As a Junior Philosophy major, I am wary of sounding pretentious when discussing films. So to soften the blow, these are some of my more obnoxious opinions: Gravity was gimmicky and faux-philosophical, Avatar was a clichéd excuse for nice graphics, and The Hurt Locker was a simplistic depiction of war. On the other hand, ignored movies, like Caché, Melancholia, and Elephant, are so powerful they can permanently shift the viewer’s perspective.
But don’t take this the wrong way: I don’t only like deep and dark foreign dramas. Some of my favorites are Black Dynamite and The Rabbi’s Cat, two movies that tackle serious topics quietly while providing entertaining, in fact hilarious, viewing experiences. On the TV side, Arrested Development and Breaking Bad have shown that complex characters and intricate storylines can make for both entertaining and meaningful television. As an aside, I am firmly a product of the Netflix binge-watching generation. I watched all of Breaking Bad – nearly 48 hours of runtime – as I studied for finals last year. Not a wise choice.
For me, what makes a movie or TV show special is more than its entertainment value. In fact, as evidenced by the 8 separate series of The Real Housewives, almost anything can be entertaining. But entertainment for its own sake is easily forgotten – I know I’ve seen hundreds of YouTube videos that are forever lost in a dusty corner of my brain.
Then there are movies that grabbed me and never let go. For instance as I write this bio and ponder the role of creative works in my life, it is practically impossible for me to ignore the lesson of Pan’s Labyrinth – that we use stories to make sense of the beauty and horror that surround us.