A Life About Nothing


May 30, 2013 by Katia

I’m not a big movie girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about escapism, any display of great talent be it acting, directing or cinematography never fails to refuel me, while I just as easily melt into a mediocre + love story provided, of course, that the leading man is crushable and the leading lady is at the very least well dressed. I’ve never, however, been one to take pleasure in memorizing movie dialogues or catch phrases and pulling them out of my sleeve at the right moment, nor do I make movie references, offer or enjoy movie trivia or a long winded conversation about Wes Anderson’s latest work during a date with friends. Unless Wes Anderson is Woody Allen chances are I’m deep in dessert territory. I’m sorry movies, I just don’t love you like that. It’s totally me and I hope we can stay friends.

In the last few years I’ve noticed a new preference I’ve developed for understated movies. I love to watch a film where “nothing happens”, like Lost in Translation, Darjeeling Limited, Before Sunrise or numerous other movies I’ve watched and can’t remember because, you know, I’m not a big movie girl. You realize, of course, that by “nothing happens” I mean something HUGE is happening. Darjeeling is full of events, it’s just that they are not what the movie is ABOUT. The movie is about what had already happened before we tuned in, the death of the patriarch and the formation of the current dysfunctional relationship in the family. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke fall in love in front of our eyes on Before Sunrise, it’s just that there’s nothing grandiose about how they do it. They take us with them on their unplanned first date where they mainly converse and learn about each other through dialogue. Strip away Vienna and the colourful characters they meet and it’s almost like a real life date. Almost nothing’s happening on the surface between Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray’s characters in Lost in Translation, even the song they listen to at the Japanese Karaoke bar joins in on the lie or maybe Greek Choruses the future when it proclaims “More than This There’s Nothing” but we all know that that’s BS! Like in any good volcano most of it is just happening underneath the surface.

So why am I so drawn to this kind of movie? Is it simply a stylistic preference based on the notion that the understated just seems more tasteful than its counterpart the “I’m a (insert name of genre here and capitalize) hear me roar” overkill? Or is it because it resonates with me on a more personal level, legitimizing the way I handle myself in real life, often times not by choice, avoiding conflict, drama and the expression of negative emotions around people outside of my closest circle out of fear of alienation? Or is it yet a deeper preference for an hour and a half of a life about nothing? Am I so tired of being woken up at least twice a night by two kids, sterilizing bottles, teething, disciplining, negotiating my sleep, negotiating everything, feeling guilt, fear, uncertainty, worrying that someone is sick/will fall/choke/hurt themselves/will not have friends/socks/feel secondary or neglected – am I so tired of all of that that I just want my movies to leave me the fuck alone?!

In a classical indecisive non-committal me move, I’ll say that it’s probably all of the above. I don’t usually quote from movies, because, you know, I’m not that girl, but there’s a great non-(life-making)-decision moment in Lost in Translation when Scarlett Johansson responds to her husband’s “smoking’s bad for you” with “I’ll stop later”.  I don’t smoke, but if there’s anything else you need me to stop doing, I’ll stop later, OK?

What kind of movies do you enjoy?



More Favourite Movies (Various Degrees of About Nothingness)

Annie Hall

Fight Club

Being Jon Malkovich

A Serious Man

The Big Lebowski

A Single Man

This has been a Finish The Sentence Friday Post on the subject: My Favourite All Time Movie. Please visit our hosts:

Janine at Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real

Kate at Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine?

Dawn at Dawn’s Disaster

35 thoughts on “A Life About Nothing

  1. Pam says:

    Loved this. I agree, although I am not much of a movie person, if I am going to watch one, it needs to take me away. And re: Lost in Translation (a fave of mine too) you hit the nail on the head- nothing is happening and yet so much is happening- what I especially love about that one is the way they really make you feel the isolation right along with Scarlett Johansen and Bill Murray.

  2. Brian says:

    That’s an excellent introspection, Katia.

    I like the same type of movies you do. I also like some goofball comedies, but some of my favorites are the slow-paced, understated movies that tell a simple story very well.

    I am familiar with Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (I assume you know of this sequel), but I’ve never watched them. I just learned that they’ve made a third movie about these characters, called Before Midnight. I’ll probably have to check them out.

    Though you say you don’t get into movies enough to discuss Wes Anderson at length, it sounds like his films are right up your alley. Besides Darjeeling, he did Rushmore (saw it, didn’t care for it), The Life Aquatic (ditto), and The Royal Tenenbaums (LOVED it, watched it 3 or 4 times.

    I think you might also enjoy Meet Joe Black. It’s not a story where nothing happens, but it has methodical pacing, generally understated drama, and a reliance on character development, acting prowess, and human emotion as opposed to special effects, car chases, and pyrotechnics. It’s a remake of a very old movie called Death Takes a Holiday. Brad Pitt is crushable, right? I know Claire Forlani is. These two play the lead characters, along with the great Anthony Hopkins.

    One more thing: You make a very astute observation about the song they chose for the karaoke scene in Lost In Translation. As beautiful as the original from Roxy Music is, Bill Murray’s monotone delivery wrings new meaning out of it, perfectly supporting the film’s theme. This makes for an interesting study on the subject of context.

    • Katia says:

      I read this when I was woken up at 4am and was waiting for the water to boil so I could sterilize a bottle (how’s this for a “comment about nothing” so far?) and it made my 4am. I actually learned from your comment, I didn’t know the original song performed at the karaoke bar, so I wasn’t able to notice the difference in delivery, thank you so much for pointing this out.

      I did watch Before Sunset, but cannot remember it now. I’d love to rewatch it. I would also love to watch Meet Joe Black. I suspect we might share a similar taste in movies. I also like silly comedies and we’ve already talked about zombies, so there’s that too.

  3. I have to admit my husband and I tried to watch this back when it first cam out on DVD and we ended up turning it off about 20 minutes in, because we felt totally Lost In Translation. Not sure why, but seriously just couldn’t get into it, but after what you said here may try again. Thanks for linking up as always and have a great weekend!! 🙂

    • Katia says:

      Yes, watch it and let me know what you thought, I know this pace is not for everyone and I would probably find it difficult to read a book like that, but I do enjoy that quality in movies. 🙂

  4. ‘Before Sunrise’…Richard Linklater! excellent choice (his first movie was my choice)… the idea of the movie (seriously, 2 characters…’real time’… no explosions! how creative a writer do you have to be to pull that off?)
    Having said that, one of my favorite movies is ‘Pulp Fiction’ (and I am one of those to be able to quote dialogue…lol) and I enjoy the more externalize movies as well.
    But it is the insight into interesting lives that I find most enjoyable in a movie.
    (Annie Hall is in my top 5 movie list).

    You will enjoy ‘After Sunset’ (it’s the sequel!! lol )

    • Katia says:

      Oh, I’ve watched After Sunset set, but can’t remember either one very well. I will definitely watch it again.

      Pulp Fiction is one of my favourites too. Along with Fight Club, Being Jon Malkovich – perhaps I should update my post with a list. Thanks, Clark!

  5. I love movies and television shows. I love to write too though. Right now I am in to writing and responding to blogs. I enjoyed your take on the movies especially enjoying the ones where nothing really happens except that the characters live their lives like they were nothing special. The movie St. Elmo’s Fire is a good example of that and it is one I loved from the 80s when I started college.:) Thanks for sharing.

  6. Coen brothers and Woody Allen? You and I are on the same page. 🙂

  7. Agreed! Another reason we’re friends (maybe?). I find myself seeking out Netflix movies these days that have that “My-33-year-old-would-be-bored-by-the-lack-of-point” je-ne-sais-quoi, and indulging in those on my nights off and alone. And days off. Lately, even on not off days. And I agree – I think that the more “stuff” you are immersed in in day-to-day life, the more you just want to be reminded that, in the bigger picture, nothing ever really happens.

    Or I just want to senselessly unplug and not worry about missing the point.


    • Katia says:

      I know, I should have called you yesterday when I was writing this. I remembered having a conversation about that in the past and I couldn’t think of any of the movies we’ve discussed. You would probably be able to point some out. We need to get together and talk about this some more.

  8. Terrye says:

    You and I have totally opposite taste in movies. 🙂 I’ve seen a few of those and had to force myself to watch them. I’m more of a scifi/action type – I like the gratuitous violence. 🙂 But I do love Bill Murry (especially in Zombie Land – omg!)

    • Katia says:

      Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think I made it sound like ALL I watch is movies about nothing. I enjoy action, I enjoy comedies, I enjoy thrillers but I LOVE nothing.

  9. I’m all about movies that are about “nothing.” Can I tell you how excited I am to see the sequel to “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”? I heard an interview with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke on NPR (a full hour) last night and forced my husband to do both dinner and bedtime in order for me to hear it live. To me, most of the sexiest, romantic movies are often about talking and connecting. Mostly movies with amazing writing. Have you ever seen “Once”?

    • Katia says:

      1. Yay. 2. I thought we might share the same taste :-). I don’t remember Before Sunset, will absolutely watch it again, and yes Clark actually mentioned the sequel, which I wasn’t aware of!!!

      I absolutely agree that understated often makes the funny funnier and the sexy sexier.

      And no, I haven’t seen “Once”, but I am intrigued! Off to Google it!

  10. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    OK, after having read, that, I’m confident that you would love Home for the Holidays! It seems like it is right up your alley… I have a hard time describing what it is about, often saying, “It’s about a family,” which doesn’t do it justice, but the actual “plot” is not complex. Just real.

    And also, your opening made me think harder about why I love to quote movies. I think it’s because I love nostalgia. Quoting movies makes me remember special times, who I was with, what was happening in my life, and often evokes childhood and a connection to another person, usually, my brother.

    Great, thought-provoking post. You rock.

    • Katia says:

      Of course, I totally get that it’s a form of bond for you and your brother and it’s probably a really fun mental exercise too, if you love movies that way 🙂

      Thank you so much, my friend, and as always I loved your post and thank you so much for your thoughts on mine.

  11. findingninee says:

    I had completely forgotten just how much I love the movie Lost in Translation. In fact, I’d completely forgotten about the movie at all. This sentence really resonated with me: “worrying that someone is sick/will fall/choke/hurt themselves/will not have friends/socks/feel secondary or neglected.”
    I, too, worry about every single imagined scenario. It’s a big scary world. Luckily it’s an amazingly beautiful one. Oh and I like for movies to leave me the fuck alone too. Mostly.

  12. Jean says:

    Annie Hall was my favorite for the longest time. The Sunrise movies are perfect. I just never thought of them as movies about nothing…they are though, aren’t they? It’s nice to sit and watch something that takes you along a certain path but lets you wander at the same time.

  13. You are the only other person I know of who has seen Being John Malkovich! That was a very interesting concept, and I was surprised he did that movie for some reason – didn’t seem like “him.” I wouldn’t put it in my Top 10, but I definitely enjoyed it, mostly for it’s creativity. [#FTSF]

  14. Interesting…I never thought of that as a specific, like, genre or something. Hm. “Movies about nothing.” I like that…

  15. Jen says:

    Did we know we were both Woody Allen fans? I am not surprised because I am a Katia fan 🙂 Also Big Lebowski! Totally underrated, awesome movie, with an amazing soundtrack!

  16. Wow, this was a really deep post. I liked it. I haven’t seen many of these movies although I do find myself sometimes liking movies that are so real life that it seems like nothing is happening. I want to see Annie Hall, I’ve heard that’s good. I’m putting it on my list. Thanks!

    • Katia says:

      Yes, you must watch it, Kate! You, with your sense of humour, will enjoy it so much, it’s almost a crime you haven’t watched it yet!

  17. It’s funny, because when we watched it, I remember walking away fairly refreshed from that movie, while my husband was all, “WTH?” Just goes to show, movies have a way of inflicting a different outcome on everyone. I love Rushmore. You should see it when you have time.

    • Katia says:

      It’s really funny how different couples can be in that regard, as I am commenting, my husband is trying to convince me that based on the post (THIS post, just to clarify) I would love Lord of the Rings. Which we’ve watched together, and I don’t love, and has nothing to do with nothing. So men.

  18. First, I love your title. Second, I couldn’t agree more. I like movies that don’t shove themselves down my throat, that draw me in and let me breathe! I like your take on this prompt a lot.

  19. […] The reason I called it that is because every Friday I participate in a Finish The Sentence Friday blog hop and this was the topic. FTSF is one of my favourite blogging initiatives. A group of bloggers gathers and writes about the same topic and it’s always fascinating to be exposed to such different takes on the same subject as well as to stretch your own brain in unexpected directions, writing about something you never would have normally. Like movies. […]

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