Not So Happy Endings

This week, I’m going to be talking about endings. Now before you gasp and exclaim, “Not you too, mydangblog!” let me clarify that I am NOT talking about giving up blogging, although I just realized that I’m almost at my 6 year anniversary of posting EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY and isn’t that something to celebrate? I might just have to have a glass of wine or two. No, when I say ‘endings’, I mean movie endings. Normally, I leave the movie reviews up to my good friends at Assholes Watching Movies, Often Off-Topic, Silver Screenings, and Geek Cred, but lately I’ve had some very unhappy movie experiences that I feel compelled to rant about. Because frankly, it seems like the film industry, and television too, has gotten damn lazy and I’m fed up with picking a movie for Kate and me to watch and then 2 hours or more later, turning to each other and saying “What the f*ck was that?” I pay good money for Netflix and Prime, so I expect better. Also, I have a film degree, (Sidenote: once, when I was 20 years old, I had to sit through Michael Snow’s Wavelength. I fell asleep and when I woke up 20 minutes later, the scene hadn’t changed. It was still better than the movies I’m going to talk about), so I’m going to be using some very technical terms like ‘stupid’, ‘ridiculous’, and ‘ridiculously stupid’.

First, before you read on, I’m warning you that there will be several spoilers pertaining to my most recent, dire viewing experiences regarding Sons of Anarchy, Hereditary, Midsommar, and appropriately, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, so if you really feel that you absolutely must watch any or all of these examples of the stupidest endings I’ve ever seen and you want to go into it without any bias—well, I’ve given you the heads up, so you can’t blame me later. So here are the subjects of my complaints in chronological order:

1) Sons of Anarchy

I recently rewatched all seven seasons of Sons of Anarchy because I remembered it being a pretty good series. I mean, Charlie Hunnam is no DeNiro, but he’s still pretty convincing as Jax Teller, the president of a very naughty motorcycle club. The whole series is purportedly based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and as a former English teacher, I can attest that it does follow the plot of a Shakespearian tragedy very loosely. It would be hard to follow more closely since Hamlet was five acts long and SOA is seven YEARS long, but still, I could see the parallels more clearly this time, right down to the end. If you know anything about tragedies, the big thing is that the death of the hero restores the moral order. So in the last scene, our hero Jax is on his dead father’s motorcycle, flying down the highway being chased by an army of police cruisers. He sees a transport truck coming in the other direction; close-up on Jax as he smiles beatifically and takes his hands off the handlebars, holding them out like he’s flying. It’s perfect, in all its self-sacrificial glory. And then—the worst f*cking green screen I’ve ever seen in my life of Jax slamming into the front of the truck. It was so unrealistic, it was laughable, and the tears I’d been crying moments before turned to snickers. Could you imagine Shakespeare ending Hamlet by shooting a mannequin dressed in a jerkin and tights out of a cannon with Horatio yelling, “And flights of angels sing thee to thy death, dude!!”? Exactly.

I give this series 2 Tragic Flaws out of 5 because the series was pretty good, but that last scene was appalling.

And I think SOA started the curse of bad endings for me, because these next three are even worse.

2) Midsommar

A group of American 20-somethings take a vacation in Sweden to visit the commune where their friend grew up. And yes, nothing about that premise makes any sense. What American vacations in Sweden? Do Swedes even live in communes? At any rate, the main character, Dani, has nothing to lose because her family all dies at the beginning of the movie in a very nasty way. Then she tags along with her boyfriend of several years who’s been trying to dump her for a while, as they go to their friend’s weird-ass village. One of the first things that happens is that they witness a ritual where this old couple jump off a cliff, which is incredibly gory. And they don’t immediately leave, so how much sympathy should we have for them? Personally, the first red flag for me would have been being told I had to sleep in a single cot in a communal bedroom full of snoring men and screaming babies. “I’M ON VACATION!” would have been my reaction as I stomped away to find a Marriot somewhere. Anyway, a lot of people die, it’s super-creepy and nonsensical, then Dani’s cheating boyfriend is paralyzed by some drugs and sewn into a dead bear carcass, and he’s left in a hut with a bunch of other carcasses, and the hut gets set on fire, and apparently this is so there can be a good harvest. You want a good harvest? Instead of murdering people, you could always just water and fertilize your crops, but I guess ritual homicide is more fun. The last shot is a close-up of Dani wearing a flower hat, smiling as she watches the hut burn down, and according to the internet, there is an explanation for this, but I’m going with “My boyfriend was a jerk, so I’m very happy that he died in agony dressed as a bear”. At any rate, this movie was a direct rip-off of Robin Hardy’s 1973 film The Wicker Man which is actually a much better film with a very good ending.

I give Midsommar 0 Magic Mushrooms out of 5 because you had to be stoned to appreciate it and I don’t do drugs, although Kate pointed out that she FELT like she was stoned while watching it.

3) Hereditary

Imagine my shock a few minutes ago, when I was looking up “What was the name of the girl in Midsommar?” and discovered that Hereditary was directed by the same guy? So it makes sense that this movie was also ridiculous. It started off really well, with the creepy little miniatures and whatnot, but the pivotal scene that begins everything revolves around the older teenaged brother, Peter, being forced to take his thirteen-year-old sister to a party that he tells the mom, played by Toni Collette, is a “school barbeque”. First, what Mom forces her little girl to go and hang out with older teenagers that she doesn’t know, especially when the kid wants to stay home? Kate’s 22 and I’m still like “Stay home with me and we can watch crap movies together”. Second, the little girl has a fatal nut allergy—we know this because early in the movie, she’s very obviously asked by the mom if the chocolate bar she’s eating has nuts in it. Still, the sister with the fatal nut allergy is sent out without an epipen or even a warning not to eat anything that might have nuts in it. Then, at the party, there’s a very obvious shot of people chopping a HUGE quantity of walnuts and making cake with them, cake that the brother tells her to eat, which she does, because they have BOTH seemingly forgotten that she has a fatal nut allergy and neither think to ask if the cake HAS NUTS IN IT. She has an allergic reaction and that leads, obviously, to her accidental decapitation. Yes, I said ‘decapitation’.

Long story short, it becomes really super-weird and it turns out that it was all a plot by some bizarre cult to turn the brother into a demon prince with the sister’s spirit inside him. The last shot is a close-up of Peter wearing a paper, or maybe human flesh, who the hell knows, demon crown, surrounded by some other decapitated corpses, staring at the camera while the cult yells “Hail Paemon!”

I give this one 0 Walnuts out of 5 because it was stupid.

4) I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Ugh. The first 45 minutes was great, kind of like a Get Out for white people. Toni Collette was in this one too, and she was pretty good as the unhinged mom, which seems to be her wheelhouse these days. The premise was a woman and her boyfriend going to meet his parents for the first time. The first part of the film was from the perspective of the woman, who had a bunch of different names by the end, but initially she was called Lucy. They meet the parents, who are weird and keep appearing older and younger in different scenes which was cool because Kate and I would yell at each other, “Wait, his hair is gray now? WTF!” and she wasn’t allowed to go into the basement. At first anyway, then she went down to do laundry later. Then suddenly the whole thing changed once they left the house and there was a snowstorm, bizarre ice cream servers, a high school janitor, interpretive dance, the musical Oklahoma, and the whole thing now seemed to be from Jake, the boyfriend’s, perspective. At which point, I turned to Kate and said, “Is it almost over?” and she replied “There’s still over an hour left.” Thankfully, we finally came to the last shot which was of the janitor’s pick-up truck in the snow. So maybe Jake was the janitor, maybe the janitor was Curly from Oklahoma, who the f*ck knows or cares? Apparently, the director of this film, Charlie Kaufmann, is willing to explain it all to you. Frankly, if I need a User Manual to understand a movie, then maybe the director should have worked harder to make it clear. This movie is also based on a book, which is now on the bestseller’s list again, because people are dying to know if the book explains things any clearer than the stupid movie.

I give this 1 Tulsey Town Ice Cream Cone out of 5 because the beginning was good.

And now I’m going to rate this blog post by giving it, and myself, 3 1/2 Glasses of Wine out of 5 because it was a bit long and ranty. The End.

52 thoughts on “Not So Happy Endings

  1. I felt the same about Midsommar, it sucked monkey balls, same think for SOA. I was completely disappointed at watching every single season and then the end series came along and I was like WTF just happened here!?
    I haven’t seen I’m Thinking Of Ending Things or whatever, it just didn’t peak my interest enough to want to watch it. So thanks for your review because now I know I won’t watch it, lol. Charlie is asking if you’ve watched The Warriors yet? He meows that you’ll like it despite its 1970 vibe, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. First of all, congrats on the upcoming 6 year anniversary. That’s quite an accomplishment! Secondly, thanks for the plug for my blogsite at which readers can expect posts with no sense of consistency or schedule.

    Is it wrong that your blog makes me want to watch some of these movies now? The only one I’m familiar with is SoA. Loved the show. I even loved the lead up to the end. Finale, as you say… somewhat unsatisfying.

    OK, time to find something to write about. Thanks for a great Sunday morning read!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow. Other than the Sons of Anarchy ending, that one sounds interesting. The rest of them… um… no thanks. My husband likes action-hero movies, so I probably wouldn’t get a chance to watch any of these ridiculous ones anyway. (Not that action-hero movies aren’t also ridiculous, IMHO). Sometimes I wonder how people even come up with these things. They sounds so bizarre. Thanks for the warnings. And happy blogging anniversary!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I was interested in I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Charley Kaufman wrote and directed it, and he does interesting, unusual stuff. Also had a good cast. Reviews, though, could be summarized as WTF, depressing, or don’t bother. In a way, your review kindles an interest in me to see just how bad this thing is…

    Thanks for the laughs. Cheers

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This goes to exactly what we were just discussing over at my dang blog, Suzanne: that linear stories with conclusive resolutions no longer resonate with a culture in a state of telecommunications-induced “presentism.” More to the point: We don’t feel like we deserve catharsis anymore. Movies like so many you cite above are a direct manifestation of this.

    Then, of course, is the fact that with fewer linear, cathartic stories, the very skill of writing them begins to atrophy. I do think, though, that more and more folks — like yourself — are aching for prescriptive storytelling, so perhaps we’ll reclaim it in the decade ahead? Stay tuned…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, that’s exactly what Kate and I were saying–it seems like there are too many movies these days without “payoff” or catharsis as you put it. Traditional narrative has always been more my style, as you probably can tell from my writing. Not that I don’t enjoy the strange or weird, but I still need some kind of payoff! This reminds me a lot of the the sudden shift away from traditional poetic structures in the early 20th century as Imagism came to the forefront, but at least Imagism (and Surrealism and Dadaism and all the other isms) made sense in their own way. What I’m seeing right now really is, I think, a kind of creative laziness, but then again, maybe I’m the lazy one for not trying harder!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I get it. So many movies lately leave my husband and I scratching our heads as the credits roll, and saying, “It’s over? What kind of ending was that? Is there going to be a sequel? Alexa, explain the movie____.”
    Also, six years! Good for you. I’ve only been at it for three, and find it harder all the time to come up with subject matter.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ask Alexa what she thinks about a couple of these and see her virtual head explode, lol! And thanks–trying to think of things to write is always the hard part, especially now that we’re pretty well confined to these four walls. But there’s always something completely trivial that I can turn into fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I hate to be contrary but this deserves five glasses of wine. I’m tempted to say it goes to eleven, but that might be too much even for you. Among other things you’ve enlightened me and challenged my belief that I’ll watch anything with Toni Collette in it. Because a terrible ending can ruin even an otherwise good film.
    Since it’s October you’ve also nicely reminded me that Dario Argento is supposed to be this amazing horror director but I don’t find his films scary at all because the people in them make the stupidest decisions possible. A door can be marked “Certain Death-Don’t Open!” and the heroine will not only open it but close and lock it behind her.
    Although I would take a summer vacation in Sweden if I had the chance. Better than a winter vacation in Sweden. As soon as I saw a ritual suicide, though, I’d head straight for Sri Lanka.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This brings up my simplified version of Ratings & Reviews: Yes or No.

    If Yes, then a ranking is in order. That is, what culturally popular film (or book or restaurant or candy bar or vacation spot (or wine)) should one experience BEFORE this one. But AFTER that one. But, put it on your Yes list regardless of when you get to it.

    The concept of endings ruining anything is critical. There are only three parts (B, M, E), if you screw any of them up, it’s crap. There are too many good–whatever–to experience to put up with crap, in any manifestation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I guess I just like loops to be closed in a satisfactory way, and to me, endings are the most important thing. I like your rating system–mine is similar under normal circumstances: Ooh! or Ugh! But in these cases, there was too much gray area!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Please don’t throw rocks at me, but I watched Midsommar, and I found it interesting. It is the kind of movie I can’t really say if I enjoyed or not, but it left me thinking. And I like that about a film… Midsommar is definately disturbing, and confusing, and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but I found it worth watching, personally. I actually wrote a post about it too, ( https://cyranny.com/2020/01/11/midsommar/ ) if anyone is interested 😉

    Congratulations for your 6th anniversary!! I’ll drink to that!! (another good reason to have a nice glass of wine, thank you very much, hehehehe) xx

    Liked by 2 people

  10. You be ranty, Suzanne, you have earned it. Plus your rants are super fun to read, and ranty autocorrected to “meringue” which leaves me to wonder just what the hell has happened to my keyboard!!! I just began watching Evil, and so far, 4/5 glasses of white. Creepy, but not terrifying enough to prevent sleep. Maybe it’s the wine too? I guess we will never know. Happy almost 6 years! We are so lucky!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I grew up on reruns from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. There isn’t a single show from my actual lifetime that I’ve ever cared for. Give me the Twilight Zone any day over this garbage* that passes for TV in this millennium…

    * – Sorry, as a non-film student, I don’t know those fancy terms like you do… thus, garbage.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I feel personally responsible for convincing you to see Hereditary – I’m sorry!
    Getting the ending right is just an ongoing problem for sure. I feel at least with a movie you’ve only lost a couple of hours, but when your favourite TV show has a crap ending it’s sometimes years you feel like you’ve wasted!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I think these “movies” plots sound like an ‘dis-associative film disorder’. I just made that up. Don’t ask the director what it is about because he/she doesn’t know anything about well, ANYthing. My comments usually about this type of film is: I am just glad they are making movies rather than acting these scenarios out in real life. *sigh* Oh and I do take vacation in Scandinavia. LOL. The country is not like that stupid movie.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. suze hartline says:

    my MIL, bless her heart, was Swedish and yet she never showed a propensity for murdering people..unless it was through the inedible foods she presented us all at Thanksgiving dinners. We learned quickly to go to McDonalds before going to George’s old home….and grats Suz on the book being published! I can now say I KNOW a famous Authoress!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. 1. Wavelength? You watched it – even with the tiny nap? You are my hero.
    2. Six Years = yay! Happy (belated) Blogaversary.
    3. Thanks for the mention, but an even BIGGER thanks for the bad ending notices. A bad ending is of my greatest Movie Pet Peeves, and I am relieved to have been warned away from this lameness.

    Liked by 2 people

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