By Eric

I started writing these “Quarter Life Crisis” posts as a way to a way to unleash my own frustrations. Prior to joining Reactionary Century, I had never really used my writing as a way to explore myself – at least not directly. Over the last few months, however, I pried into myself once a week to explore my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Exploring myself is something that I have always done, but that exploration took place exclusively in my own head, where I could protect my ideas from the outside world.

Once I convinced myself I had something interesting to say, and could hide behind the relative anonymity of a byline, I began writing my thoughts into these weekly posts. Whether or not you, the readers, got anything out of what I had to say, I will probably never know. I don’t need to know.  Although, I certainly hope you gleaned something.

What I do know is that I gained a lot out of writing once a week about myself. The fact that I had an audience, to be quite honest, is irrelevant. I learned about myself and improved myself. I honestly believe I am a better person today that I was when I first started writing “Quarter Life Crisis.”

The reasons for my changes go far beyond writing for this site once a week, but scribbling my thoughts certainly played a role. Life, as everyone knows, and as every cliché teaches, us ebbs and flows. Consistency is hard to find.

As I look back and look forward, I realize that I am ending this writing venture at the perfect time. I don’t really feel like I am in a “crisis” anymore. I haven’t figured anything out, really, but I’m pretty content with that. The angst, cynicism and stress give way eventually, and you realize that you’re just happy with the things you have, as opposed to the things you don’t have.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I am currently ebbing (or flowing? I don’t really know which is the good one…) but I really can’t look at my life in terms of a “crisis” anymore. Whereas a few months ago I needed somewhere to release my insecurities, right now I feel pretty good with where I am (and who wants to read about someone who is happy?).

I’m hanging up my general life musings pen for now, but I will continue to write. I encourage anyone who ever read my thoughts, and realized they felt something similar to write their ideas down. Even if it’s just in a journal. I promise it will be the best decision you ever make.

Quarter Life Crisis has come to a close, but if you want to keep up with Eric you can find his writing on www.tktwincites.com. Or follow him on Twitter to keep up with whatever he is thinking, writing, or doing.

By Anna

1. The Social Network

Fittingly fast-paced, The Social Network brings clever dialogue, great direction, editing, and a pithy soundtrack making it the best film of the year. Aaron Sorkin’s a Shakespearean master in this film, and the cinematography takes itself seriously in a film that might not otherwise be concerned with perfect camera angles—everything fits.

2. 127 Hours

Speed-induced. From beginning to end, director Danny Boyle doesn’t take us out of the action, but makes each thought and action real. Because of James Franco’s apparent propensity to his character, the film needs few others. 127 Hours shows us what film is capable of by giving us a story of a man whose most heroic actions cause him to disparage the title of hero and become selfless—sacrificing part of himself to do so. Boyle trusts his audience to get what he puts in front of them and satisfies every feeling he evokes.

3. Toy Story 3

As anyone who has gone off to college may know, the transition from being well fed and taken care of to being on your own is easier said than done. This is just what the gang finds out in Toy Story 3, but they grow closer to each other and the audience than ever before. It’s hilarious and heart wrenching with enervating suspense to boot.

4. The Kids Are All Right

Taking its audience through all the emotions of a lifetime, it’s no wonder I couldn’t pull myself together for a couple days after I saw this film. It is so well executed and acted (by all) that you feel a part of their family—understanding the fun, pain and anxiety of what can happen to any family.

5. Inception

When I first saw Inception, I thought it was the best movie I’d seen in years. Then I started to think about it more and more and realized it was a great movie, but couldn’t be the best, because it lacked that old fashioned storytelling rule: show, don’t tell. However, it’s in my top films of the year list because it’s an amazing idea, executed to the fullest extent of filmmaking possibilities, and leaves you just plain awestruck.

6. The Town

My initial review of The Town stays the same: it uses the emotional scenes not only to develop characters but to also build suspense to the next action scene. The audience wants action, and director Ben Affleck delivers without letting go of his mission of declaring war on the system.

7. Greenberg

Though this is the last on my list and the most likely to drop behind the following unseen picks, it’s still noteworthy because Ben Stiller and Greta Gerwig, under Noah Baumbach’s direction, are infelicitous and ingenuous. Rhys Ifans role should also be noted in this quirky, lovable film.

Films I haven’t seen yet, but could very likely take a top spot (in no particular order):

  1. True Grit: If it’s better than the original film (for which John Wayne won his only Oscar), then damn if it won’t near the top of my favorites for the year. I only expect the best from Joel and Ethan Coen.
  2. The Fighter: We know what Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale are capable of alone, but their being together can only mean greatness.
  3. Winter’s Bone: Nature v. nurture. This film by Debra Granik looks beautiful and thought provoking.
  4. The King’s Speech: A stuttering royal who is going to be king under the direction of Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter? I’m in. Did I mention the royal was Colin Firth?
  5. Exit Through the Gift Shop: Banksy, Banksy, Banksy. You’ve got me more than intrigued.
  6. Somewhere: Each of Sofia Coppola’s films are more than magnificent, I expect nothing less from Somewhere.

By Nicolle

Know thyself, said the great philosopher Socrates. While that evocation seems trite and menial, to actually pursue such an idea is a great undertaking. As you begin to peel back the layers of yourself, you may find hidden motivations, dirty secrets and shameful mistakes.

I’ve recently realized that my psyche wages an internal war anytime I’m in a relationship. It won’t last, I whisper unconsciously to myself. You can’t keep him. You’re not quite good enough. Remember what happened last time? You’ve seen who he dated before. You know you’ll never measure up.

And so it goes. That voice forces me to analyze every inflection, every tone, every short remark, every glance, every move until I’ve literally given myself a stomachache.

Now, some of that, as I’ve mentioned before, is just a personality trait, one that I’m learning to accept. But the vengeful attack that coerces my thoughts into repetitive formations is more than a natural tendency to think things through. It’s a deliberate attempt at self-sabotage.

I begin to believe those lies whispered to me and I feel strangled. I outwardly act as if nothing is wrong but inside, I’m slowly killing myself.

A good friend of mine recently gave me sound advice. “You’re never going to have it all figured out,” she said. “No matter how many books you read, no matter how many times you try. So, know yourself and stop trying to figure it all out.”

The trick is to balance understanding the baggage and wounds and scars and hurts I bring to a relationship while still living presently.

If I spend all my time trying to be self-actualized, I’ll miss out on what’s actually going on in my relationship. But if I ignore my past experiences and how they impact my actions, I’ll never move past those self-imposed attacks.

An open, willing spirit, I’m learning, is much more valuable than any attempt at self-protection. Once I’m aware that I’m unconsciously feeding myself lies about my worth based on who I am (or am not) dating, what he thinks of me or what’s happened in my past relationships, I can begin to enter my internal battle. I can actively combat whatever line my psyche uses on me next – and I can win.

Note: This is the last Unhooked and Unsettled post that will appear on Reactionary Century, but check out UnhookedandUnsettled.Wordpress.Com to keep following along every Tuesday.

By Anna

I blocked so much of E.T. out as a kid—the “bad guy” scientists and the decrepit grayness E.T. became as he struggled to survive on earth.

I know, that’s practically the whole film, but what I remembered was the tenderness E.T. showed toward Elliot, Gerti and Mike.

Since most children’s first experience with death is the death of a pet, E.T. fits perfectly in relaying the message that even though those we love have to leave earth, they are always in our hearts and minds. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s a comfort to kids, and adults—earth slowly kills us all.

The film opens in the wooded forest of Northern California with E.T. being left behind as his family flees the humans hunting them. No one speaks for the first eight and a half minutes as John Williams’ score floods the green vegetation and ears of the audience.  This first eight minutes is a perfect snippet of the entire film’s simplicity: from Elliot showing E.T. who Boba Fett is to Elliot and E.T.’s final bike flying together. The story is basic, yet affects all of us on the deepest level. It is love and mystery that keeps humanity alive beyond reasonable understanding in a world that is full of violence and hate.

From E.T.’s first breath on earth all he wanted was to explore and find a place of safety (and maybe Reese’s Pieces), and Elliot gave him this.

Steven Spielberg created a masterpiece because he used a simple storyline and instilled the knowledge of E.T. and Elliot’s love in his audience, without having to explain anything—and we are enraptured by it.

Ebert’s review of E.T. was formatted like a letter to his grandchildren. He watched E.T. with them and was astonished at their critique of the film: “…the adults don’t take him (Elliot) seriously. A kid knows what that feels like.”

With childlike astonishment we watch, laugh and cry. In the end we remember truly what it was like to be a kid—riding around our neighborhood on bikes, and with tears, we watch E.T. leave earth.

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