by Erika Bromley
Movies I haven’t seen/finished yet at the time of this writing: The Souvenir, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, A Hidden Life
Movies that probably were on the list or in some sort of three-way tie as recently as yesterday until I tried to really rein myself in: Horror Noire, Midsommar, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Little Women, Dark Waters, Atlantics, Pain & Glory, The Farewell, Daniel Isn't Real, Doctor Sleep, John Wick 3, All That We Destroy, Hail Satan?, American Factory, Satanic Panic, Brittany Runs a Marathon, Booksmart
10. Fyre (Netflix) and Fyre Fraud (Hulu)
9. Olympic Dreams
8. Knives Out
7. Long Shot
6. Dolemite is My Name
“feel it all”). As a person who has worked daily with teenagers for 20 years (more if we count, you know, being a teenager), I especially feel the struggles and triumphs of young people. All that said, Waves took me on an emotional roller coaster ride that made me feel each and every character’s pain and position while (spoiler here… very small but skip ahead if you want) eventually turning that introspection on life inward and had me reviewing and rethinking my own severed relationship with my dad, who passed away in 2008. The sweet, genuine romance and connection in the film also reminded me of how, despite our human desire to be independent (I often crave “alone time”), the old adage is true: no person is an island. We need each other to get through this life. We need each other to make all of the suffering worth it. Relationships -- of all kinds -- help bring the sun out even when the clouds seemed to have grown too dark.
4. One Cut of the Dead
Parasite, OUATIH, and The Irishman gave me a gift. They are slowly teaching me to deal with the immense grief I will have when my favorite director decides to stop making movies or worse, is no longer with us to make them. They encourage me to gratefully reflect on a lifetime of movies that have changed my life in so many positive ways (example: Goodfellas is one of my all-time favorite movies) and to re-discover some of the actors who have changed my life (example: Robert De Niro is one of my all-time favorite actors).
No one knows what’s next. Do we wake up tomorrow? Does tragedy strike? Do we make a terrible choice and fall off our paths? Do we do something unexpectedly wonderful and get back on track?
I was thinking about these things before, during, and after my viewing of Martin Scorsese’s sprawling epic, a movie that gutted me in so many ways. Life, death, and everything we experience in between -- man, what a gift. But it’s a gift that humans know how to screw up in countless ways, and when the mistakes are as grave as the ones that, for example, Frank Sheeran made (one could argue that he didn’t necessarily see them as mistakes), they cause the deepest, most permanent type of regret and pain in a conscious, feeling, thinking human. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could rewrite the endings of tragedies and get rid of the bad guys with a flame-thrower?) We don’t have to empathize with Scorsese’s characters, for instance, as they are often awful, disreputable people. But -- and here is what Scorsese and so many of the best storytellers know -- we often can see past their horrid mistakes/behaviors to find some piece of humanity or emotion that we connect with in even the tiniest of ways… and we still do empathize with them. Or maybe that’s me trying to see some good in everyone. If one of my gifts as a human navigating this wild, unpredictable world is that I try to see the good in everyone, I can live with that. And movies, this year more than ever, have helped remind me that there’s something positive to take from everything, and second chances should not be taken for granted. The good, the bad, and the ugly: we are here for it all, together.