For the majority of my life the bulk of things that have "moved" me have generally been sad. Songs, poems, movies about lost love... feeling wrecked... isolation. These are the feelings I could relate to... the feelings that I knew were real. I was always afraid to divulge a lot of my personal tastes since I have usually been fairly outspoken and fervent supporter of my fringe tastes. My favorite movies are from a Danish director. Some of my favorite bands were tiny blips upon the music radar if they were even detected at all. I was always afraid this would make me too identifiable. Since revealing much more of myself in these past few months I'm starting to understand that if anyone happens to find this blog and trace it back to my vanilla self... what the hell were they doing here in the first place?
Since I do enough with my personal sad bastard stories I thought it would be better to talk about some things that make me happy.
I'm one of those people that has had tastes that were "out there" enough that I've constantly had to justify them to the rest of the world in order to have them deemed valid. These are the reasons that I dig deep... find the best there is... and cherish it. As such, I pretty much always know exactly why I like something... what it is that draws me to it.
When it comes to making me smile, movies are an odd one. While there are a handful of movies that make me feel good, I always found it fascinating that most of them were made before 1950, predominantly from the 1930's. Yes, when I was in high school I was the 16 year old renting movies made in the 1930's. What I discovered back then from movies made during the Great Depression is the truth of the Hollywood Ending. At some point in the modern era, the Hollywood Ending seemed to become synonymous with crappy plot holes leading to some ideal and unrealistic outcome that made those with fragile hearts feel warm and fuzzy. This is so far removed from the original Hollywood Ending that it almost makes me want to gag.
I consider Frank Capra to be the father of the modern Hollywood Ending. While he seemed to have a good eye for scripts that would capture the triumph of the human spirit and the idea that love conquers all, Capra understood how to end his movies: They end at the absolute emotional peak. The best feeling possible. The scene that you hope for deep in your heart happens... and then it ends. You are left with a feeling of warmth, redemption, pride, and hope. In those days the credits were at the beginning, so the ending happened and bam, it was done.
In modern movies, even ones that are well-directed, well-acted, and from a rock solid script, this type of ending no longer exists. There is an emotional trail-off. You hit the peak and the movie should end... but it goes on for a few more minutes, slowly stealing away the euphoria of the moment. At it's worst, there will be an out-credit montage with music featured on the original motion picture soundtrack panning around a room showing pictures on the mantle of the next 10-20 years, or some tacky future photo album. The end result is that your emotions which were at 10 drop back down to 5-7 by the time you stand up and leave the theater. That sort of thing pisses me off and other people get mad at me when I say "the movie really should have ended at _____ scene." I guess when there's a happy ending I want my heart overflowing with goodness. I don't want my high stolen by filler.
The movie in my life that gave me the best feeling imaginable is "You Can't Take it With You." It is from 1938, stars Jean Arthur, Jimmy Stewart, and Lionel Barrymore and is based upon the play of the same name. If you haven't seen this before, I highly recommend checking it out. While Capra is probably most famous for It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, You Can't Take it With You is what I consider to be his masterpiece and probably the greatest feel-good movie ever made.
It makes me smile.
Musically, most of what I listen to is a bit morose (or instrumental). There is however, one band that I have followed for years that never ceases to make me smile. I first discovered them in 1996 on AM college radio. As time went on they were credited with starting a new genre. The band is named Tullycraft and the genre was dubbed "Twee Pop." It's basically an offshoot of low fi indie rock but done with quirky, bouncy melodies. The songs are often goofy, innocent, and frequently sweet. They were on hiatus for a while, I believe because the singer/songwriter had a brain tumor.
You might like this, you might hate it, regardless, their songs make me smile.
I have included one quirky song and one sweet one because I couldn't decide on just one.
By the way if you'd rather me not make posts like these just say something in the comments and I'll knock it off.