Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Best Part 2.

Man it's hard to sit down and write one of these, but since I was in Baltimore just a few days ago we'll just all have to imagine dusty little seagulls* and get on with this, most likely awkward, stab at trying to sum up one of the most mind-bendingly irrepressible years I have yet had to float through. To paraphrase a bit, it certainly looked like there were two, options on the table, either we would live through a quite content and boring version of the past while sinking deeper into a murky, dank and disgusting swamp, or we could strive for something just beyond our reach while running the risk of devouring one another. The endgame of both would be unending trials of quiet desperation. At least at times, and in darkened rooms, it felt that way.

Certainly in Wall-e, we could hear these songs, but in the end Peter Gabriel sang neither, and Frank Rich decided any environmental platform should be based solely on this lonely robot. Even setting aside its biblical underpinnings – thematically, it's essentially Paradise Lost -- Wall-e's strength lies in its complete and utter disregard for how movies are supposed to be made. This tiny robot, certainly the oldest thing still fully working on planet earth, accidentally sets in progress, well, when you really think about it, not much of anything at all. He's completely oblivious to the fact that around him history is getting a healthy dose of methamphetamines, and here's the funny part, that dose has been the ultimate product of laissez-faire economics for close to a thousand years. All it takes to kickstart history again is some late night web-surfing** and a simple flick of a switch. Wall-e could have sat on the bench, and most of the film would have happened along the same lines, though probably with less enthusiasm in the end product. By the same token, however, when the movie opens, it is clear he holds the past as nothing more than a collection of otherwordly curiosities, as if this Kasper Hauser has no intention of finding the actual function of the things he collects but is completely enthralled by their mysterious forms. Shoot, come to think off it, he's Plato's concept of man and Rousseau's noble savage all rolled into a pathos-laden trash compactor.

For a second or so, Wall-e's ineffectiveness looks an awful lot like a scam of apathy. But it's a brief second, and rather than wandering down this road the movie swerves towards a deeper, more profound point. Before we get to that though, we owe it to ourselves to make a u-turn and talk a bit about Pineapple Express.

Very much like Vladimir and Estragon***, Dale and Saul live a life of chilling out. For them the past is reruns of 227, and the future is filled with half assed dreams and ambitions: there's practically no way Dale will be a talk radio persona, or Saul an architect. However, in a bizarre world where life follows both Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Tango and Cash in equal measure, pretty much anything that can happen will, if you want it to, and that's pretty far out. So while stuck behind a rock and a very large hill, these dudes happen upon the supreme plan for life: "Safety first, then teamwork." Which, as far as mantras go, happens to be just about perfect. As an axiom, these four words allow for much more than the football chant "Carpe Diem", or the paragon of self-centeredness, "Do unto others…"**** This phrase implies an understanding towards the listener, but also a hope for reciprocity. In other words "Safety first, then teamwork" presents a world where the love we have for one another is grounded upon the work necessary to continue that love. These four words allow for a world in which we all are responsible for each other, and liberalism actually works.

In short, both Saul's "Safety first, then teamwork", and Wall-e's "Directive" are the reasons the rock and the hill are smaller than they look. For Wall-e, life and living are about the ever passing moment and the connections that make those moments possible. For Dale and Saul, they are the conversations, over cold, disgusting diner food, recounting how great it really is to be alive and be with friends. These are the moments we live for.

In conclusion, Caitlin and I are engaged, and now you all know why.

Safety first, then teamwork,


* See what I did there GP?
** When do you think we'll get a voice activated wikipedia?
*** Though these dudes don't wear bowlers.
**** And they also allow for two of the most strikingly beautiful scenes this year (for those who are counting, the scene in the woods, and the scene in the tree).

Top Ten Movies
1. Pineapple Express – Duh.
2. Wall-e – Even the kids know to be silent at that last bit.
3. Synecdoche – About as good an argument for the weight of solipsism, at least recently.
4. Encounters at the End of the World – We're all penguins now.
5. Cassandra's Dream – First of two Woody Allen greats this year
6. Vicky Christina Barcelona – Less visceral than Cassandra, still though, really mean.
7. Paranoid ParkRiding with the devil.
8. Milk – That whistle shot is devastating.
9. W. – Just 'cause.
10. Miracle at St. Anna – Take that Eastwood!

Happy Days and Endgame at BAM – Of all times, now is the time to have a dance with Beckett
Till the Casket Drops, Clipse – "Voted for Obama, McCain's my tax bracket."
The Wire – J-School:"Federal agents requested 457 wiretaps in 2007, a 14-year low. Meanwhile, state and local prosecutors requested 1,751 wiretaps, more than triple the number in 1993."
Clube da Esquina no 2, Milton Nascimento – What my mind plays all day long.
David Byrne singing "You Can Call Me Al" at BAM – You haven't lived man, you haven't until you've seen this.
Mad Men – I'm worried 'bout this year's season, but this one was just fine.
Lil Wayne – Even though that last mixtape sucked.
Obama – It's exhausting to have a year long collective epiphany, but man we did.

No comments: