At one point in Billy Wilder’s masterpiece, The Lost Weekend, helpless alcoholic and sometime writer Don Birnam says, “Love is the hardest thing in the world to write about. It’s so simple. You’ve got to catch it through details.”
That couldn’t be more accurate, and it is exactly what Andrew from Encore’s World of Film and TV has tasked a handful of bloggers to do. Or, more specifically, what I tasked myself to do, after Andrew asked me to choose from a list of themes he thought best-encapsulated 2012.
Motifs in Cinema is a discourse across 22 film blogs, assessing the way in which various thematic elements have been used in the 2012 cinematic landscape. How does a common theme vary in use from a comedy to a drama? Are filmmakers working from a similar canvas when they assess the issue of death or the dynamics of revenge? Like most things, a film begins with an idea - Motifs in Cinema assesses how the use of a common theme across various films changes when utilized by different artists.
Now, as is always the case for blogathons and things of this sort, it was my initial instinct to flip the script on Andrew’s proposed idea, and discuss love in cinema circa 2012 as it relates to everything but romance. Love of isolation (Holy Motors), love of money (Killing Them Softly, Arbitrage, Magic Mike), love of dependency (Oslo, August 31st, Flight, Smashed), love of deceit (Compliance, The Imposter, Killer Joe), and, well, you get it.
But I felt like tackling Andrew’s motif in a more rudimentary fashion. So, below are my thoughts on the various depictions of pure, unadulterated, boundless love as witnessed in films from 2012. Love of love, if you will. I hope you’ll forgive me for getting a little self-reflective toward the end, but when you’re talking about love, anything is fair game.
Funny thing about my tastes in cinema is that I often find myself more drawn to pain than love. Maybe that’s because more movies get pain right than love (or do they…?), or maybe it’s because I’m endlessly fascinated by the darkness of human nature, as opposed to the light. Somehow, Haneke managed to fit both into Amour. In the most, well… Haneke way possible.
After my limitless admiration for Django Unchained subsides (if ever so slightly) in the ensuing months, I think one scene will stick out to me above all others. It’s the moment directly after Django verbally manipulates a trio of LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employees – he gains their trust, he gets their gun, and he blows them to shit.
Then everything comes together.
John Legend’s magnificent track “Who Did That To You” thunders over the soundtrack, as Jamie Foxx takes his sweet ass time prepping for his final task: collecting weapons, cleansing himself with water, stripping a horse of its saddle. He rides over to three slaves (who, up until this point, wanted Django’s blood more than anyone) and, with perfect, low-key determination, tells one of them to “throw me up that dynamite.” He takes the dynamite and rides off, bareback and mad ass hell, ready to seek revenge and embrace his wife.
If that isn’t a true testament of love, then I sure as shit don’t know what is.
Silver Linings Playbook
Another thing that sets the film apart: it’s the story of a man’s love for another woman. A woman we only get to know through his own recollection. Romantically, he couldn’t care less about the young woman he spends most of his time with. And, in the end, Russell asks us to trust that these two have a love that will last. Yeah, I can believe in that.
Rust and Bone
As far as I’m concerned, love as defined by films from 2012 is best epitomized in Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone. The film’s central love story is captured in every way I’m drawn to: through pain, doubt, and uncertainty – it’s a love based entirely around circumstance, one that wouldn’t have formed unless X, Y, and Z happened. Well, they did happen, and two people who weren’t meant for one another, suddenly are.
I could say more about the impact that Rust and Bone’s love has had over me, but at this point, it’s better left discovered on your own. The film will be released on DVD stateside on March 18. I implore you to dive in headfirst.
Then a few things happened. I told my friend Catherine about the script, and she said it sounded like fun (yeah, her and I have odd definitions of fun), but only if she got to play the lead. So I flipped the two roles and tightened, tightened, tightened. What if we begin after the suicide? What if we only see the boyfriend in flashback? What if we don’t see the boyfriend at all? What if it’s the boyfriend who saves her?
Now, I don’t mean for this post to turn into a philosophical analysis of my own movie. Not in the slightest. The theme here is love, and my reason for bringing up Earrings is because that is precisely what drives the film. Love.
In the months since the film’s release, I’ve been purposefully silent about what the ending means. I knew what the ending meant, because I wrote it, and I could see it no other way. But when people started telling me what they thought it meant, well, it didn’t seem fair for me to “explain” to them what it was all about. There is no explanation. There is no one reasoning for the ending; the ending is a reflection of the viewer, and what they see in the character and interrupt from the material.
No matter what you think the ending to Earrings means, the point is that she has him. She found him. I once toyed with ending the film while Chlo is running toward her love. But that didn’t seem right. She deserved to feel that love again.
Click here to watch my short film, EARRINGS
Click here to watch my short film, EARRINGS