It’s August 28.
I started this blog post just after midnight on August 11. At the time I was on the last bus to New Jersey after seeing Blue Jasmine. I’m was and still am completely obsessed with Cate Blanchett’s performance. She’s getting another Oscar. But that’s not the point of this post. In fact I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. Bear with me.
August 3 was my “blogoversary”. I have officially maintained this blog in its various incarnations and stages of disarray since 2005. Eight years. I was 16 when I started it. I’ll be 25 in three weeks.
How the hell have I been blogging for eight years?
When I started this blog, it was essentially just the ramblings of a shy teenager posted on a blogging platform that was a slightly better stylized version of Livejournal. Some of what I wrote back then is literally the worst crap I have ever written. I would delete those posts – and I have deleted some – but there is something oddly nice about seeing how I processed cinema when I was a teenager and then to see how my perspective changed as I studied film in college. But I’m not writing now to tap into any cheesy nostalgia.
This blog right now is complete shit. I’m not updating it at all. Not because I don’t want to blog. Because I do. I really do. But something has shifted in my mind this last year. I’m going through a strange transitional period. This stage is sometimes referred to as “the quarter-life crisis”. Maybe you have heard about “the quarter-life crisis”. It’s quite fascinating. There are about a zillion articles plastered all over sites like Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog about what it is like to be a twenty something. Some articles overdose on 90s nostalgia and wisely tell you to stop eating ramen noodles. Or they act as meager advice columns with subjects like: questions twenty somethings should ask or observations for everyone in their 20s or decisions twenty somethings are bad at. And usually the life of a twenty something is expressed in GIFs. You see twenty somethings today have lost any desire to read because “journalism” is reduced to pointless lists that are geared towards generating traffic and instant feedback. All of this bodes really well for society and mass culture as a whole.
But I digress.
My quarter-life crisis seems to have manifested itself on my currently dormant blog. I’m blogging less, which is a shame because writing about film on this blog has always been a necessary outlet for me. But although I’m more detached from the blogging process than ever, my habits haven’t changed. The only way for me to regain any balance is to watch a movie. For every person who loves cinema, there are certain movies that act as crutches. You watch them because there is just something about that movie that clicks with you. It could be the worst or best movie ever made. It doesn’t matter. This movie just works for you. For me that movie is L’Avventura.
The first time I saw L’Avventura was the summer before my senior year of high school. That summer I watched many of the 60s art house films. Great works by Bergman, Godard, Truffaut, Fellini, Bunuel but honestly, they all blurred together. I barely saw them as anything more than those classic foreign films I had to check off of a list. (I’m fairly certain I fell asleep during The Seventh Seal. Sorry Bergman.) It was after a second viewing of L’Avventura that I fell in love. I had never seen a movie like L’Avventura where nothing really happens. Except everything happens. When I watch it, then and now, I find myself in a constant state of wonder. Each frame is exquisite. The composition and pacing is breathtaking. It’s perfect filmmaking.
What made me fall overwhelmingly in love with L’Avventura happened during the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. A horrendous production internship the previous summer made me question not only why I was studying film but also why I liked movies in the first place. Well in case you didn’t know this, people who attend the Cannes Film Festival really fucking love movies. It’s a film lover’s paradise. Hell it might even be paradise. Period. There is no better place to regroup and remember why you love movies in the first place than Cannes.
The official poster for the 2009 festival is a still of Monica Vitti in L’Avventura and I attended a special screening of the film. The film started and of course it was perfect. And when the shot used on the festival’s official poster occurred – it’s a scene when Claudia walks onto a balcony-the audience applauded. A single shot. Of one of the greatest movies ever made. I’ll never have that experience again. Like I said, people at Cannes really fucking love movies and when you’re surrounded by that level on cinephilia, it is hard to not feel something powerful erupt from within you.
The most common complaint about L’Avventura is that nothing happens. That the long takes do nothing to advance the plot. That it is boring. It’s what some of my friends told me when I asked them to see a new print of L’Avventura with me at Film Forum a few weeks ago. It’s an astounding complaint. I’ve never been bored during L’Avventura. In fact, I’m drawn to it more than any other film because it captures the utter banality of human existence.
In L’Avventura, the most action happens as the film builds to Anna’s disappearance. The group gathers for their day trip. They go boating. Claudia looks stunning. There’s a shark. Anna and Sandro fight. And then Anna vanishes. Initially her disappearance mobilizes her friends and family but eventually, everyone carries on. Yet Anna lingers. Her disappearance weighs heavily on the characters and audience for longer than the time she was actually present in the film. It’s profound.
Movies lead us to believe that the human experience is jam-packed and that everything is building towards a shocking revelation, a monumental declaration or that big, rousing finish. But in reality none of this is true. Life is slow and monotonous. It has huge, significant moments (birth and death) but then it becomes more of the same. Again and again and again. And so you must find ways to punctuate the everyday.
When I start thinking, the best thing for me to do is watch a movie like L’Avventura that allows me to process something bigger than myself. It has a way of calming me down more so than any other movie. It consistently reminds why I love cinema and beyond that it reminds me of just the simple beauty in being.
So I’m not really worried about finding my bearings again. I always do. Besides Oscar season starts soon and that always brings me back as well. The process is actually really simple. I’ll watch a movie. I’ll muse. Hopefully I’ll write. Then I’ll repeat.
And I’ll be fine.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jokOUvX1HL8]