What the Last Four Feature Films I Saw Taught Me About Money

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Spoilers below.

God Help The Girl: You don’t need money to make art… to a point. You can write a brilliant song, but you need money if you want to hire a band to back you up (and yes, the best musicians won’t work for free). You also need money if you want to turn your songs into a record. You can do a lot with friends and supporters, and you can get a boost if a local DJ plays your music on the radio, but at some point you need to make the choice: are you going to invest in your career—with money, education and time—or are you just going to hang out and jam and make stuff just for yourself? God Help The Girl did not shy away from this question, and that was one of my favorite parts of the movie.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: If you wind up in a hospital and the first thing out of your mouth when you realize where you are is “we can’t afford this,” the movie should really take that plot point seriously. Money gets shunted to the background in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, besides the obligatory “this teenager is so rich that she steals just to feel” bit. We never know how Charlie’s parents pay his medical bills. We never know how Sam (or her parents) pay for Penn State. We do know that Mary Elizabeth has to hustle up money to print her zine, which seems like a missed note; printing and photocopying doesn’t cost that much, and one of those families should have had a pretty sweet printer in the basement anyway.

Female Trouble: You can make an entire movie about class, fame, beauty, crime, and cruelty without ever once mentioning money. That’s right, isn’t it? I saw Female Trouble as part of The Modern School of Film’s FILM: MASTERS series, and I am in no way a film master nor a John Waters expert, but as soon as I thought “what am I going to write about this movie for The Billfold,” I thought “wait, despite everything else that happened in the movie, money wasn’t ever a part of the story.” I wonder if that’s significant.

Point Break: Don’t rob banks. It’ll go badly.

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