Drama Review
13th Jun 2011Posted in: Blog 1
Drama Review
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The Fighter

The narrative in this movie revolves around the relationship between two brothers and their mother.  It is about the difficuties encountered through lack of education. One brother is successful and the other is less so. Or perhaps I should say that he is successful in another way and that the way in which he is successful is less understood and less appreciated by the larger public. He is successful by overcoming drug addiction and by maintaining his self. The more successful brother is so called because he achieves a higher ideal, more idealized by a larger public. His ideal is success through victory in fighting. This archetypal narrative has been so instilled in us through thousands of years of blood shed that we naturally gravitate towards us like a pavlovian dog, salivating at the sound of a bell.



This movie features Robert De Niro and another famous guy, can't remember his name... It is a fictional rendition about the story of ecstacy. I can tell you from experience that this dramatic representation is accurate. That is that it accurately represents the power and the danger of ecstacy. With regards to the drug war, this drama illustrates the reality that drugs are ultimately linked through sale and distribution with the highest levels of authority. So it is in Mexico, as it is in the U.S as it is in Canada. You can see how this fictional pill in the movie resembles the fictional pill in the movie series the Matrix. The drug allows you to see things you are not ordinarily allowed to see. Colors are enhanced, social relationships are amplified and actually simplified on a more base level. It becomes o.k to think about and discuss sex. It becomes o.k to curtail the small talk and get to the heart of the matter.  I have always been short on small talk. Actually, i am convinced i can not do it.


Just as with ecstacy, the pill in this film has a darkside. It takes you to the top but once you get to the top, you are changed, never to be the same again. You can not forget what you have seen, what you have learned. If the memories are positive, they are consolidated into the new you. If the memories are traumatic, such as in the case of a bad trip, they are also assimilated into the new you. In the 70's psychotherapists used mdma in counselling because it actually does have the potential to enhance empathy. They stopped using it because they realized that it also had the potential to trigger psychosis. The potential of the substance is huge but overall, i think the same effects can be achieved naturally. It is possible to get to a place in your mind where you can feel the effects of ecstacy. It is not easy. You need to forget your pain. You need to let go of your anger, your expectations and your dissapointment. Now you are ready to experience the present. You can find bliss here. It is here. The wind is blowing in the trees, the sun shines on you, you are jogging, honoring your body, people pass you by in the opposite direction, smiling at you. Your mp3 player is playing a song which acts as fuel in your system, elevating you further. I had a moment like that today. I was aware of it in the present and saying to myself that i was experiencing the flow. Shortly after i became conscious of the moment, it fadded away. Like a dream when you realize you are dreaming, you know your time is numbered.  Consiousness really ruins everything that way. I think that is ultimately why people take drugs. Alcohol makes you forget does it not? Coke makes you so narcissistic and self absorbed that you can only think about the now and your own selfish urges. Acid takes you away to another place where you are just stuck on the stuff moving around you. etc. etc. Drugs take you away from your ordinary consciousness and that is why they are so appealing.

I believe that when you scratch beneath the surface of drug addiction you ultimately discover a world of pain which the addict is escaping. Why would someone look for something better unless they were dissatisfied with something they were living?  This piece of film portrays the dynamics of money, power and drugs. It shows  us the truth about how they are related. In fact, the actors do a good job of showing us who we are and what we do. That is why they get paid the big bucks and why we allow them to get famous. They show us who we are.




I had the distinct impression upon watching this movie that i was myself embedded in the fictional character: Greenberg. I think this movie is an ingenious piece of film. Movies don't get to be called movies anymore in the age of the internet. The term movie denotes something unique and autonomous. A one piece show. You will know at a certain age, having seen a certain number of movies, that there is no such thing as a movie. As the Beatles said: "there's nothing you can sing that can't be sung...there's nothing you can make that can't be made...there's nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game...Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be  you in time..."

After a certain time on the earth, it might become clear that there is only one story to be told but many ways of telling it. Arguments are of no use. Only can these help you if you are not evolved. Then, they can only help you for a moment before you fall back to where you were or worse.

Greenberg is a fictional person who is so real, it is impossible for me to avoid the suspension of disbelief. The director shows his or her skill by rendering him so naturally, and flawlessly flawed as a human. He is introspective beyond what most of us would be willing to admit we are. He questions everything and has coincidentally spent a good deal of time in a mental institution. Mental institutions are where people who are different go. Now, he is on medication, working it out. Working through it. There is one scene in which he engages in meaningless sex. The sensation is palpable. Most of us might know it. A moment where you are engaged in the most primitve, primal, natural, wholistic, spiritual moments of your life, but somehow feel absolutely nothing. His reason seems to overwhelm him at times because he is thinking things through. At the same time, you could easily say that he is a sensitive, feeling person who uses his intuition to pull him through every moment.

The narrative is about finding oneself.  The relationships considered are between heterosexual man and woman or perhaps simply between two loving people. As I myself have two brothers, i was drawn to the fraternal relationship portrayed in this piece of film. One brother is considered an outcast, an exile, while the other is considered successful, beautiful and intelligent. Like Greenberg, my younger brother used to write letters to corporations, complaining of either fictitious or real offenses. They would send him apologies and coupons for free merchandise. Quaker oats apologized for the reported insects found in it's serial box and sent him a coupon for a free box of cerial as i remember it.  As an art therapist, i am hypnotised by the power of the personal narrative to construct meaning out of experience. In this film, you see how the different experiences lead to different perception and conceptualizations of reality. As though sitting in a documentary or a reality t.v series, the director places you in a position of intellectual power. You can decide who is right and who is wrong. You can decide who you want to identify with. You are a god, as reality manifests itself through the voice of fiction. As you watch, you may be inclined to think, as i did that Greenberg tells us something universal about our selves. The further he looks into his own heart, the deeper the truth he finds about others. The more he finds himself, the more others find him.

Is is as though the first part of the movie is in black in white because every thing is simple and behavioural. In the second half, colour slowly imbues as though technicolor had taken over the film. Now, the characters have emotional significance. They are less in the mundane and more in the eternal. This is not to say that the mundane bears no fruit. In fact, i have posted on the subject of how ordinary life events can be absolutely full of wonder. Everything from sitting on the toilet to sleeping on a train can be incredibly exhilerating. Freud picked up on this in : "the psychopathology of everyday life".

Finally, i will say about this piece of film that it is like so many great things in that it bares the appearance of muteness when it is in fact a very loud voice. Art therapy suffers from this perceptual distortion as well. It is my belief that Greenberg represents a great many of us and that this piece of film brilliantly shows us a piece of who we are.








The Wire

This is  a drama about the beat cop. He/she is a common man. I like this show because it demonstrates the humanity of cops. It also demonstrates the brutal futility of the drug war. It show the drug dealer as a man who is trying to get ahead in society- a simple man who wants to be loved and honoured. It shows some criminals with good hearts and some cops with evil thoughts. It shows how what we think we know is just that and that what we really know is only what we have been led to believe. Overall, a good show with a social commentary worth a gander. It shows that the further you push a people beneath the surface, the harder they fight to get above it. A testament to the human spirit and resiliency. We could all be put in a position to lie, steal and cheat to save ourselves and those we love. Know this and you know your base self. I will also tell you this: at some point in the 4th episode of season 1, a cop lit a cigarette. When he did this, i instantly felt the urge to smoke. I was catapulted back to a time 15 years ago when i used to crave cigarettes like a nicotine addict. I became entranced with the biological craving in such a way that i have not been for 10 years. It became clear to me that smoking in film can in some circumstances induce the urge or  propensity for smoking in a viewer.


The fourth season gets kinda interesting. The first three seasons seem to focus on the drug trade pure and simple, at the street level. The first three seasons are about the corners and how the common African American is forced to engage in illegal activity in order to make a living. His living is therefore illegal. Very telling. The only way you can tell the story of the common man is to tell it through dramatization because it is forbidden to show the truth. There are mechanisms in place which forbid the showing of truth. In fact, the only way you are allowed to show it is through dramatization. Through drama, the forces of influence can always plead that fiction does not represent reality. Yet reality is actually stranger than fiction as someone once said. This particular drama seems accurate to me. From my experience and my sense of people, this drama seems true to reality. Of course the blood is fake but this drama allows for the suspension of disbelief to such an extent that i can feel the reality of the Baltimore people portrayed in the film.


So anyway, the fourth season gets interesting because it gets to discussing the role of education in the development of the drug problem. It shows how corruption in the field of pedagogy is polluting the environment. The fourth season is a testament to the reality that education is big business and that politics is at it's root. Education is run by politics and politics is run by money. Money happens to be the one thing that drugs are about. Do you get where my right brain is going with this? It also places teachers at their rightful social status in society. It shows them as people full of love and aspiration for a better place fighting the forces of influence. People who believe in a better future, fighting an uphill battle, swimming upstream just to find themselves nowhere. Yet, the little progress they make suffices to give them motivation to continue. These are the people who deserve the million dollar salaries. The only problem is that they don't take the money. They really just want to see more beauty in the world. I am biased to be sure. I am an educator. An art educator no less. My mother was a teacher for 30 some years. My wife is a teacher of grade two children. I am biased. Still, somehow, i think i am biased in favour of a better place. One thing is for sure, i ain't trying to hurt nobody.

Season four shows the interplay of politics, economics, education and drugs. Frankly i am surprised the director has not been assassinated yet. Maybe HBO has some muscle of it's own. Maybe they have some enforcers to account for their persistent telling of the  truth. On another level, telling the story of truth as the story of dramatic fiction tends to diffuse the explosive. This means that presenting a true story as a fictional one has adverse effects. This means that the emotion which people feel for the true story becomes invested in the HBO fiction. Rather than express their emotion directly to the cause of the emotion, they ventilate it, diffuse it, de-program it. John Stewart also has this adverse effect. He criticizes, ridicules and points the finger at all those who commit purgery, but in so doing, he makes us laugh and deprograms our anger. Anger is what we feel, but John Stewart turns our anger to laughter. My argument here is that sometimes, anger is what you should be feeling. This is the danger of comedy and fiction. This is what Michael Moore means when he says he is against fiction and Hollywood.

In the fourth season, the fight is between politics, economics, schools and police. There is a close focus on the interplay between police and education. The politicians are forced between funding schools or funding crime prevention. It is no surprise that there is a direct relationship between crime and education. The more educated a people, the less crime they commit. This is not to say that important crime is not committed by highly educated people. Hell, the first country to give us the PhD also gave us the holocaust. The series definitely illustrates how high education can be associated with high crime. White collar crime. Nonetheless, crime pays and when you don't have an education, you have to find some way to get paid. So the politicians decide to fund schools in Baltimore because the schools are what the voters are focused on. As a result, they cut pay to the police and the crime rate goes up. In the end, it is all about what the voters want. What you and i want. The politicians will do whatever we say. Because we are not organized into a collective voice, the politicians take turns saying what one group wants then what the other group wants. When we have a calm unity, a collective consciousness, the politicians will have no choice but to follow suit. that is the moral of this post. Until then, we remain a people divided against itself.



This drama series, also HBO, is set in the wild American west of the 1800's. It is gritty and brutal. Women are either whores or educated from distinguished Victorian social class. Today women are in between. In the wild west, there is no middle-class. Your life is either harsh, short and brutish or just short. If you're a man, violence is common currency to be exchanged for goods, bought and sold like any other. If you are a woman, nothing could be more important than the family you are affiliated with through birth or through marriage. Interestingly, the story of Deadwood is in every way analogous to the story told in the other HBO series ''The Wire''. The first series is set in the wild west and dirty south of the 1800's and the second is set in the wild west (Baltimore) of the current time.  Deadwood deals with the plight of the modern man for democracy and the quest for power through violent means. The wire focuses on the plight of the modern man for democracy and the quest for power through violence. The two drama's are really the same story being told about different periods. You can see how little we have evolved.


One Response

  1. Nick says:

    Somebody said that fiction is the use of lies to reveal truth

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