Other movies I liked this year were the sentimental Quartet – director (this time) Dustin Hoffman and writer Ron Harwood’s bagatelle about life at a British home for retired musicians – and Argo – Ben Affleck’s telling of the escape from Khomeini’s Iran by some of the 1979 hostages. Affleck has a couple of obligatory liberal tropes in his film, but I’ll excuse him. His heart and his filmmaking skills are clearly in the right place.
Two big Oscar contenders I did not admire were Les Miserables (it’s always been a mystery to me how this tuneless musical was a success in the first place) and the “hunt for bin Laden” thriller Zero Dark Thirty whose plotting (as Lionel Chetwynd and I discussed on Poliwood) is an unfathomable hodge-podge.
Of course, those are just my opinions and worth no more than yours – even if I get to vote in the Oscars [insert smiley here]. I have always noticed you can argue with someone as long as you wish – and as well as you can – about why they should like a film but you can rarely get them to change their real reaction to it. We each have our own experiences of art, which work on deeper emotional levels than we can easily explain or, for that matter, argue. We all bring our own histories to stories and our own lives — and they are and should be inviolable. Art (the art of film, in this case) is its own form of dialogue. At its best, it speaks to the unconscious.
Which leads me back to my title. I have noticed – how could I not – how much conservatives despise Hollywood. Many refuse to go to the movies altogether and say they don’t care who wins the Oscars. (I don’t blame them for that!) But they abandon the culture at their peril.
Despise Oliver Stone and Sean Penn all you want, but don’t cede the playing field to them. They are telling the stories your children are watching. Such story telling is a natural process, as old as Homer, indeed older. It’s part of human development actually.
And turning off the television set won’t help. It will only make things worse because other peoples’ children – far, far more of them, I assure you – are still watching. Your children are going to have to share the world with them. Don’t give up the culture. Take it over.