But it goes beyond that. I approach all films with a dull pervasive anxiety, expecting either horrors (if English) or embarrassment (if anything else) or both.
English-language films, certainly American films, almost never fail with the horrors, even the kids' flicks. E.T. and The Neverending Story gave me the creeps, Home Alone was unpleasant. American audiences seem to expect violence, or at least the threat of violence, in their movies the way they expect colour photography; no one notices it, or they comment on it dispassionately as they do the colours-- the director's use of violence, the director's palette. Meanwhile I, yanno, live in a place where people getting shot is met with outrage and horror and people being tortured is met with letter campaigns from Amnesty International and the idea is that violence is something you do something about, not something you watch for entertainment.
Clearly I'm not with the spirit of my time.
The embarrassment factor is harder to define. It may be because I don't watch much TV so the inanity of what I do see on the screen hits harder. 'Oh my god look at what these people are doing.' I watched ST:TNG in Tokyo because I was dépaysée and vaguely homesick and, at the time, sick sick as well, and all the appeal of Picard and Data couldn't cover the horrid crawling embarrassment of the experience. Ditto Babylon5 when I came back; great cast of characters but oh em gee cringe cringe at JMS' psyche showing all its unlovely dangly bits. As I said, the inanity is mitigated if there's a foreign language involved, preferably one I'm trying to learn, though even that has limits. Tours of Kouenji soba shops are fine, train trips in Kyuushuu are great,
Alas, the reflex cringe of turning on the TV gets transferred to foreign language films as well. If you aren't showing me horrors (no guarantee with Chinese directors, for sure) you're showing me personal stuff about people that I really don't have a right to know and that it embarrasses me to see before my eyes. Yes, I did react to Woxin that way. A very hard first watch, that was, replete with the same anxiety throughout.
You can see where this is going. I'm left with anime, that cushions both horror and embarrassment, or surrealistic directors like Suzuki Seijun who only embarrasses me for himself and serve him right. Otherwise, the act of putting a DVD in the machine is a difficult one for me.
So you will applaud me for having watched half of Gaiman's Neverwhere last night. It'll be a little harder watching the other half tonight but I shall. If only to avoid the other DVD I got Friday, that wasn't Warriors of Heaven and Earth (about which I have embarrassment cringes) but *is* Infernal Affairs, which is definitely the other kind. What was I thinking of?
(And of course I didn't go into Neverwhere cold. Prefaced it with Gou Jian and Ya Yu pre-battle with Chinese subtitles, the riverside castigation with English subtitles, and Gou Jian's address to the ancestors with my eyes closed to discover if I could I hear when Uncle Ming was saying a retroflex z or c, which I don't think I can yet. I has my obsessions and I sticks to them.)