Not For Pleasure Alone

LizzieLou | movies | Saturday, February 18th, 2012

A few years ago I decided that I would watch every movie in the Criterion Collection. Maybe own them all. But then the list of titles got longer and longer and I can hardly keep up with it anymore. There are now over 600 titles and while I’ve been at this now for five years or so, I have only checked off about 40%.

A good portion of this collection is taken up by Kurosawa and Bergman but I’ve only seen a smattering of those so far. There also a lot of samurai movies, and I haven’t ventured very far into those either. I actually find that I have been watching more of the English language films just because it is easier for watching and knitting.

Some of these films have been really difficult to watch but have been quite memorable. For example, Fat Girl I never want to see ever again, although I admire it in a way for how totally fucked up it is. And Clean, Shaven – while I referred to it as “torture” when Lolly asked me what I was watching – has left an appreciative residue; with hind-thought, I see that I was *supposed* to feel confused and horrible while I was watching it! Not exactly the usual entertainment but artistically interesting and challenging in its way.

On the flip side, you may noted that a goodly portion of my favorites each year can be found in the collection. So it’s good that there have been far more gems than horrors. Obviously, or I suppose this collection wouldn’t be so successful.

But this week I was given pause to reconsider my plan. It seems, to me (and I’ve done a very brief, unproductive web search to see if anyone else has complained about this issue), that there is quite a bit of animal death in these movies. So after watching Forbidden Games, I had to mull this over a bit. (Yes, I know the film is about the disruptions of war and the description clearly states that the little children make a cemetery for animals that die. I just didn’t expect to SEE any of the animals dying on camera. Cockroach not included.)

A more modern sensibility is where I’m coming from; that’s just my status quo. I understand that many of the films I’m watching are: a) from quite a while ago -before the Humane Society’s stamp of “No Animals Were Harmed in Making This Motion Picture” was standard, or b) from someplace that is not the USA where we have our familiar animals in our beds, eating from our tables, and watching televised anthropomorphized nature specials with us; or c) both. I feel a bit like an ass that the portrayal of people sick or dying in movies bugs me less than portrayals of animals sick or dying in movies. But because the former is feigned and the latter is sometimes real, my threshold is quite low.

Cinematically speaking, I want to be pushed out of my comfort zone sometimes. But am I turning into a weenie? Critics say that The Rules of the Game is one of the best films ever made, but they sure did kill a lot of rabbits.


  1. I admire your goal to watch so many high-falutin’ movies. I myself find that the older I get, the less interested I become in thought-provoking/disturbing films. Oh, I’ll watch them, but then I need a healthy dose of Judd Apatow to balance them off (poor example, I actually can’t stand Apatow’s movies, but it was the only example I thought of off the top of my head). Have you seen the 4-part Morgan Spurlock series “50 documentaries to see before you die”? This list I might not mind completing. Can’t vouch for the amount of animal death in it though.

    And I hate that every single time I try to think of “Morgan Spurlock,” for some reason “Rupert Murdoch” leaps into my head and WILL NOT LEAVE. Seriously, I have to Google Morgan EVERY SINGLE TIME. Balls.

    Comment by Eelaine — March 23, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  2. Lolly and I did watch that series. That might be her favorite genre so we had seen a bunch. Others were brand new, even to her, so we started adding to the Netflix queue. Your name confusion is very funny. Rupert should just turn his empire over to Morgan. That would be a game-changer. (Perhaps.)

    Comment by LizzieLou — March 27, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

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