Tuesday, June 20, 2017

i'm not a real person yet

I gotta come back to David Fishkind's piece at HTMLGiant. "Frances Ha comes so close to being a movie I needed, my generation needed, this world needed," he writes. The time has never been riper than [now] to cut down any encouragement among our youth to pursue a creative lifestyle." And, I think I might just stop quoting him there, because, why would a movie--a piece of art, mind you, want to tell anyone to stop making art? Sure, a piece of art could do that, I'm sure many pieces of art do do that. But, isn't it so much more enjoyable when it doesn't? For that matter, what feels like a better solution to me is to do more art, be more creative, and get the fucking capitalist sell outs who can't be bothered to be creative to maybe pay for a theater ticket now and again to make themselves better cultured, as it were, and support the artists that are inspired to actually do something with their lives even as the momentum of the modern world presses them downward and tries to fit them into cubicles instead of up onto platforms. Seriously, when Fishkind describes a "reality of undoing, in which only the truly inspired and painstaking can achieve success and the rest of us flounder in our own soup of whatever" I wonder who hurt you, Richard? Why are you trying so hard to fashion such creative prose to establish that it isn't worth it to be creative or are you suggesting that you are truly inspired, you are painstaking (a word which fills almost meaningless without another word to modify)? "And just when Gerwig's character seems to understand the urgency of the situation," you write--her situation being that she is barely managing (but is managing) to stay afloat in the rather expensive urban environment of New York as a dancer who doesn't really have the talent to be great--"everything falls apart." And you explain: "By this I mean, she gets her shit together and prospers." I would counter with: she always had most of her shit together anyway, she just wasn't a go-getter, not an ambitious Type A personality like those in, say, "Black Swan" but she seems mostly content with her life as it is, with only a notion of a dream of advancing in the dance company, until, yeah, any hope of advancement is crushed and she then manages to get herself a backup plan for a while until she needs something better because this is not really a movie about a dancer trying to be a great dancer, this is a movie about a young woman in a platonic romance with her best friend from college, in on again, off again relationships with various apartments and homes, temporary and permanent, who doesn't really need to get her shit together until the "romance" is a possibility again, until Sophie is an option again. Notice, for instance, when Frances makes her biggest error in judgement here--not turning down the office job (even if she does settle for it later (but you make a good point, Fishkind, about why it is even still available months later), that does not mean that skipping the opportunity in the first place was an error, and I don't think the film expects us to measure it as one, though of course film is always open to interpretation, because it is art, and it doesn't aim to be concrete, to be exact, to tell us what to do and what not to do, except of course to the extent that it does) but running off to Paris, an expense she cannot afford even if she does have a free place to stay while she's there--it is immediately after she learns that Sophie quit her publishing job, Sophie is moving to Tokyo, Sophie is not only no longer hers but is moving out of her reach, and this is deliberate, and that should be obvious, in that Frances' job as a dancer is almost superfluous to the plot. I mean the specific job. Except inasmuch as it matches (at least in stereotypical cinematic characterization, anyway) her flighty existence, her childish whimsy, and her will to uproot herself as long as she still gets to be herself. Because that is what Frances Ha is about, and it is a positive message, however much the precise execution pleases you, Richard. Frances is being who she needs to be, and only really relies on help from others temporarily. She finds somewhere new to be when she has to be somewhere new. She finds a new job when the old job is not going where she wanted it to go. And, she even settles into the job she didn't quite want when she needs something stable. But, she also finds the time (and presumably a bit of an expense) to keep doing what she likes also. Because, what else is there in modern life? You take the job that lets you afford to do the other things you want to do, if, yeah, you can' t avoid the soup of whatever. Creative types have it hard enough in the modern world without you insisting they give it up entirely, or wanting a little indie film to do as much in your stead. The world is harsh enough already. We could use more flighty dancers barely getting by and we need fewer money-driven folks stepping over everybody else to get ahead. Note, too, around Frances are a whole bunch of creative types who are doing pretty well. Lev and Benji afford an expensive place (though Benji does borrow from his stepdad to keep doing so). Rachel and Colleen do well with dance. Sophie had a nice publishing job until she gave it up to move to Tokyo with her boyfriend. Frances Ha is not telling us that being creative is a bad idea because Frances Ha is openly telling us that being creative is a hit or miss business just like most any other. But, if you can manage to keep being you, and you can afford to live, what business is it of anyone's to tell you to stop? Barring, of course, you being a serial killer or anything as injurious.



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