Prestige versus love

Synopsis: A troublesome young janitor at MIT, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), shocks the faculty when he solves the “unsolvable” math equation. After his delinquent behaviour lands him in jail, a professor (Robin Williams) bails him out on the condition that the youth attends therapy.

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This is one of those movies that gained instant cult status. The world was so taken by Good Will Hunting that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck became stars over night, and Hollywood awarded them with Oscars for an original screenplay. That’s right: Matt Damon & Ben Affleck were the screenwriters of this remarkable film. I remember thinking that they were geniuses, and it never occurred to me that they would have such rich acting careers.

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Like so many Gus Van Sant films, Good Will Hunting is layered with existentialist pondering embodied in characters. Was there anyone who didn’t fall in love with the rebellious genius (Will) who mocks the traditional, patriarchal education system? Was there anyone who wasn’t frightened by arrogance with which he tore apart other people’s lives? Was there anyone who didn’t want to hug and kiss him when he revealed details of the physical abuse he suffered as a child? And was there anyone who didn’t breathe a sigh of relief when he decided to pass up the business opportunity that so many dream of to “go see about a girl”?

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What makes the movie so loveable is the unpretentious manner in which it delivers the point that life is about more than achieving prestige. This is a wonderful reminder, especially in this day and age when societies have become obsessed with success.

The question that is most on my mind now, is whether it’s possible to be both prestigious and successful in love. The movie seems to suggest that this is an impossibility. After having been conditioned to attend therapy, Will finds himself with two father figures who stand in opposition to one another. On the one hand there is Sean, who has based his every decision on love for his wife, missing out even a historic moment in baseball. And then there’s professor Lambeau who only seems to be concerned with mathematical achievements, setting aside all other pleasures.

This dichotomy is perfectly illustrated in one scene when Sean and Lambeau argue about Will’s future. Lambeau likens Will to Einstein, citing that it would be a great shame, if not even irresponsible to the future generations if Will’s talent was wasted. Sean, however, is insistent that Will has no obligation towards anyone but himself.

I for one think that nothing is impossible, but it is true that some of the greatest minds in history lived a lonesome lifestyle, without a spouse or a family.

What do you think about all this?

Life Of Pi

When I first heard that Life Of Pi was in the making my lips widened into a smile as this has been one of my favourite books. My joy turned to happy disbelief when I learned that Ang Lee, also a favourite, was directing it. If anyone else had taken it upon themselves to bring this extraordinary story to life, I would question their sanity. If you’ve read this Yann Martel novel then you know that it’s one of those pieces that doesn’t translate easily from book to a movie. Practically based on introspection, wondering, inner suffering and growth, it is anything but an adventure that the trailer suggests it to be. However, if I had concerns regarding the successful adaption from written to visual, they all evaporated as soon as the main credits rolled and I put on the 3D glasses.

 

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With each subsequent scene I became increasingly convinced that Mr. Lee had done it again. By the time movie ended, it already earned a spot in my “favourite films” list. It’s not just the excellent screenplay and the mesmerizing scenes that won me over. Nope. The credit also goes to Ang Lee’s phenomenal understanding of what 3D should be all about. He applied the technology to an already beautiful cinematography to create spectacular visual pleasure. This magic is perhaps most evident in the scene in which we see Pi’s uncle swimming in a pool, because there is nothing animated in it. This was only the fourth movie which I saw in 3D, but all the others, which are so apparently animated, use the technology to draw the audience into a fantasy. Life Of Pi, on the other hand, utilizes animation to recreate creatures and scenery to bring forth the stunning beauty of our planet. Of course, in this movie, these breathtaking images are also meant to reflect Pi’s inner journey.

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It was only after this movie that I realized that I would love to watch a good European film in 3D. Would you? Or do you think that 3D should be reserved for Hollywoodian spectacles?

 

 

 

Oh, and lest I forget, let me explain why there was a three month gap in between this post and the one preceding it. I’ve spent the past few months observing the monkeys, cultivating an owl and learning how to tame a tiger, all the while participating in a wrestling match facing two opponents – Yin and Yang.

Or I can tell you a different story: that I spent my time learning the ropes at the office, practicing the wisdom of choosing my words carefully, reigning in my most characteristic trait of being open (and thus making myself vulnerable), while struggling to find balance between my professional and personal life.

You choose whichever story you prefer better.