photo manipulation by nacrowe
there is something to be said about that brief transition period at the end of high school when the world is seemingly opening up yet becoming more complex. TERRY ZWIGGOFF's GHOST WORLD (GRANADA FILM, 2001) really nails the feeling of that era completely, and i should know since this film came out right at that very moment for me.
as a senior in high school i found myself in northern CALIFORNIA living with a relative in the aftermath of 9/11 and very much felt that my experience abroad gave me a different perspective than the parochial concerns of white-bread middle AMERICA. i'll admit it, i looked down on SACRAMENTO. in some ways i still do.
the two outcasts played by THORA BIRCH and SCARLET JOHANSSON, based on the DANIEL CLOWES' graphic novel of the same name, are over-educated and underachieving and encounter life with a joking, sarcastic distance that is as much about fear and insecurity as it is about late-teen bravado.
what makes this film click are their encounters with STEVE BUSCEMI's middle-aged character who is a seeming loser in love, career and life in general and whose immeasurable pain gives him a real gravitas that essentially brings BIRCH into his orbit. she is like a vampire feasting on his despair but ultimately that backfires.
there is a FLANNERY O'CONNOR short story i have been attempting to find that has a similar plot in that a man pursues a woman he doesn't find attractive only to fall in love and have her leave him. been looking for a title on that one for a few days now, but can't locate it as of yet. that sort of push and pull is very much at the heart of GHOST WORLD and i would argue all adult relationships.
that conflict between fantasy and reality and coming to terms with life and reality for what it is, not what it should be.
great film. worth checking out definitely.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
for me, SOFIA COPPOLA's acclaimed film LOST IN TRANSLATION (FOCUS FEATURES, 2003) is one of the few films that vividly evokes the displacement that occurs to one's psyche and sense of identity when being abroad. being a THIRD CULTURE KID growing up overseas i am acutely aware of that heightened sense of awareness, especially regarding mannerisms, patterns and thought processes given that happen when you are aware of your own foreignness to your immediate surroundings. it takes some getting used to and some people lose the plot along the way.
speaking of which, for me this film is much less about the plot as it is about that need for connection and sense of home when you are far from anything familiar. i've seen it play tricks on people, especially in PEACE CORPS were relationships happened out of seeming necessity, both partners connected by this unique experience with all the excitement and fear of their new predicament mirrored in a newfound affection. but once the situation normalized and became routine, these same people regretted these trysts as they were initiated during a moment of weakness and insecurity.
in the film, the two main characters find each other despite outside considerations like marital status or age difference. being in TOKYO somehow alleviates them of their past identity.
in my mind the film raises the question of the extent to which our individual identity is fluid and contextualized based on external cues. choices you would never make back home are presented anew in a foreign context.
having been home for 2+ years now since living abroad for 8, i have the opposite problem. its beyond reverse culture shock at this point, my normal is being in an unfamiliar surrounding. maybe that is why i gravitate to this film.
if you haven't seen it, definitely seek it out.