What the hell happened? Weren’t we all pretty much tired of the excruciating urban plastic driven life back in 2007? Did we all forget the dangers of rigid society structures and the lack of meaning inherent in a safe yet highly hierarchical life style, where the individual becomes no more than a piece of the system? Wasn’t the real zeitgeist about becoming one self? Are those existentialist books still selling like bread in the bookstores? So many questions… And I remember the impact that Into the Wild had in me when I first watched. Questions layered, answers given, it was a life changing experience… nowadays… I guess I know better.
Judging by the self revelation of the protagonist Chris, by the end of the movie, I guess director Sean Penn had a similar reflection after making his way into the life of this crazy kid who wanted to find true meaning in a world that seemed bend on delivering tons of passive aggressive damage and little real enlightenment. What’s that you ask? Well, he’s just a kid! And I get it, I’ve been there. People want space, they search for meaning and it’s true also… meaning is everywhere, trick is to choose. I mean, there are a number of hints throughout the movie that serve to show us the real conflict here, but let’s give a chance to Chris to express it better… he says:
“Some people feel they don’t deserve love, they walk into empty spaces trying to close the gaps on their past”.
I mean… let’s face it, who other than a very depressive person dives deep into philosophy trying to find some logical support to their own existence, especially after witnessing the devastating effects that society style of life has on people, at this point we zone in parents. Chris sees them as enemies, he even ridiculize them with phony descriptions fitting some sociological theory about the subject he hates so much, the life he’s been pushed to follow. But to me all of this masquerades some deeper truth, that Chris actually hates his own existence, unable to accept the fact that human beings are essentially a beehive, I mean who can actually cope with such an idea!
So, I don’t think is necessary to talk much about the plot, I have the feeling most people have already watched this movie. Let’s just say that it focuses on Chris and his decision to leave all of his secured life behind in an attempt to “be in the moment” as he says, and that to me it feels more like trying to control the thoughts penetrating his mind (depression style) but anyways… He leaves everything behind and actually finds meaning in others, meeting a bunch of people close to his way of thinking, but unable to stay with either of them because of his inherent weakness, Chris is unable to be happy because of his family past, to him the bare feeling of being part of a family means pain, so he escapes, time and time again from people that actually cares deeply for him, until fucking it up and getting trapped in Alaska, like a million miles from people.
Thinking about Captain Wonderful, last movie we spoke about, I guess in there the deep issue is solved by means of family, right? because being alone in the middle of Alaska, Chris quickly realizes how boring it is to not having anyone to share. Not soon after this revelation, that life is better spent with others, he dies from food poisoning. Talk about a stubborn person! he had to be poisoned and dying to understand the value of having others around, that’s insane!
BTW, I don’t remember any of the get out of society stuff in here, it almost feels like secondary at this point. My thinking goes to the character interpreted by Vince Vaughn, he seems to be the perfect balance between society and free spirit, shame that he ends up in jail…
Some ideas are right even when they’re wrong, that seems to be the leiv motiv behind Captain Fantastic, a film that states a powerful idea, that the things we consider normal or necessary are often not what they seem to be and that the real value comes from results, specially in regards of what it means to be a human being, body and mind together, empowered by preparation and with the bravery to face any obstacle in the way to a goal, freedom of being. How drastically conditions change when a human being faces reality with only a few tools, a lot of knowledge and a courageous heart? Watch this movie and find out!
Reality, that’s what Captain Fantastic is all about. A picture of a world where real knowledge delivers on its self fulfilled promise of enlightenment, to know something to be true but also to rejoice on the support of thinkers alike, specially when it comes to family.
So, what’s this story about? Well, it’s about this family, right? a bunch of kids living with their father in the middle of the forest. They hunt, they climb, they play music and they study under a strict routine stablished by the head of the tribe, Ben. Yet, this seemingly idyllic situation starts crumbling when we find out the mother of the bunch dies after struggling for a long time with a severe mental illness. The group makes the decision to attend her funeral, even risking a possible separation due to the possibility of the father being arrested because of the peculiar life style he has chosen for his children, but also because of the antagonist of the story, the mother’s father, who blames Ben for her suffering and death. So, the bunch travels to the funeral and also experiences a much needed interaction with what is often called “the real world” which is nothing more than society or “city style living”.
What’s interesting here is that, from the family’s perspective, it’s this other way of living, the real world living, that seems like sick or making people sick. They watch this first when having to attend to a bank, where they meet a bunch of overweight people in the waiting line. Then, we see a teenager smoking a cigarette while the older son of Ben practices his exercises. Then it’s the mother’s sister’s kids who can only play videogames and seem not to know anything about the constitution, while Ben’s eight year old daughter can recite the entire thing by memory. It may seem like a stretch at this point, but you know what? this is actually truth. I mean, we’re not gonna argue about the quality of school education at this point, most of them are garbage. Also, society doesn’t exactly encourage anyone to study or to have a healthy lifestyle, on the contrary!!
Thing is, the movie sells you so well the idea that Ben’s way of teaching is the best approach to parenthood that when the whole thing collapses it kinda breaks your spirit. Only then we understand the real value of society, because let’s face it, even with all the toxic stuff that it produces, society also has a lot of good things going on for us, the users. The first thing to understand here is that deep inside, Ben is a selfish person. In here we must remember that initial idea, “some ideas are right even when they’re wrong”, because Ben might be right in the sense that his method brings results, but even then his family can’t be prisoner of his desires. Truth is, they want to be a part of society, they want to experience this other and new world, to know new people and test themselves. Truth be told, it’s kinda time for Ben to let go of their children and the way it happens is by means of a person just like him, a father, his wife’s father. You see? how cool is that! the antagonistic force of the movie is a person with completely different ideology from Ben, but pursuing the same goal, to protect his family.
Near the end comes the best part, so Jack (wife’s father) stops Ben by not listening to him and not giving up on his own viewpoint, using society itself (in the form of police enforcement) to persuade him from taking one of his sons away from their grandparents. This happens because this particular son doesn’t want to be with Ben, accusing him of seemingly killing their mother by refusing to leave the forest they live in. Ben accepts and leaves, yet he doesn’t back away from the fact that he’s correct in his decisions, making one of his daughters go after this rebel son, to liberate him from the grandparents house. The result? this daughter takes a fall from the roof and seriously injures herself. Coping with the consequences of his decisions, Ben learns that his wife had actually decided to stay with him, giving him the right about the whole living in the woods thing. Yet, Ben leaves without his family, understanding that he can’t force anyone to live the way he think is better.
I know there’s someone out there that’s gonna hate me for saying all this… a movie hater I know…
There are some movies that signal a sort of changing of the tides, a new way of reflecting a reality often overpopulated with the same sort of view points, because ultimately… aren’t movies a viewpoint into reality? No? What do you mean? Well, let me say this… Lost in translation does this, it dives into reality in a different way, expressing some sort of randomness inherent in all of our experiences as humans, yet at the same time expressing the life full of meaning that love provides. And the best part is… this movie feels like Hamlet… you know why Hamlet is considered the best story ever written? You wanna know? Okay, let’s talk about it!
So, what’s Lost in Translation about? Let’s hear it from the director herself, shall we? Sofia Coppola says that this movie is about “the feeling of looking for your place in a world in which you don’t belong immediately”. Talk about a high concept, uh? So, the story is about these two characters, Bob and Charlotte. Bob is a declining and “child like attitude” actor and charlotte is a condescending and annoying smartass young woman. What a delightful pair… thing is, both are in Tokio and both are hating the experience of being there, mostly because they’re both lost in their own lives, seemingly unhappy/trying to escape a reality that is closing in on them. For Bob is the fact that he’s escaping fatherhood and a normal parental life at the US, for Charlotte is the fact that her husband has an actual job and responsibilities and cannot stay at the hotel having sex and partying all day long. Are you already noticing the stakes here? yeah, you’re right, the conflict is about these two not being able to function properly in these new life they’re facing, a world beyond their childish desires and impulses. Yet in finding each other, they find themselves, we can’t say that in a good way, but at least they find some sort of meaning that moves them out of the inertia they were trapped on before.
So, yeah… it’s a love story between an older dude and a young woman. Put it like that sound kinda strange, and I’m not gonna express myself too much about that. I’ll only say that to me both are adults and adults can do whatever they want. What I really want to talk about is the inherent randomness that is felt throughout the whole movie. Normally, when you watch a movie, specially a weak scripted one, you kinda get the feeling that each action a character does leads to a concrete goal or consequence, kinda like a perfectly arranged chain of causal events. Well, let me tell you this… life is not like this at all. In real life we don’t really ever know if an action we’ve chosen will have the impact we desire, there’s no real way to know if our current situation will lead to something concrete in the future. Life is random, that’s the truth of all. Hamlet, the story about the dumb prince of Denmark does this in the most amazing of ways. This is the reason Shakespeare’s melodrama is considered the best story ever written. Just go and read it, every action he takes in order to avenge his father’s supposed death leads to nothing. there’s no single concrete causality in that story, and you know what? Lost in translation kinda feels the same way.
Okay, so maybe Lost in Translation isn’t the best movie of all times, I mean hardly… I’ts not even a compelling love story. Yet is this randomness it portrays and the powerful experience of falling in love that elevates this strange attempt at painting life in movement to the status of a masterpiece in filmmaking. Imagine if all movies, no matter the genre, could achieve this, for now only the likes of Sofia or Quentin can tell the real tale… who’s coming next?
I’ll admit it, I suck at editing, after writing a full story I usually take a lot of time before going for the second draft. This is because the actual process of writing the full script is often quite exhausting and to relive all over again really sounds like a nightmare just freakin’ ending, you know? But we all know this also, editing and revising your script is probably the most important part of the whole process, is the real carving of the stone, after kinda having an idea about what you were trying to say when finishing that awful first draft, it’s now time to polish those edges, to find the real shine, the true north you were aiming at with such creative endeavour.
So, how do you do it? Is there an optimal way to do so? Everyone has their own ways of doing these kind of stuffs. Either way, whether you’re a “I do it all on my own and don’t take shit from no one” type of person or you’re actually welling to be exposed to some good ideas about this process…
Here there are 20 steps to help you edit and revise your story!
Start with easy fixes.
Don’t concentrate immediately in those super complex things like character arc or some blatant plot holes here and there. Just go about checking the typos you’ve had, maybe cut some of those hateful adverbs, run some spell checks. This will familiarize you with the story, because either way you have to read it again to do these easy fixes.
Omit needless words
Check the words you’re using, is every single one of them really necessary? Maybe some descriptions you were using went way too poetical or something? Nothing wrong with it, just that many people think this is completely unnecessary given the cold heartless nature of movie producers, right?
Cut where you’re doing the reader’s thinking.
You know about this, c’mon! It’s the old show, don’t tell rule all over again. If we’re inside the character’s mind is not good, if we’re describing something we’re not seeing we’re definitely writing way more than we should.
Cut stage directions.
This is something I’ve done from time to time. My feeling is, if you’re completely sure the direction you’re giving is crucial to convey the idea you’re trying to make, then do it. But for the most part, try to omit doing this, give the cinematographer a chance at adding to the story, okay?
Insure consistent character motivation.
Try to stay consistent about the actions your character is doing in any given scene. If he’s doing something out of character it must be because he’s changing or has changed, not because you suddenly forgot what he was supposed to be like.
Ask yourself, has an action happened in the first paragraph?
In other words, be concrete about your action lines. Don’t lose yourself in highly boring yet stylize descriptions about the setting or characters, get to the point and fast, always remember that people get bored super-fast these days.
Ask yourself, is my story coherent?
How to know about this you ask? Don’t worry, just pay attention to the physical and emotional details you’re using in building your world and actions, are they constant throughout the whole script, does any change happen because of the result of actions?
Are there complete scenes?
This ties into the stuff we were discussing last time, but I know… you didn’t read it. How surprising! Let give a quick summary of the 5 points to a good scene:
Specific intimate details
Inner point of view
Definitive starting point and end point.
Just do a check list on these things, are they there, are they good, is it all clear? Maintain a show, don’t tell attitude throughout the whole process to really cut all the excess here, only the good stuff should remain. Even if you leave telling stuff here, it would be because it’s really worth it.
Ask yourself, do I start each scene with something active?
The first previous rule on the 5 points thing states that the scene must start with an action, right in the stuff, you know. Now, this is not obligatory obviously, many times we start by setting the atmosphere or even the relationship of the characters, but one thing we must never forget is that in any scene the idea is that one character does something because they want something.
Avoid writing in passive voice.
Now, this is a thing most commonly found in novel writing, but it can also help to remember in writing screenplays. Avoid making descriptions starting with “there is…” or “there are”, It kinda pulls the reader away from the original POV, which must be as close as it can from the action.
Is setting working?
This one is important, how does the setting you’ve chosen actually helps to further develop the story you’re portraying. What does it say about the characters, but more importantly, how does it impact the overall conflict you’re setting, it can’t be just the background scenery where stuff happens.
Are my characters acting in a believable way?
Are their flaws believable and compelling enough, are the actions they undertake physically and emotionally understandable. Remember that flawed characters always desire something.
Are the transitions clear?
This is so important to maintain pacing in the script, the way you move from one scene to the next. There’s a technique in storyboard making that can help give a clue at this stage. Is the idea of guiding the eye from one image to the next trying to match the composition of the frames between the cuts. You either guide the eye into the next point of interest via movement or you match the same point in the cut. Same way, when transitioning from one scene to the next you need to remember from where you came and to where you’re going.
Does my story fit together?
This means to ask yourself if all of the scenes you’ve chosen to tell the tale have a cohesive unit going on. Is every scene chosen completely necessary and important in the chain of events? Pay special attention to scenes that deviate from the actual theme and character arc of the story, if a scene is not related to any of these elements you should cut it.
Did I explain the risks for each character?
We all know that a character that takes risks is the one that tells a story, yet we need to be able to understand why the character is taking such risks and what do they tell us about himself.
Did I explain the consequences of these risks?
Having a character taking risks and then facing consequences makes for a character that generates sympathy from the audience, so keep this idea in mind when choosing the actions your character takes, the reasons and the aftermath.
Does every sentence deepen a character or advance the plot?
We’ve said this before, it’s cause is so important… if it doesn’t, then cut it!!
Is the second draft at least 10% shorter than the first?
This is a no brainer, the idea of editing a script is to take out the excess of it, if you end up with a bigger script or the same then something is not working out, right?
Am I ready to discard pages that aren’t working?
This one comes from the previous one, you really need to be willing to take those pages and toss them aside, it’s the only way to make the story better.
Is what you meant in your head clear in the page?
Just ask yourself, was my initial idea, those feelings and gut stuff that sets you up for hours and days of typing words into blank spaces, and the actual writing the same? Even similar enough not to end up understanding you wrote a completely different thing? Nothing wrong with that btw, but the idea is that you check if your mental north and the actual writing are pointing in the same direction.
So, there you have it. 20 steps to really put your script in the next level with some editing and a lot of letting go. Kinda like a working routine for your first draft, which btw, get used to the idea is gonna suck anyways. Just take the pressure off and go at it again, and again and again. That’s the writing gig, as you remember!
Man… sometimes is so hard to find movies to inspire you, I feel this is specially hard these days with a strange focus in fantasy and over drama taken over current stream of new movies. Sometimes you just want a good ol’ story about a character facing some complications but overcoming them with bravery and some powerful emotional scenes here and there. We want triumph stories that can push us to do better, to keep going forwards towards those elusive paths of life that come to us from time to time. Jobs (2013) is… not one of those movies…
It’s really unfortunate actually, as there are some elements in here that may lead you to believe you’re in for some “push hard and accomplish” sort of story, yet a weak script and plain execution take any chances of finding a really engaging movie. This is more like an overview of a life, some scattered scenes that try to paint some cohesive image about a man lead by his own guts and “being your own boss” attitude towards the creation of an entire empire. I mean, you don’t even understand how he did it by watching the movie. Remember that sequence in “The Social Network” where Mark Zuckerberg explains why Facebook will be so appealing to others, starting with the exclusivity of Harvard into people giving their own information? well in this case none of it is here. Okay, there’s an actual explanation about computer components, given in a brief presentation, but watching the movie we never get to see this often praised smart man who seems to be angry all the time and can only yell orders to others doing some actual work. It seems he actually doesn’t, but is good at making others work for him. Is this his actual genius?
Now, as I said before, the major problem with the movie is that makes an overview of aspects in Steve Job’s life, but doesn’t develops any of them. There’s a particular scene where Steve has a number of successes and other failures, and then his friend Woznick comes to tell him he’s quitting the company. He starts saying awful things at Steve, like he’s alone and that his life must be awful. Yet we see nothing to suggest Steve is having a hard time. Worst thing is, the scene is supposed to be super emotional with some strong acting from both actors involved, but how can we be emotionally engaged with it if we don’t know what the hell are they talking about? And you know what? the movie doesn’t try to hide this issue at all, just watch the first sequence of it. Steve Jobs comes out to an audience to show the new iPod. The shots are from far away, as trying not to show the actor’s characterization, then focuses mainly on dumb reactions from public attending, like they get excited or overwhelmed at the most uninspired speech ever… I mean c’mon!
I haven’t watched the other movie about Steve Jobs, maybe it’s better… I don’t know. Thing is, just from watching this one you get the feeling that to be truly successful in life you have to be an asshole, there’s no way around it. Either you yell at others and lie your way though success or you low your head and help the ones that do this to grab a piece of the pie. Is this ho things truly are? I guess you don’t want to know…
How can a movie with almost no character development have an impact in an audience? Because in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty we barely know anything about the characters, there’s even a completely stereotypical antagonist, a “bad boss” whose lines are the worst by far in the movie. There are so many elements that make this a mediocre movie about self actualization, yet somehow, the movie manages to hook the audiences and deliver a fun ride with a lot of feel good vibes. How the hell is this possible??? Well, the simple answer lies in the actors, mainly Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig, both of them delivering a compelling and warm interpretation of innocent characters facing the end of their life of coworkers while finding each other in the midst of change.
But let’s start from the beginning, shall we? So the movie is about Walter, right? He’s this guy who’s always imagining things in his life, mostly because he’s not having the most amazing of them. So, he’s constantly phasing out into these fantasies of adventures and cool moments, mostly involving his love interest, Cheryl. Things turn bad when, in a double revelation, Walter finds out there’s a photograph missing from top photographer Sean and also, that the magazine he’s working on (Life magazine) it’s gonna close for good. Trying to escape the consequences of not having the picture, mostly fear of change I would argue (because of the dad dying and so on), Walter is driven to go to Sean in the hopes of regaining the picture he desperately needs somehow, this part is kinda confusing.
Beyond that point, the movie becomes a sort of adventure flick, in which Walter has to find his way up to Sean, facing many dangers like sharks in the ocean, an erupting volcano, some warlords in Afghanistan and so on. This journey marks the transition between the frightened and passive Walter from the beginning of the movie and into the more confident (inner child regained) one that comes back only to face his dismissal from the job, not being able to find the picture. In a strange but satisfactory self revelation scene, Walter rises even above Sean, his hero, when realizing that the picture he was looking was placed in a wallet gifted to Walter for his birthday. Walter gets mad and tells Sean that doing this was a bad move, to irresponsible for such an important thing. I guess by this point, the child in Walter (dead when the father died) and the adult Walter are merging into one cohesive unit, signalling the self actualization, right?
So, there you have it, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a movie with a mediocre script and some borderline annoying stereotypical characters rising from the dirt to become some sort of classic, I mean, is not like a cult classic or anything, but is not a bad movie either. What do you think? Have you watched it? was your life completely changed after doing so? I guess no… but you can still try, c’mon!!
There are movies that go so deep into the human condition that the lines between good and bad blur to the point where everything seems the same, right or wrong become a commodity for non struggling bystanders, not accustomed to the suffering of those who’re struggling to build their path in a world that is not caring but cold and hard. “The Pursuit of Happyness” is kinda like that, not exactly crude like an Iñarratu or Cuaron movie in its portrait of reality, but compensating that lack of flesh and bone exposed with a complex series of complications and a protagonist who knows he can’t give up not for even a second if he wants to accomplish his goal, and this makes for an outstanding movie about overcoming impossible situations to achieve that thing the title reveals… Happiness.
So, what’s the movie about? IT’s about this man, right? Chris Gardner , the protagonist! okay, so he’s a man who struggles because of a bad investment. He spends all of his saving in a bunch of machines no one seems to want to buy. They’re some medical machines that are not really necesary, so he has this huge problem of not being able to sell them. At the same time, his wife has been pulling double shifts to keep the family on float and this has taken it’s toll on her, she doesn’t want to even see her husband because of all the stress and anger. In the middle of all this is Christopher, Chris’s son, who attends an awful daycare center because both parents have to work all day. In a really smart inciting incident, Chris makes the decision to apply to an internship in a stockbrokers training program, meeting both the opportunity of a lifetime and loosing her wife, who doesn’t believe in him anymore and wants to escape to a better life. Chris decision is to protect his son, demanding his wife to leave him with him and go away. From this point forward, Chris alone has to cope with an internship that doesn’t pay any money, studying while finding ways to make some money to keep living, and man… the things he has to do are proof of the endurance of the human life, his grip and intelligence, his focus and strength are an spectacle in itself, by far the most amazing thing the movie has to offer.
I guess all of this tells us that in order to achieve greatness, one must have it in them first, being smart, being focused, being brave and relentless, but also that one must find that way in which all of these elements can push you to accomplish greatness, crazy reflection here… it’s all in oneself to do it, or as Chris tells to his son… “Don’t let anyone say you can’t do something, you want to do something… you do it”.
Before ending this review I want to stop for a minute to talk about the script, is often said that in the best stories you can’t easily point out the beat you’re currently watching. Movies like “The Pursuit of Happyness” have this, they’re so well crafted that they seem like a constant stream of events, not determined or structured by story beats or clearly followed structures, I feel to write like this one has to be a master of structures and plot points so good at it that one can simply forget about them and just write, cause the sense of them is already in the craft, you just have to trust it.
For those who are reading I have a question, when was the last time you felt you were being yourself? no branding on your side but your naked flesh and thoughts, when was it?
There are certain movies that come to you just at the right time. Better put, you find certain movies in special places of your own journey. It has to do with some unconscious search for meaning, for guidance and stories are always there to shine a light in dark places. Tick Tick… Boom did that for me anyways, it reminded me the reason for all the struggle in finding meanings of expression, in not complying to the form, to the ever present tentacles of consumerism and faceless corporate self expression. Cause now more than ever we’re being sucked into branding and conform, to the one-dimensional man predicted by Herbert Marcuse, that being sucked out of all forms of authenticity, all means of originality, forced into industrial replication and easily understandable placing in the chain of production.
Okay, you don’t need to answer right now, let me tell you about the story first. This is about musical theatre composer and performer Jonathan Larson, who’s on his way to turn 30 having done anything with his life, in the formal social sense of the idea, struggling to put together his opera prima “Superbia” and hopefully use it to build a career as a musical composer in New York. Now, as he does this he has to face a number of complications arising mostly from the life he carries and the people around him. At the beginning of the movie, it’s stated that Jon has an almost completely artists based circle of friends. but as the movie progresses we come to understand that many of them chose to follow different careers due to the difficulties to survive or make it as one. This being the quintessential problem that artists around the globe face every day, right? the inability to make money out of self expression.
I don’t know where I read this, but there’s this idea that all people are selfish, yet artists are kind enough to show it. In Tick Tick Boom we find this idea portrayed many times, mostly in the relationships Jon has with his girlfriend and best friend. I mean he has this fixed idea about his project and many times has to face others trying to catch his attention into their own lives. There’s a particular lucid moment when Jon’s girlfriend asks him to accompany her to a job opportunity outside New York, a place where she can build her own path. Jon evades this conversation because deep inside he knows he’s not gonna go, right? he has his own dreams. So, what happens? The girlfriend ends up confessing she only wanted for him to say he wanted for her to stay, she says this after noticing that Jon is more fixated than ever in his writing. Jon admits he wants this and immediately has an inspiration moment for a song he desperately needs, she notices this and breaks up with him, shocked that he’s using the moment to further write his play. Was she jealous of him at this point for being so committed? I don’t know, it kinda hit there for me but if it is true, it’s only implied.
I’ve found a similar idea in “A Ghost Story”, in that movie the couple fails to communicate with each other, mostly because he’s using the pain he’s feeling with her as a means of expression for his music, he does this because he knows and wants her to listen to the songs he’s writing, but also because he’s an artist and making art is his way to make a living. In here we find a similar idea, the harvesting of life itself into the emotional journey of an artistic piece that can possibly connect with millions of people.
Any artists there? If you’re one you should definitely watch this movie, it will help you understand a bit better about your own life and choices, which may seem irrational many times, let’s face it, almost all the time! But the thing is, you’re not wrong in pursuing your own life, your own path. As better stated by Jon himself, “cage or wings… ask the birds”.
There are certain ideas that are just wrong… I mean… a movie about a guy who travels in time and makes a little girl fall in love with him just to ruin her entire life with his rare genetic disease? Who can even fathom such a story? Well, as it turns out some old lady called Audrey Niffenegger did. Not only that, she managed to write this book about the time traveler and stuff, but she didn’t populated with complex sci-fi redundancy or high philosophical nonsense, no no no, she did far better job than that. What this lady did was to occupy every single excuse available to make her characters have sex and in a very explicit way! Btw, non of these revolutionary ideas make it into the silver screen in the book adaptation envisioned by director Robert Schwentke, his version of the story is far more conservative and predictable, yet the movie os not bad, just a bit uninspired.
As I stated before, this movie is about this dude who can time travel, not because he wants to, but because he’s sick. So he jumps back and forth between different important events of his life (most of the time) and this turns out to be his demise in a very dumb way I might add. So, the ending is awful, prepare for that, but the thing is that this movie has some good things going for it too.
So, what are the good things about this time traveler’s wife? Well it’s an amazing attempt to dive into the actual drama of a person who has this issue, in this particular issue the movie excels, it really puts you in the shoes of the character, especially regarding the relationship he has with his wife, which by the way is not the protagonist as the title would mislead you to believe! Waht begins as a fantasy and a romantic tale between two people bonded by non chronological time, soon becomes a drama about a couple struggling in the face of a genetic disease which prevents them from having a normal life. So the conflict arises from the realization of the wife that the life she choose with her strange husband may turnout to be not as fun as she thought it would be (at this point I don’t even know if she thought about any of the implications of her decision to marry the guy!). The drama begins with the time skipping which leads her to experiences weeks without seen him, later on it gets worst though, as the time travel disease is inherited by a child who dies before being born because of it. In a series of cringy twists, the dude gives himself a vasectomy to avoid having another unborn baby and the wife sleeps with a younger version of him as payment for that one sided decision.
It’s a shame that these same elements of slice of life stuff that make the movie strong, also make it weak, this is because the time travelling itself becomes secondary to the drama, many times we don’t even know where the guys is travelling and only a few times it really connects with the actual story. But when it does, does it in a fulfilling way and that I guess is no easy accomplishment in regards of the plot. Apart from some awful dialogues and that constant feeling that the situation makes no freakin’ sense, this is not a bad movie, is actually mildly entertaining, though now that I think about it, I don’t think I know anything about the characters!
Okay, so I wanted to write about Saint Seiya for a long time now, and I’m gonna be clear from the start, I’m a fanboy here. I admit it, to me this manga/anime created by Masami Kurumada is the most epic and awesome story ever. Why you ask? Well, let’s start by listening to some of the OST, okay?
Did you listen to that? I mean, when have you heard score in an anime this elaborated, and this piece above isn’t the best one either, is like a normal one from the eight complete soundtracks this anime has. Listening to the music you kinda understand what the story is all about, EPICNESS. The story is deceptively simple, a group of orphans are chosen by the goddess Athena to regain her sanctuary, which has been taken by the Gemini saint, she needs to regains it to be ready for a war predicted in myth, a fight against another god, Hades. Now, “saints” are warriors chosen by Athena herself to defend humanity against other gods. The name of the show, Saint Seiya references our protagonist, Seiya, the Pegasus saint. The “Pegasus saint” is a warrior who appears again and again in history as Athena’s bravest warrior. Over the course of the last Divine war, the Pegasus saint managed to defeat Hades and so this will have an impact later on in the story. For now let’s just keep in mind that Seiya is entrusted with a lot of baggage the day he wins his “Pegasus Cloth”, the armour that is proof he has become an Athena Saint.
About the armours, there are different types obviously, as many as the toys that can be sold about them! Kidding (not really!), thing is, the Pegasus cloth is actually in the weakest tier in regards of armours, being a bronze cloth. Silver and golden cloths follow, so Seiya being an orphan and also winning a bronze cloth puts us in the very bottom of the food chain at the start of the series, right? Isn’t that amazing? I mean I don’t know if Kurumada knew anything about storytelling when he begin the series, but it’s almost like an instinctive thing to place your protagonist in the very bottom to have a larger scope in the story, from there to the end of the series, Seiya really pushes himself to the limit, but this is not like Dragon ball where the characters power up and find new levels of strength, is more like the good guys need to understand some truth about existence to reach for a power that doesn’t belong to them, but is entrusted to them by the universe every time they’re aligned with the core values of the series and of Athena, of course.
So, what are these core values you ask? Surprisingly enough it has to do with love, as cliché as that sounds, yet to get to that idea, which ends up being Athena’s self revelation near the very end of the original saga (tenkai-hen overture) we have to go through some explanation. At it’s core, Saint Seiya is a reflection on the resistance and acceptance of pain in our lives, while finding a way to overcome this pain and move forward in the protection of those things that are dear to us. In the series, the main characters, which they all are bronze saints, have to deal with countless battles in which definitely all the time they’re the weakest ones. Seiya, Shiryu, Hyoga, Ikki and Shun, they’re all bronze saints sworn to protect Athena against any evil doer that stands in their ways, and man… the amount of enemies they face and the caliber of them! I mean let’s make a quick recount, there’s all of the twelve Golden Saints, the most powerful of all the Athena Saints (they can even punch you at the speed of light!). There’s one of the golden guys who can actually speak with Buda and send you to a number of hells, I mean c’mon! There’s also some heroes from Myth like Heracles (Hercules), Siegfried from the Nibelung myth, Icarus, who’s also an angel! not to mention Poseidon and Hades, two of the most powerful Greek gods! And each time the saints face such enemies they get their asses beat to a pulp, they suffer the most horrible wounds, even loosing their senses! Yet every time they manage to find that truth that allows them to tap into the power of the universe and overcome any danger.
There’s one final thing I want to talk about before the end, it’s about Seiya’s own self realization, now, we said before that Athena’s self revelation is that there’s a power beyond that of the gods (which is immortality). This idea comes to her after she questions the reasons why the gods are immortal, she says that the reason they are is because they exist to protect other beings. Then she lands on the idea that this protecting of others comes from love, something she could only learn because of her involvement with humans, specifically with Seiya. Was this her strange way of saying that she loves Seiya? I’m not sure, but anyways, Seiya’s own self revelation comes after this, at the end of the whole story, when he faces Apollo, who’s presumably his strongest enemy yet. Apollo is set to make all of humanity disappear, yet Seiya says that with his fist he will punch Apollo so hard that no god will ever forget about the existence of humans (how cool is that!!), oh, and his self revelation? Humans don’t need the gods.
So there you have it, Saint Seiya, the most epic and amazing manga/anime ever! admit! I want to end by saying that there’s a special thing about the five members of the core group of protagonists, each of them brings something to the table but also, each of them represents a part of Seiya’s own personality. Their fights and interactions are structured in such a way that the path of Seiya is often expressed by their interaction. This is just awesome storytelling which reminds us that the heart of any story is always the characters that live the tale. So fly high Saint Seiya, cause the epicness and emotional rollercoaster found in Seiya’s journey will last forever in memory.