My Own Private Idaho

My Own Private Idaho

the fact that this movie was made without a shot list is probably my favorite thing about it. because of this it has an aesthetic that's really unlike anything else; whereas for others that i deeply admire the look of and am able to write at great length about, this consistently defies verbal description, other than maybe a vague observation that it's in a state of constant drift. this is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, to me, on a purely formal level; these images are just inexplicably perfect. especially the shots of the iconic road, the "fucked up face"; easily one of the most complex motifs in the movie, but mainly embodying what is likely the truest depiction of "the middle of nowhere," a landscape that halfway belongs to america and halfway belongs to a stateless dimension of ethereal melancholy (but hey, whats the difference?).

and on the note of vagueness, this is a very vague movie. vague in its aesthetic, vague in its intentions, vague in its tone, vague in its sense of place. but this is only to the viewer; so many of the characters act as if this is a world that they understand too well and too intuitively; the gang of drifters' medieval roleplay and joyous camaraderie is so so charming, but so so confusing, and it's never sure that they themselves even know why they've constructed their culture in this way, but they're just going with it, one guesses, and one wants to join in on the fun but is never really given the emotional guidance or attention to integrate themselves comfortably. how ironic that you, as a viewer, feel like an outsider in a space meant for outsiders? where do you go, what do you do now?

but if this is movie is actually about anything, (i think) it's culture and change; that a change in location is not necessarily a change in you. people think they can change by simply displacing oneself from space to space, from culture to culture; and the truth is that some actually can. and some just can't. why? you don't know why, you just can't. but then the one who can, the one you love, can't take you along with them; by the time they're on the other side they've stopped caring about you altogether.

this is also the cinematic equivalent of walking into a room and forgetting what you came there for, of feeling like you care about others more than others care about you, of knowing what you are but never knowing why you are, of reciting a big speech to yourself in the mirror and inevitably realizing how ridiculous you look and sound, of longing for someone to give you a hug and tell you dont worry, everything is going to be okay, of hoping someone will throw a pleasant departing formality your way until they possibly see you again. have a nice day, they'll say, and you'll immediately believe they want nothing but the best for you. until you remember this is only part of the culture.

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