Friday, July 28, 2017

i'm just sitting up here thinkin, you know

I wanted to continue the "survey" today, throw out far too many questions--

(For example, under the banner of Action Films, I has broken the genre down into Adventure, Disaster, Superhero, and Heist movies, and there was a question about your preference between Cars or Parkour?)

--but I don't want to. I also thought I'd be watching The Room again tonight, but I am unexpectedly cut down to just the one screen for the next couple hours, and I have time to write. I did see a movie today. Of course. Atomic Blonde. I liked it more than my friend Jared--with whom I saw it--did, but I thought it felt a little long and had that first Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible problem of actively trying to be overcomplicated just for the sake of being overcomplicated. Still, I was entertained, and I rather liked the way most of the violence played out, more brutal and real than most action movies, as if the characters were really getting hurt. For a film that introduces its lead naked in a tub of ice, her body bruised and cut up, I guess that makes sense.


But, I don't really want to talk about Atomic Blonde, either. Not really. I feel like going bigger... by going smaller. That is, I had an inkling as I often do to say something personal here, but in hopes that it might evoke something in you as you read it. See, yesterday was all about why you see the movies you do, my abandoned survey that was growing far too complex in my head well before I set out to work out any specific questions. And, I love to talk movies with people because, well, the obvious reason--I love movies, and talking about them exercises that love. It's something I know, something I'm into. You want to talk TV shows, I can do that, too. You want to talk board games or Dungeons & Dragons, I am right there with you. Hell, with the way Facebook algorithms work, lately my feed has been mostly Dungeons & Dragons related stuff because I've made an effort this past month to disengage from the political pages and groups that I follow, and Facebook reinforces the things you interact with by offering you more of those things. I feel like Dungeons & Dragons in particular takes up a lot of my time of late. Not in a nuisance, I have work to do, kind of way, just it's always at the corner of my mind, the game I run, the game I play in regularly, my friends from there, Critical Role... and I had this thought recently, that it's almost like Dungeons & Dragons is a religion of mine. My participation in the DM groups or the player groups on Facebook is like theology...

And this blog works the same way, but for movies. I wish I had more movie discussion groups, but it's harder to find good ones of those because, well, movies have a larger share of the population interested in them, and you get too many people together somewhere online, the discussion inevitably takes a turn toward personal attacks and nothing but negativity. Not that this blog can't be quite negative sometimes. Or that I never make personal attacks here--

Tommy Wiseau is a charisma vacuum who never should have been anywhere near the big or small screen. There--I said it.

Oh, and everyone involved in Pretty Woman, after that initial cuteness bit wore off back when it was in theaters, should have felt--and should still feel--ashamed for having been a part of it. That film is a despicable example of film, of romantic comedy, of interpersonal interaction, of acting, of scriptwriting... There is only so much that charm can cover. And, not for long.

But, anyway...

I've written so many thousands of words here in this blog, and so many pages about blogging in my master's thesis, so I'm not sure there is really anything particularly new or novel to offer. But, I will say, being able to ramble about movies for a couple hours--whether that gets me a few hundred words or a few thousand--is... Well, I won't say better. But, it can be better than other parts of the Internet. Because it's me alone, able to do whatever I like. But also because I can imagine you the reader clicking over to read this right after it's posted, or maybe a few days from now--

(A few weeks ago, for some reason, one old blog entry suddenly jumped back to the top viewed list for the blog, with like five times the amount of views that particular day than the latest entry. And, I don't know why. Someone somewhere linked to it and I don't know who, and I don't know why. Just an awesome fluke.)

--or next year when you happen to be watching a movie that I've written about here. And I imagine that you find something fascinating, or enlightening, or maybe just amusing. And, I like that. When I wanted to be a novelist--and I cranked out more than a dozen novels that might never see an audience--I didn't want to be a bestselling author. I didn't even want to necessarily be "famous". I imagined some fan, having read one of my books, heading off to a used bookstore in search of more. I mean, that's what I did in my 20s all the time. Nevermind that used bookstores barely exist anymore. Nevermind that Amazon and Google would make the search far too easy today. I had the fantasy. And, I liked it.

I'm not sure what the fantasy is, now. I mean, I'm a teacher, and just a decade ago I wouldn't have imagined myself as a teacher. When there was some thing trending on Facebook--tell us who you are with three fictional characters, or something like that--I included Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society because that's the teacher I want to be. I want to inspire my students to express themselves, to dream big and speak big and talk hard. This summer, with my Upward Bound classes, I got my best taste of that kind of teaching, and that kind of student-ing yet. And, it was awesome.

But, off in dark recesses of my mind, there are still dreams of writing novels, dreams of writing movies, dreams of acting, dreams of singing, dreams of falling in love again, dreams of so many things. And, of course that's how it is. There's not much point in dreaming about the thing you actually have in front of you. Doesn't mean that what you have isn't good. It just means that what you have is, well, what you have. And, you have to dream. Not because other versions of your life are better than the one you're living--though maybe they are--but because if you stop dreaming... If I stop dreaming, I figure I stop living. That's part of why I watch movies. It isn't because I need to escape into them and imagine myself as the hero of the story because that's so much better than the life I have. It is just because, you need to keep life on its toes. My life right now could be better, sure. But, I love my kids, I love spending time with my newfound friends, and I love teaching. But, if I never imagined anything else, good or bad, it would all be a bit boring. It's that theology thing, again. Maybe for some people it isn't like this. Hell, the way the world is sometimes, the way America is especially recently, I figure there are a lot of people for which this is NOT the way of things. But, I don't want to be like Fiero in Wicked, living the unexamined life. Dancing through life is great. You need to dance more. I need to dance more. Figuratively. Literally. But, you need to take the time to think about your life, about life itself, about the world around you and the people in it. I can't help but be a bleeding heart liberal and social justice warrior, or whatever pejorative you want to put upon my politics. Because I take time--sometimes too much time--to think about life. Not just my own, but everyone's. People I meet. Students I teach. People on TV. Politicians. Terrorists. Victims. Everyone. And, I want better things for them and for you and for me. I want the world to be a better place.

And, for me, quite often, the world is a better place because I get to sit on my couch (or my floor when I'm blogging) or in a darkened movie theater, and I get to go someplace else for a couple hours. I get to be someone else. And, I get to feel things that maybe I don't feel everyday. I get to do things that maybe I don't get to do everyday, or maybe ever. And it expands the universe in my head and, quite honestly, I think it makes me a better person. I'd cite a study about how watching movies increases empathy, but again, I'm down to one screen right now, I'm not at home. And despite my usual tendencies to quote sources all over the place, I want to make this point myself right now. Watching movies increases your ability to empathize with other people. If it does nothing else, it does that. And, that will make you a better person. And, that means potential for the world to be a better world to have you in it.

We can all laugh at how bad The Room is, sure. And it is bad. But, those actors put themselves out there, and made something. If more people did creative things, nevermind just how good or bad the results would be, we'd be better off. And being in their audience, especially together, we would be better off.

And, I wish politics would stop inserting itself back into my day-to-day. Activist my old dreams of being a revolutionary. But, hey. Dreaming is good. And, I've got movies to pull me out of the downward spiral of political debates online. I've got friends. I've got games. I've got kids. I've got life.

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