It’s snowing again in Penticton. I don’t mind it snowing on Apex Mountain; in fact, that is where it is supposed to snow. The normal world of winter here is that occasionally it might be cold in the Valley, and a couple of times a year a snowfall will be recorded. But the rest of the time it is basically bare ground and cloudy skies in town and sunshine and lovely snow on the hill. Global warming wasn’t supposed to bring more cold — but I guess changing climates are exactly that, changes in climatic conditions — and we have that in spades…
Oh well, let me not whimper and whine. There are good things revolving about my life and, on the eve of another Super Bowl, I hearken back to SB III and Joe Willie Namath’s great quote (other than predicting a victory of the Baltimore Colts which is another story) — “I can’t wait until tomorrow as I get better looking every day!” While I wouldn’t go that far, I am quite confident in stating: “I can’t wait until tomorrow, because life keeps getting better every day!!” And this month will be better than last — I just know it.
But what is the question of the hour? What kernels of wisdom do I wish to share on this first weekend of the month of February?
Why are so many movies these days based on real life incidents or true stories?
Just saw the film Hidden Figures which is based on real people and a true story. For anyone who was in college in the sixties, this film is a must-see. It not only brings back memories, it gives some insights into aspects of the Great Society and Just Society that we in North America need to know (or at least be reminded of). Even though I was part of that revolution, and feel that we accomplished a great deal in a variety of socio-political spectra, the impact these three women had makes my achievements pale in comparison. (By the way, you take your grandkids to see this too, they need to know that in the last 60 years we haven’t moved as far as we have often boasted, and there is a reason why some people cry “black lives matter” and others assert that equality is still not a given and some even suggest we could be back-sliding…
But back to the movie itself: even though they worked within spitting distance of the capital of the USA they were subjected to some of the basest forms of discrimination. Riding at the back of the bus was the least of the challenges they faced. And how they addressed the challenges and overcame them is the central piece to this film. You know the endings will be good, so spend your time viewing the story, segment by segment, scene by scene, incident by incident. The acting is very solid, even Kevin Costner brings the head honcho at the Langley Space Group to life in a really thoughtful way. And there’s one of the neat guys from The Big Bang Theory who gives a chilling portrayal of the typical young bright scientific white male of that era. There are various cameo appearances by actors who take on their roles with real seriousness that helps flesh out the contexts and settings for the unfolding dramas that dominate the lives of the three women.
And as I drove home after the film I realized why we are seeing so many of these real stories being brought to the big screen. The stories wouldn’t be believed if they were simply made up. Moreover, reality tv has become so banal and shallow, the cinematic talent available to direct, produce and act in these big films is such that the final product is so good it draws you right into the moment. Lion, Hidden Figures, Bridge of Spies, Wold of Wall Street, Patriots Day, The Big Short, Margin Call and other such productions are successful because the actors are walking the footsteps of real people who have had to deal with real, everyday (and sometimes not so everyday) challenges and dilemmas that are real and remind us in some form or another of those difficulties we ourselves have faced (although not always to the same degree or intensity).
I’m enjoying going to the movies these days. My only wish — that I was once again teaching at a number of universities and within a diversity of faculties. So many of these films provide ethical dilemmas that would be front and centre within my courses. And it would be great to listen to the students address them and attempt to develop resolutions that could point the way to getting to better. Maybe I’ll have to start my own university!! In the meantime, get out and see the movie…