#CryingWithAlan – Cinema Therapy and Soul

I finally watched this tonight (I say finally, it was uploaded April 3rd, a 4 whopping days ago…but what is time anyway?)

I watched Soul a few months ago because I love Pixar and it was getting rave reviews across the board. Like Jonathan, I felt underwhelmed after that first viewing. Something about it just didn’t hit me, I wasn’t crying the way I kind of wanted to be, I wasn’t feeling the emotions I thought the movie would make me feel.

But after watching this video and listening to Alan talk about his reaction and emotions surrounding the film, listening to their discussion…I realized why I felt so oddly resistant as the credits rolled – I identified a lot with Joe and I didn’t like it.

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I had similar feelings year ago when I saw the movie adaptation of High Fidelity while in college, another film I wanted to love for so many reasons (John Cusack + music snobbery) and I left the theater feeling angry and frustrated. I dont’ actually remember much about th movie but I do remember complaining to my friend afterwards about the main character, his behavior in the movie and I still remember them looking me square in the face and saying “You’re just like him.”

Listening to Alan talk about his struggle with “spark” vs “purpose” in this episode of Cinema Therapy made me realize that I was having the same reaction to ‘Soul’ as I did to ‘High Fidelity. I went into ‘Soul’ wanting a particular story (I should have known better, when has Pixar EVER done what you think they are going to do?) and I got something else. It got me thinking about the balance between our passions, our dreams, and what really makes life worth living – which is just living. Enjoying. Being. Being present and appreciating what you have done, are doing and will do.

But I wasn’t in the mood to hear that in January of 2021, after a year of sitting at home and being cut off from friends and family. I wanted the movie to give me a different type of inspiration, but instead ‘Soul’ sat down next to me, the same way Joe and 21 sit on the stoop and talk about what living is…and I’m only now getting the message, thanks to Jonathan’s comments.

It’s April 2021 now, I’ve had a birthday (and from what Alan said in this video, we are the same age…I’ll let you do the math), we are hopefully rounding the final bend of this horrible year long slog to the end of the pandemic and the thing I’m looking forward to the most is being. Being around my parents, being around my friends, existing in that space and enjoying each other’s company. Because that’s my true spark.

We all have long and winding roads in our lives. When I was a kid, like Alan, I was obsessed with films and thought that was the thing that would make me happy. Then I was obsessed with music and thought maybe working in that industry would make me happy. But what I didn’t realize at the time, or even much later…in fact, I might just be realizing it right now…is that the films, the music…those were not the things that were making me happy. It was the community I found around them, the interaction, being passionate together about silly little things. The joy of living and connecting our lives through stories, through art, and even through games.

I might have to give ‘Soul’ a second chance after watching this video. I didn’t not like it, I just wasn’t as blown away as I wanted to be after the hype. But also I think a part of me still struggles with the long list of ideas I’ve had my whole life of things to try and things to be and the reality is that I am who I am. I’m actually pretty good at being me. And that was what ‘Soul’ really wanted me to realize. Yes, pursue that spark, enjoy your passions, find a career that you can doesn’t always feel like work but don’t rely on others for validation. Your enjoyment of life should be validation enough. I think we all struggle with that and I really appreciate Jonathan and Alan talking about this movie and making me think about it a bit more than I had.

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