Friday, January 28, 2011

Giant robots in the dark

It has been pointed out to me that I smile when I watch movies. Not any movie, not White Chicks. But in movies I like, I smile. I was smiling Wednesday night when I watched Evangelion: You Can (Not) Advance.

For some, saying that I was going to see an anime would be enough for them to lose interest. For others, if I were to describe the basic plot, "giant robots versus aliens" that would be enough for them to know that they don't want to see it. Both of these groups missed out, because the movie was fantastic. Yes, robots versus aliens is the most basic of descriptions of what happened. But the movie is about abandonment, and about deciding to be happy. It's about emotionally damaged, even mentally ill, people striving to find a place in the world. It's about the change from childhood to adulthood. It's about our faith in religious symbols. It also has giant robots fighting aliens. And those fights are awesome to behold.

I could talk about this movie all day long, but the fact is that you, Average Joe, don't want me to. That is in fact the very dilemma I faced when I discovered it was playing at the theater. Who would want to see this with me? After a couple failed attempts, the answer became clear, nobody. And to some extent, seeing the movie about abandonment and loneliness and eventual triumph alone was kind of poignant. But generally speaking, it did make me want to have someone to see it with.

I like what I like, and unfortunately, I like things that most others don't. Whether it be architecture, British television, cult movies, obscure music, esoteric trivia, subversive humor or outlandish cuisine, there's not a crowd-pleaser in the bunch. The things I like, I tend to like alone. I imagine many people think I lack passion, but I do smile. It's just alone, in the theater, watching giant robots.

Anime may not be your thing. You may have seen Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Speed Racer, or if you're very unlucky, hentai, and recognized that you didn't like it one bit. And if I'd forced my 100 closest friends to see Evangelion, I'm sure at least half of them wouldn't have liked it. It's more confusing than Inception. It's bloodier than Braveheart. If any of the teenagers in the movie had parents, they certainly would tell them to put on some more clothes. But, at least some of that group would appreciate the high drama, explosive action and intriguing mystery.

Earlier, I trashed on White Chicks. I've never seen White Chicks. For all I know, it's hilarious. I have a knee-jerk reaction against lots of things. Disney, country music, punching myself. But I do need to be more open to trying things. Part of the reason I love the things I love is novelty. I want innovation, I want surprise. What would be more surprising than finding a country song I liked. Or punching myself.

Evangelion was one of my favorite film experiences in the last year. You might like it too. But more importantly, try new things. And share the things you like with others. And don't stop loving it if they don't. Smile in the dark.


LaurenHoya said...

Ah, the burden of having refined tastes that the mainstream can't appreciate. Glad you blogged about it.

I swear I really thought about going, though I always have work meetings on Wednesday nights.

Eric said...

I wish I could have gone. I finished the original series for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and liked it much more in Japanese than in English. Seriously, how can anyone watch more than 15 seconds of that show dubbed and not want to strangle Shinji? I'll just have to wait until you get it on Bluray.