Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why I Made a Distinction (And Then I'm Done)

You responded to my question about whether or not every movie has to be challenging  with "No. But...it ought to ring of some moral truth in order to satisfy." I would have said that Midnight met that qualification. "Learn to be happy where you are and with what you have" is a moral truth, as far as I see it. Yet you seemed to differentiate that with some other concept of moral truth, which I assumed to be a higher order of moral truth (and which I distinguished by using the phrase "ordinary truth" to refer to what I saw as Midnight's underlying message). So are we talking about "all moral truth" or "moral truth that is important to John"? Transformers (and, yes, you acknowledged that it wasn't the best comparison, but let's go with it) makes no effort to promote any kind of message other than your overused be-a-hero-and-protect-the-ones-you-love message that every action movie promotes. And that doesn't challenge us Americans because we already have an unhealthy obsession with that particular value. Midnight in Paris challenges those of us who tend towards romantic or nostalgic idealism to acknowledge that there is potential for greatness and mediocrity in any age (and any situation?) and that running away from the present does not let you escape your own restlessness and dissatisfaction. That it comes from Woody Allen, who is practically the king when it comes to dissatisfied and restless characters in his films, makes it that much more powerful a message. When Buddha says, "Be at peace," I say, "Easy for you to say." But when Woody Allen says, "Be at peace," I think, "This man knows what it's like to not be at peace." And I listen a lot more intently. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that what I got out of it.

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