a November Tucson sunset from our home here
For a long time, the most respected offerings in entertainment have been in the movie theaters. There the films range from the arty to the big box office version of what it is assumed we want (or should) as a people. What we 'want' is determined by ratings based on ticket sales-- can't get away from ratings.
Today there are many films being made with no intention of ever going to the movie theater. HBO, Netflix, and assorted other outlets make films which may be streamed, seen on cable, or go straight to DVD. These vary in the view they depict of the world.
There was an era for movies where the stories were about the upbeat and trying to make people feel better about life. Even Casablanca where the hero and heroine didn't end up together, had a set of values and an ending for which one could cheer. Back then there was no mandatory happy ending but what did well in the theaters usually was uplifting.
I don't see much of that in today's films. Although I rarely go to a theater, I often buy films on DVD. I only buy what I believe will be uplifting. I can get the bad news by reading newspapers online-- which I regularly do. I am not suggesting we should ignore the dark side of human life but more be sure when we are learning about it, it's in non-fiction not what we choose for entertainment.
Most recently I purchased two DVDs, Maleficent and How to Train Your Dragon 2. I know they are kid films and maybe it's why I love them so much. I am not looking to spend time watching the films that win Oscars (most years when that time rolls around, I won't have seen any of the supposed best ten films of the year). I want movies that make me feel better by the time I take them out of the Blu-Ray. Both of these did that.
Recently, someone mentioned a good film they had seen on Hallmark Channel. I had nearly forgotten about those little movies but went looking for what was there.
Schmaltzy some might accuse as opposed to the important films in the movie theater this month, you know like Gone Girl (mismatched couple, who are neither admirable, involving murder and fraud); Foxcatcher (nutty rich guy murders pro wrestler); Dumb and Dumber To (nuff said); Nightcrawler (exploring underbelly of city); Hunger Games (society crashes and only girl with bow and arrow can save it-- that one I often buy on DVD but wonder later why I did...); Wolves (werewolves, horror); and on it goes. Nothing in the majority of the films to make anyone feel better about life-- their own or our culture.
I have heard Intersteller is fine art except about a culture that has destroyed its environment and must find a wormhole to go elsewhere. Aren't we living that one? Also a father must miss his daughter growing up to try and save some of earth's people (no, I haven't seen it probably won't, as space films, even if uplifting, don't really interest me).
Since the suggestion regarding Hallmark, we've seen three of their new films for Christmas and enjoyed them all. If you have cable and the Hallmark channel, the films are free-- except for the ads, which has been educational to me since I have watched very little TV with ads. These are also going to be out on DVD after they play on the channel. I don't know if eventually they will wear on me but for now it's been a nice discovery (list of new Hallmark films for 2014 Christmas).
The following is an example of the kind of stories, Christmas Under Wraps, scheduled for November 29th.
Dr. Lauren Brunell (Bure) has her whole life planned out. As a third year surgery resident, she is counting on being accepted into a prestigious hospital fellowship to follow in the footsteps of her supportive father, Henry (Pine). But when those plans quickly fall apart, and Lauren is put on the wait list, she must take the only other opening available: a head doctor position in the small, remote town of Garland, Alaska. Convincing herself it is only temporary, Lauren moves to Garland where she is immediately charmed by Andy (O’Donnell), a handsome local who soon starts to show her the importance of living in the moment and enjoying her unexpected adventure. As Lauren excels as Garland's trusted doctor, she warms up to the friendly town. But Andy's father, Frank (Doyle-Murray), is hiding something from her in his top-secret shipping warehouse. Just as Lauren decides to get to the bottom of her suspicions, she receives news that will force her to make a life-changing decision, while knowing for certain that the Christmas season will never be the same.This year, the first Hallmark film hooked me on keeping an eye out for what was coming. The Nine Lives of Christmas has cats in it. How can a movie with cats in it not be great? Hero and heroine were cute. They are all cute in these films, but they also look like ordinary people-- not movie stars. That one had Gregory Harrison playing a supporting role. Remember when he was the hunk? This time he supported the hunk; and as an older guy, he's still pretty hunky :).
From what I can tell, these all have some romance in them. The romance though has (so far) not been the most important part of the story. Even when it's someone looking for the love of their life, what they find goes beyond it to values that are about quality living. There is nothing partisan or pushy about the agenda. Treat others well. Work for real values. Look around you. Be open. Remember when the world seemed more innocent!
Some have a supernatural element, like Northpole and Angels and Ornaments, but it's in line with A Christmas Carol by Dickens-- an element that makes the characters think more deeply about what they want in their lives. Angels and Ornaments made me teary because it dealt with love lost and the possibility of love missed. It was sweet, Christmasy and nothing pretentious or negative about any of it.
Northpole was likable enough for us to consider buying it as a Christmas gift for our grandkids. No, it's not likely to be a huge classic, like A Christmas Story, but it was about the meaning of the season-- something I tried to get across in my Christmas novella, A Montana Christmas.
Northpole followed what seems a Hallmark theme-- showing people struggling with loss or disappointment. This one added how we can misjudge based on our pre-prejudice. I liked a line from it, paraphrased-- why is it easier to believe one person is a crook than to believe another is an elf?
I am thinking this does relate to novels to write/read. We can choose to spend our time reading/writing upsetting stories about people who moan about their lives or are destructive-- or instead stories where it's about finding the nobility in human nature. That part is a choice but what it does to our view of life, that one is a consequence.