Gender and sexuality as seen in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

Introduction

Being quite unsuccessful when it first hit theatres, The Rocky Horror Picture Show ended up having quite an impact on pop culture. Adapted from the rock musical The Rocky Horror Show, which was a bit more successful, the movie did not have that many fans at first, but those who liked it were pretty dedicated to it; and still are. You can still watch the movie in theatre (mostly during the Halloween season), and it has become a much bigger show through the years than it was back then. People act out the movie before your eyes, as the movie is casually playing in the background; most everybody in the crowd is either dressed up for Halloween, as their favourite character from the movie, or simply rocking their best lingerie; high-heels and fishnets are highly popular, extravagant make-ups are everywhere you look, and shyness is totally forgotten. There’s dancing, singing, screaming and laughing all through the night. It’s quite an intense night, but everybody ends up having a lot of fun. We can clearly say that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is not simply a movie, but an experience, almost a sub-culture. For many, it represents freedom, a night where no one is being judged or judges others, a night where you can be true to your gender and your sexuality, but also experiment with them. Having attended a few of these representations myself, I can confirm that the people in the crowd are generally very confident, happy and, most of all, themselves. Of course, some aspects of the movie are good and some are bad, but generally speaking, it is often seen as one of the first steps towards a more diverse representation on screen. In the following text, I will analyse how the movie explores gender and sexuality, based on the bad parts of it, like the terribly wrong actions committed by Doctor Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) and the fact that he is an extra-terrestrial; but also by looking at the better parts of it, like how the characters are not afraid to express their gender and sexuality, and the fact that the musical and the movie were both written by a person who also expresses his gender and sexuality freely. I will also quickly explain how The Rocky Horror Picture Show is quite a “sexual” movie, even though it never becomes really explicit.

 

Doctor Frank N. Furter’s Horrible Actions

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I would like to start off by talking about one of the darkest aspects of the movie; the many criminal actions of Doctor Frank N. Furter. Even though many people love to think of this character as an example to follow, we have to admit that this sweet Transvestite is not always that sweet. First of all, Frank is not shy to admit, in the song “Sweet Transvestite”[1] , that he only built Rocky (Peter Hinwood) for him (Rocky) to help him (Frank) “release [his] tension”. In other words, Rocky is Frank’s sex slave. At the end of the song “I Can Make You a Man (reprise)”[2], we see Frank guide Rocky towards a bed. Later in the movie, we can see Rocky, chained to this very bed by the foot. We can easily guess what happened. It is already totally wrong to have a sex slave, but we must also acknowledge that Rocky, even though he has the appearance of an adult, was just created; he is literally a “new-born”. He doesn’t understand anything of the world around him and reacts like a child would. He is happy to have Frank’s attention and actually loves him, but that does not make the Doctor’s actions towards his creation legal. Rocky succeeds to break the chains and to run away, but rapidly goes back to the castle, where he can hide and feels safe. At the end of the movie, when Frank dies, Rocky is clearly devastated, proof that he loved his creator. Nonetheless, Frank N. Furter’s attitude towards him is quite disgusting.

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Having a sex slave is not the only horrible action committed by the Doctor; he actually rapes at least two other people during the night. Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), a newly engaged couple, are attributed to two separate rooms for the night. Frank will enter Janet’s room dressed as Brad, and Brad’s room dressed as Janet. He will also start kissing and undressing them, as Brad and Janet are still unaware of who they are actually engaging with. They don’t resist at first, thinking they are actually kissing their fiancĂ©(e), but quickly realize that it is actually Frank in a wig. Brad and Janet obviously get mad and a little bit ashamed, but Frank has quite a way with words and ends up convincing them that what they’re doing is right, as long as the other doesn’t know. Ultimately, Brad and Janet both accept to sleep with him, but we can still wonder: do they do it because they actually want to, or because they were convinced to do so? It can be quite difficult to answer this question, but knowing what we know about Doctor Frank N. Furter, it is easy to assume that Brad and Janet were manipulated. Brad and Janet are rapidly introduced as pretty naive, and Frank as extremely charming and manipulative. It is then very easy to think that the young couple’s naivetĂ© made Frank’s convincing pretty easy. In Postmodern Gay Dionysus: Dr. Frank N. Furter, Frank is described as “androgynous, seductive but tyrannical” (Aviram, 1992, p.183), which is one of the best ways to describe the character. He has a very in-your-face type of personality, and can be quite intimidating to some.

We must not forget that sexual crimes are not the only crimes of Doctor Frank N. Furter. “[T]hroughout the movie, the mad scientist seems animated by an explicit perversity” (Filaire, 2012, p.2, my translation), but his perverse attitude is not the only thing that makes him dangerous. First of all, Frank is not very nice to his servants, admirers and guests. He doesn’t treat others like people, but merely as things he can use as he wishes. He ignores the feelings and needs of his servants Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn), to the point where he doesn’t even expect the mutiny they are organizing against him. Columbia (Little Nell Campbell), his number one fan, is quickly set aside and forgotten by him, even though we can understand they once had an affair together. Columbia actually mentions that when Frank got tired of her, he turned to Eddie (Meat Loaf), and finally created Rocky when he got bored of him. Frank clearly treats people like objects, using them as he wants, when he wants, and discarding them as soon as he feels he doesn’t need them anymore. They are all interchangeable to him. As for his guests, he openly laugh at them, doesn’t respect their simple demand to have access to a phone and, as we observed earlier, manipulates them until they accept to have sex with him. He also violently kills Eddie, but that’s not all; he also makes his guests eat him without their knowledge, waiting for them to take a bite to reveal the terrible truth. They obviously don’t want to believe it, until Frank removes the tablecloth and Eddie’s mutilated body is shown to all. Frank is not only a rapist, he is also a killer and a cannibal.

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Frank N. Furter is obviously a demonic character. Since, in the movies, a community, race, or culture’s representation is often seen as a synecdoche of this community, race, or culture, it becomes too easy for some to associate Frank’s character and his actions to the whole of the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans* people. Because of the many criminal actions of the Doctor, many people don’t really like him, and we can easily understand why. It is actually pretty unfair that one of the main movie characters that we tend to associate with the LGBTQ+ community is actually a horrible person. Some homophobic and transphobic groups have actually used Frank as an “example” of what the community is like, to show the rest of the world how “dangerous” and “unstable”, according to them, the community is. Having exposed the terrible truth behind Frank’s actions, it is easy to understand why many people don’t like him and what he can represent. But I think it is important to say that Richard O’Brien, who wrote The Rocky Horror Show and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, was highly inspired by B-series, horror and sci-fi movies of the 50s, and so, it is quite normal for one of the main characters of his story to be such a terrible person. Nevertheless, he could have chosen to make his meanest character not a part of such a targeted community, and have the good guys associated with it instead. Representation in the media is extremely important, and having LGBTQ+ characters or LGBTQ+ ambiguous characters being the bad guys all the time surely sends a bad message. Let’s not forget that Frank also dies at the end of the movie, which can be badly interpreted, for very obvious reasons; it could be seen as if the movie was telling LGBTQ+ people that the only way they’ll ever be considered “normal” by society was when they’d die. Many people seem to understand the movie that way, which is perfectly understandable, but I personally don’t think this was the intention of Richard O’Brien.

 

LGBTQ+ People Are from Outer Space…?

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Another negative aspect of the movie is the fact that Doctor Frank N. Furter and his servants, Riff Raff and Magenta, are extra-terrestrials. It actually makes sense, since Richard O’Brien’s inspiration came from horror movies and science-fiction, but it also marginalizes the LGBTQ+ community even more. The community is already not seen as part of the “norm”, even less so at the time the movie was released, so having the most openly LGBTQ+ associated characters being extra-terrestrials and not humans can lead to the idea that the members of this community either think they’re “better” than everyone (since Frank possesses really advanced technology, for example), or are so “rare” that they obviously have to be from outer-space, or simply that they cannot be considered humans or equals at all. This can obviously lead to horrible interpretations from the public. These characters can almost be interpreted as a “proof” that the LGBTQ+ community is not actually human, which is highly problematic. Plus, let’s not forget that the majority of the showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show take place on Halloween, which can also lead to some problematic interpretations. Some people think that because of that, the LGBTQ+ community is not taken seriously, but merely as an excuse to put on a costume. As if being part of the community was a phase, a costume that you can put on and off as you like. According to me, the main reasons why these showings mainly take place on Halloween are because of the Halloween-esque vibe of the movie, but also because Halloween is probably the only night of the year where dressing up in a very marginal way is “socially acceptable”.

 

If the spectators don’t ask questions about the movie, or don’t try to understand it beneath the surface, many of them might think this movie to be a simple “parenthesis of freedom, which we close to go back to our gray and heteronormative reality.” (Filaire, 2012, p.3, my translation), as if it was entertainment for the sake of it, with no real message; something this movie clearly isn’t.

 

Richard O’Brien

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Although The Rocky Horror Picture Show has many problematic aspects to it, especially about the LGBTQ+ representation, it is important to know that the movie, and the musical before that, was written by Richard O’Brien, who is himself “about 70% male, 30% female” (quoted in Fidgen, 2013). Being himself part of the LGBTQ+ community, I think that he intentionally exaggerated his characters for his work to be noticed by others, kind of like what Laura Mulvey did when she wrote a very intense and radical text about feminism and cinema. Richard O’Brien radicalized his characters so that his work would pop out and be different from others, but also for the representation issue to be acknowledged. As O’Brien says: “I was six-and-a-half and I said to my big brother that I wanted to be the fairy princess when I grew up. The look of disdain on his face made me pull down the shutters. I knew that I should never ever say that out loud again.” (quoted in Fidgen, 2013). It becomes clear here that Richard O’Brien was not always comfortable with his identity and, on some level, was taught that being the way he was was a bad thing. I believe that this is the main reason why the LGBTQ+ associated characters of his work are so demonic and from outer space: it reflects what society thinks of LGBTQ+ people. By acknowledging society’s image of the LGBTQ+ community, O’Brien makes it obvious that this portrayal is but a critique of this extremely biased way of thinking. By making Frank dangerous and evil, he shows us how ridiculous it is to think that the whole of the LGBTQ+ community is just as evil as Frank. Frank is but a caricature of this way of thinking and therefore, becomes a stand against it. Because yes, Doctor Frank N. Furter is evil; but he knows it, owns it, and isn’t afraid to show it. With Richard O’Brien’s brother’s reaction, we can also understand how much some aspirations or activities are associated with masculine identities and feminine ones, and the inequalities that exist between them, but also the pressure we have to respect certain norms according to our gender. With The Rocky Horror Show and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Richard O’Brien wants to show us that gender roles and gender norms should not exist. In both the musical and the movie, the characters’ gender does not really matter; male or female, the characters will wear lingerie, make-up, high heels… and totally own it! “For 50 years, O’Brien repressed the feeling.” (Fidgen, 2013), but even though he personally repressed it, he was able to express it through his work. O’Brien even “started taking the female hormone oestrogen – and is happy with the results. […] He has also developed small breasts. But O’Brien is not intending to go further and have sex reassignment surgery.” (Fidgen, 2013). He also says: “Anton Rodgers, the actor, said ‘you’re the third sex’. And I thought that’s quite nice. I quite like that position.” (quoted in Fidgen, 2013). This comes to show that Richard O’Brien does not conform and probably never will and that he is doing whatever he can to be comfortable in his body. I strongly believe that this is what he was trying to achieve with The Rocky Horror Show and The Rocky Horror Picture Show; he wanted to show the world that whoever we are, we have to do everything in our power to be comfortable in our own body and with our identity. It is a process that could happen over night or maybe over fifty years.

 

Accepting Who You Are and How to Abolish Gender Stereotypes

Another important element in The Rocky Horror Picture Show is just how confident the characters are to go against what is perceived “normal” in terms of gender and sexuality, just like Richard O’Brien himself. Doctor Frank N. Furter, Columbia, Riff Raff and Magenta, for example, are not afraid to be who they really are, no matter what society expects them to be. As for Brad and Janet, they enter this new way of thinking without being very experimented, and don’t quite know what to do at first. As the night goes on though, they realize that the most important step towards happiness is not to care what others think of you, but to simply be yourself. As for Rocky, he was born into this more open-minded world, but as it is clearly stated in the song «Rose Tint My World»[3] : “My libido hasn’t been controlled/Now the only thing I’ve come to trust/Is an orgasmic rush of lust”. In the end, Rocky is not shy to admit that even though he is quite new to the world, he loves sex; it is the only thing he knows and trusts. There is also Eddie. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of screen time, we learn a bit more about him in the song «Eddie»[4], in which his uncle, Doctor Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams), explains that “All he wanted/Was rock and roll, porn/And a motorbike”. In short, Eddie seems to be a rebel, living in the margins of society, but unafraid to accept himself the way he is. Doctor Scott, one of Doctor Frank N. Furter’s rivals, doesn’t have a lot of screen time either and seems pretty boring compared to the characters around him; he clearly doesn’t fit in within the castle. But during the final sequence of the movie (often referred to as The Floor Show), during which we can hear the songs «Rose Tint My World», «Fanfare/Don’t Dream It, Be It»[5] and «Wild and Untamed Thing»[6], even though he says that himself, alongside Brad and Janet, should leave the castle as fast as they can, we can actually see him abandoning himself to the freedom surrounding him. It only lasts a few moments, but it still tells us that appearances don’t necessarily determine a person’s lifestyle, gender or sexuality.

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Speaking of The Floor Show, I would like to direct our attention to Frank, Brad and Janet during this sequence. In the song «Fanfare/Don’t Dream It, Be It», Frank sings a few verses that I find particularly interesting. He is speaking of the actrice Fay Wray when he sings: “how I started to cry/Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same”. I think that what Richard O’Brien actually expresses with this song is one of his childhood dreams, dream that he shares with Frank: the right to wear typically feminine clothes without being judged. Jim Sharman himself said: “When Richard O’Brien conceived Frank […] I’m sure he had in mind a lovely dress, an elegant staircase and probably himself.” (quoted in Thompson, 2016, p.64). As I’ve mentioned earlier, O’Brien does not identify as a hundred percent male or as a hundred percent female, but kind of in between. Those simple lyrics clearly reflect his feelings, his thoughts, even before he started acting upon them. With those lyrics, Richard O’Brien expresses himself, through Frank, and communicates to the spectators who might feel the same way that they are not alone. Plus, as it is said many times in the song: “Don’t dream it, be it”. As for Brad and Janet, they entered Doctor Frank N. Furter’s world by accident. They were totally uncomfortable upon their arrival, but slowly learn to love erotism, excitation and open-mindedness. In «Rose Tint My World», Brad seems to say that he feels uncomfortable towards the situation, but when he sees the fishnets, high heels and corset that he his wearing, he says he is feeling sexy. He then seems to feel bad to have been so confident, but ultimately lets himself go and enjoy the experience. As for Janet, she sings about liberation, freedom, and self confidence. She feels thankful towards Frank, since he is the one who made her appreciate her body for what it is and also to listen and accept her desires. As I mentioned earlier, Brad and Janet are kind of like prisoners in the castle (not as much as Rocky might be), “but this prison acts as the scene of their rebirth in a more open-minded body, appreciative of their pulsions until then frowned upon.” (Filaire, 2012, p.3, my translation). It shows us that everyone is capable of change and an open-mind, even thought they might not look like it at first.

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During The Floor Show, every character is dressed in a similar, extravagant way, wearing corsets, fishnets and high heels, things that are often seen as “strongly erotic” (Filaire, 2012, p.11, my translation). They also are all wearing heavy make-up. There are no gender roles or gender norms to be seen. They all sing and dance, and everyone is wearing lingerie and make-up. They are all accepting of who they are, and they remain united, as if to show that no matter our differences, we have to stay united. The sequence ends in the pool, where all the characters kiss each other; man or woman, it doesn’t matter anymore.

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Another important moment in the movie is the opening sequence, with the song «Science Fiction/Double Feature»[7]. The song in itself is very interesting, referencing to horror and sci-fi movies of the 50s, but that’s a subject for another time. The song, which is sung to us on screen by lips without a face, is actually sung by Richard O’Brien, but the lips are Patricia Quinn’s. Here, we mix up the genders to create this entity who could literally be whoever. Since we only see the lips and that the voice could honestly belong to a man or a woman, we deconstruct the male/female concepts that we all know. These lips could belong to a man or a woman, or anyone who identifies outside of the binary. The movie states that gender is a construct, created by society, and that we can literally interpret it however we want, explore it, deconstruct it, or even ignore it.

As written in Le genre dans The Rocky Horror Picture Show ou la libertĂ© prĂ©servĂ©e par la perversion, “If Jim Sharman’s movie seems to go against the traditional ideas of gender, it is because it considers them to be dangerous for the self and the freedom of thought and expression.” (Filaire, 2012, p.5, my translation). In other words, the movie proudly goes against the gender roles created by society, wishing to destroy them once and for all, and for everyone to be truly equal. The Rocky Horror Picture Show tries to push us towards a more ideal world of equalities.

 

Making a Movie About Sex Without Sex

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show does not only try to abolish gender roles and stereotypes; it is also a movie that is quite sex-oriented, whether it be sexual desire or the act itself. Even though the movie never becomes really explicit (the most we see are Little Nell’s nipples, very quickly during The Floor Show), it is still full of puns and innuendos, the most popular ones being “You’re wet.” said by Riff Raff to Brad and Janet as the couple is standing in the rain, and “Coming!” said by Frank as he and Brad’s intercourses are interrupted by Riff Raff. The puns and innuendos are quite easy to understand, but they are so obvious, in a way, that they could easily be missed. Plus, when Frank N. Furter tricks Brad and Janet into having sex with him, we can partially see the whole thing through a veil, a filter, almost as if the characters were shadow puppets. We don’t see anything explicit, but we are still shown. Finally, many characters are almost naked throughout the whole films, or are wearing pretty revealing outfits, illustrating once again the sexual desire and sexual confidence of the characters. The movie wants to normalize sex, make us understand that sex should not be as taboo as we make it to be, but instead explored, explained and celebrated.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a movie that literally changed cinema, with its explicit and at times complicated exploration of gender and sexuality. Even though the movie has its fair share of negative elements, especially concerning Doctor Frank N. Furter’s character, the main message of the movie remains one of freedom of expression, self confidence, and equality. It is a movie we have to “read” and analyse a bit deeper before we decide to judge it. It is important to understand that the movie is not the perfect example of gender and sexuality representation and equality in the medias, but when it first came out in 1975, it was still a big step forward. When analyzing this movie, we must obviously keep in mind the release year, otherwise it could loose a lot of its meaning. Of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a movie that would be very interesting to analyze from different perspective and different subjects. For example, an analysis of its relation with 50s horror and sci-fi movies would be fascinating. From sex to B series, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the world’s most renowned cult film, encapsulates many different subjects, all amazingly interesting; it is definitely a movie have to take a bit more seriously and it is not ready to be forgotten.

 

Bibliography

 

  • Aviram, Amittai F. 1992. «Postmodern Gay Dionysus : Dr. Frank N. Furter». The Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 26, n°3 (winter), p.183-192.
  • Fidgen, Jo. 2013. «Richard O’Brien : ‘I’m 70% man’». Online. BBC News. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21788238
  • Filaire, Marc-Jean. 2012. «Le genre dans The Rocky Horror Picture Show ou la libertĂ© prĂ©servĂ©e par la perversion». Online. Entrelacs. https://entrelacs.revues.org/363
  • Sharman, Jim (dir.). 1975. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. United States et Great Britain. 20th Century Fox.
  • Thompson, Dave. 2016. «The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ : Everything Left to Know about the Campy Cult Classic». Coll. «FAQ». Milwaukee : Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

 

[1] Song written by Richard O’Brien, interpreted by Tim Curry

[2] Song written by Richard O’Brien, interpreted by Tim Curry

[3] Song written by Richard O’Brien, interpreted by Little Nell, Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon and Peter Hinwood

[4] Song written by Richard O’Brien, interpreted by Jonathan Adams, Charles Gray, Tim Curry, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell, Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon and Peter Hinwood

[5] Song written byRichard O’Brien, interpreted by Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, Peter Hinwood and Little Nell

[6] Song written by Richard O’Brien, interpreted by Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, Little Nell, Peter Hinwood and Richard O’Brien

[7] Song written and interpreted by Richard O’Brien

Favourite school movies

So I just started Uni last Friday, and it made me think about those teen movies/”school” movies, so I decided to make a short list of some of my favourites. I know, teen movies aren’t always the greatest movies in the world, but the following three were quite entertaining and actually mean a lot to me.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

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True, this movie doesn’t really take place in school, but it’s still a “school” movie to me. Who never dreamed to skip school and have a day like this? I was 12 when I first saw this movie. My best friend at the time was sleeping over and my dad had bought the dvd. He told us it was great and all, but we didn’t really believe him, you know? My dad, recommending an old movie… At first, we watched it just so he’d leave us alone with it. But then we kinda liked it. And then the Twist and Shout sequence happened and we just lost it. It became our favourite movie, we’d never shut up about it. We’d dress like Ferris, we’d talk like Ferris, we’d dance like Ferris… We even started singing Danke Schoen on a regular basis.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

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In our fourth year of high school, on a gloomy Saturday afternoon, my friends and I sat down to watch this movie and let me tell you, it had the same effect Ferris Bueller’s Day Off had had. We just loved the movie. Like, we even associated each other to a character (I was Allison, aka the Basket Case). For a while there, we kinda wished we’d go to detention and have a great time like them. Of course, our school library wasn’t as big as theirs, but still. I guess what we liked the most about the movie though, was how even though the characters are all pretty stereotypical, they’re not 100% what they seem. That scene where they all talk about what got them into detention was, of course, our favourite.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

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I saw this movie for the first time with the same girls I watched The Breakfast Club with. We all liked the movie, but one of these friends in particular and I like, really liked the movie. Come On Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners became our song. What we particularly liked was how truthful this movie was. Unlike the two John Hughes movies that I mentioned before, this movie has quite a realistic story. Some of the things that happen in this movie actually did happen to some of my friends (or to myself). Plus, thanks to this movie, my friend and I discovered that the whole Rocky Horror Picture Show showings was an actual thing. And since then, we go every year on Halloween.

Is TV replacing movies?

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So yesterday, I finally finished watching Breaking Bad (2008-2013) (I know, I’m very late) and man that tv show was great. Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White was simply amazing and the show was brilliantly written. But anyway, I did not come here to write a review of the show.

Because the show was so great, it made me think a lot. Not necessarily about what’s good and bad, and were Walter White’s actions justified or not, but whether television is replacing movies or not. And I think that, slowly, it might be. So many tv shows now are filmed like movies. What I mean here is that the creators, writers, directors… everybody involved seems to work harder than before. They want their tv shows to look beautiful, they want talented actors, they want complicated characters and great writing. There always were good tv shows, but now, the game is becoming stronger.

People love to get to know the characters, and I think this is something tv can offer than cinema can’t. Of course, you get to know the characters of a movie when you watch it, but maybe not as much as a character on a tv series that’s been running for three years. Of course, if a movie has many sequels, like the Harry Potter movie series, you get to know the characters, the stories and their world a lot better than in a single movie. And movies with many sequels or with shared universes, such as The Hunger Games, the Twilight series, and the Marvel cinematic universe (just to name a few), often become highly popular, whether you like them or not. Because just like in a tv show, you get to understand a lot more things, the story can (usually) be more intricate and the characters can have more complicated developments.

Anyway, I just think tv shows like Breaking Bad might one day replace movies, just because they are so good! Of course, not every episode is going to be revolutionary great, but in general, tv is becoming more and more of a threat to the film industry.

Why I love watching bad movies

Confession time: I adore bad movies. Example, “The Room” (2003) is a movie I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. It is sooooooo bad, yet I can’t keep my eyes from it. I think the best part of it is the “acting”. I’m not even sure I can call it acting, it’s too bad. Over-acting might be a better word. Anyway.

I watch a lot of bad movies (sometimes more than once), mainly because I think they are highly entertaining, but also because they give me a great idea of what not to do when making a film. I really do think that watching terrible movies is as important as watching great ones. Of course, you want to understand what you’re doing, so watching classics like “Citizen Kane” (1941) is crucial, but I think it is as crucial to understand what not to do, hence, “The Room”.

Some of my favourite bad movies (if you’re interested) are:

  1. Batman & Robin (1997)
  2. The Happening (2008)
  3. Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
  4. The Room (2003) (obviously)
  5. Troll 2 (1990)

“10 Cloverfield Lane” review

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I was not a big fan of Cloverfield (2008) when I first saw it (and I’ve never seen it since, so I don’t know if I’d like it now..), so when I heard about this movie, I was not very hyped. But I soon realized that this movie had almost nothing to do with Cloverfield. If you’re thinking you’ll be seeing a sequel or prequel or anything like that, you might be disappointed. First of, the styles are very different; for example, this one is not filmed with a hand-held camera, which already brings a very different vibe to the film. Plus, the story itself is nothing like the first movie. Besides sharing a same Universe, a same world, these two movies don’t have a lot in common. 10 Cloverfield Lane is not a monster movie, nor a horror movie, but a really convincing thriller. I was on the edge of my seat most of the movie.

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John Goodman gives an amazing performance as Howard, a survivalist man who may or may not be right about what’s going on outside the bunker. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman who, after a car accident, wakes up in said bunker. Howard keeps her captive, saying that what’s going on outside is too dangerous, even deadly. The relationship between these two characters was one of the bests I’ve seen in a movie this year. I think the actors portrayed with brilliance a complicated relationship that could have seemed fake performed by others. There is also a third character, Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr. I liked his performance better than in Hush (2016) (“Hush” review), but he was still the least convincing character, according to me.

The atmosphere of the movie is amazing. Just like Michelle, you are uncertain at times whether you should believe Howard or not. We are scared of him, but at the same time, he seems “nice” enough for us to trust him. I know it barely makes sense, but if you saw the movie, you might understand my point. You really wish Michelle could get out of there, but would it truly be safer? You can feel the tension that is going on between her and Howard through the whole movie, and it just sets a greatly uncomfortable vibe.

I also loved that Michelle was not portrayed as a dumb horror/thriller movie clichĂ© character. Unlike other suspenseful movies, I was actually rooting for her the whole time. Never did I think “she shouldn’t have done that, that was really stupid”. I think she reacted the way most of us would in a similar situation.

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This movie is a lot about the characters; we learn a lot about them in different ways, sometimes very subtly. Michelle and Howard’s character arcs were pretty interesting and well-written, but Emmett’s seemed kind of forced. It feels as if they did not know what they wanted him to be like, so his backstory was rushed. At one point in the movie, it becomes clear that Emmett’s character was written purely to give us another example or Howard’s character. Yes, it is an important element of the story, but it would have had even more of an impact if we actually knew Emmett like the others.

All in all, don’t expect this movie to be anything like Cloverfield, otherwise you might not enjoy it as much. I think it is definitely worth a watch; it is a very interesting and entertaining movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

10 Cloverfield Lane: A-

“The Nice Guys” review

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I did not think I would love it as much as I did. I thought it would be a fun movie, but not that fun. And I never thought Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe could have such good chemistry.

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If you loved Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), you’re probably going to love this movie too. You easily recognize the director’s style, even though it evolved and changed a little bit through the years. The story is intriguing and quite dark, yet very funny. Holland March (Gosling) and Jackson Healy (Crowe) team up to solve the mystery of a young woman’s disappearance, who is herself involved in a much bigger story. March’s daughter is also quite an important character and is actually very helpful. It has a lot of buddy cop film characteristics, but remains original and interesting. The characters are a lot of fun too. Healy is a tough guy who is mainly hired to beat up people and March is a private investigator who kinda sucks at his job right now. They work so well together, their relationship really does feel genuine.

The movie is also very well written. Probably one of the best written movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s hilarious and authentic and dares to remind us that a movie doesn’t have to be filled with CGI and special effects to be good. It focuses on the intrigue and the characters, something many movies have a hard time to do today. Plus, the movie looks amazing. The colours, the light, the camera work… Everything looks absolutely beautiful.

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I’m not saying this movie is perfect, but it is great. And honestly, right now, I can’t find anything wrong with it. I’m sure there are a few things I’d like to change, but they seem so minor I can’t even write about them.

In the end, if you love funny movies or movies in general, you should definitely check it out. Don’t spend your money on the next Alice in Wonderland movie, which probably is as deceiving as the first one, and go see The Nice Guys instead.

The Nice Guys: A

“Captain America: Civil War” review

I gotta say, I thought this movie was amazing. I’ve always been a Marvel and superheroes fan, but I think this movie really stood out. I personally think the Captain America movies are the best ones of the Marvel cinematic universe (my personal favourite being The Winter Soldier) because they bring up more serious issues than the others, but still have that Marvel kind of humour. And Civil War is yet another great instalment.

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As you probably know by now, with the #TeamIronMan and #TeamCaptainAmerica, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Cap (Chris Evans) have some kind of a disagreement about a contract to sign and two teams of superheroes form. Before watching the movie, you might think you’ll side with your favourite one, but as you watch it, you realize that both sides are a little bit wrong and a little bit right. You understand why every character acts a certain way or thinks a certain thing, and this is such great writing! I honestly found it quite difficult to side with either one of them, because I agreed with both. The main issue is also quite an important one; when the Avengers fight against villains, many innocent people die. Cap and Iron Man basically disagree about how to react/what to do about the situation. I was so glad that this issue was brought up because every time I watch a superhero movie and buildings get smashed down and towns get destroyed, I always wonder what happens to the people in there, who have absolutely nothing to do with the fight.

Another thing in the movie that I found amazing is Spider-Man. Tom Holland did a great job and (I never thought I’d say that) I’m actually excited for the next stand-alone Spider-Man movie and really do have high hopes. I hope I won’t be disappointed.

I also adore Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). I think he has a very interesting story arc and we learn quite a lot about him in this movie. His relationship with Steve evolves a lot too, which was interesting as well. And his stunts were fantastic! Especially the motorcycle ones, if you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. In fact, all the stunt work throughout the movie was amazingly executed and the fight scenes were choreographed almost to perfection. So, props to the stunt people and all.

Of course, there are a few things that could have been better. One time in particular (I don’t want to spoil anything) but Iron Man is on his way to see Cap and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who could not have heard anything of where Iron Man was heading, is seen in a jet, going the same way, as if certain he would find what he is looking for. Yeah, fine, you might say he decided to follow Iron Man “just in case he was headed there”, but still. I know it sounds really picky, but it kinda bothered me.

I also was a bit disappointed with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Yes, most people find him useless, but he actually is one of my favourite characters. Not in this movie though. I think Cap, the Winter Soldier and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are some of the most well-written characters in the series and I hoped Hawkeye would become one of them. I always thought he was a very interesting character, they just never wrote him at his full potential. Maybe in the next one.

And yes, even though I think Black Panther is a very interesting character and I can’t wait to see his stand-alone movie, I thought maybe this movie could have done a better job with him. Yes, we learn a lot about him and his motivations are clear, but, kinda like Hawkeye, I think he might not have been written to his full potential. Of course, they probably didn’t reveal too much about him because they want us to get to really know him in his stand-alone movie, but still. I feel as if there was a little something missing to his introduction. Still a badass though.

All in all, I thought Captain America: Civil War was a great movie and one of the best Marvel movies so far, and I can’t wait to see where the characters will be next and how they will evolve because man do I get involved in these movies!

Captain America: Civil War: A