Not a Disease Movie

This weekend is billed as a movie head-to-head between “Edge of Tomorrow” and “The Fault in Our Stars”, two radically different films. I saw “Edge”. It was very fun.


I wouldn’t watch “Fault” if you paid me.

I haven’t read the YA book, either. I’ve seen its synopsis: two teens, fighting cancer (and possibly dying of it at the end of the story) meet, fall in love, and have sex. Also included is a trip to Europe (maybe) to confront an author, although no reviewer likes this tangent well enough to thoroughly explain what happens.

First off, I completely admit I’m unfair to make any comment about “Fault” since I haven’t seen it.

Secondly, life’s unfair.

“Fault” is what I’ll call a Disease Movie. Literally, in this movie the plot involves a disease (cancer), but a Disease Movie can also be figurative. Remember “Ordinary People“? Of course you don’t; that question was mostly rhetorical. You’ve forgotten an Academy Award-winning film about a severe, upper class family with a secret. The secret is suicide, the shocking Disease of the time. Mary Tyler Moore, America’s sweetheart, playing so far against type she was practically a Disney villain animation, was part of the shock. Our society, apparently, needed a serious discussion about suicide among the seemingly-impervious New England Brahmins. A chord was struck and the movie was popular.

And now no one remembers it or cares either way. I suggest to you that “Fault” is in the same league. It will win Oscars. Critics will pant. Five years from now no one will watch it. This particular disease, popular for a moment in time, will fade, only to be replaced by the next touchstone disease.

“Edge”, however, will be watched again and again. The movie is funny, engaging, and beautifully acted. More importantly, though, (and this is the gist of this post) “Edge” is about the most resonant topic a movie can tackle: Exploration.

We don’t leave Earth in this movie; the aliens bring exploration to us. It’s not a big explore. Heavily action-laden, this movie is surprisingly contained in its ambition. It still counts, though, on my scorecard of exploration movies. Our knowledge of our universe — what’s out there and how we shall encounter it — is broadened.

“Edge” is a great placeholder while we wait for the granddaddy of exploration movies, due out in November. I refer, of course, to Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar“. You must click through to this lovely article with a careful overview of what’s to come. Here’s a taste:

Behind the Interstellar teaser and trailer lurks the press of that desire—the need to see for ourselves and conquer the overwhelming, threatening, tantalizing unknown. If we set aside the curiosity that drives us beyond horizons, we starve—spiritually and physically. Even though it seems an easier path to turn inward, doing so lessens us. It makes us small.

If you think about it (and I have) all Nolan does is make exploration pictures. “Inception” is an exploration of the subconscious, the dream state, and guilt. “The Prestige” explores magician craft, the edges of fantastical science, and grit. The Batman trilogy is more than an entry in the superhero genre. Especially in “The Dark Knight” heroism in relation to civilization — what kind of hero will the public accept, and at what point will the need for a hero descend into mob rule — mixes with an individual’s ability to meet this challenge. Heroism itself is explored, not just presented.

I’m very excited for “Interstellar”. I wish Hollywood would sift all scripts through an exploration-required sieve. All Disease Movie scripts, in my not-so-humble opinion, should be immediately scrapped.

Leave a Reply