Metamorphosis on The Kitchen Stove
Accidents! Hahaha. Have no idea how it happened, but this piece posted – just the title! So here I am. Back and ready for take-off.
Forget Silver Linings Playbook. I know people raved about that film, but it didn’t do much for me. The depiction of two people, both with a diagnosed psychiatric disorder, their romance, the happy ending, left a superficial taste in my mouth. It was a fairy tale. I suppose it helped bring Mental Illness into the spotlight, but through rose-colored lenses. The happy ending was especially annoying because we know when we have such diseases seldom are the endings happy. Rather, we are caught up in a storm that ruins relationships with spouses, lovers and children and friends and co-workers (If we have any). The scars are permanent on all of those involved. And the biggest challenge is the daily search for equilibrium and minimizing the wounds of the psyche.
So Silver Linings Playbook, for me, at least, was comparable to daytime soap operas – the sanitized version of “life,” which is nothing more than an escape route into sentimentality, presenting perfectly painted faces – no scars, no stained teeth, because who wants to go to a movie and see that, anyway?
Actually, I do.
Films such as Trainspotting, for example, which I can only revisit once every 3 years because of the intensity of the subject depicted there – despite its cinematic brilliance and writing, its balance between the tragic and scatalogical humor, the incredible acting – especially appeal to me.
But then we come across a film like The Aviator, which although now more than 10 years old, more closely approximates the struggle, confusion, and eccentricities of an actual person who clearly is not normal, but this, in no way compromises, the gifts of such a person. And which, if it had occurred in the present climate of psychiatry, the essential spirit of that person would be suppressed until that spark could no longer be expressed because they would be heavily medicated and perhaps even institutionalized indefinitely.
The are the Visionaries – right? Those whose contributions often lead to dramatic and revolutionary breakthroughs, despite their Mental Illness, in any field imaginable, or more precisely … That not yet imagined by anyone else …
They are the fighters, the determined ones who keep going despite adversity, to reach for and make tangible what is intangible. The ones who never abandon or betray their visions.
The Aviator is all about that. And Leonardo, one of the finest actors around, never fails to deliver an exceptional performance.
So if you are interested in a more honest portrayal of Mental Illness, I’d put my money on this film, and not Silver Linings Playbook, any day.
A common cliche:
The eyes are the window to the soul.
But what does that mean?
And how reliable are our eyes?
My vote is: Highly Unreliable.
However, that doesn’t mean they are not a reflection of the soul/brain, especially when looking outward. It may be the eyes merely reflect and color our perspective of the world we live in, both inside and out, and that element may be more concrete than a brick.
Many have heard of the Classic film, Rashomon (1950), by Akira Kurosawa. Multiple persons witness the same crime and each provides a differing account of what they saw. It’s natural then to question Perspective, as it is influenced by more than what actually appears before us.
Here’s a more recent example:
When I was writing for a paper, I covered the unveiling of a new Logo for a suburban town. It was a big event and lasted most of the day. The logo was magnified at least one hundred times and mounted on an easel. I looked at it, while feverishly taking notes, while the designer explained the process of the design – conception and development – of the logo.
I should add that I am an excellent note taker, but I rarely go back and review them, unless I’m looking for a specific piece of information, something I didn’t observe or hear clearly.
The design was Abstract.
And many people spoke about the design, aside from the artist, including the village president and other staffers. And they expressed their enthusiasm for the logo.
Fast forward a couple of hours.
I’m sitting at my computer, writing the article. It’s pretty long and detailed, except for one crucial detail.
I submit the article to my editor and it gets published. The same day it’s published, the office gets a barrage of angry calls – from designer to village president.
It’s not a fruit-bearing tree!
It’s a people tree!
My editor calls me and tells me this, so I scroll through my notes, and discover I have recorded it meticulously, as it was described.
The paper issues an apology.
But for me it’s an interesting revelation about what we see. Regardless of what was described, my eyes saw something completely different. I looked at the design more carefully. And after some juggling of my perspective, I saw the abstract image of people, hanging like fruit, from the tree. And that’s when I realized how unique perspective is. I had done everything right, except interpret the image as it was intended to be perceived.
Perhaps my brain spontaneously dismissed what it considered as absurd – people, albeit abstract figures, hanging from the branches of a tree? Why would anyone produce such an image? And so it immediately dismissed that possibility.
But I also realized you cannot force the eye to see what it does not see. For me, it would always be a fruit-bearing tree.
And that’s what I told my editor.
A bit of a cliche.
They call this movie a Comedy. And it is. But it’s very clever. The moral of the story, so to speak, is that once you are connected to the Mob you are in it for life. You can never get out, as our leading lady shows us. It is a love story full of unusual twists. It’s an amusing look at mobsters, as portrayed by Dean Stockwell, and his two body guards. It explores violence around innocent acts, like the act of liking somebody who is NOT part of the mob. The mob follows you around for life! And this guy, portrayed by Matthew Modine, a really good actor! And Michelle Pfeiffer is charming as the woman who is wooed by Modine. It’s a really unusual lover story! Told from a twisted point of view, both visually and psychologically. It’s really funny!
(You know. I looked the movie up on imdb and it had actors listed as members of the cast but whom I still have not seen — like Alex Baldwin. Pfeiffer is great as the woman determined to elude the shadow of the mob. And then — it ends abruptly with Modine and Pfeiffer in the salon, sitting in a barber-like chair, kissing and giving each other a second chance, cause they can’t stop thinking about each other. Modine is really good as the man who loves the mob girl who just wants to be an ordinary person, but cannot. A truly underrated actor of our generation. Oliver Platt puts in a fine appearance as his friend, a tech nerd, who somehow puts together an intricate system moves so the ordinary guy can keep tabs on the girl while she is in the company of her mobster family and lover, Dean Stockwell. Stockwell experiences a case of deja vu and it is visually expressed by some interesting editing, and directed by Jonathan Demme who directed The Silence of the Lambs in 1991; Philadelphia in 1993; and The Manchurian Candidate in 2004.
The question in the end, of course, is what does all of this have to do with marriage?
Interesting movie. Christmas movie. No big name actors in it, and the acting, the writing is excellent. Lots of ideas raised about relationships as wrapped around the central characters, a womanizer whose reputation has now come to haunt him as he falls in love for the first time in his life. It’s a crisis. For he has never actually felt much with the denizens of women he bedded. Nothing stood out. Until now.
Intelligent and beautiful she has attracted both his body and mind. And he now feels things he has never felt before. And those feelings are making him feel awkward. He admits to his friend that he has no idea what’s going on, but knows fully well the seriousness of what is happening, on the spiritual level. Yet it gets him into trouble on the physical level, where he acts out against a bartender and ends up in a brawl, which his best friend rescues him from, and where he admits his confusion to him.
He goes back to his old haunt, the club, where he used to be in that scene of one night stands. You see him sitting there, disinterested. All his movements from now on stem from a feeling of emptiness, because of love.
Love can be scary.