The textbook answer for what impact cinema has on humankind is that of guru, lover, muse, family, friend, nurturer, mentor, philosopher, scapegoat, cheerleader, historian, entertainer, and inquisitor. Movies teach, inspire, document, provoke, terrify, amuse, comfort, distract, and hypothesize.
I studied film in college and graduate school because movies did all of these to me and more. They enraptured me when no non-celluloid (or non-literary) person could; they planted tapestries of experiences that my own mind could not conjure. I wanted to acquire the tools to deconstruct and demythologize the mind and body of this technological, cultural creature.
Five years of proper schooling and many years of movie-going and reflection have brought me to this moment. Today. Whereupon a late afternoon screening of Hector and the Search for Happiness (Peter Chelsom, 2014) has helped me realize that cinema for me has always been about the access point to the ways in which other people think about, see, and taste reality.
Even taking into account my bias towards any of the cast members or that I still enjoy watching movies for amusement, it’s cinema’s role as portal to another person’s perspectives that reach into my innards and push and pull at sinews and mitochondrial DNA.* Cue my favorite filmmakers: Whit Stillman, Hal Hartley, Stanley Donen, Ang Lee, Dario Argento, Wong Kar-Wai, Claire Denis, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Tarsem Singh, and Mira Nair among others.
I’m becoming keenly aware as well that this response that I have is not limited to audiovisual media experienced via theatre, television, or disc. People who publish/distribute their creative works online taps into the same pool. Enter: Beckie0, MayBaby, the Fung Brothers, QworterLifeCrisis, Daniela Andrade, Marie Digby, admiral potato, and pascal campion among others.
The premise of Hector and the Search for Happiness is literally in the title. It’s based on Francois LeLord’s book (Le voyage d’Hector ou la recherche de bonheur) and achieves a clever pinch of profound introspection, anxiety, and humor.
As for how I see and taste reality?
On a bad day:
On a good day:
In the most authentic way, my child self, who stands in front of flamingos and proclaims, “What’s the big deal? Que sera sera.” I loved this jacket. So comfortable, so many pockets.
* Music and literature produce analogous effects.