Films: Serious and making money and yet . . .

It strikes me we are in a good place right now with our movies.  As A.O. Scott, the New York Times film critic, pointed out in a rare Page One article today, “What strikes me about this year’s Oscar nominees is how many of them invite, or even force, their viewers to think, and making thinking part of the pleasure they offer.”

To my mind, thinking or rather not thinking, is the biggest problem in America.  This country needs to think more, argue less, and try to get along.

We are talking here about critical thinking.   It is not enough to just attend “Lincoln” or “Zero Dark Thirty,” and say, aha, we now know the facts of important historical moments.  No, it is thinking about the accuracy of the “facts” presented and trying to understand what they mean.

In “Zero Dark Thirty” we are led to believe the killing of Osama bin Laden was the result of brutal interrogation by the U.S., torture that included waterboarding.  Yet most knowledgeable sources say torture had nothing to do with finding bin Laden.  It can’t be both ways.  At the bottom of the debate is right-wing, pro-George Bush policy adherents.

In “Argo,” the Ben Affleck film about the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, the viewer is clearly given an American point of view.  As I discussed in a review of the film, the Iranian view is absent.  And, thus in my opinion, the film is seriously flawed.  In fact, the film so angered Iran with its prejudicial view that it is planning to make its own film, “The General Staff,” to counter “Argo.”

It is not enough to think as a patriot about the Iranian hostage crisis.  Hopefully, if nothing else, “Argo” will spur you to seek truth.

A search for truth is our salvation as a people, as a nation as a world.

Yes, it is nice to have serious filmmakers.  But if moviegoers are not astute enough to process what is before them with a critical eye, it makes little difference how serious the film.  All is lost, and we are back at the same old square one.


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