Batman Returns: New Thoughts on the movie: One wildly perverse side of Batman Returns’ many dealings with the concept of duality that never occurred to me until recently at the age of 30 is that Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne are having a simultaneous relationship while their alter egos of Catwoman and Batman are also having a separate relationship. It finally dawned on me that Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne were cheating on each other with each other in their different alter egos!!! How twisted is that! I suppose that is why when they both simultaneously discover each other’s secret identity at the costumed dance (where neither of them are in costume), neurotic electricity flies all over the place because of how many different, exciting, and confusing emotions are involved! They’ve been found out cheating as well as their secret life as adults who enjoy wearing skintight rubber costumes out and about in the middle of the night! The scene must be one of my all-time favorite movie moments. They’ve both been “outed” at the same time, and now they have to figure out who they are what they mean to each other with this new knowledge of who else the other person really is. Fantastic stuff. I love it when a personal favorite movie just keeps bringing out more complex layers of meaning every time you see it or think about it!
Ordinary People: Before you experience this extraordinarily sensitive, honest movie, you have to be completely open and vulnerable inside. Only then will you achieve catharsis. It’s an all too personal movie for troubled teens that have seen a “doctor” – a psychiatrist, and know how it feels to be edgy inside. The movie is like a mirror that becomes a cinematic catharsis. It’s a release to one’s bent-up, explosive feelings. I don’t think our society is in touch with our feelings, and that is where self-expressive art is so necessary for our psychological survival. Columbine wouldn’t have happened if these boys knew how to release their anger through creative means instead of violent means. What a terrific revelation that is. It justifies my entire life’s struggle of creating personal artwork. It helps the world… This movie is not exactly like my past life, but the feelings and characteristics are certainly there… naked for all to witness. His voice is weak, insecure, and soft. He is so emotional and sincere within himself; yet the family and friends and peers around him are not. He’s too in tune with his feelings. Going to a psychiatrist allowed him to not hold back his feelings. His dad is too eager for his son to hang out with friends. His mother is a control-freak who wants a perfect stable life – unable to deal with difficult emotions, unable to deal with feelings… “I’d like to be more in control”… “I’m thinking about quitting swimming. They guys I swim with are a bunch of boring jocks.” Now that I reflect back to my high school years, I realize that my quitting Track in my sophomore year of high school was the correct thing for me to have done – even though it was the unpopular thing to have done. I had changed when I was in high school. I wasn’t like everyone else and I didn’t want to act like I was. I wasn’t the greatest in track anymore, so why waste my time when I could be making money for college… “I finally decided that the only people who can help me is myself”… “Going to a psychiatrist is a status symbol”… “Things have to change, you know”… “Let’s have a great year. This could be the best year ever. We can, you know”… “I jack off a lot.” –“Does it help?”… “All that worrying doesn’t amount to a hill of crap. It’s just wasted energy”… “You are mad about something! Get mad!”… “Smile!”… “Cheer up, Conrad!”… By the end of the movie, everyone must change in order for him or her to keep living together. And the healing process doesn’t just end. It is an ongoing recovery that takes the length of one’s life… “What kind of music do you like?”… “We don’t have to call it a real date. We can fake it and see how it goes”… The vulgarity and swearing in this movie is crucial to its honesty. These are conservative families who want to live clean, tidy, happy lives. Because they censor themselves, they do not allow themselves to feel. They are unable to even say the word “fuck”. They want to be ordinary people. Yet, they can never be. A tragedy has happened in their lives with the death of their oldest son. They don’t want to fight. And because they don’t, they continue suffering. They love each other so much that they want to remain safe within their illusions of themselves and who they used to be. They’ve changed and they are not dealing with it… “I’m not mad at you. I just want to understand you”… “I think I’ve just figured something out”… “She’s not able to love you enough”… Art as psychiatry - Psychiatry art… “I think I came here to talk about myself. Let me get it off my chest.” Maybe we all need to. Some people might say that “no one in their right mind would talk that way”, but it is healthy and necessary! Can’t they see that?… “I was crazy that day. We were going to our son’s funeral”… “I don’t want any more changes in my life!”… “I want to get away”… “I love you, too?”… A small event would turn his mood foul. He would go from being sensitive, polite, and pleasant to distant, confused, and depressed… “Wanna talk?”… “If you can’t feel pain, you’re not going to feel anything else”… “Tell me the definition of ‘happy’”… “Why are you crying?”… “So I was crying… because I didn’t know if I loved you anymore”… “You were so hard on yourself that I never had to discipline you”… “I love you.”
I remember watching Schindler’s List and being barely able to keep from screaming in the theater. I actually had to look away to escape from my emotions that war had provoked out of me.
It was after watching Schindler’s List that I decided that I wanted to compete with Spielberg for the greatest of emotional movie experiences.
Schindler’s List: I think the reason I was so enthralled, captivated, and blown away by this film was that it was essentially about public humiliation, harassment, torment, persecution, and teasing of a group of people - Jews. It struck a chord in the deepest parts of me because I went through my own years of being bullied and degraded. It did not matter that I wasn’t Jewish. Anyone who has been the subject of persecution knows how it feels to be singled out and been “put down”. The movie spoke directly to the outcast soul in me. The fact that being “different” from everyone else was a fault that led to your death outraged me to the point where I wanted to scream out. The experience was all the more harrowing because the events in this movie actually did take place. This wasn’t just a movie anymore… A good-natured one-armed man is shot in the head because he cannot shovel snow. Even after multiple viewing, I still got emotionally choked up and unraveled by seeing such an offhand atrocity. To kill a life because one is flawed, “useless”. A hospital’s sick and dying are given poison so they won’t have to be conscious when the Germans arrive. Hundreds of mothers and fathers running after the trucks that carries their naively gleeful children away to a concentration camp to be gassed. I watched families being destroyed.
Schindler's List has the power to move me for depicting ordinary people (specifically, the Jewish faith) being brutally mistreated just for being themselves. How can I not feel empathy when I have been victim to other forms of discrimination and insensitivity? To helplessly watch good people hurt because someone else thinks they are better? The other shocking element of the movie is that useless people are killed: the young (ten and under), the elderly (fifty and over), the disabled and handicapped... all of their lives aborted for their God‑given existence.
You need to understand that I dearly adore excellent movies, and today’s cinema experience was truly a landmark in great filmmaking. Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was absolute brilliance. It is sometimes hard to explain how deep and powerful images of the Holocaust are to impressionable teenage eyes like mine. I really haven’t ever seen violence and death up hand and point blank like the graphic manner Schindler’s List did to its audience. The film was the ultimate emotional experience. I still haven’t decided yet if it was the best film I’ve ever seen. Is it better than my childhood favorite The Empire Strikes Back? Perhaps. In Schindler’s List, there was about three scenes where either tears came to my eyes or I wanted to scream or my heart seemed to stop or my eyes were about to pop out. All the graphic violence and nudity were so extremely essential for its realism to take full effect. The scene where hundreds of screaming mothers ran after their unaware, cheering children as they are hauled off to their demise left me in total shock as my heart left right with those unfortunate families. The gas chamber scene and the resolution tribute were unbelievably powerful and moving. I didn’t dare hold back my tears so I could let them stain my face in honor of those who lost their lives.
Testament: Another sensitive, unrecognized film I wish to be shown at my Eric Homan Theater... The young children of the town performed the play of the “Pied Piper” (just as my class did when I was in the fifth grade)... this is the story of good-hearted people of good will in a small community and how they were affected by nuclear war. We watch kind people senselessly die. (In a sense, it ranks up there with Schindler’s List, not just in theme of good people dying for no meaning, but also in sheer poignancy.) First, the insanity of what has happened sets normal people into a panic of uncertainty. Some start to loot stores that they once shopped at. Average people act mad, impatient, and grossly rude. Parents... fathers don’t return home from San Francisco. A community lost without water, electricity, communications, food, or order... Is there anything harder to watch than descent people having a breakdown?... The exhausted mother and son dancing and singing together to the Beatles’ “All My Loving”... “February 24th... Maybe if I write it will help”... “We called off school today. We figured “What’s the point?” After hearing that the president was assassinated, we bowed our head... we mourned... we went on” ... “March 8th... I write this to try and keep my sanity... what’s left...” ... “Your children are not dead. They will return. They are just waiting until the world deserves them” (The end of the play)... “I don’t know what day it is. I’ve lost track”... “We wish that we remember it all... the good and the awful - how we actually lived” - this is the true purpose of existence of this movie. “... That we last to be here... to deserve the children.”
-Natural Born Killers: The Director’s Cut
Natural Born Killers: The Director’s Cut: Color tints of emotion… The rage of the woman… “You made my shit list!”… This is my dream come true! I showed Natural Born Killers project on a wall to my own Video I college class. The movie is part comedy/ satire and full-out gory horror film. It’s everything at once! It’s great that the students really enjoyed it… Fireworks stars above… “I’m a new woman!”… “This is our church (an expansive Utah bridge).” He spontaneously plays the part of the priest and weds her to him just like that… “A candy lane of murder and mayhem”… “It’s junk food for the brain!”… “Is there such a thing as a cop-less town? –“Wouldn’t that be paradise? Shangri la!”… “Tell me I’m beautiful. Tell me you want me”… “Sex is violence!!!”… “In this day and age, man needs a little variety”… “This is kind of like “The Twilight Zone” or something”… “I think we’re the demons”… “She has the sad sickness”… “I’m just kidding! I’m just kidding!”… “I’ve got more feelings now than I’ve ever had before”… “MURDER ME, MICKEY!”… “Who’s innocent?!”… “You can’t get rid of your shadow”… “I used to be you, but I evolved”… “Don’t shot that gun. Shot with the camera!”
Natural Born Killers: The Director’s Cut: commentaries: “This was the biggest experimental/ student film ever made by a studio... The media has desensitized society by making killers circus celebrities... A psychological landscape”... “You hurt my feelings and made me think you don’t desire me”... A deer’s crying eye... Red horses... He violates her with his words... “She loves his attention”... “A grasshopper sexually devouring another grasshopper”... “You make every day feel like kindergarten!”... “Dealing with feelings makes life more complex”... “Their consciousness is altered and raised (and poisoned) by the knowledge that was brought to them”... “Bad fate”... “He’s intoxicated by her lips, her mouth, her smell”... “The love of chaos that is an energy that rebirths us.”
Natural Born Killers (Director's Cut): A phantasmagoria of our sensationalized culture fueled and distorted by the media... The earth littered with cigarette butts, fathers raping their daughters, killing a life before admitting "Just kidding!", bullets shot and "Fuck You"'s shouted at innocent people, people fuming smoke out their pants, ears, nostrils, mouths... even the message was overwhelming.
Where did these emotions come from? Did i learn them off of TV and movies? Is Travis Bickle a role model?
Natural Born Killers and Once Were Warriors act out and release our inner tensions in the visual form of a movie.
Natural Born Killers: For the next 118 minutes, I was lost in a delirium movie that broke so many techniques of filmmaking. Oliver Stone made up new ones to replace the one that were already used. Flashing images and visions of bloody demons and sexual encounters were revolting and intriguing simultaneously to my senses. Some scenes should never have been filmed by exploiting violence and sex as majestic avant guard filmmaking. I can believe now why some teenagers copycatted Mickey and Mallory’s mentality by going on a murder spree. “Fuck”, when a movie actually explains why a “natural born killer” murders because of natural selection, any uneasy-minded individual would learn from their illogical reasons to go ahead and kill. The soundtrack was incredible. I can’t wait until the CD arrives. The music enhanced the images and merged with them. It was deftly important for the filmmakers to have such a brilliant visual film attack our ears as well as our eyes and minds. I did wish that I had seen the movie in the theater when I could since surround sound and a widescreen would be so much more effective to experience.
Natural Born Killers: Can a movie be considered violent if it uses blue blood?... “She has sad sickness. Lost in a world of ghosts”... Just another Oliver Stone Saturday night feature with a few glasses of wine... Sexual Tension in Aisle Six!
Natural Born Killers: Fireworks stars... “Tell me you want me. Tell me I’m beautiful”... “Bunny rabbit wearing a Christmas hat”... “You wouldn’t understand me. I used to be like you, but I evolved”... “You want reality. You got it.”
American Beauty: IMPACT. This movie spoke. It admitted that life is dreadful and dull - and what can be done to change our lives. It doesn’t stop with just realizing our problems; we have to act. If you don’t love someone, you express it any “sensible” way you feel fit... “My dad beat me up the night before. The next day, a guy at school teased me about my haircut and I just snapped. If they didn’t hold me back I really would have killed him”... “The material things you have are just things... they’re not life”... “You’re perfect and ordinary!”... Be a freak... She experienced a breakdown from unmet expectations.
-What Dreams May Come
American Beauty DVD: “Life is so fast and hectic and full of distractions you have to teach yourself how to be still and be calm and allow yourself to look for what I call beauty.” About people searching for meaning and the fear of being ordinary and boring. Surrealism creates tension. Each scene ups the insanity before it. The characters have snapped... bloomed... come alive. The honesty bites each person. Lester finds a way of amusing himself with the things in life that are worth laughing at. The teenage boy uses the camera to remember things. He is an aware voyeur as we are as the audience. A “horror” movie presenting our reality with raw truth and humor.
American Beauty: The Heathers of 1999... “I never used to be this sedated”... “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just thought you were interesting... I’m not obsessing. I’m just curious”... “He’s, like, so confident. That can’t be real”... “It’s okay. I wouldn’t remember me either”... “You like Pink Floyd!?” -”I like a lot of music”...”I’m just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose”... “You can’t always go around and do whatever it is you feel”... “So... are you and psycho boy fucking on a regular basis now that’s you’re boyfriend and girlfriend?”... Demons or feelings?... “You’re perfect - and ugly and boring and totally ordinary.”
American Beauty: “I want to have, like, 10,000 of your babies”... He moves past the conventional beauty and into the person... “Shoot your love scenes like murders”.
American Beauty: A potent and glorious mix of cynicism and sentimentalism in two short hours.
You know what I hate after seeing a film in a theater? It’s people saying: “Wasn’t that a beautiful picture?!” in superficial appreciation. Discuss the movie or express your experience through art. I experienced What Dreams May Come and felt altered in a beautifully emotional way. One might call it sappy or genuine, but I felt moved by how people can love each other... to heaven, hell, and the imagination. I “imagined” my mom beside me during parts of the movie. In the after life, existence is what one makes it. Here is a movie I appreciated and admired for it expressed images, ideas, and emotions in a way I’ve been trying to do - but Dreams did it so much better... wishes, longings, paintings, colors, sentiments, and fantasy all universally bound up inside us all.
-Thelma and Louise
What Dreams May Come: This is one of the most comforting movies I’ve ever experienced. It’s been two and a half years since my mother’s sudden death from a car accident and I still need some peace from its insanity. Here was a movie that gives us a heaven where your dreams and loved ones are all gathered and real. It’s so beautiful and visually realized. The fact that some people grade this movie as trite isn’t beyond my understanding, though. If you’re not feeling the imagery and emotions, you’re not ready for it. It takes a certain amount of sensitivity to go past the endless sentimental longings and share the poignancy of the experience. Imagine walking through a vibrant, living world that is one of your lover’s paintings! How loving.
What Dreams May Come: “Thought is reality. Physical is the illusion. ...Ironic, isn’t it?”
What Dreams May Come: “The Painted World - a Virtual van Gogh... stained glass meets Impressionism”... “Making that painting was the one thing that held her together through this most difficult time. Yet when it was over, she fell back into depression with nothing left to do or to achieve.”
How far will/ can I go in life? Can I walk through my dreams and survive? That question was sort of mentioned in Thelma and Louise tonight on NBC. The road trip film has its poignancy in love, death, and sex. It touches my soul, my emotions, and my soft side. It infects me like hot catharsis syrup. Last year, my mother disgustedly turned the film off after watching only half of it. Since the film has been edited (though very badly so that every time a person curses, he/ she sounds like as if they are from a foreign language film), I pulled mom into the family room and made her watch parts of it (at least the scene where Thelma and Louise drive off into the Grand Canyon).
Today was very odd, very dangerous because I wasn’t doing the things I wanted to do (except listening to music, that is). This mix of springtime anxiousness, excitement, and upcoming uncertainty bothered me. I remember the mix of desperation and glorious summer weather/ Western landscapes in Thelma and Louise that worked so well. It works well with these past few days.
Thelma and Louise: He’s lost it... he cannot control love... or her. I know I lost something that will never be replaced. I understand that now. It’s a hard, peaceful feeling.
Thelma and Louise: From the Documentary: “The Last Journey”: “An empowering film for females because it voices all the shit they’ve been having to deal with for years. It spoke to people about two women who took back their lives. It struck a lot of chords. Everybody would like to be that free”… “Some people thought it was a training film for women to go out and buy handguns”… A giant landscape of clouds and rocks… This movie doesn’t just strike a chord with women – it affects the degraded outcasts just as much. For those who have been humiliated and verbally degraded in the past, you have to holler back when the male rapist pig gets shot. It stirs a reaction from you because he deserves it. It’s justice up on the screen in a way we usually never get to see in real life. That’s movie magic… “The film is a comedy… and a tragedy”… The Writer: “I go to say what was on my mind at the time. I got rewarded for it. But I also had to take criticism for it. And it made me stronger”… This movie really does have a resonance in me. It’s about being jilted in life, deciding to leave for the open road and expansive landscapes of the American West, finding one’s freedom and spirit, getting chased by the law, realizing that you can’t allow yourself to get caught, and deciding to commit suicide to avoid prison or returning to the life you once had. It’s the ultimate escapist fantasy. And the places they go in the West are like from a dream. They’re that visceral and colorful… The Movie: “I’m just not ready to go to jail yet”… “I believe you’ve found your calling – the call of the wild!”… “You are disturbed!”… “Looks like you’ve got a really fucked-up idea of fun!”… “I think it’s time to let go”… “You are complicated”… “I don’t wanna play house. I know it can’t be fun.” –“I Don’t Wanna Play House” by Tammy Wynette… “I’m in Deep Shit, Arkansas”… “Something’s crossed over in me… and I can’t go back. I mean, I just couldn’t live…”… “I feel awake – wide awake. I’ve never felt this awake before. Everything feels different”… “How do you like the vacation so far?”