In Search of Redemption

The first post is usually the hardest. But here goes;

It would be an understatement to say that “I love movies!”
Somewhere at home, buried deep beside the past is a photograph taken when I was a child. A somber, round-faced little boy gazes up at the camera wondering at the magic of a moment captured. Probably the first moment a strange dream settled on me. And now, as I look at him and as I think more deeply about the mystery of the passage of time, I feel a sense of awe. I don’t even remember the first movie that I ever saw, but I do remember that my father used to take me to the movies or the theater at least once every week. For me, those times were more than just escapism and more than just having fun. For me each film or play told me finite stories with infinite promise.

I am by no means someone who likes to thump the present for the past. But when I say that films made today pale against those of the yesteryear's, it’s only because I refuse to be tied down to the absolute banal and formulaic popcorn culture that spits out movie after movie based on the whim of a few men who rather have a nice balance sheet than preserve any artistic authenticity or class. Turns out, those major league studios are completely subjugated by the belief that money can buy them out of their own crap and justify anything. Bear with me here, I do enjoy a few “mindless” flicks here and there and am in no way against the mass studios productions but I absolutely hate it when they take my intelligence and understanding for granted. I am a firm believer in intent and sadly that’s one of the many things lacking from today’s misplaced silver screen debuts. But, at the same time, it would also be monumentally unfair to the very few who do believe in their work and spend years to see the realization of their dream hit the light.

I have argued this before, many times, and there always have been someone with a misplaced sense of hurt accusing me of being an “elitist critic” (I am not) who is “out of touch” (with what! my brain?) or that I am “too old to understand this generation (I love this one as I am barely past 26). But seriously, am I out of touch? Or am I just a little too much in touch with what I want? Forgive me if my likes do not reflect the latest box office taste and for not being uncritical and thoughtlessly accepting everything that’s shoved down my throat. And don’t give me that “it’s just my opinion” crap ‘cos it matters and sometimes you can be wrong.

This is also not to say that the best movies are the ones that try to be too "realistic" or those that confine to the “art” status or the ones that most people can’t understand and consider dull and lifeless. As I see it, movies, regardless of being good or bad, reveals to us some measure the visible and invisible nature of our hopes, our fears, our dreams and everything that falls in between. Even the ones that I consider bad can do this, indulging our unspoken lusts but the best movies go beyond that and meet us where we are - engaging our hearts and minds. They appear so natural and so matter-of-fact that it does not necessarily force contextual change or a change in our perception of reality based on deliberate habituation. It is uniquely fulfilling to witness the skilled manipulation of frames that contain the irrationality of a setting which tenderly unites the real and the imagined converting recognizable scenes to surreal outlines. As the German playwright, Bertolt Brecht, put it “Before familiarity can turn into awareness, the familiar must be stripped of its inconspicuousness; we must give up assuming that the object in question needs no explanation.”

Back when I was working as the editor of a magazine, I was invited to the premiere of a movie and I had the pleasure of talking to the director for an extended period of time. He wasn't too pleased with his work because, as he said, the studio demanded that at least fifty percent of the movie be along the lines of a previously successful movie. The movie went on to be a mild success (meaning they got some money back and pretty much nothing else). More disappointing was his claim that there is vulgar disparity towards the intelligent folks. For some reason being educated was considered some kind of stigma only worthy of concealment. He also mentioned that, today schools weren't about learning but more about piling up achievements that look good and by that what we are getting is a bunch of outcome-oriented people. But thinking on a bigger scale, what we are loosing are the dreamers, the free thinkers and the innovators sidelining us to become someone whose identity is based on mundane text and preconceived ideas. Which, in-effect would describe the decline of an industry that is based on the notion that life is grand even while you are loosing out.

No, I am not succumbing to my own arrogance. We will talk about that as we go ahead and you will probably learn to hate me more.