Life Through the Lens: What is lost may sometimes be restored

“Some people move on. But not us…not us.”

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What do you do when something is lost? Give up? Move on? Hold tight? How long is too long? When is enough finally enough? Is this too many questions?

I remember the last time my girlfriend broke up with me. Seems like a Tuesday. I had, somewhere in the deepest regions of my heart, decided that she was “the one.” Did I tell her that? Probably not. I have always been tight-lipped with my emotions. It is almost like, if you say it out loud, it loses its power. It dissipates into the air and is no more. Spoken like a true single-man, I know.

When she left me, I was broken. Like: same sweatpants for a week, eating sleeves of Pringles like they were candy, and hissing at the sunlight like the undead. I had removed myself from the world of the fulfilled and blissful. If you needed me at that time, you would have to wait until 2a.m. and sneak into my apartment’s crawl-space; there I would be sitting in the dirt and taking apart decommissioned landmines. It was a sad and dark time for me.

If you would have asked me then about “loss,” I would have cryptically and softly expressed a hopeless-reserve. No matter how long I had to wait, no matter how many tear-soaked-emails I had to send, no matter how many hours logged in my crawl-space (metaphorically speaking, obviously), I would get her back. She was gone…but I would get her back. I had lost my love…but I would get her back.

Time passed, yet I was still drawing on my bottomless-resolve: I had to get her back. Every day that slipped-by only hardened my steadfastness – I was surer than ever of her place in my future. The loss of something truly sharpens your perception of that thing; if she hadn’t left me, I may never have expressed that love that begged for expression.

Just to calm your sympathetic heart for this love-sick-wanderer, she has now been my wife for almost eleven years! Sometimes, holding on to something lost can lead to revival. Maybe…just maybe…

***

Avengers: Endgame begins where the previous film left off: half of all life in the universe has been turned to dust. The remaining population of earth is left to struggle, grieve, and remember. We see each member of the Avengers stuck, refusing to admit that the loss is real and final. It is too painful to imagine life without the ones that were stolen away.

After years of painful daily life, something appears. SomeONE, actually. Scott Lang returns from the quantum realm, having no idea what occurred now five years earlier. He seeks out the remaining members of the Avengers, now scattered and scarred. Although five years have crawled-by for most, Scott only experienced five hours. Turns out, the quantum realm distorts time. Go figure!

Once told of this phenomenon, an idea surfaces: what if what happened didn’t have to have happened? What if the time distortion could be controlled and manipulated…kind of like a time machine. Well…exactly like a time machine. If the infinity stones could be gathered throughout time, they could then be used in the present-time to return all of the loss. All the lives.

I have noticed this trend in my life: if I give an honest critique of a Marvel movie…I tend to be scorned and hit with tomatoes (where do they even get those tomatoes? Do they carry them in their pockets for just such a moment?). I don’t dislike Marvel movies – I just sometimes expect more from the largest juggernaut (Marvel shout-out) in film history. With that being said, I enjoyed my time in the Endgame theater (MOST of the 182-minute run-time, at least).

Thanos (Josh Brolin) is a great villain; he remained menacing in his power and terrifying in his rationality. I enjoyed the emphasis on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.); his deep roots in the Marvel Universe shine. I am still a big fan of the hilariously-improved Thor (Chris Hemsworth); his humor continues to steal scene after scene. The Russo brothers created some beautiful vistas and textured scenes, as well; I am sure it is quite the task to balance all of these characters and stories and worlds and times.

Honest criticisms ahead: I struggled with the length. I struggled with the characterization of many of the characters; with so many stories, why not cut the ones that add nothing? Let’s all admit, some of these characters have absolutely run their course, as well. Closure is nice…but there is such a thing as forced or manufactured closure. I struggled with the obligatory-political-nods that are quickly becoming a norm.

REPORT CARD: Avengers: Endgame

Grade: B

Comment: Loses focus halfway through the task at hand

***

Amazing Grace is a film that had been lost. It was shot in 1972 and intended for release soon-thereafter. Due to an unfortunate oversight by the director (Sydney Pollack), though, the footage was deemed unusable. Film 101 = make sure the audio and video are synchronized. Well, he forgot to do that. The film sat in a vault for 36 years. In 2008, it was found…all 2,000 messy pieces. After weeks of meticulous editing, it was finally ready…to be buried under legal battles for another 10 years. For an unknown reason, Aretha Franklin would not allow this film to be shown. Upon her death in 2018, the film was given its moment in the sun.

The film is simple. It does not delve into backstories. It does not dramatize past struggles. It is only Aretha Franklin on two nights in Los Angeles in 1972. Period. She is recording a live gospel album and wants a real, live congregation for authenticity. What you see in Amazing Grace is that live-recording.

The beauty of this project is inescapable. We see an artist at her purest and most vulnerable. No glitz – no glamour – no magic – no distraction. She doesn’t talk – she doesn’t monologue – she doesn’t explain – she just sings. It is the most unaffected singing I’ve ever seen. The music is coursing through her veins; it is pouring out in her sweat; it is stirring every body in those seats.

I was moved, as well. I am jealous of those moments: in that building for those nights, something REAL and AUTHENTIC was happening. It is ironic that the movie struggled with synchronization because Aretha Franklin could not have been more “in sync.” In sync with the Spirit. In sync with a universal force. In sync with the undercurrent in every living thing.

One film is as complicated as a universe while the other is as simple as a song. Where others cried at the predictable demise of a few Marvel-superheroes, I shed a tear at the beauty and truth poured out in one woman’s voice. Rare yet invigorating, I allowed that tear to run all the way down my face and onto my lap. I did not hide it or wipe it away. I was honored to join her in this sincere reaction.

What is lost may sometimes be restored.

REPORT CARD: Amazing Grace

Grade: A+

Comment: The most genuine 89 minutes you’ll live all year

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