by Mr. Lu
An entire grade of seniors, on the cusp of graduation, at the supposed height of maturity, were huddled under the tent on a sparse, rainy day. There was a bit of odd and funny tension in the air. We were playing red light green light with silly childish enthusiasm, and you can blame the Netflix show Squid Game for it.
I’ve had many a conversation with Mr. McCauley about different movies, and it’s remarkable how shows drill deep into our core, affect us emotionally, and change our perspectives , our visions, and our actions. We can easily bond or fight over them. I was talking to Scarlett about Green Knight early this year, and it was readily apparent how movies connect and draw immediate discussion. I took an informal survey recently of favourite movies.
Kai B. chose Napoleon Dynamite, and Peyton chose Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The former is a quirky, nerd as the champ romp, and the latter is a teen talking to the audience awash with playful and illogical silliness. Long before these, I loved The Graduate. Dustin Hoffman’s breakout role taught me how humour needn’t be slapstick or physical, but could be weird and eccentric, and how the awkward wrongness of situations can bring laughter. The panic driven Simon and Garfunkel beat by beat finale tops it all.
Ella chose the MCU, especially Infinity War, and Ryen and Jack chose Star Wars. Blockbusters have kept many a giddy conversation going, and cliff hanger movie series even more so. My favourite blockbusters include Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings. The Indiana movies brought a sense of unbridled fun in the simplest, basic idea ways. There’s a big rock rolling down, and that guy has to outrun it. While Rings seemed to make computer animation usefully epic. There are ten thousand orcs, and they’re storming the castle. They have plain as day characters you can cheer for, and sometimes, weep for.
Rubi chose Mamma Mia, and Sofia and Namara chose Tangled. Musicals have long been a staple in the theatre and at the movies. The Sound of Music showed me how a musical can speak to you. The singing made me care about the people instead of merely showcasing a voice. Ratatouille and Up showed me good animation isn’t just for kids, but are worth emotional investment and attention.
Emma chose Interstellar, Sam chose Pacific Rim, and Adam W. chose Goodfellas. Genre films like science fiction, mysteries, westerns, and gangster films are often laden with stereotypes and repetitive ideas. The best, naturally, focus on character rather than highlighting the setting. My favourite genre movie is The Godfather Part II. The juxtaposition between young Vito and an older Michael is a striking character study. It’s about a family more so than a gangster. The ending is devastating, not because the main character dies, but because he dies in spirit, an even worse situation, and in this case, an apt punishment.
My favourite movie from the last ten years is Roma. Beautifully wrought, photographed, and directed, nothing much happens. Subtleties develop characters inch by inch, and we learn about them and where they live, care about them and what they do, and dream their unsaid hopes with them. At its emotional apex, Cleo says, “I didn’t want her.” That moment is one of the most powerful releases I’ve seen.
My all time personal favourite is Casablanca. There’s a book called, “The Best Old Movies for Families”. Its main thesis is just because something is old or in black and white, doesn’t mean it’s not good. I saw Casablanca when I was a little kid, and it enthralled me then. Casablanca taught me what bittersweet meant. I didn’t know how to feel at the end. Happy because the good guy got away? Or sad because the good guy didn’t get the girl? Movies that challenge you, give you conflicted feelings, make you fall in love with the characters, and keep your undivided attention for hours are special. And they’re also worth sharing with each other. They connect us, they make us storytellers, and they open up a small piece of us to another. If you got a minute or two, come by and tell me about your favourite show. As Rick would say, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”