I seldom listen to the radio. NPR doesn't work for me, because the range of debate on war is so limited. On NPR they never, never, never ask IF we should go to war; NPR debates HOW war should be waged. That's not a debate, that's a tactical discussion. Notice they often do human interest profiles of soldiers and others in military service. Can you remember one such story on an antiwar protester? I cannot. But I don't listen that much. Friends tell me that NPR seems "liberal" socially— it interviews gay activists or pro-life spokespeople—but on defense issues NPR is relentlessly pro-war, as if NPR really stands for National Pentagon Radio.
No TV, radio, or newspaper news. Like I said. I'm a media hermit.
That said, I'll watch an occasional movie.
But when it comes to movies, I'm very picky. I tend to choose documentaries recommended to me by Netflix, about two or three each month, viewed on my computer, since I don't have a TV. I don't have the patience to watch most Hollywood movies: romantic comedies are too predictable; thrillers are too violent; dramas are generally too depressing; stand-up comedy too course.
This would explain why until recently I hadn't seen American Beauty, a 1999 movie that won 5 Academy Awards, (Best Actor for Kevin Spacey, Best Screenplay for Alan Ball, Best Cinematography for Hunt Conrad, Best Director for Sam Mendes, and Best Picture for producers Cohen and Jinks).
American Beauty is the exception that proves my anti-Hollywood rule. Here is a Hollywood movie that I enjoyed. I liked the directing and cinematography, especially the long-attention-span scenes. (I'm no fan of jumpy camerawork; I like to look at a scene far longer than most movies permit.) I liked the music. I liked the lighting. I liked the acting.
I particularly liked the screenplay by Alan Ball. It was good all the way through, but hit its high point in the final voice over that concludes the movie. The feeling Lester Burnham describes at the end about beauty flowing like rain and feeling gratitude in every moment?
Call me a lucky guy, but I feel gratitude like that regularly as a kindergarten teacher.
I do, yes, I do.
I'd always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all. It stretches on forever, like an ocean of time. For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars. And yellow leaves from the maple trees that lined our street. Or my grandmother's hands and the way her skin seemed like paper. And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird. And Janey, and Janey. And Carolyn.
I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst and then I remember to relax and stop trying to hold on to it. And and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry, you will someday.
You Tube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYrgHju3d-E
I guess if I could make one change to the movie I wouldn't kill off my main character at the end. My high school creative writing teacher counseled his budding novelists and screenwriters to resist that temptation. I think it was good advice.