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#365. Dedication

With the New Year fast approaching, it’s time to look back and see what resolutions we accomplished in 2018. While many factors contribute to successful resolutions, including realistic goals with measurable results, the most significant factor that can lead to success is dedication. Even the most impossible of resolutions can be accomplished with enormous amounts of commitment. Those who are dedicated to their goals and dreams can frequently overcome the odds stacked against them through persistence and focused effort. As many of us gear up to set our New Year’s resolutions, we need to assess how dedicated we are to accomplishing them. Of course, dedication can take some extremes as well, and there’s no better place to see extremes in action than at the movies. This week’s two films highlight dedication in its various forms.

WhiplashWhiplash
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours

An often-referenced metric from Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. This timeframe is usually tied to learning how to play an instrument, but it can be applied to other skills as well. However, what if you’re in a competition for that mastery? Since Gladwell came out with this expertise metric, studies have shown that dedication is only part of the equation (if not an entirely inaccurate measuring stick). Sometimes natural talent can put some individuals above others, even with the less-talented being more dedicated to their craft. This is why we find young prodigies to be inspiring since they aren’t old enough to have reached those 10,000 hours yet. Of course, trying to overcome this talent disparity with dedication alone can sometimes prove detrimental to one’s health. It’s at these points when you have to ask yourself, “Is this a hobby, or an obsession?”

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) wants to become one of the best drummers in existence, so he dedicates himself to practicing his craft. This dedication grabs the attention of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the conductor of a competitive jazz band, leading him to bring Andrew on as a backup to the lead drummer. While Andrew is dedicated to his drumming, Fletcher is an extreme perfectionist, often resorting to violence to get his point across. Undeterred, Andrew manages to usurp the lead drumming position through the memorization of one of the band’s pieces, thus not requiring the missing sheet music. And yet, when another drummer is brought in to be Andrew’s backup, his dedication goes into overdrive, sacrificing his relationships and body, but still coming up short. After a series of events that leads to both Andrew and Fletcher’s dismissals, Andrew has one last chance to show his dedication to Fletcher.

Saving Private RyanSaving Private Ryan
Year: 1998
Rating: R
Length: 169 minutes / 2.82 hours

Sometimes the concept of dedication can be a life-or-death choice. If the firefighter is not dedicated, people can die. If the doctor is not dedicated, people can die. If the soldier is not dedicated, people can die. As you can see, many professions rely on dedication to get the job done, but also to ensure the greater good of society is maintained. While there are often situations where these professionals will find the deck stacked against them, they can usually incur scandal upon themselves for not being dedicated enough to their job when something disastrous happens. After all, quitting is easy, but dedication produces results. These results might never be publicly recognized, but they are important to someone, namely the person who was saved by these individuals’ dedication to their challenging careers.

Even though World War II allies gained a strategic foothold in Europe during D-Day, it also resulted in numerous deaths. Of four brothers, James Ryan (Matt Damon) is the only survivor of the war so far. This prompts the War Department to extract him from the front lines to prevent complete tragedy for the whole Ryan family. Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) is tasked with retrieving Private Ryan, which proves to be difficult in the chaos that is war. Eventually, Captain Miller and his team manage to track down Ryan, who refuses to leave because he is currently involved in defending a vital bridge from German attack. With no way to convince him otherwise, Miller and his men join Ryan in defense of the bridge from German Panzers. Most of these men die in the fight, but will Ryan survive to return home safely?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 dedicated dudes

5 responses to “#365. Dedication

  1. Pingback: End of Act Seven | Cinema Connections

  2. Pingback: #033. Tom Hanks | Cinema Connections

  3. Pingback: #080. Steven Spielberg | Cinema Connections

  4. Pingback: #367. War Heroes | Cinema Connections

  5. Pingback: #373. Life | Cinema Connections

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