Day 46- See an art house film

# 62, See an art house film, 2/3, 3/3

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I was a bit tired this morning after my weekend of adventures, so I thought it would be the perfect time to catch up on films. The Academy Awards are looming soon and I have several things I want to see before the show airs on February 28th. With a characteristic lack of moderation, I opted to watch three films back to back.

I am fortunate that we receive many screeners in the mail because of my husband’s work, so today I had several to choose from. It is a treat to watch them in our home theater where I can watch while folding massive piles of laundry.

The first film I saw was, Anomalisa. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. I had only heard the name of the film, but absolutely nothing about the story. While I am impressed with the artistry behind claymation, stop motion, or animation; these are generally not the films I seek out. So two minutes in, I inwardly sighed that I was in for an hour and a half of stop motion.

I watched the film in its entirety and I am here neither to review it nor spoil it for you. What I will say is that while the story is compelling and I thought there were spot-on moments that captured the depths of human despair, I really need to have a bit of hope to balance it out and I want characters that I can love and root for, despite their litany of flaws.

But if hope was what I was after, perhaps I shouldn’t have decided to watch The Revenant next.

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The Revenant is usually the kind of film I love. I am enamored with the Hero’s Journey. My favorite kind of story, and probably everyone’s favorite kind of story, is where the hero succeeds against all odds. The Revenant is a classic hero’s journey, but it is also a violent, unyielding painful struggle against nature and a profusion of murderous enemies. It is roller coaster ride of death and tearing flesh.

I felt like I had chosen films from the Netflix “Films to Watch Before You Do Yourself Harm” rental section.

So, it was no wonder that I loved Brooklyn, with it’s period costumes and sweet, simple love story. The rosy glow of the film and the beautiful lilt of Irish accents, were such a relief from the grimy, pallid hours I had just spent.

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Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I only love rainbows and sunshine. Certainly not. My favorite director is David Fincher, for goodness sake.

But movies are funny. We take things we need from them. Sometimes you need to explore a certain kind of despair in order to validate your own experience, sometimes you just want to laugh at dumb stuff that makes no sense, sometimes you want to be elevated by images and beauty that are so moving that they somehow change you, sometimes you want that adrenaline rush and enlarged pupils that come with terror, and sometimes the words the characters speak are so lyrical or profound that you will hear them rattling around in your head for the rest of your life.

I always say that I would make a terrible movie critic, because I like almost all movies. I know that even the worst movie takes a gargantuan effort of time, people, and resources. It is easy to sit in a chair and complain about a character’s performance, much more difficult to learn lines, try to tell stories with your body, build sets out of wood and paint, make a rainy day look like a sunny one, and shoot through sickness, and fear, and diverse artistic visions.

The making of movies, is itself, the ultimate hero’s journey. So I root for them. I want them to find their audiences. I want all the families of the casts and crews to feel proud, and I want them to keep getting better with time. I want them to find new and wonderful ways of telling stories, and I want those stories to reflect all of our experiences, not just those of a privileged few.

So, cheers, to all you artists and craftsman and film makers of all kinds that are in the business of telling stories. The world is a better place for the likes of you. In a world that continues to try to polarize us, your stories help connect us, inspire us, and we see each other in ourselves. Whether there is a statue in your future or not, you deserve the long slow clap. Take a bow. And get back to work. We need you.

319 days to go!

 

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