I am reading/listening to Mark Manson’s Everything is F*cked, the follow-up to his fascinating tome The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and am intrigued by his description of the thinking brain and the feeling brain — the two brains we each have inside us, at war with and working with each other. To make a long story short, one of his arguments is that the feeling brain makes a lot of the decisions and the thinking brain provides rational cover for them.
So my wandering mind(s) wondered about the rankings of my favorite movies that I cite from time to time:
Is my favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life really the film I consider the best I’ve ever seen, or does it have to do with the first time I saw it, on a Christmas Eve when I was all alone and as depressed as I’ve ever been?
Is No. 2 The Wizard of Oz because its craftsmanship stands up to more than 80 years of viewing, or because it reminds me of innocent childhood and being charmed out of my skull by its magical tale?
Is No. 3 Casablanca because it’s brilliantly written, acted and directed, or because it was so much fun seeing it for the first time with a lecture hall full of my fellow 1970s-era college students who erupted in cheers after the follow-up to the tautly delivered line, “Major Strasser has been shot!”
Is No. 4 E.T. The Extraterrestrial because John Williams’ score is so incredibly operatic in its composition, or because I first saw it in a town 1,000 miles away when I was lonely and anxious to make it home?
Is No. 5, Arrival, my favorite movie of the 21st century so far because of the intensely intellectual puzzle its protaganist must unravel, or because my heart swelled with the movie’s real message about entering a relationship even knowing your heart will surely be broken in the end?
Well, of course the answer to each question is “Yes.”
I think I answered the questions a long time ago, when I stopped calling my top-ten list “the best movies I’ve ever seen” and started calling them “my favorite movies.” But Manson’s book helped me understand consciously what my subconscious couldn’t put into words.
Manson’s books make me think. That may be my highest praise.