Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Day at the Movies: Lessons Learned

I woke up Sunday with a choice to make: Do I wisely and dutifully trudge into the office and write about why a judge’s rash decision was, well, not really that bad, or do I blindly hold onto the weekend, shutting out the real world, and head to the cinema to escape for a few more hours?

Or perhaps eight hours.

Yes, I spent an unprecedented (for me) eight hours at Celebration North today indulging in what I coined my Triple Play Day. Three movies; one day.

One absolutely wonderful, deep, entertaining day of learning at the movies.


First up: Hereafter directed by Clint Eastwood and starring, among others, Matt Damon. Damon plays George Lonegan, a psychic who has given up “readings” for hard labor in an attempt to live a normal life. Hereafter actually centers on three different characters – George, Marie LeLay, a French journalist who survives a tsunami in a breath-taking opening sequence, and Marcus, a London school boy who loses his twin – and how their lives ultimately meet and mingle all while examining our beliefs about the afterlife. What happens when we die? Your answer to that question may largely depend upon your cultural upbringing. Is it simply lights out? Is it the streets of gold and angels on wing? Or something in between?

I noticed that the vast majority of those around me were age 60 or older. I noted coughing – the deep, disturbing, not-just-a-cold type – and found myself wondering how many of those around me were in the midst of a real-time struggle with their own mortality. I hope they left the movie a tad more uplifted than they entered it. I know I did.

My answer? I believe that when we die, we will know, truly know so much more than we are currently capable of knowing but first and foremost, we will truly know that it will all be alright. Our loved ones, our past, the world … all of it. I believe that most religions are simply different avenues that people have taken in their life-long search for God. I believe that there can be truth in many different religions and that it is when we attempt to force God into a box, book, or temple that we lose sight of truth.

I believe that it will all be alright.


Next up: It’s Kind of a Funny Story, starring Keir Gilchrist and funny man Zach Galifianakis demonstrating that he is not just the funny man. Gilchrist plays Craig, a sixteen year old stressed and depressed teen who checks himself into a psychiatric ward. Galifianakis is a resident of the ward who takes Craig under his albeit broken wing. This movie has laughs, it has romance, and it has a message of, “Yeah, so you’re a bit screwed up; who isn’t? What are you waiting for? Live!”

For me, a highlight of the movie was also an eye-blinking jolt of déjà vu. Craig is speaking with the ward doctor about how he realizes that he has positives in his life, that his family loves him, that he has so much more than many others, but that life seems just one big ball of struggle and worry. Worry about what? Worry about how one decision or missed opportunity would somehow color the rest of his life and keep him from success, happiness, sex …

The jolt? This was something very similar to what I tried to explain myself recently – that I believe that life is meant to be lived but that sometimes it becomes one big mucky ball of struggle so that “living” begins to equate to “struggling” with too few moments of joy to counteract the crap.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story left me with a renewed energy to fight the muck and “live.” Now, how many movies can say that? You know, other than Predator.


Finally: Secretariat brought up the rear then leaped to the front much like the horse of the same name. Secretariat was the discount movie this week at Celebration Cinema. If you haven’t learned of the discount movies yet, really, where have you been? First-run movies for $3.00 every Sunday makes this one of the best movie values out there. But I digress.

Secretariat tells the true story of housewife Penny Chenery Tweedy, played by Diane Lane, who took over the management of her father’s stables following her mother’s death and father’s decline. Tweedy hired fashion-challenged trainer Lucien Laurin, played by John Malkovich (who also entertained me yesterday in Red); Laurin and Tweedy successfully raise Big Red aka Secretariat, who was the first horse in twenty-five years to win the Triple Crown. Secretariat is a story of fighting for your dreams even when the odds are against you. Perhaps the best praise I can give is that this movie had me biting my nails even knowing the outcome of each race. And it left the audience applauding at the credits … when was the last time you heard that?

Okay, The Goonies during Celebration’s recent Late Night Cult series but, hey, it’s The Goonies after all.

In the end, today included lessons of hope, life, and determination. All at the movies.

I could not have spent my time better.

Now for late night laundry and left-over pizza.