My Thoughts on La La Land (Spoilers)

 

It took me a minute to hop on the La La Land bandwagon, and I don’t have anything to blame for that except my shameless laziness. These new, unique movies with lots of hype around them terrify me, if I’m being completely honest. I don’t know what exactly it is that becomes so intimidating about these Oscar winners but it’s enough to keep me away from them.

When I watched La La Land, I was almost thankful that I’d waited this long to watch it, because now I can think about it alone and write this without having a lot of overwhelming opinions being thrown at me from everywhere. It’s common knowledge that everything that gets a lot of love also gets a lot of hate from the “other side” and there was plenty of that with this movie. While the impeccable cinematography and music received unanimous love from film geeks everywhere, there was also criticism about casting Ryan Gosling as the troubled genius pianist trying to save jazz, considering that jazz comes from black Americans and is a deeply rooted part of black history.

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Source- Variety Magazine

But I’m not here to discuss the racial aspect of this film. I’m here to talk about how this film simultaneously ended up being one of the most satisfying and bittersweet experiences for me. Let’s start with the story.

La La Land is the story of a struggling actress and a struggling jazz musician whose dream is to open his own jazz club. The film follows these two people in a PoV format, often going over the same sequences from both their perspectives. The musical numbers drive this film and add to it in every sense. The opening sequence in the middle of LA traffic almost narrates the themes of this story, preparing you for what the film is about (Another Day of Sun), and is one of my favourite songs from the movie.

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Source- Movie Motorbreath

Shot in a CinemaScope style, this film is a tribute to LA- the land of dreamers, and takes from classic Hollywood movies like Singin’ In The Rain. It was enough to inspire me to explore old Hollywood movies- something I hope to do soon. The choreography was stellar and extremely expressive; very rarely have I felt so strongly about watching song and dance. The elements of surrealism made this film for me, because the sharp surreal sequences balanced out the harshness of rejection and failure that both characters face throughout the movie.

I was quite let down by the body of the plot. It didn’t seem new and I had a constant feeling of deja vu while watching it. But I do commend Damien Chazelle for taking up such a widely explored plot point and putting it forward in such a fresh way.

The film’s climax hasn’t gotten nearly enough praise, in my opinion. I’ve never seen such a real experience be portrayed in such a dreamy, comforting way. We’ve all been in love, and we’ve all had that one love that leaves us changed and we just know- we’ll always love them. The characters in the movie go through the same thing.
But life brings them to a point of no return, and they both know they can’t repair their relationship and be the same two people who were in love. And so they go their separate ways and go on to become successful people in their respective fields. I think Chazelle knew that a mundane ending like that would be dissatisfactory, so he gave his audience an epic montage of what Mia and Sebastian’s lives would have been like if everything had worked out perfectly in their relationship. And just as you get lost in the perfect dreaminess of the what ifs, he snaps you back to earth because real life is cruel and sometimes, you don’t end up with the person who would ideally be perfect for you.

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Source- google images

Filmmakers strive to make their audiences feel with their cinema. Films are made to make you one with the characters and experience what the characters feel. All a filmmaker can hope to do is to evoke true, raw emotion as a result of his creation. For me personally, very few films have been able to do that. And this film was one of them. The feeling of bittersweet longing I was left with as I saw Mia and Sebastian share a smile before going their separate ways once more is a feeling I will never forget, because this was the first time a work of fiction made me feel it in its truest form.

Normal

it took one afternoon of surfing the internet
it took one wave, one tab
to tell me that my normal isn’t normal
it isn’t even close to what normal and okay really means

my normal is thinking faster than i can talk
thinking so fast that i can’t talk
my normal is a distant land far away;
it doesn’t know the beauty of coherence

it happens sometimes

my normal is having my feet on the ground
and my head in the clouds and my vision too
my normal is a distant land far away
it doesn’t know the importance of concentration

more than a few times

my normal is
is
is

:….:::….:

yesterday at 2:46pm i said something i shouldn’t have i shouldn’t have no no no no no no no no no no n

my normal is snapping my fingers
snapping my fingers till i snap the hell out of it
shaking my head till i can shake the thought off
my normal is

yesterday at 2:46pm i

SNAP. NO. STOP.

my normal is looking at the table
trying to look for some evidence of water helping with anxiety
my normal is looking for something to bring me back to earth
there’s too much to see here i want to come back

this normal is not worrying about anything happening in real life
please believe me- everything’s fine
it’s my mind that’s tries to sabotage what i’ve earned for myself
this constant battle is what i’m worried about

this monster in my head is what we need to fight
please believe me- there’s nothing i’m trying to hide
there’s nothing more i could ask for and the only thing i want
is to find a way to euthanise him

the monster is the problem 

it’s there everyday? that’s not

normal

The Evolution of Identity 

Once upon a time, there was a Boy. 

Bending the preconceived notions of society? No, why would you do that?

Why would you do that when you know that there’s an ardent need to confine to the lines- why would you do that?

Look at the trees, look at them. The trees, thinking to themselves as they watch their leaves fall with your tears,

What makes you obligated?

What makes you so stiff, so stiff as a stick?

 

Once upon a time, there was… a boy. There was a Boy.

 

I remember when I captured the rare light in your eyes as you tried switching things up in your closet,

Or did you arrange them the way they were meant to be?

Think about it, will you? Think about the world’s version of you- merely based on what’s between your legs and how long you’re supposed to wear your hair because of that;

The world’s version of you is meaningless.

 

Once upon a time, was there a Boy?

Let this conversation in your mind flourish, it’s a lovely chatter.

Let your voices unravel who you are and orchestrate the music your heart wants to beat for;

The sky is blue and green and deep with the seas of idiosyncrasies, so let it fight;

Let it fight or die or survive or collide with everything that’s been tied to your identity- wait, are you even old enough to have one yet?

 

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved his Ma, and he expressed it to a beat.

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved his Ma,

But her Ma couldn’t love her back.

Violence

On some days, as rare as they are now

As dandy as I am, and even though it’s seldom that I whine

I feel a violence in certain moments of quietness

Late at night or three hours before dusk

There are moments when my mind is not mine

And the line between silence and crying is far too fine

When all I do to try and find my joy has no point

And all my friends that I love with all my heart get scared before I even start

To tell them what it’s like

It’s fun to describe when I’m alright, because I’m a writer and we have all the right words in our minds

It’s fun to create paintings with black and brown and the speed of sound

I don’t even need a paintbrush, this virtual rant is enough

But with all that’s said and done

I write this tonight with my mother in my mind

And how she cried behind my back as I cried behind hers

And how she found that her hand in my hair and my music in my ears is one of the only ways to make my vision clear

How she learned to say the right things and how I closed my eyes when she couldn’t

I think of my father and how I had him paralysed because this was nothing like anything he was used to fixing in his time

My father is one of those good men who work hard and use their minds

And don’t think about what they feel and don’t talk about when they do

I think about my father and how he probably taught himself to keep his mouth to himself

Because boys don’t cry since there are better things to do in life

As I write this I think about the rest of my blood

The parts that like to look me in the eyes and the parts that haven’t since my grandmother died

And as this runs through my mind

I find I don’t have it in me to cry about it more than this because there’s more to life than cribbing about it

As this runs through my mind I find that my moments of weakness are fine because that’s the build of my fiber

Because the build of my fiber is strong and emotional and vulnerable and utterly, unabashedly human

This is a moment of sonder as I wonder about all that I have to do with my being

This is a moment when I realise what Tyler meant in his lament-

Sometimes, quiet is violent.

Missing

Am I missing

The most precious thing I’ll never see

Like the feeling of bearing new life

Or walking the tightrope of communion 

Is my apprehension barring me?

Is there anything I’m missing?
Am I missing 

The most precious thing I’ll never see

Like a dark secret, shared in the early hours of dawn

Or a small smile sent my way discreetly 

Is my reluctance barring me?

Is there anything I’m missing?
Am I missing

The most precious thing I’ve never seen

Is the apprehension or the reluctance

Building a brick wall between my skin and the breeze that surrounds me

Am I missing a better way of living?

Am I missing?

A Late Night of Fear

I don’t want to write

I know it’s my sign of weakness and that’s why I don’t want to write

But it’s one of those nights that make me afraid

Afraid of everything under the sun

Or the moon

Or the stars

And I wish I didn’t have to write from time to time, but I can’t escape my emotions and how I feel them

And right now I’m afraid of being too expressive and losing the plot

And I’m afraid of the future

I’m afraid of people dying

I’m afraid that my stinging eyes during a particularly emotional moment in a movie are abnormal 

Even though I know movies make people cry all the time

I’m afraid of saying the wrong things and not being able to correct my mistakes

I’m afraid of regret even though I know it latches on to everyone at some point in life 

I’m afraid of the world and sometimes I’m afraid for it too

I’m afraid of writing

I’m afraid I’m not being the best version of myself

I’m afraid of being normal and the whole spectrum of human emotion that comes with it

I’m afraid of being weak and insecure and not being strong enough to suck it up because life goes on

Sometimes I’m so afraid of everything

And I’m afraid I’ll have to accept all these things I’m afraid of. 

Un-Rational

There’s a fidgeting knee hiding behind jeans scrunched up in those sweaty hands

Rocking back and forth with my fist in my mouth- it doesn’t put me to sleep

Three thoughts a day I want to escape, and three more that arrive at night

Shaking my head shakes them off most of the time

My imagination balances itself precariously between a between a boon and a curse 

Trying to keep sight of what matters most and doing justice to my path

Sometimes I wish for a few choices to choose from

I’d block out the gangsters that bang their fists on my front door

Too many unwanted ink drops on a dreamer’s dream chart

Don’t blotch that lovely chart with the stains of irrational alarm and the damndest fears, because they’re nowhere near

Try to understand that now you have a task at hand

And while the fear wrestles you down, the world will still carry on 

So bury the fear in the grave it dug and rise to set fire to it all
here’s to finding solutions to problems that don’t exist 

Re-lapse

Not thinking about it, will it help?

Passing it off as a phase, because that’s just what it might be?

It’s funny because I boasted about victory not too long ago, but alas.

I don’t know if the dread is stronger than all, but it is there with everything else I fear the most.

I don’t feel sure of what this is, because I have no way to know how long this is here to stay.

Does it ever really go away at all? Or does it give you peace and try to raze again? What even is this? I don’t know, I don’t know. 

I don’t usually write when I’m free. The words leave me when I don’t need them. I’m worried that I felt the need to write, but sometimes I do write when I’m free. 

Maybe I should wait. Or maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should figure out what this is, because once more there are a lot of questions but hardly any answers. Maybe I should wait. 

Or should I.

WE DID IT

Through all the entries I’ve made on this blog, through all the poems and musings, I’m sure it wasn’t that hard for you, my readers, to figure out that I have had mental health problems. Over the course of this blog’s existence, I have written about a lot about issues that have affected me and the people around me. I have written about several pivotal points in my life in the recent years. This blog is the outlet to all the harmful emotions I’d been harbouring inside, which is why I feel it is only appropriate that I share this milestone with you.

Three and a half to four years ago, I started feeling an unexplained sadness and numbness. I would feel very upset for no particular reason, and nothing seemed to really excite me anymore. I brushed it off as teenage angst and moodiness, but it didn’t go away and only got worse with time. Gradually, it started feeling like I had forgotten how to smile. It started feeling like having a good laugh about something was a privilege I didn’t have. It started feeling like there was nothing left to feel. It felt like nothing was worth feeling.
I ignored these thoughts for the longest time and did everything I had to do even though a seemingly never ending fatigue would constantly try to hold me back. I found myself losing sleep at night and I started having nightmares every night. As a result, I woke up feeling groggy and irritable. I slept whenever I could, even if it were only for a half an hour free lesson in school. Eventually, after being asked about my well being several times by friends, I started having doubts about how well I was doing mentally. I read up on many mood disorders, and it seemed that I had pretty much every symptom that proves a person clinically depressed. A few months later, I asked for help, and I wasn’t able to get it because of the taboo that surrounds anything related to the mind. I’ll skip the sob story, but let me tell you, it had to get really bad before I could access good mental healthcare, and due to circumstances nobody had control over, there were a lot of things I had to face alone.

And now, after almost one and a half years of therapy and medication, I’m alright.
I saw my doctor today and with a wide grin, he said, “You’re doing so well, Rtunjya. I think you’ve made a great recovery, and you don’t need to take medication and therapy anymore. You’re making good choices in terms of your emotional health, and I can see that you’re more than capable of properly handling times of crisis.”
He did, however, tell me to take an appointment whenever I felt like I needed to talk to someone, but in terms of my health, I did not need treatment anymore. I saw the spark in his eyes, and I may be wrong but the spark was something akin to a sense of victory. I suppose doctors would feel this sense of victory after seeing another patient recover from their illness after seeking help from them; I would feel the same way, too.
As he saw me off he said, “Rtunjya, I’m so happy to see you.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I smiled and said, “It was nice to see you, too.”
“Buh-bye.”
“Bye.”

It took the entire duration of my commute back home for me to fully process what my doctor said. I have recovered from this illness, an illness that at one point felt like it would win over me and consume me. I have successfully removed all the traces of the dark fog that used to cloud my vision at all times. I have won this war and I have come out of depression unscathed. Well, relatively; it did do its fair share of damage, but that’s not important anymore. For a moment I felt like I was overreacting and it wasn’t really that big of a deal, but a part of my brain shut me up and said, “Don’t be silly. This is a big deal. You beat depression, you faced the one thing in your life that has beaten you up black and blue, and you defeated it. This is a big fucking deal.

I’m now in a place in my life where I can use my experience and what I’ve learned from it to help other people. I am in a position to support other people who are going through this, because I understand the pain of being depressed and anxious. I can write about what I have gone through, in hopes of reaching out to someone on the other side of the world, someone who needs to be reminded that they aren’t alone and they aren’t abnormal for being this way. I can walk someone through a depressive episode or a panic attack because in this rational frame of mind, I know what to do and what to say, because I know what it feels like. And being able to help someone through something as complicated as depression and anxiety makes one a very powerful person. Being able to reach out to someone in their time of need makes one a valuable asset to this society because now that we’re finally coming out of hiding and having the conversation about mental health, we need people who can contribute new insights and help us in the fight against mental illness.
If you have ever dealt with a mental illness in any way, don’t forget how important you are. You have beat it, or you have helped someone beat it, and that is a big fucking deal.

To anyone reading this who has battled depression/anxiety/other mental illness and defeated it, it is a big fucking deal.

To anyone reading this who knows someone who has battled depression/anxiety/other mental illness and recovered from it, congratulate the person and if you can, celebrate with them. This is a big fucking deal for them.

To anyone reading this who is currently battling depression/anxiety/other mental illness, you can get better and you can win this war. And believe me, it’ll feel awesome.

                 ..;:…:;..

Does your brain ever remind you of that one stupid thing you did in your life, something that embarrasses you, like that time you could’ve handled a situation and explained yourself but you didn’t because you were too scared, or that time when you made a silly choice that you knew could get you in trouble? And you suddenly freeze and it feels like you’re in the situation again because spasms of guilt are ripping through your body you think and you think to yourself “you idiot, you could have done better“?

Yeah, me too.