Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lightism to Nihilism

My profile's favorite film list is truncated by a 2000 character limit, forcing the exclusion of Rebel without a Cause and also the more thought provoking Philip Kaufman piece, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Properly viewed, the film distinguishes the experience of life from "light" (Daniel Day Lewis) to "heavy" (Juliette Binoche). His freedom from significance, his embrace of life as joy, is too much for her. She leaves him, declaring, "I'm too heavy."

In the final scene, shown below, her transformation is shown as we see her acheive lightness, breaking free from her chains. Kaufman brilliantly flashes ahead to Sabrina receiving a letter about what will occur, perfectly framing the road ahead. Ahh, the richness of experiencing distinction beyond language, which for me is the essence of art.

Light versus heavy indeed, and those with "heavy industry" experience will find themselves sucked into the screen of There Will Be Blood where the gifted Daniel Day Lewis, so weightless in "Unbearable," becomes tonnage itself. Shifting from the spectrum of "light" to "heavy" we have the lens of importance and significance, the faith that one is part a larger context that makes sense and has meaning, that life is worth living and valuable, that investment leads to reward, that hope is not folly. Some have seen how the experience of a certain opposite, the notion that life is utterly empty and meaningless, is in fact liberating and opens up a "lightness" and extraordinary sense of possibility.

Every stick has two ends.

Choose life.
Choose a job.
Choose a career.
Choose a family.
Choose a f***ing big television.
Choose washing machines, cars, and compact disc players and electrical tin openers.

Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance.
Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments.
Choose a starter home.
Choose your friends.

Choose leisure wear and matching luggage.

. . .

Choose your future. Choose life.
But why would I want to do a thing like that?
I chose not to choose life.
I chose Something Else.

And the reasons?
There are no reasons.

The journey along the road motif is also effectively utilized by the closing scene of the Six Feet Under series.

People think it's all about misery and desperation and death and all that shit which is not to be ignored.

But what they forget is the pleasure of it.
Otherwise we wouldn't do it.

We're not that f***ing stupid.


Blogger The Doctor said...

I was wondering when you would return to one of "these kind."

You're no nihilist.

Nihilists don't get PHD's or teach.

They also don't blog about nihilism.

5/10/2008 10:04 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

It took awhile to watch those videos, but well worth it, a perfect post for a Saturday. I’m not ready to share what I am seeing, but something lies beneath the surface, and I am seeing not just one layer but many. Doctor, although the Trainspotting "Something Else" language is compelling, I agree. He’s no nihilist and is communicating cinema, not telling us his position on life.

5/10/2008 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you gave up space for "Unbearable Lightness of Being" so you could include "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes"?

Good videos.

5/10/2008 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anon2 said...

You fail to list the brilliant cinematic achievement of The Unbearable Lightness of Being yet have room for:

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Office Space
What the bleep do we know?

all of the above just stupid, but the real absurdity is that you listed "The Secret."

I don't know how any self-respecting human being can ever watch or admit to having watched the most idiotic con job of a film ever produced, and you have it listed as a favorite?!

5/11/2008 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat new to this whole blog thing. I have to say this is the most remarkable posting entry I have encountered.

You post video from three sources set in a certain way.

I may not get all of it, but great work. You cut through a lot.

5/11/2008 8:03 PM  
Blogger Casey DeLorme, APR said...

Yay, a post just for art and fun and, damnit, musing!

Unbearable is one of those film/book situations where each is fantastic in its own right, but best enjoyed without referring to the other. Given the choice, I prefer the book. So much so, that I have an extra copy on hand to loan to friends. There's an internal dialog to it that you just can't capture in film.

Your contrasting Lewis in Unbearable and No Country is powerful and spot-on. My family is in logging and sawmills in the Seattle area. As you note, the industrial and entreprenurial side of that one completely resonated.

Happened to see Rush play live last night. Amazing the number of well-known hits they have (2+ hours worth) and they still sound fantastic (maybe even better) after three decades of playing together. The last part of this post reminded me of the lyric to Free Will...

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will.

Thanks for the fun. Keep it coming.

5/12/2008 12:50 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Last night I was looking to see what movies were on television and I decided to try "Trainspotting" on FLIX. Some young man, a heroin addict, is narrating "Choose a life, choose a job, etc..."

The first scenes were just disgusting. I draw the line when a movie makes me double over and feel as though I am going to puke.

So, X4mr, I think I lasted for about 12 minutes. What was it about this movie that you liked?

5/13/2008 9:19 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

Liza, x4mr can speak for himself, but after reading this blog for nine months, I am confident he does not watch a film in the same way a normal person watches a film (no offense, x4mr, but let's face it, you're different).

It's been a long time since I saw the film, so my timing might be wrong, but perhaps it was the toilet scene that sent you running? You do understand it's a metaphor.

I remember really enjoying the film's creativity. In one scene, when the main character is going through withdrawal, the baby crawls on the ceiling as the guy screams and convulses in bed. Well done.

Also, I would add that he watches films that are painful or challenging to watch. He wrote about "Redacted" awhile ago. That film was pure agony. Some films are about more than entertainment.

5/13/2008 1:23 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Like nav, I have not seen Trainspotting in a long time. I recall liking the music, which occurred as ahead of its time back then. I agree with Nav that it was quite creative. The toilet scene was quite memorable as was the baby crawling on the ceiling.

For the blog post, I was pointing to the sheer rejection of it all in the first five minutes. In some circles, it is believed that if a human being fully grasped the reality of its situation, it would commit suicide on principle. I think the bit about curiosity and the cat has a lot of truth. Human beings are better off just flat out not seeing certain things (not talking about cinema).

I also agree with Nav about cinema not necessarily serving the purpose of entertainment. "Redacted" was almost unwatchable, as was "Lake of Fire." Both are deeply, deeply disturbing films.

At the opposite extreme, films that are an absolute blast (fun) include "Run Lola Run" "Breakfast Club" and "Office Space."


5/13/2008 2:35 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Yes, it was in fact the toilet scene that made me ill. It's hard to appreciate the toilet as a metaphor if you have to run to your own bathroom to throw up. I feel sorry for the people who saw this in theatres and were trapped in their seats.

I appreciate what you are saying about films going beyond entertainment. However, some of us might perhaps have a lower threshold for grotesque presentation even if there is some brilliant message behind it.

5/13/2008 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woman to woman, you should fast forward through all of that. Hit the triple arrow fast forward, and see if the next part is worth continuing. I always fast forward car chases and fights and other movie testosterone BS because it bores me completely. One example is the most recent Batman when they drive that stupid Hummer thing, five minutes of who cares.

I hit the fast forward button almost every time I watch a movie.

"Office Space" is a truly great movie. I love the guy that lives in the apartment next door that can hear everything.

And the part about "flair" Hah!

Judd Nelson in "The Breakfast Club" is performance candy.

5/13/2008 10:18 PM  

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