Film has always been a passion of mine. What I love most about going to the theater is the anticipation of seeing pictures in motion that tell a story I ultimately appreciate, even if the topic doesn’t resonate within my personal life experiences. But lately I’ve felt a little disappointed in some of the films that I’d anticipated most and surprised by the one’s that were below my radar. In this post, I’ll share a few reasons as to why I became a fan of film in the past and what has lead me to be disappointed in a few films recently.
I can distinctly remember my mother dragging the entire family out to the $1 theater (I truly miss those) to see “The Last Emperor”
It was only a ten minute drive from our house to the theater but my mother gave us all – four kids and my Dad – enough background on the film and the history of China during the moment in time where the film takes place that I was extremely excited to see the story of a kid becoming ruler of China at birth. I thought Pu Yi – the Emperor – was the coolest kid ever upon arrival to the theater. But after sitting through 3+ hours of a movie at 9 years old, waking up and falling back to sleep at least three times and numerous trips to the restroom, I do remember feeling sorry for the emperor. I remember feeling blessed to have my own childhood and being able to play outside with friends, something Pu Yi couldn’t afford because of his responsibilities to his country. As my dad drove us back home I toyed with the thought of giving up my childhood to live like an emperor. The scene where he was breast fed by a much older woman surely made my decision difficult to make (I’m not quite sure my mother was aware of this scene before viewing either…she was awfully quiet in the car going home). Nevertheless, at 9 years old I understood sayings like “The grass is always greener on the other side” and “God has a plan for us all, no matter how unfair you may think yours is” all too well due to this film.
To see Pu Yi go from being ruler of billions to fading away as a simple man gardening crops was an important lesson for me. As a child, he was inquisitive – like myself – and had to learn of his culture and the way the world worked as he ruled. But, what was key to his life is that no matter what a man does he matters in some capacity.
Another film that stands out to me is my favorite film ever, The Godfather.
This is a film I’ve loved since the day I overheard my Uncle and Godfather make arrangements to have a viewing party at my uncle’s house – that I was denied entry to because of “adult activities” taking place during the party. (I also learned later in life what this meant too.) All the things that make me whole are in this film; family values, policy and principle, accountability, loyalty, and respecting those against you. I was in middle school when I first saw the first of three parts of this story. I related to the characters in this film as I’d done in The Last Emperor and pretty much all other films I’d seen prior to. I knew Michael was special; he followed the protocol set by his father that ultimately brought success to the Corleone family. I worried about Sonny because of his reckless abandon for violence and cutting corners. I feared for Fredo shortly after he was introduced to the story because of his weaknesses and softness towards the family’s vigor. But each character matters. Each character is important. And all characters exist in real life, no matter what your family resembles.
There were biblical references in this film as well as codes and rules respected in families and neighborhoods of all races, creeds and financial backgrounds. Messages like “Live by the gun, die by the gun” and “Wallow in the ground with dogs, come up with fleas” were made sense due to this film. Some people use their own life experiences to navigate through rights and wrongs, while others – such as myself – also appreciate the lessons learned by seeing people not associated with their own lives experience failure and success.
And this was the beginning of my affinity to film. I thought it to be ingenious the way a story could be told on screen and I’ve cherished the art form for years. Their are other favorites that I’d like to mention like E.T., Big, Scarface, and Blazzin’ Saddles to name a few but I’d go on forever and this post has to end at some point.
But lately, the film industry has changed in a way that has left me disappointed more often than expected. It’s a catch twenty-two for me because out of my disappointment in a few films, I’ve begun writing myself. I’ve taken the liberty to highlight one film from the past three years that were my biggest disappointments in the theater. It’s not to say that these films were the worst films ever, it’s just that I’d expected more from them in particular over all others in that given year and was let down a little bit.
2007 – I Am Legend
Overall, I enjoyed this film but one thing concerns me about this film is the ending. If these blood seeking thinga-majigs had more adept abilities than the best bloodhound in history and had killed all humankind – as well as dogs, cats and other warm-blooded land-roving animals – then how do hundreds of people stay safely tucked away in a colony barricaded within a three foot high stone fence remain unharmed? I’m still waiting on an answer to that question ’til this day. Once it’s received, I’ll change my opinion of this film. But until then, well, it’s a disappointment.
2008 – The Day The Earth Stood Still
I saw the original film created in 1951 and even though this film was done 57 years later, it wasn’t better than the original. So what’s the point? After all the technological advances made inbetween nearly six decades I believe it’s criminal to do a remake that doesn’t surpass it’s predecessor. And the audacity of Scott Derrickson to deviate from the original story as if his rendition was better still has me appauled.
2009 – Watchmen
I still have lines on my forehead from straining a confused look for almost four hours of viewing this film. Afterwords, I’d expressed my opinion of the film to my techie friends and I was then advised to read the book. Wait a minute…Zack Snyder (the director of the film) read the book, then produced a film according to what he’d read and now I have to read the book to understand what he put in motion on film? Not to mention the over-the-top perverted scenes featured in this film that displayed Dr. Manhattan’s male anatomy and overly homosexual superheroes. More time was spent developing the characters sexuality and anatomy than providing supporting documentation on the characters themselves. I’m not sure what Mr. Snyder wanted me to walk away thinking from his film.
I want my $10.50 back, please…