Here at Flavorwire, we do our level best to engage in rational, reasoned, thoughtful criticism. But there are elements of our culture that are simply out of our analytical grasp: the films, music, authors, television shows, etc. that we hate with no reasonable explanation. Welcome to Irrational Hatred Week, in which your Flavorwire staffers share what we loathe in a variety of media, and do our best to figure out why. Today’s Irrational Hatred topic: movies.
To be clear: Pan’s Labyrinth is a vivid film, richly and sumptuously designed. Its visual flights of fancy are stunning, and the imagery cooked up by writer/director Guillermo del Toro is moody and frequently memorable. And I never connected emotionally with it, not for a second. Its dark, gruesome, brutal aesthetic is infinitely off-putting, and it’s full of beffudling narrative detours, playing less like a story and more like a notebook full of ideas that del Toro jammed into his screenplay whether they made sense or not. In the years since its release, my indifference to the picture is greeted by horrified, misunderstanding looks; people love this movie, and their affection for it is as inexplicable to me and my distaste must be to them. I still can’t put my finger on why a film that so many saw as magical was, to me, so ugly and forgettable, but here’s the best I’ve come up with: Pan’s Labyrinth feels like the kind of movie where countless hours were spent discussing how the film should look, but no one bothered to talk about how it should make the viewer feel. – Jason Bailey, Film Editor
If hating a movie about two charmingly quirky young musicians in love makes you a cold-hearted curmudgeon, well, it’s not like that’s the nastiest thing that has ever been said about me. The nature of an irrational hatred is that you can’t adequately explain what bothers you so much about the thing in question, but here’s a start: I found Once cloying (yes, even though the ending is somewhat unexpected), the Girl and Guy archetypes made my skin crawl, and the songs bored me. – Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief
It’s been years since I’ve seen Fight Club, and I remember in my freshman year of college I gave it two shots after a good friend implored me to, claiming it was an important philosophical study on film. All I remember was that, as a cynical 18-year-old, I refused to buy into the notion that a movie that cost $63 million to make and starred one of the biggest Hollywood marquee idols could effectively say anything about capitalism and marketing, and I rolled my eyes through that second viewing. Ten years later, I have no interest in giving it a third shot. Dude movies bore me. – Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor
My pick is Possession, an adaptation of my very favorite book about feminist literary scholarship. It is directed by Neil LaBute, the man who thinks misogynists are dramatically interesting. It also stars Gwyneth Paltrow as the female literary critic in question, and I have a personal Paltrow embargo. My rational hatred for these production choices amounts to irrational hatred, since as a result I’ve never even bothered to see the film. – Michelle Dean, Editor-at-Large
Woody Allen, generally
OK, this has nothing to do with the fact that the guy married his own adopted daughter, although that certainly doesn’t help — but really, my feelings about Allen predate the whole Soon-Yi Previn affair. They date back to being forced to watch Annie Hall because everyone told me it was great, and finding myself clawing at my face at how annoying I found Allen’s character — and, by extension, Allen himself, since they’re basically one and the same. His studied awkwardness, his oh-look-how-neurotic-I-am persona, his overwhelming creepiness, his general air of self-absorption… by about half an hour in I wanted to punch him, an urge that’s never really gone away, and returns with every film in which, hey, look, Woody fumbles his way through a relationship with a hot young girl who’s inexplicably in love with him! He’s so neurotic! It’s hilarious! Ugh. Fuck oooooooooffffff. –Tom Hawking, Music Editor
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
I don’t really hate Johnny Depp or Hunter S. Thompson, but there’s just something about the two of them combined into one project that makes me feel all kinds of angry, even over ten years after the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas debuted. The film stands as a monument to literary bros everywhere; dudes who welcome the intellectual only with a side of drugs and debauchery. I just hate it so much that sometimes I can’t mentally differentiate it from The Hangover. The fact that it was directed by Terry Gilliam makes me especially upset, since he’s a director whose work I normally really like. – Jason Diamond, Literary Editor
Being John Malkovich
I love Spike Jonze, I love Charlie Kaufman, and everyone seems to really love Being John Malkovich, so I figured I would too. Maybe it’s that I’ve only seen it once, but I couldn’t stand this movie. I really admire its creativity and ambition, but I found all of the characters to be severely unlikable, especially Catherine Keener’s character (and I’m not alone– Keener herself almost turned down the role because she initially disliked it). Why is everyone so into her? And what sort of connection propels this cold, glamorous woman toward Cameron Diaz’s homely character? Sure, their union is interesting, but where did it come from? I’ll happily suspend my disbelief of the elaborate magical realism, but the characters and relationships that are supposed to hold it together still have me scratching my head. – Sarah Fonder, Editorial Intern
What movies do you irrationally loathe? Let us know in the comments.