Limitless Cinema in Broken English

March 6, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 9:29 pm

This is my reply to Matthew Hunt in my blog:

Hahaha. According to my personal taste, I can accept real sex, but I hate real killing, and I don’t normally enjoy real excrement in films.

Talking about PINK FLAMINGOS makes me think about many other things, including:

(I apologize in advance if I write anything wrong in English.)

–I like the intonation pattern of a rival of Divine in PINK FLAMINGOS very much. She speaks in very strange and expressive intonation pattern. In most films, what makes me laugh is WHAT the character speaks, but in PINK FLAMINGOS, what makes me laugh is THE WAY the character speaks.

Thinking about funny intonation patterns or funny ways of speaking, I just realized that many films in my thirteenth poll have this thing. Films which have characters talking in a funny way include:


In this film, there’s scene in which a character says something like, “When I was your age, I changed my name to Pasta, and that is the best decision of my life.” The sentence itself isn’t that funny, but the way the character speaks it makes this sentence AN INSTANT CLASSIC.


I saw this film in German with no English subtitles. I don’t understand anything the characters say. But in one scene, a character speaks a German sentence two times in incredibly funny intonation pattern. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

3.CROSS HARBOUR TUNNEL (1999, Lawrence Wong, Hong Kong)

There’s a scene in which two Filipino women quarrel. There’s no subtitle in this scene. We see and hear them quarrel loudly in some language, maybe in Tagalog. I don’t understand anything they say, but I laughed a lot for their expressive way of speaking.

4.TRASH (1970, Paul Morrissey)

I laughed a lot when I heard Jane Forth speaking in this film.

5.FAME WHORE (1998, Jon Moritsugu)

There’s a female character (Amy Davis) in this film who speaks everything in monotone.


There’s a male character in this film who speaks incredibly funny broken English. This film mocks how Thai people speak English incorrectly.

7.GHOST-IN-LAW (2008, Tanit Jitnukul, Seree Phongnithi)

There’s a Thai villainess in this film who grew up abroad and speaks Thai in a very funny way.

–I guess my disgust for real excrement in PINK FLAMINGOS result from two important reasons. First, I had known before I saw the film that it was real, so I couldn’t tell myself it might be chocolate disguised as excrement or something like that. Second, I couldn’t stop my negative imagination at that time.

Normally I like my imagination. When I watch most films, I allow myself to imagine anything inspired by the films I am watching. But in some cases, the films I watch inspire me to imagine something disgusting or something painful, and that’s when I know my imagination has both good side and bad side, and I should stop my imagination when it makes me feel disgusted or painful.

For example, that excrement scene in PINK FLAMINGOS wouldn’t have made me feel disgusted if I just watched it without using my imagination. I guess my disgust is the result of my automatically negative imagination. When I was watching that scene, I automatically imagined what the excrement would taste like. If I didn’t automatically imagine anything like that, I wouldn’t have felt as disgusted as this. My tongue actually tasted nothing when I was watching that scene. My feeling of disgust is not the direct result of that scene. It’s the direct result of my own imagination.

Another example of my automatically negative imagination happened when I watched a film late last year. I’m not sure if that film is LA PURITAINE (1986, Jacques Doillon, A+) or not. In the film, a stage actress talks about her lifelong problem with her father causing by her stinking earwax. We saw no stinking earwax in the film, but her description alone could make me automatically imagine some stinking earwax in my mind, and that made me feel disgusted. In this case, too, my disgust is not the direct result of the film. This film actually has no odor coming out of it. My disgust is only the direct result of my own imagination.

–I rarely feel like vomiting when I watch a film. But I felt like vomiting one time when I was watching TOOLBOX MURDERS (2003, Tobe Hooper, A+) on a big screen. It’s the scene in which the protagonist finds herself surrounded by many rotten corpses.

Personally, this example is an interesting case for me. I think my disgust in this case is not because I think corpses are disgusting, but it is because I might empathize with the protagonist. So when I saw the protagonist feeling extremely disgusted with the corpses, I automatically felt disgusted, too. I think it is also because I watched it in a big theatre. If I saw it on a small screen, I wouldn’t have felt as strongly as this.

I think the real reason for my disgust in this case is not the corpses because when I was studying in a secondary school, my school took the students to observe a dissecting of a real corpse in Chula Hospital. I remember that I felt no disgust at all when I saw the dissecting of the corpse, and I was surprised when I found that many friends of mine couldn’t eat meat for a few days after that. It’s strange that the real corpse didn’t affect my feeling, but the fake corpses in TOOLBOX MURDERS strongly affected my feeling.

–Other cases when I try to stop my negative imagination are the times when I watch some scenes in which the characters suffer extreme pain, and I automatically empathize with those characters. I automatically imagine the pain, imagine how I would feel if I am the one who was stabbed or being tortured. That kind of imagination makes me feel painful. I am not being tortured. I just sit comfortably on a chair and watch a film. All the bad feelings are the direct result of my automatic imagination, not the direct result of what I am watching.

However, these cases don’t trouble me as much as PINK FLAMINGOS, because I know all the torture and pain in the films are fake. When I automatically experience imaginary pain like this, I just tell myself, “It’s only a move. It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie.”, and then I can bear watching the scene further. But in the case of PINK FLAMINGOS, I couldn’t tell myself like that, because I knew the excrement was real.

I also wonder why some films automatically make me suffer the imaginary pain, but some horror films which have brutal scenes don’t affect me like that. Films which automatically make me suffer the imaginary pain include PAIN (1994, Eric Khoo), SALO OR 120 DAYS OF SODOM, EXTASE DE CHAIR BRISEE (2005, Pierre-Luc Vallencourt + Frederik Maheux), and AND THE MOON DANCES (1995, Garin Nugroho), which has a scene in which the female protagonist does something with a needle. For this group of films, I had to repeat to myself that it was only a movie in order to be able to keep on watching the scene. But films such as SAW, SEE NO EVIL, or THE BEYOND (1981, Lucio Fulci), which depict some cruel things, don’t affect me like that.


1 Comment »

  1. This is my reply to Matthew Hunt in my bilingual blog:

    Yeah, I think SALO is harder to watch for me, too, because I felt so bad for all the fictional victims in this film. The excrement eating in SALO is involuntary, while the excrement eating in PINK FLAMINGOS and KANG KOW DUD KLUOY (BANANA-SUCKING BAT) (2001, Kullachart Jitkajornwanit + Benjamin Traipipat) is voluntary, so the humour in these two scenes may help lessen the feeling of disgust. I think the scene which comes in the middle of these two opposites may be the excrement eating scene in 13 BELOVED (2006, Chookiat Sakvirakul), because the eating here is half-voluntary. The protagonist chooses to eat it, because he wants money.

    I hope you are not eating some food while you are reading this. Hahaha.

    Comment by celinejulie — March 7, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

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