The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Enough of misery!

with 30 comments

I’ve had enough.

Without planning for it, there has been one reoccurring theme in my posting of lately, running like a red thread in my movie watching: misery.

I’ve watched people getting buried alive, become possessed by the devil, die from cancer, turn into sharks while they didn’t want to, consider committing suicide or simply killing other people in the most gruelling way you can think of. At the best, the endings have been ambiguous or bittersweet, but more often than not, they’ve been on the sad side.

What’s up with all this sadness? I suppose it’s some kind of collective psychotherapy we’re going through, either we’re on the producing or the consuming side. If we share the pain and go through it once more it might disappear, or at least we can perspective on it.

“At least I’m not as miserable as those poor persons on the screen”.

There isn’t much of a choice either. Many cheerful, happy-ending movies are unfortunately burdened with stereotypes and clichés that are bound to annoy me rather than make me smile. Most movies that are considered “good” are miserable. How hard isn’t it to find an upbeat film that has been showered in nominations, awards and general acclaim from the critics? Movies whose only aim is to entertain and cheer you up, providing a couple of hours of escape are, if not frowned upon, at least dismissed.

A happiness counterattack
I’ve realized that this has to come to an end. If I won’t watch and write about something happier soon, I will see this place crumbling into pieces, the roof falling in by its own weight.

It is time to make a happiness counterattack, so this is what I will do:

1. I’m going to watch Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a musical that has been on my too-watch list for a long time. Hopefully it will cure me from any film induced blues I’m suffering from. Musicals often have that effect on me. I’ll let you know what I thought of it next week.

2. I will put together a list of  movies which are guaranteed to cheer me up.

In order to avoid too much of repetition I’ve decided to pass on movies such as Life of Brian, Billy Elliot, Groundhog Day, Together, ET and Love Actually, since they were mentioned as recently as last week. I’ve also talked numerous times about It’s a Wonderful Life and Amélie, so they are also excluded from this list.

Some of my choices are probably pretty obvious, films that tend to come up in lists over happiness evoking movies. Others are maybe not quite as popular in film buff circles and might cause some raised eyebrows, which I obviously don’t give a crap about.

And now: I present you 10 movies or categories of movies for increased happiness:

Muriel’s Wedding
You might not have heard of this little gem from Australia, unless you’re a) an Aussie or b) love ABBA (there’s a LOT of that). I’ve never dreamed of a church wedding, but Muriel’s determination to have one and to break up from the misery of her family makes me happy.

Gregory’s Girl
The Scottish accents. The dancing in the park. And the strange penguin dressed person in the background, never explained. Quirky? You bet. But it was quirky before everyone else was quirky. I love it. Just love it.

Can’t Buy Me Love
And so they lived happily in all their days. The most popular girl in the school finally realizes that the nerdiest of the nerds, a teenaged Patrick Dempsey, as a matter of fact is pretty hot, so she jumps up behind him on the lawn mover and they ride off towards the horizon accompanied by one of Beatles’s happiest songs. And I’ve just told you the end but it doesn’t matter because you didn’t believe this movie would end unhappily anyway, did you? There’s a peculiar African dance as well which won’t be forgotten anytime soon. I suppose this is what you call a guilty pleasure?

India light movies
Last winter I was in Goa on a perfect holiday. People told me that Goa wasn’t “real” India. It was India light, suitable for tourists. It suited me perfectly. I honestly doubt I’ve got the right stuff to endure a day in Calcutta. And it seems to be the same with movies. I love movies with a touch of India in it. The tourist version. I haven’t enjoyed the all out Indian movies I’ve watched so far. But I love Bollywood light. Bend it Like Beckham has only a hint of curry in it, but enough to tickle my senses. Monsoon Wedding tastes stronger and includes more dancing. Bride & Prejudice  is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, but in an Indian setting. Weird but totally enjoyable. Full colour dancing numbers can brighten any dull day.

Shakespeare in Love
The way they talk. The way they walk. The costumes, the, the environment, the humour, the sweetness, the love. So delightful.

Just about any movie starring Hugh Grant
I’m honestly not one of Hugh Grant’s biggest fans. Some actors transform into the most shifting characters and you can barely fathom at it’s actually the same person behind the make-up. But to me Hugh Grant seems to be playing more or less the same person every time. However – I can’t help being quite charmed by this person and those movies, mostly fairly high quality rom-coms never fail to cheer me up. Four Weddings and a Funeral. Notting Hill. Bridget Jones’s Diary. About a Boy. Music and Lyrics. I’m all for it! He’s even been in one of the less talked about Woody Allen movies, Small Time Crooks. Totally enjoyable. I would pass on Nine Months. But with that exception, I’d say Hugh Grant is a good sign that you won’t feel depressed after watching a movie.

Fucking Åmål (Show Me Love)
Two girls walk out of a toilet, and all of a sudden everything seems so easy. If you feel stuck in Åmål or some other suffocating place in your life you don’t need to stay. You can just walk out of it.

Forrest Gump
Get inspired. Be kind. Be honest. Put on your shoes and run and life will treat you well. And there’s always another piece of chocolate to try out.

When Harry Met Sally
Love is a tricky thing and it may take quite a few years before you eventually get it right. But there’s hope. For everyone.

The Full Monty
Back in the 80s the height of fun was to watch naked men dancing with balloons covering their intimate parts. Weird, I know. I never cared for it very much, not even back at that time. The striptease scene in The Full Monty is something different though. Watch this clip. And smile.

The ultimate cheer-me-up weapon
So, has this put you in a nice weekend mood? Do you feel energized enough to deal with everything that needs to be done as we quickly are approaching Christmas? Not? Well, then I’ll give you my final, ultimate cheer-me-up-weapon.

Strictly it’s not a movie, but it will work if everything else fails. It reminds me of that no matter what, life is in the end a wonderful, interesting adventure, where we boldly go where no one has gone before. (For your information: It’s the intro to Star Trek TNG in case you didn’t click the link).

And with that exclamation mark in space I’ll leave you now, wishing you a wonderful, sparkling and entirely cheerful weekend.

Written by Jessica

December 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

30 Responses

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  1. To cheer me up, I will usually go to Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Groundhog Day. Perhaps 50 First Dates or The Emperor’s New Groove. Or, if I have to pull in the big guns: Finding Nemo.

    Steve Kimes

    December 2, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    • Finding Nemo was up for consideration here. I thought of a lot of animated movies but couldn’t settle for one so I anded up having noone on the list. But it’s a wonderful movie, very much agreed!

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 8:48 pm

  2. Yay for the Skallamann movement! I agree with most of your recommendations to; love Indian films and musicals, love Hugh Grant (including Nine Months), etc, etc.

    I feel there’s been a lack of satisfying comedy, the surest source of joy. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was close last year and Tucker and Dale vs Evil is the best I’ve had this year. Hot Fuzz was great. Going with the Beatles theme, A Hard Day’s Night is delightful. O Brother Where Art Thou and Team America: World Police as well.

    Bondo

    December 2, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    • The world needs more Skallamann attitude indeed! I must admit I’ve missed out most of the movies you’re mentioning. I’ve seen O Brother Where Art Though, but my recollections are very vague. Thanks for the ideas though!

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

  3. How about a dose of a big silly man (who looks like Will Ferrell) walking round New York in a green suit?

    Pete

    December 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    • Hmmm… Elf? I’m afraid I haven’t seen that one. Yet.

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 9:13 pm

  4. I’m neither an Aussie nor an ABBA fan, but I loved Muriel’s Wedding! And…go see The Muppets if it opens near you. It’s damnably cute.

    SJHoneywell

    December 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    • The Muppets won’t arrive to Sweden until March. 😦 It totally should be a Christmas release imo.

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm

  5. OH!!!! I fuckin’ love Hedwig & the Angry Inch. That is a musical. It’s got great songs and lots of energy.

    Steven Flores

    December 2, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    • I was floored by it! Review is incoming soonish hopefully.

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 9:15 pm

  6. You could always try “Seducing Doctor Lewis”, a film from Québec which my wife and I both enjoyed.

    Hugmenot

    December 3, 2011 at 4:58 am

    • Never heard of. Not many Canadian movies make their way to our part of the world. But thanks for the idea!

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

  7. Hope you enjoy Hedwig. I went to see it about 3 times when it was on in the theatre in London, and although I love the film, I always think of it as a stage play.

    spinks

    December 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    • Also “Moulin Rouge” is the film that always cheers me up for some reason (my partner is very very sick of it 😉 )

      spinks

      December 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      • To be honest I never finished that one. 😦 It happens very, very rarely, but it just didn’t click with me, no idea why. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood and should give it a second chance.

        Jessica

        December 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    • I adored the film! Will write more about it soon.

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

  8. Ooh, Muriel’s Wedding. I remember watching it ages ago, and I loved it. I also loved Bride and Prejudice as a pick-me-up. I found Monsoon Wedding less so, it was more emotionally fraught.

    As for my cheer-up films, Local Hero is a must, it’s one that takes me back to two holidays spent in the Outer Hebrides. I also love the 60s feel of Down With Love, the delicious feel of Benny and Joon, which is one of my favourite Depp films, next to Don Juan Del Marco. But my all-time favourite cheer up has to be a single scene, from the Princess Bride, the duelling scene with the Man In Black, and Inigo Montoya. Gets me every time!

    Alq

    December 3, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    • I’ve loved everything I’ve seen by Forsyth, but I don’t remember Local Hero as clearly. I definitely should visit it a gain.
      The Princess Bride is one I would love to watch again.

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm

  9. Nice selections! I watch a lot of depressing films, so it’s nice to watch something upbeat for a chance. Think I’ll rewatch Fucking Åmål, as I love that film and haven’t seen it in a while.

    Also, I’m not from Australia nor do I like ABBA, but I do love Muriel’s Wedding… I mean, Mariel’s Wedding. 🙂

    Tyler

    December 4, 2011 at 5:12 am

    • Glad to hear you share the love for Muriel! I always thought it was a fairly small movies that not too many people had watched, but it appears that I was wrong judging from the comments.

      Jessica

      December 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm

      • I’ve never heard of Fucking Åmål, but apparently it’s popular in Sweden? I’m sort of interested in it, but is there any type of mood to be in before watching it?

        Max

        December 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm

        • Not really. It’s a very accessable movie, showing the pains of growing up in a small city in the countryside, with a certain dark humor that makes it enjoyable.

          Jessica

          December 7, 2011 at 9:11 am

  10. Count me in as another fan of Hedwig & The Angry Inch. That film is AWESOME!!!

    Rodney Twelftree

    December 4, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    • It totally is! Expect an enthusiatic review incoming in a few…

      Jessica

      December 5, 2011 at 11:51 pm

  11. teehee, I didn’t want to say anything but you were seemingly focused on the miserable.

    We watched the Ghostbuster yesterday, that always cheers me up, and what cheers me up more is showing fun films that i Love to our girls to pass on the loving!!

    They adore LABYRINTH because of one of these nostalgic trips!!

    Merry Christmas

    Scott Lawlor

    December 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

    • Yeah, it was definitely time to break the pattern and get a bit of joy for a change. Ghostbusters! That sounds like an awesome idea. Haven’t watched it in SO many years. I wonder how it holds up. I reckon it does since you showed it to your girls.

      Jessica

      December 5, 2011 at 11:54 pm

  12. This is going to sound weird but my favorite films, Lost in Translation and Eternal Sunshine usually make me feel better. When exploring new films this year I’ve found that I avoided a lot of them due to intense subject matter. Films like Reservoir Dogs, Apocalypse Now, and A Clockwork Orange. I still have Three Colors Bleu, Full Metal Jacket and American History X to sit through. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to watch an uplifting film that washes the unsettling feeling of some of these other films away. Hope your able to find some cheerful films.

    Max

    December 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    • Oh, Those two movies are also in my very top of favorites. They’re not exactly cheerful, but the bittersweet melancholy of them is what I love most in movies.

      Jessica

      December 7, 2011 at 9:12 am

  13. A very nice list with a definite pick-me-up-potential 🙂 I love Muriel and have probably watched her walk down the isle at least ten times. Hugh Grant is sooooo out, on the other hand, it seems I can’t shake that arrest and his later repetitious performances.

    For me, I usually go to the very familiar for a sure mood boost — old Disney animated and Mary Poppins.

    Sofia

    December 8, 2011 at 6:20 am

    • He IS repetitive! I don’t even consider him a particularly good actor. But that kind of British rom-coms cheer me up for the moment.

      Jessica

      December 8, 2011 at 10:14 am


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