Friday, July 22, 2011

The Dolorous Chords of Unwritten Songs

"...The city of the future I now envision
could be a city of ice, a city of candles,
a city of shoe horns or empty frames,
a city of desire and facing it, 
across a river, a city of no desire.
It might not be a city at all, but a meadow of grass
where the horses of tomorrow will lower
their mild heads to graze,
or a vaporous landscape, the valleys flooded
with the dolorous chords of unwritten songs,
the mountain tops cold and forbidding,
waiting for the climbers of the future to seek them out."
     --Billy Collins

I've been feeling very contemplative today, sitting outside in the sun, drinking my coffee and watching the chickens.  Thinking about Sofia Coppola's latest movie, 'Somewhere,' that I watched last night.  Thinking about how this whole world fits together and considering all of the people and animals as the moving parts.  

The movie was slow-paced and seemingly uneventful, even a little underwhelming, initially.  As I ejected the disk and slipped it back into its envelope, I didn't feel much one way or the other; I wasn't automatically moved.  But I slept on it, and I've been thinking about that film all morning, and how there actually was so much going on throughout it, and I think I get what Sofia was doing after all.  The movie is a story about this guy, a famous actor, who lives a very empty life.  It's a fancy life, he drives a Ferrari and lives at a swanky hotel and money buys his every whim, but it's empty and he's so bored.  A long visit from his 11 year old daughter sort of wakes him up to this emptiness and the movie resolves with him making change, but Sofia doesn't giftwrap it, she just shows the possibility.  Much like in Lost in Translation at the end where Bill Murray is leaving Japan and he sees Scarlett Johansson on the street and he stops the cab and gets out and whispers something in her ear and she smiles and then it's over.  It's up to us, the viewer, to fill in the...

'Somewhere' is very visual, and it's stunning.  Sofia gives a lot of time to slow moving camera shots panning in on something or out, or as in the beginning of the film, a steady shot of the guy's Ferrari driving laps around a track, probably for a minute.  She's not afraid to stay on something for awhile, she knows she's got me and that I'll hang in there.  Brave filmmaking, indeed.  

The actor guy is treading water the whole movie until the last minute or so, when he decides to swim.  His condition isn't unique.  There are times in all of our lives when we tread water.  The trick is, how to kick out of it?  We all have our dolorous chords of unwritten songs.  What are we going to do about that? What will inspire us enough to write them?   

1 comment:

  1. Watched the movie. Languor and optimism. Good visuals, and unafraid to be quiet and rest and take things in. And a large part of the movie was about the emptiness, or maybe quiet - not "this happened, then this happened, then this..." narrative pace of most movies.

    The lead character seemed to have run out of diversions or imagination and was stuck and falling asleep during things that would have thrilled other people (liked the sound of skin on stripper pole early on). Then his self-raised, self-willed daughter showed up - growing up just fine without him - and got him thinking about more than wandering from sensation to sensation. Not a major sea change, but he seemed to see potential in his life and be happier for it.