OFF THE SILVER SCREEN: CANCER IN THE FAMILY NO MATCH FOR CRITIC'S LOVE FOR FILM

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By Brian Lafferty

 

September 13, 2010 (San Diego) -- Today I will venture out into the Realm of the Off Topic. What follows is not exactly movie-related but I feel compelled to talk about the last few weeks and how they have affected me. I’m sure some of you may feel the same way I do after reading this post.

 

The last few weeks have been a trying time for me and for my family. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks ago. On Thursday, she had successful surgery and now she’s home and doing very well, much better than the wonderful doctors and nurses anticipated.  Over the next six to twelve months she will have chemotherapy.

 

In the last few weeks I have fully experienced first hand what happens when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. My mother had barely any worries that I could see (still doesn’t, in fact); if she was really concerned, she did a good job not showing it. In fact, I was probably more worried than she was. My all-day stay at the hospital had me a little on edge. When I was calm and subdued, I worked on my handwritten rough draft of I’m Still Here review.

 

Despite all this, I go to every screening I can, which has numbered three to four a week. It has always been said nearly to the point of being cliche, that movies work well as a distraction and a means of escape from all one’s troubles and now I have proof. I offer two recent screenings as examples of the power of movies.

 

The day my mother told me she might have cancer was the day I went to see Going the Distance. In fact, I was informed only an hour or two before the screening. Somewhat devastated and in shock, I still went and, if my review of that movie was any indication, I had a lot of fun. I forgot all about the cancer and had a great time.

 

On the other end of the spectrum I saw on Friday morning a screening of a documentary called A Film Unfinished. The movie detailed the production of an uncompleted Nazi propaganda film and the majority of it contained footage from that film. This footage was depressing, shocking, brutal, disturbing and left me feeling sad and cold. This was not even twenty-four hours after my mother’s surgery.

 

Yet, despite watching this very grim film (which I liked, by the way; my review will come when it’s released) I didn’t think about my mother. The images could have easily triggered worries about my family and they could have depressed me so much that I could have just walked out. This is definitely not the type of film you want to go to intending to get away from your life’s problems and it certainly isn’t entertaining. The documentary worked because the subjects (Jews who were sequestered in a Warsaw ghetto with deplorable living conditions and filmed by the Nazis) were strong-willed and full of hope.

 

These films could not be any more different but they share one unique trait: the ability to let me escape. I never worry about what the future holds, I never think about my family, and I don’t feel afraid. I attribute this to the fact that I simply love watching movies. Movie theaters are mysterious. No matter if it’s the Edwards in Mira Mesa, the Ken Cinema, the Landmark Hillcrest, or the AMC in Mission Valley, movie theaters have a certain magic to them. It’s like they ensnare you in their own unique universe and all the worries you have, all of the reminders of the things you’ll have to do when you get home, and every nagging thought are kept out. It’s as if the theater doors have a mind of their own by not letting these things through.

 

I will still be around. I still go to three to four screenings a week and I will continue to do so. Whatever distractions I may and will have over the next year are no match for my love for movies. Movies have kept me going and they will get me through this.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian Lafferty
 

Comments

Brian, best wishes for you and your Mom.

i'm sorry to hear about her cancer, and know how hard it is to deal with a parent's serious illness.  Do spend as much time with her as you can.

 

It sounds like she is fortunate to have good insurance, which so many people can't get nowadays.  I know several people with cancer who can't even get the treatments that they need due to our terrible healthcare system and insurance companies that refuse to cover people when they need help the most.