Sunday, February 9, 2020

Searching for Watchables

Most evenings Peggy and I waste quality time scouring our streaming sites in quest of a watchable movie or series. I have a feeling we’re not alone. Folks of a certain age have little patience for the computer-generated action thrillers churned out by studios targeting fourteen year-olds with big-screen comic books. We’ve also had our fill of Scorsese’s mobs which romanticize power or Tarantino’s orgies of revenge. There are enough gangsters in the White House.

Add to this our aversion to horror, brutality, Nazi-era depravity, apocalyptic dystopia, monsters or graphically depicted diseases ala mode. There must be a wide spectrum between all this and the Hallmark-type faith-based mush. I suppose this is what to expect from a country engaged in endless wars with domestic violence on the rise and hate groups legitimatized by the administration even as we profess evangelical religiosity.

We yearn for images and narratives of people in relationship; something with a touch of soulfulness conveyed in the visual language of cinema.

Yes, I know the world has changed. And yet something human prevails even though Barbara Stanwyck and Spencer Tracy are still dead. There has been no one to replace Jean Arthur. If Gregory Peck were alive he’d get my vote for President.

We have an array of choices presented by Amazon, Netflix, Acorn and Kanopy; thousands of movies to choose from and yet it’s a nightly chore. Of the past twenty films seen only two or three have been English language and these are Canadian or British. Most of the watchables are Asian, Israeli/Palestinian, Turkish, Iranian, Hispanic or European.

We yearn for the creativity of Krzysztof Kieslowski whose films are zingers which probe and penetrate the human heart. Dennis Potter also had the chops to lay bare the inner landscape with emotional resonance. Both directors are gone but very present by the void they left.

Perhaps we are knights-errant like that man from La Mancha tilting windmills, lost in time. I’d like to believe the art of cinema is still alive beyond murder and mayhem, as evidenced by the current oeuvre of Nuri Bilge Ceylon, Wong Kar-Wei and emerging artists in South Korea and South America.

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