When I am talking movies with people and they ask for a recommendation, I am careful. I have stayed away from recommending good films to people simply because I know the films will upset them. One of those films is the incredible I Stand Alone. If you've seen it, you know why I just don't mention it to anyone. Some people just can't handle certain things. No big deal. They just can't.
I did recently recommend it to a co-worker, who watched it and liked it -- as I thought she would. When she told me she enjoyed Irreverisible I figured I was on safe ground. Both films are from Gaspar Noe, both deal with some disturbing things. If you liked one, chances are you will like the other.
I don't ever recommend things like Transformers because I don't watch those films. And there's also the fact that a person is probably going to see the film regardless of what I say (and I would most likely say to stay away from it). Mainstream movies don't do much for me, so I stay away from them and can't say too much about them. That's not to say they are horrible (just because I don't think I'll like them does not mean they are garbage), it just means they are not something I want to see.
I have a handful of people I know I can share recommendations with (it goes both ways) knowing we will both enjoy whatever the other thinks we will. Our tastes are pretty similar, and we know what kinds of movies the other person digs. (A lot of my friends will tell me about any film they know of that has cannibalism -- yea!) I appreciate that. Nobody in that tiny circle recommends any of those teen vampire movies (though other people do), and nobody says things like, "The special effects are the only reason to see it." It's a wonderful thing when you have friends that you can seriously discuss cinema with, and I don't care how fucking pretentious that sounds. Film is an art form on par with writing, painting or anything else. Just because most people only view it as entertainment and treat it justly does not mean the art does not have political or social importance. If anything, the fact that film is enjoyed worldwide (especially American films) gives it a great deal of worth. It is probably the second most enjoyed art form next to music. It can inspire, anger, enlighten and cause some serious introspection. I Stand Alone does that. From everything I've seen and read, Transformers does not.
So, should you see Noe's film about isolation and misanthropy? Only if you understood what I wrote and agree with it. Otherwise, enjoy the robots.
-Doug Brunell (America's Favorite Son)