Alright! MOVIE DIARY 2018 is here this week with special guest Jo Barchi! I know Jo from the internet, and I’m very pumped that they decided to write about Destination Wedding as a couple weeks ago I tried to give it a shot and I could not make it past that title card. I thank Jo for their bravery in watching the entire goddamn thing.
WARNING: SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS ALL OF THESE HAVE SPOILERS
Destination Wedding (2018)
SPECIAL GUEST WRITER: JO BARCHI
First of all fuck off with all of this “having a destination wedding is self indulgent and narcissistic” shit. Did the hack who wrote this movie think this was some groundbreaking thought? That getting married is selfish? Of course it is. So is making an entire movie about two miserable, rude, boring people who shit on everyone for seemingly no reason. The writer/director of Destination Wedding (2018) has decided for some reason that we don’t need to be able to hear or experience anyone else at the titular wedding. This decision brings us further into the already insular world of our two leads. It’s clear this is supposed to be a clever choice on his part but it’s just fucking exhausting. It leaves us stuck listening to two completely uninteresting and cruel people, or waiting in fear to hear what new fucked up thing they will say.
I should start again and say that Keanu Reeves is my boyfriend. He is my phone background. I recently read an interview Dennis Cooper did with him, pre my own private idaho. He asks Keanu if he’s gay and he pauses before saying no, but who knows. Which is hot. It’s hot and I’m not going to let any self righteous gays tell me off for that. This is all to say that I would die for him, and his overwhelming amount of charisma.
I hate this movie for making him make idiotic and tired jokes about political correctness. How original, a man who thinks destination weddings are boring and says transphobic shit. How boring.
I don’t even need to begin to tell you that I would, and in what ways I would, die for Winona. You should already understand that.
I think they are both geniuses. They have immense talent and agents who only sometimes understand that. Neither one of them can save this piece of shit movie. This movie feels like a draft of a senior thesis that some dipshit would write in a bad film undergrad program. This movie feels like what men are always trying to tell me. That romcoms aren’t realistic. That they need more realism. That we need a film that talks about love the way it really is. Which according to this douchebag, is two people meeting at a wedding for someone they despise (for one it’s his brother and for the other her ex) and that fate will bring them together. So that they can settle for a life of saying rude and boring shit to each other. This is the lie that men want you to believe. That this is realism and some reasonable attack on the overzealous ideas of romance that “Hollywood” would have you and your bitch girlfriend buy.
So you and your bitch girlfriend leave the theater and you stand outside explaining to her how genius this film was. How it was real and honest about love. And did she like it? Because the woman got to be weak? The woman got to want more? The man shows up at the woman’s door and she lets him in even though he’s a dick? Did you like that babe? Did you fuckin love it?
The main thing I want to talk about, the reason I asked to write about this is because of the sex scene. The one where here they fuck among the tall grass. They have just seen a mountain lion. I quit trying to be a poet because I kept getting confused about symbolism, so I don’t really understand what the point of the mountain lion is. I’m just trying to be honest. They fuck and have a talk and it’s unprotected. They fuck and she starts saying over and over again “NO”. See here’s the thing. It could be funny. Because who among us hasn’t had sex with someone and wanted to yell no at themselves the whole time? Certainly not me babe. I’m not the one to throw the first stone. But from the rest of the film, from the context being given, from the writer/director/s clearly boring sense of humor, I’m led to believe this is a rape joke.
I’m not going to write out some long treatise. I’m not gonna tell you how stupid rape jokes are and how harmful and triggering they are. You have an internet connection you can figure that out for your fuckin self. This is boring and it’s stupid and he missed so many chances to be funny.
This movie is just like going to a destination wedding, and not falling in love. Just one big missed fuckin opportunity.
Jo Barchi is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in or is forthcoming from, Buzzfeed, the shabby dollhouse reader, peach mag, and joyland mag. They live in Chicago.
I’m not really sure I know how to approach this one. If I’m being honest with you, I think a lot of my hangups with this movie may be more about being protective about my fondness for Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977). Kind of like how when you meet someone with the same name as your best friend, and you just kind of unfairly start comparing them unfavorably to your best friend because honestly how dare they share a name with your best friend?? I was thinking about it and maybe the best approach to this movie for me is to think of it as a separate thing entirely? I mean, I guess that’s maybe impossible, but I think I want to like this movie more than I did, and I’m really just trying to ease up on these kinds of things. I’m in my thirties and I still eat red meat pretty regularly so I’m trying not to get too worked up about not liking a movie anymore.
I’ve talked about Argento movies before on here, and one of the things I admire most about them is how aggressive and overwhelming they are. Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria seemingly opts to do the opposite in this regard. That loud, claustrophobic Goblin score is switched out for a dreamy, elevator ambience from Thom Yorke. Argento’s last gasp of technicolor flourishes through gaudy stained glass are replaced by the drab grays and browns of a dance academy built along the Berlin wall. Guadagnino’s Suspiria is also almost a full hour longer than Argento’s. My ungenerous read is that it’s boring and too long, but my galaxy brain take is that Guadagnino is being stylistically aggressive and overwhelming like Argento, but in different, maybe less expected ways. The movie certainly feels huge, both in plot and in scope, but I can’t help but feel that Guadagnino’s Suspiria is doing too much and too little at the same time.
That being said, I respect that Guadagnino tried to make it his own, though I’m not really sure he pulled it all off. For instance, setting the story amidst the turmoil of a divided Germany is an interesting choice, one that’s just rife with built-in metaphors and shorthand for political relevance, but I think it ended up being too much. Part of it I think is that so much time is given to Josef Klemperer’s plot, and I’m not sure I understand why aside from trying to cram in yet another example of Germany’s internal divide, its hateful rot affecting the lives of ordinary men. We already get that with the witches’ internal power struggle, exerting their power and influence over these young women, Tilda Swinton playing three characters, etc etc, we get it! It’s all a reflection of the evil in the world like the reflections within reflections in the mirrored dance practice / murder room! I’m usually fine with things being heavy handed but I’m not particularly fond of things being repeated. The dance element of it was the more interesting illustration of evil infiltrating the lives of mortals anyway, I would’ve loved to have more of that. Dakota Johnson is pretty good in this one as she expertly pulls off the look of someone ready to become an empty vessel in service of something greater than herself. The give and take between her and Tilda Swinton’s Madame Blanc is a really fun thing to see, their relationship developing from the student-teacher dynamic to honest artistic collaborators and mutual admirers to primordial evil and person whose head get mostly chopped off by a primordial evil.
I don’t know, it ended up being fine, but I guess I just (maybe unfairly) wanted it to be a little bit more focused, a bit more finely tuned.
THERE ARE SERIOUSLY SO MANY SPOILERS COMING UP PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BE CAREFUL
Wow! Wow fuck yeah! I loved this movie! Burning follows the hapless Jong-su as he bums around post-university and gets caught up with Hae-mi, a friend from his old hometown. Jong-su starts getting feelings for her but she flies off to a trip to Africa and leaves him to feed her cat. He dutifully returns to her apartment to feed her cat and masturbate in her bed. It’s weird, but less in that it’s creepy and more in that he’s really just kind of a sad sack with nothing else going on in his life. When Hae-mi returns, it’s with her new boyfriend Ben, and that’s when the movie really gets going.
There’s this great shift in tone and mood as soon as Ben shows up. Following Jong-su around makes the movie feel like this sort of slice of life, observational kind of thing about loneliness and ennui and telling everyone you’re a writer when really you’re not doing anything and having to move back to your shitty hometown, but then Ben is introduced and suddenly Jong-su has a counterpoint. At the onset, Steve Yuen plays Ben as kind of a rom-com villain, and it’s funny watching Jong-su have to tag along and be the third wheel to the woman he loves and her boyfriend, a guy who dresses better than him, has more money than him, has a cool apartment, hosts dinners with his many friends. There’s this great part where Jong-su is warning Hae-mi about Ben, telling her there’s something fishy about how he’s around their age, making all this money despite not seeming to actually have a job. Jong-su thinks it’s some kind of Great Gatsby situation, and we find out he’s not entirely wrong as Ben slowly starts to reveal to Jong-su that something is off with him. Then Hae-mi mysteriously disappears and Jong-su is fully convinced that Ben is responsible.
The revelation about Ben plays out so well because it just slowly escalates with each scene. Ben starts out as this affable, positive, and maybe a little annoyingly confident guy, and you’re wondering if maybe Jong-su is just being a little bit jealous about his crush’s boyfriend. Then there’s a series of increasingly red flags— Ben thinks it’s fascinating when people cry because he’s never done it, he has very libertarian politics, he has that shares that attitude of bemused entitlement with his rich friends, he claims he likes to burn down abandoned greenhouses for fun— it’s very quickly obvious that something is up, but Jong-su, maybe out of his own self-doubt or his kind-heartedness or the fact that he isn’t really the smartest guy, isn’t so quick to put it all together. He knows that something is up with Hae-mi’s disappearance, he knows Ben had something to do with it, and he’s determined to follow him around until he gets some answers. It’s really entertaining to watch this sort of cat and mouse game develop. At first it seems kind of one sided and a little funny and heartbreaking seeing Jong-su bumble around with his amateur investigation. Ah-In Yoo plays Jong-su as a good hearted doofus, but he’s also really great at showing Jong-su listening to the people he’s asking about Hae-mi. You see Jong-su grappling with his feelings for Hae-mi as he realizes that he doesn’t know what was real and what she’d made up, you see Jong-su discover just how lonely Hae-mi’s life was and you understand their connection. Soon, it becomes clear that Ben knows what Jong-su’s up to (hard not to considering Jong-su has been tailing Ben in the most conspicuous clunker of truck all over the city) and the tension grows when it becomes clear that 1) Ben is playing with him, and 2) we actually don’t really know what Ben is capable of, we just know that the odds are very much against Jong-su.
I’ve already spoiled enough of this movie, so I may as well spoil the ending. Jong-su finally confronts Ben and stabs him to death. He has no words for him, there’s no demand for Ben to explain himself. Jong-su has made up his mind about Ben, he’s seen enough, and he’s decided that this is the only thing left to do about it. It’s an ending that’s a kind of relief after such a dogged pursuit, but it’s certainly not framed as something triumphant. Hae-mi is still gone, and this catharsis is momentary at best. There’s no way that Jong-su gets away with this, and if he somehow does, he’ll spend the rest of his life wondering when someone’s going to find him out. He’s too good and earnest a person to walk away from a murder, but in that moment, after spending the whole movie being a bumbling, directionless rube, he realizes he’s finally used his potential and his drive for something horrific, and all he can do is drive away.