TWIM Valentine’s Special (Part 1): How Far Does My Love For Movies Go?


Dir. St. Valentine, Script. Geoffrey Chaucer

Cast: The Arrogant Couple, The Dickhead Looking For A One-Night Stand, The Guy Who Moans About Being Single All Day, The Wise People That Keep Their Qualms To Themselves

Plot: Wake up. View sappy Facebook News Feed. Consider the power of love for about 15 seconds. Resolve never to do so again. Hope that Ben & Jerry’s is half-price. Buy massive carton of it if so. Eat whole thing in one go and pretend you’re having the better day.

To Hollywood,

As you may have worked out, I kinda like you. You are my port-of-call for conversation, you provide me with all of my interesting facts, and the amount of times I go to see you, your place is like a second home. And sometimes  I adore you. I would happily give Spielberg a flower bouquet, Inarritu a cheesy gift card, del Toro a love bracelet and Nolan…that’s for later. But it’s not all sunshine and roses: quite a lot of your releases are complete garbage. They are lazily written, shoddily produced, poorly acted and sometimes even unworthy of being called cinema. But I still love them because they happened – because you partially tried. And as bad as the results often can be, the fact you made it happen is something to be proud of.

As a film reviewer, I feel that my love for cinema is challenged more. Obviously, I love being able to write these up for movies that I can’t wait to shout about. I wanted to write up a review of The Revenant the moment I left the cinema, still with adrenaline coursing through my veins, still feeling cold even though I was only looking at snow, still with a new phobia of bears. But I’d be lying if I felt the same when I was watching something like Point Break, or The 5th Wave, a little earlier this year. But I have an obligation to watch them, so I can talk about them, so I can warn an unsuspecting public (I’m not saying that reviewing a film in any way will save an unsuspecting public, but it’s a nice thought as I sit here alone) of the dangers that a film can sometimes present. As well as that, the film reviews with the most hits are always the rants on movies that are just abysmal, so much so that a film reviewer begins to get angry. People will always choose a rant about Fantastic Four (speaking of which, that abomination should be long forgotten) rather than a solid two star review of a generic action film.

With bad movies, there’s two types. The first is the movie that almost transcends being bad, a movie that inadvertently is funnier than most comedies that get released at the moment (ooh, shots), a movie so bad that it reaches cinematic nirvana. You know the stuff I’m talking about: Troll 2, The Room, Birdemic and Birdemic: Shock And Terror. Even just recently, Jupiter Ascending crossed into the next dimension (thanks to an Eddie Redmayne performance that, even a year after I first saw the film, still makes me laugh uncontrollably – – it has to be seen to be truly believed). I don’t find these movies hard to love at all – while I appreciate that movies like this are still terrible, they’ve almost risen above typical classification. Films like The Room, the cult classic funded by, directed by, written by, produced by and starring the same man of questionable Eastern European origins, are frankly unreviewable in terms of the movie’s quality; they can only be reviewed by how much they make you laugh and my god, it does.

But some days you get the second type – a movie so bad that it’s…well, bad. If I was to explain what makes a bad film bad, I would quantify it as a film that has absolutely nothing to offer to a conversation. Great movies can be talked about and dissected for generations to come, and even so-bad-they’re-good movies can be brought up to make somebody’s day. However, I hated The 5th Wave for the reason that it offered absolutely nothing. There was nothing to discuss on a cinematic level, and it wasn’t inadvertently funny to watch – it was just plodding, brooding and, the ultimate sin, mind-numbingly dull. And if there’s anyone out there that’s been thinking of making a film specifically designed to make me want to jump on a railway line and wait for an oncoming train, just add a bit of needless, incredibly loud screaming. Like Josh Gad in Pixels loud. Once we reach that level, it’s honestly incredibly difficult to still be in love with cinema: how can you love something if it treats you so badly?

Which brings me to the point of all of this. Today, on Valentine’s Day, I am going to make the ultimate sacrifice. My love of cinema will be pushed to the end of its tether, my tolerance to the very limit, and my soul will be crushed until it can be flattened no more. Because today I am, quite frankly, torturing myself. I am watching a film that is specifically designed to break a film reviewer. To watch it is to stare death in it’s small, furry, poorly animated eyes. If you haven’t worked it out already, this is my Valentine’s gift to all of you. I am watching, PAYING, to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. That’s right. With my own money. This is my flower bouquet, my cheesy gift card, my shitty bracelet, and I am giving it to cinema – and to you. I will be watching my Valentine’s Day present this afternoon. And yes, I will be reviewing it (in Part 2), so you can read my disdain, horror and rage to your hearts content.

With Love,

James Stephenson


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