Theme of the Month: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Star of the Month: Jeff Bridges
My return to Seattle comes in less than a week, and the anxieties, as well as the various things I’m
looking forward to, suddenly seem to have become a person, shaking me incessantly like Bette Davis versus Miriam Hopkins in Old Acquaintance (1943). All I can think about every hour of every day is what the year’s going to entail — the pressures of my classes, the scattered duties of a second-year RA, the pressing need to start taking hold of opportunities that’ll further my professional goals.
I wish I could turn back time and go back to my freshman year, where most things I did didn’t have all that much of an impact on my trajectory. Now suddenly I’m in this world where everything I do bears a lot of weight on my future endeavors — and that’s a freaky thing, knowing that from this moment on I have to move almost exclusively outside my comfort zone to get anywhere.
It’s both a terrifying and thrilling prospect. But I won’t deny that I prefer this sort of confusing fear to the ennui I’ve been starting to feel these final few weeks of summer. As it was at the end of vacation last year, there comes a point in August where it becomes quite clear that relaxing is good and fine — until it isn’t anymore. I’ve become so fatigued by the lack of real responsibility that it’s made much of my everyday existence start feeling flavorless; I’m beginning to get to that point where watching a movie and then writing about it, something that usually fills me with such passion, is starting to feel like a chore. But that’s the end of summer for you.
Because I’ve been feeling such an uncomfortable admixture of feelings as of late — something of an odd blending of excitement, anxiety, and boredom — I’ve continuously found myself thinking of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968), an ensemble drama which circles around characters who are terrified by the thought of what their futures might hold but are nevertheless at a moment in their lives where they know cannot continue living the way they are now. The movie isn’t perfect — it’s a sometimes tone-deaf ditty of a feel-bad movie — but it continues to stick with me. Though these characters are trapped in situations far worse than mine, I can continuously relate to the feeling of so badly wanting to move forward but also being so chilled by the idea of baseless speculation becoming a reality.
In honor of the aforementioned film, September’s “theme” will be The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, though I’m plenty aware that it’s less of a theme and more an overarching sentiment that’ll manifest itself into my viewing picks this month. To complement an overreaching aura of palpable melancholy, I’ve chosen Jeff Bridges as September’s star. I find him the most interesting when he’s playing characters buried under the weight of their emotional vulnerabilities (like in 1971’s The Last Picture Show or in 2009’s Crazy Heart), so I’m eager to take in some Bridges performances enlivened by a sensitivity not seen in his most famous film, 1998’s excellent The Big Lebowski.
Times might be changing, but remaining steady is my obsession with the movies. I hope some of these films will appeal to you, too. Happy watching and happy reading!