It’s funny to me, in perhaps a mostly ambivalent way, how people are so strange.
The main thing human beings possess that distinguishes us from other creatures. Something some of us work so hard to dim. Precisely because in the end, above all, to an extent greater than we can understand, the fundamental desire of human beings is to be like everyone else. (Or at least, like the majority of them).
Just not different. Not me.
Quite nonsensical (Or not very much so), yes, but fact is oddity requires suffering. Fact is that you can’t be different, or understand the true meaning of it, without suffering in one way or another. Because realizing that, fostering individualism, and honestly thinking individualistically is, inevitably, being different. And another fact to which I call the problem, is that we uneducatedly define it as a problem. I’m not implying that the problems that we define ourselves by don’t really exist; I just feel that they are not actually problems by definition, rather by some random, fictitious definition of society, or of ourselves. I am saying this from the vulnerable of standpoints, for I have built so many such definitions of my own throughout my innocent years. Rules I seriously lived by, that I was certain the rest of the world lived by, that with all honesty only existed in my private, distorted, chimerical universe. That evidently still exists. That even after recognizing it is not real, it’s impossible to completely eradicate, or ignore its presence through and through. But it’s still therapeutic even just being aware of the lie, and of the fact that it doesn’t really matter.
Admittedly, it is by far more difficult upholding a problematic image than just being a person with problems. When you acknowledge your human-beingness, with all that it entails (problems, principally), and if you know deep within who you are (subconsciously. I said deep within. I meant extremely deep within), then what difference does the normal person’s opinion make? Why, anyway to the stranger on the street you are utterly and dully normal, with an utterly dull, problem-free, normal life. Painfully unlike the complex, problem-ridden, far-from-normal life of this random stranger on the street, that in your other-side-of the-street eyes seem nothing less and nothing more than a run of the mill. (Actually, an actual such circumstance is sometimes very liberating. Look at the big picture, when it comes down to it both of you arbitrary pedestrians have not a single problem at all)
And if all human beings have problems, and we are all human beings, then hey – we are just like we wanted, just like everyone else. Forgive me for repeating myself, but again the problem stems from a very specific choice to make problems what they are, and call them problems, and impute a negative connotation to them. And then try to force their dimmer down to have normality in the spotlight, when it’s all just paradoxical ignorance.
A fine line separates those who are aware of that from those who are not. A finer line kicks out those who choose to ignore it. In the realms of one of the finest of lines are those enfeebled by the initial depression that such crude awareness calls upon. (And it always firstly depresses the minority who get there, because they are a minority). It’s one unaxiomatic thing to merely understand, but you have to internalize it all to the damn core in order to shake out all shades of depression. Those who don’t understand will remain forever melancholic. Those who can’t internalize are semi-impervious, forlorn only at times when it’s hard to consciously recall it all, and above it all how much none of this really matters.
I would be hesitant in saying that I’m among those who have not yet internalized. It’s the only stage that is not given to cognition. It’s given to the place where everything turns into nothing. You can’t force internalization. But I nonetheless wish for many people (some of which I actually know) to get here.
And I feel particularly sorry for those who will never experience adversity of any form, for all which they will never see, and for all which they opt – obliviously or not – to suppress. I can only imagine the relative ease of such day-to-day life, but when I think of the flash of a second before I’m no longer here, it is truly the tougher moments that had made me see beyond, or understand something I previously had not. There is not enough time, there are not enough such moments and not many people who are willing to go through them, to really understand everything.
Well, almost everything, let’s keep it real.
But you know, I don’t think this should even preoccupy us at all. Because it may very well be but a pointless burden. And because genuine or bogus, polite or rude, serious or trivial, what does it matter. Who gives a… Well, never mind.
|A Single Man directed by Tom Ford|
I actually want to step aside from the visual aspects of this film that seem to please the eagle-eyed audience. Precisely because excelling on that front is to be expected of a fashion designer slash film director. I will merely mention that the meticulous use and the way Tom Ford played with his aesthetic talent and apparatus were so delicate, in a way that allowed an uninterrupted, natural flow of the story, of the audience’s perception of the story, and an almost unconscious synthesis of both, which makes the visual and spoken narratives an inseparable entity.
And that’s where A Single Man outdid itself, also exactly where it could have failed.
I can’t find a better way to put it other than the fact that – in particular moments – the inner world of the film (the imaginary world, allegedly) harmonizes with the external world of reality. Something that the art of film-making manifestly strives to achieve, and rarely – and not so manifestly – succeeds. The kind of moments that seem to take the words out of your own mouth and mind, without you ever knowing how to say them, or that they were even there to begin with. Moments of utter, absolute identification. They keep intensifying – and once and again remind me of – the power, the sensitivity, and – quite tritely – the magic inherent in such compositions. The subtlety of the story, felt in every sentence, every word, surpasses all aspects whatsoever.
A little touch on the writing – though the main credit is probably due to the author of the book on which the movie is based – where the interior voice of the character comes into play: The voice of his thoughts, escorting parts of the story, patching them together with any given moment whether imagined or real. Thoughts so easily felt in a way so impossible to describe. It takes immense courage to conduct such pristine articulation, that ultimately boils down to authenticity, and simplicity.
The greatness, perhaps, of the way this film was made, is that along with the visual delicacy there is also an incredible sensitivity and awareness to plot-related nuances, so that the stark force of the words is not subsided, and the story sticks to its honest core.
It’s absurd, in a sense, that in the deeps of an elusive thread of thought, the abstract is made plain.
“Movies are a serious work for me, but not a serious thing” was how Sorrentino explained his inability to provide a decent answer to the interviewer’s inquiries. The Italian director was asked about symbolism in his works, apparent symmetry in his mise-en-scenes and his movies’ genre. “I… I don’t know”, his most common reply, was surprisingly charming rather than condescending. Because there was no secret ingredient he was reluctant to reveal that we all knew was the key to the recipe. No. He just plainly didn’t know. And, frankly, none of us really does, but he was also not afraid to show it. His honesty struck a chord with me, and I would say because unfortunately, the deep roots of truth are such rare ones for most minds to acknowledge as true, or at all.
The interviewer introduced the director to the audience and filled us in on Sorrentino’s works – His shorts, features and documentaries. Paolo raised his hand for permission to get a word in edgewise. “Never documentaries” he apologized with confidence, shaking his head. “Oh” the interviewer laughed uneasily “So you have 3 sources to correct”. But it was the very first minute that fairly concluded this humble two-hour-long master class, in which the interviewer complimented Sorrentino on his numerous achievements. When asked for his opinion about his professional feats, Sorrentino kindly replied: “Well, there are better directors”. He also kept apologizing for his bad English, sipping from a glass of wine, and stating that directing is easy – Writing is where it gets hard. To the audience’s amusement, Sorrentino refuted most of the interviewer’s speculations with his IDKs and simple OKs. The surprise, and I guess what provoked a great deal of the laughter, was the sheer elegance with which he had done so. He did not back the interviewer’s attempts at pinpointing his characteristic genre, because, as he explained it, “it’s like trying to give a child the same game to play with again”. Of course the child would prefer a different game. He did however confess to his initial attraction to grotesqueness and said “I was really young and thought it was cool”. Indeed, when you are young the bizarre seems more logical and even easier to create, but according to Sorrentino it is actually the most intricate of all genres.
The class included intermittent screenings of snippets from the opening sequences of some of Sorrentino’s films, including The Consequences of Love, Il Divo (which was later on screened in entirety), and his 2009 short La Partita Lenta. He jokingly displayed his gratitude over that, for a critic once declared Paolo’s movies are good only in their first 10 minutes. So when the later screening of Il Divo was about to begin I honestly didn’t know how I was to survive it. It was late, I was exceptionally tired, and a 2-hour-long film with only 10 agreeable minutes after a 2-hour-long discussion was threatening. But I watched the movie to the bitter end, and even though I do have to watch it again for detail, I am proud of my ability to fight my heavy eyes with flying colors. Also, of course, the critic was mistaken, otherwise I would have definitely fallen asleep. Yet the heaviness I couldn’t ignore, and so my ears became the main participants. As I can’t make out a sentence in Italian, the music in the film was my last resort – and not at all a disappointing one. Paolo’s soundtrack choices invigorate his shots to an intense degree. I don’t know why they feel different, but for some reason it seems like a bunch of other people would have chosen the same something else, while only Sorrentino could have chosen that which he had. I recalled him talking about music in the discussion, explaining that he doesn’t work exclusively with composers because he enjoys the process of finding music by himself. And why should we limit ourselves, really, when we have all the music in the world to choose from? “It all starts with the music for me” he shared his big secret. And all I could think of was ‘Me too!’ .That’s the way I work. That’s the first thing I have, before the story, before the idea. Music. And for some reason, having that to grasp on at that moment seemed to ease my mind into thinking that maybe it was doing something right.