Feel “Better” Movies — What to Watch When the News is Bleak

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. Continue reading “Feel “Better” Movies — What to Watch When the News is Bleak”