Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jill Sprecher: 13 Conversations About One Thing

Jill Sprecher's Thirteen / 13 Conversations About One Thing (2001) dovetails nicely with the work of existentialist writers like Søren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Albert Camus and Hanna Arendt. On the one hand, we can do certain things, make certain choices; on the other, we take our chances anytime we wake up and get moving. Besides that, there's an uncertain amount of randomness and entropy at play in the universe.

A snippet of the Roxy Music song "Editions of You" (1973) covers the gist of it:

They say love's a gamble, hard to win, easy lose
And while sun shines you'd better make hay
So if life is your table and fate is the wheel
Then let the chips fall where they may
In modern times the modern way . . .

And the rejoinder:

Love me, leave me
Do what you will
Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

When somebody came a knockin' at her door, Dorothy Parker would occasionally mutter, "What fresh hell can this be?"

In any case, the film makes clear that kindness is rarely a bad thing, certainly preferable to cruelty, violence or indifference. As Tennessee Williams put it, attention must be paid.  
Thirteen Conversations About One Thing is not a documentary. It's a dramatic film structured around statements made by characters, unspooled in nonlinear form. The disjointed structure invites a second look, once the basic contours of the storyline are better understood. 
The one thing?  That state of being/perceiving called Happiness.
Jill and her sister Karen Sprecher have here woven together a meditative, sometimes brooding film, but physical events do occur, significant ones in the lives of the characters played by heavy hitter actors, including Alan Arkin and Clea DuVall (both now in Argo), Amy Irving, Matthew McConaughey and John Turturro. The last named reminds me that Thirteen Conversatons has a similar sort of take on life as the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man (2009).
Today's Rune: Joy.   

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm talking about evolution in my comparative class this week so we're covering topics like randomness and selection. Interesting.