Some while ago I made a decision to avoid movies whose objective seemed to be to leave me feeling like crap at the end of two hours.  

Leaving me thoughtful is appreciated.  Leaving me entertained is even better.

But any movie which appears to hold the potential to use pain or suffering or despair or despondence or depravity or violence or disease or death or mental illness or tragedy as principle supports of their plot (or in place of any discernible plot whatsoever) will not get my five bucks.

I drew this line in the sand after watching (or bailing out of) several such offerings, finding myself ill-used by the director, earnestly wishing for a refund of the two lost hours of my decidedly dwindling lifespan.  

It may have started with the films of Jack Nicholson’s crazy period, e.g. The Shining, Easy Rider, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Much later I bailed on Braveheart, Traffic, and A Beautiful Mind, all of which existed to blatantly prey upon my soft chewy center. I knew better than to view even so much as the trailers to any of the Anthony Hopkins Hannibal Lecter movies.  And then there are others which confuse. I hang in there, waiting for some hint to help me decode their message or purpose but which instead deliver me to the credit roll still wondering: what happened?

Lest you conclude this guy watches naught but Disney, or a steady diet of the sugar-coated fare, or children’s animation (full disclosure; Cars is my anytime, anywhere, all-occasion go-to), let me assure you that there are plenty of titles that do not seek to drive me down into their particular vision of darkness, and don’t fall into the piffle-light category either.  

A personal list of somewhat recent viewing will suffice by way of example:

Bridge of Spies
Mrs. Brown
King’s Speech
Hidden Figures
The Post
Promised Land
Darkest Hour
The Man Who Knew Infinity
Imitation Game
Woman in Gold
Larry Crowne

Dark for dark’s sake seems to be the default for movies and tv programming at present.  I will leave it to others to determine whether this is so, as well as explain the phenomenon should there be consensus as to its existence.  

But it seems to me all the darkness on screens both big and small points to two inescapable truths; one, an apparent narrowness in creative imagination and, two, the target audience for this stuff is clearly not me.

Since it is not, I have turned to other resources for viewing guidance.  I freely admit to reading the AARP Movies for Grownups column on occasion, which has led to some success in the productions pf Fox Searchlight and others of that ilk.

But when all else fails, there’s still William Powell, Myrna Loy, Humphrey Bogart, Jean Arthur, Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, June Allyson, John Wayne, Gloria Grahame and the entire series of Andy Hardy movies.  

And if this cements my place as an aging, tragically un-hip, narrow-minded curmudgeon, a get-off-my-lawn fuddy-duddy, I accept.


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