Finding comfort in what's familiar
After years of one crisis after another, Americans are sometimes taking a pass -- which is fine, to a point.
What we watch has an impact on us — so it’s OK to take a break, if we don’t descend into apathy.
You know what happens at the end of “West Side Story,” right? Or what doesn’t happen: Tony and Maria don’t get to move into a suburban bungalow and raise kids, any more than Romeo and Juliet inherit Castella Montague in Verona. It’s sad. No, it’s worse than that. “Never was a story so woe,” Shakespeare asserts.
Woe being all about us these days, perhaps you can understand, then, why my wife and I didn’t finish watching Stephen Spielberg’s celebrated new “West Side Story” the other night. The young lovers were so beautiful, their faces so shining with hope — especially in the scene on a tenement fire escape, as they professed their devotion to each other — that we couldn’t bear to let the last images of our day be witnessing their fate. Even if the movie is “a dazzling display of filmmaking craft,” as A.O. Scott wrote in The New York Times, who wants to watch a tragedy in fiction when we are …