In the days leading up to my trip to the Bay Area, I haven’t been able to blog as much as I would like and write as many “essayistic” posts as is my wont because I’ve had a lot on my mind unrelated to politics. With some many ideas rambling through my head, I thought it would best to take it easy this weekend and watch a silly, “escapist” type movie at home tonight.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be), I picked a flick which reminded me why I love Hollywood so much and why I moved here, eager to become part of the biz. Having just purchased *batteries not included for under $5 while at the Target in Livermore on my way back to LA, I popped my new acquisition into my DVD player.
Sometime in the 1990s, I used to catch pieces of the film on cable. It always moved me, so I finally bought the VHS so I could watch the whole thing.
Well, last night, at first, I wondered why I had loved it so. Neighbors didn’t communicate with one another, an old building, standing alone amidst the wreckage of its former neighbors seemed a symbol of what happens to all of us when we age, isolated, alone, with younger folks waiting for us to collapse, even to accelerate the process.
No one in the building knew how to reach out to one another. And then the miracle happens, something which brings everyone together, neighbors start talking, one silent man finds his voice, connections are made. The “miracle”, in this case, is extraterrestrial. We don’t need to know its origins, the topography of its planet, even the location of its star system. We just need to know what it does. “The quickest way to end a miracle,” quips Hume Cronyn‘s Frank Riley, “is to ask it what it is, what it wants.”
What it does is remind the inhabitants of this old building that their companionship can help them weather the challenges they face and share the joys this miracle brings. In short, we see the transformation it effects on these people, on one in particular, a street tough who, at the beginning of the film had been roughhousing and mocking the residents, at the end of the film, rediscovers their humanity. The miracle, that is, makes him a better person.
The best of them remind me that human connections matter. The stories nearly always explore this fundamental aspect of our humanity. And instead of serving as a diversion, this sweet film reminded me (yet again) why I so love classic Hollywood cinema — and cause me to articulate that affection.