An Emotional Year (2017) at the Movies
Thirty-eight films consumed in 2017. The breakdown:
- 58% made me THINK
- 42% made me LAUGH
- 50% made me CRY
- 16% were EMOTIONALLY DEVOID
- 21% were TRIFECTAS
Movies that most made me THINK
Women may be in a bad position, but it’s not all bad. So in a true quest for equality, it won’t only be about getting things, there will also need to be some giving. Or is this quest really about wanting equality in areas where women are lesser without any equality where men are lesser?
It’s true that biggest advances come when we can fundamentally change a system, but that’s such a monumental task it may not yield anything at all. Meanwhile, someone focused simply on saving some lives in this moment, a sort of band-aid solution, is obviously doing good. What are the second-order consequences of this? Who knows. That’s part of the magic. Through very concentrated short-term effort, long-term ideas can surface, ideas that couldn’t have surfaced without first trying to save a single person, today.
After absorbing this reality and thinking harder about Beauty and the Beast than I ever imagined, another reminder has appeared: more knowledge can equal less confidence. This, of course, doesn’t mean that there isn’t truth. It does mean, though, that the honest search for answers drenches one in complexity wherein sanctimoniousness is hard to justify – even if you possess the answer.
Movies that most made me LAUGH
Mooney surely made most viewing adults yearn for a time when fun was effortless. “Playing” in childhood is perhaps the foremost example of truly living in the moment; there’s no real plan other than following that which is interesting. At its best, everything is interesting, from hustling for ice cream, to directionless walks, to watching women sunbathe topless.
But markets are smart. The overwhelmingly likely reason one has unearthed an area devoid of competition is because that area isn’t worth competition. Love, unlike trash collection, is an inherently interesting topic – an artist may struggle to stand out, but that artist is also guaranteed great starting material.
Tom Cruise’s brilliance. The ninja moves around the pool table. The cockiness. The showmanship. The red stud earring that I have never seen anyone else wear (but that I now kind of want to wear myself). His fantastic mix of seriousness and condescension upon revealing the great hustle to Eddie. The freaking eponymous t-shirt.
Movies that most made me CRY
The final scene was wonderful in many of the same ways that the entire film was wonderful: it didn’t say anything explicitly.
“He taught me passion, commitment, confidence. Confidence to say that I care for people. Confidence to say that I love you. That it’s o.k. to be emotional. You are not soft if you show your feelings as a man. He gave me that.”
And this ending even raised a nice hypothetical: If you knew your child would die young, would you still have the child? (This wasn’t really a hypothetical because the whole point about the “time travel” is that you can see what will happen, but you can’t do anything to change it. Which you could take as another nice reminder that you are not what happens to you, but how you respond to it. Or at the very least, a reminder that you will die first or loved ones will start dying around you – accept this fact now, and hopefully it will save some of your sanity.)
Or this one: Would you opt to have the “power” to know when you are going to die?
Movies that were most Emotionally Devoid
We are standing here reluctantly cheering for an encore in hopes that maybe, just maybe, if the band comes out for one more song, that song will be the song they should have played an hour ago. But we know it’s hopeless. For a reason that’s still unclear, we are never hearing those songs, and in the case of Depth Perception, we are never seeing those tricks.
John Wick: Chapter 2 is not Radiohead. I am firmly planted in the camp where I am right and everyone else is wrong. No further exploration of this film is necessary. Yea, there are different tastes in movies. Yea, it’s hard for art to be objectively good or bad. And I guess if I’ve learned anything from that Radiohead experience, it should be that “I am right” is not an appropriate reaction. But seriously, ninety percent?
Atomic Blonde wants you to care. But you won’t. You’ll know that something went wrong with the mission and that someone is a double agent. These facts may be semi-intriguing at the beginning; they are irrelevant by the end. As in you won’t even muster a reaction when “important” people die and twists are unveiled.
The premier trifectas of 2017
Some who do know better still perpetuate mythical silver bullets as card-carrying members of the”power of positive thinking” cult. This simply isn’t a legitimate response to any crisis. It amounts to a default behavior for people who lack substance, but still want to feel like they are helping. Hint: You aren’t. If anything, belief in miracle solutions only blinds us into inaction and prevents us from making the necessary, painful decisions that offer any hope of salvation. Mooney rightfully calls these people who fight against progress under the guise of positive nobility what they are: liars.
Spring Breakers deftly portrays an escapist culture taken to the extreme. In doing so it may be easy for an audience member to distance him/herself from the behavior. This would be unwise. Because underlying the hedonism in Spring Breakers are the same frustrations and fears that make all of us long for something more enthralling. The most reasonable hope is not to eliminate this desire (though some probably can), but to have it materialize in a more sustainable fashion. Which is hard. And because it is hard, it makes sense that we so often choose Spring Break.
Then there are the debates that persist because one side cares more about institutions than freedom and will fight against logic just to preserve power. These debates are most annoying because no debate should be necessary – we already know the correct answer.