PLEASE EXIT THE THEATER…
YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
“Schwarzenegger or Sony Classics”
THE MIDDLE SEAT: Column by Steve Matuszak
Let’s face it, different people like different kinds of movies. Some people stick to certain movie genres, like Romantic Comedies or Science Fiction, while others, like myself, enjoy a wide variety. But, in my humble opinion, there are certain people who don’t “get” movies, and thus should not be allowed to view movies at all.
Now, before you accuse me of getting all “snooty,” let’s remember we are talking about an art form here. And just as there are many types of painting styles – Impressionism, Realism, Cubism, etc., so, too, are there many types of films.
And I also understand that there are times that your particular mood can determine the movie you want to see. That’s OK. But what irks me are those people that do not understand the entire basis of the art of cinema. These are usually the people breaking the “shut up” rule from my previous column.
Let me illustrate my argument with a specific, illuminating example. I was at a restaurant a few years back with a large group of people and we began discussing the latest releases.
At that time, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was just finishing it’s run and was widely acclaimed. I mentioned it as an excellent choice for those who had not yet seen it and had this exchange with an ill-informed, should-not-be-allowed-to–frequent-movies woman,
Woman: “That movie was terrible! No one can fly or run on top of buildings. It is not real!”
Me: “But the writer, director and others involved created a world in which that was possible – again within the world they created.”
Woman: “No, it was on the EARTH!”
Me: “Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it fits within the world of the Earth they created. Did you ever see Star Wars?”
Me: “Well, see, there’s my point. Those worlds don’t really exist either. It’s not a ‘realistic’ film. We do not have space ships that can shoot lasers and carry light sabers and such.”
Woman: “Yeah, but that was in SPACE. Anything can happen in space, not on earth!”
Do I really need to drag this out any further? Is anyone else ready to vomit? And this could have easily been a man – gender is not an issue here. Then there was the time, in a GRADUATE LEVEL COLLEGE CLASS, a student got irate that I mentioned Harry Potter.
“That movie is just liberals trying to convert our Christian children into witches. It’s all about witches and the Devil!”
Ladies and gentlemen, a movie about any topic, if done well, is not a support for, or final arbiter of, that topic (and Harry Potter is about kids, dreams, being unique and so much more – it’s not about witches and the devil, although it does address “evil”). Movies are narratives that relay stories to us that we then, on our own, make choices about and explore emotions concerning.
For instance, “Leaving Las Vegas” does not support or celebrate alcoholism or prostitution. In fact, if anything, it shows us the tragic consequences of alcoholism and prostitution. “Dead Man Walking” did not say that the death penalty was wrong or right. It showed us both sides, from very human perspectives, of people dealing with it and allowed us, with that additional information, to make up our own minds about the topic.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of movies which are terrible and actually support things like teens having rampant sex with zero consequences and taking illicit drugs and partying until they drive and almost kill someone with their car – and think it’s funny (although that does happen). I have no love for those movies that force an opinion down your throat or superciliously support a ridiculous lack of any decency.
But, good movies simply tell you the narrative creatively and let you decide how it impacts you. I know someone who won’t watch movies “that don’t end right” – that everything doesn’t work out in the end (lovers stay together, etc.). What? How is that reflective of life? If movies are only suppose to make us feel good then why bother with art in the first place?
Life is a story. Movies are stories about life, whether real or imagined. And life is comedy and tragedy. It is good to do both – fantasize a little as well as steepen yourself in reality.
I understand moods change on certain evenings, but when I hear someone say “Oh, I don’t want to go see that it’s a (fill in the blank with movie genre – chick flick, Merchant Ivory, Suspense, Horror, etc.)” I want to scream and burn celluloid into their brain! I will see ANY film if it has the promise of being a good film.
Sure, there are films I have not seen nor will ever see. Now, how can I judge a book by it’s cover you ask? Because, well, sometimes you just know – but that statement is made by a person who “gets” what art is for. So sorry “Good Burger”, “Phat Beach”, “I Got The Hook Up” and “Starship Troopers 2” – no chance!
Other than those rare grotesque duds, I am game for anything that has heart, art and/or soul – slice of life, high drama, comedy, tragedy, documentary and so forth. Give me a good story (script), good acting, good direction, good anything and I will take that journey. But don’t judge a masterpiece by whether or not people can really fly – or we’ll have to keep our kids from watching E.T. – which might actually satisfy the Harry Potter witch hater.