My gumption post this week is about Guillaume Canet. A French actor, he has mostly been writing and directing films for the past few years. In his 2006 thriller “Tell no one” he maintains the taunt nature of the narrative through the masterful use of pacing, dialogue, music and a strong performance by Francois Cluzet. Although it is an engrossing murder mystery, he also draws on issues of loss, guilt and memory. I am also seeing his latest film called “Little white lies” (2010) tomorrow which gives the impression of being a light comedy but seems to address the larger issues of the nature and limits of friendship.
He also still occasionally stars in films and I recently saw “Last night” (2011) a review of which I will save for a later time.
All in all, Canet has a reputation for putting a great deal of time and effort into his endeavors with an intense need for perfection. I enjoy that he seems to be very passionate about his work and from observing some of his performances and media interviews, he gives off the aura of an engaging and intelligent person. Really, who stands a chance against his cheeky little grin?
It seems as if the themes of living well and impermanence have literally been hitting me in the face lately. We just recently ordered “Netflix” and since it’s new to Canada they offered a free monthly subscription. I could probably write an entire entry on its amazing value and convenience but will save that for another time. I’ll just add that it’s especially handy if you don’t plan on living in the same city forever and are weary of carrying your DVD collection great distances. We will probably be moving elsewhere (anywhere) in a few years once we have completed our degrees so we’ve decided to stop buying movies till we have a house or at least feel like we are moving towards being more settled. It’s been kind of difficult because we love films. Like novels some well-crafted movies do address the beauty and difficulties of humanity. I believe that we can gain a better understanding of difference and commonalities through these narratives and that’s very valuable. I’m not even talking about just the critically acclaimed or independent dramas. Comedies make us laugh which is so helpful and positive. Some people say, “I don’t have time to read fiction” as if it’s a testament to their productive lives. Although I understand the balancing act required to meet all of our professional and personal responsibilities, I think we can also gain from creating a little bit of time to let art into our lives.
To address the themes of time and mortality, two influences have really affected me the past few days. I watched a film called “One Week” (2009) starring Joshua Jackson and directed by Michael McGowan that narrates the journey of a man diagnosed with a terminal disease. The protagonist grapples with these implications by taking a solo motorcycle ride across Canada. He makes many stops at various landmarks and as a proud Canadian, my heart did swell at the modesty and earnestness of the film. There really was something special captured in Jackson’s performance and the cinematography that will make me return to this film even when I am away living elsewhere.
I also just finished a novel called “So much for that” by Lionel Shriver that deals with issues of illness and the lifelong dream to escape to the developing world to make your nest egg last longer. This book was not an easy read because it’s never enjoyable to hear of sickness and the inevitability of death. I admire Shriver for taking on such a task with poignancy and even a bit of anger to say, if a loved one is going through pain, be there for them. Words don’t mean anything if you don’t put in the time to support someone when you are needed most.
I really just wanted to write about these themes this week because it’s integral to have these type of reminders ever so often and to crash into something that shifts your focus. I’m victim to it myself: to withdraw when I fear losing someone important to me. But I am working at facing up all of it: the harsh stuff with the good. Because really, the time we have with people is so valuable.