I haven’t read Sartre’s No Exit since 11th grade when I discovered Hemingway and decided that existentialism was the most profound ideology I could commit myself to. The biggest takeaway for me but also it seems cultural zeitgeist and memory is “hell is other people.” I’m not sure if it’s the social anxiety or the fact that I’m not a sociopath, but I’m reminded of it daily. Sartre’s use of the phrase had to do with the way individual freedom to behave the way you’d like to is constrained by the mere existence of people (society) and the consequent existence of fear and guilt. The way it’s now used colloquially can refer to anything from the man that clips his toenails on the subway to the stifling and oppressive nature of societal homophobia. These are some movies that deal with a little bit of both:
I watched this when it first came out because the soundtrack was my middle school wet dream — All Time Low, Cobra Starship and Panic! at the Disco (I know). But the silver lining of my horrible pre-pubescent music taste is that Jennifer’s Body ended up being a great movie that is severely underrated. I don’t know if it’s a cult classic yet but (!!!) it should be. Megan Fox’s character the titular Jennifer is hot and spends most of her time fielding and handling a gross array of misogyny, sexism and other general gross shit from men. After pretending to be a virgin she is sacrificed to the devil and starts eating men to sustain herself. It also gets bonus points because at some point Amanda Seyfried’s character narrates “hell is a teenage girl” which is (!!!) true but also relevant to the topic at hand.
Tom at the Farm
Another Xavier Dolan movie because he’s great so who cares if he’s mentioned in 80% of these. Tom goes to his boyfriend’s funeral, a horrible occasion made worse by the fact that his boyfriend was still in the closet to his family. Things go downhill from there but essentially if there’s one situation to make you think about how horrible other people, it’s probably the family of your deceased-closeted partner.
10 Cloverfield Lane
The premise of this movie is so similar to No Exit that at first, I thought it was an adaptation. Three people trapped in an underground bunker as nuclear warfare, an alien invasion, invasion of the body snatchers or all of the above happens above. I didn’t understand that it’s tie in to Cloverfield because I honestly didn’t know anyone cared enough about it to do that. The movie is interesting however, and plays with our conditioned expectations of cinema genres. It does get a little tedious the last ten minutes but it’s pretty solid for whatever cross genre thriller it’s supposed to be.