Tuesday, January 27, 2009

what's up with that?

I have frequently experienced that phenomenon of really loving a movie/musical artist/painting, and then, later, upon reflection, totally hating it and everything it stood for. This is not necessarily induced by reading external reviews by snarky critics--sometimes, it's just a creeping sensation of "I thought I liked this, but I was duped." Most frequently, it's sentimental, schlocky stuff. I am by no stretch of the imagination a sentimental, feeling, emotional person. In some ways, easily manipulated, until I have cognitive override and realize that I just reacted positively and sometimes violently to what is, artistically speaking, complete crap.

Sometimes it's not being duped--I loved, and still love, The Notebook. I cried and cried at the scenes with the older couple, especially seeing Gena Rowlands crippled with Alzheimers. Dude, if you don't at least feel for her, you are a meanie. I still like Capra movies. They're actually good for one thing, and they play with the emotions in a way that's sincere in that "well, it's plausible" way. I don't feel like I've been emotionally manipulated to a place where I wouldn't have wanted to go, and so I'm still satisfied in my emotional investment in James Stewart's fates in It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

But the movies I'm talking about: Garden State and As Good As It Gets. Crappy movies that I emotionally reacted to, initially liked, and then later hated. They won acclaim and awards. They contorted my malleable heart into liking Zach Braff and believing his bullshit lines about home being someplace everyone imagines (pukey purple prose) and wanting him to stay with his manic pixie dream girl, Natalie Portman (who was really annoying!). They made me think Jack Nicholson's horrid character was a plausible match for Helen Hunt, and made me want them to like, be together. They made me ignore my reaction of "that's crappy hotel art" to Greg Kinnear's stupid paintings of Helen Hunt, as if he was the first to be inspired by a woman's back.

Manipulative schlocky movies, I'm onto you. Something tells me that Milk, a story of a real hero, and Slumdog Millionaire, whatever it's potential for being "poverty porn," are in the "actually good" camp rather than the "you'll hate it later" camp. Or at least, here's hoping. Trouble is finding the time to see these movies. Maybe we should stop having Top Chef marathons.