marvellous stuff. Just one little problem. It was utterly devoid of entertainment. But yet each and every critic couldn’t get enough of it. Was I the only one who ‘didn’t get it’? Not again, fuck sake. But wait, no. There were others. Countless others. In fact everyone I spoke to thought the same as me. Drab, uninteresting, soulless movie-making of the worst kind. So why all the plaudits then?
I have a theory on this. All the members of the critique club gather at the first screening of TTSS ( I love a good acronym me). As the credits roll one of the senior members looks around the room for a reaction. He’s met by the searching eyes of his fellow club-mates. What to do? He ponders the mood for a second before nailing his colours to the mast, “Well I thought that was jolly well stupendous, so many hidden meanings”. At once all of his companions nod in agreement and so it begins. Yet another wankfest. One or two of those in attendance felt exactly like you and I. They thought it was awful, terrible in fact. But when it comes to writing their review what do they do? They tow the company line and give it five stars. And why? For fear of being accused of not ‘getting it’.
So this then filters down to the public at large and in no time at all I’m sitting at a soiree steadfastly refusing to bow to the pressures of the group mentality. “How could you not like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” they say, almost incredulous at my sheer sub normality. Not to be outdone I turn the tables on them, “So what did you like about it then”? I ask with a forked tongue. This sets them off on some idiotic ramble which sounds ever so familiar. When the spiel finally comes to a protracted end I know I have won. I may have won but sadly society has lost. Because this ostentatious oaf has just spent the last five minutes reciting, almost word for word, the film review penned by one of the very worst offenders in the critique club. Circle of life indeed.
When it comes down to it I like what I like because I like it. On any given day that can be a spectacular effects-laden action movie, a slow-paced cerebral Ukrainian drama or a stoner comedy featuring one of those blokes with the curly hair. There truly is no accounting for taste. But liking Michael Bay’s new release doesn’t make me an imbecile, in the same way that enjoying Michael Haneke’s work doesn’t automatically make me an aristocrat. They are films. Nothing more. Don’t look down on others for not sharing your appreciation of David Lynch. Don’t smile your conceited smile and say “You just don’t get it”. But most importantly don’t judge me for loving The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.