Habit #4: Real movies

When I am tired after a day’s work, I open up my browser window and surf to Netflix or one of its illicit equivalents, to imbibe a mindless action movie that allows me to identify with a hero who slays its opponents with moral indemnity and righteousness. It is fast food for the soul, full of sugar rush action scenes and thick graphical extravaganza, clogging the arteries of our imagination.

During these 90 minute pleasure sessions, I am aware I’m wasting my time and would feel empty, bereft of the difficult poetry of the world in which I want to live.

So I decided to change this habit. Every time I feel inclined to watch a Jason Statham or Bruce Willis knock out bad guys, I search for a real movie instead. Sounds cocky? It’s very simple. A real movie wants to tell us a unique story, it is made with the pain and patience of a director who gave their very best. It is a movie that wants to make an artistic statement. Once upon a time, every movie was like that. The movies served to a large audience in the 1930s are often more intriguing than what we would call niche art-house today.

And it works. It takes a little will power to overcome that initial craving for cheap and empty action, but once you are drawn into a real movie, you are feeding your soul. Afterward, you won’t feel empty, you’ll feel better, be more inspired and perhaps crave healthy movies next time.

If you have no idea which directors you should look into, try Ernst Lubitsch, Akira Kurosawa, Lars von Trier, Jim Jarmusch, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michelangelo Antonioni, Bernardo Bertolucci, Wong Kar-Wai, Park Chan-wook, Emir Kusturica, Jean Rénoir, Jacques Tati, François Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Charles Chaplin, Orson Wells, Elia Kazan, Sergei Eisenstein, Leni Riefenstahl, Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Michael Haneke, Fritz Lang, Luis Buñuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sidney Lumet, Steven Soderbergh, Alejandro González Iñarritu, Guillermo del Toro, Sam Mendes, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson,  Win Wenders, Pedro Almodóvar, or Sam Peckinpah.

Habit #4: Real movies was originally published on Meandering home

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May 23. A night at a blue concrete bench.

Happiness suddenly strikes me (like a warm gun) when I have breakfast in a tiny San José lunchroom. Over coffee, juice, eggs and toast I dream away. The heads of the people here are taken from a movie. I can’t remember which one, but they definitely appear in some movie. Perhaps it’s The Gothfather, or Scarface, or One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, or The Wild Bunch, or Casablanca. It makes me feel I’m part of something.

I am singing “Dancing on the rooftops again / dancing with nothing but life on my mind / dancing, oh dancing again “. Are we pleasure machines?

When I return to the tristeza of the hostel, I see an accident. It has occured just while I was eating. A car lies upside-down, firefighters and police all around. A person is taken away in an ambulance. It has happened in the half hour I had been eating my happy breakfast. You can be all supersticious about this kind of thing. I could have returned five minutes earlier, to save a life perhaps, or to be hit by a car myself. I don’t stay at the scene of the accident for long, I want to leave this country.

The Ticabus fare is too expensive, twenty-one dollars. Being stingy can be a means to generate random events, and that’s its only justification. So I walk around downtown San José asking for other bus companies. Eventually, I find a bus to Puñas Blancas at the border with Nicaragua. For the second time (the first time was my ticket from Asuncion, Paraguay to Santa Cruz, Bolivia) I had exactly enough money in my pocket for the trip. You can be all supersticious about this kind of thing.

I thought over the itinerary of my future journey during the long bus ride. It’s one of my favorite activities: looking at the countryside from a slow local bus and reflect about my itinerary. About future possibities. I can be all caught up in the possibiliy business. I think that’s not a bad thing for a literate.

Late in the afternoon, I arrive at the border with Nicaragua. When I get off the bus, money changers flock around me and almost force me to use their services. I can’t think clearly and give one of the “money changers” who presents me his “ID” a twenty dollar bill. I get way to little Cordobas for it (240 instead of 400) and it’s frustrating. I discoverd the rip-off aht the Nicaraguan border post 500 meter down the road and walk back. The scum had disappeared and I all can do is inform the uniformed men. Yes, he wore a white shirt but I can’t remember anything else. Frustration again. Frustration makes me think frenzied. I am fed up with the whole thing, and I overdramatize it. I tell everyone I had been robbed. Robado, robado. No tengo nada. I am not interesting for you punk, they have just sacked me so take a hike. I lost only seven dollars to the money changer but behave like I’ve just been castrated. When I’m even offered a free drink with my meal, I feel a bit guilty about the lying business. This is not right. I’m a rich guy around here, I shouldn’t pretend that the small-time rip-off brought me down. Here’s some morale to work on. Fine, I mean, to have identified it as such is a first step.

I am instructed where I can sleep waiting for the early morning bus. I will spend the night on a blue concrete bench at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border post, and the police officer sleeps on the bench right next to mine. It’s safe. By the way, this is a genuine two-kind-of-people activity: there are people who’ve never spent a night on a blue concrete bench at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border post, and people who have done so.

May 23. A night at a blue concrete bench.

Happiness suddenly strikes me (like a warm gun) when I have breakfast in a tiny San José lunchroom. Over coffee, juice, eggs and toast I dream away. The heads of the people here are taken from a movie. I can’t remember which one, but they definitely appear in some movie. Perhaps it’s The Gothfather, or Scarface, or One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, or The Wild Bunch, or Casablanca. It makes me feel I’m part of something.

I am singing “Dancing on the rooftops again / dancing with nothing but life on my mind / dancing, oh dancing again “. Are we pleasure machines?

When I return to the tristeza of the hostel, I see an accident. It has occured just while I was eating. A car lies upside-down, firefighters and police all around. A person is taken away in an ambulance. It has happened in the half hour I had been eating my happy breakfast. You can be all supersticious about this kind of thing. I could have returned five minutes earlier, to save a life perhaps, or to be hit by a car myself. I don’t stay at the scene of the accident for long, I want to leave this country.

The Ticabus fare is too expensive, twenty-one dollars. Being stingy can be a means to generate random events, and that’s its only justification. So I walk around downtown San José asking for other bus companies. Eventually, I find a bus to Puñas Blancas at the border with Nicaragua. For the second time (the first time was my ticket from Asuncion, Paraguay to Santa Cruz, Bolivia) I had exactly enough money in my pocket for the trip. You can be all supersticious about this kind of thing.

I thought over the itinerary of my future journey during the long bus ride. It’s one of my favorite activities: looking at the countryside from a slow local bus and reflect about my itinerary. About future possibities. I can be all caught up in the possibiliy business. I think that’s not a bad thing for a literate.

Late in the afternoon, I arrive at the border with Nicaragua. When I get off the bus, money changers flock around me and almost force me to use their services. I can’t think clearly and give one of the “money changers” who presents me his “ID” a twenty dollar bill. I get way to little Cordobas for it (240 instead of 400) and it’s frustrating. I discoverd the rip-off aht the Nicaraguan border post 500 meter down the road and walk back. The scum had disappeared and I all can do is inform the uniformed men. Yes, he wore a white shirt but I can’t remember anything else. Frustration again. Frustration makes me think frenzied. I am fed up with the whole thing, and I overdramatize it. I tell everyone I had been robbed. Robado, robado. No tengo nada. I am not interesting for you punk, they have just sacked me so take a hike. I lost only seven dollars to the money changer but behave like I’ve just been castrated. When I’m even offered a free drink with my meal, I feel a bit guilty about the lying business. This is not right. I’m a rich guy around here, I shouldn’t pretend that the small-time rip-off brought me down. Here’s some morale to work on. Fine, I mean, to have identified it as such is a first step.

I am instructed where I can sleep waiting for the early morning bus. I will spend the night on a blue concrete bench at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border post, and the police officer sleeps on the bench right next to mine. It’s safe. By the way, this is a genuine two-kind-of-people activity: there are people who’ve never spent a night on a blue concrete bench at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border post, and people who have done so.

May 23. A night at a blue concrete bench. was originally published on Meandering home

May 23. A night at a blue concrete bench.

Happiness suddenly strikes me (like a warm gun) when I have breakfast in a tiny San José lunchroom. Over coffee, juice, eggs and toast I dream away. The heads of the people here are taken from a movie. I can’t remember which one, but they definitely appear in some movie. Perhaps it’s The Gothfather, or Scarface, or One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, or The Wild Bunch, or Casablanca. It makes me feel I’m part of something.

I am singing “Dancing on the rooftops again / dancing with nothing but life on my mind / dancing, oh dancing again “. Are we pleasure machines?

When I return to the tristeza of the hostel, I see an accident. It has occured just while I was eating. A car lies upside-down, firefighters and police all around. A person is taken away in an ambulance. It has happened in the half hour I had been eating my happy breakfast. You can be all supersticious about this kind of thing. I could have returned five minutes earlier, to save a life perhaps, or to be hit by a car myself. I don’t stay at the scene of the accident for long, I want to leave this country.

The Ticabus fare is too expensive, twenty-one dollars. Being stingy can be a means to generate random events, and that’s its only justification. So I walk around downtown San José asking for other bus companies. Eventually, I find a bus to Puñas Blancas at the border with Nicaragua. For the second time (the first time was my ticket from Asuncion, Paraguay to Santa Cruz, Bolivia) I had exactly enough money in my pocket for the trip. You can be all supersticious about this kind of thing.

I thought over the itinerary of my future journey during the long bus ride. It’s one of my favorite activities: looking at the countryside from a slow local bus and reflect about my itinerary. About future possibities. I can be all caught up in the possibiliy business. I think that’s not a bad thing for a literate.

Late in the afternoon, I arrive at the border with Nicaragua. When I get off the bus, money changers flock around me and almost force me to use their services. I can’t think clearly and give one of the “money changers” who presents me his “ID” a twenty dollar bill. I get way to little Cordobas for it (240 instead of 400) and it’s frustrating. I discoverd the rip-off aht the Nicaraguan border post 500 meter down the road and walk back. The scum had disappeared and I all can do is inform the uniformed men. Yes, he wore a white shirt but I can’t remember anything else. Frustration again. Frustration makes me think frenzied. I am fed up with the whole thing, and I overdramatize it. I tell everyone I had been robbed. Robado, robado. No tengo nada. I am not interesting for you punk, they have just sacked me so take a hike. I lost only seven dollars to the money changer but behave like I’ve just been castrated. When I’m even offered a free drink with my meal, I feel a bit guilty about the lying business. This is not right. I’m a rich guy around here, I shouldn’t pretend that the small-time rip-off brought me down. Here’s some morale to work on. Fine, I mean, to have identified it as such is a first step.

I am instructed where I can sleep waiting for the early morning bus. I will spend the night on a blue concrete bench at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border post, and the police officer sleeps on the bench right next to mine. It’s safe. By the way, this is a genuine two-kind-of-people activity: there are people who’ve never spent a night on a blue concrete bench at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border post, and people who have done so.

May 23. A night at a blue concrete bench.

Happiness suddenly strikes me (like a warm gun) when I have breakfast in a tiny San José lunchroom. Over coffee, juice, eggs and toast I dream away. The heads of the people here are taken from a movie. I can’t remember which one, but they definitely appear in some movie. Perhaps it’s The Gothfather, or Scarface, or One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, or The Wild Bunch, or Casablanca. It makes me feel I’m part of something.

I am singing “Dancing on the rooftops again / dancing with nothing but life on my mind / dancing, oh dancing again “. Are we pleasure machines?

When I return to the tristeza of the hostel, I see an accident. It has occured just while I was eating. A car lies upside-down, firefighters and police all around. A person is taken away in an ambulance. It has happened in the half hour I had been eating my happy breakfast. You can be all supersticious about this kind of thing. I could have returned five minutes earlier, to save a life perhaps, or to be hit by a car myself. I don’t stay at the scene of the accident for long, I want to leave this country.

The Ticabus fare is too expensive, twenty-one dollars. Being stingy can be a means to generate random events, and that’s its only justification. So I walk around downtown San José asking for other bus companies. Eventually, I find a bus to Puñas Blancas at the border with Nicaragua. For the second time (the first time was my ticket from Asuncion, Paraguay to Santa Cruz, Bolivia) I had exactly enough money in my pocket for the trip. You can be all supersticious about this kind of thing.

I thought over the itinerary of my future journey during the long bus ride. It’s one of my favorite activities: looking at the countryside from a slow local bus and reflect about my itinerary. About future possibities. I can be all caught up in the possibiliy business. I think that’s not a bad thing for a literate.

Late in the afternoon, I arrive at the border with Nicaragua. When I get off the bus, money changers flock around me and almost force me to use their services. I can’t think clearly and give one of the “money changers” who presents me his “ID” a twenty dollar bill. I get way to little Cordobas for it (240 instead of 400) and it’s frustrating. I discoverd the rip-off aht the Nicaraguan border post 500 meter down the road and walk back. The scum had disappeared and I all can do is inform the uniformed men. Yes, he wore a white shirt but I can’t remember anything else. Frustration again. Frustration makes me think frenzied. I am fed up with the whole thing, and I overdramatize it. I tell everyone I had been robbed. Robado, robado. No tengo nada. I am not interesting for you punk, they have just sacked me so take a hike. I lost only seven dollars to the money changer but behave like I’ve just been castrated. When I’m even offered a free drink with my meal, I feel a bit guilty about the lying business. This is not right. I’m a rich guy around here, I shouldn’t pretend that the small-time rip-off brought me down. Here’s some morale to work on. Fine, I mean, to have identified it as such is a first step.

I am instructed where I can sleep waiting for the early morning bus. I will spend the night on a blue concrete bench at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border post, and the police officer sleeps on the bench right next to mine. It’s safe. By the way, this is a genuine two-kind-of-people activity: there are people who’ve never spent a night on a blue concrete bench at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border post, and people who have done so.