It’s no news that movie theatre tickets have skyrocketed. I remember when a matinee was 5 bucks. The soaring prices even repel me (a most devoted movie fan) from the cinema. While the increasing prices devastate our wallets, the bigger tragedy is that people are forced to skip out on some cinematic masterpieces and are thereby excluded from history. After all, movies are like snapshots of our culture. The study of film reveals societal struggles, failures, triumphs, and dreams. We witness the fight for women’s suffrage in the silent era with conflicting films like A Lively Affair (1912) and What 80 Million Women Want (1913). We see ideals of freedom and expansion pulse through the American heart in a slew of Westerns made from the 1930s-60s. In this same era, we observe societal racism as African Americans are limited to roles as servants. However, we also see a step of progress as Hattie McDaniel became the first African American Academy Award winner in 1939.
It can be difficult to pin point issues of our own era and culture without time to provide objectivity. However, we don’t have to wait for time if we take a critical look at current film. Each movie carries some influence of the culture and time period in which it was made. So, if we put on our thinking caps, we can observe various elements of film to see how they reflect today’s issues, desires, and people. For example, I’ve noticed a longstanding battle between a desire to shock and be shocked with graphic portrayals of “reality” and the desire to create magic onscreen that deepens thought and imagination. This battle is interestingly apparent in this year’s Academy Award nominations.
As you can probably tell, I stand on a certain side of this battlefield. The artistry of soft core pornography is lost on me. But I digress. Since movie theatres continue to scare us with monstrous prices, my goal is to help timid moviegoers everywhere confidently return to the cinema, knowing that the movie they are about to see is worth their hard earned cash. Remember, movie watching is not just a diversion for Saturday night; it’s your chance to witness history.
The King’s Speech: An inspiring, emotional, and true story about overcoming the impossible. Witty dialogue and humor are seamlessly woven throughout the movie. Every actor gives an outstanding performance, worthy of Academy Award recognition.
True Grit: How can one remake a John Wayne classic? I scoffed at the previews. However, I am so grateful I was convinced to see this! It doesn’t try to remake the 1969 classic; it stands on its own. Each camera shot is a masterpiece. The lighting, make up, costuming, and scenery come together flawlessly on that strip of film to bring the novel to life. The debut of young Hailee Steinfeld is something profound to observe. Her Oscar nomination for best supporting-actress is well-deserved (though she is quite obviously the star of the show).
The Fighter: Another inspiring true story about family and love (especially brotherhood). I had no initial interest in the storyline. Boxing? No, thank you. However, it’s more than that. The performances are moving and deeply human. Melissa Leo and Christian Bale shine brightest. The other actors nominated for this year’s supporting Academy Award category should watch out!