Day: August 18, 2013

A Summer with No Movies

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For some reason my readers love what I have to say about movies.  I love the movies.  I love the feeling of being swept away in another world and seeing a new perspective in a confined period of time.  Learning something, laughing for a few hours or shedding a collective tear with your fellow movie-goers.

Movies give all of us a common language that perhaps only television rivals.  Even with communicating with children I have been amazed at how equalizing a discussion of their favorite movies becomes.  At a recent family reunion I was talking to my nieces/cousins about their favorite movies and the conversation lasted for 15-20 minutes and at the end my cousin’s son Tait said ‘wow, you know about everything…’.  I wish that were true but I try to stay well informed and culturally relevant about a variety of topics including movies.

Having said that it will perhaps surprise you that I have not been to a single movie this summer.  Even more than that there have only been 4 that sparked my interest, 3 of which did not come to a theater nearby for more than a few days.  The four movies I might have seen given the chance were Before Midnight, Much Ado About Nothing, Blue Jasmine and Monsters University.  The Heat looked kind of funny but I like to wait for the R rated comedies to make sure they aren’t out of my comfort level and from what I hear that one was a pretty strong R.

This is not the first time I’ve felt this way about summer movies.  See post Thumbs Down to Summer Movies but still there are usually a few movies I make it out to.  Have any of you found this?  My parents never go to movies and that always seemed kind of sad to me.  Am I turning into my parents? (a fact I’ve seen coming for some time).

Part of the reason why I haven’t been to the movies is because I have used up almost every ounce of my free time swimming.  That’s where my friends are and that’s where I want to be.  While I will go to the movies alone, they are often a social experience and none of my friends have invited me to go to the movies.  Instead we’ve gone to concerts, the theater, dinners and of course swimming all over Utah and Salt Lake County.

That’s where I have to blame the movies.  Why when I can go to a lake and swim for free or go to a good restaurant would I want to go to a sequel, prequel, remakes or super hero movie especially when I can see it at home in a few months?  It’s just becoming increasingly less appealing as a social activity.  Even if the movies are not technically offshoots of previous movies they are so derivative of those films then why wouldn’t I just go see the original better version?

I’m so tired of the big explosions, special effects and repeats.  This year we got 2 movies where the white house was under attack, 5 end of the world/zombie movies, 3 super hero movies (4 with Thor to come in the fall, 5 if you count Kiss @#$# 2), 3 out of the 5 animated movies were sequels/prequels, I could go on.  And did anyone else notice that there hasn’t been a single romantic comedy or period piece this year.  I know they can be terrible but usually there are at least a couple a year?

I’m sick of movies made in committees.  Someone in some corporate board meeting decided that Walking Dead was a big hit so 2013 was going to be the year of the zombie/end of the world movie.  Just like someone last year decided that the newly envisioned fairy tale was the big hit (2 Snow Whites, Red Riding Hood).

Maybe I was just spoiled because last year was one of my favorite movie years in recent memories.  With Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, Pitch Perfect, Lincoln and The Perks of Being a Wallflower were all excellent.  These were great movie experiences.  Experiences that could only be had at the movies. Only on the screen could I get up close to Jean Valjean and feel his pain. Its something the stage could never provide.  Same with Wallflower where the music provides a dimension to the story the novel missed.

I’ve missed that experience this year.  What amazes me is that Hollywood will put millions of dollars on a film and not take any time on characters or a solid script.  I mean The Lone Ranger costs 220 million dollars to make.  220 million. What were investors thinking?  That just because it had Johnny Depp it would make more money than any western ever (Dances with Wolves holds that record at 184 million)?  That kind of waste is almost unconscionable and were not even including the marketing for it.  That said, the big budget would be forgivable (think Avatar) if it was a good movie but from everything I hear it isn’t.

Has anyone else had a similar experience this summer?  I’ve asked on my facebook/twitter wall but what am I missing?

Here’s what I say to movie-makers out there- Get some guts.  Every year there are thousands of graduates dreaming of screenwriting glory.  Why not find the best of the best?  Get some budgeting, show some restraint and then actually promote your movies outside of Oscar season.  How annoying is it when I want to see a movie but can’t because it isn’t playing anywhere within 50 miles of my house.  When Before Midnight came out I got an email from fandango announcing I could see the movie in Hollywood California or Austin, Texas.  Only 12 hours in the car and I can see a movie…Sigh

Also, my next rant. I’m so tired of movies throwing in the f word just to appear edgy and independent. I admit that certain characters such language is natural but a movie like Ruby Sparks would be so much better without all the unnecessary language.  Broadway is having the same problem with each new show trying to out-edge the next one.  Didn’t Hugo and The Artist show that sometimes the most edgy thing we can do is old fashioned and simple?  Double sigh…

So that’s my feelings on summer movies 2013.  Hollywood you may have gotten some people to see your films but not this blogger.  Got to try harder to get me in the door.

PS.  Want a great idea for a movie- why doesn’t someone make Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South into a movie?  We haven’t had a Jane Austenish movie in a while and the miniseries was great and popular.  With the popularity of Downton Abbey I think North and South would do very well. I also would love to see any of the Sophie Kinsella books made into a movie as long as it isn’t ruined like Confessions of a Shopaholic or Edenbrooke.  That’d be great!!

Here’s Matt Atchity from What the Flick giving a good portrait of this summer in movies:

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Happiness: A Journey

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Today I was visiting with my home teachers and they asked me an interesting question.  They said ‘we’ve met many single individuals over the years but not many who seem to be as happy and content as you are.  What is your secret?’.  After thanking them for the compliment I had a hard time putting into words why I am happy.  Its kind of a hard question to answer?  There are lots of things that make me happy.  How do you sum it up?

They then talked about all of the different activities I’m involved in and how I take control of my life.  I again thanked them for the compliment and made a fumbling attempt to explain why I am happy.  Here’s a better explanation:

About 7 years ago I was seriously unhappy.  I think only God knows how low I really got.  Its again hard to explain because I wasn’t doing anything wrong per say I just felt this cloud over my life.  I hated my job.  I didn’t get to spend enough time with my friends and things I loved like school and church callings were getting crowded out by long work days and other responsibilities.  In the end, it doesn’t even have to do with that particular job.  It was this ghost of unhappiness that haunted me every day.

I related many times on this blog the events of that period- how I pushed the feelings of depression inside until they burst out in full blown panic.  It still amazes me that with all the challenges I had on my mission and being bullied at school the thing that really broke me was a perpetual stupor of unhappiness.  It makes no sense to the outward observer.  In fact, one could claim I was suffering from first world problems and should be grateful I had a job, and I was. Still, that feeling of grayness in my life is something I will never forget.

Once I had shown the world my unhappiness I had little left to gain by pretending and started to take the leaps of faith necessary to remove the cloud-cover from my life. I lowered my hours and eventually quit my job.  I graduated from school with my MBA. I moved to Draper.  Found out that working from home was right for me, started taking voice lessons, was introduced to open water swimming,  and started a book club, the list could go on and on.  cs-lewis-quotes-sayings-god-happiness-peace

Everything good in my life is because I learned what it felt like to be unhappy and chose to never allow myself to hit that kind of funk again.  Of course, I have unhappy days, even months and been through severe disappointments and anxiety in the last few years but nothing like it was in 2007.

So that’s why I am happy now. I am happy because I know what it feels like to be unhappy and the great thing is that God was with me through it all.  He never stopped telling me that He loved me and He helped me learn the lessons I needed to learn.  He kept reminding me that I needed to make a change.  He never gave up on me.  He never will.

Probably most importantly I learned from that period that God’s plan of happiness is not simply a checklist of big things to do, ordinances to make but literally a plan for our happiness down to where I worked and what I do with my life.  If he is so involved in these microdetails how can I not faith in the big things such as finding my Mr Sunshine out there.  Regardless, I will never let myself feel that way again for an extended period and that is a life-changing lesson.  I am happy because I learned that I mattered to God and His happiness requires my happiness not just my obedience.

To happiness! (Hopefully someday I can find someone to share that happiness with.  All in God’s timetable).

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