09 August 2015

The Film Emotion Blogathon

The Film Emotion Blogathon

My love of Pixar's Inside Out is documented. It is currently the best film of 2015...so far. So, it's no surprise that I would find myself drawn to this genius idea for a blogathon. Much like the world we create for ourselves, the movies create worlds for us as well, and, in movies, just like in life, we have emotional connection as the driving force.

Here are the rules for the Blogathon.

1.) Pick five films to represent the five emotions in Inside Out. The criteria for choosing these films is listed below. I would be willing to allow a tie, if you couldn’t decide between two films to best represent one of the emotions.
2.) Write out five paragraphs, (one for each film) talking about the movies and why you chose them.
3.) Post them on your blog (or Tumblr or whatever).
4.) Send me the link by posting it here in the comments.

Now, it’s occurred to me that all good Blogathons need a deadline in order to work. Two weeks seems good. You have until August 11 to participate. That’s when I’ll be doing one big post talking about the movies that everyone chose and my opinions on the choices.

What I’m looking for are five movies that make YOU feel a certain emotion. 

First of all, you want to pick a movie that makes you happy. The kind of movie that you put on whenever you’re in a bad mood that never fails to lighten your spirits. It can be a family film, a romance, a comedy – as long as there’s a smile on your face by the end credits, it should be fair game.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Dir. Judd Apatow, 2005

It's the final scene, the totally out-of-left-field homage/lampoon of the "Aquarius" number in the late 1960s musical Hair. I sat in my matinees screening that day and was just happy. It was the first time I had gone to a movie by myself, a practice I continue today. In fact, I've gone to as many movies alone in the last five years as I have with my wife. Every time I watch Judd Apatow's directorial debut and Steve Carrell starring vehicle, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, I am at my happiest. It is just a perfect mix of dude humor, raunch, and love. 

Now for the movie that made you cry the most. From Bambi to Titanic, there are plenty of tear-jerker movies out there. These are movies where you gravitate towards the main characters and really don’t want to see anything bad happen to them. Maybe a character dies, maybe the guy doesn’t get the girl, but your eyes should be pretty watery by the film’s end.

Leaving Las Vegas
Dir. Mike Figgis, 1995

It's the journey of depressed alcoholic screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Best Actor winner Nicolas Cage) that does it. It is a journey drenched in regret and pain and the most horrid disease imaginable... addiction. Cage brings a perfection to his performance here that is rarely seen. He is tortured, crazed, drunk, sad. Not even the tiniest glint of hope in the form of Sera (Best Actress nominee Elisabeth Shue), the call girl with a code, can save him. It is just devastating and filled with sadness. 

This is the movie that gave you the most nightmares. Pretty self explanatory. There are plenty of classic horror movies to choose from, but it doesn’t have to be an out-and-out horror film. If the movie’s about a more subtle kind of fear, or if the movie just has a creepy atmosphere, that should work. Whether blunt or subtle, this is the movie that scares the **** out of you.

The Blair Witch Project
Dir. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, 1999

It's the knowing that something's out there that does it. Roger Ebert, in his four-star review of The Blair Witch Project, states that "The noise in the dark is almost always scarier than what makes the noise in the dark." That's why this film is so effective and so dreadfully scary. We are scared of what we can't see. Our mind plays its great tricks. And whether or not there is truth in this story becomes a non-factor. It's not what happens or doesn't happen in the end. It's not about a killer in the woods. No. It's about the sounds and the feelings of being alone and lost and tired and hungry and filled with stories of a witch that haunts a wood. 

This is a movie that you flat out hated. Not a movie that was dull or boring, but a movie that just fills you up with rage just thinking about it. Maybe it’s a movie made by a certain director that had so much potential, maybe it’s an adaptation or a sequel that just didn’t do the original justice. It could also be a movie where your anger isn’t directed at the movie, but at the characters. Ever wanted to scream at movie characters for making such incredibly stupid decisions?

The Matrix Reloaded
Dir. The Wachowski Brothers, 2003

It's that ridiculous, horribly long orgy in Zion that does it. I was so pissed off at the ugliness and senselessness of this sequel to the brilliant 1999 sci-fi masterpiece, The Matrix, that I got up out of my seat in a packed out on opening night and walked right the fuck out. I HATED THIS MOVIE! It makes me actually angry to even think about it. I'm sure there was some cool stuff in it. I wouldn't know because I couldn't make it past the sweaty, smelly, dirty 10-minute techno sex rave.

This last one is a bit tricky, I’ll let you interpret it the way you want. It could be a horror film with a lot of really awful imagery that you don’t want to look at, it could be a comedy with a bunch of gross-out humor that you can barely listen to. It could even be a movie that you like, but your disgust comes towards the basic premise in a grander sense, like being disgusted by what you see in 12 Years A Slave or Schindler’s List. Either way, this film should make you cringe.

Nymphomaniac: Vol. II
Dir. Lars Von Trier, 2014

It's Lars Von Trier's inability to respect any sort of human decency that does it. As soon as the spoons fell out, I was done. I was disgusted. I was appalled. I was witnessing the most disgustingly unattractive piece of trash I've ever chosen to witness. As it stands alone, this is one of the worst things I've ever seen. I kept watching for a little while after this scene (pictured above) but not much longer. I have no sympathy for a character who enjoys watching his girlfriend destroy her body, as if her problems and her devastating addiction are a string of jokes. 


  1. Thank you so much for participating in my blogathon. It means the world to me.

  2. Great post, Kevin! I couldn't agree more about the Matrix trilogy. The first film was amazing. It's one of my favorite movies to watch and discuss with students because -- in a literary and philosophical sense -- there is so much fodder, plus it's so damn entertaining. The second movie -- WTF were they thinking?

    Leaving Las Vegas is a great movie. I love your take on Lars von Trier, too. :-)

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! Love the original Matrix. Would love to have an in-depth discussion about it with students. No sequel should ever have been made.

      Oh, Leaving Las Vegas! So tragic. Von Trier...1 for 3 for me. Breaking the Waves is pretty brilliant. That's about it. Need to see more probably, but he just doesn't make it easy for me.

  3. Excellent post! I hate to admit this, but the orgy scene in Reloaded was the only part of that movie I liked. (because I was laughing at it)

    I love that you chose The 40 Year Old Virgin for Joy.

    1. Thanks, Britt! I guess I should have taken that scene as a bit of humor. Total mismatch!

      Thanks. Love that one!

  4. Some great picks, Kevin. I especially agree with The 40 Year Old Virgin and Leaving Las Vegas. The latter is a relentless downer of a film. Lol, at your experience with The Matrix Reloaded. I didn't think it was that bad, but that scene could definitely have been shortened, or left out. The pretentious finale was far more egregious, in my opinion. I'm scared, though, Nymphomaniac is in my Netflix queue and I was planning on giving it a go, soon.

    1. Thanks, Dell. I just couldn't handle that Matrix sequel. Just unnecessary, in my opinion. Give Nymphomaniac a try. I actually really liked the first part. Uma Thurman's small part is unreal amazing. And it's quite thought-provoking. The second got gross real quick. I couldn't hack it.

  5. I didn't make it past the first ten minutes of nympho volume 1. It hadn't gotten overnly disgusting yet, I just didn't understand why.
    Great picks!

  6. We will have to agree to disagree on Matrix Reloaded (although I did think that scene went on a bit too long and felt tonally out-of-place), but I couldn't agree with you more on Blair Witch for Fear. My family went to see it together and our house was in a wooded area. That night was garbage night. When we got home it was dark. NONE of us wanted to take out the garbage, we were all still so scared shitless.

    1. We can do that. Just not for me. The Blair Witch Project makes every tiny little noise terrifying. Scary as hell. I saw it in the theater before everyone knew it wasn't actually true. We literally thought it was real. Then, it came out as a hoax a few days later. Still effective. Best "found footage" movie of them all, by far. I watched it for the second time in my apartment alone one night when I was in college. Lights off. It was not the smartest move.

  7. Joy: Almost Famous ("Tangerine" by Led Zeppelin playing just before the credits makes you feel very happy).
    Sadness: Ghost World (it's joy & sadness, but it's sad that the friendship in the movie between Thora Birch & Scarlett Johansson ended, & that (sadly) could happen to anyone).
    Fear: Se7en (the guy tied to the bed who (surprisingly) was still alive... Oh God).
    Anger: Whiplash (even after the ending, you still can't help but feel angry about JK Simmons being a butthole to Miles Teller).
    Disgust: In the Bedroom (I love this movie, but when you see what happened to Nick Stahl... it makes me cringe every time).

    1. Almost Famous....Love!
      Ghost World...Great mix of emotions!
      Seven...totally effective in evoking fear.
      Whiplash...it didn't anger me. It just gave me a huge rush.
      In the Bedroom...totally shocking. I get your feeling of disgust, for sure, with that scene. How awful!

    2. Whiplash was amazing. It did give me a huge rush. I was just angry at JK Simmons's character for most of the film.

      I've thought it through again & I've decided to pick Super Mario Bros. (the movie, not the game) as my "Anger". The film ruined everything we loved about the game. A lot of the cast (namely, Bob Hoskins & Dennis Hopper) hated working on the film. This is the worst movie I have ever seen in my life, & it has been since I first saw it at the age of 9, before I became a huge film buff.

  8. Hadn't realized I didn't comment on your picks for this. Haven't seen them all but interesting choices. I didn't much care for 40 Year Old Virgin but the Aquarius number was fun. I would lean more towards disgust with Leaving Las Vegas than sadness, but that is often a fine line. Cage really put himself through the wringer for the role but I was more impressed with Elisabeth Shue. I couldn't envision ever watching it again though. Have never seen Matrix Reloaded because I hated the original Matrix utterly but now you've given even more reason to avoid it! Somehow I've missed Blair Witch all these years, everyone I know who has seen it was never enthusiastic enough about it to make me seek it out. I've detested ever Von Trier movie I've seen and this and the first seem even more loathsome, thanks for confirming my suspicions!

    Love the idea of this particular blogathon, with some of the emotions a choice comes right to the fore and others were tougher but was fun working it out.

    Here's what I came up with:

    Joy-Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)-From the moment the gaudy, spangled red curtain opens to reveal the equally red spangled and sequined Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell singing about their quest for rich men to its Technicolor finish this fun musical is a simple joy. Marilyn and Jane share such a captivating and easy chemistry and the musical numbers are so fun and iconic how can you not feel better after watching?

    Sadness-They Shoot Horses, Don’t They (1969)-Now I’m not a crier so I picked something that made me feel sorry for the whole stinking world. This incredibly powerful study in nihilism is enough to drain any joy you might have felt for several days on end. To know that it’s based on an event, marathon dances that were a real occurrence and traded on people’s desperation makes it even more tragic. I think it’s fair to say that it’s a film that has such a bleak outlook it’s too sad to make you cry, it's a trait that it shares with Leaving Las Vegas.

    Fear-When a Stranger Calls (1979)-My cousin and I went into this without a lot of foreknowledge of the plot. She was heavily pregnant at the time and desperate to get out of the house and see a movie and this one was starting the soonest so in we walked, lambs to the slaughter as it were. The movie is flabby in the middle but to me has the most tension filled first and last 15 minutes of any one I can think of, so intense that in a particularly taut moment my cousin was so scared that the baby jumped and made her scream! For weeks after I couldn’t go to sleep at night until I had checked that all the closets were empty and the doors firmly shut.

    Anger-Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998)-I don’t like to be cheated or deceived at any time, who does, but when watching a movie it makes my blood boil! This so called romantic comedy spends almost the entire movie leading the audience down the garden path that its two leads are headed to a great realization that they belong together only to have the rug pulled out from under them in the last few minutes and have the pair go off with characters we’ve never seen before!! A dirty cheat of a film, I was spitting nails when I left the theatre and too this day when I think about the film I feel my bile rising. GGGRRRRRRRRRR

    Disgust-Sophie’s Choice (1982)-I think everybody knows what the choice is by now and the film is a grindingly sad study of man’s inhumanity to man. Perhaps because when I saw the film I had determinedly remained as uninformed as possible it hit me especially hard. I felt depleted at the end, full of disgust for all the world.

  9. Yeah. Von Trier is not for me, though I know there are a couple I've not seen that I think I'll enjoy (Melancholia, for example). I LOVED the original Matrix. It's a great movie. That's why I was so angry at Reloaded. It was an unnecessary sequel that was just dirty and not in keeping with the mystery of the original. Leaving Las Vegas takes way too much out of me. I have only seen it two or three times and each viewing was years apart.

    As for your picks. I've heard of all of them, but have only seen Sophie's Choice. A beautifully disgusting film. Streep's performance is other-worldly great. I also love Kline. For me though, I was so taken with MacNicol's work as Stingo. I just so identify with him as a character. I knew nothing of this movie going in as well. I only had a vague idea of what the "choice" was. Blew me away. I will very soon watch They Shoot Horses, Don't They. It is a title I've seen numerous times over the years and have never gotten to it.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Joel. Love it!

  10. Look forward to hearing what you think of Horses, it's an emotionally brutal film. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, it's a shiny bauble. If you are curious to see the role that really put Marilyn on top and defined the image she fought against the rest of her career this is it. It's easy to see why she felt limited by it but she plays it so very well and my God she and Jane Russell are knockouts, both visually and in their performances.