Comfort Movie Files #1: Time Travel, Marathons, and Brick Jokes

Monday, December 17, 2012

It’s that time of year again.

December In A Nutshell
Everyone’s in debt, you and/our your kids are freaking out about grades, the same 8 Christmas songs are played everywhere over and over again, and outside it looks like Hoth. Or Baator’s frozen wasteland layer, Cania. (You know, whichever nerd reference you’re more into.)

December has been proven to be a tough, depressing month to have to get through, but fear not, dear reader! We here at Music for a Mid-Life Geek got you covered. Between faith-in-humanity-reaffirming posts about people making a difference to goofy, immensely well-written murder mysteries, we’re committed to keeping spirits high.

I’ve done an article about movies to watch on a blustery day before, and I figured that was a good well to go back to for this supremely cold and snowy Monday afternoon. Let's just hope the well hasn't frozen over!

Great trilogy? Or GREATEST trilogy?
Comfort Movie File #1: The Back to the Future Trilogy

Cheating a bit on this one, as this is three movies instead of one, but really, what better way to pass a frigid winter's day than with a 7+ hour marathon of one of the best movie trilogies ever committed to film? [citation needed]. I grew up with Back to the Future, and just about wore out my parent's copy of the third film around the age of 6. Having gone back and revisited the trilogy recently, I can safely say that it has aged extremely well (as opposed to some movies from that decade), and likely stands the test of time as Zemeckis' best work.

Really, that should be all there is to say. It's Back to the freakin' Future. You've probably already seen it, but now's as good a time as ever to watch it again. And if you've somehow never seen it, then you make me sad, and you should make me happy by going out and cannonballing the whole thing right now.

BttF is a trilogy that really benefits from the "burn it all down in one afternoon" treatment. There are so many little visual cues, repeat jokes, and callbacks between the three movies that feel like a bunch of well-assembled "brick jokes" when viewed in rapid succession. The fact that Zemeckis and Gale shrunk down the scale of their time-travel epic to a single town makes the level of detail absolutely incredible. Hill Valley feels like a very rich, textured, and relatable locale (Indeed, one of the most successful parts of Telltale's adventure game based on the series was how it played with the structure of the town, showing us different eras and some truly bizarre alternate timelines), and watching it grow, revert, and alter itself is a treat.

But what makes BttF really special in my eyes is how it examines how far-reaching the consequences of our actions can be, without lapsing into po-faced, gritty self-importance or pedantic navel-gazing. It presents some truly interesting and engaging questions about the nature of our actions and how they affect the people around us and our surroundings, but it always remembers to keep it light, sunny, and ultimately comforting. No matter how bad things start out (Marty's depressing original timeline, the nightmarish alternate Biff Tannen-run Hill Valley), you can always change your situation with just a little courage, ingenuity, and determination.

Oh, and a time-travelling DeLorean. That always helps. 


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