A Film Geek’s Guide to the New Year

At year’s end the movie junkie emerges, bleary-eyed, from his stadium-seated lair. Finally, he can forsake the theater and contemplate such nagging questions as: “How is it that I missed Broken Flowers, yet managed to watch Oceans 12 three times?” And deeper issues: “Does God need another film geek to further his kingdom?”

While these questions remain unanswered, a few guideposts might ensure the moviegoer a more mindful experience in the coming months. To this end, we present a few resolutions, plus a small glimpse of what’s to come in 2006.

RESOLUTIONS:

I resolve to:

-See more old movies than I do new ones, and a subtitled one for every sequel. The pleasure of watching old films is that Father Time has separated the wheat from the weeds, while the vitamin-rich roughage of foreign films is a kind of penance for the sugary carbs of every Elektra or Be Cool.

-Live my own life. For every child Angelina Jolie adopts, I’ll donate a hundred dollars to the Red Cross. For every celebrity marriage that I read is dissolved or annulled, I’ll take my wife out to dinner. For every peek I take at People or Us Weekly, I’ll reread Ecclesiastes.

-Not belittle my friends and family for liking bad movies. No matter how horrible their favorites are. Movies don’t have feelings; people do. Plus, movies can’t make you sleep on the couch.

-Finally watch The Battleship Potemkin (old and subtitled; score!).

-Forsake all Jessica Alba vehicles—female readers, you might swear off Paul Walker. Thankfully, Into the Blue is already behind us.

-Differentiate artifice from art. The Sin Citys and Brokeback Mountains are impeccably made, monumentally impressive and morally dubious at best.

-Keep my bearings. If The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Memoirs of a Geisha have taught us nothing, it is to take comedies seriously, and to take the stuffing out of high-minded dramas—that is, unless the wife liked Memoirs of a Geisha (see resolution #2).

-Show more discernment. This means a) becoming less a slave to advertising—if something wants our attention so desperately, can it really be worth it? and b) reading up on what I’m watching, both before I see a movie and after I see it.

-Identify and celebrate God in culture, and witness to his appearance in movies, music and television whenever I have the opportunity.

YEAR IN PREVIEW:

See Also

We can’t be sure what will be worth seeing in 2006. But we can predict, with much more accuracy, what we’ll be hearing and reading about, movie-wise, over the course of a coming year.

The warning shot has already been fired: Newsweek just put The DaVinci Code on its cover. But before May, when that behemoth—and the corresponding flurry of breathless, uninformed speculation on the life of Jesus and the history of the church—is unleashed on us, in March there’s V for Vendetta and its portrayal of terrorism. The comic-book adaptation from The Matrix’s Wachowski Bros. postulates a totalitarian London and the masked avenger who starts a revolution.

Summer always means sequels. This year brings more Mission Impossible, X-Men and Pirates of the Caribbean. But the biggest of them all is Superman Returns. Expect much blog-posting by your fellow geeks about unknown Brandon Routh’s suit-ability, and hand-wrining by Warner Bros. executives, as the film’s budget is rumored to be creeping toward $300 million.

In 2004 Mel Gibson risked his own money on a subtitled, period drama. In 2006 he brings us another, only this time he got Disney to pay for it. Perhaps the strangest entry in the summer sweepstakes, Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto appears to be a parable about an ancient, crumbling civilization. You can bet on lots of ink dedicated to what it all means, and what Mr. Gibson means by it.

No stranger to controversy himself, director Oliver Stone has a penchant for outrageous history lessons. In the fall, he’ll reach back all the way to 2001 and the events of September 11th to tell the story of the last two workers rescued from the rubble of the World Trade Center. Will justice be done to the memory of the fallen? Expect the experts to weigh in.

Oscar’s lineup for 2006 already has some likely suspects. All the King’s Men has an all-star cast and was shot in New Orleans before Katrina. The Departed has Leo, Matt, Jack and, most of all, perennial Oscar hopeful Martin Scorsese. Dreamgirls has Beyonce, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy plus songs and dances. Flags of our Fathers has Iwo Jima and director Clint Eastwood.

We could go on, but that’s enough for now. We’re still catching up with 2005!

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