Remember the Titans
There are some movies that when they come on TV I must watch. The Rock and Con Air immediately come to mind. So, too, Heat (although I stand by my assertion that Mann should've ended the film with DeNiro simply walking away without anything, his girl or his money or his crew, which would've underscored the movie's mantra of the progressional criminal having to be able to pull up and leave everything he has in fifteen minutes, instead of catering to the Hollywood staple of good cop shooting down bad villain, but it's a minor quibble, one that keeps a great film from being legendary). I also think of Goodfellas, which I will watch whether it's on HBO or TBS, even if it proves tougher when it's the latter and all the "fuckin'" turns into "freakin'" or "flippin'," making the gritty gangster tale, which already treads the lines of camp, into full-blown cartoonish. There are certainly others, like Shawshank Redemption. And add to that list Remember the Titans.
I'm not saying all of these are great or even good (or even OK) films, just that I find them imminently watchable, bordering on almost fascinating. In the case of Titans (which is on A&E as we speak), I imagine part of the appeal is the easily digestible, though ultimately reaffirming and positively upbeat, commentary on race relations. It's a film in which racism is presented, confronted, and solved within two hours. The (progressive) good guys win; the (bigoted) bad guys lose. And Joe feels better about his life. It's fucking Disney, for crissakes, what do you expect?
And it's about sports, football, and though Remember the Titans doesn't exactly break new ground (and besides Raging Bull or maybe Bull Durham what sports' flick does?), it's supposedly based on a true story, but unlike a piece of shit like We Are Marshall, RTT... actually, I don't know what the fuck it does, or why it works so well. Better writing? Better acting? Better soundtrack? All I know is that if it comes on, I watch. Maybe it's because it's got a bitchy Kate Bosworth.
No, it's the race stuff. Which is why I liked Crash so much (a movie that interestingly enough, played a significant role in my second divorce, an unexpected perk, I suppose). I grew up in Berlin, CT. There wasn't exactly racism, because there wasn't exactly any other race. We had one black family. It's not something you much thought about, and then when I got to San Francisco, which is liberal and progressive and forward thinking, there was such an embrace of everything and everyone, I kind of bypassed that part too. But you'd have to be blind or an idiot or living on Mars not to encounter racism just about every day, and it's clear which side gets the short end of the stick. When you've grown up white and privileged, even in blue state pockets, you accumulate a great deal of white guilt, can't help but feel like shit. To quote Brett Dennen, "And then I curse my whiteness and I get so damn depressed / in a world of so much suffering, why should I be so blessed?"
Then Remember the Titans comes on. And white folk feel better about their lives, and about the plight of others, and we all get along. Equality. Harmony. Brothers and sisters holding hands.
(And as evidence of the power of RTT, Justine just walked in the room. She asks, "What you watching?" "Remember the Titans," I say. She sits down, and within five minutes, she's simultaneously crying and smiling. Of course, this is a girl who cried at the opening credits of Legally Blonde II, so maybe it doesn't say that much.)
Hell, maybe I'm over thinking it. Maybe I just like certain movies, however artistically credible. Like Con Air and The Rock, Remember the Titans is deftly paced, superbly acted, and whether its ultimate life affirmation is the result of racism solved or sports' perfection, what does it matter? I just wasted two hours of my life on The Hangover Part II, so maybe it's just nice to get those two hours back on a movie I love.
I gotta go. It's the part where the Titans enter the game, soul style!