Last night, we watched the worst movie I’ve seen in a while: Brazil.
I had been excited about this film. I like Terry Gilliam, and I’m a fan of Metropolis and 1984 and Dr. Strangelove. Netflix put all those things together and decided I would love Brazil. But the strongest recommendation came to me a decade ago from a friend, who told me that Brazil was his favorite movie, and that I would love it and absolutely had to see it.
So my husband and I, tired from a long and exciting weekend of training and adjusting to life with our new dog, decided to take some time for ourselves and watch this fabulous movie. I grabbed some ice cream, he grabbed some wine and we sat down with the cat and popped in the DVD.
I haven’t hated a movie this much in a long time.
The plot was predictable, the characters were two-dimensional, the dream sequences went on and on and the humor wasn’t funny. I was furious. But my fury wasn’t so much directed at the things I didn’t like about the film. I was angry that I’d made us sit through the whole thing. We started hating the Brazil halfway into the film, but I didn’t take it out of the DVD player. Instead, I kept waiting for it to get good. It got worse. Much worse. And by the end of the film, I realized I had wasted our evening on a movie we both hated. And that made me angry.
I’ve always had a sort of finish-everything-on-your-plate approach to consuming media. If I start a book, I feel the need to finish it, even if I hate it and I’m supposedly reading it for pleasure. Same thing with movies. But I think I’m done. If I start reading or watching something that I don’t like, I don’t think I should guilt myself into finishing it. This is what Cordelia of Cordelia Calls It Quits would call a “quit.” In fact, this decision not to force myself to watch or read something I’m not enjoying was inspired by one of her own quits.
I’m not saying, by the way, that I’m not going to read and watch things I don’t like. What I am saying is that I ought to be honest about why I’m reading those things. If I’m reading Kafka, am I reading it for pleasure, to expand my horizons, or so I can check off The Metamorphosis on that BBC list of books that my Facebook friends have been passing around? Or am I reading it so that someday, at a cocktail party, I can stand there in my black turtleneck and tweed jacket and drawl, “Oh, that is so Kafka!”
If so, that’s fine. Maybe I’ll even enjoy The Metamorphosis. But I should at least know why I’m reading or watching something.
And I should definitely not screw up our movie nights by forcing us to watch a movie we both hate when we could be watching something with snappy dialogue and well-rounded characters.
See below for a dramatic re-enactment of my viewing of Brazil.