Or better, you never watch them with anyone around.
A slumber party along with a cinema night with friends is one of the greatest things in twenty-something life. You can just grab a movie DVD, some popcorn, snacks, pizzas or spaghetti, and there you have the best cinema ever. However, make sure you have chosen a movie that friends can laugh or discuss. Well, not all movies are that group-watchable. We all have experienced that moment when we’re watching a movie on HBO with parents, and boom, there’s the kissing and one thing leads to another, and before we know it the two gorgeous actor and actress are having sex on the screen, leaving deadly awkward silence in the living room. Things could not be better with friends. (But I think boyfriends or girlfriends are OK, though).
Here is the list of movies that I personally would never want to show in front of my friends, or parents, or anyone, just to avoid the I-find-it-hard-to-look-you-in-the-eyes next morning. I love them all, but well, something should be left unseen and unsaid. This list is based only on movies I have seen recently and can clearly remember, and in no particular order.
(A film by Bernado Bertolucci, starring Michael Pitt, Eva Green, Louis Garrel)
I was mind-blown watching this movie, that’s a fact. I give it 5 stars out of five, mostly for the bizarreness, the romantic yet rebelious tone, and the spectacular performance of Eva Green. Nevertheless, if someone picked up this movie and told me “So you say it’s a great movie, let’s watch it together”, I would run away. No, I wouldn’t watch it with you. Well, not only because The Dreamers is a feast of frontal nudity (boobs and penis showing is not a rare thing in this movie, I have to say). The movie also feeds your eyes with unsimulated sex scenes (oh yeah, it’s unsimulated! UNSIMULATED!), which could be really offensive for people who are not prepared for this. I find all these nudity or sex scenes completely reasonable and relevant, and I quite enjoy it, but with a friend around, that would be a different story. Now I kinda want to ask one of my sexually conservative friends to watch this movie with me, and observe the reaction on her face. That would be one other interesting movie.
One more reason why I won’t share this movie is that the movie is too personal to me. I feel connected to the characters, so it would feel like some part deep inside me is exposed if I ever watched this with anyone. There’s always something, a movie, a song, or a book, anything that you find it too close to your heart to give it away.
(A film by Nicholas Winding Refn, starring Ryan Gosling)
If not sex, then it’s violence. Only God Forgives is a melting pot of lust and extreme violence, and I can guarantee you that sitting through two hours of this movie would be impossible for some of your dear friends with a vanilla heart. So just do them a favor by choosing something else.
There wouldn’t be any sexual intercourse in Only God Forgives; the leading man dresses up in suits almost in every frame, and even his female companion, who appears to be a prostitute, doesn’t reveal too much of her skin. Yet Only God Forgives would corner you into a closed box of steamily hot atmosphere, the annoyingly haunting red light that indicates violence and sex, the dirty streets and whorehouses (I mean, dirty literally), and that bizarre Orient feeling when you get lost in Thailand, a place you would never truly understand, surrounded by violent gangs and gruesome executions; not to mention the Oedipus-ly abnormal relationship between the leading man, his brother and their mother, which would probably be a kick in the stomach for some people.
Again, this is a very personal movie. Watching it is like having Nicholas Winding Refn leading you into his world of surreal dreams, and I don’t think he would welcome two visitors at the same time. It’s more of a personal experience, which you have to take for yourself. I enjoy the movie, but I believe it evokes extremely bipolarized reaction, and the movie could easily be hated as well as loved. Well, you have to check out for yourself, but don’t drag anyone else down the road with you.
(A film by Tetsuya Nakashima, starring Takako Matsu)
Kokuhaku is perfect: perfect acting, perfect filming, perfect music, and perfect story. But it’s far from a perfect movie for your date night. Actually, it would be a terrible idea.
The movie is too intense and heartwrenching. After the last scene and it all went silent, you would see a heavy dark cloud floating around your room, and silence would reign. Inside you, the heart would shrink, and emptiness would be what’s left. You don’t want that for the end of your gang’s pajama party, do you?
(A film by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Huge Grant, Ben Whishaw, James D’arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon)
There are rules of picking up a movie for a group:
- Art-house movie is not a good choice, unless everyone in your group is a movie lover and would feel blessed being challenged with real film materials.
- PG-13 is still better than R-rated (but NC-17 could take friendship to another amazing level).
- The story should be simple enough so that no one needs explanation, and it should be fast-paced in the very first minutes, otherwise there would definitely be a bummer who finds the movie “too slow” and starts to talk until “something interesting comes up”, which doesn’t happen in 90% of critically acclaimed movies.
Then I suggest picking a movie that is already a box office success, because its commercial performance guarantees that most people would find the movie watchable, though may not fancy it. For a group, it should be about love, not politics; people should wear fancy clothes, not Les Miserable; should be a no-brainer, not a brain teaser; because after all, what you are about to enjoy at that cinema night is the feeling of having a group around, not the movie itself.
Now considering all the standards above, Cloud Atlas fails in every category. It has a very complicated story. It’s no way a PG-13, with that sex scene oh-so-good between a human and a human clone. And it’s there to send a message, not for entertainment. The movie is a masterpiece, per se, but having that for friends to see would ruin our date night, as well as my experience with a fantastic movie. I would never do that for my friends and for myself.
5. The Notebook
(A film by Nick Cassavetes, starring Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling)
The Notebook is an epic love story. It seems perfect for girls to watch together, and to cry together. (OK, there’s that sex scene which is totally appropriate and enjoyable, and you might be busy swooning over the adorable couple anyway). So why is it in the list?
Well, this is just my own problem. The thing is, I have been avoiding romantic movies for a long time. While I am a hopeless romantic myself, I find romantic flicks too unrealistic and more of a turn-off. That’s why after about a thousand times seeing the name The Notebook mentioned all over the Internet as “the epic love story”, “the best onscreen couple”, “the movie girls make their boyfriends or husbands watch”, to name a few, I made a pledge to myself that I would never touch it, as an if-everyone-is-watching-then-I-am-not attitude. But on the movie’s 10 year anniversary (yes, it even has an anniversary!), I came across the movie on HBO, intended to give it a glance in five minutes, and I stayed for two hours. What I hate the most is to admit that although it’s so cliché, I still love it (I hate it on some level, but as a whole it’s a love-hate relationship). And I think other people also have a hard time admitting the same.
So girls, if you are not ashamed of crying over a romantic kiss in the rain, or over that “I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day” cliché monologue, yes you can watch it with your friends. I just refuse (these tears and swooning cannot be seen or heard, ever!).
(To be continued)