My Blog For Stuff

My Blog For Stuff

Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Shape Of Water and Those Little Moments of Humanity

I need to talk about the circumstances around how I seen The Shape of Water before I get into it. I've been a Del Toro fan since as long as I can remember. I was blown away in the cinema as a primary schooler when I went to see Hellboy. The first movie to ever crush me emotionally was none other than Pan’s Labyrinth, a movie I most definitely should not have been able to watch at the age I was if not for a bootleg copy on dvd existing in my father's house that i managed to sneak into my bedroom to watch at 1 in the morning. Even Pacific Rim, a movie I can look at and understand all of the flaws it has, is still one of the most “Kane” movies ever made because, when you really boil it down, it's nothing more than an excuse to watch big robots punch bigger monsters, but it's made with so much love and attention to the smallest of details, sword arm excluded, that it transcends a Transformers or Godzilla. It becomes fun, which is something cinema desperately needs sometimes. All of this prefaces what I really want to talk about, but I just had to make clear that you understand that I really love Del Toro's work to the point where, much like Tim Burton or Sam Raimi, he's one of the directors I can distinctively point at as one of the creators who shaped my mind at a young age. I went to see this movie as an unplanned double bill where I saw Coco first with my family and then The Shape of Water straight afterwards alone, with barely enough time for a pee break in the middle. I only bring this up so I can talk more about the very distinctive thing movies do that get to me on a deeply emotional level that I realised during Coco of all things.

Anyways, the movie. The Shape of Water. I knew virtually nothing about this walking into the cinema apart from what I’d absorbed through osmosis. Oscar season is one of those few joys I get really excited for throughout the year because I know that every movie I go see will be one I can think about for a long time afterwards, regardless of how I feel about it getting nominated or not. It’s like Christmas time for good movies. So when I found out The Shape of Water’s release date was going to correspond in Ireland with Oscar season, I was both hyped to the high heavens and so mad I’d have to wait even longer to go see a movie that critics have been fawning over since it premiered. I’ve finally seen it now, and there’s so much I want to dive into so I’ll just start that now.

The Shape of Water is a monster movie. It’s a movie where, off screen, a creature that was worshipped as a god has been captured from some far away mystical land, in this case South America, and brought back to the States to be studied by scientists. It’s nothing new in the world of monster movies, hell you’ve probably seen twenty movies like it before from that plot synopsis. The thing is, it’s also a love story. It’s the story of a mute girl finding love in a creature that everyone else has decided is evil just for appearing different. It’s the classic Beauty and the Beast ideology being placed into what could have easily been a horror film, but isn’t. It’s so simple an idea that transcends it’s basic premise through exploring what the concept of love truly is, and it’s so beautiful and touching that it works fantastically well for all of the right reasons.

There really is such a fantastical atmosphere to The Shape of Water. The film has such a mystical and magical feeling. There’s an ever present hue of blue on screen at all times, either from the lighting or the clothes, that really adds to the ambience of each shot. Water stands in for a lot of the symbolism throughout the film. Even our protagonists love of musicals just feels like it adds so much to why she acts the way she does around those she loves, from the little dance moment she has with her neighbour to her bursting into song towards her beloved much later in the movie. There’s such a beautiful undercurrent of a classic Hollywood movie of a time gone by. Even the soundtrack reflects this, with the score being weird but in an elegant and familiar way. Like a dream we’re slowly beginning to remember. Due to the era it’s set in, an early 1960’s, the setting is a vital part of developing and grasping an understanding of the actions of the characters as much as anything else is. One of the best examples would be our protagonist Eliza’s neighbour Giles. He’s a struggling artist who also happens to be gay in a time where that’s horribly shunned, but still at his older age desperately seeking love and not knowing where or how to find it. Eliza's best friend, Zelda, shows us a woman stuck in a marriage of necessity, where if love once existed, it's barely there anymore. All she does for the entirety of the movie when talking about her husband is moan about how little he does for her, which is truly sad when you stop to think about how many families must have been like that back in those days.

Wait, let me… Let me focus on that. The Shape of Water is a movie about love. It’s a movie about the social interactions and tiny things that people can do to showcase that love for one another, as well as all of the ways an absence of love or a rejection of it can destroy you. At its core it’s a love story between a woman and a fish man, but it’s all of the tiny details of every other characters relationships that really make it so much more than that. No one questions Eliza’s love for the Creature. It’s such a simple thing that it was only after walking out of the movie and began thinking about it did I realise there’s almost no judgement of any of the love on display between characters who care for one another. Even Eliza’s best friend, when wondering about how she and the Creature had sex, never judges her for doing the deed in the first place. It’s just accepted that she loves this Creature and he loves her. It’s a Disney level of purity in a love story where you instantly know that these two people were made for one another and you never really stop to question the fact that he has gills because of the minuscule details Del Toro adds to show this love.

From the look on Eliza’s face when she begins feeding the Creature eggs, like a schoolgirl embarrassed about talking to her first crush, to the way they hold one another, like nothing in the world is more important than the person they’re holding in their arms, the movie truly understands what love is. The first time we see Strickland, played by the wonderful;y menacing Michael Shannon, in his family home, you can feel the coldness he has for them through the screen. When his wife brings him upstairs to have sex there’s no… love there. He sees her as an objects, and buying things for him and her and the rest of the family will help fill the hole that’s been left in him by not being able to actually express love to them in the first place. The villain of the movie is so material that the only time he seems genuinely happy over the course of the entire run time is when he buys himself a new car. Contrast this with Eliza, who’s genuinely just happy to spend time with her beloved at all, and you begin to understand the simple depth we’re constantly presented with. The movie firmly understands that it’s the little things in a relationship that really make it strong and lasting.

The reason I brought up seeing Coco earlier is because I wanted to talk about what really gets to me in art, be it books or movies or TV or whatever. The things that always stick with me are the little human moments, the moments I can point at and go “that’s too real”. As ridiculous as it sounds, one of the lines from the original Twilight book has stuck with me since I read it when I was eleven, and it’s “I didn’t sleep well that night, even after I was done crying”. I’ve no idea why, because I vehemently despise that franchise, but even in garbage like that it stood out to me and has stayed with me through all of these years. There’s a moment in Call Me By Your Name that stuck with me hard as well. That moment is when Elio goes to reach for the hand of Oliver and gets his hand brushed away. On paper this doesn’t sound like anything too painful, but it’s the context of this rejection of love that makes it so painful and real. The scene I always go back to in my head is from 500 Days of Summer, where he explains all of the tiny things he loves about Summer, that after they break up turn into all of the things he hates about her. It’s still one of my absolute favourite moments in any form of media because of how insanely real it is. The idea of falling in love with someone for their imperfections then turning around and hating them for all of those exact same reasons is so human. The film Coco, even for it just being a pretty okay movie by Pixar standards, has an ending I won’t spoil because it got to me in a way that very few movies can, because it felt real. It showcases the love a father can have towards his daughter, how much the love a family can provide and how that really matters above everything else. It felt like regardless of how preposterous the plot and all that was happening around it was, it was a beautiful moment because of the sheer rawness of it. Like The Shape Of Water, it's a ridiculous idea executed with such finesse and beauty that if you've ever felt even a modicum of love at any point in your life you'll relate with this film.

Love is being there. Love is showing you care. Love is an abstract and oh so complex idea that it’s so hard to nail down in a quantifiable manner what love truly is. Yes, love is also messy and awkward, but not between Eliza and the Creature. Here The Shape of Water really tries, and succeeds, at showcasing love in its purest and most distilled form that only a fantasy movie could really capture. Falling in love is easy, but capturing that… Essence. That realness. Those little moments, like dancing with someone you care about, or holding them close. Those brief, fleeting moments that you never really give much thought to. That content feeling of being in someone’s company, without saying a single word. Those pure, human moment’s… That’s love.

The Shape of Water is a movie about love. I truly, wholeheartedly loved it.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Why Good Movies Matter

So I wasn't going to write this. I thought I had no need to. I mean really, what's the point of explaining to people why they should like good things? Why bad movies are really getting out of hand? Over the last few months however, more and more it's been sinking in that people... Don't really "get" movies anymore, and those that do, those magnificent few that are really hardcore devoted to the magic of movies as an art form, are going extinct, which is so perplexing to me.

I'm getting ahead of myself. This all started when over a year ago I went to see the movie Moonlight in town on a whim after an appointment I had. I'd time to kill before I got my bus and had been hearing rave reviews about it, but knew literally nothing about the movie walking in. I still to this day haven't felt so emotionally gutted by the sheer beauty of a film, from the acting to the cinematography to the damn score, every single piece of Moonlight comes together in a way that made me cry in a theatre and truly fall in love with the cinema all over again. I got my bus home and don't really talk about Moonlight all that much with people, and this is my point. I don't talk about Moonlight with people because no one really cares. No one cares because people don't watch movies anymore for the art, they watch them to switch their brains off and look at superheroes fight each other, or to see the next romcom, or to watch another terrible sequel to a beloved childhood property.

People don't want to be challenged anymore. In this age of instant satisfaction with the internet and oversaturation of media, it's never really been easier to find whatever you want as soon as you think of it with instant gratification. This instantaneous faster paced nature is affecting the medium in the sense that people can;t handle suspense anymore. There's a good reason a movie like It appealed to so many last year, and it's because it was, for the most part, a well made adaption, but also knew it's target audience needed a jump scare every five minutes too, so happily obliged. I'm not shitting on It, just... Imagine that movie without the needless the jump scares, and it becomes a much more complex and scary movie about a bunch of kids fighting their inner fears., instead of the same film but BOO HERE IS A CLOWN MONSTER TO! inserted in needlessly.

 Moonlight switched something back on in me. The next movie I went to see was a Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War maybe, I don't remember. What I do remember is walking out of the cinema and feeling so utterly dissatisfied, not entirely with the movie, but with myself for falling for this shtick again. For falling for the corporate, put together by a committee 6/10 movie that people watch and hail as a masterpiece just for being passable. Look at Wonder Woman, a movie that's solid enough but in no way a masterpiece, especially for most of, and almost all of, the first and third act. Wonder Woman is such a strange case study to me because... It's really only a passable movie. But because it's a passable DC Comics movie with a female lead and a female director it instantly jumps on to most peoples top 10 lists for 2017. I'm not even shaming the fact that it's so female led as a movie, I just don't think that should influence your opinion of the art in question. Ghostbusters 2016 is another perfect example of that logic, with a mass uproar before the movie even released about people not being happy with the trailer that came out, which led in turn to people everywhere defending a fucking movie about women hunting ghosts making queef jokes as if it was some sort of political issue. The only positive to that whole situation was, no one went to see Ghostbusters 2016 because it was as bad as everyone assumed it was, so everyone forgot about the idiocy of the feminist agenda because it didn't matter. Ultimately all those people were really doing was falling for the marketing teams strategy of turning a bad movie into a hot issue, which.... Is so disgusting to me.

I began writing this because of an article I came across on Facebook called "Netflix's Bright is the movie we all want that Hollywood won't make anymore". I watched Bright the week it came out, part because I'm always intrigued by whatever Max Landis writes after watching his "Wrestling Isn't Wrestling" video years ago. but also because the concept of the movie sounded just weird enough for me to be on board with. What I watched was a burning orphanage on top of a burning kitten sanctuary of a movie. I couldn't stand the damn movie for a whole host of reasons I won't get into, but for some reason I'm in the minority. Bright did well enough that Netflix ordered a sequel. Bright has tapped into the same market that thought that Suicide Squad was a good movie, which is a large enough market to keep pumping out these awful, dreadful movies.

But it was the comments on the thread that really got to me. From people saying a movie like Bright is "truly fantastic" and to "ignore the critics", all the way to people straight up calling out people who don't like the movie as being "pretentious assholes".  The reason this got to me as much as it did isn't because Bright is a piece of dog shit wrapped in cat shit wrapped in more dog shit, because it is, it's because the majority are defending it. The majority of people are genuinely defending a movie that cost 90 million dollars to make and felt like it had half that budget for a most of the run time. They're defending a bad movie, not in the way that people defend The Room, but actually defending this "movie" as if it's good, but only if you switch your brain off.

Movies should be an art, but people aren't understanding the art anymore. It's the reason why the general public won't go see Blade Runner 2049 in the cinema, but a Jumanji sequel is resting at 500 million dollars at the time of writing this. Why does a movie like Jumanji do so well though? The "Brain Shutoff Theory" is my idea. People don't like to be challenged by art anymore, so when they go to the cinema they want to switch off their brains. I have no direct problem with the people who do this, it's the fact that so many people do it that drives me insane. Why don't people want  to be faced with harsh realities or truths when it comes to watching a horror movie, like It Comes At Night, but will rush out to see the fourth Insidious movie? Is it to do with my Brain Shutoff theory, where people are so sick of facing reality that they need the escape? If it is, is this holding back the medium in some sense?

 These movies are fake. These movies have no real heart behind them. Yes, there are people working on these movies for a paycheck, and in some rare cases because they've a genuine passion, in which case their participation in the movie always shines through. But you just have to sit through the end credits of a Disney movie these days to see the farm of graphic designers they have to make Iron Man fighting Hulk look as amazing as it did from a technical perspective. How is a sole creator supposed to be make their mark anymore when the blockbusters are all thousands of people working on passable movies. But I can already hear the argument of "but look at Guardians of the Galaxy! Look at Thor: Ragnarok! They have their creators mark all over them!". Yes, they do, but only because they played by the rules. For every James Gunn making their Marvel movies by stepping in line, there's an Edgar Wright or Lord and Miller walking off set in the middle of production because they weren't allowed to make the movie they intended. Hollywood is killing creativity.

Moonlight was such an important movie to me because it reawoke something in me that I didn't know had left me. Call Me By Your Name, Blade Runner 2049, Get Out even, these are just some of the movies that I seen last year in the cinema that made me believe again. That made me fall in love again. That made me so angry at Hollywood for not encouraging more movies like these to be made. For not making the average movie goer stop and appreciate the medium, instead of pandering to the people who gave a Jumanji sequel 500 million dollars.

Good movies matter because they challenge your world views, or make you laugh whilst making you think, or force you to use the smallest amount of your brain that you don't even realise you're not using until suddenly it starts working again. Until suddenly you start to see the beauty in things again, or question your beliefs, or try to make yourself a better person.

Good movies matter because if people keep being pandered to, the bar will only go lower on what can be deemed as passable.

Good movies matter.

Don't Let Art Die.

Sunday, 28 May 2017


I had a dream last night. In the dream you were there. You were there curled up in me, rolled up into a ball on my chest, listening to my heartbeat, pretending to be asleep so I wouldn't stand up. Every time my chest rose you nestled in a little deeper, every time it dropped you followed it down. You were so comfortable. We were both so comfortable. Together.

I looked down at you and felt that rush of warmth, that rush only you could give me by merely being there. That warm feeling that burns away all the badness going on in life and makes me feel like I might be able to get through the day. I placed my hand on your face to let you know I still cared, to let you know I was still protecting you from the harshness of the real world. Your face was so warm from the rush of blood to your cheeks, yet so cold everywhere else. Like you were made of porcelain, a tiny porcelain doll I had to care for. You were like an alien to me, so strange and complex, yet so familiar all at once.

You turned your head to stare into my eyes. You were so beautiful. Your eyes drowning me in a sea of blue, your nose twitching in anticipation for whatever you were excited to say to me. You looked up at me, and I fell in love all over again. You opened your mouth, your soft lips smiling as you spoke, uttering the words that kill me every time I hear you say them. I was never prepared to hear you say it but was never upset to hear it anyways. Because it was you. You were you. You opened your mouth, the mouth I had tasted so many times before yet every time felt like the first, and said it; "I love you".

I didn't have a chance to respond. I blinked. I blinked and it's a few weeks later and we're fighting. You're losing your head at me over something small that I don't understand but want to so badly. I want to stop hurting you. I want to stop dealing you pain. But I don't and I can't and we continue fighting, hurling insult after insult at each other, getting more and more upset inside but refusing to show it in case the other person doesn't feel the same way. Refusing to just stop and give each other a hug and letting whatever the world did to hurt us go for just one damned second because we've both been hurt so badly in the past but are so fucking afraid of hurting anyone else with our actions or by existing that we just tear ourselves away from those we love and who love us. So afraid to let ourselves feel happy for too long in case that just stops one day and we're alone again exactly like we assumed we'd be. So afraid to give ourselves over one hundred and ten percent. So afraid.

I blink again and this time I'm in my room on my own. You're not here. Your stuff is gone. The room is bare without your input, just like my heart. I didn't want this to happen.  I assumed it would one day, so does that make it my fault? Was not giving you my all because of the fear of you leaving me why it ended? Am I destined to die frustrated and sad because I can't give myself over to anyone in case they hurt me all over again? Why bother then? Why try at all with anyone ever, if the cycle is destined to continue. Why have friends, why have relationships? Why fall in love if after all is said and done we all just end up hurting each other by not being there when they need you most? Why try at all? Why? Why? Why?

I wake up.



Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Falling Out of Love with Someone

We all know how easy it is to fall in love with someone. We read about it everyday in books and magazines, we hear about it on the radio in pop songs and we've all felt it at least once in our lives. Felt that overwhelming feeling of "they could be The One", that mystical magical "One" who we've all come to expect to find before we pass, that perfect person who understands and accepts us for whatever flaws we may have and loves us regardless.
But what do we do in the meantime? Do we sit around and wait for this person to just fall into our laps? No, we try dating people who we think might be our One. Who we secretly hope that they'll rescue us from all our woes and strife. We try dating those who we think have similar interests, those who we find attractive, those who we just generally get along with, and every now and then something clicks, and we think we've found them. We might have finally found the One. The One we've been searching for.
They seem perfect. You're both into enough of the same things for you to have a common understanding of each other but with enough of an interest in things you know nothing about to make them seem mysterious and interesting. Then you start to notice the little things about them, the way they play with their hair when they're nervous, the way they smile when you make them laugh, the way they look at you, as if you're the only person in the universe who they can love with all of their hearts.
But a few weeks, a few months, a few years later, what if cracks start to appear in this perfect facade? What if the things you love about them before suddenly become what annoys and frustrates you now? What if their smile isn't enough to get you up in the morning anymore, if their tender embrace isn't what you need? What if you've fallen out of love with them without even realising it? What do you do then? You could always just stay together and hope you rekindle things. You could try and fix all the flaws you had in the first place and move on. You could try and fundamentally change who you are as a person for the sake of your relationship. It might work, and you'll be happy again.
But what if it doesn't work? What if you both begin to resent each other for your individual flaws? What if you both can't change? What if there's no help for you? Do you stay and suffer? Do you let the other person keep the hope alive that maybe, just maybe, one day you'll both be happy again? What if you have to break up? 
That awful heart wrenching moment when you realise that maybe they're not The One, maybe they're not who you've been searching for, that is a moment that sticks with you forever. It's a moment almost everyone will experience at least once in their lives. A moment that changes the way you think and feel towards someone else is a moment that will rips you apart from the inside out until you force it to stop. Until you make a change. Until you end things.
Sometimes breaking up with a person is easy. You both agree you're not right for one another after all, pack up your things and move on. Sometimes it's harder, where you both have  a harder time accepting that this is really the end, so you prolong the inevitable until the inevitable happens anyway and you both feel worse for not ending it earlier. Sometimes the other person can't accept this is the end. Sometimes they feel like you can make things better, without realising that things are already at their worst. Sometimes it's you that can't move on, it's you who can't see that everything you feel towards The One, your special person, is just wrong for you both.
Falling out of love with someone is one of the hardest things you'll ever do in life. They were once the person you envisioned sharing your whole life with, and now they're gone, leaving a gigantic empty void where once those emotions, hopes and dreams were kept.

But one day you'll find your One. You'll find that person who makes the pains go away and the sky look that much clearer. You'll find the one you need. You'll find The One. But we have a problem seeing that straight away because the pain is still there from losing that person who was so important to us before 
Falling out of love with someone hurts.
It hurts a lot.
I'm sorry.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Honest Confessions.

You ever feel sometimes that you’re completely alone? I mean, completely alone? Like, no matter how many people are surrounding you, no matter how much fun you’re apparently supposed to be having, no matter how great and amazing and fantastic your life is supposed to be, it just… Nothing feels… Right? You know what I mean, right? When you wake up in the morning and have to fight to get out of bed, and when you eventually do it’s a struggle to get in the shower, then to get dressed, then to leave the house. Then you’ve got to deal with people. Freakin’ people. I love people as much as I want to be left alone by them. I know how contradictory that is, I really do, but some part of you understands where I’m coming from. All we are on this Earth, all we leave behind are memories, moments where we achieved great things, moments where we lived, we laughed, we…. We fell in love. Which is so funny to me, y’know? Because one minute we’re so hopelessly in love with someone, that person becomes our world, and then in a heartbeat, they can be gone forever, and life just kind of… carries on. As if they were never there to begin with.All your friends stop mentioning them, your family acts as if they were never there to begin with, and then you move on to the next person and your friends say that they’re amazing, and you are so great together, and you truly believe it will last forever, but then… It doesn’t. It just… Stops. You’re alone. You’re alone. You go back to how life used to be before they were ever around. Life goes on. That’s just… So strange to me. So heart wrenchingly strange. To become a total stranger to someone who you opened your heart to, who bared their all to you, in mind and body and spirit… To go from that close to total strangers… I don’t understand. I don’t understand people though. They confuse and yet fascinate me. How can everyone assume that they’re unique and complicated and individual when all we all do is the same things generation after generation, only for longer life cycles at a time with more shiny things to distract us from our mortality every generation. Because we all die. All of us. People say that the one thing we all have in common is that we all have to pass on one day, but that’s… That’s complete and utter bullshit to me. We all strive to become someone to remember. We all have the urge to be the best, to be someone that’s liked by all, to become a perfect person, in both mind and body.To say that all people have in common is that we all die is so very… Human. To relate everything back to death, as it’s what we all fear. We’re all scared of that terrifying void that will one day consume us, and what’s even scarier than not being here to live is that… One day no one will remember you. One day people are going to wake up and not remember you ever existing. They won’t care about your accomplishments, because why should they? They’re people. That’s what people are. That’s what people do. People are selfish and awful and liars. They lie about all their basic needs and natures, about how what they really want in life is for them to be number one in all situations, in order to impress other people who also want to be the best. But we can’t all be the best. Only one person can be the best. But we refuse to admit this. About each other. About ourselves. Because… that’s what people do. That’s why I don’t understand people. That’s why I feel like I’m not human most of the time, because I don’t understand how I can be the only person who can see the  performance that is life. The fakeness of it all. I want so badly to be a part of it all, but I know I’m already trapped outside, forced to feel like a stranger in his own body, in his own mind. Like a person watching life from the outside.

I don’t get people.

I don’t think I ever will.

That’s fine.

I guess I’ll just be alone.

That’s okay.
Alone in with my thoughts.


Sunday, 14 February 2016

What makes a "good" superhero?

The best heroes are the ones with discernible flaws that you’re not sure if they can overcome, but you still really hope that they will. Batman was the perfect example of this before he became “Batgod” (someone who can beat anyone). His whole draw is that, unlike Superman, who people find to be extremely boring due to his godliness, Batman is literally just a man in tights. He’s the PERFECT man in rights, but he’s still only human. There’s no alien tech, there’s no magic involved, he’s a super rich orphan who is fighting a one man war on crime, but because he watched his parents gun downed as a child he refuses to use a “cowards weapon”. He has the morality to not kill, and instead do things the hard way by letting criminal’s live in the one in a million chance they choose to reform. He’s a man. He has to sleep, he has to run a business, he has to pretend to live a life, but at the same time he’s still the perfect man, I’m that he’s trained his mind and body to peak perfection. Anyone, with time and money, could theoretically be Batman, which makes him that much more relatable, regardless of how impossible it is.

Basically, the perfect hero is someone who isn’t perfect and can use their powers to get out of every situation, because eventually you give up rooting for them because you never expect them to face a challenge. They have to have a good reason/origin for why they decided to dress up in a costume and fight crime in the first place. Most importantly though, they have to be slightly relatable, either through humour like Deadpool uses, being the most unlucky human being who has ever walked the planet so you want things to improve (Spidey), or by letting you feel like “I could be him if I tried, I really could” (Batman).