I watched Oblivion the other night and couldn’t keep anything straight. My mind raced with questions as I tried to make sense of it all. Who were the good guys and who were the bad guys? Tom Cruise is fighting alien scavengers, but they appear to be human and are led by Morgan Freeman. Surely, Morgan Freeman isn’t a bad guy? I gave up trying to follow things when Tom Cruise started fighting another Tom Cruise and said his mind had been erased. When clones and memory wipes are involved, you know it’s complicated.
My question is this: when did movies become so hard to follow? I’ve come up with an answer. It’s not the movies. It’s me.
I think it’s part of the aging process, this inability to handle plot twists and turns. I remember being younger and following (and loving) movies like Fight Club and Vanilla Sky. Movies that a majority of really smart people found mind-bending. But somewhere along the way, and God love her, but it’s happening, I’m turning into my mother. Now, more often than not, I’ll leave the theater with a ‘what the hell?’ expression on my face.
Except, Cloud Atlas. Oh, I was still thinking ‘what the hell?’, but I knew it wasn’t me. That was one confusing movie. Six different stories spanning several different cultures, various centuries and involving a wide cast of characters? I don’t care what anyone says, if someone says they got it, they’re lying. Or they read the book. Or maybe they’re a member of Mensa.
Mom and I were both hustled by American Hustle. (She must love it when I confess embarassing things on her behalf.) We loved it, of course, and followed it all until near the end, when we turned to each other to ask, “So, where did the two million go?” We got conned by the con movie. But I’m sure it was our fault, not director David O. Russell’s.
I’d blame it on my handicap, but I’m afraid that card’s all used up. In my defense though, with my vision, if something happens too fast, or the scene is too dark, or there are sub-titles, forget it. And with my poor hearing, I’ve become that annoying person in the theater whispering, “Now who is he again? I thought he was dead!?”
I think this is why I’m beginning to prefer the simple family drama. There’s nothing to follow except the family tree. That I can handle. Why, as soon as the kiss occurred in August: Osage County, I proudly whispered, “Aren’t they cousins?” (Don’t worry, that’s not really a spoiler.) I got it. I wouldn’t say I liked it (far too depressing for my taste, think family dysfunction on crack) but at least I got it.
And by the way — I think it’s stupider. Even though I’ve said ‘more stupid’ all my life. Stupider just sounds stupid. But I looked it up. And there it is in the dictionary. Stupid, stupid-er, stupid-est. Get it?