Unpopular Views: 2018 Bestows Trilogy of Terrible Art

Lily Chapnik Rosenthal (1L)

A piece of wisdom in our modern Western society is that, with each passing year, we are meant to advance. Culturally, politically, technologically, each year is meant to build positively upon the year previous. This axiom has, however, been proved horribly and tragically wrong. The advent of three truly terrible pieces of art has proven that 2018 has quite simply ‘Not Measured Up.’ An LP of a year thus far, if you will.  

The Shape of Water

Picture the scene: a Saturday night in January dawns (can a night dawn?) dark and cold, and Illustrious Author and Dear Husband settle in to have the craziest night they’ve had in a while as busy law/grad students, and watch a movie [downloaded illegally] at home. Our intrepid protagonists did not believe that a movie which won Best Picture would prove to be one of the most disappointing experiences of their cultural lives. Yet, what is a night off of law school without inevitable disappointment and misplaced guilt?

We should have known something was wrong when, five minutes into the movie, the mute main character is shown masturbating in an oversized bathtub for absolutely no reason. This was the beginning of what Dear Husband aptly put as a “weird art piece trying to masturbate to itself… the same old shit just trying to be different.” (The use of the word “masturbate” was, interestingly enough, not in response to the actual masturbation which occured. Coincidence?)

The movie’s plot centers around the aforementioned mute protagonist shallowly falling in love with a weird lagoony creature in a Cold War-era research facility. It was, quite frankly, a stupid story, like Beauty and the Beast for the bestiality crew. We know CGI effects are nice, but basing a whole movie on it without much plot in and of itself is the stuff of a summer low-budget flick, not a Best Picture-worthy movie.  

Rating: 2 stars—maybe.

The Greatest Showman

The good news is, if you have been looking all your life for kitchily-inspired lyrics added to the tunes of every weird-ass pop rock song from the early 2000s, you have found it here.

The bad news: This is a truly terrible movie.

Despite the title, this film involves very little actual showmanship. Instead, it features a weirdly contrived plot, which is supposedly about allowing disenfranchised and beaten-down minorities to shine through the Freak Show of P.T. Barnum’s original circus. It’s a cute feel-good story about bearded ladies and obese people being appreciated for the first time for their innate talents, regardless of their challenges. How lovely.

The issue is that this is an insult to the memory of these people, who were actually terribly exploited by Barnum. This is the same guy who began his career by enslaving someone, and then charging an entrance fee to watch her body being cut up after she died. Also, the one character who was deemed to be worthy of love was an extremely light-skinned, non-disabled African American woman who had the body of the average supermodel. Radical inclusion, sure. Between the gaudiness of the music and the tastelessness of the exploitation, I was left mourning the fact that we hadn’t spent our evening seeing Black Panther instead.

Author’s Rating: Half star   DH’s rating: Two-and-a-half stars.

Hart House’s production of Titus Andronicus

DH and I are Hart House Theatre yearlong subscribers, and we found the majority of this year’s season to be impressive and of a high quality for the price we paid. We expected the same from the last production of the year, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. Let’s just say that it is not usually our practice to walk out of a play we paid good money for at intermission, but I would have paid someone to NOT have to sit through the rest of this play.

Although the professional actors were not terrible, overall this felt like a high-school level production. It doesn’t help that Titus Andronicus itself is not one of Shakespeare’s best tragedies, lacking the depth of themes that make its counterparts, such as MacBeth and King Lear, so compelling.

What the play does have, however, is lots and lots of gore. For example, a girl is raped, has her hands and tongue cut off, and then must stuff another person’s severed hand in her mouth. The issue was that, although this violence is depicted in the text, the production did a terrible job of showing the grisliness. Two severed heads were, for example, clearly just balls in garbage bags. This just didn’t cut it, especially as the gore seems to be literally the only redeeming factor in terms of this play’s watchability. The costume design was also bizarre and confusing—it seemed like they were going for a hipster look, but with no clarity or consistency. It seemed as though the production was sponsored by a skinny khaki factory. All I know is we were far from the only disgruntled theatregoers to walk out at intermission.

Rating: 2 stars

Bonus: Hart House Chapel  


[1] With extensive opinions from Shimon Rosenthal (Molecular Genetics).

[2]Please note that this is the opinion only of Illustrious Author. Dear Husband was apathetic.