To me, the ultimate “Feel Better” movie is an escape. Read the full story »
As a college student, I watch most of my movies late in the evening, after a day reading Holocaust literature, 60-page papers on early Christian almsgiving and Freud. As much as I would like to lie in my bed and watch American History X or 12 Years A Slave, I find myself reaching for simpler, lighter and less violent films. At least until final exams are over, I’ll be watching movies that make me laugh and remind me of my friends and family hundreds of miles away. As I formulated this list, there was no unifying theme or principle that defines a “Feel-Better Movie.” However, it does help to have memorable scenes (I’ve watched the bar scene in Good Will Hunting dozens of times) and a good soundtrack. Evan already selected two recent films, Moonrise Kingdom and Frances Ha, that I love. If only real life could be so whimsical. My recommendations, without further ado: Read the full story »
When Ken asked me to participate in compiling five “Feel Better” movies, I initially planned to balance my selection among different types of films, but then I realized the films that really help me feel better in dark times are offbeat comedies and tragic cautionary tales. In the interest of some diversity I did select four comedies that are all quite different (satire, screwball, comedy-drama, and something that defies description), which left me a final space for a tragic cautionary tale that I find strangely uplifting. Read the full story »
The news has not been good this week.
I’d contextualize that statement, but I realized that in a month or two or six, today’s senseless horrors will probably have given way to others and that such a statement may be equally apt, even if it has a different antecedent.
“If it bleeds, it leads,” is a cynical but seemingly indisputable description of how media (mainstream and social) gets our attention. The psychological effects of being constantly asked to focus on the world’s problems is paradoxically well documented and perhaps only peripherally understood. (I recommend The Culture of Fear for a better articulation of those costs than I can give here.)
I wanted to write a post about films I turn to when I just can’t take the bad news any more, when I’m fed up with human nature, or when my capacity to respond productively to the “real” world is exahausted. Here’s the thing, though: I dislike the term “feel good” as a label for grand art. For me, it connotes something chippy, chirpy, maybe even facile. The films that help me most in such times are seldom cheerful, never superficial. They do, however, remind me that while we as a race are capable of great evil, a catalog of our worst atrocities is not a sufficient description of who we are.
Here are five films that make me feel better when I’m feeling bad about…everything else. Read the full story »
My favorite films of 2016 depicted a lot of suffering. The characters in them faced that suffering with courage, determination, compassion, and introspection. That’s not to say they were all saints. Pain, like fear, can drive us to extremes to try to make it stop. Anger is often the fuel that energizes us to confront injustice, and comedy often rests on a foundation of sadness. If the subjects of documentaries and the characters in narrative films were not uniform in their response to suffering, they never failed to provoke empathy…and maybe catharsis. Read the full story »