Orna Mulcahy: Time to declutter the movie business

Once I see a middle aged man pressing himself on a young girl I don’t want to look

In the absolutely no redeeming features basket there’s a shocker called Autumn in New York featuring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder

In the absolutely no redeeming features basket there’s a shocker called Autumn in New York featuring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder

 

Goodbye things, or rather goodbye, things, to give it its proper title, is a little book that was given to me by my daughters at Christmas, probably in the hope that I would stop buying them things they don’t want from everywhere I go, but particularly from charity shops.

It’s a habit that could turn obsessive, and maybe they’re alarmed, imagining that one day they will have to dig me out of a nest full of newspapers and vintage kitchenalia. Where I see quaint, pretty and, let’s face it, ridiculously cheap items, they see weird unnecessary stuff that is actually a bit smelly and that they have no use for whatsoever.

Hence my stocking filler of goodbye, things. It’s by Fumio Sasaki, a Japanese minimalist who makes Marie Kondo look messy and superficial, what with her tightly-folded sweaters and swaddled handbags. Kondo, we’re told, has saved the sanity of thousands of empty-nesters in her native Japan by persuading them to slim down their possessions, but much of her advice is based on the idea of everything having its own place.

Fumio takes things further, accusing things, no matter how carefully stored, of preventing their owners from living a good and fulfilling life. There isn’t a single item you will regret throwing away, he says over and over. Okay, if something sparks joy take a picture of it, and then get rid of it.

His living space is monk-like with just a mattress bed that folds up to become a seat; a shelf of utensils and a wardrobe with 11 items of clothing. It looks a bit forlorn to be honest, but he says it frees his mind to appreciate simple thinks like a walk in the neighbourhood and the way a bird’s feathers ruffle.

Exercising

I have way too many clothes, too much furniture and a stupid amount of baking equipment blocking up my life. However, right now I feel too tired to declutter. The one thing that will give me the energy to do it is for me to start exercising. To do that I need new walking shoes. Not Nike runners.

Like a lot of things – chocolate bars, for instance – the shoes just feel so light and insubstantial these days, and before you know it they’re wearing down and giving you shooting pains up the calves.

Maybe it’s because I keep buying the wrong pair in those overlit, under-served cavernous sports shoe stores where there’s always a bargain pair, but it turns out they’re only meant for playing basketball.

Apparently you’re not meant to walk more than 300 miles in any pair of sports shoes. I can’t afford that rate of turnaround, but I want something more substantial than a lump of plastic and webbing. The white tick doesn’t inspire me as much as it once did, and “Just Do It” rings hollow as the inner demon says “No! You don’t have to do it if you don’t feel like it, and here is the nice comfy dent in the sofa that your bottom has been sitting in all of Christmas, and here is Netflix whose wish is your command.”

Mystery

Except that Netflix could do with a declutter, at least in terms of what it’s offering me.

Exactly how it chooses the movies that stream to each person’s feed is a mystery, but apparently it gives you, not what you think you want, but what you don’t know you want until you get it. For me that translates to a lot of violent crime series and a mostly dire selection of movies.

Some look harmless enough, but once I see a middle aged man pressing himself on a young girl (a high percentage of all movies, you could say) I don’t want to look.

While Hollywood women are doing their damndest to say “no more” to being exploited on and off screen, the feed is a constant reminder that this the way the movie business has worked for the last century.

Old favourite movies?

Now I see them in a new light. Those Woody Allen films where he’s obsessing over girls; Last Tango in Paris that once seemed genius, now not so much. Even David Niven in the Pink Panther looks a little sleazy.

And in the absolutely no redeeming features basket there’s a shocker called Autumn in New York where Richard Gere, in a free-flowing black coat and tight trousers, wanders around Central Park picking up women who he invites to drop by his restaurant where the staff eye-roll each evening as another gorgeous creature shows up to wait for this eejit to finish fondling his outsize block of Parmesan for the night.

Heart condition

Enter doe-eyed Winona Ryder, who looks about 14 but who none the less falls the oldest swinger in town, but lest he worry about commitment she’s got a heart condition. I won’t go on, it’s too depressing.

Basically, Netflix, I can’t watch this stuff anymore – the wonder is that I ever could. But the real wonder is that more young women didn’t – don’t! – walk off the movie sets, saying “to hell with this, I’m not kissing that old man”. Ladies of the red carpet, what about it? Could this be the next phase for #Metoo?

Meanwhile, I got the shoes. Stout leather ones. Their role? To get me up from the couch, and away from my feed of schlock.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

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