There was a little detail I noticed toward the end of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). After 130 minutes or so of this cloying, clichéd, utterly stupefyingly dull and uninteresting movie I believed my sensibilities had been bludgeoned beyond repair. Perhaps I had lost my capacity to love movies or, more accurately, had it taken from me by everlasting sequences of mindless sensation driven by a script so recycled it should get a fucking Earth Day medal. I sat there in a daze of an unending barrage of noise and light, broken by the constant drip of this Chinese superhero torture, wondering if I’d ever be cheerful again. I was reminded of what Ali said after the Thrilla in Manilla—“Closest thing to dyin’ that I know of.”
It was then that I noticed something, there was something in Peter Parker’s bedroom. Peter had recently defeated the bad guys but at a terrible price, and he had lost his will to go on (I could relate). He was doing something ultimately pointless and unimportant so I stopped paying attention to him and noticed that behind him hung a poster for Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 masterpiece Blow-Up. Reader, go see that movie. Watch it; let its originality and love of art reenergize your soul in these troubled times. Wrap yourself in its warm cinematic folds, use it as your bastion against movies like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which do not respect you and think of you as gobsmacked, mouth-breathing vessels whose only use is for the carrying of wallets.
As you watch Blow-Up notice that you are being told a story, one that has a point of view. Notice that you are looking at characters who say things we believe they would say and do things that make sense. Notice that you are not filled with an overwhelming sense of self-loathing. Look at the way the filmmaker wanted to tell you something that was deeply personal to him, take note of the way in which his point of view informed everything you were watching, and notice how sequences lead into one another as if part of one cohesive unit, not thrown together willy-nilly like the dim kid’s art project.
Think of a spider. Its eight legs are used to move the spider forward. Its extra limbs give it the ability to have extra dexterity but only when they work as a team. Think of a spider that is sprawled out with each of its legs being pulled in a different direction. It’s cruel to do this to a spider. It’s cruel to do that to an audience. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn’t know how to begin and it certainly doesn’t know how to end. It has so many pointless sequences it can be argued that its entire running time is one incessantly pointless sequence. It features two Oscar winners and an Oscar nominee and some of the finest young acting talent available today, which seems odd considering that many of the characters wear masks. Its concept of character motivation is nonexistent. It reads at a third-grade level. It has two scenes of massively dangerous, property-destroying showdowns in the streets of New York. Both of these scenes draw a crowd of civilians who are just there to watch. During the second one, I yelled at the screen, “Why are you watching this?” Who was I really screaming at, them or me?
I have limited energy. I have better things to do. So do you. So do we all. Blow-Up is a beautiful movie; it’s rich and deep and interesting. It’s about things that matter; it makes people consider themselves and the world they live in. Its story of a man who found a way out of his own ennui and inaction through the stirring power of fresh images took on an extra poignancy as I faced crippling apathy brought on by tepid moviemaking. Blow-Up is a miracle and it can happen again, oh yes, it can.