Monday, October 24, 2011

sane crazy people

My final post for Ironing Board Collective went up today. It’s almost embarrassing how much brain space guest-blogging took up, and how sad I am that I will now have to devote my brain to other things. Or maybe you’ll just see more style-related, photo-filled posts here at Bread and Bread. Just a little warning. Anyway, my post is about high school fashion designers. They’re pretty great.

I am hoping that this moving-on thing will be good for my wallet and the overcrowded closet AK and I share. Seriously, I can’t keep buying clothes. I have shit I need to save for. 1) Car. 2) Baby. Not necessarily in that order.

Speaking of pathologies, this weekend AK and I saw Take Shelter, which is maybe the best movie I’ve seen this year (although The Future is up there) and definitely the best movie I’ve seen about mental illness. Curtis works on a construction crew, loves his wife and daughter (who is deaf and awaiting cochlear implant surgery, insurance willing), and is starting to have intense nightmares and midday hallucinations about an apocalyptic storm.

In other movies, one of the following would happen:
1) He would go from sane to batshit roughly overnight, and the movie would be about his saintly, long-suffering family.
2) He wouldn’t be crazy after all—an apocalyptic storm would come, and he’d be a hero.
3) He would be crazy, but he’d also be spectacularly good at math. Or able to talk to dead people. Or at least a tortured artist.

I won’t tell you exactly what happens in Take Shelter, but it’s none of the above. It’s a movie about a very sane person dealing with the fact that he’s crazy, if that makes sense. Although I’ve never (knock on wood) had hallucinations, my recent brush with a handful of anxiety disorders would lead me to believe that the movie is very realistic: There’s one part of you that’s grounded in the world everyone else lives in, and you know that you’re simply freaking out for understandable experiential and biological reasons. There’s another part of you that is absolutely convinced that the slightly darkish area on your back is not a spot your sunscreen missed at Emily’s pool party but a melanoma that will be reabsorbed into your body and grow to the size of a malignant football, like that lady you read about in that magazine. And the second part of you says to the first, Yeah, but sometimes even paranoid people are being followed.

When Curtis has a dream about his dog attacking him, he doesn’t go after the dog with an axe (because that would be crazy). He builds the dog a pen in the yard. Later he finds the dog a good home with his brother. Curtis is a highly responsible crazy person, which makes him more likable and the movie more terrifying—because he does everything right and it doesn’t stop the crazy.

A couple of critics on KPCC complained about the last scene of the movie, but AK and I agreed it was a beautiful piece of poetry in an otherwise uber-down-to-earth movie. You can read the scene as a metaphor for how his family will be dragged into the waking nightmare of mental illness, or for how they will lift him from it. Either way, none of them are alone.

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