Friday, February 20, 2009

Lessons from Oscar

Every year, for many years, I've embarked on an annual quest. It may seem to some a simple thing - to view all films nominated for an Academy Award - but scheduling this effort around small children and living in the cultural Mojave that is the South Shore - has been a challenge. Some films never even make it to a theater down here. And then, by the time a film is nominated, it's often not playing anywhere at all.

And so, in the past, I've juggled priorities, traveled on trains, defied the weather, and occasionally my own safety, to catch a certain movie. I've watched films in ancient refurbished playhouses with tattered velvet curtains and no heat, and in sweltering subterranean catacombs deep beneath Harvard Square. I've crammed double and even triple features into one outing in order to economize my time. And I've packed on countless hot-buttered popcorn pounds for my efforts.

But last year, in the midst of the casino wars, I had to put aside my quest, grudgingly accepting the fact that I simply did not have enough time to do the things I enjoy and fight casinos.

But this year, Regal Cinema at the Independence Mall very magnanimously re-ran many of the Oscar nominated films. And so, between that, Netflix and a personal DVD player, I managed once again to see most of the year's best movies.

And what a great crop - though I'm going to admit right up front that I purposely chose not to see The Dark Knight. Frankly, I've had enough of dangerously unstable human train wrecks who fancy themselves jokers, for a lifetime.

But, since the fight is never far from my mind, I tried to find a message that we could take from this years best movies. (Spoiler alert...)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Doing things backwards and expecting them to turn out well in the end is only a fantasy.

Eventually, the big guy's gonna talk.

The Changeling
Trust your heart and no amount of corruption, intimidation, manipulation or deceit will crush you. A strong team can fix a broken system. And never give up hope.

Vicky Christina Barcelona
A little drama may be intriguing, but just a little too much can be downright dangerous.

Revolutionary Road
Complacency can be catastrophic.

Tropic Thunder
Sometimes even the big leagues have to recognize the power of satire.

The Wrestler
True fighters can take just about anything - except the blows from the people they care about.

Frozen River
There are more issues with Sovereign tribal nations than most people realize. Gambling addiction may marginally help fund tribal nations... but often destroys hard working families, many of whom never enter a bingo hall or casino. People can find always seek common ground - but living under separate laws drives us apart.

The Reader
Sometimes people we hold in high esteem, turn out to be real jerks.

Never allow anyone to plant doubt in the midst of your convictions.

Real leaders lead by example. Activism requires action. There are no compromises and no concessions when you are fighting for your quality of life. With enough effort, holding a sign on a sidewalk can become a National Movement. And... you gotta give them hope.

Slumdog Millionaire
The underdog really can win. The important things in life aren't about the money. Draw on your own experiences for the right answers to the tough questions. Never trust the slimy windbag with his own show. And seriously, try not to miss the victory dance when it's all over.


Anonymous said...

I stopped watching the Oscars the year Russell Crowe lost for "A Beautiful Mind". Hollywood is politics where votes are bought and paid for, where 90% of the would be stars spend their lives chasing dreams that elude them, where fame becomes an addiction requiring other addictions to cope.

I love watching movies, but too often the stories behind them are as tragic as what we can expect locally if that casino is ever built.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Dear Anon. 1:46,

I felt the same way about People Magazine after they chose Ben Afleck as their 'sexiest man alive'.

I thought this year was actually more upbeat for the movies.

There was that one year with Blood Diamond, Syriana, Letters from Iwo Jima, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, and The Departed. I wasn't sure I wanted to see a movie ever again...

Perhaps current economic times will generate more upbeat movies. I could use some Frank Capra right about now...

Anonymous said...

As always, you're an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I kind of harken back to the days of moviedom and the likes of "The Sting"...

The story within the story has always been appealing.

Story lines abound, but the best ones are right under our noses.

It would be a compelling movie about the tale that is unfolding right here, in our town, it would be an edge- of-the-seat thriller.

Popcorn anyone??

Gladys Kravitz said...

Anon. 2:05 - I've always envisioned it more as a black comedy - sort of on the lines of "Cold Turkey" or "Harold and Maude."

You know, the sort of movie where you just want to say - wow all those people are so bizarre. That couldn't happen here...

...and yet...

Smoking Owl said...

I was thinking more of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

What we have going on in Middleboro sounds like something that could have originated in the LSD influenced mind of Ken Kesey.