Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Graduate

I’d heard a lot of buzz about “The Graduate”—especially after being featured in “(500) Days of Summer”—but didn’t know too much about it until I finally watched it this weekend. Though I don’t think the plot was quite fleshed out enough and the characters weren’t very sympathetic, the cinematography was impressive and the uncertainty of youth well-captured.

"The Graduate" follows Benjamin Braddock’s post-college quandary. Braddock (played by a young Dustin Hoffman) spends his time after graduation sort of stagnating, without a real direction, wondering why he just spent four years devoted to academics and trying to figure out what it means for him now (the mood well-represented by Simon & Garfunkel’s musically-inspired melancholia).

Though you don’t get much of a chance to get a feel for Hoffman’s idealistic character before getting thrust into the action, you do get a sense of his perplexity. He’s a good person who has done what he thought (and has been told) best but seemingly received nothing from it of value.

Though the ending appears to be happy on the surface, there’s no clear resolution (this is the part “(500) Days” comments on). After narrowly escaping a wedding precession, Braddock and the object of his affection, Elaine, board a bus and reflect on what the audience supposes is their future. At first, smiles abound but gradually fade into looks of neutrality and subtle uncertainty. They ponder: is there really a clear right choice and happy ending? Is this it?

If nothing else, the film also causes us to reexamine our own futures and the choices we’ve made that have led us up to this point in our lives. It makes us question our motivations and plans. What do we really want? What's not so important? Where do we want to devote our energy and time? What risks are worth taking?

Ultimately—and especially as a college student drawing nearer and nearer to graduation—I’m left with the importance of balancing the academic with the emotional; working hard to succeed in school to secure a stable future while doing my best to keep relationships and family atop my priority list. Trying to be flexible with a lot of inevitable uncertainty, but still reaching for the ideal.

Overall, “The Graduate” is worth a watch and hopefully causes you to have a well-placed introspection as well.

(Here’s one of the Simon & Garfunkel tunes predominant on the soundtrack.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Helio Sequence

This past weekend I got the chance to head up to The Depot in Salt Lake for a concert put on by the City Weekly Music Awards, featuring a few local bands that were opening for The Helio Sequence--the real reason I attended. After a screaming, hard rock band named Bird Eater performed, redemption came in the form of the next act, a soulful rock group from Ogden named The Naked Eyes--sort of a Black Crowes meets Band of Skulls affair. Finally, after an overly long performance by a slow-paced Americana band and after being hit on by two intoxicated older ladies, The Helio Sequence took the stage. Really an amazing performance and the catalyst for the album review I wrote yesterday for the Universe. You can find the article here and listen to some choice THS tunes below.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine's Day-Induced Rant

The more I live life and go about the day-to-day grind, I am reminded more and more of how happiness and genuine peace come through achieving a balance and "reading between the lines" in a sense. Life never just gives us answers — sometimes we think we receive them, but there’s really no tried-and-true formula. No simple way to get around it. No obvious “quick-fix.”

It’s about learning, discovery, trial and error, connecting-the-dots. Finding truth in the midst of life's seeming dissonance and trusting in personal constants. Discovering and holding to the things that make us truly happy.

To me, there are sort of two trains of thought regarding our path within existence. One is the somewhat mundane, realistic view we cling to which fulfills our expectations and doesn't disappoint. We know what's coming — and though it's not usually special — it's nice to know what lies ahead.

However, there's a second view that encompasses what I like to call the "magic" portion. The special moments. Moving music. A beautiful view. Quiet moments with a special someone. Something ethereal that is often hard to create or sustain. But every once in a while you attain it. A sense of transcendence and clarity.

Instead of being completely idealistic or completely realistic, I try to be a mixture. Find or create "magic" in the day-to-day. Drive somewhere random. Go on a walk. Do something with someone — I don't know. Be realistic yet allow room for and know that the hopelessly romantic moments in life will and do come. I try not to get too burrowed in the day to day crap. As Artistotle said, “Virtue is in the mean.”

I think this applies to relationships as well. Nietzsche said “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”

To me, that’s the balance in love. Reconciling “madness” (the magic) with the reason (practicality) that gives birth to that madness. But often, even finding someone worth throwing caution to the wind for is difficult in itself — a sometimes seemingly hopeless pursuit.

For the longest time I couldn't find anyone I was really interested in. Opportunities arose, but they were never the ones I really wanted to pursue. I just started wondering if the vision of romance that I had in my mind was too utopian. That I was setting my standards too high.

I just feel like a lot of people "settle" in a sense. But I've learned that relationships, the one's you really cherish, don't come along very often just like anything in life. But they do come. And they're worth waiting for.

Love is hard. Relationships can be (and often are) confusing and difficult. Often the sublime portions are masked under struggle and frustration. It isn't always the fairytale we envision. We open ourselves up and risk showing someone who we are — lay it on the line — and chance getting hurt.

Like Leonard Cohen penned in his timeless "Hallelujah," Love is not a victory march/It's not somebody who's seen the light/It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah.

So why do people repeat this apparent irrational behavior? I think it's because when we find those truly great relationships — the one's that really matter — we get back everything we risked. It will still be hard, but then again it was never meant to be easy.

It's about being able to embrace personal differences and love the other person, despite whatever problems you might have.

It is here — in the "mean" — that we find enduring happiness.

For true enlightenment, listen to Cohen's aforementioned song below, sung by Jeff Buckley (in my opinion, the best rendition of the tune).

Reliving the 90's With An Old Classic...

Katie Brandeburg and some other notables from the Provo music scene cover Lisa Loeb's "Stay." A great rendition with an assorted grouping of backing vocals and a swingin' beat (enhanced by some clapping from the vocalists at the peak of the action).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nine-to-Five Jobs Are Lame

After a whirlwind journey into the world of journalism, I am finally a full-fledged reporter for The Daily Universe at BYU. I am currently on the A&E desk covering off-campus music and entertainment--pretty much my dream job. So far, so good. Here are some articles I've written now that I'm about halfway through my journalistic foray this semester:

Muse Music "Rockumentaries"--
Location Location --
Orion Music Festival --
Orion Reviews --
Sundance Film Festival --
Fictionist --
"Shock Doctrine" at Sundance --
Animal Collective's "ODDSAC" --
Mudbison --