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goddamn dead people, screwing up my life [Mar. 17th, 2004|12:13 am]
Just me.
Or, ah, the power of a crappy movie to upset me.

I have an pal who is attempting to see all 80+ films that Christopher Walken has ever been in, which means that she's sat through "Joe Dirt" and "The Country Bears" (and she'll have to see "Gigli" as well), among other actually enjoyable films. Similarly, Ivan has recently been on a "see all of Philip Seymour Hoffman's films" kick. I'd seen about 8 of his films, and the only ones I really didn't like were "Punch Drunk Love" (not PSH's fault that I didn't like it) and "Happiness" (which I thought he was great in, but it was one of the most grueling moviewatching experiences ever on the "enjoyment" scale of judging a film), but then there's "almost famous" and "state and main" and "boogie nights" and....well, most of his films I've seen are pretty good.

So I was at Ivan's apt, and he had netflixed "Love, Liza", an awful little indie film (starring PSH) about a man whose wife has committed suicide for no apparent reason, and he spends the entire movie deciding whether or not to read the note she left behind, when he's not busy developing a gasoline-huffing habit. When he finally does read the note, it's so anticlimactic as to make you wonder why anyone thought there was anything compelling in this script at all. (a parenthetical note: "Love liza" was directed by the guy who played "dick" (aka the other record store guy that isn't Jack Black) in "High fidelity". Bad Dick!)

But after the film, after the "I can't believe I wasted 2 hours watching that" resentment, I started thinking about all the people who meant something in my life who have done themselves in, from the famous and recent (Dave Blood of the Dead Milkmen), to the sorta recent (and possibly homicide) suicide of Elliot Smith , to the people none of you knew, to people I didn't know who still managed to affect me with their actions (one woman I knew in Ohio had found her lover dead in a bloody mess in their bed, and she said in her note that she'd elected to cut her wrists perpendicular to the vein not so she'd die slowly, but so she could change her mind at the last minute and call the paramedics if she had a change of heart. She didn't. And 10 years later, my friend was still haunted by it, and hearing about it haunted me, too). After posting the thing last week about Dave Blood, I saw that the Dead milkmen msg board had grown to 30 pages of posts from fans and friends mourning his loss, and I couldn't help but wonder if he'd known beforehand what an impact he'd made on so many people, would he have still done it?

So I had terrible nightmares that night, and I woke up feeling all haunted and sad, rather than having a renewed "I'm gonna let everyone I love know it so they never go and do something like this", which might have been the more constructive outcome, but hey, tell that to the brain. The next night, my nightmare was a little weirder; I dreamed that work was trying to fire me in that Japanese passive-aggressive manner where they don't fire you, but give you no work to do (and they take away your computer or anything you might occupy your 8 hour workday with, all you have is an empty desk to sit at) and no feedback or acknowledgement until you finally go nuts and break down and quit. The dream and the anxiety seemed so real that the next day I scrutinized the desk schedule to make sure I wasn't mysteriously removed from it, and I hadn't been, which eased my paranoia a bit.

Anyway, in "honor" of Love, Liza, I propose a new term, similar to Stendhal's syndrome, called "Seven's Syndrome", which will from now on be defined as being driven to experience overwhelming emotion after the viewing of otherwise crappy, unremarkable art.

[User Picture]From: lemur68
2004-03-16 09:57 pm (UTC)
"Happiness" (which I thought he was great in, but it was one of the most grueling moviewatching experiences ever on the "enjoyment" scale of judging a film)

Wow, it was two years ago that I posted about how much I hated Happiness.

I sometimes experience a work variant of Stockholm Syndrome, where I find myself almost buying into all that core values & mission statement blahdeblah that managers like to regurgitate during meetings....

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[User Picture]From: shadesofautumn
2004-03-17 04:12 am (UTC)
I'm sure I'll be in the minority on this, but I really thought Love Liza was brilliant. Sad and depressing, yes. But also very abstract. To me, it was less about the plot and the letter and the details, and more about just painting the situation of a guy who's lost, doesn't know where he's going, and doesn't know how to fit in -- which I could totally identify with.
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[User Picture]From: moodtobestewed
2004-03-17 06:14 am (UTC)
Ah, you're still in the early stages of Seven's Syndrome if it was just a crappy indie movie that upset you. It's when you get teary eyed watching a Lifetime movie starring Meredith Baxter Burney that you need to call Kervorkian.
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[User Picture]From: sarahellco
2004-03-17 09:19 am (UTC)
In between these aforementioned early and late stages of the syndrome, there is getting teary-eyed over movies with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan
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[User Picture]From: kickmule
2004-03-17 07:01 am (UTC)
Saw happiness with M in the cinema. Was not prepared.
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[User Picture]From: saintartaud
2004-03-17 07:36 am (UTC)
I've seen Happiness about 3 times. I love it, but don't think I'd list it as a "highly entertaining, enjoyable movie." So, actually, I completely agree with you.

As for Love Liza, I liked the way it looked and the overall atmosphere/ambience. On the other hand, you're totally right. I got more from watching Leaving Las Vegas.
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From: ex_futch238
2004-03-17 08:05 am (UTC)

and he said a movie I like was bad!

Happiness was no Seizure!

I was also unprepared for the ordeal that was Happiness. It was an even more unpleasant viewing experience than Kids, although much more powerful and artisticly made. I must admit I laughed at the ending. But watching it is an experience I wouldn't repeat.

For some fun and artistic films catch the Chaplin festival on TCM tonight.

I'm sorry the Seven Syndrome got to you.

Did you ever read Amelie Nothomb's book "Fear And Trembling"? I quite liked it. It about someone who suffers the fate you mention at a Japanese company.
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[User Picture]From: lara7
2004-03-17 08:30 am (UTC)

Re: and he said a movie I like was bad!

>Did you ever read Amelie Nothomb's book "Fear And Trembling"? I quite liked it. It about someone who suffers the fate you mention at a Japanese company.

we have it here at the library, and since it appears to be only 132 pgs, I'll get right on it.

I hated Kids- I thought it was manipulative and trying way too hard to be transgressive. bleh. "happiness" I can appreciate as "good filmmaking" but I'd never recommend it to anyone without major caveats.
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From: ex_futch238
2004-03-17 08:39 am (UTC)

Re: and he said a movie I like was bad!

That Nothomb book is a quick, funny, easy read, and it's based on her real life experience when she lived in Japan.

I don't think I'd recommend Happiness to anyone. And Kids was horrible. I went to see it with a small group of friends including a woman who was shortly going to have to testify in court against a man who had raped her. Needless to say, neither of us knew what we were going to be watching. It was not a pleasant experience. I hate that film.

And the guilty, asshole, piece of shit, waste of carbon rapist was found not guilty.

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