[personal profile] markbernstein56
I've been thinking today of the experience of watching a movie, and how interactive a thing it is, how tied to everything we bring to it. Our reactions are shaped by our individual expectations, tastes, and attitudes, but also by our previous experiences, both as they shape those tastes and attitudes, and as they relate directly to what's in front of us.

This morning, I went to an early matinee of "Mad Max: Fury Road". I haven't seen any of the previous "Mad Max" movies. I had no particular objection to them, they just didn't seem like my kind of thing. Generally speaking, I'm more interested in characters, plot and world-building than I am in action sequences.

But over the last several years, I've come to treat the percentages on Rotten Tomatoes as a pretty reliable barometer. When I see that 98% of a movie's reviews are positive, that's something I want to check out. Not to mention that the buzz I've seen among people I know tells me that it's likely to be a Hugo contender next year. So off to the theater I went.

What I saw was, no question. expertly done. The action sequences were amazing, the pacing outstanding, and the characters involving and, where appropriate, sympathetic. In short, it's one hell of a good movie. I can't say I loved it. I did admire it, and ended up liking it very much, and I'm glad I went.

What's interesting to me is to compare that experience to the one I had yesterday.

My close friends probably know that I have a sentimental streak a mile wide, and a real soft spot for positive, hopeful characters and messages. For example, I can look back to the 2000 Hugo ballot, covering works from 1999. It was one of the strongest years ever for Dramatic Presentation nominees. The final five included "Galaxy Quest" (the winner), "The Sixth Sense", "Being John Malkovich", and "The Matrix". And then there was the one I fell in love with, and voted for: Brad Bird's directing debut, "The Iron Giant".

Bird's next film, "The Incredibles", put him at the top of my must-watch list. "Ratatouille" and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" only solidified that position.

So I had the highest of hopes for "Tomorrowland". Loved the idea, loved the trailers. It was, easily, my most-anticipated film of this year.

Then I saw the reviews roll in. Critics have been split 50/50, calling it everything from clumsy to preachy to mechanical. Can you blame me for feeling some trepidation as Sharon and I settled into our seats? Would it be as big a letdown as I feared?

To hell with the critics. I loved it.

I must admit, it started by hitting me right in the memory bank. There's a sequence in the beginning that takes place at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. I was there (I was eight), and Bird took me right back.

Mostly, though, it got me with good old fashioned sense-of-wonder, combined with a hearty serving of optimism. The scene in Paris left me grinning, the actors brought conviction to their heroics, and the admittedly-sappy ending made me tear up, just a little. Maybe, in some ways, it wasn't the best movie I saw this weekend. But it's the one that was made for me.

In the end, I was reminded that my tastes are my own, and that sometimes those tastes don't line up with those of the majority. And that's exactly how it should be.

(I still plan to vote for "Guardians of the Galaxy" in this year's Hugos, though. :) )

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markbernstein56

August 2017

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