Sometimes – a nice surprise shows up

Frances Ha

Sometimes – a nice surprise shows up

If you have a Netflix account, you likely already know how the service gives you suggestions for additional viewing. You finish a film, and three options show up on the screen while the movie that is wrapping up [in a reduced size screen that magically appears].
Or maybe you see all these categories that show up on your home page – apparently Netflix engineer have invented a Terry algorithm – sending stuff just for me, or a fellow with my viewing inclinations.
Frances Ha showed up in the category “Critically Acclaimed” – and I’d seen it popping up in other suggestion areas, too, so – I clicked play. Details about the movie are here:

Frances is 27, and aspires to be a professional dancer in New York City. She works, sort of, as an understudy in a less-than-staggeringly-successful dance company. And she tries real hard; maybe too hard. She’s exuberant, but just can’t seen to pull it together. Sometimes drink too much, spends money impulsively, and [right up to the last scene of the film] has no permanent address. Oops – spoiler.

Frances is a dreamer, a wild dreamer. I like that about her, but that goes along with a painful tendency to stretch truth until paper-thin, and to embellish the connections she has with people until everyone in the room knows it’s just a story about a story.
Did I mention that I know President Obama? Yeah, well, we don’t actually stay in touch much – but he and I use the same brand of syrup on our pancakes, and we’ve both been to Chicago. Close enough, eh?
So, as I watched Frances move through one crisis after another, I got to thinking about staying and leaving. How do you know when to stick? When to move along? When to find a new destination? Can you hang in there long enough to see where your assets and resources are – where your calling is? Can you keep your authenticity – or do you have to change all the way down to your chromosomes?
Sweetly, as all little, charming, touching films try to do – success and some of the answers emerge. Frances eventually finds hers, too. She gets a little more focused, and a wee bit more practical. She takes a little guidance from her old dance company director – and comes on board at the company to help on the administrative side. And teaches youngsters in the evening. Her feet on on the ground, it seems. She knew when to get things done. Just like the lyrics tell us in the closing credit song, Modern Love, from the great David Bowie. Get the lyrics here.
Extra credit available if you can guess what scene made me cry. What’s your guess?

Anticipating the recoil

I watched the 2010 version of True Grit the other day

While there were many fine performances in the film, the most memorable was from Hailee Steinfeld – the actor played Mattie Ross, the 14 year-old girl out to avenge her father’s murder. While we could focus on many aspects of the film: the quirky storyline; the Coen brothers as directors; the on-screen chemistry among the main actors – I’m going to look at just one thing.


Why? Recoil is that force that shows up when fire a gun. You might recall that little principal from high school physics –

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This is known as Newton’s third law of motion. Why talk about it? Well, after viewing the film, I got to thinking about how knowledge and anticipation of recoil could have helped Mattie Ross. It could help you, too.

How? In Mattie’s case – perhaps she would have braced herself differently when she pulled the trigger on that rifle. Perhaps she would not have tumbled into that snake-infested cave. Not been bitten by that viper. Not lost her arm. She might have had a very different life; hard to say – I’ve never written a screenplay.

For the rest of us, being able to anticipate the likely outcome to a choice or an action could come in handy. We might:

  • choose our words more carefully
  • make healthier choices
  • stay on the path towards our goals more consistently

Even if we’ve had trouble with this up to now, my work suggests that we can learn a different way, and move in the direction of a more satisfying life. Over the course of the next several days & weeks, notice how you resist the urge to ignore this important information. Notice how you begin to alter your direction – and end up in a better place.
Is there a movie that taught you an interesting life lesson? Pass it along to me, if you have a moment. Thanks!