Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Quiet City"

I like this movie genre of "mumblecore," as it's derogatorily
called. Young people in their 20s hang around and talk, is the
basic gist, and don't do much, like work, or get worked
up about much of anything.

I saw "Hannah Takes the Stairs" earlier, which I was taken
some by, but "Quiet City" got to me more, because it seems
to be even purer in its vision of these folks, or this
generation. Hannah was more hectic and games-playing.

The people who populate this genre remind me some of both
hippies and slackers, but they are really neither, and I'm
focusing on Quiet City now. They aren't hippies (of which I
was sort of one) because they don't drug & booze it up much,
and because they make hippies look ambitious and aggressive.

They aren't slackers because what I know of slackers is that
they're more sloppy and drug-angled, and even they have an
aggression that just ain't there with the people in Quiet City.

Why I like them is that their response, or answer, to the
prevailing violent, fearful, greedy and insane world
as it is today, hits me as totally authentic, yet with an
innate gentleness that is itself a kind of passive ambition
of the heart.

The two lead actors are gentle, passive (but conscious and connected
and honest), without worldly ambition, interested in one another,
playful, agreeable, not quick to be upset by upsetting things.
My God, it's like I'm describing monks of some sort, and, you
know, I think I might be.

The main thing is, their response to modern reality is authentic.
The guy at one point, in a conversation with the girl about
relationships and how difficult they are, says something like,
"I don't want my feelings to affect other people," meaning that
he doesn't want to hurt anybody, but also he doesn't want to be
responsible for how somebody else feels.

They talk about where they are in the evolution of their
ability to relate, to be with another person, and see how
their being young has so much to do with how they feel and
relate. I NEVER thought about such things when I was 20.

I don't feel like I'm capturing what I like about this
movie, the way they're so passive, so at the mercy of
events and coincidences (the way they met in the train
station) and yet how they become involved seems so true
about love, or about caring, which is the point of life
to me. Are they empty wisps, or have they achieved,
or bumbled into, an enlightenment that's so fitting of
this time, yet transcendent because they don't care
enough to take action to change anything? They have
some figment of that spiritual quality about being in
the world but not of the world.

The one part where friction and upset entered was at
an art gallery where this one kid has an aggression that
seems to stand for the world at large--aggression in words,
a fake playfulness that masks meanness, a pokey-jokey
small-scale cruelty that underscores the main characters'
gentleness and lovingness. The artist whose show it is
at the gallery says to him finally but gently, something
like, "Did I tell you to be rude to my friends?"

I did get impatient at first when I saw that wow really
"nothing" was going to happen in this movie, but then I
started feeling a wavelength that was good and true and
peaceful watching them, listening to them, and I thought,
what is going on here? And I saw mainly that their loveliness
was authentic, their lack of ambition a spiritual quality
as much as disengagement from the violent madness of the
world, as well as an honorable response to it.

You may see this movie and go, "What the hell is he
talking about?" or "Yeah, I see," but in any case I
liked it, and I like it more the more I think about it.

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