(500) Days Of Summer – Romantic Cycles

Quick Thoughts: (500) Days Of Summer (2009)

A hopeless romantic falls in and out of love.


This’ll probably preface everything I write, but I love this film. For me, it’s The Graduate (as it implies itself) but more concise, fun and deep. This film is about romantics. Not just love hearts and fairy cakes, but, romanticism in its essence. About idealisation. The film asks: what does the ideal world look like? The answer it gives: spontaneous sing-song, cartoon birds, Han Solo in your reflection and true love. Actually, that’s not fair. The film asks: what does an ideal world look like inside of the real world? The answer: a perpetual cycle, but that’s not a bad thing. To throw an overview across the plains (strange phrase I’m not certain about, but) Tom falls in love and out of love like the seasons cycle. It’s all in the title–needs no explanation. But why? The film demonstrates that we’re a  product of long term experience, but that who we pretend to be is a product of short term experience. In short, your mother never liked you; you’ll probably never get along with the girls that well. A girlfriend ditches you; you don’t like women for a while. Don’t take the analogy to seriously or over analyse it–it’s a bit too general–but what else are analogies supposed to be–yes, a good one would have been succinct and so one, but leave me alone. The point is and was, people hold core personality traits and adopt some from time to time. Like that time you brought those shoes that… I’m sorry, I can’t do those references–know that I tried though. Anyhow, here we’re delving into social conditioning and I think it’s clear that such a thing is inherent to being human to a point I need say no more. But the film does present a nice little question we all love: why? Why do we change? Why must we adapt? Why do we need summer, winter, autumn and that monsoon thing some people get–don’t overlook the metaphor–we’re talking about depression here. This is a key element of the film. it’s a rise and fall, but since the film is perpetual and has a recyclable plot: what is more important? Yes, the joy and love got more screen time, but is this representative of real life? We all have ups and downs otherwise you’re one of the lucky few in a coma–in which case: why are you reading this? The point being, the world is constructed up an idea of opposites. Einstein and such. Or was it Newton? Or someone else? Either way, equal and opposite forces. Love is nothing without hatred. Depression is nothing without joy. The film seems to argue this obvious fact for the sake of exposing the truth behind emotions. There’s some that don’t feel good and others that do. Without the opposites we don’t feel and so Tom’s 500 days is really his life, just like it is yours. Whilst Tom’s faults may be his romanticism, yours may be your collection of shoes that you were telling me about. We all live in peaks and valleys; beneath the bridge, walking it; the troll and the goat. Where does this leave us?… mmmm… nowhere. Is that a bad thing? Well, I propose there are no such thing as bad things, simply things that make you feel bad. And so in the cycle you are. The existential undertones of the movie may depress, uplift or (insert emotions) you. But either tomorrow, next week or in 500 days you’ll be feeling around about the opposite for at least a moment.

What’s the takeaway? In truth there isn’t one. You’ll only give it back. No, the takeaway is inevitability and balance. You’re inevitably going to be on and off balance. Sorry, but you’ve got little control over that one. But, I guess you could be grateful for the experience. What would be the opposite? Balance? Not feeling, perceiving… actually that sounds like a nice break. But, here we are and here we stay: in our own screwy minds. So I guess knowing the rules of the game let us know when we’re being cheated. That’s always helpful.





2001: A Space Odyssey – Whose Classic?

Quick Thoughts: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick’s film that needs no introduction from me…


Whew… what can I say about this one? We all know it, have our theories and yeah it’s an undeniable classic–a little slow, but great nonetheless. My favourite thing about this film is its cold distance. I think that says more about me than the film, but making something of such personal vision that becomes a classic is more than inspiring. The film is slow, disjointed, clunky in parts (especial with dialogue) and of course, as with most of Kubrick’s pictures, it’s cold and distant. But I think that’s what we all love about his films. They’re a mark above us all and they kind of know it. Someone says Kubrick, the next person says genius–in all likelihood. I’m not going to dispute facts of his personal character, I don’t know the guy, but it’s clear that’s the weight he holds. His filmography demands raised palms a bit of back-pedalling. You may not love his films, but can’t really say they’re bad. And I think this is because of the austere tone each moment of his movies are imbued with. His films are almost like an asshat know-it-all that you depend on for the answers for tests. Yes, he/she looks down on you, yes they’re clearly smarter–you might not like that–but, they get 100% on the test and you’re kind of using them. This is the grey area of criticism in my view. To critique is to assume your opinion is above a film–whether you love it or not. There is no passivity in criticism–I’m not saying there should be, but if you want to question what art is, well… in my opinion art is emotional output. In short, you take what you’re feeling and funnel it through a medium–same goes with all human output, but I don’t want to veer off on too large a tangent. If art, film, is just someone’s feelings (in a soppy, gooey sense) then why do we revere other feelings on top of those feelings – critics opinions. And, yes, the obvious answer is ‘we assume they know what they’re going on about’ or ‘I agree with Ebert almost all the time’. But, to stay within the existential and nihilistic: is that right? To flip the tables and possibly lose you: we’re recycling feelings. Kubrick feels this, it goes into a film. That feeds into a critic, then us. That’s the much abbreviated version. In truth there are a myriad of opinions that influenced Kubrick, ourselves, the critic. I mean, we could get into a horrible cycle of nature vs. nurture and social conditioning here, but I’ll let you insert the mental gymnastics. All I want to convey is that Kubrick’s slow, meandering and amazingly ambiguous classic maybe just works because it is so bland, yet so deep. Like an endless bowl of porridge. Yeah, it’s just porridge–BUT IT GOES ON FOREVER!! You’d get people lining more than around the block for that one–world hunger cured–that’s if Umbeke’s mother could convince him it’s better than just slop, but, off point. What Kubrick does with 2001 is hint at the impossibly ambiguous whilst saying very little. This is the beauty of pictures: they explain themselves. The less of a human, the less emotion (maybe the less art) in a piece of art (paradoxical, I know) the better it is. I don’t know who said it, but: the best art is hidden. What does this mean? People love themselves. 2001 basically gives anyone the tools to dive into unfathomable philosophical thought, into their own art (emotional output). Maybe this is why it’s a classic.

All in all, 2001, maybe not Kubrick’s classic. Maybe it’s all of ours. Maybe it’s just mine.



Pi – Perceptual Paradigms

Quick Thoughts: Pi

Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 masterpiece. This follows Max Cohen a ‘numbers whiz’ on a psychological journey toward what could be God.


First thing’s first, I love this film–obviously. It blends reality with fantasy to portray the crushing surreal experience of simply not knowing. The film appeals to viewer’s intrigue of numbers, patterns, consequence with a formalised routine of its character to slowly descend into the depths of his anxieties. Though we all may not love maths (in any way shape or form) the film appeals to us on a cognitive level–off the basis the pragmatic human perception of patterns. The same thing that makes you think your iPod is conspiring against you, playing the same songs over and over, is what drives the connection between us and the character. To paraphrase what he repeatedly tells us: patterns can be found in nature, they are apart of it and so maths can explain it. I think all people hold this belief in their very core. To think that your perception is worthy of the world is to assume there’s a pattern. To think that your business plan, work schedule, life choices can get you where you want to be is to assume there’s a workable paradigm to life and nature. Through Max, the film gives us an insight into a near omnipotence–at least, to me, with being able to calculate anything a calculator can at the drop of a hat. Honestly, it sounds like a super power–one that’d get boring pretty quick, but, a super power nonetheless. Being able to calculate anything for Max is the viewer being able to know the perfect tweet to send to get their favourite celebrity to tweet back, follow them, fall into their intricately planned kidnapping scheme–or whatever people want from favourite celebrities–such a strange idea. Off point. Max’s abilities attract us to the film, as it basically implies that we can have an hour and a half of feeling we’ve got the answers to the questions, the code to suite the paradigm of our lives; living. To stay general, Max using maths to find God is nothing more than the everyday pursuit of success. Of course success and pursuit define Max’s search without the majority of the previous as evidence, but beyond the obvious, the film shows that success is little more than finding a path–calculating the perfect equation–finding that number hidden in a script countless others have lived by. In short, Max meeting God is you getting your Oscar or promotion at work–big jump down, but we’ve all got different goals. The film demonstrates that people see life as little more than a pattern; that we believe we are above the universe we come from; that we can comprehend the systems that made us. In my opinion, this is folly. The pursuit for eternal life, knowledge or general omnipotence is going to end up with a deranged reflection in a grimy bathroom mirror that looks like what could be you, but with a hand drill pressed against his/her temple, inevitably going to pull that trigger and push the drill bit in.

All in all, you’ve got what you’ve got in life. More? A question we maybe shouldn’t ask ourselves as much. Here’s me writing to be heard though, so know that I accept the fact that ‘more?’ is an imperative to the human condition, but, I don’t know… giving ourselves a break once in a while could help. What do you think


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2001: A Space Odyssey – Whose Classic?

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