I had a friend once who claimed that there was no point in listening to a record or seeing a movie that was merely good, that to invest the money and time, it should be great. I later caught him listening to -- and enjoying almost to the point of tears -- a CD that would never be described by anyone as great. The point is that sometimes a good movie does wonders for the soul that a great movie could never hope to replicate. Take a look at Iron Man, still on nearly 4000 screens and still raking in the returns. It's well on its way to earning $300 million and shows no signs of stopping there. It's currently the #1 highest grossing film of the year, as well as one of the top rated films at Rotten Tomatoes, with a whopping 93%. I'm one of the movie's fans, but it seems to me that this response is based more on sheer gratitude than anything else. Everyone seems to be simultaneously chiming in: thanks for the good movie!

2008 has been a lousy year for great movies, but I have seen quite a few good ones. The documentary Young@Heart (212 screens), for example, has continued to live in my memory long after I saw it, and long after any of the award-winning Iraq documentaries I've had to sit through. I suspect that it's one of those rare, word-of-mouth docs like March of the Penguins or Grizzly Man that people actually tell their friends about. I don't want to give anything away, but before I saw the movie I didn't care much for the band Coldplay, and now I can't listen to "Fix You" without getting a lump in my throat. The key to this movie is that it looked terrible before I went in, and it turned out to be a huge and happy surprise.

categories Columns, Cinematical