What crazy film and music connection am I making today? Well, opening my place of work on Saturday morning meant that I could choose the Pandora Station. So Kenny Loggins it was, much to the chagrin of my co-worker, a stalwart Beatles fan. (Don’t feel too sorry for him, I let him switch by 11 a.m. to stop his grousing.) But during those blissful 90 minutes, Pandora mixed in Gino Vannelli. My co-worker groaned, while simultaneously a shopper lit up like a Christmas tree, pronouncing her love for Gino. I had to concur, especially for the song playing, “I Just Wanna Stop”.
About 10 hours later, I’m watching Toni Erdmann, [another Cineworld Film Fest feature, a German comedy written and directed by Maren Ade], as the father character (played perfectly by Peter Simonschieck) explains to his daughter (also a knockout performance by Sandra Huller) that everyone is so busy ‘doing something’ that important ‘moments’ slip by unable to achieve fruition or depth.
As time passes, I’ve felt more profoundly that technology distracts us from the human encounters we use to have, and ‘moments’, like leaves traveling much too quickly down the streams of our lives, go unnoticed. And it’s not just technology, but what activities and ‘progress’ that technology affords. Who hasn’t been on their device thinking, ‘Why not cram in 4 meet up groups?’, ‘why not make more meetings/sell more goods/procure more income?’, ‘hey, what about taking up this hobby?’.
Unless we make the point of grabbing fewer, and therefore, more precious people/possessions/associations and thus, stopping the madness long enough to appreciate them, our later years will be filled with regret and emptiness. This applies to parent-child relationships as in Toni Erdmann, romantic relationships, friendships, et. all.
Toni Erdmann made me laugh, made me cry, and gave me that feeling of being a different person afterwards, which hasn’t happened to me in quite sometime. Being at a distance emotionally from my immediate family right now, and at a physical distance from those who I care most about (and who care reciprocally about me) makes me feel vulnerable. Yet the sweet father daughter tale of Toni Erdmann restored my faith that people can make the world stop and connect.
An added musical comment is that I’m a total sucker for Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” and three quarters into Toni Erdmann, when the song is sung passionately; well, let’s just say the dam was broken. Learning to love ourselves is the greatest love of all. This takes reflection (channel an angry Jewish voice akin to Bernie Sanders for the next phrase), AND unplugging from the damn technology. Only then, can we hope to steel a moment with the ones we care about. This isn’t to say that technology can’t bridge a physical distance, but let’s not let it be our only mode.
I realize I pontificated more on an idea than the film, but Toni Erdmann is, by far, my favorite film of the year. And Cannes, of course, has already confirmed this sentiment, by making T.E. a Palm d’ Or nominee and winner of the Cannes Fipresci Prize. I’d like to advise fathers of daughters to make this a holiday viewing experience, yet there’s one 10 minute scene that I think would be too squeamish sexually for either part’s comfort level. Perhaps watch it separately and have dinner soon after:)
And now for your aural pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xXIHPUmv3k