Thursday, July 29, 2010

Feeling bad feels so good.

A few months ago I saw a call for entries for The Feel Good Movie Festival. Feel good movies make me feel bad. They make me feel bad because they are usually bad movies that have absolutely nothing to do with truth and humanity. Feel good movies are usually a pile of bullshit designed to make white people feel good about themselves, like that horrible mess of inflammatory racism and reductive clichés, Crash (the race one, not the sex fetish one) and the more recent, Slumdog Millionaire. Both head-patting liberal self-congratulation, big successes and entertainment at its worse. (Crash continues to be no. 1 at Netflix with Slumdog quickly climbing its way to the top from no. 14.)

When faced with anything remotely challenging, mainstream audiences refer to the movie as “depressing.” Who wants to go to the movies to feel bad, right? I do. “What about Capra?” some ask. I love Capra, but you see, his films are deceptively uplifting. It’s a Wonderful Life is one of the darkest films ever made and people don’t seem to notice. The joke is on them. (I’m not going to get into it right now.)

Someday I would like to program my own Feel Bad Film Festival. Below is a preliminary list of movies that come to mind. Except for The Road, I’ve liked them all. I include The Road because I get a kick of seeing people’s reactions after they’ve seen it. Time of the Wolf and Twenty Nine Palms have been the only two movies that have really disturbed me to the core. And you’ll notice Michael Haneke films figure prominently. He's the master of feel bad cinema.

Time of the Wolf
Twenty Nine Palms
Benny's Video
In The Company Of Men
There Will Be Blood
Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
Ace In The Hole
A Clockwork Orange
Taxi To The Dark Side
The Cove
The White Ribbon
Match Point
Winter Light
Grave of The Fireflies
La Strada
Requiem for a Dream
The Damned
Battle in Heaven
Dead Ringers
The Road

The purpose of great art is not to make us feel good, but to make us think and move us.