How to recognize a weasel–part two.

This is not really a continuation of my Beauty and the Beast review, it’s more a commentary on films in general.

I said when I reviewed The Hunger Games that the movie was trying to make you think it was good, but it really had no strong message.

It turns out there’s a lot of that going around. I just saw La La Land and it was the same thing. It seemed good because it was trying to be like an old fashioned romance, but it totally lacked morals. I’m actually surprised that many good people thought it was great.

I get why, I wanted to like it. But I kept waiting for a moment where the characters did something I could really admire, but they didn’t.

I think my Grandmother thinks I’m just predisposed to dislike every movie that recently (in the last five years) came out.

But I liked “Hidden Figures” and “The Intern.” And heck, I like “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I liked the new Cinderella movie.

I’m not impossible to please.

I am hard to please. I missed the memo when pleasing the more difficult audience suddenly became not what movie writers were supposed to go for.

Which is not to say I should just get to say any movie is bad because I personally didn’t like it. I didn’t like Hacksaw Ridge over much, but it’s not a bad movie. Some things are just taste.

But some aren’t. Like caring what a movie is actually trying to say. And if it’s not trying to say anything, then it’s smoke and mirrors, because no one can come up with a decent creation if they don’t have a goal in mind.

My sister is a painter and drawer, she never paints a picture of nothing in particular. I know some artists do to express freedom, but even they are trying to express something. I write, I never write a story or  post about nothing. My other sibling crafts, she never makes nothing in particular.

Whether you’re a good or bad artist, you can’t be an artist without a goal or a point in mind.

And a film without a real point is just trimmings and trappings over a bare framework.

But we’ve gotten really good at those trimmings.

We have realistic looking CGI to the point where most of us have seen more vibrant landscapes on TV than we have in real life.

We have actors who can be airbrushed to perfection.

We have locations to die for, almost.

We have surroud sound. We have cool scores. We have promotional ads!

What we don’t seem to have is stories. Everyone is talking about how unoriginal Hollywood is getting. I guess the directors figure if you can’t make up a new idea, you have to dress up an old one.

But lest we be too copycat-ish, we’ll throw out all the old morals the plot used to entail. Let’s have more sex, shooting, explosions, and dumb throwaway lines that will become t-shirts and memes and be forgotten a few years hence. That’s what people want to see.

Well, unfortunately, I’m starting to wonder if that is what people want to see.

I can still remember the feeling I used to get when I finished watching a really good movie. I felt braver, better, and like life was more beautiful because of that film’s ideas. I felt like I had a glimpse into something I wouldn’t normally see or think about. Every now and then I get that feeling again.

But not form these big hits that have recently come out. They just don’t do it for me. I could look every recent superhero film I’ve seen in the eyes and tell it “The Incredibles was still better than you.” And forget the romantic comedies.

Well, I digress.

I read in one book that since the Fall we’ve gotten really good at covering up our shame with fig leaves Whether they be ordinary fig leaves or designer fig leaves.

Or as Shakespeare put it “All that glitters is not gold.”

Shakespeare tells us that if we are “young in limb, in judgement old,” we will not stake our happiness on things that are shiny and seem valuable on the surface, but inside contain dead men’s bones. (Merchant of Venice.)

The fig leaves represent the way we try to cover up our shame. And our current shame as a culture is how little we understand right and wrong. A lot of us feel confused about a lot of things, so we cover it up by making movies and other things that sound good, and sound profound, but if we were to really examine them they would be as fragile as leaves and one yank would destroy the facade.

The words of Shakespeare warn us not to value things that are dead inside just because they satisfy our senses.

I look for life in a movie. Some movies are just too foolish, others are deliberate garbage, others are the result of poor writing.

We need to be able to tell, because if we can’t, we’ll admire all the wrong things. And you can’t admire garbage on a screen, and then appreciate gold in real life.

Let’s just say that anyone who takes fool’s gold for the real thing will never recognize actual gold when they see it. They don’t look the same when you’ve seen both.

And can I just point out that the people who are telling us it doesn’t matter and to just enjoy the garbage are usually the ones making it… don’t you think they have a slight agenda?

I’m basically giving you all permission to dislike popular films for good reasons. And to like good films with all the enthusiasm the youth are showing for the bad ones. That’s where the “young in limb” part comes in.

Wisdom and Passion are the two great helpers of life, and they have to be forged the right way.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.


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