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WHAT IS OLD JOY?

In the new film from Kelly Reichardt, two men seem to be trying to re-connect as old pals on a rather sad camping trip. The two old friends are played with quiet hurt by Daniel London and Bonnie Prince Billy (aka Will Oldham) An oddly unsettling film which is haunting me. At the film’s climax — one of the men tells of a dream in which a woman comforts him by explaining that sorrow is nothing but worn out joy.

There have been several American films this year that have been about characters in desperate need to connect to others. The simplicity of this film touched me and seemed to be unique to an American issue. Living in a culture that teaches us that we are promised so much but which ends up actually offering so little unless you are the right color or have been born into the right amount of money.

…the final realization that the American Dream was never anything more than just that and the sad realization that many fail to grasp the real purpose of life. Is that purpose to connect? And, if worn out joy is sorrow — what is old joy?

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October 22, 2006. Uncategorized.

15 Comments

  1. Dessie replied:

    It’s interesting you mention characters who need to connect to each other. Where do you think that is stemming from?

  2. Dessie replied:

    And one other thing… who is “S Hahani”?

  3. ing replied:

    The more I think about this film, the more I love it. I have a theory about Old Joy, which I sort of scribbled down this evening on a magazine insert I found in my purse. I’m too tired to blog about it right now, but maybe tomorrow. . .

    The thing with the sinking hand — we were meant to notice the wedding ring.

  4. Robert replied:

    I like the premise and the context of the film, and a nice ring to the title. But joy is beyond happiness, and joy is never old.

  5. Daniel, the Guy in the Desert replied:

    I love the film or written work which convincingly asks the right queston, and does not presume to give the participant an answer.

  6. matt replied:

    Dessie — I think it all started with my parents. I need more therapy! I am not sure who “S Hahani” is. Did I make a type-O? I can’t find it. I also need an editor.

    Ing — Yeah, I really loved that movie. And, I agree. There was a great deal of import to that moment. Ing, I really hated the new Sophia Coppola film. …and, I think I just spelled her name wrong.

    Robert — I think maybe “old Joy” is a feeling beyond happiness that we experienced in the past but can’t recapture. Not sure, tho. I like the way you express the thought about joy.

    Daniel! Me, too! Like Robert, you express that so beautifully.

  7. Dessie replied:

    Well I didn’t want to be overt but S Hahani in “Office” has your package. Maybe a doorman?

  8. matt replied:

    Dessie! LOL! Oh! That’s the guy who owns the place where my mailbox is located!!! I’m so excited!!! I haven’t been in several days! Will be going there this afternoon after work!!! Yay!!! That is so sad — I would have never figured that out and I talk to him all the time. Oy! …I am old!

  9. PDD replied:

    I so so love your new profile pic, Matt.

  10. ing replied:

    You are receiving packages — yay!

    Okay, I think Old Joy is the joy the two friends experienced in the past and that they can’t relive now but can remember quite clearly. Old Joy is their bond, and its not based in the present — I don’t think that they’d be friends if these two men met for the first time in the film’s present. Their bond relies on old joy.

    Will Oldham’s character hasn’t yet come to the conclusion that their old joy is now worn out. But he’s starting to feel sorrow’s encroachment. I think he’s happier in the long run and sadder in the short run.

  11. ing replied:

    On Marie Antoinette:

    Alan didn’t dislike the film as much as I did, which made me think. I did enjoy looking at the costumes. I guess my problem was with the stance. I had a hard time figuring out how the main character felt — maybe that was the point, that she lived in a vaccuum. But as a result, I didn’t feel like I knew her. She didn’t seem like a character, so much as a model on which to hang costumes. And I wasn’t provided with a counter-perspective that allowed me to view all this with my own idea of what was really going on within and outside of Versailles. Yes, the proceedings within the palace were highly structured and artificial. That’s not at all difficult to figure out. But I didn’t have a strong reaction to it. The film seemed to merely observe, rather than analyze. It was too heavy on spectacle. I guess we were supposed to feel something when M.A. couldn’t bring her dog to France or when she imagined her lover shot from below, astride a white horse. But I didn’t feel so much as I noted that these kinds of things are meant to make me feel. Why was more made of the loss of the dog than the death of M.A.’s third child? Marie Antoinette seemed like a vacuous figure. Perhaps she was, but do vacuous characters hold our interest?

    The thing I liked about the movie was that I got to spend time with you and Alan. And I like thinking about what I didn’t like. That’s instructive, too.

    AHHH! I need to pack!

  12. matt replied:

    PPD – Thank you! I was dancin’ to Prince. It makes me laugh.

    Ing — I agree. I like that. You know that film is really haunting me. I wish it were going to be here for longer than a week. I would see it again. Regarind MARIE A — I’m still thinking about it. I really didn’t like it at all, but it had some merit and was an interesting cinematic mistake. I think. I just expected more from Sophia C — but you are exactly right: the highlight and import of all was hanging with you and Alan. Just wish B could have been with us. Oh well. Man! I think you said you were flying out to see Gina tonight/this afternoon. Missing you already! Call me, Miss Hot Thang!

  13. Dessie replied:

    What can I say, I couldn’t have done it without the help of the Secret Ingrice.

    *walks away humming “For British Eyes Only”*

  14. ginab replied:

    Man I do feel love for the bonnie p b in my heart when he sings. I do.

    Enjoy him Monday for me Matty!

    -ginab

    PS: I love Ing’s Bowie pants!!! Coolest! You have $270 to drop down, I wear a size 4!

  15. matt replied:

    Gina! If I had it, I would get you a pair and sent them Priority Express! …who knows? maybe next year! I could win the lottery! …well, I guess I would need to actually play it to win it. But, I might start!

    Hope you two are having a great time!!!

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