Sunday, May 01, 2005

Palindromes: a masochistic experience

Todd Solondz's new movie, Palindromes is currently playing in theatres. I think Solondz is a genius, one of the best and bravest filmmakers alive. For me, seeing his movies is a very difficult and emotionally exhausting experience, and at the same time very engrossing. Solondz is deeply interested in "perversions" -- pedophilia is a recurring theme. An overarching futility is another theme that repeats. The good, the beautiful are not disconnected and found somewhere else, but found right in the trenches of the ugliness and futility. If thats what he was saying in Happiness, I agree with him wholeheartedly. It requires a certain amount of courage, relentlessness to see the truth like this. But then what? I loved Palindromes, and I wonder if Solondz tried to say so much that the movie is a little hard to understand. But who cares about understanding? His movies are a masochistic experience, and you just feel the pain all along, with moments when it is sharper than others.

Well, he does reveal something that I would like to see his characters realize, the freeing realization after facing the truth. From the directors notes of the movie --
"But can we change? Optimists tend to believe in the possibility, with the implication that things will change for the better. The idea that we cannot change suggests that we cannot improve, and no one wants to believe this, though some may take comfort in the corollary: we cannot become worse. The question is in what way is change possible? And in what way not? Are we in some sense "palindromic" by nature, impervious to change, no matter how much, paradoxically, we change? Some may find the idea that we never change a bleak and deterministic way of thinking. And yet the inability to change is in many ways freeing, freeing from, amongst other things, the imperative to change. And to accept one's inability to change can be a form of consolation: no one is immune; everyone must be who he is. There may be a sense of doom, but there is also the possibility of grace. It's all a bit of a conundrum. But art, however it may be defined - if it is, in fact, definable (and perhaps it is definable only insofar as it is defined by what it is not) - has no meaning if it is not transformative. Of course, at the same time, it has yet to make anyone a better person - or a lesser one. If someone argues otherwise, then it isn't art."
Maybe his next movie?

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