Sunday, December 27, 2009

Movies and Christmas

It seems that any time I'm not with family for Christmas, I end up at a movie theatre. I first did this in 1987, when, after Christmas festivity with friends, we all went to see Baby Boom at the dollar movies--remember dollar movies? Do any towns still have them? Or has the quick release of movies to alternative forms--DVD, Hulu--wiped out the dollar movies? Once I said that if I wrote a book, I'd name it Everything Comes to the Dollar Movies If You Wait Long Enough. Now I'm not sure that title would make sense to anyone under age 35.

I digress.

I'm always amazed at how many people come out to the movie theatres on Christmas Day. I really wanted to see Up in the Air, and so on Christmas Day, my husband and I headed out, away from our noisy neighborhood. I love George Clooney, and he was in fine form. I don't want to say too much about the movie, so as not to ruin it--columnist George Will apparently does not share my caution, so I had an idea about the end of the movie when I went to see it--yet the ending still surprised me. It's a darkly funny movie, full of keen insight about our modern lives, and beautifully filmed.

Yesterday, my friend and I went to see It's Complicated. Again, a beautiful movie and funny. And I like the fact that it deals frankly with the complicated situations posed by our aging bodies. I commend Alec Baldwin for his willingness to expose his all-too-human flesh on film. I'm not that brave, and I was never heralded as a sex symbol, the way he was in his younger years.

Yet despite the fact that these movies were good movies, they left me feeling depressed. Maybe it's because I'd rather spend Christmas with small children. I rarely question my decision not to have children, but Christmas does fill me with longing for offspring (mine or anyone's, if they're young enough to be filled with wonder).

But both movies centered around people and our inability to truly connect, to learn from our past mistakes, to make better choices. I left each movie filled with sadness. I just wanted to throw myself down on the pavement and weep.

Of course, I didn't. I've learned to cope with my feelings of sadness, carrying on as if the world is well. I try to keep my brain focused on the meaning of Christmas, which is not the meaning of these movies. I go back to the much more ancient texts about the people who live in darkness who have seen a great light, and the darkness could not overcome the light. That's the message I need at Christmas, even if it's not gorgeously shot, well acted, or pre-scripted.

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