Posts Tagged 'Decade'

So Now Then

Ten years ago tonight, with the clock ticking toward midnight, there was an immense anxiety in me about what would happen. The world might forever be changed. It so filled my mind that I don’t really remember anything else I talked about that night, aside from this one thing – will I get to kiss my girlfriend? Y2K be damned, I didn’t care if the world ended or not; only about what it would be like to kiss her.

I didn’t. I chickened out. But it’s okay, we made up for it and then some for the next year or so.

Boy things were different back then. Looking back on the last ten years of my life, I am in the unique position of having come of age during this time, which is a strange thing and who knows, maybe ten years from now I’ll be saying the same thing about the next decade. But for now, I want to remember when.

This was the decade I graduated high school. And college. It’s the decade I got my first car. My first job. While things were in motion, this is the decade I fell in love with the movies and with acting and with writing. I directed my first movie. Isn’t it strange to think that 10 short years ago, I hadn’t seen my favorite movie of all time? Most of my favorite movies, in fact. I started reading books. Started reading The Bible. I hadn’t heard most of my favorite music yet. Think of it. All of these things that occupy my time and my mind and my heart and direct my life on a daily basis, and I didn’t have any idea they were out there. Things I can’t imagine being without; not the physical thing-ness of them, but the experience of them. The knowledge of them, the understanding of them. If you take enough of those things away, you take me away. I’m not me without them. I couldn’t be, I wouldn’t want to be, and I don’t know who I’d be. I’ve seen well over 1,000 movies in the last 10 years. Many of them good, some of them bad, and quite a few of them life-changing. Life-changing. A movie. A song. A television show. A fiction. A podcast. People doing things who I don’t know personally but somehow know deeply. Now how in the world does that happen?

And what about the people who do populate my life? Friendships that were only a few months or a couple years old are now lifelong bonds that have carried me through so much these years. People I didn’t know, or only knew peripherally. And now, what would life be without them? Where would I be? I had the immense fortune of having incredible friends around me at every turn these last 10 years. Where I would be without them is lost, completely stupidly lost. What kings and queens of goodness they are, what multitudes they hold.

There are small big things too. I voted for the first time, had my first beer, got my first tattoo, my first apartment, got my first corporate job, quit that job and moved to another state. I took my first trip out of the country, I went on vacation by myself and found I am a good traveling companion. I wrote and wrote and wrote thousands of pages of stories and journals and movies and essays and papers. Endless experiences and events and things done and things wished for and not received and regrets and elations and disappointments and poorly-timed, well-worded remarks that got me in mountains of trouble. 10 years ago I thought I was right all the time. Now I know the percentage is slightly lower, and things are often my own fault.

10 years is enough time, it turns out, to meet someone, love them, know them for 7 years, be hurt by them long enough and badly enough that you don’t know her anymore. 10 years of my life is still a pretty high percentage of it at this point (a little over 38% of it). And there is no bleed-over. It is a thing contained within one decade, a little parenthesis of a thing that, 20 years from now will matter, won’t matter, who knows? But there is before and there is after and it doesn’t reach either of them. It is cut off. That’s a little scary when you think about it.

10 years ago, I thought of my life in terms of my parents’ rhythms. Married by a certain age, children by a certain age, career by a certain age. It took time to realize that a different pattern was waiting for me. 10 years ago, I don’t think I could ever know I’d be sitting where I am today. If I talked to myself, I wouldn’t believe me. How much I had to learn. How much I have to learn. 10 years ago, I thought I would be a film actor. I don’t think I thought very highly of the theatre. 20+ plays later, I see I was a fool. The thrill of walking onto a stage in front of an audience and inhabiting another life is one of the most beautiful things in the world. The experience of being watched is similar to playing a sport, but it’s a different kind of thrill. I love them both. Still another is to write something you’re proud of and see it performed by someone else in front of a couple thousand people. And another to write and direct something, find the time and people and equipment to capture it on film, edit it, toil over it, and then see it projected onto a screen in a dark room with people you don’t know. To hear them react to it, find it is all out of your hands now. These things are magical. I wouldn’t trade these things for anything, and I wouldn’t ruin them by explaining them away to my younger self. If I never see them again, I’m glad for what I’ve got.

So now then. What have we learned? What conclusions can we draw? What do we do now? How can I do better? The best answer I know is to say that these aren’t questions reserved for the ends of decades, but for every day. Contentment in limbo. It sounds like an impossible thing, but I think that’s where the truth lives. If I find out, I’ll tell you in 10 years.


Top 30 Films of the Decade

And the best film of the decade is...

Check over on the CINEMA page to see the complete list of my 30 favorite films from the 2000’s. There were so many movies I had to leave off even that list, I could have easily expanded to a top 50, 60, even 100. Think of it. Many of us make top 10 lists every year, multiply that by the decade, you’ve got 100 movies. That’s not to mention how many good movies come out that don’t quite make that list, either.

What I’m saying is it’s a very good time for movies. This decade brought some amazing technological advancements, that started at the tail end of the last decade (and century, jeez!) with “The Matrix,” “The Mummy,” and the first “Star Wars” prequel. This decade exploded with droves of computer-animated family films, though the first people to the party are still the best: Pixar. They have evolved, themselves, past telling purely children’s stories. This decade has shown them to be the best story-tellers working in cinema today.

Directors like Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan, and Paul Greengrass (the third of whom, come to think of it, didn’t make my list at all. For shame, me) have emerged as three new auteurs this decade, combining big ideas with great artistic sensibilities. Though they haven’t made as many pictures, three Spanish friends – Guillermo Del Toro, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and Alfonso Cuaron – have brought a new vibrance to film. Directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Darren Aronofsky, who were all making films in the 90’s, have continued making brilliant films and have found their audiences growing into mini-movements of support.

The best new directors, for my money, are Jason Reitman, whose 3rd film (“Up in the Air”) is his best yet; and two comedians: Judd Apatow and Edgar Wright. Apatow has led the charge for crass, hilarious comedies about man-children growing up, while Wright, alongside writer/actor Simon Pegg, has cultivated some of the most stylish comic send-ups of classic genre films.

And of course, there is Peter Jackson. He gets the New Spielberg award. This decade sortof belonged to him. 5 films, all of which combine a massive scope, amazing special effects, and brilliantly crafted characters in commercial entertainments.

Many of the greats are still working: Speilberg, Zemeckis, Scorsese, Eastwood, the Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, the list goes on and on forever, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. In the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about my top 10 of the decade, as well as posting my list for the best films of the year. Busy time for movie-lovers.

Merry Christmas all!

It Has Come to This

September 2018
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