The Death of Stalin

You know that feeling when everyone’s on a band wagon, and it looks like a nice wagon, it probably has bales of hay and ribbons and shit, maybe even a thermos of hot cocoa nestled in there somewhere. A damn nice wagon, and all  your friends are on it, everyone you like and respect. And you’re just standing on the side of the road like a dummie, waving at the wagon that probably has speakers blasting cool music and everyone’s got spiked punch and they’re whispering juicy secrets to each other, the kind that make them raise their eyebrows. But you’re not on the wagon. The wagon’s having its wagon parade without you. You are a lonely loser, unworthy of wagons.

Anyway, this is what it feels like to be me today. And by today I mean for the past month, ever since I watched the movie everyone’s been talking about it, and didn’t like it.

MV5BNWI0MjZkN2EtMTE5MS00MDYxLWE1ZDAtOTMwYTY2YjI1OTI5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzI1NzMxNzM@._V1_It’s 1953 and the awful dictator Stalin has just died unexpectedly, and left quite a stain on a very nice rug. All of his cronies spring into action, each filled with fantasies of how he might benefit from the situation. Most bypass grief or even basic respect and go straight to power mongering.

It’s supposed to be this wonderful, hilarious political farce. It stars Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, and Jason Isaacs, among many, many more. Big titles, small men. And everyone was raving about it!  And the thing is, I wasn’t bored by it, I just wasn’t entertained by it. So I feel like I failed. For some reason (perhaps its 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes), I can’t dismiss it, can’t find fault in the movie. Instead I’m blaming myself for being a bad movie watcher (distracted? grumpy? too obtuse to appreciate the humour?) and I’d resolved to simply not write about it so that no one would know my secret shame. No one could look down on my from atop that rockin’ wagon and point their judgy little fingers at the lame movie reviewer who couldn’t get her shit together.

So there it is: apparently a very good movie that I was not very good at enjoying. This is not the first populist movie I’ve failed to love, and it likely won’t be the last. Possibly you’ve got a movie or two housed among the skeletons in your closet. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to reveal yourself (no, please do, please confess your movie sins!) but I’m thinking of starting up my own little reject wagon, possibly more like one of those little red flyer ones, with tinsel on it, or streamers. Not too festive of course, but not totally oozing with shame either. A recovery wagon, for losers like me, losers like us, who occasionally just hate the fuck out of movies for no reason.

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36 thoughts on “The Death of Stalin

  1. allthingsthriller

    I feel EXACTLY the way you do about this film, Jay. The reviews were so ecstatic that I felt really stupid telling people that I didn’t like it…Hated it, actually. Even worse, I was tempted to lie and say, “I liked it…Maybe not as much as the critics (you know, give it realism) but, yes, I thought it was good. VERY good.” But I didn’t. I very rarely lie.
    Here’s one of my shame movies that I don’t like that everybody loves so it’s definitely ME: Point Blank (1967). And if that’s not bad enough, I actually L-O-V-E the “remake” with Mel Gibson, “Payback”…

    Liked by 5 people

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  2. tubularsock

    Well Tubularsock will not see this movie for three reasons.

    One, Stalin’s dead.

    Two, in support of you Jay and your little festive red flyer wagon.

    And Three, to celebrate allthingsthriller triumph over her near LIE about liking it!

    Now with the three of us and Jay’s tinseled red flyer we can have a parade!

    Liked by 3 people

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  3. steveforthedeaf

    I loved it but I share your shame on so many other movies. I hated Forest Gump, Silence Of The Lambs and Shawshank Redemption while the world tells me they’re top 100 films of all time. And so many comedies. So many dog awful comedies…

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. msjadeli

    Hadn’t even heard of it until now. Tambor was accused of sexual misconduct so not interested in seeing him anything. Movies so well loved I thought were nothing special (off the top of my head): Terms of Endearment and Titanic. :::jumping on the wagon:::

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  5. thehuntress915

    We’re on this shame wagon with you. There are many, many movies that the almost all of civilization loved that I hated. One being that dreaded film The English Patient, I mean hell the fuck oh, it was like watching paint dry while gagging on an old piece of popcorn with nothing to drink! There are so many of us that feel like you do. So on to the parade of Jay with that tinseled red flyer that Tubularsock speaks of!!

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  6. Bryce Warden

    I liked it but it didn’t change my life or anything. I chuckled and smirked throughout but I was not rolling on the floor dying which, would have been awkward because I watched it on a plane.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Well it’s possible that even I would have liked it on a plane – I think we’re so desperate for entertainment when trapped on planes that our standards are much lower!

      Liked by 2 people

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      1. The Arcane Nibbler

        Well I feel like there’s something wrong with me. Everyone likes Casablanca right? Btw your review had me curious about The Death of Stalin so I rented it on iTunes. It was only 99¢. That should tell me something, no? Ha ha. Haven’t watched it yet though.

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  7. mydangblog

    There are so many movies that EVERYONE raves about but that I thought was terrible that I couldn’t even begin to list them. We’re all allowed to have our own tastes. Was this really a comedy? Because I can’t find anything funny about Stalin.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Chris

    “Saving Private Ryan” — it seems no one sees how embarrassing, nationalistic, war-hungry, maudlin, cliched and sappy it really is. John Waters told me he much prefers the X-rated version, “Shaving Ryan’s Privates.”

    Liked by 2 people

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  9. Brittani

    I liked this movie but I know exactly how you feel about being on the wrong bandwagon. I laughed my ass off when Stalin’s son is trying to spit and it just falls back on his face. Awkward though, since I watched this on an airplane.

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  10. Liz A.

    How we react to stories is individual. There are plenty of awful movies that someone out there loves. Hating something that seems popular? We’ve all done it. I don’t get what constitutes humor nowadays. Things that everyone finds funny I just can’t.

    And it’s more than movies. If I gave you a list of foods I hate, I guarantee everyone would be aghast. So, no shame. Just an honest review.

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  11. Jeff the Chef

    I loved this movie. But I can see why not everyone would. We’re a long distance from the time of Stalin, and the movie didn’t introduce you to it, they lust jumped in as if you were fully up on world history. Also, the humor was at times as sideways as the plotting and backstabbing in the movie. I came away from it thinking it was hysterical, but that it seemed to have aimed to a very small audience.

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  12. badblokebob

    Is there an amusing analogy for sort of being on a band wagon but not really? Because I liked The Death of Stalin, but didn’t think it was as amazing as people were saying.

    For myself, No Country for Old Men and Raging Bull are probably the top films everyone else loves but I just didn’t get on with. I also feel like I must be the one in the wrong, which at least is a better response than those people who dislike a popular movie so decide the rest of the world must be idiots…

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  13. selizabryangmailcom

    I haven’t seen this movie; thanks for the review and the warnings.

    As for movies everyone loves that we hated, a few include: Hunger Games, Avatar, Interstellar, LaLa Land and all the Harry Potter movies. I’m sure I would get death threats if I ever blogged in detail about them.

    Agree with the above Shawshank Redemption sucking and English Patient boring me to the point of wanting to jump out of a window. I also wanted to punch Ralph Fiennes in the solar plexus a lot, and he usually doesn’t bother me that much.

    No Country For Old Men, tho, is one of my all-time favorites, especially the ending–Tommy Lee Jones’ face as he narrates a dream he had in his matter-of-fact way, then he says, “And then I woke up,” and there’s a hard cut to black, and that’s it.

    It’s interesting to see reality turned on its head with some folks loathing what others love and vice versa.

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  14. jeanleesworld

    I’m excited to see this just to see Michael Pailn acting again, but I get your point–I feel the same way about the new Star Wars films. Everyone gushes about them, but I just feel…meh. I can’t bring myself round to like them.

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