It’s about time that I tackle the question many people that have given this blog some kind of appreciation and attention have been wondering. It’s been a year of big changes and one thing that has stood out to me is that I am no longer writing. No longer writing the way I used to. Things are not being broken down and understood by means of me sitting down and writing them out. Something has changed and I want to explain myself – as best as I can – through writing.
I am no longer writing because I am unable to do so. The act of taking that voice in my head and writing it out is not something I am feeling inclined to do any more. Can it be that this is where it ends for me? When I’m older and browsing through a library and chance upon a novel that I could’ve written – will it make me feel like it was beyond my ability? Like I was only a lost cause when it came to the written word. I don’t know.
All I know is that writing is not capable of paying my rent. That writing is not a means to the end. That I chose to be where I am and I chose what I wanted to do with my day and I knowingly left writing out of it. But all that being said, I cannot stress enough that I am happy. As happy as I’ve ever known myself to be. I’m accepting now – I am no longer deeply unsatisfied with my surroundings, my circumstances, my shortcomings. I am accepting. I know love like I’ve never known before. I have the feeling of belonging to a group of people that don’t care about how trying I was when I was a child. I am alive in this moment and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
This also brings me to something that I’ve recently been struggling with. Something that I may change my mind about later but for now feels stubbornly true – I am not meant to be a writer. I thought I knew it in the bones of my being that writing was what kept me going and that writing would save me and maybe someday give me a pretty roof on my head, a fireplace and maybe even a decent amount of money. What I didn’t see coming was that writing would become a labour of love to a point where I just couldn’t even bring myself to think of it any more.
The part about this change that is still tough on me is that the writing voice in my head is now extremely faint, a terribly quiet whisper and this is simply not cathartic.
This blog still has a steady number of views and visitors flowing in daily and that astounds me. Why is anyone reading something I wrote years ago that doesn’t even come close to how I feel now or who I am now? I read some of the posts on this blog and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to write like that again. Have I betrayed myself by choosing to let go of something I was so passionate about back when I had nothing else in my life?
The changes to my lifestyle are for the better, I tell myself. The short hair, the polished heels and the potential to grow my savings are everything I need to feel fulfilled. Writing never eased the nightmares about where the money would come from.
I have hundred posts on this blog now (not including this one I’m writing – because it may just end up in my drafts like the rest.) That is something, right? A reminder that I grounded myself on Sloppy Etymology for a considerable period of time.
Even now, I believe I have failed to explain what I set out to. My thoughts are scattered and the exercise of reaching out and grabbing them and forcing them down onto paper is too tiresome. If it’s any consolation, everyday I’m doing the second best thing I can do when I can’t write. I’m reading.
The year is coming to an end and I have things to say.
It’s not fair that any kind of real life advancements that I may have come at the expense of my blog. I would like to change that in the coming year because time and again I’ve valued how much of a catharsis this has been right here. Always.
I miss people more than I thought I would and what hurts is that I know not when I can see them again. I am constantly seeing through the new people I meet. They’re all the same. I’ve always met them before. I don’t think I’m an introvert but the lack of interesting people around me forces me to retreat and find comfort in my thoughts.
The year is ending and I’m coming full circle. Last year at this time I was on a very different high. I was getting Freshly Pressed and attention on this blog was at an all-time high. I was moving to a country I dreamed about living in every single day for the last two years. I was swept into a life I knew I wanted and everything about my existence up to this point paled in comparison.
I got everything I desired and it wasn’t enough for me.
I spent a big part of this year realizing that my inherent reluctance towards embracing happiness in the little ways it knocks at my door is not something I can do away with. It’ll go with me like an anchor around my foot. I know not under which ocean does the key to it lie and to be honest I’m not going to dive in order to find it. Especially because I don’t know how to swim.
It’s December and I like this month and there’s snow on my blog and there are shimmery lights in the populated parts of the city I live in and I am here and I feel loved.
The year is coming to a close and I’m feeling like a soft blanket has been wrapped around me and I’m safe and ready for the year to come.
Another review requested by S. It’s becoming increasingly evident that I am having a good time working through the list she requested/recommended. More than ever, I feel like all hope is not lost with my review writing and that someone, somewhere respects what I do, and that is often enough to keep me going. That she addresses herself as “my biggest fan” not only humbles me a great deal any more but only adds the icing to the cake of the wonderful movies suggested. Lest we forget, words and movies are the best way to carve a niche in my heart.
CAUTION: Implied spoilers and a personal rant embedded somewhere in the middle.
Teenage Dirtbag is a small-budget indie movie directed, scripted by Regina Crosby based on somewhat true events. I looked up background details on her and the lead cast but I’ve decided not to bore you with the details because well, my goodness, can I not wait to write about this movie already.
If you’re like me and not quick to discount a book, movie or any other form of media by simply its name or in this case, IMDB description then you’re in for a huge delight. Teenage Dirtbag is way more than what meets the eye in the first few minutes. I say this because I watched this movie thinking I knew exactly what I was in for. I’ve been doing that lately. I’ve been afraid to find triggers in movies and books that remind me of a life I had. A life I may no longer have any access to. It’s difficult to be that one person society is expecting you to be every single day. Unbearable when you’ve agreed to be that way and have no way of going back. And this is what Amber’s point of conflict is. Let’s start from scratch now, shall we?
Teenage Dirtbag is a non-linear film surrounding the high school prim and proper cheerleader, intelligent, pretty to a point of unnecessary perfection girl named Amber and the typical high school delinquent, Thayer. The movie starts off with a present day scenario where Amber is leading her days rather incoherently as she carries inside her a tiny human being. Flashback to high school. Think back to that one person you met in high school who was so thoroughly exhausting, annoying and downright difficult to avoid as much as you tried, especially if you tried. That one person of the opposite sex that tried their level hardest to get your attention and as exasperating as it was, you secretly enjoyed it. I know I did.
Thayer is a deeply troubled boy trying to put on a brave-enough-to-eat-absolutely-anything obnoxious front at school while he can barely stand up to his abusive father back at home. Amber, on the other hand, excels at all the tiny and big accomplishments a girl can perform well at in high school but is neglected by her family and yearns for their appreciation. It’s hard to say that this part, right here, isn’t already sounding like the usual good girl meets bad boy cliché. But believe me when I say it’s hardly like that.
So, Amber is obviously the only person indifferent and quite unamused by Thayer’s ridiculous, cringe-worthy shenanigans that usually squeeze out reactions from everyone else. Amber, in the first person narrative describes how in retrospect all of her actions and the lack thereof, affected Thayer deeply and led from one thing to the other. It’s hard to tell what Amber feels about everything that happened back when they were young and free, whether, in hindsight she wishes she had behaved differently. But that’s me getting ahead of myself. Anyway coming back, Amber decides early on that Thayer is unworthy of her attention. She makes this so apparent at times, you have to wonder whether that really helps anyone at all. What this does is builds an air of mystery around her and attracts Thayer towards her, mostly subconsciously at the start and later, quite intensely.
As much as Amber believes that her misfortune of always being in such close proximity with Thayer is only because of the alphabetical ordering of their surnames, they end up together in a Creative Writing class. Their interactions through poetry and prose and the underlying hints passed on through verse draws them together in ways otherwise unimaginable. You see them forging a bond that is strained from the very start. Amber plays along with this and chooses to communicate with Thayer of her own volition when people aren’t paying attention. So they start passing notes during study hour. As they start developing a half-decent relationship with each other, they start to realize that both of them have issues at home that have some degree of commonality. Here’s my bone to pick with the story, Thayer and Amber were attracted to each other regardless of this angle to the plot. Anyway, I’m not one to bicker about such things too much and let me take this sour spot to diverge into parallels I love drawing between the reel life and my real life.
High school where I grew up was nothing like the one Thayer and Amber studied at or like any other high schools depicted in Western cultures. Hell, we don’t even call it “high school” per se. However, people – as I’ve been picking up on so acutely over the past few months are more or less the same in all parts of the world. So, there was a person exactly like Thayer in my life. There were two whole years that I look back on and ponder about but never speak out loud. This boy had an interest in me that aggravated me very much at the start. Recovering from a terrible break-up at the time, the last thing I needed was excessive attention and a need to overshare and thereby get really intimate with another. Fortunately, this boy for me was just a simple “no” and all of his playful (I suppose?) advances were dismissed by me and termed “hopelessly cheesy”. Onlookers laughed at us pulling off the girl-boy best friend stance and to a great extent we nervously laughed with them, too. Knowing that we each had very different personal lives but were more or less stuck in the same classroom for hours on end, we grew comfortable to a point that any kind of lack of attention from the other, resulted in a huge fight and another fact that we never admitted – jealousy. Days caught up to weeks and months and years. Time changed. We moved on with our lives. I put my foot down, asked for a choice that had me or someone else and said hurtful things and when this boy demanded I say something, anything, just like Amber, I said nothing at all. And just like Amber, in present time, I have no way of knowing how he is. I have ruthlessly chopped all means of contact and all I can do now, is wonder.
Coming back, there are scenes in the movie that give me goosebumps and I can see how they have actually been drawn from the writer and director’s personal experiences. Teenage love can be made to look all too fine and perfect on the big screen and many of these moments between Thayer and Amber are handled very carefully to bring forth more than just what meets the eye. The Creative Writing class professor brings to his character such genuineness and clarity that it’s hard not to feel you’re actually in that class with everybody else. Even that character was not stereotyped completely or overplayed. Thayer and Amber’s back and forth with their prose and poetry do not go unnoticed by him. He does not intervene in matters that he clearly has a good grasp about but has no right to interfere.
As the movie comes to its last lap, I had to take a deep breath and the gooey corners of my heart held on tight hoping against hopes that things work out for Thayer and Amber in the past. Despite knowing present day Amber’s condition. I guess, I was hoping for some kind of redemption from her, that her reason for never giving Thayer the time of day had only to do with society’s created norms. Films like this are hidden gems, not looking to make grand statements, targeted towards an extremely narrow audience that can draw on and appreciate even the slightest of resemblance to their past or present life.
“Bird 1: This is the wrong story.
Bird 2: All stories are the wrong story when you are impatient.”
I laid hands on my copy of War of The Foxes through a campaign heralded by a not-for-profit printing company – Copper Canyon Press. What this meant is, I had to wait a long, long time after the book released elsewhere and for a third of the price I had donated to Copper Canyon only because I was going to get a signed copy by Richard Siken. This is all still mostly a dream for me but I stub my toes and stumble often to realize just how lucky and fortunate I truly am.
Anyone who has followed this blog long enough knows Siken’s words mean the world to me. They fall just below the title of my page. Always. The nature, appearance, title of this blog have witnessed drastic and rather dramatic changes but the tagline has not. Richard Siken’s poetry came to me the way Joan Didion’s prose did. Siken came first but I can only put it in reverse chronology for some reason.
In retrospect, I believe I took from Siken’s words a meaning and understanding different from what he intended to express. I found in War of The Foxes, wilderness and love, violent and enormous desires too difficult to contain, devotion, self-perception and imagery beyond what I could have imagined without his words.
“In the wrong light anyone can look like a darkness.”
It’s hard for me to review War of The Foxes without talking about Crush – the book of poetry that preceded it. Crush, that did exactly what the title suggested until I had to deliberately put it out of sight instead of making a big mess of myself that I couldn’t clean up. Crush, that sang to me and spoke of grief the way Didion did in The Year of Magical Thinking. Two people so different, trying to deal with death through their words.
Coming to the book, a short collection of about 47 poems that slowly and steadily creep up on you and ravage the core of your soul. I find that whatever words I may use to describe the effect Richard Siken’s words have on me I will always fall short and appear very shabby. In War of The Foxes, Siken inspects further what it is to be alive. He asks questions that we are all afraid to think about. Siken turns over all things and blurs the lines between reality, paintings, landscapes in paintings. He takes the three things I love most – words, paintings and mathematics and draws truths and fabrications and confrontations between various ‘myselves’. What I love about this book, as I did about Crush, is that Siken weaves his own language, in a way. It’s a rearrangement of words in a rhythmic pattern hard to miss. Siken makes you read his sentences the way he would read them.
“Someone has to leave first. This is a very old story. There is no other version of this story.”
So, this book made me cry on subways and local buses and in bed. So, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about some poems but some others tore me up, chewed me and spat me out. What I mean is, they made a mess of me that I willingly stepped into and unbeknownst to me came out wobbling and shaky, afraid that I was no longer me. I came out a different me. A person who is thinking beyond the lines that separate myself, myselves, my body, my skin, my flesh from the rest of the landscape that I exist in. I find that Siken’s questions sometimes as simple as “to supply the world with what?”, “why paint a bird?” and on separate occasions increasingly complex and intimidating, “how much can you change and get away with it, before you turn into someone else, before it’s some kind of murder?” are questions you can spend years and years trying to find the answers for, and before long, lose sight of the question entirely. Years of stumbling and walking around in rooms with dark shelving with thousands of books on them and still not know what you’re searching for.
“Your body told me in a dream it’s never been afraid of anything.”
What I love and love so dearly in this book are the continuations of thought processes from Crush. The slight nods to his faithful readers that took his words and made them so popular and mainstream that it would only be completely foolish to not put them in again. I remember gasping out loud when I found one of my favourite lines from Crush suddenly being thrown smack in the middle of the book. Everyone needs a place.
Although in War of the Foxes, Siken does not add the sentence that succeeds it in Crush. Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else.
I spent many days trying to understand why that sentence had been removed. I think ‘removed’ as in withheld not erased, not deleted, not (God forbid hope not) forgotten. I returned to War of The Foxes and reread it a couple of times, only to find that every time the book had a grip on me that went from a clutch on my gut, to a squeeze on my heart, a tingling in my tear glands and before long a stranglehold around my neck. I put the book down.
A few days back, I broke down in hysterics and threw a fit that I only wish I could have had in solitude. I showed my ugly and my damaged and I believe, in that moment, Siken’s words finally came through for me.
Everyone needs a place.
There is no need for a follow up to that sentence. In the poem, War of The Foxes, the rabbit Pip tells the other rabbit Flip that they are doomed because a fox is chasing them. Flip tells him they’re not and that Pip should hide inside him. Pip hides inside him. While the fox can still see Pip, he’s not there and we all know that. You can see him, but he’s not there. And what about Flip? He’s not there, either.
“They seemed to be in New York as I was, on some indefinitely extended leave from wherever they belonged, disciplined to consider the future, temporary exiles who always knew when the flights left for New Orleans or Memphis or Richmond or, in my case, California. Someone who lives with a plane schedule in the drawer lives on a slightly different calendar. Christmas, for example, was a difficult season. Other people could take it in stride, going to Stowe or going abroad or going for the day to their mothers’ places in Connecticut; those of us who believed that we lived somewhere else would spend it making and canceling airline reservations, waiting for weatherbound flights as if for the last plane out of Lisbon in 1940, and finally comforting one another, those of us who were left, with oranges and mementos and smoked-oyster stuffings of childhood, gathering close, colonials in a far country.”
-Joan Didion, Goodbye To All That
This is the first time I’m quoting from my favourite essay by Didion. I tried my hardest to not do that here because I was afraid that this essay says a bit too much about my life right now. It explains in torturous detail what I’m thinking but not quite ready to say out loud. But that’s the funny part, I read it almost everyday. I read it while huddled in a corner of my room, trying to make sense, trying to find something in between the lines that may have slipped past me the first time, the third time, the hundred and seventy fifth time.
I think, often, about how I could be anywhere but here. And then I see that Didion thought that, too. It’s oddly comforting.
Right now, I should be doing something else. I’m actually supposed to be doing something else. I have in front of me, more than eighty-five printed papers to be memorized, a pen cum highlighter that never fails to stain my fingernails, a packet of spicy, minty potato snacks that expired last month but I keep around because I like how it smells.
At nights, I huddle up under two blankets even when it’s awfully warm. I don’t eat very much but that’s only because nothing has changed. Guilt is overpowering and dulls the senses – in my case, taste. I get asked often by people who want to know if I’m doing okay whether I have any friends. And that’s a trick question, I believe. I never cared much about friendships anyway. For me, a friend was always someone who knew, understood, told me they cared then carefully stepped back. God knows I have loved those friends more than I thought I could. I have three separate blogs written in my head and I revise them everyday while I’m on the bus. Time will come when I can be writing and submitting again as I was at this time last year. Much has changed. Yet nothing really has. I’m doing what I need to do and on some days, I’m even perfectly happy with it all.
Take poetry. Take music. Add over-saturated, vivid, vibrant cinematography. What is not to love about this beautiful mélange?
So often poetry translates into imagery in our minds that is often difficult to do justice on the main screen. Poetry is art. To do anything more with it often feels like a disservice to it. However, The Color of Time makes me feel otherwise. I am so whelmed at this point that I want to go back into the dream-like cocoon the film built around me and never escape.
Poetry written with a honey-glazed rhythm, spoken modestly, shot like a dream, plays like a heartbroken yet optimistic tribute to life. Those are the words that come to mind if I want to sum up The Color of Time in a single sentence. Directed in parts by twelve directors, pieced together in a haunting, back and forth manner – like our memories. The Color of Time is a compilation of Pulitzer Prize winning poet C.K. Williams’ beautiful poems and a peek into human memory and the moments that define us.
Starring James Franco as the present day poet we are taken way back into his life at various stages of growth, the instance he started noticing the world around him, his experiences with love, loss, the women in his life at various stages, his mother (Jessica Chastain) and his struggle with his art. The film does not work on a solid movie-like plot but brings out the underlying message about how C.K. Williams found his calling as a poet. It is hard to say that The Color of Time is a very original and insightful movie and that nothing like it was ever imagined or made before. It is, in parts, very reminiscent of one of my all-time favourite movies, The Tree of Life. But don’t get me wrong, I’ll watch every film that’s made that is inspired by it. However, I know some critics that find these parallels (Jessica Chastain gracefully walking around on vast expanses of grass and sunlight pouring in through the trees, through her beautiful hair and her ever perfect features) mildly annoying. I get that but I’m not one of those people and The Colour of Time works for me as is.
Having not read anything by C.K. Williams before I was happily taken to find that his poetry is my kind of poetry. I don’t write poetry very much at all any more but it comes to me sometimes and tugs at my sleeve for it to be written; I’m always wary of it because I know that writing that writes you is often the dangerous kind of writing. What I took from this movie, why it mattered to me so much right away was the fact that I was able to relate easily to what C.K. Williams felt in those particular memories of his previous years.
I know for a fact that I’m not the only one and that the urge for writing develops unknowingly inside you when you are very small. However, what I also know right down to my bones is the aloofness, the queer sense of being amiss from your physical self that comes with it. The relative ease with which you can subtract yourself from your current situation and piece sentences in your mind is often a limitless luxury. And who can tell on you, really, especially if you’re a child.
C.K. Williams grew up in a very reclusive time and he reflects on memories that change you, forever. A fleeting embrace, the touch of someone’s palms, the rush from running and the lack of interest in the things your parent might want you to do. I want to say that James Franco is simply James Franco in this movie and I don’t mind that at all. It feels like a better progression to his character in his self-produced movies (Palo Alto, anyone?). Mila Kunis, who intermittently features as the present day love of his life, the mother of his child, has no greater role to play except being beautiful in that ephemeral way where you want nothing more than to spend the rest of your life loving her.
The Color of Time is a vintage, soft-spoken, visually eccentric and thoroughly overwhelming movie. It has some really good moments but others that you may have seen elsewhere before and might not do much for you. However, if you love wordplay built on loss and lament, love and longing, basically just life go ahead and dim the lights, settle in by yourself and give this film a watch.
I’ve often said I’m not big on the comedy genre in movies and that it takes a very sharp, witty and often satirical take on humour for that genre to seemingly appeal to me at all. I feel like lately I’ve been stepping out of my usual indie movie flavours and experimenting with a random dash of humour and getting rewarded for my courage.
Appropriate Behaviour is a humorous, at times audacious yet thoroughly amusing take on several issues ranging from being an immigrant in modern day New York to living with a queer sexual orientation, coming out of the closet, dealing with heartbreak, growing as a person and simply being in your 20’s and what that entails. While all of this could easily be made into a five season long television show on HBO with a studded star-cast and a strong soundtrack, Desiree Akhavan – the writer, director and lead actress in the movie successfully wraps it all up in about 80 minutes.
Starring as Shirin, an Iranian immigrant living in NYC, Desiree effectively puts forth the bubble of her world as a bisexual young woman simply trying to get by. The movie flows back and forth to her relationship with a white girl named Maxine – that is, to be honest – doomed from the start. Post this devastating break-up with Maxine, Shirin is a big, hot mess. Shirin, although very spontaneous, upbeat and perky is a sensitive person under all that and wants Maxine back so bad.
The underlying reason for the break-up that Shirin can’t seem to shake off is the fact that she couldn’t come out of the closet and tell her parents. Her Iranian parents, with Iranian values and an Iranian straight elder son, set out to marry a girl from his medical profession. Shirin terms it as older child syndrome where the older kid wants to be perfect for his parents and do everything right but deep down is simmering and could one day pull out a gun in a public place. Shirin made me laugh and reminded me a little bit of me and that made my day.
Shirin’s the obvious centre of this story and even though the movie felt so familiar – I later figured out why – she does a stupendous job at keeping you gripped start to finish. She has a strong camera presence, lovely set of expressions, much grace in her acting and a whole lot of gumption that makes you love her but also sometimes pity her.
The issues Shirin faces trying to find in Brooklyn – an apartment, a decent job, the right partner – will strike a chord of commonality in anyone, in any part of the world. What I love is how Appropriate Behaviour doesn’t dwell too much on a particular problem, doesn’t poke humour too hard at say a scene between her potential employer and herself wherein he reacts to her Iranian origins in the most clichéd way imaginable. It’s refreshing when comic elements are in the slights and not all over the place in that metaphorical slapstick manner. It’s even more appealing when characters try to keep their sense of humour even in their darkest days.
Appropriate Behaviour is clearly an achievement as a debut film and is definitely a movie worth watching with your bunch of friends on a Friday night sleepover. If you’ve watched Blue Is The Warmest Colour (and loved it as I did) you will find that Appropriate Behaviour is actually a superfluous take on that same film. I don’t know if this comparison has been drawn by anyone else before but certain scenes, dialogues between the lead lesbian couple and arguments brought back distinct flashes of that movie in my mind. Which makes it tough for me to love Appropriate Behaviour as much as I would like to. Nevertheless, a movie that grips me from start to finish, resonates with my personal understanding of human nature and sneaks in a good few laughs is definitely a depiction of good cinema.
“Looking around, do you see ruins? That was to be expected. He who lives in the world of words does not get along with things.”
The strangest things are happening.
I sit down to write and it feels like I’m doing this for the first time. I’m not too perturbed; this has happened before.
I try to occupy little space because I know what it does to others when I want too much. I try to be me and then I try to be another me from another time and place. The back and forth, the trial and error, the near impunity of knowing I can choose and yet that I’m bound in ways I’ll never be able to unravel completely – it’s all so strange, you know.
I think I admitted to myself a while back – and it was the most difficult thing in the world – that my unhappiness is not cause of my circumstances, it’s not what others do to me, it’s not about what I don’t have and what I continue to pine for, it is in fact something that I can’t escape from. I’m unhappy with me.
So no matter where I go, no matter the continents I cross, the places I go to seek knowledge or the ones I choose to give my love – I will take this box of unhappiness with me. It fell the other day and it cracked and spilled my unhappiness everywhere. I could not make sense of it. I was there and my unhappiness took a form, it hovered all around me, it settled before me and made me see that what I said had nothing to do with anyone but me.
It’s strange you know, realizing that you have to keep something like that inside you at all times. That it can suddenly surface and throw off all your carefully crafted plans. That you are inherently sad and it can’t ever be changed.
I walk by myself in the cold every day. I feel the chill settle onto the corners of my mouth and the tip of my nose. Sometimes the wind blows my hair to curl around my neck, the stranglehold of it is never subdued by how ticklish it feels. I’m still more afraid than sensitive to it. I often look at my feet and I see the arches my lover adores very much. How is it that I never looked at them the same way?
The point is that happiness is – as people and books might have already told you – a matter of choice and that we all walk around with in-built sadness. The fear of it showing up unannounced at 3AM is what unnerves me. I know all too well that to be happy I have always paid a price. I keep the invoices tucked away in a dark drawer in the recesses of my brain, and it’s strange how sometimes they all decide to come along and collect their dues at the exact same time.
For the longest while I’ve waited for on-request reviews and even then some of the ones I wrote never felt like they were doing justice. I felt tensed as I wrote those. I wasn’t sure what was expected of me. However, a complete stranger came along and explained why they felt so strongly about my reviews, sent me a bunch of movies they’d like me to write about and signed off as my biggest movie review fan. Not only does that flatter me but that fills me with a kind of inexplicable joy. So thank you, S for appreciating what I love doing best. You have no idea how much that means to me. No idea at all.
Matthew: “I was one of the insatiables. The ones you’d always find sitting closest to the screen. Why do we sit so close? Maybe it was because we wanted to receive the images first. When they were still new, still fresh. Before they cleared the hurdles of the rows behind us. Before they’d been relayed back from row to row, spectator to spectator; until worn out, secondhand, the size of a postage stamp, it returned to the projectionist’s cabin. Maybe, too, the screen was really a screen. It screened us… from the world.”
The Dreamers is the kind of movie I would give anything to watch once and then never again. It’s hard for me to explain why that is so, but in no way does that imply that it isn’t a great watch. The Dreamers is a film that makes me yearn for a life in France, in a stingy hotel in Paris, on well-paved streets that were walked all over by not so well-dressed people, in the 1960’s, at the tender age of 21, with nothing else to care about. That’s it.
It is simply an iconic representation of youth, of erotic love and passions of varying degrees, of the minds that lived through uncertainties but still found time to dream and to escape through cinema. We venture into France in 1968 through the eyes of Matthew (Michael Pitt), an American, doe-eyed, idealist young man away from his family – probably for the very first time in his life – who finds a whole new, enchanting world in the cinémathèque française.
We then meet Theo and Isabelle (Eva Green), a pair of twins that also frequent the cinémathèque and seem to be increasingly interested in knowing Matthew. The sudden interest and kindness shown by these French strangers immediately brings a feeling of belonging to Matthew and he’s quick to latch onto this hand of friendship – or so it seems at the start at least.
Sooner than later Matthew notices that Isabelle and Theo are more than just siblings and share certain intimacies and sleep together in the same bed. Matthew’s curiosity and vulnerability are all so natural and his attraction towards Isabelle from the first sight, extremely evident. When Isabelle explains that she and Theo are twins and that they’ve always been connected and part of each other, my heart soared. This might be one of those few movies out there that takes the concept of incest and doesn’t try too hard to justify it. Theo and Isabelle just are who they are and they know not a world without each other.
So when the twins’ parents head out for a long trip, Theo, Isabelle and Matthew burrow into a fantasy ménage à trois. They lose all idea about time and appetite and they only care about existing in dream-like moments. Matthew settles into this arrangement like a hand in a glove and the character development is brilliant. Matthew goes from the prim and proper guy who sat at the dining table with the twins’ parents, grateful for the wonderful dinner, always polite and promptly answering “likewise” (which is honestly the most American way of replying to well wishes) to the guy who felt no shame in sharing a bath tub with the twins themselves.
The extended depiction of this erotic cocoon that the trio build around themselves does a fantastic job of pulling you into something less important than the main story. Which is what, exactly? I found myself questioning that a couple of times. Yes, the controversy is there. Yes, I see that Matthew’s understanding of violence and France are still vastly foreign but honestly what are Theo and Isabelle doing about it that makes them any different from him? They’re all still voyeurs, hiding in that mansion, indulging in erotic exchanges and turning away from the reality. I don’t like to act as though I understand everything and I guess cinema is an art that even if you don’t entirely get, you can never fail at appreciating. But everything comes together neatly at the end when in the snap of a moment, Theo and Isabelle mature into people who can actually make a decision on their own. Matthew walks away to realize he might not want what they want with their life. That certain experiences, certain people only last a while and you take what they gave you and turn around and walk.
It would seem ridiculous to me if Isabelle actually ended up wanting a relationship with Matthew. That was not who she was and although she did the whole dance of a proper date with him, Isa and Theo shared the twin connection I find so intriguing and compelling and can never get enough of.
The references to timeless classics, the movie quizzes brought up at random points, the love for cinema greater than all else, those are the things I take with me from this movie. It also makes me question how little I know about black and white movies back from that time and as of now I endeavour to change that. The only way The Dreamers will get any better for me now is to go and read a review of it by the late Roger Ebert because there’s no way he could’ve missed reviewing a gem such as this.
I sat down last evening, thinking to myself that I need to go back to watching movies and writing about them. Sometimes I push myself. I force myself to put on reviewer’s glasses and absorb everything. Even before I reach the halfway point in a movie – the part where things should be making sense, the part where you think you know how you’ll end your review, the part where a critic’s eye becomes almost unnecessary – what I mean is, the process becomes effortless. And my god do I love that. You’d imagine a change of surrounding would do so much more for your writing. But my inspiration is a big ball of wool that I can’t quite unravel. I’m getting there. Undoing knots a few layers at a time.
I went back to my list “To Watch, And Probably Review” which at this point has over 63 movies. If only my ambition could translate into reality. Anyway, missing so many movies that got nominated for the Academy’s, I watched it halfheartedly. I declared that Boyhood should have won all the awards. I tweeted about what the stars wore on the red carpet (I’ll admit in retrospect, I’m a bit ashamed now) and the jokes that were cracked. I dismissed the awards and that they didn’t hold anything for me. Who was I kidding, I just wasn’t prepared for them like every year. So to redeem myself, I’m going in the ascending order of my list and somehow The Heart Machine happened to be the oldest record on the list. I will try my best to review the less heard of movies because at this point I’m too late to review the likes of Birdman, Selma, Life Itself, etc and say anything that you don’t already know.
Honestly, I was so afraid going into this movie. Somewhere at the back of my mind I knew exactly where this was going to take me when the first scene panned into perspective. Hazy, discotheque lights, a hum of music that is borderline annoying, strobe lights, bodies rubbing against each other (or what you may call a form of dancing?), and finally an ordinary looking man, sitting alone in this dimly lit, party place with a phone in his hand. Key word here being ‘alone’.
The man in question is Cody (John Gallagher Jr.), an average 20-something living in Brooklyn, at a crossroads in his life, working on commission basis which also sometimes means not really working at all. Cody comes across as a person with a fairly simple understanding of things and doesn’t have any shining characteristics that I can possibly outline to make him seem different from your regular 20 something year old. Cody is a part of the generation that relies heavily on the Internet for communication and information as a means of finding semblance in his life. He meets a beautiful, doe-eyed girl named Virginia (Kate Lyn Sheil) on an online dating website and after a pleasant initial encounter they plan to go steady with each other. What this movie emphasizes on, that I find a bit ridiculous is how Virginia being in Berlin and Cody in New York is such a huge, huge problem.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for long-distance-met-the-man-of-my-dreams-on-the-world-wide-web scenario. The Heart Machine weaves in a very great ambiguity about this distance that honestly makes no sense to me.
So Cody and Virginia have faith in their relationship and commit to each other. They share the normal Skype sessions and there is a lot that they talk over the internet that I don’t find many couples talking about when they see each other on a regular basis. We take for granted proximity, we assume that people will always be around and that that funny incident from earlier in the day can wait until there are more listeners. Long-distance relationships put that all in perspective.
Virginia on one hand has dirty secrets of her own. She’s far from faithful to Cody and has herself up for grabs on various other online media. There are hook-up apps and missed connections and somehow the ways and means of getting someone to come to you at any given time of day are endless. None of this feels like I’m spoiling anything for you. The timeline of the movie is not linear and that comes to light soon enough. So there’s no surprise when you find Virginia roaming streets that seem less like Berlin but more like New York.
I believe the movie being shown from the perspective of Cody may put all the harsh light on Virginia’s promiscuity. But for the life of me, I couldn’t stand him. I just couldn’t. Cody soon begins to doubt that maybe Virginia isn’t in Berlin. Instead of questioning and cross-questioning her, he stalks her social media to figure out for himself. He goes to obnoxious lengths and exhibits crazy stalker behaviour. All of this, for someone who he’s in a committed relationship with, Skype video calls daily, loves and you’d automatically assume, trusts.
And that’s why The Heart Machine frightened me. Love need not be synonymous to trust and like Cody puts it, “It’s the not knowing that kills me”.
I’m unsure about the message Heart Machine is trying to project. It doesn’t so much as warn about the perils of online relationships as much as determines that obsessing over someone you love and constantly doubting them is not healthy. That not always knowing things is okay and that the digital age is constantly trying to counter that. I fail to see why The Heart Machine could be compared to brilliant pieces of cinema such as Spike Jonze’s Her, the movie trailer is misleading and unlike Her there are no heart-wrenching moments, beautiful cinematography or likeable characters. The Heart Machine drags and lulls and tries very hard to not be a cliché and in the process ends up being exactly that.
I will say to its credit that the movie ends as it should and I wouldn’t change a thing about the ending. Yes, it’s tragic but nonetheless quite appropriate. Watch The Heart Machine keeping in mind it does not have much to its credit except that its an indie movie and that even if it doesn’t do great things for you, you won’t really be able to make yourself forget it.
Write a short story about this, a novella maybe.
Those were the words my friend said to me before I left home. Words I’m going to repeat to myself over and over until I can’t do much else except sit down and write.
But not right now. Not when I’m so busy actually feeling. I feel like writing about a hundred different things everyday. Experiences and stories are being served to me on a silver platter. The urge to record every single happening is so high. I get inattentive at times when I’m talking to someone because I’m mentally writing down how the conversation went for future reference. I’m pretty sure this is a writer thing and I’m not alone.
This may or may not be an excerpt of what I’ll write but if, for no one else, this is for me and M. That’s all that matters anyway.
Time, I’ve come to understand, can be stretched. It can be expanded upon, when need be and it can also be paused, made to freeze if your need is that powerful. It’s hard for most people to agree upon this. But how can I not? Time has literally changed for me altogether as I’ve gone several hours back in time by leaving home.
Sooner than I expected I feel so much at ease with myself. Like this is who I’ve been all along but only allowed to exhibit in the company of a few trusted others. I feel comfortable with who I am and isn’t that ultimately the most important thing?
M is a part of me now that is simply indispensable. We’ve gone back in time, too, in a way. Reliving the start of us all over again. Only this time, we get to see and feel the same things at the same time. There’s no question of missed connections, misconstrued tones, confused (and very often, poor quality) signals. When you love someone from a distance you create a personality, an impression that is – in all imaginable ways – tweaked to your understanding of perfection. But the last few days have made me realize that there’s no such thing as perfect. I am so far from perfect. My definition of it can’t possibly be accurate. And maybe, we don’t really even need perfection.
I am aware that this is one of the best feelings there is. We’ve all been there at some point and the sweet scent of it lingers in our imagination forever. Being happy. In love. Finding joy in the smallest of things – a back rub, a shared meal, an inside joke. I feel other things, too, but cannot explain and that’s why I come back here. Where I can discover what I can’t quite say out loud.
Over the last few days, I’ve been asked how it feels to be away from home, whether I’m homesick, able to adjust, sleeping okay. It is all out of pure, genuine concern and it humbles me to such a great degree. But I almost wish they wouldn’t ask because my response is far from honest and it makes me so angry at myself, my life, a helplessness at the cards I’ve been dealt. Oh, but why would I miss home when I never felt at home? What a silly question is that? Must we just overlook the fact that there are some people who do not grow up with the privilege of knowing how to feel at home at home.
That’s the thing. I believe children that grow up or rather grow out of an environment they simply cannot adapt to but are forced to live in nonetheless, will always find the question “Do you miss home?” to be hostile. Almost an accusation, which will develop into resentment and ultimately confusion, “Why don’t I miss home?”. But how is it their fault? You see, when you’ve understood that you don’t fit in at home you subconsciously search for another safe place. For me, it was my books, it was words and all the spaces between them. It’s really not that different now, except that it includes M’s fingers and the spaces between them, too.
It’s only understandable that having a home, that very concept of being at home and having a place to live and leave becomes an in-built compass. Whatever comes next must be measured, paired up or brought to par with it. It’s the source of solace that has been yours inherently – without having to strive for – and therefore your right to look and expect it wherever you go. You know no other way of living. You are fortunate. However, what happens when that needle isn’t there, when there is no direction or expected standard, no means of understanding what you deserve.
It’s a disconnected, silvery, semi-porous, unevenly segmented, half-there, half-not-there feeling. Like when you want to rest your feet on the bottom of a swimming pool but you can’t quite do it. Your legs flap about desperately trying to reach out but it starts to feel like there is no landing, that it wasn’t there to begin with. You then have the choice to stay afloat or – like me when I was nine – you can try so hard that when you reach, you slip and almost drown. I never got into a swimming pool after that. I knew better than to wish for what was clearly beyond my reach. Once rescued – disoriented and cold – you can feel people peering down at you and hear their voices which are more eager than your own to know if you’re okay. I was okay.
Last night I cried quietly over the phone as many things came to my mind. I was crying out of joy. I was crying for the person I was and who I became and the tortuous road that lay in between. I believed that there’s only so much joy another person can bring to you and then you’re left to make do for the remaining part yourself. I was wrong.
A very safely nurtured dream came true a few days back. I saw my words being approached by complete strangers and being respected and praised immensely. I realized that the very nature of my writing that day – different from what it usually is – was still my writing and it made it to the Freshly Pressed page of WordPress. For people like me, this means everything and yet it stings just a tiny bit.
What followed in the coming few days was overwhelming, exhausting and so incredibly amazing; I guess there’s no way to entirely explain what I felt in words. Especially not in words. My views climbed and soared. My followers and like counts peaked. My phone was blown up with the incessant notifications and still goes off suddenly on a vibrating trip. But that’s not even the important part.
I received the kind of love writers can only dream about. More people than I can count told me how my writing reached to them. Some offered solace, some gave me their compassion, others promised to read, while the rest simply and honestly said thank you. There were few who said that I got into their minds and wrote their story. Which has to be what shocked me the most. I hurt all over wondering about these people I don’t know but their pain that I know all too well. It restored in me the faith that we’re never truly alone in the way we feel and think. Our experiences might be our own but there are people out there who have crossed those bridges at some point, faced the same demons and come out stronger. It’s a very big revelation to absorb when you spend most of your time cooped up in your worries and your tiny little life comprising of three or four important people. It’s an even harder blow to take when you have never been able to share your humiliating stories for fear of thinking it made you look bad.
One more reason I feel like I have to write this is because in retrospect if I had known this was the blog that was going to make the mark I would not have written some parts of it so harshly. The part about my mother. No, I wouldn’t challenge my integrity and change the facts. But I would’ve selectively imprinted on my readers a somewhat milder version of the pain I felt. The part about my mother. What part is it exactly? The part where I say how she hurt me? The part where I tell you that she only did what she thought was right? Or the part where I don’t talk about her?
Isn’t all of it in some indescribable way all her? Am I not, in the most inescapable reason simply because of her. Tied to her.
People wrote to me and said they couldn’t fathom what kind of mother does that to her child. They expressed their anger and confusion and tried to mimic my sense of betrayal, if only to form a kind of kinship with me, maybe to make me feel better, by virtue of their humanity. But I read those comments, I read the ones that said, “What kind of mother…” and I lost my cool. I couldn’t control the rage I felt on the inside at hearing someone else question my mother. I’m sorry but that is an inherent right that only I can wield.
Last night, I cried because I heard the most beautiful words spoken and they were all for me. There are elegies of love and then there are confessions. There is poetry and wit, letters of love and actions of compassion and infinite mediums of explaining what a person makes you feel and what you feel for them. The rainbows, the sunlight, the kisses sent via snail mail, the memories of the places you’ve seen together, the songs that are always about your lover. Does anything ever not speak directly to you when you’re in love? The unwavering respect that someone can give you for what you do is the most enchanting kind of confession there is. I cried because for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to wonder what it was like to feel complete. I was, in that moment, by all means…infinite.
So I’ve come to understand many things with this whole writing and going viral business. I read on a blog somewhere that you can be really good at what you do but writing is lately like high school and that it’s about who can shout the loudest. Not about who can write the best. I did that shouting into the Internet void and hoping to hit a gold mine thing. I did hit a few good shots and got published in lesser known places but it was not enough for me. I can’t self promote unless it’s absolutely essential. So I waited patiently for WordPress to come through for me, knowing that the odds were way too many. I think this happened to me at such a promising and beautiful time in my life and that instead of it being the sole reason for my joy – as I had initially hoped – it only adds to the pre-existing happiness in my life.
I believe that posts like this, are not going to be too frequent here. They take something out of me and I can only put so much of my life up on public display. I am afraid that one day I will have exhausted all of my personal experiences and that will be the end of it. I was bothered before because hardly anyone was reading my blog, now I’m on the opposite side and I’m still troubled. I patiently spoke to everyone who left their precious comments on my blog because you only get to bask in the sun so much and also because while it’s shining you mustn’t forget to make hay. I said to them that readers like them make everything possible. And it’s true.
Last night, I cried because this is my life now and it’s absolutely beautiful.
Sometimes you wish for something so hard and then it actually comes true. Has that happened to you? Against countless odds and still, your wish actually came true. Does it count as being lucky or should you be careful about hitching your hopes up too high? I’ve been thinking these thoughts for a while now. I’ve been thinking so much about it and I’ve also been trying not to think at all.
So much has happened since the last time I was here, blogger friends. So. Much. Where do I start from and how do I explain any of this? I am not sure. But I want to take it one step at a time. Keep my emotions in check. Make sure I’m not borrowing more happiness than I deserve to have in my share.
I can’t write like I used to. I’m putting that out there so you can decide whether to read further. This will be another of those journal style entries and while I could’ve just used my diary I cannot risk anyone laying their hands on these thoughts, again. I can, however, trust people I’ve never met. It’s something I do effortlessly.
I remember reaching a point in my life where I kept telling myself that if a particular thing was possible, I would do this and if this particular thing happened then I could do that and the conditions and clauses were infinite. I remember that life had become monotonous only running on that little proverbial speck of light at the far end of the dark tunnel. An endless pile of possibilities while I sunk down deeper and deeper and pretended I was fine – hopeful even. I did everything that was asked of me and I remember all too well – even though I wished I didn’t – what I received in return.
But now it’s time to forget everything I remember.
Maybe someday when I want to go back and experience pain and disappointment and need to write something of the sort I can resurface those memories. Maybe someday they’ll actually be useful.
But not now. Not when I’m this happy. Not when I’m finally getting everything I’ve wanted for so long.
I was on the phone with a friend the other day and I told him, “Everything worked out. This is really happening.”
He replied, “I’m actually happy for you.”
I said, “…okay, thank you?”, not sure about the tone in his voice.
He clarified, “I’m never really happy for anyone but I mean it, I’m happy for you.”
And I said to him, and to myself, really, “Everything is perfect except my writing. I can’t write.” I took a pause and added, “Though I’ve been reading a lot.”
He and I discussed it a bit more but I couldn’t make sense of it and changed the topic soon enough.
I think about writing a lot. More than I actually write I spend hours on end thinking about it. The words float around in my mind and it’s my personal heaven right there. Writing was what helped me and writing was what brought me ashore and it was writing that ultimately led me to the best things in my life. It’s hard to bring up anything else to par with it. Yet, I told my friend quickly that I was reading a lot and it wasn’t me trying to backpedal. When I can’t write, I read. Is that supposed to be some sort of consolation to the sad fact that my writing is no good? Does that even come close? I’m not sure if that makes sense. If my reading compensates for the part of my life where I’m unable to write well, is it a much truer love than writing?
Maybe going back to a repressed memory will help me understand.
When I was younger I started reading, collecting and hoarding books while children my age were going out and being social after school hours. Sometimes I remember being asked how I had spent my evening and I realized that the response was the same, every time. With my books. I grew up with words more than I did with people my age. I grew up in different times and different places through the escape provided in the book realm, obviously I felt no need to go anywhere. When I reached an age where subtle romance and other emotional references in books started making sense, I desired to write them down for keeps. I picked up sentences and emotions behind them and started jotting them down as I read them. I wanted to come back to these words and inspect them when the time was right and when I felt the way the characters in the books did. I knew better to keep these notes and pages concealed because my mother would not have been pleased to find them. The reasons for which are so fragile, so complicated and difficult to make anyone understand especially if they haven’t met her. However, soon enough she found the pages.
The scribbles of words and expressions of emotions so much more mature and deep than she expected I was reading. I remember sitting frozen as she put on her glasses and read each and every thing and glanced up at me once with an expression that guaranteed me that I was in a lot of trouble. Who would’ve thought reading and wanting to preserve what you read would be such a heinous crime? I couldn’t think that way then. As far as I knew, I was so scared at what would happen next I couldn’t move a muscle, afraid that I’d wet myself. (I had poor bladder control when I was younger.) While she read through all of them, handling the pages with no care whatsoever, I knew something inside me broke. It was over. Years later I understood reading was my first love. The heartbreak I felt when she stood up, tore the pages into bits and pieces and burned them on the stove will never equal to anything any mortal being has made me feel. In that moment I knew, I didn’t need to copy things other writers wrote. Because my mother would find them and throw them away and probably stop me from reading completely. Which she did, for a while. (Though, I started reading secretly at school again and no one really stopped me there.)
I wasn’t reading anything forbidden but I wonder what my mother thought I was going to do with words. She knew, probably, that words have unprecedented power. I then read books and tried to mark subtle dots in between alphabets and scratches on pages that I wanted to go back to. I then read books and memorized things in my mind because I knew my mother couldn’t get inside my head and tear up my memory. And then suddenly, it came to me that I didn’t have to depend on someone else’s words. I didn’t have to hide and read books when I could one day, write my own.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been so unimaginably happy but I couldn’t come back here to establish that on my blog. I’ve come here in the past and ranted and shared my apprehensions so many times. I’ve even had to leave this place and come back with a different identity and conceal parts of me after that, but I’ve always been around. Is writing about happiness really all that difficult? Why is my writing so afraid of being found out? Am I really never going to be able to write anything good enough and always hide myself behind this anonymity? Was my mother only trying to protect me from eventually realizing my inadequacies, the portent of failures to come? Then again, as Rita Brown rightly put it, “A writer’s life is not designed to reassure your mother.”
A few weeks back I finished Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and my life was put back into perspective. I thought to myself, “I’m glad I can’t write. I’m glad my writing isn’t good enough now because I can appreciate her words so much better. I can see that her sentences are so fluid and so perfect and her thoughts are untainted by the way other people think and express themselves.” I could connect to how Didion felt the pain of being separated from her husband, also a writer. I felt tears of tremendous joy pour down my face when John, her husband, read out a passage of her book for her on her birthday and after closing the book he said, “Goddamn. Don’t ever tell me you can’t write. That’s my birthday present to you.” I reeled over when Didion expressed the fact that it took her a year after John’s sudden death to realize he’s not coming back. I took excerpts of various pages of this book as I read it and sent them to the person I love, also a writer. I was able to explain, in whatever way I needed to satisfy myself, to another person how words move me and how I connect with them. This person has, on several occasions made me realize that my love for words, for books, for book people, for random internet writers is completely sane. He said once, and I quote, “I will champion your literary appetite’s every whim.” To be able to simply share pages with someone of a book I lived vicariously through is a joy I can’t see being compared to anything else and I couldn’t have done it if I was immersed in my writing.
I think that sometimes you spend your entire life searching for people who understand you and then you find someone who does and everyone else in your life suddenly starts falling short to this standard. I explained to my friend that leaving home like this does not affect me because in my heart and mind I had already left this place long back. People ask me if I’m going to miss them and while I know that I will go back and think of them sometimes, I will reminisce and recall fondly moments with them that made me who I am today but I will not be able to imagine going back just for the sake of those things. Home was a place I never fit in fully. Although I was sure that one day I would leave, the difference is I was not sure if I’d have anywhere to come back to. I read somewhere an odd poem of sorts which went along the lines:
How to be unloved
Lose all family,
By chance or by coincidence…
I think about those words now and I wonder if it was chance or coincidence or it was something else entirely. Destiny, maybe? I told my friend that there comes a point in life when for better or for worse a family is finished. I guess finding a safe place in someone’s heart is enough family anyone can need. And finding someone that inspires your writing, someone that respects it and believes in it even when you can’t find the courage to do so, enough love anyone can need.
A few weeks ago I wrote a short fictional piece and found that it was well-received. I was urged by more than one person to go deeper into it and give my characters some background. This may not have been what anyone expected but there’s only so much my brain can produce during everyday 4AM vigils.
It was a frosty winter morning during mid-December and it was difficult not to notice how the hostile chill in the air quite aptly described the condition of my poor, desolate heart. I got out of bed early because I like having a head-start on my daily chores. Sometimes I imagine racing against my life and emerging victorious. But these are only distractions. And I’m trying to keep myself together this morning. It’s only 9 o’ clock and I’m not ready to let my brain wander off into unsafe territories. I’m not ready. Maybe I’m too tired and I should go back to sleep instead of thinking about.. No, I cannot think about it. Think about what? Oh great, here you go.
I have a hazy memory of the first time we met. Since it’s vague I won’t share the details for fear that I’ll misinterpret my own thoughts. For fear that I’ll make up things that weren’t there. Like I’m often known to. But I’ll tell you this, we struck right away not because we had things in common or our personalities jived smoothly with each other, the only string we both held the ends of were mutual distaste and hatred for all the same things.
They say love brings people together. In our case, hatred played that key role. And right then you’d wonder what was love doing in the meanwhile? Well, love waited on the sidelines, like an all too eager menace, waiting to pounce on the weaker one among us. Love and it’s various branching definitions never brought us together, instead they insidiously did us apart.
I knew it all too well that boys who liked boys could just as easily be dead boys. I also knew that although people all over the world professed that coming out of the closet was the best way to go, it’d only do me more harm than good.
Certain countries, certain places within certain countries object to people defiling social norms in a way so demeaning that even if they grant people to come out, as they are, they make sure they pick you up and set you apart. Like the rotten apple in a basket.
What good would it do to me to tell anyone how I functioned on the inside? When you admit to people you’re gay, it’s not as though people can magically look past their insecurities and embrace you for the hardships you’ve faced along the way. I wish it were that simple.
What those success stories about teenage boys accepting their homosexuality don’t tell you is how straight boys start to fear them. Every straight boy you’ve been close to will secretly run a walkthrough in his mind trying to assess if he were one of the milestones on the road to discovery about your homosexuality. What these shallow boys also do is flatter themselves inside their heads but treat you cautiously and with a certain kind of untouchability as though if they shook hands with you, all your pressing, uncontrollable male hormones would be spilled out on a rampage. As though all straight people are deeply in love with every person of the opposite gender they encounter.
The phone rings and I’m caught off guard from my inner monologue. It’s been a year and a half since we last saw each other. The dark gray dashboard of your car and the glove compartment I stared at for the longest time while we spoke about your musical depth are imprinted on my mind with vivid clarity. It’s been a whole year and a half and now I see myself sitting there in the most uncomfortable way possible, as though I had to restrain my shoulders, square them out like my life depended on it. And my hands, I didn’t even know what to do with my hands. I remember constantly shifting them about and never being able to settle on one spot. Finally, I resorted to pressing them against my knees and watched my knuckles turn white. I watch this awkward dance playing out before my eyes as I reach out to reject your call at 9:03 AM. The time of the call matching the moment when I’m thinking about you.
You, on the other hand, were completely relaxed and in absolute control of your body. I envied that but now I realize there was no reason for you to be uncomfortable, anyway. Your heart wasn’t hammering against your chest for reasons you couldn’t understand. You weren’t expecting it to be the last time we’d sit like that. You weren’t feeling the way I did. You were in the driver’s seat and by default, in full control of everything.
I now notice myself noticing you. I watch how I occasionally divert my gaze from the glove compartment and slowly let it settle on the profile of your face. I watch all of this from somewhere above like an invisible floating presence. I don’t remember it like this. I only remember facts. Your blue t-shirt and the way it drooped a bit at the front to reveal your clavicle. I also recall how you half-smiled and smirked at the same time and how ridiculous it made you look. I remember that when you spoke you never made eye contact with me but after you were done you always looked over for my reaction. I was part of that conversation but I was also so much more that day.
I was telling myself that I was leaving after today so that you’d be happy on your own and go out and achieve what you were carved out for. I was convinced that me walking away would ensure you had space and it all seemed noble and pure, even righteous.
A year later I finally saw the truth about myself. Moving away from you was the worst best thing I could have done to myself. I’m still thinking around all these whirlwind of implications minutes after I’ve slid my finger to cancel your call. It’s an involuntary action now and I don’t have to think twice.
You’re a 20-something year old now who is making their mark and slowly climbing scales of success. I stopped interacting with you but I never stopped keeping a tab on you. I had to be sure that even though I left because of my own selfish (at the time, unknown to me) reasons, some good had to come out of it for you. I knew you had it in you and I knew if I hoped and persisted long enough the universe would guide you there. That was how much I would’ve liked to believe in you. To actually put my faith in the very universe we expressed our mutual apathy for.
I also know that you knew all along how I felt about the world and the people that lived inside it. You knew before I knew who I was on the inside and that shames me. I don’t pick up the phone to talk to you anymore because it’s easier to shoulder the hurt and sweet pangs of love when it’s unrequited for independent reasons of the heart and what it does and doesn’t want. But when your love is dictated by societal reasons that give you no right to openly acknowledge your desire without being shamed into guilt, it’s best to observe silence and hope that people like you, people who rattle the very core of my existence don’t stride into my life ever again.
“Perhaps the only difference between me and other people is that I’ve always demanded more from the sunset. More spectacular colors when the sun hit the horizon. That’s perhaps my only sin.”
-Joe, Nymphomaniac Vol.1
My story is a complicated one. If you try to trace it back to its roots, you would find that too many Small Occurrences were responsible for the person I became. The Big Things never mattered. They never stirred anything in me and I always found it odd. All my writing is influenced by the Smaller Things which I then expand upon. It’s not all that surprising that my favourite book title reads The God of Small Things.
My writing often feels restricted to the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve experienced and every fictional character that I absorbed. That’s not much, but I improvise. Steal some details from one thought, attribute them to a mixed bag of other feelings, mash them up to make it seem real and unpretentious. It’s what I do in order to write. In order to survive. When it’s appreciated I feel strange but there’s no denying I like it and I will do it again.
Sometimes though I find something that moves me and I must take a step back and decipher what it must mean to be able to write something so original. I can’t quite do that yet and I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. I keep saying that I honestly think the best kind of literature has already been written and there is nothing more we can add to it but then a wonderful book comes along and keeps me strung for so long that I must retract my statement, for a while at least.
We need inspiration and we search for it constantly. Even subconsciously. If you’re trying to write, the first thing you’ll want to do is search for a topic that beckons familiarity. Familiarity in itself is safety. I respect people who can write poetry. Those who can play around with fiction, as well. They are tapping a part of their brain that is brimming with creativity. Not all of us are so gifted and aware.
What I don’t vouch for is people who play by the rules. While writing is said to be an art, why are we so strict and hell bent on following particular unsaid rules? No, I’m not even talking about grammar and syntax. I’m talking about how long a sentence should be. I’m talking about why there’s a twitching of eyebrows when a sentence begins with ‘and’. I mean the part where someone coins their own word which is so unique and undeniably apt for the context in which it is written, yet someone will raise their hand and say, “But that’s not even a dictionary defined word.”
I understand why conforming is important but if you need a shining example of why it’s not, I would suggest you to read books that invent their own language. I would request you to find people who don’t think writing should be studied, who write from their heart and who know how to string the invisible chords present therein. I plead you to not be quick to judge harshly, because although Small Things matter, Small Things can also be overlooked once in a while. I hope that maybe one day you’ll notice that the best books, the best writings, even the best poetry have all broken the rules and created their own universe of writing which we so comfortably inhabit that we never notice the deviations at all.
Originally appeared on Medium.com
I feel hopeful. February has ended and memories have been photographed. Many of the things I should’ve been looking forward to in my life are now behind me. Graduation was made a big deal about and I stood under a dark sky, dressed in a way I’m usually not, surrounded by lights and music I don’t like, observing myself and the way I feel. I felt very little emotion but I saw it through. It wasn’t easy.
Recently, someone I have not interacted with very much over the past three years said something to me about my blog. It was an intentional somehow confused yet expressive style of a compliment. She told me that she had to say two things. The first one faded once I heard the next one. She said in the simplest way that she reads my blog and the only words she could muster were, “Oh my god”. Now while there have been people who’ve said more than just that about my writing and flattered me to a very great level I mostly think I don’t deserve, this struck me more than I had anticipated.
People tell you what they like about your words. They say things like your writing inspires me, your words are beautiful and you write tastefully. There is always some kind of restriction, even a compulsion to frame your compliment in the perfect, most acceptable way which I’ve never quite understood. When I see something I like, I’ll say the very first thing that pops in my mind. I won’t search in the recesses of my head for words that need to match the extent of my awe.
When she said those words and tried to think of something more to add to that, I bit my lip hoping she wouldn’t say anything and mar the moment. She didn’t.
Often, it is perceived that conforming to societal ways is the way to be. Time and again, things happen around me that make me question society as a whole.
I’m getting myself organized this month and trying to make the best use of my time. A blog I’ve wanted to write for a very long time is finally taking shape. I have so much to write about it that I pause and don’t get back to it for days in order to gain perspective. I also set a reminder on WordPress for at least one post a month. I’m always amused at the type of sassy mails I get from certain websites. I don’t know if it was that subtle reminder of my goal for the month or the sudden ohmygod, but it was the little push I needed and I’m back to say that I’m still here and I’m writing. I’m always writing.
Warning: Contains obvious Spoilers.
After waiting for an unimaginably long time, I finally got to watch Drake Doremus’ new masterpiece. My heart is torn apart. And that barely scrapes the tip of the iceberg.
Firstly, I’m unsure if this movie can only be termed as a family drama or a romance gone awry or an unconventional love story which was supposed to beat the odds. You can say it was a delightful combination of them all. Remember when they said Breathe In was the darker cousin of Like Crazy (the Drake Doremus movie that won at The Sundance Film Festival), well that really sums up everything. Breathe In is a whole different world from Like Crazy but one that you’ll soon grow to inhabit and familiarize yourself with as the movie progresses. If you’re obsessive like me and have watched Like Crazy that many times as I have, I suppose nothing can surpass the sheer untraditional beauty and brilliance that movie depicted. But here I am, watching Breathe In over and over and trying to tell myself that it’s okay, maybe something better than Like Crazy has come along. Maybe, it’s time to love this movie, as I did Like Crazy. Can I, in my heart find place for both of them? After all they’re both deeply tragic in their own ways and just my nature of torturous love.
Let’s get you in on the plot first. Felicity Jones plays Sophie, an 18 year old exchange student from UK who moves in with the Reynolds family in the outskirts of Manhattan. What follows next is an emotional upheaval when Sophie delicately crosses lines and comes close to destroying Megan Reynolds’ (Amy Ryan) marriage and household by drawing Keith (Guy Pearce), her husband into a romance unimaginable on so many levels. Although, the lead pair Keith and Sophie put up stellar performances, Mackenzie Davis who plays Lauren, Keith’s 18 year old daughter, rightly plays the true victim to all the turn of events.
Right from the start where this perfectly happy family is getting a photoshoot done in their front lawn, somehow trying to smile for the camera, to the end where they’re doing it again, Breathe In will give you so much to think about what went on in between. The narrative is interspersed with few dialogues and allows the audience to grasp the interactions and relationships by their own will. The steady camera work and natural lighting, the dreamy poise and repeated flashes of their house, the piano, the window where you can see the rain fall, the swings in their lawn will get imprinted on your mind.
What holds this movie together is the stupendous acting skills of Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones even though they don’t have that many dialogues. Why and how they fall in love with each other can be debated at length and there still won’t be a conclusion that would be acceptable to all. Almost all the aspects have been slightly touched in the movie in some scene or the other about what it was that created this attraction between a married man and a teenager. You can say that it was Sophie’s esoteric demeanor that caused Keith to look at her differently. Or his crave for the youthfulness in life, maybe her fierce spontaneity and belief that you should choose to do something and not just do it because you can. Or even that she was a piano prodigy which was beyond anything Keith had seen. His interest in her could’ve also been sparked for sexual reasons like how his friend cheekily points out, but even that will not hold true if you consider that their physical relationship never went beyond a kiss. It was more about how Sophie appeased the part of him that his wife, his daughter actually couldn’t ever acknowledge. How she wanted to make him feel free while his family only held him down. His job as a music teacher, he felt was never something he was carved out for, about which his wife constantly jibed at him. Not knowing that her lack of interest in that area of his life, his music, was ultimately what was ruining everything. I still can’t get over how she asks him one night about Sophie’s music abilities and he lies so easily.
Sophie is a mature and calm girl who knows how she would like to live her life. She isn’t easily swayed which we realize when she goes out with Aaron, a classmate only trying to get her to sleep with him after a drunken night at a club in New York. Sophie knows that Aaron was Lauren’s first and would never try to hurt Lauren like that. However, if you look at this ironically, she is romancing Lauren’s dad and as if that wouldn’t affect Lauren at all. So you see, Sophie and Keith’s relationship was unjustifiable from the start. That they were doomed from the very start never failed to stop them from realizing how much comfort and reassurance they gained from each other’s company. It only pushed them to an affair and a middle of the night decision to elope. Like Sophie termed it, just get in the car and drive and let’s see where it takes us. While all that is extremely alluring and romantically adventurous and you would absolutely love the thrill when they finally escaped from their lives and responsibilities, the movie turns into a nightmare right in the last fifteen minutes. You feel your heartbeat race, hoping against hope that somehow, maybe for some reason the decisions made by each character could be reversed, altered or abandoned altogether. But alas, a family drama it is and it’s absolutely predictable (and not much Spoiler material) that something major happens to give Keith a snap back to reality and the role he’s expected to play in his family. The crescendo music montage in those last few minutes is unforgettable. If that doesn’t feel like your heart being ripped out from your chest, I don’t know what else does.
Breathe In is a compelling and raw movie showing us the vulnerabilities and intricate lives of all three members in the family. Just like how you felt you, the audience was the eavesdropper in Like Crazy, in Breathe In, Felicity Jones is somehow the eavesdropper in this family’s personal matters. On many accounts, she can be termed as the insidious villain and also the grim truth everyone had their eyes shut against. She can be accused of being ungrateful for bringing the warm welcome she received reduced to insecurities and ultimately hate. Or you can pretend to be one of the people in that affair and see how beautiful life can actually be when you’re with the right person, no matter how old they are or what is right by societal norms. When you find a love that shakes the very core of your existence, nothing else can matter much. When you think on those grounds, you can barely term those instances as “cheating” and mind you there is nothing that I could despise more than the act of betraying your partner with the cheap act of cheating on them. Then again, the movie is a plethora of melancholy emotions and untold feelings, lingering gazes and beautifully raw depictions of unrequited love. When there’s so much going on, all you can do is close your eyes and breathe in.
P.S: The music score by Dustin O’Halloran continues to enthrall and give a deep rendition to a fairly simple storyline. Had it not been for that, Breathe In could never be what it is to me now. Though I’m a Felicity Jones fangirl, Guy Pearce clearly was a great match and his brilliant acting continues to please.
You can read my review of Like Crazy, here.
Sometimes I take someone’s life, pretend it’s my own and write about it. We all love roleplay, let’s admit it.
So I smiled meekly and said, come. Come and take this life of mine and intrude on my most private thoughts. This life of skipped meals and routine moments. You can take it all and still not have it entirely. I will never understand how that works. It’s still my life and mine to give to you. I’m telling you explicitly. Here, do me a favour. My life. Handle with care.
Here is my day, please don’t be it’s ruination. Find yourself in my thoughts. We all need to be alone. Alone and together. Find a beautiful symmetry and try to abscond it. Hurts, doesn’t it?
Here is the heart you dug your teeth into. I don’t have to part with that. It was yours before we met. So we didn’t have enough time. So we couldn’t resolve those bereft moments. So we said too much and there’s no making sense now.
Here is the part where we will never be good enough. We could resort to accusations, among other things. Here is the spite and the exaggerated rage we never tire of. All the emotional masochism we revel in. A house of cards simply balancing on Love. Hate. And more Love.
I eagerly await Lexer’s mixes of good tracks. This one, too, doesn’t disappoint. Melodious, house music with amazing vocals by Rebecca Ferguson. Leave on repeat, all day.
What a splendid book. The perfect blend of photography and the obscure meaning behind words and pictures. This passage particularly stood out for me.
On this day, you read something that moved you and made you realise there were no more fears to fear. No tears to cry. No head to hang in shame. That every time you thought you’d offended someone, it was all just in your head and really, they love you with all their heart and nothing will ever change that. That everyone and everything lives on inside you. That that doesn’t make any of it any less real.
That soft touches will change you and stay with you longer than hard ones.
That being alone means you’re free. That old lovers miss you and new lovers want you and the one you’re with is the one you’re meant to be with. That the tingles running down your arms are angel feathers and they whisper in your ear, constantly, if you choose to hear them. That everything you want to happen, will happen, if you decide you want it enough. That every time you think a sad thought, you can think a happy one instead.
That you control that completely.
That the people who make you laugh are more beautiful than beautiful people. That you laugh more than you cry. That crying is good for you. That the people you hate wish you would stop and you do too.
That your friends are reflections of the best parts of you. That you are more than the sum total of the things you know and how you react to them. That dancing is sometimes more important than listening to the music.
That the most embarrassing, awkward moments of your life are only remembered by you and no one else. That no one judges you when you walk into a room and all they really want to know, is if you’re judging them. That what you make and what you do with your time is more important than you’ll ever fathom and should be treated as such. That the difference between a job and art is passion. That neither defines who you are. That talking to strangers is how you make friends.
That bad days end but a smile can go around the world. That life contradicts itself, constantly. That that’s why it’s worth living.
That the difference between pain and love is time. That love is only as real as you want it to be. That if you feel good, you look good but it doesn’t always work the other way around.
That the sun will rise each day and it’s up to you each day if you match it. That nothing matters up until this point. That what you decide now, in this moment, will change the future. Forever. That rain is beautiful.
And so are you.
– I Wrote This For You by Iain S. Thomas (The Day You Read This, Page 486)
“I NEED YOU TO UNDERSTAND SOMETHING. I WROTE THIS FOR YOU. I WROTE THIS FOR YOU AND ONLY YOU. EVERYONE ELSE WHO READS IT, DOESN’T GET IT. THEY MAY THINK THEY GET IT, BUT THEY DON’T. THIS IS THE SIGN YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. YOU WERE MEANT TO READ THESE WORDS.”
When did I become that person who notices the slightest change in the air. I stir my cereal and I can feel a hundred new things, without moving an inch. I think about certain mysteries and suddenly there’s magic. There’s pink flowery magic everywhere. Like an unsaid prayer answered. Like an emotion you haven’t yet named. You are aware how wonderful this feels. You like it. You are careful not to spill it around. In this case, You are me.
Everything, magnified. Laughter. Exasperated sighs. And some more laughter. Right from the oxygen you inhale, to the words you exhale. You feel the urge to scream and make everyone feel it. Road trip urges are high. The curtain unfurls and there’s a staged drama you longed to see since so long. You write about these random thoughts all the time, suddenly a muse is exactly what your writing was missing. Travelling back and forth. There’s a definite before and after now. There is a before this happened and an after this happened. A line so defined you can imagine yourself looking down at it, stepping on and crossing over.
Life is the decisions you make when you didn’t even know you were decision-making. And however obscure you might think life is, love is what will give you clarity.
Everyone can do with more of Siken in their life. There’s no one who even comes close to Siken’s style of poetry. Yes, you are my favourite, and your words are everything to me. This one is for me and my Person.
I Had A Dream About You
All the cows were falling out of the sky and landing in the mud.
You were drinking sangria and I was throwing oranges at you,
but it didn’t matter.
I said my arms are very long and your head’s on fire.
I said kiss me here and here and here
And you did.
Then you wanted pasta,
so we trampled out into the tomatoes and rolled around to make the sauce.
You were very beautiful.
We were in the Safeway parking lot. I couldn’t find my cigarettes.
You said Hurry up! but I was worried there would be a holdup
And we would be stuck in a hostage situation, hiding behind
the frozen meats, with nothing to smoke for hours.
You said Don’t be silly,
so I followed you into the store.
We were thumping the melons when I heard somebody say Nobody move!
I leaned over and whispered in your ear I told you so.
There was a show on the television about buried treasure.
You were trying to convince me that we should buy shovels
and go out into the yard
and I was trying to convince you that I was a vampire.
On the way to the hardware store I kept biting your arm
and you said if I really was a vampire I would be biting your neck,
so I started biting your neck
and you said Cut it out!
and you bought me an ice cream, and then we saw the UFO.
These are the dreams we should be having. I shouldn’t have to
clean them up like this.
You were lying in the middle of the empty highway.
The sky was red and the sand was red and you were wearing a brown coat.
There were flecks of foam in the corners of your mouth.
The birds were watching you.
Your eyes were closed and you were listening to the road and I could
hear your breathing, I could hear your heart beating.
I carried you to the car and drove you home but you
weren’t making any sense
I took a shower and tried to catch my breath.
You were lying on top of the bedspread
in boxer shorts, watching cartoons and laughing but not making any sound.
Your skin looked blue in the television light.
Your teeth looked yellow.
Still wet, I lay down next to you. Your arms, your legs, your naked chest,
your ribs delineated like a junkyard dogs.
There’s nowhere to go, I thought. There’s nowhere to go.
You were sitting in a bathtub at the hospital and you were crying.
You said it hurt.
I mean the buildings that were not the hospital.
I shouldn’t have mentioned the hospital.
I don’t think I can take this much longer.
In the dream I don’t tell anyone, you put your head in my lap.
Let’s say you’re driving down the road with your eyes closed
but my eyes are also closed.
You’re by the side of the road.
You’re by the side of the road and you’re doing all the talking
while I stare at my shoes.
They’re nice shoes, brown and comfortable, and I like your voice.
In the dream I don’t tell anyone, I’m afraid to wake you up.
In these dreams it’s always you:
The boy in the sweatshirt,
The boy on the bridge, the boy who always keeps me
from jumping off the bridge.
Oh, the things we invent when we are scared
and want to be rescued.
Your jeep. Your teeth. The coffee that you bought me.
The sandwich cut in half on the plate.
I woke up and ate ice cream in the dark,
hunched over on the wooden chair in the kitchen,
listening to the rain.
I borrowed your shoes and didn’t put them away.
You were crying and eating rice.
The surface of the water was still and bright.
Your feet were burning so I put my hands on them, but my hands
were burning too.
You had a bottle of pills but I wouldn’t let you swallow them.
You said Will you love me even more when Im dead?
And I said No, and I threw the pills on the sand.
Look at them, you said. They look like emeralds.
I put you in a cage with the ocelots. I was trying to fatten you up
with sausages and bacon.
Somehow you escaped and climbed up the branches of a pear tree.
I chopped it down but there was nobody in it.
I went to the riverbed to wait for you to show up.
You didn’t show up.
I kept waiting.
Having a tumblr isn’t so bad. Sometimes you’ll read something as wonderful as this and you’ll not be able to stop yourself from sharing it with everyone.
“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.
Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.
She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.
Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.
It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.
She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.
Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.
If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.
You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.
You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.
Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.
Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”
This is the first time someone asked me to watch a movie and to write a review on it. It’s quite overwhelming and I took my time with this. I hope I’ve got it right.
First and foremost, this movie is everything that you are NOT expecting it to be. The Tree of Life is a Terrance Malick movie. Period. Anyone who is familiar with his style of direction will not be so taken aback, but I belonged to the not-so-familiar category. I was sent reeling 30 minutes into the movie. I’m hyperventilating now. I need to take a deep breath and try to prepare you what you’re in for.
Here it goes.
For persons who thought that this movie starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken is a routine indie or worse an action-packed drama film. It is not. Do not expect to understand this movie in its entirety, moreso in just one watch. Do not expect to find answers here in this blog, either. I cannot provide them.
The movie starts with a narrative, “There are two ways through life, the way of nature and the way of grace.” Little do you realize how much those words are going to resonate in all the scenes that are to follow. Malick uses intense nature happenings, titillating celestial occurrences combined with the evolution of life, even dinosaurs (right!). The 20 minute music montage at the start, it is pure brilliance. There are no dialogues or commentary just the representation of life through nature and Mother Earth. The imagery is all too powerful to encompass in one watch. My friend and I, both, admitted to have paused the movie several times just to get a grasp of the intensity of the cinematography. There is one scene that keeps repeating over and over in between clips and it could seem like a divine light manifesting as we move further into the movie. It would be fair to say that the music montage chosen is very, very haunting. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so eerie while watching waterfalls and organic molecules, the sun and volcanic eruptions.
If you get past the first 30 minutes of the movie, you’re in for something very beautiful. The movie transcends beyond nature into finer details of an American family and their lives in 1956. The lack of conversation and dialogues is not felt at all. This, the director has made sure with very emotive performances from every actor, especially from the child artists. The film moves back and forth from the eldest son’s point of view. The eldest of three sons who is now caged in a corporate world and battling with the issues from his past. There is also the mention of a tragedy at the very start of the movie. The worst of them all. Death.
The characters of the parents are portrayed as complete opposites. I daresay, I think the opening statement signifies that. The mother, gentle, naïve, always looking out for her kids, beautiful and calm and not over-bearing in the least. That, is the way of ‘grace’. Whereas, the father, played brilliantly by Brad Pitt, epitomizes the way of nature. Lauding, overbearing, he provides but never fails to collect his dues. He wants returned what he has provided, on his very terms.
What I liked most about this out-of-the-way movie, was the way they depicted the three boys growing up. There are some very powerful scenes, one of which I had to re-watch again just now because it felt like deja-vu.
The Tree of Life will only leave you with a myriad of questions. Some of which, you’ll need a very deep analysis to even grasp at all. We are all continuously evolving. Life, is all about evolving. From birth, to adolescence, to adulthood and death. It is amazing and so refreshing that all of human evolution can be roughly narrated in a matter of 2 hours. Watch this movie without any kind of expectations. Feel yourself take to a higher order, maybe. Question everything. Don’t criticize. It’s of no use. Every person who tries to breakdown what this movie is about will have a wildly different interpretation. This, is mine.
Being a huge fan of the bestselling author Khaled Hosseini, I will be careful not to be biased in the review of his latest book “And The Mountains Echoed”. After a six year long wait, Hosseini brings to us another tale, or should I say a number of intricately woven tales. Haunting stories of love, of longing, of jealousy and deep regret, tragedies that surpassed from brother to sister, to cousins to caretakers, the complex nature of family and the number of trials one undergoes trying to face up to your own kin.
The very first page of the book had my favourite Rumi quote and I cannot tell you how happy that made me. I knew that the journey the book was going to take me on was going to be of wrongdoings and rightdoings. I knew better than to expect misfortunes and excruciating grief. What I didn’t expect was the sudden moments of joy, the little moments that made me laugh, even when my heart felt crushed for the characters Hosseini had brewed in fine detail.
The story starts with a father narrating an Afghan fable to his children, Abdullah and Pari. Later in the story you understand the significance of that tale. You understand why it is that their father chose that night to narrate that specific tale. You realize that it is true, sometimes a finger must be cut to save a hand. Sometimes, and most of the times, the decisions we make aren’t ones that we want to. Also, there are questions which cannot be answered in yes or no.
“I now know that some people feel unhappiness the way others love: privately, intensely, and without recourse.”
Starting that night, a journey begins that will take you from Afghanistan to Kabul to Paris, across continents and oceans. You will find yourself grieving after a chapter only to be subjected to a totally new kind of sadness in the next. There’s hideous grief and suffering, there is also treachery but underlying it all there is love. There’s hope and even after everything else dies, that’s what lives on.
“The rope that pulls you from the flood can become a noose around your neck.”
Hosseini is a very gifted storytelller. There is something very fascinating about each and every story he was woven in this novel. His characters are distinct and each flawed in ways they know but do not accept. They make decisions and these decisions have long-lasting repercussions. Repercussions that transcend from generations to generations. Almost like a hand-me-down.
“Kabul is… a thousand tragedies per square mile.”
Underneath it all, there is the imagery of Afghanistan. The true picture and imagery that Hosseini never fails to create. I would also say that if you’re pinning your hopes too high based on his previous two books “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” you probably shouldn’t. This novel, it’s nothing like those two. There is some kind of safety in this book, something you know that is bound to happen before the chapter ends. In the previous novels, you never knew what to expect.
“Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.”
After finishing the book there are some characters that stand out which would be Abdullah and Pari’s uncle Nabi, Nabi’s object of affection Nila Wahdati and of course, Markos Varvaris and the bond he has with his mother. I would say that the book is honestly a one-time read but that too, a difficult one because it can be so tragic and painful, you may want to put it down altogether. However, remember that Hosseini knows how to balance out the pain with momentary joy. He knows how to pull every string in your heart and he rightly does so in And The Mountains Echoed.
I don’t think Lana Del Rey has been this famous before. I heard this song in the Baz Luhrman directed ‘The Great Gatsby’ and I must admit this is the song that struck out the most. Extremely powerful, haunting, painful yet overwhelming. I haven’t seen the official video and I have no desire to because the scene in the movie when it played was brilliant enough.
Such a sombre song with a really haunting video. The way the story plays out in flashbacks is really something and adds meaning to the repetitive, hypnotic lyrics. The ambiguity at the start, the instrumental in the middle, the grief at the end.
“A dream-washed textural journey armed with a biting perspective on life, love, and the commonality of loss. It is an affair that sizzles with electricity and calls one in with its unnerved openness.”
If you liked this, you’ll love their other singles from this album. Especially ‘Ghosts’ and ‘The Hunter’.
Purple doesn’t seek too much attention.
You’re safely between the colour and my words. I think of your favourite cherry ice cream and then I think of all the distance there is.
Purple will stand there across the dance floor and wait till someone spots it, glowing in silent exuberance.
I spot a point on a map and I calculate time variances. I make celestial references and I like looking through the glass.
Purple will swear proudly that it doesn’t pride in it’s elegance.
You say that one can get away with anything if they’re actually good enough.I have sworn to desire you with all my might but I’ve also sworn to be equally patient. Purple is for the wrestle that ensues between the two. It’s knowing what’s there and knowing full well what it can still be.
Purple is a colour just beneath your skin and outside your bones.
Purple will always manifest it’s sheen when required but purple will also be for the ones who choose to shy away from things they desire.
Purple is the place I keep you in.
I watch water ripples and wonder if it can match the curve of your smile. Nothing is impossible. I also sense the sun shine with all it’s might and listen to every sound around me, knowing full well that I need to absorb this so I can narrate it to you.
Purple is for the hearts that you couldn’t keep from breaking.
There is everything and there is also nothing. But what’s in-between counts too. You make me live these in-betweens.
Purple is me and what if I told you, you’re the Purple in me.
So since I am somewhat anonymous here, I make it a point to share my love for the music world with the help of the written word. I am beyond the point of trying to make people understand why it is that I fancy certain kind of music over others and I am also aware that there’s nothing demeaning about preferring one not-so-popular band or genre over the other. There’s nothing wrong about the kind of music you love and I honestly don’t know what people who think otherwise are trying to prove.
Daily Prompt always has interesting and inspiring topics but I’ve never been one to write those posts just because I wanted to garner a truck load of views and followers. Coincidentally, today when I decided to share a song I’m very much into right now, I knew that Daily Prompt made that topic just to tempt me. Damnit.
“What song is stuck in your head (or on permanent rotation in your CD or MP3 player) these days? Why does it speak to you?”
The song that is stuck on repeat on my playlist at the moment is:
Calling (Lose My Mind) – Sebastian Ingrosso Ft. Alesso and Ryan Tedder
I have always been a huge fun of electronic and trance music with repetitive lyrics ever since I started understanding the distinction from genre to genre. It comes as no surprise that when I stumbled onto this song on Soundcloud I immediately had to drop what I was doing to remind myself to just breathe.
I love how this song keeps building up and breaking down. It leaves me famished. I cannot explain what celestial references in songs do to me. For a start, they take me to another world. This song gets me so elated I can barely control my Joy. Infinite Joy. I want to get up and sway and dance, feel and laugh, sing and clap.
Ryan Tedder has always held a soft corner in my heart. He has one of the finest voices I’ve ever heard. Most persons don’t know who he is but when I tell them with a matter-of-fact face that I’m actually talking about the OneRepublic vocalist they’re bound to agree. When an artist like him joins with DJ’s like Sebastian Ingrosso and Alesso you know to expect nothing less than the best.
If you hear the lyrics carefully, the song speaks about “fame”, it talks about leaving it behind for Someone unless you can shine alongside that Someone. I like how the lyrics also imply that it’s easy to lose your mind when you don’t have a person to add colour to your fame. Also, it’s ever so easy to lose your sense of right or wrong, heaven or hell.
Honestly, this song speaks to me on way too many levels.
“Can we just for a night let the stars decide where we belong…”
Tell me those words mean nothing to you and I will have something to keep me up all night.
If you like electro house music and Greg Laswell’s enchanting voice, then this song is yours. Also, I must find out more about Morgan Page. Seems like I’ve found a new DJ to stalk.
2013 is working wonders for my music needs.
“Yeah, I might be addicted
To how you always get the best of me.”
Heard this song on Grey’s Anatomy and I’m hooked. Seriously, what is it about British singers?
I never considered blogging about this until I found an insane connection with someone across the world who had also watched ‘Hey Arnold!’ and had the same attachment and admiration for the show, its characters and all that fell in between. I really think it has been an insane ride and I owe this cartoon show due credit for making my childhood awesome and my teens even better.
I could make a list of all my favourite ‘Hey Arnold!’ episodes. Hell, I could quote to you the entire ‘Helga Goes blind’, ‘Helga On The couch’, ‘Pigeon Man’, ‘The Little Pink Book’, and countless other episodes but that would only imply copy-pasting from one place to another, that which already exists. I do not like to write like that and I think my Music Musings category suffices that kind of writing as it is. Of course, when you’re talking about a band or its background, Wikipedia seems the best way to go. However, I want to pour My Heart out about a fictional character that has played a significant part in my childhood days and continues to do so, even now. For this, I suppose, no sort of Wikipedia copy-pasting would ever do justice.
It would seem strange to many how I uphold a 9 year old with so much regard and even consider her as my idol till date. But we speak about no ordinary 4th grader here. We talk of P.S. 118’s pink dressed bully with an iron fist, Helga Geraldine Pataki (All right, I got the middle name from Wiki, bite me?) When I talk of Helga Pataki all I can think about is that she and I have too many things in common. She and I could essentially be conjoined sisters in another dimension and not give each other a hard time because we would get along perfectly.
We would get along not in that Phoebe-Helga way where Helga dominated and Phoebe buckled. Phoebe was probably the only person who could pass as Helga’s friend. But Helga and I both know that we would much rather not have someone so soft-spoken and with a heart made of sponge, someone who thought a hundred times before they said anything and drove you mad in the interim time between the utterance of two sentences. We would want someone who gave us enough reason to get angry but never, never for the wrong reasons. The anger would be for things which couldn’t be changed and that in itself was reason enough to be mad. All the Time. At The World. In general.
I consider myself Helga Pataki reincarnate, however mathematics was never my weak point. I could’ve helped Helga with it had she not had a hole in her Math book to keep her invaluable love possessions. I promise I’ll get to that later. Meanwhile, Helga excelled in the literary arts, she had a penchant for poetry, for vividly remembering poets and their works. Also, for a girl her age, she had ideologies and faith in authors so much more mature. How could I not adore Helga in spite of the gruff image she portrayed? How could I let her unibrow and pink bow bother me? Helga on the surface seemed like a person with a pessimistic approach to the world, she couldn’t express her emotions to anyone and often claimed she cared for no one, she was a tomboy and at the same time indulged in beautifully mature and profound soliloquy’s when she was alone.
Helga was always more than what met the eye. One could only see her true nature when she was hiding behind a trash can or in a narrow alley and especially when she was kneeling down in the shrine of her closet. A shrine built of chewed gum and other trinkets collected over time from the boy she secretly worshipped and insanely loved. A football-headed boy named Arnold. Arnold who spun her world around and made her feel things she normally wouldn’t ever want to feel, much less admit to herself about having feelings. Arnold, who with his compassion had won her heart right from their first encounter which you can see in ‘Helga On The Couch’. Helga was always torn between wanting to embrace Arnold and giving him a tough time. She always stuck to the latter and it never did her any good. I think that stems from deep, psychological childhood issues where you begin to think you are incapable of being loved and deserve no form of it whatsoever. Arnold was always patient and bore her insults and snaps with perfect dignity which deep down drove Helga crazy. Crazy enough to write a poem with her name on it dedicated to Arnold. Of course, she had no intentions of letting anyone see it until she was dead and rotting in her grave. Probably not even then. Situations would have it otherwise. Now that tempts me to watch ‘The Little Pink Book’.
Those poems weren’t meant to be seen until I am dead
and buried and worms have consumed my flesh.
When it came to Helga’s family life, I understand better now what it was that shaped her into the person she became. No one can ever be born all hellfire and it’s a well-known fact that bullies are persons with deeply-rooted insecurities. Now when I see some episodes where they show her interactions with her parents, I can completely comprehend what it must feel like to grow up with a dad who barely ever got her name right and a mother was always passed out in a drunken stupor and never managed to prepare her lunch. Helga grew up on her own. What was worse was that she had an over-achiever sister Olga who was dearly adored by her parents and Helga was conveniently ignored, left to fend for herself. I don’t think I ever thought about that when I watched Hey Arnold! back in the 90’s.
Hey Arnold! was never a senseless cartoon show which surrounded kids with no personality and only intriguing faces. Every Hey Arnold! Episode was something that could appeal to a much older audience in the ways that they broke down some of the more complex problems into a much more receptive format from children’s point of view.
Arnold lived with his grandfather and there was hardly ever a mention of his adventurer parents. His grandmother, I now figured showed early on-set of dementia and could never remember which holiday it was. The tenants in Arnold’s building had issues of their own and were sometimes shown as a side-story in some episodes.
Every student in P.S. 118 had a unique archetype and it never failed to make me laugh when Brainy would stand behind Helga’s neck and breathe heavily in that annoying as hell manner.I think my person and I laughed a fair bit at how she would punch him with the back of her palm.
Getting back to the essence of this post, although the series was titled Hey Arnold! I will always hold true that it was more about Helga’s crazy obsession with him which she could never come to terms with. I loved how Helga would blame him for every mishap in her life and exaggerate it to such an extent that poor Arnold would simply have to apologize or ‘get out of her way’.
Helga hurled insults at everyone but the attention she gave Arnold should never have missed his eye. I wonder sometimes, are all boys seriously so oblivious to a girl crushing on them? Is it that difficult to come to that one conclusion but think about every other impossible one? Arnold should’ve known that he wasn’t doing anything that awful to make Helga hate him, he ought to have noticed how she magically landed up behind trees in the park right where he was, how every weird, inexplicable thing always had some sort of connection which could be traced back to her, and don’t tell me he never caught her collecting chunks of his hair and pieces of chewed gum, are you saying he never noticed her behind trash cans drooling over a Heart-shaped locket with his Football-shaped head in it? But I also like to believe now that it was never meant for Arnold to know about Helga’s undying passion. There’s a reason a viewer would keep returning to a show because unrequited love can succeed in a way once requited love cannot.
P.S. I will never, I mean NEVER blog about Hey Arnold! The Movie. Not even at gun point. I have no desire to blog about something that ruined the essential nature of the characters just to achieve end results and satisfy the dumb section of the audience. Good day.
Jade Williams, a British pop singer who performs under the stage name Sunday Girl belts out this very catchy song while swishing her hair back and forth. Yes, this does seem like a shampoo commercial. But I can’t help but love it more.
I really enjoy her voice, check out Jade’s Tik Tok cover by Ke$ha, I daresay it sounded better than the original.
I wish I knew more about this band because I have almost all the songs from their album About A Feeling. With some of their music, I guess it’s intended to not make the lyrics audible. That confounds me. So does this video. I like things which confound me.
It was sunlight, just doing its everyday duty. It was passing through. I was there in its way and it didn’t bend. I wonder if I broke the cross-stitch pattern it was creating on the wooden floor. I picked up a book and looked at it longingly. I think I do that a lot, just holding someone’s world in my hand and appreciating the time and effort put into those pages to raise right from scratch something everyone could love. It’s been long since I was moved so deeply and that afternoon felt like a standstill. My world had slowed down and it was just me and some thousand books and I have never felt safer.
It is odd when material things give you such strong emotions. Remaining unattached has never done any good. When certain people occupy a good-sized apartment in your brain and there’s nothing else you can even think about, that is knowing the sunlight has already broken down the walls which by the way were always made up of Jell-o and not bricks and stones.
I was right there, under the sunlight and all I could think about was the image I was creating from a third person’s point of view. A girl standing motionless next to the window pane with a book in her hand and the sun in her eyes and the sunlight slanting on her hair. Here’s the thing: I was there and I was acutely aware of it. I doubt before that moment if I’ve ever loved my existence so much.
“I am very interested and fascinated how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other.” – Stephen Chbosky
(I have been procrastinating way too much lately. This review should’ve been written by me long ago. But then again, it’s never too late for anything. Or so I like to believe.)
For people who claim that movies based on novels never match up to the magic written words can create, here is a fair exception. Perks Of Being A Wallflower is an absolute breakthrough. It is as profound, deeply moving and eccentric as the book. I say this with as much conviction as I can. Having read and watched, I would not be able to separate one from the other. I think the primary reason for this is the author of the book Stephen Chbosky is also the director of this wonderful coming-of-age high-school teenage drama.
The movie’s star cast is so fitting. You have Logan Lerman (Charlie) playing an anxious, emotional, lonely and unsure boy with a troubled past and a history of mental illness. There is Emma Watson (Sam) who plays a strong-headed, self-opinionated, affectionate, smart and sassy senior. Ezra Miller (Patrick) stars alongside Emma Watson as her step-brother and all-time companion.
Already, I can feel my pulse quickening. That is the effect this movie had on me. The actors have brilliantly portrayed their characters, so much so that one hour through this movie you feel like you’ve known these people forever. Emma Watson has left Hogwarts and transcended into college, Logan Lerman has no traces of Percy Jackson and what should I say about Ezra Miller… No words that I use will be good enough to compliment his acting abilities. Who would’ve thought he would make such a brilliant Patrick after playing a sociopath in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’.
Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a retro, American high-school indie movie set in the 1990s. Although this is not stated per se in the movie, from the nostalgic, dreamy, soft rock music that the three teenagers base their lives around, any person with functioning hearing ability can figure that out. Much of my 2013 playlist are songs from this movie.
That was a suitable background and now I will delve further. This movie, as the title goes, is about the pros of being a Wallflower. A Wallflower is someone who silently observes and does not like being the centre of attraction or in this case the centre of anything. They could easily pass as a mere painting on the wall without anyone ever bothering to look twice. And I’m sure; we have all been Wallflowers at some point in our lives.
The Wallflower here is Charlie. A young freshman about to start his first year at high school. We get to know more about Charlie from the letters he pens to an anonymous friend. Charlie is an aspiring writer, full of potential, loved dearly by his parents and sister (Nina Dobrev). In any teenager’s life, friends are very important. As adults, many of us will refute that. I am 19 and I already do.
Charlie, having just resurfaced from a tragic instance in his past sets out to make a brand new start to his high school year. Enter Patrick and Sam, and everything suddenly transforms for Charlie. Charlie goes through the highs of having crushes and trying drugs to the extreme lows of watching the person you love, love someone they don’t deserve. It is with Sam that Charlie starts listening to ‘different’ music and explores the facets of unrequited love; it is with Patrick that Charlie learns that it’s about being yourself no matter what anyone labels you as, even if that means only being ‘below average’. It is with Mary Elizabeth that Charlie learns about relationships and sex. It is with Professor Billy that Charlie expands his writing potential. It is with his sister he learns about what it is like to be abused by the one you love, but deep down he already knew that. With his aunt, who is no more; he has constant haunting visions of who she was and what she did to him. But ultimately it is with himself that he realizes what and who he needs to grow as a person and become who he ought to be.
Halfway through the movie, when everyone including the audience is deeply entangled in the plot, I had a sudden pang of fear that Perks would lose its essence, the beautiful build-up would just crash and burn like most clichéd American high-school crushes. But fortunately, it didn’t. There are scenes which are so awfully relatable you will wonder if you just heard the strings in your heart snap.
The ‘90s party sequences, the mesmerizing drives through the Tunnel, Secret Santa, The Living Room Routine, Sam and Charlie’s study sessions, The Rocky Horror Show, Patrick’s nuisances in shop class, and Sam’s laughter are what stays with you till the end of this daze.
Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a movie very close to my heart. This might not have seemed like a review and more of an exemplary praise from someone who is oblivious to noticing any kind of flaws. But that’s what you do to something or someone so close to you, you don’t point out their shortcomings. You embrace them. You fondle them and put them to rest. Perks was very well received from the critics and masses but there were some who claimed it was not convincing. What those people need to do is let down their guard for a mere few hours and watch the movie all over again. I’m sure that would help.
For others who haven’t watched it at least 10 times, here is something to lure you.
Watch this movie and swear that in that moment, we were infinite.
“Life is made of fear. Some people eat fear soup three times a day. Some people eat fear soup all the meals there are. I eat it sometimes. When they bring me fear soup to eat, I try not to eat it, I try to send it back. But sometimes I’m too afraid to and have to eat it anyway.”
I sit and think sometimes, is it possible that every good and relatable piece of literature has already been written? Is there anything more any of us futile humans can add to it? Good ideas strike me best when I am travelling. Watching people is the most interesting activity in the world.
I am in a car. The world outside is grey, dark grey and blue. I have a memory. It’s the earliest memory I can remember. Let me tell you how it goes.
I was an awkward little girl, holding her mother’s hand and walking to kindergarten. This isn’t a made-up, clichéd story to amuse you. So it is not my first day. It is somewhere down the line. The first few days, you are trying to understand socially acceptable behaviour, learning to memorize alphabets by sounds. The very first formative years of your life. Your very first baby steps into the world of making and faking friendships. For every kindergartener, stationery was important. The fancier your stationery, the cooler your social stats and higher the chances of you doing better in exams. I remember my mother telling me that I should take care of my things. She never said anything about not lending them to my friends. She didn’t warn me about friends who didn’t care to return them.
After seeing my stationery items missing on a regular basis, my over-protective mother started writing my name on things, wherever possible. What she didn’t infuse in me at that point was that I needed to be careful about who I befriend. I needed to guard myself. Because sometimes that’s what people do. They take things. They take and take and don’t return. They persistently say that they owe you but you just can’t bring them around to settle the debt. You get tired and you can’t make them reciprocate. Nor can you make them return those things because I mean, how can you give back someone their own feelings (especially when you don’t have any)?
I know you think this story isn’t going anywhere. But it is a memory, it doesn’t have to go. It stays embedded in a strand of your nerves, ready to alight at the strangest of times. Memories are baffling. They aren’t like stories. You don’t have to follow the fixed storyline. You can alter them. You can ponder and ponder and continue pondering till they stop making sense. Or you can derive something completely new from a memory you thought you barely remembered. That’s what memories are like, you can cherish them, you can despise them, fear and loathe them, you can try to forget, you can also try to relive them. Memories cannot be elucidated in words. That’s the beauty of memories. Whether you want it or not, they are just there.
Although this is my memory, you are free to imagine that I was born with an innate and overwhelming capacity to love and share and give and give selflessly. I will also let you conclude that it was this innate desire to care in which I drowned ever so rapidly. Ugh, I can barely remember that person I used to be. I alienated it and now it’s gone. Hurray!
So my mother soon started questioning me about my absent-minded habits and whether I had kleptomaniacs for friends. Of course, the latter was implied. As over-protective mothers usually are, she wanted me to introduce her to the friends I sat with in class. So she could do something about my constant missing stationery. She even made me carry a really pretty, pink pencil which was sure to catch everyone’s eye. I didn’t know that she had a plan. But then again mothers always do.
As you can now predict, my friend borrowed the pencil. Borrowed it and used it. And quietly kept it on her person. Kept it for so long, I even forgot until I reached home and my mom’s plan unfolded in full fury. She demanded I give her a name. At that moment, I lied. I lied and told her that I lost it. I did not give her my friend’s name. I wouldn’t dare. That’s not what real friends do, right? Even in that tender age I chose to protect my friend. What was I thinking? My friend would never know about my heroic feat. What WAS I thinking?
I have reached my destination. It’s time to put this memory to rest. I alight the car and wonder how different this memory would’ve turned out had it happened 18 years later. Hell, I wouldn’t even think twice to take a name. Friends are never stationary. I was done drinking the fear soup because saying you’re friends is easy. Being friends is not.
2. I have just finished watching this movie for the 4th time.
3. I wish there was some way I could watch this movie again for the 1st time.
4. I am an emotional sap and sucker for movies which show love in its rawest form.
5. I am also realistic enough to know that there are two types of movies in the romance genre:
i) The movies that leave you dumbfounded at the enormity of how much two people can love each other and somehow always beat the odds in about 127 minutes screen time.
ii) Then the other type of movies which leave you gripping on to your heart and make you mash your teeth together and feel that unrequited love is probably the only love that exists in the real world. Period.
Like Crazy is ‘the other type of movie’.
I stumbled on to this movie in 2012. A year for me which marks a lot of unrequited emotions, long hauling stretches without any semblance of normal, perplexing situations, weird and wonderful people. While watching this movie I could somehow put all of this away. Far away. In some corner of my mind where nothing matters. For an over-thinker that is truly something.
Like Crazy is a 2011 American romantic drama film, shot with an inexpensive DSLR camera. Its budget did not exceed $250,000. The film won the 2011 Sundance Film Festival ‘Grand Jury Prize’. Already I am drifting away to what is not really important.
So anyway, this is the story of Anna and Jacob. This is the story of most young adults. People in love. People in long-distance love. It is the kind of movie which brings up things you have faced in your life or will most definitely in the future. Now that is something every other movie tries to portray. But what sets this film apart is the honesty in this couple which shines outright and blinds you to tears. Felicity Jones plays Anna, a British college student in Los Angeles who falls for an American, Jacob, played by Anton Yelchin. When the term ends for the summer, so does Anna’s student visa. They are well aware that the sensible thing would be for her to go home, and wait just a few months while she gets the cash to come back with the proper documentation. But a few months is a long time when you’re in your early 20s, so Anna and Jacob defy the visa law and with it follows a glorious summer of love and sex. It is a decision that affects the rest of both their lives.
It also leads you to wonder, what would have happened had she not broken the visa limit. But I will get to that later. Not right now, later.
Right from when Anna pours out her feelings to Jacob in a letter filled with the things you can only feel for someone you are crazily crushing on to appearing dignified, by using e.e. cummings and a post-script giving disclaimer that she isn’t a psychopathic nutcase. Anna’s parents bring comic relief and class to scenes that would otherwise be painful. The soundtrack to most scenes where no dialogue is required will leave you enthralled. These are moments that stay with you long after that phase of Anna and Jacob’s life has passed.
The rush of emotions felt by the two will sweep over you and leave you feeling absolutely frustrated and used up in a bittersweet way. The movie made me feel that you can never love someone enough. There’s always some part of you which is waiting to fall more in love with this person; oh and never, NEVER to underestimate this ‘part’.
When Anna is detained and unable to return to Jacob due to her visa issue, it brings an unwanted distance in a lovely 20-something fairy-tale romance. Here is when the movie gets so real, good God! When both of them, get involved in their careers, the missed calls due to time variations, the ache of not knowing what your other half is doing, all this growing like an elephant in the room.
With this starts the on-off relationship. Jacob once mentions that he just doesn’t feel like he is part of Anna’s life but he feels like he’s on vacation. Here is where Anna lets out the cat (or should I say elephant?) out of the bag. She suggests that they should try seeing other people when they are away. Although that upsets Jacob, deep down he knows he has considered it too.
Their relationship circle widens now. They are tangled more than ever in people they don’t love, but cannot leave. This movie is not about finding ‘The One’. If it was, this wouldn’t have happened. It also signifies that after falling in love for the first time, no matter how good or bad it was, you are never the same with anyone. So one night in the respite and lulls of physical and emotional temptations, Anna calls up Jacob and asks him to marry her.
For someone who doesn’t believe in love, that would be absolutely absurd considering they were both involved with other people. But then again, refer to point #4 stated ‘well in advance’.
The movie transcends further into how Anna and Jacob are still the same even after marriage. Here is when I thought about those tiny gifts they had exchanged over their first summer of love. For some reason I even noticed the very subtle changes in their appearances, behaviours, the phones they used. I thought about how much uncertainty they had laid in front of them back in that summer. And yet they got married. Shouldn’t the movie end now? At least that’s what is rationally supposed to happen.
But no, the movie extends further (I was so glad it did!). The movie does not end. It is this part of the movie I absolutely loved. It is not easy to please hopeless romantics and the skeptic pessimists. We will never be able to figure out what happens when Anna steps out of the shower. But we are free to dream about it. To wonder that life is a never-ending love story and all you got to do is live it out.
When you watch this film, you may feel like you’re eavesdropping rather than watching a movie. And I mean that in the best possible sense. Not every director can bring out such performances in actors whose unfamiliar faces we aren’t already in love with. Why was I not surprised when I found out that this movie was filmed without a script?
Only then can such untraditional beauty and rawness be achieved:
“I thought I understood it, that I could grasp it. But I didn’t, not really. Only the smudgeness of it; the pink-slippered, all-containered, semi-precious eagerness of it. I didn’t realize it would sometimes be more than whole, that the wholeness was a rather luxurious idea. Because it’s the halves that halve you in half. I didn’t know, don’t know, about the in-between bits; the gory bits of you, and the gory bits of me.”