Films that last are the ones you remember

Published 7:02 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I love movies.

As a kid, I loved it when my brother, sister and I would get to go to “bottle-top” movies — one or two films you could see in exchange for a few soda bottle caps. I still enjoy the stop animation that fueled most of these Godzilla and Sinbad-type cinema masterpieces.

As an older teen and through my endless years as a college student, I loved the escape an hour-and-a-half film provided to an anxious mind.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

This year, like any other, has seen hundreds of films released on the big screen and on streaming services — some instant hits, others instant failures, still more slow burners that are beginning to earn a following. Some of my favorite films are not the ones that were successful upon first release, but have always been the ones that kind of grew on you after repeat viewings.

I’ve always thought that if a film left you thinking about it for days afterward, it achieved one of its purposes — a sort of permanency.

If you’re singing along to its songtrack, laughing as you recall scenes, still disturbed by the story line or imagery, or still pondering what in the world the filmmakers were trying to get across, then your mind is still on their product. You’re probably discussing it at work and in your social circles. Others are becoming intrigued and may watch the film, too.

Even if the movie is garbage and you regret having seen it — if you walked out during the first 15 minutes, as I have done a couple of times — the filmmaker has accomplished something they likely intended to — you are thinking about their work.

Films you remember are the ones that prove they have lasting power.

I finally gave in years ago and watched “Facing the Giants” because my friends wouldn’t shut up about it. And I asked them to.

I took a kid or two to see it and expected to confirm my preconceived notion that the movie was all hype and no substance. But I was wrong. I came away wondering why I had waited so long to see it.

It was the same way with another film from the same filmmakers — “War Room.”

It’s no secret I’m a fan of history and of horror. But I don’t like excessive gore or anything that detracts from a story rather than adds to it.

One horror movie I refuse to see is “Ravenous.” I know just enough about it — from its own promotion and from reviews — that this is a film whose imagery I do not want replaying across the silver screen of my mind.

What’s a bit disappointing to me is that it shares the same title as an earlier film that I thought was well worth the viewing for horror and suspense fans. The 2017 film has been widely promoted on its use of disturbingly realistic gore — it’s a zombie/cannibalistic theme.

In contrast, the 1999 film “Ravenous” — while it also has a cannabalistic thread to its storyline — avoids most of the blood and gore fans of that genre expect. I prefer story over shock value any day. This film tells the story of a 19th-century military outpost that receives a visit from a mysterious traveller — the only survivor of a group of pioneers — who may be more than he at first seems.

Is it grand cinema? Are you kidding? No. But it includes solid performances from some actors I enjoy watching and a storyline that holds up.

Gore not necessary.

Some of this year’s movies that have performed or are performing well are “Blinded by the Light,” “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Avengers: Endgame.” I make no claim about whether these are “good” movies — as yet I’ve seen none of them.

The biopic “Tolkien” — about famed author and Christian J. R. R. Tolkien — did not perform as well, however. Online scores ranked it pretty squarely at about 5/10 (48 at Metascore and 51 percent at Rotten Tomatoes). But of all the 2019 offerings, this the one I am most likely to see. I have long been a Tolkien fan and had just finished reading a book about his World War I experiences when this film was released.

I’ve heard it skims over rather important points in his life, but I expect this. And, like it or not, I’ll likely be thinking about it still for days. Filmmaker purpose accomplished.

Brett Campbell can be reached at