Friday, May 3, 2024

New Movies Do Not Fill the Landscape of My Dreams


Why do I find going to the movies to see new films so unsatisfying? I want to keep an open mind and heart and want to support the theatergoing experience, but I rarely, if ever, find new films at the theaters truly, madly, deeply enjoyable. They might be truly enjoyable. They might be madly enjoyable, and they might even be deeply enjoyable. But rarely, almost never, are they meet the truly, madly, deeply threshold for me. Why?

The answer is in the title of this article and it came to me while watching Peter O'Toole in "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." Objectively, the film is not great, although it has a lot going for it. It's very long, a little full of itself, and the score is forgettable. But, it has the captivating Mr. O'Toole, who always leaves nothing unfelt or unexpressed, and I saw it when I was a teenager when the landscape of all that I would love forever and always was being painted on my psyche.
I've read countless books about Charlie Chaplin and one of the things that touches me is how the trauma and longing associated with his childhood poverty and fractured family were embedded in all of his work. What scarred him, what inspired him, what frightened him and where he found beauty was imprinted on his soul at a tender age and there was no changing that no matter what life held. Fame and wealth and celebrity could not change it, nor could the reversal of professional fortune. Time revealed the public's changing tastes, but Chaplin could not change at his core.
And so I find it to be with me. The films that drew me to them were the ones I discovered early on. What is charming, what is beautiful, what is good and what is desirable all were found in the movies I saw in my youth. Films that moved me after I became an adult somehow were related to the same type of film. I probably should have gotten some of that stuff from family life, but clearly I needed to seek them elsewhere. While not at all a horror of a childhood like Chaplin's, I admit there might have been a few things lacking. Or maybe I just had a dreamer's imagination. Mercifully, there were movies. And I am so very grateful that I can access so many of my favorites upon demand these days and not wait until 3 a.m. to watch the Late Late Late show ( I did stay up until 3 once to watch a Bing Crosby film when I was about 12). They are like a comfortable blanket or a hug from a friend. At some point during those formative years, a private understanding between myself and Cary Grant, Crosby, Chaplin, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, both Hepburns, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Bob Hope, and especially Cagney was established that endures to this day. We truly, madly, deeply get one another. If this sounds weird to you, your landscape and mine are completely different.
So, today's films, for so many reasons, can not connect with a landscape of dreams and desires that has been built and fortified over time. It can not change and I don't want it to change. I like it. I only hope that young people who go to the movies are building their own internal landscape with images and feelings that will stay with them throughout their lifetime.  


The Classic Movie Muse said...

Beautiful post, Flickchick! I identify with and love every word. Thank you for this magical read.

FlickChick said...

Thank you Classic Movie Muse. That feeling had been bubbling up in me for a while. but it took a while to put it into words.

Dorothy said...

I just love the way that you express your feelings, which turn out to mirror mine, about movies. Reading this post was like having someone step into my mind. You've 'verbalized' everything I feel about my experience with movies I've grown to love over the past years. I go to my favourite movies when I'm feeling sad, or nostalgic, or when I want to re-visit a place during a time that no longer exists. For example, White Christmas has been a movie that I have watched in and around the holidays ever since I was in high school. I love everything about it, the smart working sisters; Phil and Bob, who support and care about the Haynes sisters; the lovely setting at the Columbia Inn; the music, the dancing, etc. That movie has helped me cope with a number of sad events in my life, and I'm so happy that it exists. I may say the same things about a number of movies that I watch on rotation: Monsieur Hulot's Holiday; The World of Henry Orient, Dear Heart, etc., etc. Thank you for letting me know that I'm not alone in seeing that certain movies are my friends and guides, and thank God for cd's, because that means i can re-watch them whenever the mood strikes me.


Dorothy said...

I meant to say dvd's.

FlickChick said...

Dorothy - first - I knew you meant DVDs! Second - thank you o much for your comment. It's always very gratifying to know that when you kind of spill your guts, you connect with someone. I really do appreciate you taking the time to consider the post and share your experiences.

Dorothy said...

No, thank you. Your writing, for me, is so reminiscent of the writing of joe baltake (RIP) whose blog The Passionate Moviegoer, i go back and read, again and again. You, and the late Mr. Baltake seem to have a way of being able to distill what a movie means to you, and in turn, to us. Any of his articles, but especially the one he wrote about The Apartment really affect me. What he wrote about The Apartment describes the way that I feel about movies, but can't explain as elegantly as he, or you, do. So again, thank you, and writers like Joe Baltake, so much for letting me be 'seen and heard.'