I saw the new Godzilla film, Godzilla King of the Monsters a few days ago in Turku, Finland. I ended up liking it in spite of the fact that I also kind of hated it.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time telling you the reasons I hated it or even telling you the reasons I liked it. What I want to talk about is how I was able to end up liking a movie that I also hated. Maybe it’s also why I enjoy life itself while simultaneously hating it.
My friends Steve Ryfle and Norman England, who are certifiable experts in Godzilla Studies — and I mean that sincerely and unironically — both put scathing reviews of the film on their Facebook pages. Steve wrote the best book in English about Godzilla, Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star, and Norman was a frequent guest on set during the making of several Godzilla movies. So when they tell you why they didn’t like a Godzilla movie, they know what they’re talking about.
I tend to agree with just about every criticism they made of the film. And yet I liked it. Even though I had a lot of good reasons not to.
Maybe part of the reason I liked it was because when I saw it I was in a very good mood with some really fun friends in Turku, Finland. I had just shown Pirooz Kalayeh’s brilliant movie Zombie Bounty Hunter M.D., in which I was one of the main cast and for which I wrote some of the music. The Q&A afterward hosted by my friend Essi went really well. Two of my Finnish friends came with me to the Godzilla movie even though they initially didn’t really want to. They generally don’t go to movies like that. Both of them ended up liking it, which may also have swayed my opinion. The things I didn’t like about the film would have been irrelevant to them. I felt like such a nitpicky nerd when I tried to explain what I thought was wrong with it.
It’s a big Hollywood production about gigantic monsters who shoot atomic rays at each other. One is a giant moth. One is an enormous pterodactyl. One has three heads. And the other is Godzilla. Plus there’s a mutant wooly mammoth, a huge spider-like thing, and a big sort of praying mantis thing too. Stuff explodes. The entire world is in danger. What else could you want from a movie?
It’s really, really hard to make a Godzilla movie or any sort of kaiju (Japanese style giant monster) movie. All movies are hard to make, but kaiju movies are especially hard. The amount of money that has to be spent, the way spending that much money means everyone has to compromise with the idiots who control that money… Plus nobody really knows for sure if there’s an audience for kaiju movies anymore — at least an audience big enough to justify the enormous expense of making one. It’s amazing it got made at all.
Maybe I was able to like it because I tried not to compare it to the way I thought it should be. I mean, I did do that. But each time I did that, I tried to put those thoughts aside and enjoy the movie I was actually seeing rather than pine for the movie I wanted to see.
I could fantasize that I would surely make a better Godzilla movie than that. But, having worked in the kaiju film business for 15 years and having seen what goes into making those kinds of films, I know I could not have done any better.
Not because I couldn’t envision a better movie or write a better script or know better about what kind of music to use and what kinds of effects to use and so on. I could do all of that while standing on my head, juggling, and whistling a merry tune at the same time! But because there is a lot more to getting a movie on screen than that. There are so many jackasses you have to please in order to get them to fund your film and so many idiotic demands they make.
In order to get the kind of film I wanted to make actually made, I’d have to have an absolutely iron and unshakable will to get my own way. Even then, they’d probably just fire me and hire someone they could control more easily.
So I just sat back and watched the pretty colors and enjoyed the big explosions. And I was glad that every once in a while they got some little thing the way I would have wanted it.
The retreat last weekend in Finland was a blast. I’m on my way to Vienna today. Links to all of my events in Europe are below. All of these events are open to anyone who wants to join, regardless of experience or anything else. Please show up and say hello!
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IT CAME FROM BEYOND ZEN and SEX SIN AND ZEN are now available as audiobooks from Audible.com! You can also get Don’t Be a Jerk, Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up and There is No God and He is Always With You in audio form — all read by me, Brad Warner!
June 4, 2019 TALK Vienna, Austria
June 6, 2019 TALK Vienna, Austria (more information soon)
June 7, 2019 TALK Prague, Czech Republic
June 8, 2019 RETREAT Prague, Czech Republic
June 12-16, 2019 DOMICILIUM RETREAT near Munich, Germany
June 19-23, 2019 BENEDIKTUSHOF RETREAT near Wurzburg, Germany
June 24/25, 2019 TALK Nijmegen, Netherlands
June 29-July 2, 2019 HEBDEN BRIDGE RETREAT, England
July 4, 2019 TALK in London, England
ALL THESE EVENTS TAKE PLACE WHETHER I’M THERE OR NOT.
Every Monday at 7:30pm there’s zazen at Angel City Zen Center (NEW TIME, NEW PLACE!) 2526 Kent Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 Beginners only!
Every Saturday at 10:00 am there’s zazen at the Angel City Zen Center (NEW PLACE!) 2526 Kent Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 Beginners only!
These on-going events happen every week even if I am away from Los Angeles. Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info
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