I spent part of my last birthday locked in the bathroom of my old house sobbing. The second part was spent in a cheerier manner, watching The Last King of Scotland with my lovely son Mac. I have always loved downer movies because they made me feel like my life wasn’t so bad and what was I complaining about. Kind of like when your parent hits you in the head to get your mind off of a stubbed toe. Oh, your parent’s didn’t do that? Hmmm. The parallel of watching this movie is interesting because I remember being obsessed with the Entebbe hostage situation and subsequent invasion when I was my son’s age. I thought there was nothing sexier on the planet than Israeli soldiers back then. He became somewhat fascinated with Idi Amin after the movie, but avoided the fatal crush on Israeli men for obvious reasons.
Why is there such a market for movies probing the darkest corners of our collective hearts? Why do we love to see others suffer? After all these years is it just as Aristotle said that drama should arouse pity and fear in its’ audience? What are we looking for and why can’t we find catharsis some other way? Mac told me of a funny Onion article in which a man shot James Gandolfini of Sopranos fame stating that “now that he’s dead, I finally have closure.”
This year there is no one to drive me to the bathroom in a fit of tears but this year my son and I will go to an equally miserable movie on my birthday – In the Country of Old Men. If bad times make us need difficult movies then by god, bring on your worst, Cohn Brothers, I could use the distraction.