So I switched the theme of this week because I had very little time to do mentorship work this week between a wedding and auditions. I wanted to spend more time looking at your films so I’ll do that this weekend.
I’ve been watching Synecdoche New York this evening, haven’t finished it yet. I’ve already watched it twice before. The first time I watched it I burst into tears and the melancholy of the film lingered with me for months afterwards. The film begins with a musing on what the fall means – the fall means the beginning of the end, the beginning of death. The first couple minutes of the movie do a fantastic job of introducing the theme subject of illness, death. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character Caden opens his mailbox to find a magazine featuring an ill man on the front cover, moments later his daughter watches a cartoon about viruses, and soon Hoffman is in the hospital, receiving stitches. Caden’s play, Death of A Salesman, points to the slow decay of a man’s life, a clear parallel to his own situation. Throughout the story, we see him age, we him struggling with illness, despair, wandering the streets of a city within a city, until we come to the ending, when everybody is mostly dead, and Caden dies while leaning his head on the shoulder of a woman he doesn’t know.
I am interested in looking at illness in the city. In the city, we are surrounded by people, supposed to have formed strong connections that make difficulties like illness more bearable. But there are forgotten people – the elderly, people without many friends or family members, people who don’t take advantage of government programs. How do they buy groceries when they can’t get out of bed? How do they navigate the streets when they can’t walk properly? What about people who need to be quarantined? Or, for those who do have strong social connections, how do their illnesses put strains on their relationships? What do they do to make their situation better? Worse? I wonder also whether to look at illness optimistically (which is what I’m most inclined to do) or whether to look at illness more realistically, to acknowledge how shitty life can be when you’re sick.
This whole theme is so important to me, because I have experienced the city from multiple different viewpoints as an ill person. Having suffered from two chronic illnesses, I’m fascinated by how each one can change my perspective of the streets, the pedestrians, the buildings of Toronto.
The script I sent you last week was pretty short, and followed a similar pattern to the court reporter one. I wanted to look at selfishness/selflessness, good intentions reaching meaningless destinies, and the stories that some people hear at work, and how they want to react to those stories.
I still have a lot I want to explore with this theme. Let me know if you’re still on for tomorrow at Holy Oak!