Gunshots and car chases don’t usually produce beauty. There may be touching scenes mixed in with the action – a child being saved or true loves being reunited – but these moments are mere respites rather than standalone products; the transition from relentlessness to the careful attention required for true beauty is simply too hard.
Mission Impossible: Fallout grappled with the quandary of a human life’s value: should individuals be disposable if that disposability saves a greater number of lives? If it’s really a certainty like press this button and kill a single person or press this other button and kill millions, the answer seems obvious. Life, though, is devoid of this level of certainty. Continue reading
Kids, like adults, are special, important and unique.
Of course someone would dispute this. Of course someone would actually blame Mr. Rogers’ philosophy for the demise of today’s youth. And of course these people would be doing what’s become increasingly popular – arguing against someone for something that person doesn’t actually believe. Continue reading
This is not about winning an argument through exhaustion. You know, the type of “victory” so many claim these days after yelling louder than an opponent, the opponent disengaging, and the screamer becoming, alarmingly, convinced of his/her own superiority on account of the disengagement.
Incredibles 2 was about an actual victory, even if the film fought hard against acknowledging it as such. Continue reading
Can you afford a Ferrari?
If your answer is “no” then you shouldn’t have a child. Or so my friend’s simple algorithm states.
The Greatest Showman was a nice reminder of why this algorithm is right: kids are expensive, kids are demanding, kids are adorable, kids are about the largest responsibility a human can undertake, and all reasonable parents will want to provide their kids pleasant lives. Continue reading
I need to rewatch Song to Song.
That thought filled my head as the film concluded. Song to Song was beautiful, immersive, intimate, moving, and yes, a little weird, in ways that few films are. Those facts alone are not enough to compel a rewatch. This one is: Song to Song contained themes that provided me that feeling that fuller absorption would teach something important about life.
So I rewatched and yup, that feeling was accurate. Continue reading
First get a handle on safety, hunger and health. Then deal with loneliness.
Because if you can solve loneliness after knocking out the first three, what more do you really need? “Love” you may say. “Meaning” you may say. “Purpose” you may say.
I say those are just manifestations of anti-loneliness. Take love for instance. Take a single moment. If you really, truly feel loved in that moment, can you feel lonely? I say “no.” Continue reading
Poor people aren’t necessarily voting against their own self-interest when they support tax cuts for the rich.
America is built on the idea that individuals can build themselves a better future. Even if social mobility has declined, that fundamental ideal remains. With it in place, one can believe that his/her current tax bracket isn’t static, so a vote for lower taxes across the board could very well be beneficial for that voter in the future. (Note: Basically all tax cuts “for the rich” are just across-the-board tax cuts; it’s not as if marginal rates are being raised on people in the $9,326 – $37,950 bracket while being cut for people in the highest bracket. In an environment of general reductions, of course rich people benefit since they pay so much tax. For instance, in 2014 the top 1% paid 45.7% of income taxes. This is more than the entire bottom 90% combined.) Continue reading
You ignore someone and it’s totally fine. Not ideal, but not the end-of-the-world either. Someone starts talking about, say delayed public transportation, and your mind begins wandering because that’s what minds do when the current subject isn’t interesting enough. We all do this on a daily basis. Continue reading
Emotional decision-making (EDM) has become a pejorative in an era of efficiency and logic; in the quest for optimal, there is little room for something amorphous like “emotion.”
So we ridicule those, including ourselves, who make emotional decisions. As if possessed by a demon, we explain away errors with gosh I’m sorry that I wasn’t thinking – I was just being emotional. We react like these emotions aren’t “me,” and since they aren’t “me,” there is no control. Let’s be clear: this type of thinking and decision-making is worthy of condemnation. Continue reading
English teachers everywhere rejoice! Somebody has fully absorbed the lesson of show, don’t tell. And that somebody is director Luca Guadagnino and the original writer André Aciman of Call Me by Your Name.
Teenagers, and to a lesser extent all humans, occupy two competing spaces simultaneously. At once they want to discuss and figure out their extreme emotional states. At the same time, though, they want to project confidence and thus avoid vulnerable topics. To adult observers, this confidence is often seen as the thin veneer it is. Since these observations aren’t usually shared, the gap between how a teenager views himself and how the world views him can be quite large. Again, this is true for people of all ages, but teenagers are living with such unprecedented feelings that the peaks and valleys are greater than they will probably ever be. Continue reading
Give us the colors (see below), the charm and a nicely packaged ending from a Pixar studio that is known for delivering important messages dressed down as kid’s films, and it’s so easy to get sucked in. Coco just said something meaningful about family. Continue reading
Experienced people are often wise. The best type of wisdom usually comes from experience. Wisdom is desirable. You have limited time to experience everything, so one would be wise to listen to possessors of wisdom to help direct the allocation of time. Continue reading
Consider how much stress you feel on a daily basis. No, not the overwhelming what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life stress. Just the low hum that’s present in mindless, everyday living. Like when you think you are going to miss a train. Or when the checkout line is just a tad longer than expected. Or when someone wants to “split” a dinner bill even though he had three $14 cocktails to your none and you kinda want to say something but you don’t want it to be awkward. Continue reading
Winston Churchill said he never worried about action – only inaction. I have the same fear about movies, especially when I’m going to see a Terrence Malick film (a mistake I’ll never make again). That’s because most films follow a plot where something bad happens, and then there’s a reaction. Continue reading
In certain respects, writing a love song is harder than writing a song about trash collection. So much has already been said about love that there’s a vanishingly small chance of saying or doing something truly original. This invites a level of expectation – love songs give me goosebumps – and comparison – that song was good, but not as good as that other love song – that challenges the most talented of artists. Continue reading
Mooney was the funniest character I’ve encountered in 2017. For the first half of The Floria Project I laughed in every scene. That’s really not an exaggeration. Mooney so confidently captured the whimsical innocence of childhood summers that her lawlessness was charming instead of disturbing. Unfortunately, that would not last (see CRY below). Continue reading
I am so complicated. A “simple” decision about what I’ll eat for dinner can be explained in no less than seven single-spaced pages of thoughtful prose.
But other people? Oh, I know exactly why they do what they do. I also know what they should do. Continue reading
Wind River wasn’t content being a wonderfully paced, gripping film. No, it wanted to make some statements – the type of statements we so cherish at Think Laugh Cry. So we shall evaluate the movie’s three major claims on a 7-point scale. Continue reading
“I can’t even imagine.” (So sad to see that my 5-year-old has a better imagination than you. It must be tough being so narrow-minded. It must also be tough having such a terrible short-term memory that you can’t imagine how the other side might think when I just told you what they think.)
“This isn’t even a question.” (Actually, this is, which – crazy, I know – would explain why I just asked you the question.) Continue reading
They say the first part of solving a problem is identifying it. Unfortunately, “they” are proving to be quite incorrect when it comes to everyday mental struggle.
There is no shortage of people who accurately and eloquently enumerate the ways in which the voices-in-your-head lead to stress. Here’s the band Cloud Cult, the creators behind The Seeker, enumerating these ways in “Room Full of People in Your Head”: Continue reading
Barring some sort of apocalypse, the day is coming when virtual reality will be more compelling than reality; when you only ever exit a fake world for food and sleep.
This already happens in a lesser form as millions of people spend millions of hours locked inside the current iteration of video games.
This seems bad. Certainly to the adults who beseech their children to “go get some fresh air,” and even to the gamers who experience social consequences from the habit. If given the choice between success in the “real world” and success in a video game, I can’t imagine many would choose the latter. Continue reading
Focus on what’s controllable. It’s good advice for life. It’s also good advice for artists hoping to stir inspiration in an audience.
That’s why so much art that covers the great disparity between blacks and whites in America focuses on drugs, crime, education and discrimination (DCED). The audience simultaneously feels terrible about the situation while being led to believe it’s not entirely hopeless. Inspiration hits as one’s thoughts are consumed with all the ways the situation can be less terrible. Drug policy can be changed. Mandatory minimums can be adjusted. We can pour more money into inner-city schools and staff them with talented teachers. Yea. Yea. Yea. And we can all be more aware of our racial biases and shift them. Continue reading
Why do old movies suck so much? If you are given a book with a hidden publication date, it wouldn’t be that easy to correctly guess the era of writing. Good stories in 1890 look a lot like good stories in 1990.
For reasons I can’t understand, the same cannot be said of movies. I repeatedly find the storytelling in “classic” films stunningly inferior. Continue reading
There are debates that persist because smart, well-intentioned people exist on both sides. These debates are useful in a world that strives to progress.
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. Continue reading
Art in its best form makes you work. In this form the work is joy-filled, even if obtaining answers is hard. Even if obtaining concrete answers never actually happens.
Lesser forms of art will still create work, but it only inspires annoyance and frustration.
Ending up on the right side of this delicate balance is a storyteller’s great challenge. Success is found by building trust with an audience. Just as trusting that a better diet will yield a better figure motivates one to put in diet “work,” if an audience trusts that thinking hard about a movie will result in a worthwhile payoff, movie “work” is worth pursuing. Continue reading
I thought Beauty and the Beast was a story feminists could champion. I thought wrong. Even in our modern age where nothing is ever good enough, this truly stunned me. Was I wrong to be stunned? Was I wrong because I’m wrong? Continue reading
I totally get why someone would choose to kill 1000 innocent lives instead of the life of a single loved one. But at the earliest opportunity, that someone should be killed.
Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men in Logan are this morally compromised someone. I get why they aren’t presented as evil, but could we get just a little gray area? Even as Professor X injures hundreds in Las Vegas due to a mind that has been correctly classified as a WMD? Why, again, are we cheering for these mutants? If only there was an Uncle Ben appearance to remind them what comes with great power.
Jesus is problematic for many reasons. One of those reasons is that they didn’t stop at “Jesus.” By adding “Christ,” by intentionally making him a human deity, falling short of his standard became entirely defensible. Where there are few substantial excuses for failing to live up to a role model of similar likeness, a sibling for instance, there are endless excuses for failing to live up to a god. Continue reading
Why is it acceptable to make fun of someone for being short, but not for being gay? After all, both are traits that an individual can’t control.
That was the question that kept running through my mind as I watched the incredibly outdated An Officer and a Gentleman. Continue reading
Movies have no obligation to be realistic. People may use art as a means to escape reality, so give an audience anything that’s fun and a certain segment will happily consume.
But even the most credulous have some threshold where absurdity overwhelms the fun and fun stops being had. Continue reading
Critics love genre-blending films, given the film blends the right ones. Dramedies and rom-coms are a dime a dozen, but the com-hor, or horredies, are still few and far between. They tend to bend in one direction too far, like Shawn of the Dead or the Evil Dead series, to still be considered horror to me. Continue reading
Star Wars films aren’t supposed to make you think. That’s the beauty of them – the greatest question in each film is who will win the battle of good v evil? You could argue that good won in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi and Continue reading
A five-year-old had been shot inside a movie theater and my response was most unsympathetic. “What the hell were the parents doing letting a 5-year-old see an R-rated film?”
“I would let my kids do whatever they want,” my friend, and one-time contributing member at Think Laugh Cry, responded.
And so launched a discussion about sheltering, experience and cognitive development. Continue reading
Sometimes the way you view a movie depends on factors other than the quality of the film itself. Like a reboot that didn’t live up to its predecessor (see Ghostbusters) or a director who was accused of a crime years before his film is released and it tanks because of that (see Birth of a Nation). It’s hard to watch Tom Cruise now and not think he’s crazy, or see an old film with suble racist undertones and not look at it different in today’s social climate. I try my best to look at a film for what’s on screen, but I do have predilections for certain directors, and – surprisingly – one that I always give the benefit of the doubt is Mel Gibson. Surprisingly because I’m Jewish and he’s said some nasty things about my culture, but like any movie fan, I believe in comeback stories. Continue reading
I think I need to live in Oklahoma or West Texas. There was plenty else to consider in Hell or High Water, but that thought was the most persistent. I’m fascinated by the vistas, the temperature, the community, the manual labor, the clothes, the ruggedness and the types of people who live there.
But maybe those reasons will be letdowns. Continue reading
Weiner posed so many questions. The major driving one, from which all the other questions stemmed, was this: What explains really smart people doing reckless things?
Weiner didn’t provide a definitive answer because there isn’t a clean, obvious one. The film did, however, force one to think about the many possibilities. Continue reading
War Dogs is not an especially novel story. The execution is in no way unique either. Yet, War Dogs made me think about the massive hustle-your-way-to-riches genre in a different light.
And really, this mental breakthrough should’ve always been obvious. It’s the journey, not the destination. I get that. But for some odd reason I never properly linked that message to films of this variety. Continue reading
You have to kill a person. You have two choices.
- Kill a 3-year-old
- Kill a 30-year-old
This isn’t really a hard question, and yet it seems that some irrational emotion tugs toward the poor choice. Continue reading
While some may find certain plot devices in Demolition as striving too hard to say something grand, they all seemed quite realistic to me, and the film, in fact, accomplished a certain grandness as a result.
There simply shouldn’t be a “realistic” response to death. It’s relatively rare, unpredictable and enormously significant – getting “reps” dealing with it are some of the hardest and least desirable reps to obtain. Continue reading
He just had to know. Even if we hadn’t just dealt with the “humans only use 10% of their brains” myth in Bradley Cooper’s Limitless, early on in constructing the plot of Lucy, director Luc Besson must have discovered that the entire premise of his film was not remotely based in science. Continue reading