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Cinema Styles: C’mon, C’mon values ​​listening | News

C’mon C’mon is the newest film from Mike Mills, a director whose previous movies include Beginners and 20th Century Women. Like his previous work by him, this new film sees Mills empathetically depicting emotionally-complex relationships and family dynamics. Shot in exquisite black and white, C’mon C’mon tells the story of Johnny (Phoenix), a podcast producer who agrees to look after Jesse (Norman), the son of his estranged sister Viv (Hoffman) as she deals with an emotional breakdown from her ex-husband Paul (McNairy).

While various relationships are at play in this movie, the key one is between Jesse and Johnny. Jesse brings a fresh perspective to Johnny’s life of him, and constantly keeps him on his toes the way only inquisitive young people can do. Jesse’s curiosity pushes Johnny to embrace his own di lui, and the pair learn more about themselves and one another.

Mike Mills claims this is a film about “really listening to what other people have to say,” and having an auditory medium like podcasts at the center of the story illustrates this point. The primary focus of Johnny’s podcast is the perspective of children. He travels the country interviewing young people to ask them about their thoughts on the future. This is a movie that cares what young people have to say, and treats their feelings and concerns with the respect they desire but so rarely receive.

This is also a movie that gives an unfiltered perspective of childcare, and the unforeseen struggles that sometimes arise. It’s a film that has an appreciation for all caretakers. Johnny experiences feelings of exhaustion, panic, and doubt during his extended time watching over his nephew di lui. He also experiences the pure love and infectious optimism that can only come from a close relationship with a child. It gives hope for the future in a world so sorely lacking both qualities.

In preparation for this movie, Joaquin Phoenix filmed numerous interviews with children, just the way his character does in the movie. Several of these scenes are in the final film, and are essentially non-fiction documentary footage of non-actors giving unscripted accounts of their expectations and hopes for the future. Thus, the fusion of Johnny and Joaquin is fully-formed, the line separating the two quickly disappearing.

Joaquin Phoenix is ​​reliably amazing in this movie. He forgoes his typical manic energy di lui, and trades it in for a subtle, warm, and calming presence. One Phoenix trademark present here is he brings his vulnerability to the forefront. He uses a slouched posture and muttered line readings to show a man unsure of himself and his own future di lui. It’s one of the best performances Phoenix has ever given.

C’mon C’mon is a film that stresses the importance of documenting stories, even if they seem common or inconsequential on the surface. Humans are endlessly complex, and nothing is ever precisely as it seems. At one point, Johnny explains the mundane becomes immortal through recording. For this reason, Johnny is constantly recording others and himself, trying to capture that magical moment worthy of eternal life.

C’mon C’mon is a movie about the illogical nature of intimacy in the big space of a metropolitan city. It’s a film about people doing their best as they come to terms with their own mistakes and weaknesses. It’s brought to life by the sensitive direction of Mike Mills, and enhanced with incredible shots from Oscar-nominated cinematographer Robbie Ryan and ethereal music from Aaron and Bryce Dessner, brothers from the indie rock band The National.

C’mon C’mon is a naturalistic, beautiful, and quiet film that utilizes raw emotion to put the present on a pedestal. In dwelling on the future and digging up the past, a new appreciation for the current moment emerges. The past was once the present, and one day, the future will be too. This movie is never in a rush, often taking a meandering path to get at something gently profound. It may not make much noise with most audiences, but that’s fitting for a film that values ​​listening more than being heard, and understanding more than being understood.

Bobby Styles studied Film at UCLA, and worked as an editor and producer on several film, commercial, and music video projects in Los Angeles. He currently teaches the intermediate and advanced Video Production courses in the Multimedia & Technology Academy at Monache High School. His column di lui appears in The Recorder every Tuesday.


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