Moving Pictures: Why Movies Matter
By Matthew Yenkala
Allow myself to introduce...myself. I am Matthew Yenkala, fondly known to the scene kids as "Matteo", and I'd like to welcome you to my new column for THE WOD, Moving Pictures--where I will discuss and review movies (in addition to my other contributions in the wider range of popular culture, nightlife, arts & entertainment).
I was recently asked, "Why do movies matter so much to you?" And in answering that question, I discovered the entire raison d'etre for this column--and the name I've chosen for it.
I love stories. I'm a born story teller, and story listener. I believe that stories are life, and that life's lessons and truths can be contained in them. In this I am hardly saying something new; our entire history, our many cultures and religions and mythologies, are all bound up in the stories we tell to convey our perceptions of life, the universe and everything from one generation to the next.
I'm also a sensualist; I love to FEEL things, and I love things that MAKE me feel. To that end, I am, among other things, an overall media/entertainment junkie. I love books. I love music. I love comics. I love live productions (concerts, plays, comedy shows). And yes, there is plenty of television I've loved, as well.
But I love movies the most because they combine the best elements of all those things--and they are forever.
Movies, at the very least, should entertain. And some movies, that's all they need to do. And that's fine.
But movies have the capacity to do so much more. They can educate; inform; enlighten. Cause you to see things from different perspectives. Inspire you to think, and to feel, and perhaps even to take action.
And I want to feel. When I see a movie, I want it to take me someplace I haven't been, tell me things I didn't know--or show me places I have been, things I DO know, from a different perspective. Or occasionally, as in the case of a beloved book adapted for the screen, solidify (or clarify) what my own vision of it was. And sometimes, just provide me with something familiar--cinematic comfort food.
Movies can do all of that.
Of course, with books you have the freedom of imagination, which is wonderful and essential and I would never, ever deny that. I certainly don't think that once a good cinematic version of a great book exists that the book needs to disappear. Far from it. I have an entire shelf of Tolkien books going back to when I was 12 years old that would argue otherwise. (Of course, I also dreamt that I'd be the one to make those movies, someday....)
But even so, movies can capture, encapsulate, distill the essence of something--and idea, an experience, a lesson, or just simply a story--and present it in a form which ANYONE can understand. They can convey words, feelings, ideas, concepts, perceptions which break language and cultural barriers.
Does it involve art? Yes. Craft? Yes. Skill? Yes. Intelligence? Yes. Talent, taste? Well...sometimes. Passion? Hopefully. At its best, no matter the level of all those other elements...it should be something the filmmaker, the storyteller, is passionate about.
Is there a seamy underbelly to the business? Of course there is. I'm friends with many people in the industry. I've seen and heard of some pretty shady things. I'm under no delusions about the nature of this beast.
But in spite of, perhaps even partially because of, all that, art, beauty and truth can still come through at times, and it can still be moving. And fun.
And THAT'S what I love. I love being moved. And entertained. And if both happen at the same time--well, that's a bonus.
So when the chance came to write this column, I jumped at it, because it combines movies with my other love--writing, or rather, sharing my thoughts, feelings and opinions. And because I have my own stories to tell, my own moving pictures to create, there's no better launching pad than right here, right now.
I hope you enjoy the ride.
EXPLANATION OF MOVING PICTURES REVIEW RATING SYSTEM:
5 Stubs--Wait in line to see it midnight on opening night
4 Stubs--Rush out to see it Opening weekend
3 Stubs--Don't go out of your way, but catch it during first run
2 Stubs--Wait till it's at the discount theatre
1 Stub--Wait til it's on DVD/Netflix/Redbox
1/2 Stub--Watch it when it's free on TV and you have already rearranged your sock drawer
0 Stubs--Don't bother, because it's time you'll want back after you're dead