Saturday 16 March 2019

Suspense threshold low

I grew up watching Richard Greene as Robin Hood . . . from behind the sofa. It was far too frighty-me to watch on the telly while sitting normally. My excuse now, is that I was only 6 years old when the BBC stopped making episodes; of which several are available on youtube. That series is the archetype for such harmless nonsense as Men in Tights. But watching the telly from behind the sofa more or less set my clock with a low threshold for vicarious violence and, especially, for suspense. Getting to be an adult is to acquire a certain amount of autonomy - can choose what to watch without consulting siblings.

I walked out of Straw Dogs in 1974 even though I'd paid money to the UCD Film Society to watch it and I was quite a fan of Dustin Hoffman. It wasn't so much the rural English thuggery and viciousness as the expectation of RET&V in the very near future. I had, for example, sat through Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch despite its balletic bloodiness. The Beloved walked with me, so that was a bit of a mistake-date. Or maybe not, we probably went somewhere else and gazed into each other's eyes and talked about poetry. I'm not stupid, and I can read, so now I'm generally able to avoid getting into under-seat-puddle situations.

At the end of last month, I walked out of Dogman [trailer = summary] which was the Feb 2019 choice at the Blackstairs Film Society. I have a standing request in with the BFS organising committee to have more fluffy films: a gentle rom-com is what I'd call entertainment. Of course, having subtitles is desirable / essential - so a French rom-com from the 1970s would be ideal . . . but it ain't gonna happen. The committee have limited choice through Access Cinema and quite different tastes to mine. Dogman is about a dog-groomer living in a relentlessly bleak Italian sea-side town where affluent tourists have been replaced by graffiti and petty crime. Call me judgemental but dog-groomer is on my list of utterly useless ways to make a living - somewhere between telephone-sanitizer and currency-trader. The film started to go pear-shaped when the fellow's dog refused its kibble and started eating yer man's pasta - from the fork and then from the bowl [R from trailer]. We have been inured to the pornography of violence but most of the audience were audible in their disgust at these antics. The dog-groomer takes up with an enormous psychopathic petty criminal and, shortly after the dog-bowl incident the psychopath tries a bit of mindless violence. More seepiness ensues with barely-clad young women at a night-club . . . and I made my exit as quietly as possible.  No point in laying my values / sensitivities on other people.

If you want a better film about low-lifes you could shed the final N and watch Dogma written and directed by Kevin Smith. I enjoyed that.

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