Day 364: The Man and ‘The Big Sick’; ‘Jangle’

My friends don’t understand why it is I’ve always been so obsessed with relationships and romance and love. And I used to always tell them that once they were finally in a relationship, they’d understand. They’d see everything for how much brighter and more colorful and more vibrant they become when they’re with someone. I just got out of the movies, and rushed home, to start writing this very late post, because I think I got that illuminating ‘a-ha’ moment wrong all this time.

I was a kid living and watching through the golden age of cheesy romances. Many were, WhileYouWereSleeping.jpgand still remain, some of my favorite movies of all time. If You’ve Got Mail is playing on TV it doesn’t matter what time it is or what I’m doing, I will stay glued to that TV to finish it out. I happily sing along to the  energy and fervor of Moulin Rouge. I remember watching While You Were Sleeping with my mother during the day, and how for a span of like, three months she used to have Leap Year on endless loop playing in the family room. Who could forget the Titanic marathons women would subject themselves to, watching this movie over and over in theatres. I swear, if the sheer demand didn’t keep it in cinemas, Kleenex certainly would have. And all these movies, for as wonderful and cheesy and heartfelt as they are, they all have this one thing in common that I thought was the end all be all for love and romance. They all built worlds and stories and characters around just that one moment where two people fall in love and…end. Credits. Every time. And what waaays they ended up together though. Oh, the heart melts. Who can forget Meg Ryan looking tearfully at Tom Hanks, saying ‘I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly’. It YouveGotMail.gifwas always about two people realizing they should be together and then just being together and then credits roll to Hollywood happiness. And because of that, for the longest time I thought the most important part of a relationship, the part you learn the most from, was the getting together. That that must have been the hardest part in the entire process. Two people finding each other in the chaos and randomness of the world and being each other’s soulmates and the search was the obstacle and the soulmate and the life of ease and comfort was the reward. If you weren’t lovesick, it just meant you hadn’t found the right person, and it would just take the finding and the being to make a lifelong convert.

But that’s not exactly true, is it? In fact, it’s not even remotely true. It is the complete Summeropposite, the antithesis. And over time, people began to realize that. We had, or have, the rise of the ‘anti-romcom’. Smart, witty, deliberate attempts at subverting the romcom tropes we grew up with. And I’ve seen so many this past year. Don Jon was a self-aware movie that purposefully poked holes not only in the ridiculousness and excessiveness of pornography but also in the unreasonable expectations and demands of romcom relationships. I’ll admit it wasn’t this year I saw it for the first time but it was this past year that had me constantly revisiting and reexamining (500) Days of Summer first as life model, then source of hope and optimism, muse for love and relationships, but most importantly, a reminder of Swiss Army Manwhat it is I’m actually supposed to be looking for. Swiss Army Man caught me by surprise because it did such an incredible job of masking its actual identity of a romance and love film with all the nonsense and distraction of a farting, shooting, Daniel Radcliffe corpse. The Way Way Back was one of the first movies I saw last summer that really made a lasting and important impression on me for its own much more mature and yet lighthearted take on pure, young love. And now, to add to the list of these new wave of intelligent romantic comedies, there is the semi-autobiographical but fully humorous, entertaining, and heartwarming The Big Sick.

I didn’t really know much about this movie, or that in particular it was actually based on the true circumstances of the first year of Kumail Nanjiani’s relationship with his now-wife. Is that a spoiler alert? She’s fine, everyone. She gets out of the coma. I saw an interview of Kumail on ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ and they showed that clip of him in the hospital cafeteria with his girlfriend’s parents when he’s asked about 9/11 and I just knew I had to see the whole damn thing. And I’m so glad I did, and I definitely think if you have the opportunity you should as well. It’s a limited release movie so it isn’t showing in nearly as many theatres as it should, but seeing as it is an Amazon production, I imagine it’ll be on Stream soon enough. (What what get that Amazon Prime y’all.) There are such great moments of comedy and they’re written with such sharp wit and they’re delivered with perfect timing and pacing that it’s hard not to find yourself lost in laughter. And there’s certainly a lot to say about the particular skill not only in writing but in acting and perceiving to take what I don’t doubt was a scary and stressful time and reaching beyond that to the humor and heart that makes it a story worth sharing. It is a funny movie. And it’s a real story of real love. And there’s risks taken and hearts to be won and obstacles to overcome. But even the old guard, those 90s and early 2000s throwbacks, could have that and make us want to laugh. It’s these newer ones that have something else in common that to me, make them more ‘authentic’, more ‘relatable’, more ‘real’. They make you cry.

There’s this misconception in high school English classes all over the country (and maybe the world) that we read Shakespeare and Hemingway and Twain and Joyce and whatnot because we want them to know about Hamlet or fishing or the deep south or Ireland. And I would always tell my students that I don’t care if in ten years from now they remember what Hamlet’s father said to him or the symbolism of his soliloquy. I barely cared in the moment about how much they could recognize metaphors and references to southern politics and society in Twain’s depiction in Huck Finn. We read these novels because they are supplements to knowledge we don’t yet have. I want them to read Othello because a classroom and fictional characters are safe environments for young minds to develop mature attitudes towards loyalty and friendship and envy. They know so little when they’re young of great and significant issues and we use literature as tools to exercise and hypothesize and figure out slowly and gradually the kinds of people we are or want to become. And to me, movies are the same way when it comes to emotions. Great movies that are the golden standards of their genres are such because of how they awaken emotions in us that we might not normally feel. Good horrors scare us to the bone, they make us question everyday objects and feel a primal, instinctual, survival type of fear. Great dramas show us just how deeply we can feel for others, constantly pulling on our hearts to greater depths and unlocking levels of humanity and understanding. Action movies make us feel nobler and braver and stronger than we are, inspiring some of us to be heroes. And great romances, real, true, authentic romances, take us way beyond just that sheer ecstasy of the beginning. It shows us past that illusion into what really tells us why love is so important, why we search for it, why we crave it. It shows us loss.

I’ve cried more in movies this past year than I think I ever have. Way Way Back, Swiss Army Man, Big Sick, Kubo, La La Land, even Guardians 2. (Hey I never said they’d all make sense. Sometimes I’m just an emotional mess.) But the romances, the Way Way Backs and the Swiss Army Mans of them all, I was glad to have them to make me cry. Those were tears I think only people who’ve felt love and lost love could cry. You know for as happy as I’ve been this past year, I don’t think anything ever has made me as happy as losing love has made me sad. And sometimes I am afraid of that. And it’s for that reason that sometimes I feel bad for people who have never dated not because they don’t know that relationship lovesick happiness, but because they don’t know that soul crushing yet soul affirming depth of sadness of love loss. A lot of things can make me happy. And a lot of those are not dating or relationships or love. I can find it much easier and in equal or greater portions in so many other things. But nothing like love can make me feel as human as its sadness. I love these newer modern romances because the good ones add that loss. Some, like Swiss Army Man, are even brave enough to stop it at that loss. But I don’t blame most for still wanting to give us that happy ending. It’s there for everyone to have and to relate to. But those scenes of loss, of reflection, of appreciation, those are for the ones who’ve known heartbreak. To feel it again. To remember.

I look back at this year, and I think, I’m glad I had those sad days. I’m glad I could feel how big my heart is and could be, by reaching out and touching the empty expanse of where I wanted my love to be. It’s a measure some people just don’t get to know. I don’t want everyone to go through heartbreak, mind you. If a good enough movie or song or book or piece of art can get you to understand that loss, all the better. I just don’t want to see so many people never appreciate or understand their love because they’ve never had it or because they’ve forgotten what it feels like to be without it.  I still enjoy my cheesy romances, but they stay strictly in the movie world. I’ve had my fill of happy endings and stories that ended at the beginning. I like the romance movies that can make me laugh and cry. That poke and prod at the sore spots to remind me not of the hurt, but of the fact that they are there. I don’t keep pursuing love because of the happy happy joy joy mushy gushy stuff. I can get that. I can do that.  I do it because I know how much my heart misses it. Oh how happy am I that I could ever afford to have been so sad.

Oh right. The daily prompt. Jangle. Like, what in the fuck even is that?!

Day 364

Man: 331 Loneliness: 33

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38 thoughts on “Day 364: The Man and ‘The Big Sick’; ‘Jangle’

    • You’re right about Titanic. And I probably wouldn’t consider that a romcom. That was like a straight up romance, like one of the classics, a la ‘Gone With the Wind’. And that had a sad ending too. Hrm…we might be onto something here! Hahah.
      And yes it was shot in Chicago, and has a pretty good Chicago vibe. Definitely one of my favorite cities.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey I’ve had Amazon prime for a few years now I will defo look that movie up. You got mail is one of my all time favourite movies too, you have no idea how many times I have played that last bit. Great post today J

    Now I’ve just had an a-ha moment 😳

    I believe that sometimes people think if they find that special person to love them they will find utopia, when in fact utopia actually lives within us all , true love from another can help us to grow as a person but actually is not the answer to everything…….. knowing, accepting, loving and appreciating ourselves is very important too.

    I’m going away for a few days to somewhere without phone and Internet connection which will be pure heaven for some R&R with John so I may miss your great reveal post 😉 have fun 😳

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s hard in the moment to be able to figure out with any real confidence or discernment what my era’s ‘classics’ will be but in the genre of like, indy romcom, I really hope ‘Big Sick’ becomes a contender. I definitely recommend it.
      I like your a-ha moment as well! And maybe some of us have our real full most satisfying and happy selves unlocked through various means. Maybe it’s art or expression, or it is love, or who knows. But it’s there to make us just…much much more.
      Sounds like a great retreat! Hope you enjoy and looking forward to your return. All of my posts, past, future, and present. will still be here. Hahah.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t believe you talked about You’ve Got Mail (which, I mean… that movie is carried completely by the buoyant charm of Tom and Meg) and not When Harry Met Sally which is the best romantic comedy of all time, hands down, has lessons for everyone and also has sharp, clever dialogue.

    And is also pertinent to your situation sort of.

    Dude!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve Got Mail is one of the most accurate reflections of its time! It’s like romance and comedy and nostalgia porn all in one. And it’s got so many references within it of so many other works. It lives in the perfect universe. It’s incredible AND it’s got Tom and Meg. Not just because of.
      Ugh. When Harry Met Sally. Really wanted to like that movie. But it’s like the ultimate sellout. I actually don’t like that movie because it has probably sabotaged and set back years and years and years of male-female relationships. So many friendships imploded probably because they kept trying to ‘When Harry Met Sally’ it. That movie lied, yo. Men and women CAN’T be friends, and that’s the big lesson it taught everyone. Made everyone think it was a smart decision to always fall in love with your friends. I really thought it was gonna deliver on its promise, and show me, yeah, it’s possible for two mature adults, and then boom, they get together in the end. Like, if that was the goal, make it the goal from the start. Don’t make it seem like the movie is gonna finally be the one to buck the trend and reject that. ‘And they were really great friends and led happy fulfilling lives with others who wouldn’t sabotage their friendship’ would have still worked so well.
      You’re right. It is pertinent to my situation. That’s why I so wanted it to end smarter, better.
      Alright, sorry for my rant. Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, and you didn’t deserve that. Hahah.

      Like

  3. “You had me right up until the end” sorry couldn’t resist, because you hardly ever swear😂Actually the first few lines….and the rest, just show me what a great guy you are and how much I wish all that you want comes to you. Weird sentence structure, but I’m sure you get what I mean. Loved it.💞

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just read other posts here and I love practically all movies except horror or zombies. But……I didn’t really like YGM or HMS either. I like true love stories, so no doubt I would like BS. I will check it out. I watched John Wick one and two on your recommendation and was not disappointed. Sometimes after a frustrating day it’s worth watching movies like that. Other faves are romances without predictable happy endings. Otherwise you might as well only have the Hallmark Channel.
    Comedies are one of my favorites. That’s what I think is missing in the new superhero movies. The first Avengers had a lot of humor, probably my favorite thing about it.
    (My two cents)

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Wick is such great stress relief. It’s just smart enough to know not to take itself too seriously. It was such a loss that Michael Nyqvist passed at such a young age. I think small budget studios are realizing they can do so much with just good stories and simple settings. And honest heartfelt romances are some of the relatively easiest. Begin Again was pretty under the radar, but it had good acting, nice story, and great music. You should check out Hunt for the Wilderpeople, that was a great comedy. It’s on Amazon!

      Liked by 1 person

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