16 January 2017

An Emotional Kick

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Other than the global economy, the destruction of the environment, and our complete inhumanity towards the poor and needy, I suppose the most annoying thing about the world are those pricks that talk at the cinema. My problem with this is that I refuse to leave the screening to get a staff member because I don't want to miss any of the film and I can't shush them because I'm too busy holding in a fireball of rage. As a result, I worry that if I go over and ask them to be quiet I'll accidentally lose my shit and just throw battery acid in their face and then piss on their burning body. I suppose I should just stop carrying battery acid around really. However when I went to see A Monster Calls, some dickhead Mum had brought her melon-headed gizoid of a child and the little turd-monger just wouldn't shut the fuck up throughout the movie. I tried to hush the noisy little nipper with a polite word but in doing so I accidentally uncorked my own bottle of rage and before I knew what was going on I'd accidentally threatened the tiny mite with physical violence. Anyway, I felt a surge of adrenalin, he shut the fuck up, and I was able to get on with enjoying the film. The moral of the story? Sometimes it's okay to scare children.

All of this is pretty ironic really because the film deals with a young boy and his encounters with a giant tree monster that's played by Liam Neeson. Imagine if instead of becoming a tiny dancing pot plant, Groot had actually become a violent alcoholic that'd just been told “I think you've had enough”, and you're basically along the right lines as to what the character is about. As well as obviously being one of cinema's greatest dramatic actors, it's also nice that Neeson was able to borrow from his performances in the Taken series as a raging but paternal and yet still very wooden tree man. Anyway the young boy is visited by him (or let's face it- imagines him) during a particularly miserable time in his life in which his mother, played by Felicity Jones, appears to be slowly dying. If only somebody would take the boy to see something fun like Rogue One.. I'm sure that'd take his mind off the danger his mother is in.

As a result, the tree tells the boy stories that may or may not relate to the variety of miseries in his own life but only on the condition that the child then regale the tree with a story of his own reoccurring nightmare. The tree claims that he wants to reveal the boys “truth” which is a secret he keeps about his mother. Had the tree asked my teenaged self to reveal 'my truth', I'm pretty sure the best he'd have gotten out of me is an explanation as to why I have a rock-hard sock hidden in my bed. Initially the child is confused by the stories told by the tree as they feature heroes with various moral ambiguities and villains who might not be as villainous as they originally sound. I won't spoil the stories specifically but they're all a little bit like if somebody were to threaten a small child with violence but that then resulted in the child shutting the fuck up for the rest of the film. Who's the real villain there? I mean obviously it's the loud little bastard, but you get the point. It's as though the tree is educating him about the complicated and chaotic nature of life. A post-modern fairytale thats sole existence is in teaching its audience that the only way that a story can believably conclude with a happy ending is if it takes place in a particularly dodgy massage parlour.

Anyway, so despite the distraction of the shit-spackled muppet fart that was the child sat near me, I have to say that I really loved this movie. Being from director J.A Bayona whose first film, The Orphanage, was so prominently promoted by Guillermo Del Toro, the most obvious comparison for A Monster Calls would be Pan's Labyrinth. Both have overt fairytale overtones and essentially boil down to being about a young child escaping the unbearable misery of their life by losing themselves to an ambiguously imaginative fantasy world. However I guess in reality it's simply just the latest in a long line of films that fit that description from Time Bandits and My Neighbour Totoro to Labyrinth and Alice In Wonderland. I guess kids just like to escape into their own imaginations which is fine unless the little pricks are doing it loudly whilst i'm trying to watch a film. Even something as old as The Wizard Of Oz falls into this category I suppose. However unlike the sociopathic Dorothy whose only response to killing a person is to then steal their shoes, the kid in A Monster Calls is more than aware that there should be consequences to any of his wrong-doings. In fact, dealing with your actions seems to be one of the things that the tree is trying to teach the boy, who gives a great performance in what is clearly such an emotional role. It's just a shame that the kid playing the main role looked so distractingly like a young Ted Raimi really.

Before seeing this film, I was told to bring tissues which, as attractive as Felicity Jones is, I just couldn't find a use for when seeing how ill she looked throughout. However rather than doing a Pee Wee Herman and playing with their own little Pee Wee Hermans, it seems that other people were using tissues to wipe their crying eyes. I'd be lying if I said that my emotional response to the film had been to do a little eye pissing however that's not to say that the film wasn't sad. The journey that the poor kid was forced to go on was heart breaking and played with the level of tragedy and humanity that you'd expect from the director of The Orphanage and The Impossible. In fact, I have to admit that The Impossible did get to me with my crying starting about two minutes in and ending a few days after the film had finished. I didn't cry to A Monster Calls simply because it's sad- and sadness is a world that I've been living in since I was about eighteen and realised that the world is shit and one day I'd die having made literally no long term difference to anything at all. As is the case with everybody.
What upsets me are acts of kindness.. such as a group of tsunami survivors working to help each other despite all being cold, wet, and fucked up. This isn't to say that there aren't acts of kindness in the film to counter all the misery, and it's not to say that the film is depressing to watch. At the end of the day it features Liam Neeson as a giant tree monster, which I imagine would have made even Schindler's List a bit of a giggle. It's simply that rather than being a film for children, A Monster Calls is more like a film about childhood and unless you're all too old to remember, being a child was proper shit. Like the young boy in this film, I too delved into my brain as a kid and conjured myself up an imaginary friend which is fucking tragic when you think about it. I told my Aunty that I was hanging around with a ghost called Mr Sharp and then proceeded to walk around her garden talking to him. I should probably ask her at some point if she remembers it to find it if it creeped her out that I was talking to a ghost or if she simply thought I was a fucking mental-case. Despite clearly having a schizophrenic level of imagination in terms of the visions he sees, the young boy always remains entirely relatable and entirely likeable. At the end of the day, I suppose this is what makes the film work, the most with relatable and likeable being two terms that I couldn't apply to the little cock-smurf literally running around the screening. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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