Klara and the Sun (2021)

Choosing the setting and characters to explore the theme of your story is a task in itself, maybe as important as finding the theme. These choices will ultimately define how your ideas become the narrative, the elements also by which the audience will hold on (or not) to the journey you’re proposing as a writer. And although many themes have been explored similarly throughout narrative history, some of them becoming tropes reutilized to exhaustion, there’s always some space for original interpretation. Something rare these days, I know.

Klara and the Sun is such a story.

This magnificent novel, by Nobel prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, follows the adventure of one Klara, a robot designed to be a companion of humans. An AF or “artificial friend” built to address a growing problem amongst the human population, loneliness. But the story only uses loneliness as an anchor to talk about something else, for this story ultimately talks about “the human heart”, which some believe is a synonym for love. I’m not sure about that myself, maybe love is a too general topic, especially for a theme. In my view, the author is searching for that capacity that goes beyond self-interest, which is assumed to be an “only human” characteristic. Yet, he cleverly gives it to the protagonist of the story.

Yes, the artificial friend.

Klara is a robot who, as I said before, has been built to accompany humans. To help them. She starts the story impatiently waiting to be chosen by a human, at the AF store. From the beginning, we notice her personality traits, conveyed because she’s the one telling us the whole thing, as she acts as the narrator of the novel. We quickly get her curious and insightful personality as she tries to make sense of the world she experiences, not unlike we as humans would do but far more conscious about the process. Patterns and intuitions appear in her mind, prompting her to make assumptions in an ever-enduring necessity for understanding.

And yes, she gets picked by some Josie, a girl who falls in love with her and wishes to have her as a companion. And from this point forward, Klara gets to experience the world of a dystopian human society where extreme and cold rationality seems to have taken all places of society, leaving almost no place for feelings and higher callings (aka. spirituality). A place where children are genetically modified to perform better, with serious health implications for them, and a place where human labor is secondary to machine efficiency. All contrasting ideas merge into the spinal plot line of the story; Klara wants to help Josie, who’s currently dying because of ill-used genetic modification and she believes something incredible, the Sun can help her recover. With the little knowledge Klara has about the world, she believes the Sun to be a sentient being looking out for us, having magical powers that can heal the ill. She believes this so much she makes her life work to convince it to help Josie.

The plot gets quite complicated by the midpoint of the novel, turns out the mother of Josie wants to make Klara copy all of Josie’s manners and then when the time comes for Josie’s departure, take her place as the daughter.

Nuts, right?

I don’t think the idea here is for me to tell you the story, I think you should read it. And that ending… oh God…

If the capacity for love is the capacity to selflessly care about those whom you love then it doesn’t matter if it’s a human or anyone else who has it or does it, right? Just as long as it still exists in this world, which seems to be something were forgetting so fast. I hope many people have the chance to read Klara and the Sun, just to remember what it feels like to go beyond oneself, to go beyond getting something out of it, you know, to love.

Cure (1997)

There are movies that offer meaning at face value, you get what you paid for. They might have an intricate exterior, beautiful and provoking cinematography, fantastic set design, and an elaborated editing scheme; all aesthetic devices used to evoke the illusion of complexity. Yet there are other movies that are deceitfully simple in production design, but incredibly complex in their story and theme exploration. Movies like the latter can pass through regular viewers as boring and even bad ones, mainly because of the lack of commonality they have with mainstream media but also because of their groundbreaking nature.

Cure is such a film.

This amazing movie by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, which many people consider his best one, is an exemplary exploration of the human condition, of the reality of unconscious desire hidden underneath a fragile exterior of normality. In it, we find a hypnotizer who seems not to remember even his own life, maybe hypnotized himself, meeting people randomly and suggesting them commit murders throughout the city. This obviously catches the attention of the police, more so because all the victims present the same cut pattern on their necks, a cross mark in the flesh.

And so, we meet our protagonist, Kenichi Takabe, a detective tormented by a mentally unstable wife, trying to keep up with a life he no longer enjoys. Yet this is not the type of detective willing to analyze clues or find patterns in the crime scene. We immediately understand that he wants to get to the bottom of things rather fast, as he’s on the verge of desperation about his own problems. There are many things that exacerbate the situation for him. For starters, none of the killers, the hypnotized ones, remembers what happened to them. Worst than that, eventually, Takabe finds the hypnotizer, a strange guy named Mamiya. Questioning him for answers proves futile as this character can only respond with more questions, making conversation not only pointless but annoying to the breaking point.

And thus, we come to realize the truth about the story, progressing towards the inevitable end, which I won’t spoil but be warned, from here on there are spoilers.

There’s one thing to keep in mind to understand what’s going on, the primordial piece of the puzzle. There’s one scene where Takabe gets the idea about the real killer being a hypnotizer, he asks Sakuma, a psychiatrist, and Takabe’s friend, about it.  The question is; are hypnotized people capable of killing? Sakuma answers with a blatant no, there’s no way to hypnotize a person out of their own moral choices. Yet most of the hypnotized people committed the murders.

Do you get the idea?

Some people make a comparison between Cure and Se7en, both no more than two years apart from each other. I got the same feeling while watching the movie and can say that there’s definitely some connection there, but there’s also a world of difference in the depth and complexity of each movie. As I said in the beginning, there are movies that want to make you believe there’s something complex being posed behind curtains, while others are so complex that they might pass blindly between your eyes.

By the way, researching the film I came across an amazing video essay about this movie, made by YouTuber Jack Gordon, you can check it here:

Taipei Suicide Story (2020)

Just by watching the initial 5 minutes of Taipei Suicide Story, I got immediately unnerved and had to reach a search engine to look for information. There was a question in my mind that needed an answer right away…

Are Suicide Hotels a real thing?

Turn out they don’t, but the sole idea of them being so completely changed my perspective on life. I think this is one of those what if… that better showcases the current state of human affairs. And I have to be honest here, I think that they shouldn’t be real for the most part, at least not in such an open way. I think killing oneself is a grave mistake, especially given the plasticity of the brain and our capacity to reinvent ourselves over and over again. Does society fail to provide meaning to us? Of course, but at the same time we are part of society I think, we are agents of meaning.

So, what do any of these ideas have to do with Taipei Suicide Story? Well, a lot actually! But let me explain. This short film (at 40 + minutes this is hardly short but anyways) by writer/editor/director KEFF, his second film so far, presents us with a setting in which suicide hotels are a real thing. Many people go to these places and they are allowed to stay only one night, by the end of which they can decide either to kill themselves or walk away. Following the protagonist of the story, a receptionist in this hotel, we get into a procedural mood all over the place. Workers go about the rooms of the hotel “cleaning” the place, which means taking out the bodies. Our protagonist doesn’t seem too interested in any of this and this proves to be his downfall. Just at the beginning, he has a chance to “see the truth”, when a repented customer comes to him to deliver the keys to his room, having decided to “give life another chance”. You can guess how the protagonist responds to this; he doesn’t care.

I’m tempted to imagine what could have been about that customer after leaving the hotel…

But anyway, the protagonist has another chance at empathy when a coworker tells him that one of the customers has been staying in the hotel for over a week now. Pissed off at the bureaucratic problem this situation poses, he goes to take charge of it all. It is then that his life changes 180° after meeting the woman living in the room. Her situation is simple, she wanted to kill herself but then decided against it, but still, she doesn’t want to live either. So, her only choice is to remain in the hotel. Not knowing exactly what to do, the protagonist gives her one last night to decide, either she kills herself or walks away.

From here on, the two characters get to meet and spend a significant amount of time together, initially because the protagonist feels guilty because of his inconsiderate way of acting, which quickly becomes interested in the woman, who doesn’t say much about her life and is more curious about this man who lives as if there was nothing bad going on. Yet the protagonist’s answers offer little comfort to someone lost of meaning, as he talks about the positive aspects of being a nobody, a regular whatever guy with a whatever life. The woman clings silently to some melancholic feelings as she chooses her last meal and they part ways with some sense of hope, as they both seem to connect on a sentimental level.

Yet every hope dissipates when the woman unexpectedly asks for a razor blade, asking the protagonist to deliver it himself into the room. And it’s here that the protagonist ultimately fails, as he’s given a new chance to change the destiny of this woman, yet some inexplicable fear of commitment, or perhaps his own failure to grasp a valuable meaning to life, impedes him from making a choice that could have saved both of them.

The offering of a helping hand. You can guess how the movie ends, nothing too hard to understand. I absolutely encourage you to watch Taipei Suicide Story and admire the simplicity of its presentation, the nakedness of its truth, and the masterfully created plot that keeps you hoping for something maybe you could not deliver yourself. In a sense, I think no one can walk away from this movie unchanged.

Kairo (2001)

I was talking with a friend the other day and she was telling me about us people being unable to confront the void of meaning given by loneliness. How we tend to cling to any relationship, just to avoid that silence of ourselves and a surrounding from which we are disconnected, as a consequence of individualization. It’s a lack of stimulus I would argue, which produces anxiety by means of not having a purpose. The victory of silence, that’s the theme of Kairo to me. This 2001 movie by director Kiyoshi Kurosawa about isolated people and ghosts, overflowing into reality, makes a compelling case about the human condition and what we could say is the “reality of ghosts”, but let me share with you how Kurosawa puts it:

“… in Japanese horror ghosts are simply a foreign presence. They don’t attack, they don’t kill, they don’t threaten human life; they’re just there. And they show up in your daily life rather nonchalantly.  They don’t make a terrifying entrance.”

Kairo follows the lives of two major characters as they enter a reality in which ghosts are not only real but normal (in the worst possible way). The first one is Kudo Michi, who works in a greenhouse on the top of a building, sharing daylight with co-workers Sasano Junko, Toshio Yabe, and Taguchi, who’s been missing for a few days at the beginning of the movie. Michi goes to Taguchi’s apartment to retrieve a floppy disk and to check on him. Being there she finds a bunch of monitors showing what seems to be a live feed of the same room she’s in. She also finds Taguchi behind a curtain, looking at the emptiness in silence, he’s just there. But not for too long because he proceeds to deliver the floppy disk and kill himself without making a fuss about it.

The other main character is Ryosuke, a college student who has recently acquired a new internet provider. Setting up the whole thing on his computer, he’s not into computers btw and this is important to the story, Ryosuke enters a website that displays a number of video feeds of people alone in their rooms, wasting away, seemingly suffering from being alone there. Seeing this, Ryosuke immediately turns off the computer (wise choice there). The next day, he goes to his college’s computer science department and asks for help about this matter, he ends up meeting Harue Karasawa, a post-graduate student willing to help him.  

There’s also this kind of urban legend about a “forbidden room”, everyone who enters this place gets somehow infected by the ghosts and ends up becoming one of them, passing to the other side. Throughout the movie, many characters stumble upon these rooms (yeah, there’s more than one). These places share the commonality of their entrance doors being duck taped in red.   

From there on we dive deep into Kurosawa’s take on isolation and the human condition, explained through some interesting reflections and visual cues, as we go further into a plot involving a ghost reality being overflowed by dead people and the consequence of ghosts entering our reality through the internet. What’s interesting here is that is not up to the characters to stop this from happening, they’re merely affected by this to the point of losing everything, while finding some sense of connection between the two of them by the end of the movie. Now, to understand that connection (which I think is the point of the whole movie) it’s also necessary to dissect what these ghosts are and the allegory taking place.

Many people think this is the most terrifying scene in cinema history.

So, there’s this part of the movie where Ryosuke stumbles upon a science student project, it’s a simulation with a set of rules. There are these dots moving in empty space (let’s say the dots are humans), there are two rules. The first is that if two dots get too far apart the system forces them back together. The second rule is that if two dots get too close together, one of them disappears.

If you follow the story and the characters, you’ll notice that these rules also apply to them. Each time two characters get too close together one of them becomes a stain on the wall, which seems to be the first step into becoming a ghost. By the end of the movie, Michi and Ryosuke get together, the latter becoming a stain on the wall in her room, which brings Michi a sense of relief, as she will always have that stain there and this keeps her from feeling alone.

Researching the film, I stumbled upon many theories about what this ending means, some think the whole movie is an attempt by Kurosawa to make suicidal people understand that ending one’s life doesn’t take away the loneliness or suffering (as we get to understand that the ghosts are not having a particularly good time). But I want to remark on one idea that seems to hit the jackpot, at least for me. There’s one theory about the movie being about the idea of individualism and the inability to truly know another person because of it. As in the simulation, if two people get too close together, one of them disappears because it becomes a stain on the wall, a memory on the other’s mind.

  • Is this phenomenon the sole reason for increasing isolation in society?
  • Are we truly incapable of seeing the other beyond ourselves?

I don’t necessarily think this is true, but it certainly is difficult to experience the world beyond our own take on it. What do you think? I strongly recommend you to watch this movie and maybe reflect on it, maybe we can start tearing some walls off. Btw, if you do watch the movie, I also recommend this video, you’ll find an interesting take on the movie:

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Hard times are a tough thing to live by, we all know this. Also, these challenges of life may seem hurtful and beyond our own comprehension because of our own weaknesses, so there has to be a proportion between the hard times and our own inability to live through them, right? I’m sensing that Manchester by the Sea is talking to us about this idea. How often crisis hits our life and becomes a problem just because of us not being prepared to face it. Further on, how many times it is us who create the crisis because of our own problems and weaknesses. The initial sequence of the movie presents us a familiar town engulfed in the first winter snows, a metaphor cleverly crafted to reflect a story about a man, who escaped family, only to come back unwillingly to it because of a winter situation (a hard time), the death of his brother, who happened to be the head of the clan.

Will our protagonist rise to the occasion, reclaiming the throne of the tribe, or will he succumb to the fears and desires of a lonely, but ultimately safe life alone?

The answer lies somewhere in between, as all good movies land, because of one major factor expressed in the self revelation that clarifies the movie’s purpose for all of us.

But first, what’s the movie about? Well, it’s about this guy, Lee Chandler, who is accidentally responsible for the death of his two little daughters, after having a boys meeting in his house until late at night, fighting his then current wife Randi, and going to buy some beers after the party ends, expressing his irresponsible behavior, only to comeback and find his house on fire due to his own idea of lighting the logs because of winter. So, this accident prompts him into suicidal tendencies that are mitigated by his idea of leaving his home town, where now everyone believes he’s a douchebag, enclosing himself in a lonely and guilt driven life until receiving a call about his brother’s death.

Now, this call forces him back into the town where everyone believes he’s a piece of shit, right? the last place he wants to be in. And in this place he will have to face the fact that he really is a piece of shit, because let’s face it, he was a terrible father, an irresponsible and promiscuous person who was not ready at all to have kids. We can even argue that he didn’t want to either, because wanting to have sex all the time doesn’t mean a person wants to have children. And now, coming back into town he has to face the fact that his brother has leave him with the custody of Patrick, his nephew, who’s in fact the same as him!

So, ultimately the movie is about becoming a father figure, how an irresponsible person learns to stablish boundaries on a kid while accepting their own past mistakes, changing from a like them all type of person into a real adult, one that can actually articulate in a relax manner the things they believe in, the way things should be, and ultimately come into the realization of a hard truth, that he’s not ready to be a father, paradoxically this truth being the foundational stone of his change into being a father figure.

Should you watch Manchester by the Sea? I would say watch it if you want to learn or reflect upon reality and adulthood, about taking control and responsibility for your own life and follow through in a better way of being, a meaningful being.

Wolf (2021)

I wish I was one of those cool people that can say “Man, this movie reminded me of The Lobster”… The Lobster… you know? that hyped movie everyone seem to be praising some time ago? The return of that actor, what was his name? Penguin guy from the new Batman movies. Anyway, I’ve only seen like 45 minutes of The Lobster… It was so boring!!! But you know what? This movie reminded me of it! Maybe I’m one of those cool people! Don’t mind me… and forget about the freakin’ lobster, this movie is better, I swear. For once, we’re not dealing with soulless individuals, in here we can actually relate to the characters and the whole premise is so weird, yet familiar… I encourage you to watch it, forget about the old classics and such, embrace this movie about a bunch of people that have “Species Identity Disorder”, a bunch of dumbasses who believe they’re animals in a clinic specializing in curing them, I swear… this is what is all about!

So, what’s the movie about? Well, let’s start from the top, shall we? Is about this boy, this youngster that believes he’s a wolf and his parents take him into this facility where people who believe they’re animals are treated. Now, what’s interesting here is that this treatment consist in trying to resist the impulse of being an animal. Sounds weird, I know, but let me explain, okay? The protagonist has this urge to howl, you know, as a wolf. In the beginning of the story he makes such an effort to not do this, as he clearly sees what happens to those who behave like animals. Long story short, they’re treated in violent ways. There’s this guy, the antagonist of the movie, Mr. Mann, who treats the patients with aggressiveness, believing that this animal identity they’re using is no more than a childish defense mechanism implemented not to deal with the external world, often a byproduct of past trauma. So, Mr. Mann, or the Zookeeper, forces the patients to prove they’re animals by making them do animal stuff… they fail of course.

Okay, but what about our protagonist? Well, he can only hold for so long his wolf impulses and when he can no longer behave like human, he descends into his animal form strongly, becoming more and more like he’s supposed to be, until no punishment or chains can hold his true nature, because to him he really is a wolf trapped in a human body. Can you see the parallels here? c’mon! we can make all kinds of bridges between this idea and the current state of liberation about sexual identity in the entire world, right? At least I feel that what the director/writer was aiming at with the idea. What struck me as something interesting about the movie is that the protagonist himself seems not to have such a human side, so this part of the narrative is reflected upon his love interest, a woman who believes she’s a cat or something like that. Not important because she’s not like him, she doesn’t truly believe she’s a cat, okay okay maybe I’m being too hard right now. What I’m talking about is that she prefers to stay trapped because she’s afraid of what could happen to her on the outside world, a fear imposed upon her by her own mother (implicitly).

In the end… well, I prefer not to say anything about that. What I do want to say is that it seems so crazy to me that this movie has such low score on IMDB, I mean what the hell is wrong with people! For some time I’ve been feeling that movies are so boring nowadays, they always explore the same nonsense and in the same binary status quo way, and here comes this strange take on love, the body, the mind, the experience of living and so many things, a movie that can actually make you feel stuff… and what happens? 5.9 score? Give me a break!

Matrix Resurrections (2021)

When facing the new instalment of a franchise we often hear questions the likes of “is it necessary” to have it. Necessary seems like a stretch to me, do we “need” movies at all? like water, food or breathable air? Probably not. So, for me the question of The Matrix Resurrections is not about if it was necessary to make it or not, the movie exists, it’s here. Questioning the existence of something doesn’t make it go away, doesn’t change it either, even if the movie itself, in this case, tries to answer this very thing. Thing is, this movie has a lot of philosophy involved and clever storytelling techniques (at least over the first part of it) yet all the charm and style, art and honesty, felt in the first one isn’t in here, we can barely feel the characters with nostalgia and the movie itself satirizes about it. I mean, what are we supposed to do when watching a movie? should we be meta analyzing every aspect, every single emotion it triggers on us? constantly devoiding ourselves from the emotions that compose our lives in an attempt at staying “in control”? I understand the need to talk about the way the world seems to work and all that nihilistic bullshit, yet I don’t believe that has to come at the expense of telling a good story, and is in here where Matrix Resurrections fails and kinda betrays itself and its legacy.

I mean c’mon! and by the way, why the fuck Keanu Reeves doesn’t change his looks in any movie he’s a part of, I don’t know if I’m watching Neo or John Wick… WTF? Where the hell did all the characterization artists go? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, cause cinematography and stylistically speaking, this must be one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. I’m being honest here and you know, there’s gonna be people saying that is intentional, cause the movie self references itself many times and stuff. Like there’s a scene where a bunch of stereotype people are talking about what the matrix represents, but kind of mocking the whole thing. Where the hell did all of this cynicism come from? Doesn’t make any sense to me, was The Matrix so bad that even the director of the movie felt the need to destroy the whole idea just to convey the fact that production companies want to make money? They’re production companies! that’s what they do!

To me, only a rich bubble type of person would argue the idea of profit, and you can’t fuckin’ blame the guys paying for the stuff to be worried about returns, I mean c’mon! And why the fuck am I even defending corporations in a Matrix Resurrections review? Cause there’s something inherently wrong about the conceptions of what the world is, right? Humans are not good, okay? we have to make a big, big effort to be morally adequate, at best! And movies help us do this, they show us the path to purge ourselves from pain and suffering, which accumulated lead us to cause pain on others. And yes, in a sense Matrix Resurrections does this, it remind us or even reaffirm us about ways of seeing the world, partially because of rescuing the idea of bonding, which is a concept that is so lost in a world where people are growing accustomed to be paid attention, yet not to pay attention to others.

I don’t know… There’s nothing wrong with the movie, just that it feels cheaper and in a smaller scale to previous installments. It feels like a tv adaptation of the original trilogy and that’s it I guess. All the philosophy is conveyed here in expository dialogue and it just doesn’t work for me, doesn’t have the charm, doesn’t grab my interest in the same way. So, back to the need thing from the beginning? no, this movie was not necessary, it would have been better to just make a new movie with these ideas and probably it would have been better to give it also to a new artist who were bringing a new perspective and sensibilities to the table. So I praise Lana Wachowski for butchering her own baby to stop corporations from prostituting the idea into the future, maybe it’s better to kill a baby than to watch it being raped time and time again… what do you think? (also forget all about this dumb review!).

Into the Wild (2007)

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…

Captain Fantastic (2016)

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.

Yet, the kids follow him.

Lost in Translation (2003)

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?