Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Notes on Movies by Someone Not Surfing

On Friday I played hookie from afternoon work, taking my seven year old son to Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, a longish relatively unmagical animated biopic about the Japanese aeronautical engineer who designed the Japanese Zero. There are moments of magic, sure, but also moments (for me) of snooze-worthy bits. Bits, however, in which my son's nimble, young mind, routinely unsated and animation-addled, easily found the requisite sparks of excitement my older, slower moving one could not. In that film a mantra is repeated a few times, one in which an older character exhorts a younger one to push for excellence as one's lifespan of creativity really only lasts about ten years. At first this statement of artistic fact didn't faze me too much, but the second or third time, I started to feel uncomfortable. At what point in this mystical ten year period am I? Does this period even exist in such raw, undeterrable fashion? A depressing thought to come away with from a film made by a filmmaker who has always left me with the highest, hopeful feelings.

Oscar night I was talking to one of the producers of another film I saw last week, telling him my theory about the emotional vacuum in his latest film and how I connected so much more with the last one. He accepted that, generously, as it was more or less a slight criticism leveled against his own work, but turned it around, saying he had many conversations with a certain sort of European viewer who found the narrative setting as moving, sentimental and touching in this one as I experienced in the American fatherless-boy-scout context of the last. This made me think.

The light is light earlier. The winds will shift quickly after. There will be a period between when the surf is good enough. Until then, you have to sit through meanderings about movies.

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