a forum for those participating in the Lenton Film Series: 2010 – http://www.theauteurs.com/lists/4058 – especially those in Columbus, OH – but all are welcome.
there will be a second screening of Paris, Texas on Sunday.
Several good essays about “Paris, Texas”…
http://www.thefilmtalk.com/2010/01/27/blue-light-red-light-paris-texas-from-criterion/ – Gareth Higgins
http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1363 – Wim Wenders
http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1359 – Nick Roddick
Nastassja Kinski (Voices Under Your Skin)
Partial Interview (“Paris, Texas” – 1984)
How would you tell Jane’s story before the beginning of the film?
“I wrote a whole diary about what happened to her before. I just think she was a young girl, maybe coming from Europe, and when you meet someone, everything seems possible, crazy things happen that you never think could happen, and you just start to live. She met this man who made her laugh, and there was no wait, no demand or questions, no how or why. And somehow, for him, she was this young person who gave life to his world, and for her, he was this one person who gave her love and light. As soon as they have the baby, he starts to change. When a man needs someone, he tries so much to hold on to that, not to let it go, that his love becomes strange and overpowering. Love can be very threatening, suffocating; you can’t breathe anymore. And I saw the story that way: it just became a web around this woman with her child. He would not let the world touch her or spoil her; he would destroy this most precious thing in the world with his overpowering care; and she would become crazy, she would suddenly become violent, she couldn’t live anymore with herself, nor give to the child the love that he needed…So she left the man, she left the child – she left him in good hands, and in a way she never left him…
I don’t think she ever experienced any love or emotion, except the memories, after that relationship. Through that strange job and that strange room, with all those creatures and men, she may have tried to understand Travis, to get through to him through other men, through the work of helping other men, in whatever silly way. Helping these men is like communicating her love to him…it is not at all an accident that she would work in that place…she guided herself to that town and that place to do what she would do. There was nowhere else to go."
How do you see the ending?
“To me, that’s really a sign of love and a sign of a possibility and a new beginning. Through that act of his, she can really learn to love them again. A child really is the most important thing in a woman’s life. If your child is gone, there is no life – you torment your mind and your fantasy.”
I think the beautiful miss Kinski has spoken real insight into her character. This kind of insight (or most kinds of insight) are spoken or projected from our own experience, our own psychology, and our witness of the experience and psychology of others around us. and this particular one presents the always severe issue of our inability to actually embrace, understand, and remain conscience of our “oneness”. Oneness should imply or does imply that something isn’t just shared, but actually transcends the idea of a two individuals sharing life, because they are not two individuals anymore. and well represented in this film, and in the quoted material above, is the idea that there is no greater symbol of two individuals becoming one – than seeing their oneness incarnated through a child. a child is not just something shared, it is our literal oneness, living and breathing. and to fear or reject this symbol, or be jealous of it, is most definitely the root of all evil. and to abandon or abuse something made in your own image, is the most severe definition of “broken”.
and until we focus more on this most micro symbol of war and poverty in our very local communities, our global efforts to fight terrorism and our campaigns to end global poverty are quite certainly being done in vain.
He did what he had to do, didn’t he?
Though it probably doesn’t matter, I found myself wondering what Travis had been doing for the past four years before finally being discovered by his brother. How did he survive? What was he thinking during this time?
Fortunately for us, the script allows us insight into his thoughts in several key scenes. During one, he ponders with his eight year old son about his parents’ relationship. His mother was plain, simple. Not fancy. His father wished that she was fancy. His father would tell people that they met in Paris, allowing them to assume France, before finally revealing that it was actually Paris, Texas.
Is there any connection between this childhood memory and the fact that his brother is married to a fancy French woman?
I’m torn by the outcome of this movie. I was really hoping that Travis and his wife(?) would give their relationship another try, but that was probably an unrealistic hope. The catastrophic incident followed by four years of silence probably destroyed that hope. I guess I didn’t like the idea of Travis just leaving again. Where is he going to go, and how will that be better than staying in contact with his son?
Which brings me to think about Travis’s brother and sister-in-law. They were certainly going out of their way to create a loving home for Hunter. I believe this in spite of the side narrative about the rocky relationship between the two. Apparently Anne was afraid that Hunter’s leaving would cause their relationship to fail. Were we supposed to conclude that Anne’s reliance on Hunter was a negative thing? Not enough was explored for me to make that conclusion.
Similarly, Jane’s character was not sufficiently explored for me to feel the child would be safe with her. What is different now from four years ago? Reconciliation with Travis? Perhaps. Still, I would question the emotional stability of a woman who has a history of abandoning loved ones and works in the sex industry. But unfortunately, this is not Jane’s story.
Really, this is Travis’s story, and he has some things he needs to make right. Whether his lack of memory is real or contrived, he has done things that need to be addressed, and only he can do that. I enjoyed watching as he gradually changed from a man walking around aimlessly to a man who was willing to confront his past and try to make things right. His reflections on his life seemed genuine. But I was also frustrated with his failures to communicate. He made it, partially. But he could have gone farther.
Acting, cinematography, score, and screenplay were all excellent!
Is there any connection between this childhood memory and the face that his brother is married to a fancy French woman?
Really, this is Travis’s story, and he has some things he needs to make right. Whether his lack of memory is real or contrived, he has done things that need to be addressed, and only he can do that. I enjoyed watching as he realizes what he could and should do. His reflections on his life seemed real and thoughtful. But I was also frustrated with his failures to communicate. He made it, partially. But he could have gone farther.
PRESS NOTES: PARIS, TEXAS
Wim Wenders’s haunting family drama Paris, Texas has always had particularly ardent admirers. And as evidenced by recent reviews of the Criterion DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film, time has done nothing to wash away their enthusiasm. For Paste magazine, Andy Beta calls the movie “breath-catching and heartrending, infused with a humanity rarely captured on celluloid,” remarking that “none of the film’s emotional power has dimmed in the last quarter century.” At Film.com, Christine Champ writes, “Paris, Texas persists as an alluring emotional odyssey with mythical resonance. It’s deserving of cult status, and well worth watching again and again.” This is “one of the great movies of the 1980s and one of the great movies about America,” says Tribeca Film’s Elisabeth Donnelly, who also delves into the release’s supplements, concluding that “this DVD is a fascinating glimpse into the work and guiding serendipity that lead to a profound result.”
Paris, Texas also turned up in T, the New York Times’ style magazine, where Jonathan S. Paul contends that the film wields fashion influence: “After screening this German New Wave tearjerker, you might be surprised to find yourself coveting locally sourced heirloom denim. Paris, Texas isn’t just an epic drama that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes; nowadays it feels curiously in step with the current culture’s ongoing American heritage trip.”
The final word, however, comes from Daryl Loomis at DVD Verdict: “Paris, Texas is a near perfect film in every way . . . Intensely personal and profoundly beautiful, everybody owes it to themselves to see this film, especially given the superiority of Criterion’s set.”
“Reconciliation implies a complete healing and restoration of the broken relationships between God, humans, creation, and also a complete mending of the brokenness within ourselves. Reconciliation is not one aspect of the Christian mission, but rather the centre point for all mission. When we engage in reconciliation – or orient our lives towards reconciliation – we join the Triune God who liberates, mends, heals, and makes whole.” – Seeds of the Kingdom
I appreciate the shared sentiments of Mr. Putnam (Why Rufus Putnam? I think I missed the reference.) I struggle with the actuality of reconciliation in a personal way like I assume most people who have experienced brokenness (which is everyone) do. There’s something about partial or unfinished reconciliation that I find realistic and therefore compelling, but at the same time unsatisfying. As I get older, I fear partial reconciliation more and more. Every time I enter into relationship, brokenness becomes a new possibility. If incomplete reconciliation is all I can hope for, I’ll be fucked by the time I’m 30. I’ve already lost two past loves to silence and stalemate…how many more will I have to endure? But I know from personal experience that total reconciliation is possible. And I believe because I must (because I know no other way to live) that complete reconciliation is the Gospel of Christ and the covenant of God.
But how complete reconciliation is achieved when a return to “oneness” is no longer possible/desirable is beyond my wisdom. I think the filmed illustrated the lengths necessary to achieve any kind of reconciliation. How much further and in what way would Travis need to travel to find total restoration? I suppose ultimately, like Rufus said, the story was about Travis and focused on his reconciliation. Perhaps he his personal brokenness had been mended. I doubt it however. Travis leaves his son behind and confesses via recoding that while he loves his son, he can not be the father his son needs.
Here’s the last thought. It seems as if the weight placed upon our hearts by brokenness and our inability to become whole again is what makes us feel human….lived in. Even as I strive for total reconciliation I’m not sure I would trade in my battle scars for fear that I might forget the battle. Maybe we hold on to our brokenness and sabotage opportunities for total reconciliation to prove to ourselves that we are human, that life matters, that it matters that we are alive.
In the first scene between Travis and Jane (pink fuzzy shirt!), we see Travis revert back into his jealousy pattern almost immediately (“do you make money on the side?”). It is so distracting and oppressive that he has to beg her to stay, and then decides to leave himself without a goodbye (like four years ago). at this point, we know that Travis still has work to do within himself – and that some other things need to happen first, before he and Jane could move forward with a restored relationship.
but that doesn’t mean that reconciliation has not happened. there has been confession, and there has been a level of forgiveness between the two of them – two huge aspects of the reconciliation process. and there is a level of penance in the restored relationship between mother and son, facilitated by the father.
the key word is process.
“To me, that’s really a sign of love and a sign of a possibility and a new beginning. Through that act of his, she can really learn to love them again. A child really is the most important thing in a woman’s life. If your child is gone, there is no life – you torment your mind and your fantasy.”
“but that doesn’t mean that reconciliation has not happened.” – refers to the second scene between Travis and Jane – where “there has been confession”.
Dave and I watched a movie last night entitled “Urga” or “Close to Eden.” Released in 1991 and directed by Nikita Mikhalkov. Have you ever seen this movie Joad? Didn’t realize it while watching, but this film won a shit ton of awards in the early 90s. Got an Oscar and a Golden Glob for best foreign language film. Won best picture in all sorts of other festivals. I wasn’t ready for that caliber of film and will need to watch it again, perhaps in the “man space.” The 24 inch television and video cassette combo did little for the stunning cinematography. Some of the shots were straight up haunting. Others strangely moving.
I apologize that this post had nothing to do with the Lenton Film Series. I didn’t know where else to post this.
JYoungman – you can post whatever you like….
I am a whole week late with this reflection of the second film of the Lenten film series…i apologize.
“The Virgin Spring” (1960). Rape, Revenge, Church.
“Now I want tom make it plain that The Virgin Spring must be regarded as an aberration. It’s touristic, a lousy imitation of Kurosawa. At that time my admiration for the Japanese cinema was at its height. I was almost a samurai myself!”
- Ingmar Bergman in Bergman on Bergman, 1970
The most obvious Kurosawa comparison regarding the above themes and Bergman’s quote would have to be “Rashomon”. That being the case, I will share a partial comment i recently made on the film talk blog to get us started…
“I also just watched Rashomon for the second or third time, but it felt like a first. i had never before been so struck by the final scene with the infant, which carries a significant amount of symbolic weight. So much so, that i am not sure that kurosawa was making a film about the relativity of truth (that is so often written about), but that he was actually making a film about an ultimate truth, in regards to our response to our broken, dishonest, and violent nature.
so maybe he was suggesting, that by recognizing our broken nature and taking responsibility for it through an opportunity to reconcile broken relationships (adopting an orphan, re-unifying mother and child, frogs falling from the sky, hari and kris, etc) that there might be hope for redemption? – and if that were true, maybe “Truth” actually does exist, despite are incapability to be totally honest with ourselves? …to which i strongly feel, was the actual “point” of Rashomon, and seems to be a substantial truth of “Paris, Texas” as well."
and also a substantial truth of “the virgin spring”. bergman, as usual, digs as deep into our being as possible, forcing us to confront our humanity on it’s lowest level. interestingly, with this film, bergman allows us, encourages us to feel justified in the possibility and execution of revenge…at least against the two men who raped and killed his daughter. but they also had with them a child, their brother, who was innocent, traumatized, and abused. he witnesses this act of severe revenge, runs into the arms of the dead virgin’s mother, who embraces him – only to be ripped from her arms, thrown and killed by the raging father, furious with revenge. but immediately, the father is mortified by his act. and those of watching are unable to breath.
both bergman and kurosawa push us to the limits of our devastation. as if there can be no hope for reconciliation or redemption or enlightenment, until we are willing to accept that you, and I, and we, are capable of horrible atrocities against those we love and hate. we are damn vulnerable to it, and to not accept it in ourselves, makes our attempts at loving our neighbor, our God, and ourselves, feeble and surface. and i believe one of the essential foundations for the relational holocaust in the western post-modern world, is our inability to look in the mirror before we put on make-up.
Only after the two men in the respective films accept the worst of themselves, accept the worst of humanity, can they offer penance to God and neighbor. One rescues an abandoned infant at the gate of Rashomon, the other promises God that he will build a church of stone and mortar, right where the innocent virgin lay, raped and dead.
which is somewhat reminiscent of St. Francis confronting and embracing the repulsive and disgusting leper…
“One day, while crossing the Umbrian plain on horseback, Francis unexpectedly drew near a poor leper. The sudden appearance of this repulsive object filled him with disgust and he instinctively retreated, but presently controlling his natural aversion he dismounted, embraced the unfortunate man, and gave him all the money he had. About the same time Francis made a pilgrimage to Rome. Pained at the miserly offerings he saw at the tomb of St. Peter, he emptied his purse thereon. Then, as if to put his fastidious nature to the test, he exchanged clothes with a tattered mendicant and stood for the rest of the day fasting among the horde of beggars at the door of the basilica.
Not long after his return to Assisi, whilst Francis was praying before an ancient crucifix in the forsaken wayside chapel of St. Damian’s below the town, he heard a voice saying: “Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin.” Taking this behest literally, as referring to the ruinous church wherein he knelt, Francis went to his father’s shop, impulsively bundled together a load of coloured drapery, and mounting his horse hastened to Foligno, then a mart of some importance, and there sold both horse and stuff to procure the money needful for the restoration of St. Damian’s."
and in confronting and embracing our own poverty, our own repulsion and disgust and disease – only then will we be at the starting point of reconcilation and redemption – only then will we subvert the relational holocaust, rather than perpetuate it. i guess that could be true. at least, i feel that this is what is being offered by the medieval context of all three narratives – that “the salvation of humanity lies in it’s shame.”
For me, The Virgin Spring was an unsettling film to watch, to put it lightly. I did not want to watch this young woman be violated and murdered. Most movies will imply the act, with a cut-away to keep the audience at a distance. But for us to watch so closely, to see those hideous faces right next to that young woman as her innocence is stolen, to watch her facial reactions afterwards with the perpetrators in the background, staring idiotically, made me want to kill. I’ll admit I could not wait for those brothers to get the shit kicked out of them.
This young woman, Karin, was on her way to deliver candles for a Church service of some kind. Running into these three goatherds, she agrees to share her food with them. She lays out a blanket, blesses the food, and they eat together. This scene of generosity and sweetness is followed by the aforementioned act.
The feelings of injustice continue to rise as the three goatherds are shown hospitality by the very family whose daughter they have just killed. When they try to sell Karin’s clothes to her own mother, the complicated feelings of heartbreak, horror, confusion, and righteous anger swell in her/our heart/s. She locks them in the barn. The father upon hearing what has happened, prepares himself almost ritualistically for the brutal actions he is about to embark on. It must happen. We feel it has to happen.
The heartbreak and rage are enough to tear down a tree.
So he kills them. All three of them. Even the boy who, according to Ingeri (the adopted daughter who witnessed the events), played a part in the rape and murder.
Personally, I was relieved when this scene was over. I mean, I did feel bad about the death of the boy, but there were several thoughts going through my head in regards to that situation.
1) The father killed him based off the (incorrect) information, provided by Ingeri, that he was more involved than he actually was.
2) Though he obviously felt sickened by the entire scene, he WAS complicit in his brother’s actions (tripping Karin, not trying to stop them, etc)
3) His only caretakers were his brothers. Had he survived, he would be raised an orphan, possibly with the thought of taking vengence on the family that killed his brothers.
But these thoughts still do not justify his death.
And this is where the movie tries to take an emotional track that I had trouble following after all of the emotional intensity that we’ve just been through.
The father immediately feels guilty about killing the young boy. The family travels to see the body of Karin. When they arrive, the father goes off by himself and has an argument with God, asking Him why He didn’t prevent these evils from happening. Why had his act of justice gone too far to include purposefully killing the boy? He tells God that he will build a church of stone (as penance)?
The movie’s story is based on an old poem, and the promise to build a church is one of the final lines, which is why it is in the movie also. But it feels…contrived?
The film also depicts the changing culture of medieval Sweden. The new Christianity is becoming more prominent, while the old Nordic religions are passing. The story seems to depict the followers of Odin as sexually depraved, grubby, conniving, and generally unfavorable, while the Christians are presented as proud, clean, hospitable, and successful. The socio-economic backgrounds are left to speculation. The Christian family has adopted a ‘pagan’ girl, who seems to despise all of them.
This clash of cultures/ideologies is brought to a paradoxical climax with the act of justice/revenge. Was it Divine justice? Was it barbaric revenge? Did the Christian father lapse into his old, Nordic ways to ‘take care of business’ because the New Testament ethic lacks teeth? How does God view our response to suffering and evil? I’ll keep asking myself these questions…
Also, I think the remake should star Mel Gibson.
“The Son” by the Dardenne Brothers is pitch-perfect for Lent.
“My Night at Maud’s” (1969) – Eric Rohmer…
“Over the years, Rohmer has received a great deal of attention as a writer of dialogue, or to put it more precisely, as a creator of films structured around talk. He has also been noted as a lover of beautiful young people, as a teller of tales, and as some kind of “moralist.” None of these observations is terribly insightful, least of all the charge of moralism, which seems to rise from a simple misunderstanding of the term “moral tale.” It has often been pointed out that Rohmer is a practicing Catholic, to suggest that his Christianity is at the center of his filmmaking. In fact, while his Jesuit education may very well have instilled him with piety, it also doubtless sharpened his spirit of restless inquiry into the roles played by chance, choice, and grace in life—none of which he ever fully embraces. The Six Moral Tales do not have “morals.” Rather, they are stories of people in the process of making choices that may or may not be moral, examining the basis on which those choices are made, and thus trying to divine the distance between the real and the ideal in the process.”
“My Night At Maud’s” – http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/436
ERIC ROHMER, 1920 – 2010 – http://www.theauteurs.com/notebook/posts/1390
“The salvation of humanity lies in its shame.” Beautifully said Joad. As I read this quote, I immediately thought of a book I read recently with a similar theme appearing in the final chapters of the story.
“’It’s your one last chance,’ said Harry, ‘its all you’ve got left…I’ve seen what you’ll be otherwise….Be a man….try…Try for some remorse…”
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pg 741. (Harry speaking to Voldemort in their final showdown)
Even after all Voldemort has done, including killing Harry’s parents, Harry implores Voldemort to look into his soul, to realize his brokenness and his shame and in so doing find salvation. All the while, Harry is calling Voldemort by his birth name rather than by his evil wizarding name. I’m not sure why I felt the need to out myself here, but I find it so interesting when such challenging, counter cultural, seemingly un-embraceable truths find their way into mainstream and even children’s literature. I hope that expose won’t lose me your respect.
Secondly, I’d like to agree with Rufus that Mel Gibson would be a shoe in for the remake of Virgin Spring, hopefully directed by Michael Bay. I really felt that Bergman missed some key opportunities for explosions that Bay would deliver on.
I too was emotionally impacted by the rape scene and found it appropriately uncomfortable. I remember feeling some relief that no women were in attendance, as I can only imagine how personally disturbing the scene would have been for them.
The film presents an interesting view on reconciliation and redemption…a different one, I feel, from the one presented in Paris Texas. In Paris Texas, some level of reconciliation was achieved between the involved persons (Father, Mother, Son) and consequently, within the persons involved. In the Virgin Spring however, reconciliation between parties was not attempted and then, after the goat herders were killed, became impossible. Instead, the Father took the redemption of his daughter into his own hands by brutally killing all involved in her death. He then sought his own redemption through confession and promised penance/ faithfulness to God.
In this way, the film places the confrontation of injustice in opposition to reconciliation of the soul and at the same time illuminates the duality of man. This duality is characterized in the film by the interplay of Paganism and Christianity. Rufus was keen to point out the stark contrasts between the ways in which the two faiths/practices were portrayed. When the father was confronted with the terrible injustice of his daughter’s rape and murder, he abandons the message of the Gospel, possibly performs a Pagan ritual for cleansing (I was not certain what kind of ritual this was), and embraces violence. He is immediately stricken with remorse and guilt. His flesh has achieved revenge, now his soul must find redemption.
I’ve found few who understand and articulate the struggle between flesh and soul as vibrantly as Nikos Kazantzakis.
“My principal anguish and the source of all my joys and sorrows from my youth onward has been the incessant, merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh…
The anguish has been intense. I loved my body and did not want it to perish; I loved my soul and did not want it to decay. I have fought to reconcile these two primordial forces which are so contrary to each other, to make them realize that they are not enemies but, rather, fellow workers, so that they might rejoice in their harmony—and so that I might rejoice with them…
The stronger the soul and the flesh, the more fruitful the struggle and the richer the final harmony. God does not love weak souls and flabby flesh. The Spirit wants to have to wrestle with flesh which is strong and full of resistance. It is a carnivorous bird which is incessantly hungry; it eats flesh and, by assimilating it, makes it disappear. "
back to “the virgin spring” as i still have not been able to shake it from my mind, nor do i want to do so. i also have not yet watched “my night at maud’s.” so….
bergman left me feeling much like i felt after leaving “inglorious bastards.” i believe the smashing pumpkins did an excellent job of summing this feeling up in “disarm” with the lyrics, “the killer in me is the killer in you.”
unfortunately, i had once again made the mistake of thinking i had buried the killer in me. thanks bergman for pointing out the big ass plank in my eye and putting me in my place. i think the paralleled theme between the killing of the innocent (karin and the young boy) that tore me up, especially the latter. mostly, because i found myself wanting “king bad ass” to kill the men who raped and murdered his daughter, much like i wanted hitler and the nazi’s to die in “inglorious bastards.” its this realization of my nature that, once again, fucked me up. so where do i go from here? i tell you one thing, i eagerly await the viewing of “the shawshank redemption.” time to go affirm what i want to believe, that being that all life is of value.
awesome. JW – feel free to weave in children’s literature and film. totally appropriate.
and totally appropriate to discuss any of the films we have seen, at any time – kyle.
Rufus – you and I seem to have completely different (though not necessarily opposing) ways of reflecting on these films. i find that interesting.
oh, and Irvin – thanks for the recommendation. i have seen the Dardenne’s “the child”, but not “the son”. “the child” was one of my favorite films of last decade, and i believe could also be viewed for future lenten film series’.
Here is a bonus feature of sorts from the Criterion Collection – posted after Rohmer passed…
My Night at Maud’s
Pascal’s wager, cast into a sexual/relational light.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that managed to discuss all of the different facets my relational anxiety’s better than this script.
I’ve been in love with a Maud before. It still hurts.
Philosophical discussions about God and life happen all of the time. I’ve been one of those people who has created large, elaborate cases for/against Christianity, wrestling with its claims, etc.
I remember having a conversation with someone who basically told me that my problem with God was not a philosophical one, it was an emotional one. He went on to describe people who create ever growing and elaborate cases against the idea of God/Christ/whatever, using intellect to protect them from engaging with the idea of God at an emotional level. It’s a good observation, though I don’t think its fair to discredit the logical arguments entirely.
Such debates are presented in a concise and poignant way in My Night at Maud’s.
I think Maud was impressed that Jean-Louis stayed true to his convictions. Perhaps her worldview of men-as-cheaters (created by the experience of her ex-husband) combined with the power of her sexuality was shaken a bit by his decision to stay chaste.
At the same time, the experience of being wanted, of being the subject of seduction, seemed to awaken Jean-Louis in a way so true to life, I could hardly believe it was being presented this realistically on-screen. In a way, this experience with Maud ultimately gave him the impetus to meet and pursue a girl he was interested in, but had never met. Had he continued in his world of rationality, he may never have met the ‘girl of his dreams’. In a way, Maud ‘saved’ him by putting him to the test.
Anyway, those were my initial thoughts. And I’m still in love with Maud.
“Remember that moment when Marlon Brando sent the Indian woman to accept the Oscar, and everything went haywire? Things just very rarely go haywire now. If you’re just operating by habit, then you’re not really living.”
Criterion Essay by Amy Taubin
When Noah Met Wally
My Dinner with Facebook?
“A few weeks ago I had dinner with Twyla Tharp in her kitchen, and we were talking about the problems of the artist, or for that matter the individual, maturing in our society. Why do we have so few mature artists? Trying to answer this question, we began to speculate that your early years, say your twenties, should be all about learning—learning how to do it, how to say it, learning to master the tools of your craft; having learned the techniques, then your next several years, say your thirties, should be all about telling the world with passion and conviction everything that you think you know about your life and your art. Meanwhile, though, if you have any sense, you’ll begin to realize that you just don’t know very much—you don’t know enough.
And so the next many, many years, we agreed, should be all about questions, only questions, and that if you can totally give up your life and your work to questioning, then perhaps somewhere in your mid-fifties you may find some very small answers to share with others in your work. The problem is that our society (including the community of artists) doesn’t have much patience with questions and questioning. We want answers, and we want them fast. “My Dinner with Andre” uses some of my experiences of my six years out of the theater as foundation stones for a work which is made up entirely of questions and which i would like to dedicate to all, artists and otherwise, who are out on the road somewhere wandering, with no destination anywhere in sight, almost forgetting why the ever set out in the first place, yet still unable to turn back, because they honestly believe that the shortest distance between two points just might not be a straight line."
- Andre Gregory
i was wondering on good friday before we watch the film if we could break bread. anyone interested?
yeah. we can do that on Wednesday and Friday.
Nothing makes me more depressed than realizing that I do not feel alive.
Thanks, My Dinner with Andre, for pouring salt into that wound.
I often hoped that living a Spirit-filled life would produce the most vibrant, fully aliveness possible…
I wanted this conversation to provide more insight than it ultimately did, but to ask for more would be ludicrous since it takes us so close to the ledge of our own experience. You may feel like calling a loved one spontaneously after viewing this. In a perverse way, I realized that it may serve the reverse effect of the intended one. Now whenever I long for a long, deep chat with a friend, I can just view My Dinner With Andre instead.
There are so many different trains of thought (though all pointing in a certain direction), it is hard to sit and think of where to begin with a review or reflection of the film. Also, it is fascinating (but unfortunate) to see so many parallels almost thirty years later. Cell phones, for one. Facebook for another. But those are still just another kind of electric blanket, separating us from reality, separating us from one another, lulling us into a deep trance. Is communication with another person “real”, if we can’t look them in the eyes? Is it real if we can’t touch them?
How much time is spent with machines, rather than with people? Which one do we prefer?
I have to say though, that the centerpiece of the film for me is the “death and resurrection” scenario, so well detailed and articulated by Andre. Even just listening and imagining presents a certain kind of confrontation with death and the celebration of life, possibly unparalleled by anything i have ever “seen” in a film or experienced in life. It is the kind of thing that the season of Lent is supposed to be about – a journey that brings us back to reality, so we can touch our humanity, engage our spirituality, confront our death and our fear, and with the blooming Magnolias and Dogwoods, become colorful and alive. it is a most necessary experience for us in the First World, in the Western World! Most Necessary. Otherwise, we are both the prisoners and the guards of our unseen prison.