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.
“A man takes his sadness down to the river and throws it in the river but then he’s still left with the river. A man takes his sadness and throws it away but then he’s still left with his hands.”
The one who didn’t treat your body right. You assumed they’d do something interesting with it. You didn’t know what.
You hoped they would find out and let you know. You waited endlessly and Time started leaving your side without a warning notice.There was a vacant look in your eye when you’ll were together. You were dreaming of coral reefs under an ocean. You were hoping for something different that you didn’t already know. For fear of losing everything you decided to hold on to at least something.
It wasn’t that you were weak. You were too stubborn to let go of what you thought (or assumed) you had rightful claim upon. Time caught up, finally. You wake up one day and the air seems heavy with the past. You look around, you have a sudden sense of emergency, of an hourglass flipped over, of the platform moving away as the train moved forward. You run like you’ve never run before. Cars and cafes pass in a blur. And you can see the bokeh from the corner of the eye. Like the ones you saw in those tumblr pictures. You think of a movie where people run towards their destiny. You avoid thinking of those that run away from theirs. You have a hand cupped around something invisible. It’s strange you can’t shake it off. But you try not to think of such conundrums. You run till you can run no more and suddenly you wake up. There’s a slight buzzing in your head. You’re in a stranger’s washroom filled with beauty products which one only buys but never intends to use. You look at your face and try to spot any changes. But you’re still the same. And your hands, they are still urging for that invisible form, so you look down at your palms. You wash them, repeatedly. You scrub them. How were you going to wash something invisible away, you will ask later. You will justify to yourself you were being paranoid. Fair enough.
You look at the mirror one more time, not knowing what to find there. It isn’t too difficult to lose yourself once you’ve lost everything else that matters. But you know in your head, you ran. You ran far away and there’s a place you’ve carved for yourself. Your very own wonderland and you can rest there. In moments of worry, you can shut your eyes and go there and come back when you please. Just make sure you wash your hands clean.