A few days ago, a man named Rob hung himself. I met Rob only once – the day he gave me my first tattoo.
Here’s the background: as a result of my legal status (a subject for another day), I’d never left the U.S. since I first arrived when I was seven years old. I was all set to change that – I was leaving soon to backpack through Europe indefinitely. This felt like a major transition in my life, and I wanted to mark it with my first tattoo. I thought for a long time about what the tattoo should be. For a while, I’d settled on Escher’s “Drawing Hands.” It represented, for me, the notion that we create ourselves. But, I soon thought: if that’s the idea I want to mark on my body, then I should do it with an image that is actually my own creation. And so I decided on a doodle I once drew on a piece of receipt paper while working at a restaurant – a piece I’d titled “Love.” I have a huge collection of “restaurant doodles” from my server days, and “Love” has always been my favorite.
My best friend Dan had a friend named Rob. Rob was his best friend throughout his teenage years. They’d fallen out of touch, but, as I remember now, they’d recently reconnected. As I had no money to pay a professional tattoo artist, and Dan assured me Rob was pretty good, I decided to ask Rob to tattoo me.…
mother! – the new film from Darren Aronofsky, starring Jennifer Lawrence – is actually worth watching. That, already, makes it a major achievement – by and large, movies suck. What’s more, it even manages to be pretty damn unique. Its basic strategy is twofold:
One: keep the camera max ten inches from Jennifer Lawrence’s face. Capitalize on the fact that the audience is just as confused and upset as Lawrence is. In other words, feed the audience their own experience of watching this movie in the form of the star’s omnipresent performance.
Two: take the house-as-planet-Earth metaphor and play it out as literally as possible. Mismatches between what a house is literally like and what life on planet Earth is literally like will arise. Allow these mismatches to develop their own absurd logic and allow that logic to run the film’s dramatic engine.
The result is, again, a surprisingly unique movie. I’ve never seen another movie like it – I don’t get to say that often. It’s also interesting enough to get me to write this post, which is more than a movie has compelled me to do in years.
Now, however much I may appreciate the film’s uniqueness, I do want to air three complaints:
One: Darren Aronofsky’s formula really does come down to shock value. I haven’t seen Noah, and I don’t remember The Wrestler or The Fountain.…
What do these titles have in common? They tell you absolutely nothing about the work. Some of them are even a little misleading. There Will Be Blood? I mean, okay, there does end up being some blood in the movie. But it’s hardly a bloody film.
Nonetheless, it’s an awesome title. A few reasons:
1. There is a thick, dark liquid that is essential to (modern) life present throughout the film: oil. The title creatively associates the substance circulating through human veins with that underneath the Earth’s surface. As with humans and blood, the Earth spills oil when punctured. In both cases, it is usually a tragedy and often mixed up with violence.
I could make more oil/blood associations – the point is that it only occurs to me to do so because of the film’s title.
2. Exodus 7:19:
Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.”
This is the first of the ten plagues, sent upon the Egyptians for worshipping a false idol.…