Elaine at the movies

Elaine Blum

Approaching finals and the dreaded 10th week, I know that what you need is yet another venue to exercise those brain cells. This column is dedicated to those films that make you think.
First, there are foreign films and silent films – aka, those movies that require you to pay attention the whole time. Paying attention to subtitles or captions is not so easy when also trying to crochet or otherwise multitask. If you have a sufficiently long attention span and can stand reading subtitles, some choice flicks are “Run Lola Run,” “Pan’s Labyrinth” and Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie.”
Second, there are films that provoke thought on controversial or “touchy” subjects. What better film than “Crash” to inspect the shortcomings and ignorance of human nature? The film is definitely not an upper, but it certainly provokes much thought on personal biases and social interactions. Difficult themes, such as racism in “Crash,” have the power to haunt audiences, causing thought long after the credits roll.
Third, and on a lighter note, there are those films that have so many editing goofs that you can watch them for sport. In one shot, the actress’s hair is pulled back; in the next, it hangs around her shoulders; in a third, it is again pulled back – all within one scene.
Beginners may try this game with “Jurassic Park,” which has a notoriously high number of inconsistencies and editing mistakes. By critically dissecting films, you too will soon be able to recognize flubs in continuity, anachronisms and any other goofs such as those listed by professional movie-watchers on the Internet Movie Database.
Alternatively, you may want to consult IMDB beforehand for a list of a favorite film’s goofs. With the list at hand, you can then enjoy spotting each in turn as you review the flick.
A fourth genre: Film adaptations of popular books. This coming summer and fall there are going to be quite a few of these, starting with adaptations of Jodi Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper” and J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Others include “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger and “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.
Quite obviously, none of these films will satisfy all fan expectations from the books. The most entertaining part of these films might be studiously comparing the botched – ahem, creatively licensed – production to the original.
Fifth, there are those films that purport – seriously or otherwise – some existential life theory via metaphor. Thinking about the meaning of life and why we are all here sounds rather taxing, does it not? For a film that comically entertains such topics I heartily recommend “I Heart Huckabees.” You can learn a little bit about existential thought, maybe even transcend time and/or space, and pick up a few good one-liners in the process.
Yes, each of these types of film prompts reflection from its audience. And at this point in the term, we Lawrentians might begrudge taking on such heavy thinking during our scarce free time. But perhaps these flicks are a good way to keep your intellectual acumen well-exercised in the coming summer months. I am sure you much prefer doing this to sunbathing or partaking in other outdoor recreation.