A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
People get old; there’s no sense in getting all pissy about it. First of all, there are tons of benefits, like a seat on the bus. Second, you’re way smarter (in most cases) than you were at 25; and third, most importantly, the alternative is a total bummer. However, there is one tragic downside to getting old. And since this is Cannes Film Festival Week, I thought I’d point it out.
If you live long enough, you get to see a lot of movies more than once.
Some would say this is a good thing. For example, I’ve seen Casablanca so many times I know the dialogue — all of it — and I’ve never regretted the time spent. But, believe me, there is a darker side.
** SPOILER ALERT **
1 — The M. Night Shyamalan Effect
You just shouldn’t watch some movies more than once. These are the twisty ones that leave you gasping at the end, with your mouth open. I’m looking at you, The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense and The Crying Game. These are fantastic films, and sometimes you might think you’d like to see them again. Don’t! Watching a surprise ending movie twice is like trying to lose your virginity — a second time. When you know what’s about to happen, it’s just not the same.
2 — OMG! What a piece of trash!
Some movies have added significance because we saw them at a particular time and place in our life. (Puberty, third dates and your sophomore year in college are notorious for this.) The problem is when you see them again, you realize they’re crap. In this case, disappointment is the least of your worries because, invariably, you also remember the stupid stuff you did because of the feel-good contact high. Like the time you went to see Two Of A Kind with Matthew Stilwell’s roommate Veronica Thompson (not their real names) and it felt totally cool ’cause it was right after Grease and had a decent sound track. But then you went home and slept together — ’cause somebody said “It’s over between us.” Except it wasn’t, and then you had to spend the entire semester trying to get rid of those two psychos. Er — uh — anyway, stuff like that can happen, and every time that movie comes back on TV, ya hate yourself — all over again.
But the very worst is:
3 — The damn thing still doesn’t end the way it’s supposed to.
In any good movie, you start cheering for the characters. It’s perfectly natural. You want Sean Astin to play in the big game, Kirsten Dunst to fall in love with Toby Maguire and somebody — ANYBODY — to finally kill that bastard with the British accent. However, sometimes, despite all the emotional currency you have invested in the film, it all goes sideways. This happens because writers are dicks. They take perverse pleasure in writing a perfectly great script and then toying with us. For example, we all know that Scarlett Johansson is way too flaky for anything long-term with Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. Okay, fine! But what about Rebecca Hall (the real story’s about her, anyway) so why doesn’t she give it a go? She’s a way better fit in that relationship — totally more interesting. Besides, she wants to, he wants her to, I want her to, my wife wants her to and Penelope Cruz doesn’t care. But, no! She settles for Chris Messina, gets on the plane and commits herself to a life of perpetual beige. WTF? Every time I see that movie, I think “God, Vicky! Juan Antonio’s standing right there. What’s your problem?” Woody Allen, you’re such an asshole.