Reporter: What about love? You have to make a statement about love. That’s what this series is all about.
Marianne: What if I don’t want to?
Reporter: Then I’ll make something up. And I assure you, it won’t be half as good.
Marianne: No one ever told me what love was, and I’m not sure you need to know. But if you want a detailed description, you can look in the Bible. There Paul describes love.
Reporter: Right, in Coritinthians. It’s beautiful.
Marianne: The only problem is his definition casts us in such a harsh light. If Paul is right about love, it’s so rare that hardly anyone ever experiences it. But as a recital piece at weddings and other special occasions, it’s certainly very effective. Personally, I find it’s enough to be kind to the person you live with. Affection is also good. Humor, friendship, tolerance. Having reasonable expectations. If you have all that, then love isn’t necessary.
Reporter: Why are you so upset?
Marianne: At work I see people who collapse under the weight of unrealistic emotional demands. I find it barbaric. I wish—
Marianne: I find it difficult to get the right perspective on this issue. That’s why I’m reluctant to discuss it. But I wish people—-I wish we weren’t forced to play all these roles we don’t want to play. That we could be kinder to each other. Don’t you agree?
Reporter: Yes, a more romantic life.
Marianne: That’s not actually what I meant. I meant the exact opposite. You see how poorly I express myself. Maybe we should stick to tangible issues. Why don’t we discuss children and cooking instead.
- “Scenes from a Marriage”, a film by Ingmar Bergman
April: But I don’t. I hate you. You were just some boy who made me laugh at a party once, and now I loathe the sight of you. In fact, if you come any closer, if you touch me or anything, I think I’ll scream.
Frank: Don’t worry, I can’t be bothered! You’re not worth the trouble it would take to hit you! You’re not worth the powder it would take to blow you up. You are an empty, empty, hollow shell of a woman. I mean, what the hell are you doing in my house if you hate me so much? Why the hell are you married to me? What the hell are you doing carrying my child? I mean, why didn’t you just get rid of it when you had the chance? Because listen to me, listen to me, I got news for you—I wish to God that you had!
- “Revolutionary Road”, a film by Sam Mendes
A few days ago, I was moving the last of my things out of my place from El Cerrito and spent the night at my roommate’s new apartment in Oakland. There, we caught “Revolutionary Road” on HBO and I was shocked that film still had the power to terrify and scare me.
A few months ago, I fell asleep a half an hour into “Paranormal Activity”, woke up at the very end, skipped back to the point where I had fallen asleep, and struggled to not fall asleep again through the rest of it. I ended up fast forwarding through most of it and at the end, thinking about people’s fascinations and so-called fears of the supernatural and the paranormal. I believe ghosts are very much real and their presence leaves a devastation far more frightening, far more crippling than anything suggested by the likes of “Ghost Hunters”. When you are incapable of letting the dead rest, they consume, possess, and rob you of your dreams and potential. Unexplained electrical activity, blinking lights, and funny noises in a place with a terrible past? That shit is what sells to a mass audience of people too stupid to notice the true demons and horrors existing in their minds and households.
Memory can be a haunting; the past a demon. Are we so bored of—or maybe utterly terrified by—the possibility of the real ghosts and destroyers of our lives we look to the beyond, reassuring us with the safety of its distant possibility?
I didn’t flinch watching “Paranormal Activity” or any movie people traditionally throw into the horror genre. I used to cringe at gore, but after watching Stan Brakhage’s “The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes“, I have come to terms with the frailty and the flesh that is my walking corpse. But when I saw “Revolutionary Road”, I hugged my knees and nearly curled up into a ball leaning against the sofa. To hear such hateful words, to see the venomous stares, and even feel the loathing—the sheer negative energy—exploding from April and Frank, that was terrifying. The power, rawness, and the potential of realness in Mendes’ depiction of a couple coming to hate one another was almost too much for me to handle and I was tempted to excuse myself from the living room.