Repeat Business: Christmas, Movies, And Seasonal Depression

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It's A Wonderful Life. Liberty Films

Strangely enough, I’m not alone when I say the holidays author a very particular kind of loneliness for me. There’s something about the demonstrative routine of it all that alarms me to how fleeting the best things in life tend to be. Festive charm has always eluded me. Not because I’m above it or even because I’m overly cynical, though many have suggested the latter in the past — it’s more to do with where and how my “feels” are procured. Although I blush to admit it, the easiest way to appeal to my sentiments has always been movies. Just as meaningless and illusory as your beloved carols and gingerbread houses, but the cinema is invariably where I find my solace during the winter months. Over the years, I’ve developed a tradition of my own. In the face of the tyranny of Christmas glee, I make a point to revisit all the films that meant something to me that year. Thankfully, this Sunday the 25th will be quite the busy one. This year, human stories have made a triumphant return, just in time to save me and surely many others from another annual, frosty desolation.

On the topic of American cinema, the late author Saul Bellow once remarked: “We know that character is no longer the stable entity that we used to find and be guided by, in say 19th century literature.” Bellow went on to say that character itself was something of a bourgeois property. His point, though declared many years ago, mocks our contemporary blockbusters with shameful acuity. The deterioration of human stories couldn’t have been a difficult thing to augur as early as 60 years ago, but good characters must have been thought absolutely consequential. Shlock isn’t defined by genre or subject matter — it’s defined by strong, complete characters or lack thereof. It might have pleased Bellow to learn this seems to be understood on the independent level, particularly by the up and coming studio A24, which recently celebrated Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird as its highest grossing film.

It wasn’t until I began to prepare for my annual reevaluation of movies I loved that I realized what an impeccable years it’s been. My god. Get Out, It Comes At Night, Loving Vincent, Lady Bird, The Florida Project, Three Billboards Outside Of Ebbing Missouri, Menshe, Wind River, The Big Sick. All wonderful pictures that survive on a masterful attention to voice and completion. Entombed by the immovable weight of franchise fuckery, these films (and a great many others time forbids I mention) possess the gaul not to pick our pockets. Whether or not you enjoyed any of them nearly as much as I did, I’ll bet you left the theater with nary a doubt that what you saw was more or less what the author intended. They made no attempt to forfeit individuality to appeal to masses. They were films that awakened our idoscrancies as opposed to dulling them.

It’s been quoted to tedium that, the holidays see some of the highest suicide rates of any other time in our country. This is true. And I would be ashamed to recommend going to the movies as a method of correcting a clinical wish to die. However, there are such things as good distractions.Things can be both innocuous and beneficial. Emily Dickson once described literature as a brigate to sail us lands away. For anyone out there that might take their seasonal feelings of isolation as an indictment of their self worth, allow me to suggest the contrary. I’m your fellow lonely human. I am one of the inexplicable accidents of biology, tramping about in search of the next thing to keep my mind off of things. Thanks to a fiendish melure of circumstances, I’ll be spending this holiday season alone, at the cinema, taking my sentiment where I can get it. Find whatever that is for you. It doesn’t have to be another person, it doesn’t have to be something intellectually stimulating or necessarily even something healthy, Don’t allow snowflakes and Michael Buble to trick you into thinking you're a lonely loser. Enjoy the things that brings you joy friends. Oh and FUCK MIchael Buble. He has a lisps and he sucks.

 

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