That’s disgusting. You should be ashamed.

I went to see The Reader because it was the next movie showing when I got to the cinema, and it was Sunday, and I had to see something or I’d derail my resolution. This isn’t something I expected to say so soon after watching He’s Just Not That Into You, but this is by far the worst movie I’ve seen this year. Just terrible; really, really bad. It’s boring, stupid and insipid, and the acting is dire. Did Kate Winslet really get an Oscar for this, or did I make that up? I didn’t realise so many horny teenage boys voted for Academy Awards.

The story is about this dorky kid who has an affair with an older woman in 50s Germany. Many years later, he finds out she’d been a concentration camp guard before they met, and he is all conflicted. At this point, when she’s on trial for war crimes, Kate’s performance is pretty hilariously twitchy. Anyway, then there’s some shit about the redemptive power of literature or something? I don’t know, I left about five minutes before the end because I really needed to go to the bathroom, and I was sure I knew the ending. If anyone has seen it, can you confirm – she ends up killing herself by piling up some books and then stepping off them to hang herself. Right? That’s how subtle the symbolism is in this wretched waste of celluloid.

I didn’t know anything about this, and for the first hour, which just consists of them having sex, I was just kind of waiting for it to have a plot. There were some intimations it might develop a story, and I didn’t want to leave, despite how tedious it was, before I found out what the movie was actually about. Just really boring softcore. I kept thinking, “Are there really people so undersexed they’d be entertained by this?” Jesus, rent a fucking porn movie and stop dressing it up in shitty moral dilemmas about the Holocaust. So anyway, yeah, it eventually had a plot. A shitty one, but at least a plot. The second half was somewhat less boring, but not really less painful.

Just for the sake of saying something good about this, the actor who plays the teenage boy is such a dork you can easily imagine him growing up to be Ralph Fiennes. Actually, during his scenes, which include a generous amount of full frontal nudity, I kept wondering how you cast a part like that. Memo to casting agents, we need a dorky, proto-Ralph Fiennes type with a decent schlong. Then the casting agents are calling their dorky young guys, “Hey, kid, I gotta ask you something, how many inches you got? Well, do you think you can play well hung?” The crushing disappointment when the producer calls back to say, “Look, your screen test was good, very good really, but we’re just going with the kid with 9 inches.”

Finally, here is something that really bugs me in movies: the characters who are supposedly German (as in this example, can be any nationality) all just speak English with a German accent. This is one of the all-time dumb movie conventions, I really wish they would just speak English and stop half-arsing it.

Later on, I went to a screening of Persepolis at my local anarchist book shop. This is a really great cartoon, adapting the two volumes of Marjane Satrapi’s comic book memoir of the same name, about growing up in Iran around the time of the revolution and the Iran/Iraq war. You should see it, because I am going to sound like a big dork if I just go on about how great it is. Very sad, very funny, laden with well-crafted ironies, and beautifully drawn.


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