This week three rite-of-passage movies vie for attention at a moment when the rewards of maturity seem to offer more satisfaction than the pains of youth.
Steven Spielberg, Sam Mendes, and James Gray deliver candid and poignant coming-of-age dramas about broken marriages, mental health trauma, and unwitting encounters with racial inequality, respectively.
Every survivor is a story: A key element of the healing process was the impact of movies – a welcome message at a time when movies are enduring their own rite of passage.
The timing of the movie carries a certain cultural irony: It’s been a perilous week for young superstars like Musk, Zuckerberg, Bezos and Bankman-Fried, with losses and layoffs in the tech economy making headlines.
Thousands in career crisis may wonder if this generation’s billionaire moguls face the self-examination portrayed by filmmakers.
Or, Sam Bankman-Fried, aged 30, wrote: “I should have concentrated on what I was doing.” His $32 billion company, FTX, plunged into bankruptcy this week. It’s like wandering through a write-of-passage movie without saving crypto king rites.
A new class of techno-moguls would do well to review the insightful reflections of Spielberg, Mendes or Gray in their analysis of obstacles – a kind of clarity rarely found in the corporate world.
Related: ‘The Fabelmans’ trailer: Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film based on his family and childhood
in The FabelmannsA young Spielberg learns how to discover the truth through his camera, thus overcoming the anger caused by his parents’ breakup.
“My parents are real people too and sixteen is too old not to hold it against them,” he concludes. “I realized that I was in control of my films until that moment when I also discovered that I had no control over information that looked like pulverization to a child.”
Related: A new trailer for Sam Mendes’ romantic drama ‘Empire of Light’ has been released for Searchlight.
For Mendes, shooting Empire of Light This meant finally confronting his mother’s mental illness, which allowed him to “get closer to the things I’ve loved in all the experiences of my adult life.” His hometown movie theater, which he managed briefly, helped him understand “Cinema ParadiseO-like” revelations that eventually channeled his childhood trauma.
in Armageddon the time, Gray deals with the traumatic effects of his transformation from a public-to-private-school kid—a transformation that betrays his best friend, a black kid. It felt like a shock.
Related: ‘Armageddon Time’ Trailer: Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong and Anthony Hopkins Topline James Gray Picture
The main message of these films is the value of confrontation: the poignancy of youth in confronting life’s lessons and imbibing them in the behavior of the moment.
It’s tempting to speculate how Elon Musk — who paid $44 billion for Twitter — will fire half his workforce this month after threatening to fire anyone else who criticizes his decision. Musk’s personal Tesla pay package is valued at $55 billion – it’s now being challenged in a Delaware court.
Conversely, how would he react to the benign smile of Warren Buffett, who this week quietly acquired $9 billion in stocks in a recovering market.
Making a movie is itself a statement of optimism, Spielberg would argue. He says, ‘Grown people want to return to meaningful films. “It’s up to the movies to inspire people enough to say, ‘Aren’t you glad we went out tonight?’ “