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?

Jobs (2013)

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…

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

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!!

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

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.

Tick Tick… BOOM (2021)

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”.