Movie Therapy

I mentioned in my very first post that I spent a number of years working at a video rental store called Family Video. If you’re from the Midwest, you may have heard of the company or even rented a few Midweek Specials in your day; and if not, boy, did you miss out. With all of the video rental businesses in the U.S. closing their doors (read: Blockbuster), at last check, that makes Family Video the largest (hell, maybe the only) movie and game rental franchise in the country.

I cannot even imagine how many total hours I’ve spent in my lifetime so far watching, and often rewatching, movies. Ahead of movie release dates for DVDs (almost always a Tuesday), stores receive inventory around 5 days in advance, and staff are allowed and sometimes recommended to “screen” the titles in that advance time frame. I spent a lot of weekends in high school and college watching great movies but also watching some really shitty B class movies. (Don’t tell anyone I admitted to that.)

The point here is this: I love movies. I think I passed this love onto my baby brother…well, that and my music taste, for better or worse. So when I come home to visit, we usually bond over a good movie. But since he’s young(er) and hip(er), he often has seen way more recent releases than I have. On this recent visit, I had to admit to not yet seeing Unbroken, so we sat down for a typical family watch party.

There are always great take-aways from movies, like the faith in humanity you regain watching a really great drama, or the way your wheels continue spinning after an intense thriller. Movies can pull you out of yourself for a good 2 hours and plop you right back into reality with the hint of a credit reel. If somebody did their job right, you talk about what the experience was like for you for a good 30 minutes post-film, and use it for at least some workplace chatter on Monday.

Here’s my recent movie-watching reaction (spoilers ahead): What I hated about Unbroken is that you sit through the whole thing and then Angelina Jolie thought maybe you were an idiot watching and didn’t get the message, so she wrote it out for you at the end before the credits. “Louie learned that forgiveness is greater than revenge…” or something equally uninspiring. But what I loved about Unbroken was the message that spoke so much louder to me, and that was the importance of perseverance. To me Louie showcased what it means to get back up when everyone around you is expecting you to stay down, and continuing to get back up especially once people are rooting for you.

I think it goes without saying that Unbroken probably spoke to you in a totally different way, and maybe you were cool with Angelina’s moral being spelled out for you to cap off the movie. But with movies, the message doesn’t have to be the same for me and for you, and the conversation that ensues because of that difference in emotion and opinion is what keeps us on our toes. And, from my video rental store days, it’s likely why I am an A-Class BS-er today. (I couldn’t afford to curse anymore in this post!) I think I was something of a movie therapist for customers when they returned those stacks of VHS tapes and DVDS…

– Ashley Respecki

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