"Everything is as it should be."

                                                                                  - Benjamin Purcell Morris

 

 

© all material on this website is written by Michael McCaffrey, is copyrighted, and may not be republished without consent

Colossal Warning on Korea

****WARNING - THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FILM COLOSSAL!! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!****

Estimated Reading Time : 5 minutes 12 seconds

The other night a young lady friend of mine, the esteemed Lady Pumpernickle Dusseldorf, wanted to "spend some time" with me, and she decided that the best course of action was for the two of us to watch a movie together. Ever the gentleman, I accepted her invitation and added that she should pick the entertainment for the evening. The Lady chose Colossal, the off-beat art house movie starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. I had already seen Colossal back in April when it was first released, but when a vivacious, pretty, young lady wants something, I am in the practice of always obliging, so we sat down on the couch at a respectable distance from one another and watched Colossal. 

The first time I saw the film I enjoyed it a great deal, so I was more than happy to watch it again. Colossal isn't a perfect movie, but it is definitely an original and unique work of art. Both Hathaway and Sudeikis turn in solid performances and writer/director Nacho Vigalando was always a step ahead of me with his storytelling. 

The reason I mention Colossal now, after my second viewing, is that when I watched it this time I watched it through the prism of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula between the U.S. and North Korea. Watching the film as potential prophesy made the movie even more compelling to me the second time around, although it also made it slightly less entertaining. My Isaiah/McCaffrey Wave Theory©®™ uses, among many other things, the myths and archetypes of films as a trend analysis and prediction tool, so I am very conscious of movies as a means to reading tea leaves. That said, Colossal has not, at least not yet, reached certain artistic and popular benchmarks demanded by the Isaiah/McCaffrey Wave Theory©®™ to be considered an "Indicator" film. What that means is that the film is unlikely to be of high value as a trend analysis or predictive tool, but to be clear, unlikely to be of high value doesn't mean it has zero value, which is maybe why I was unsettled by what I observed hiding in plain sight in the film and how it relates to our world at the moment.

The similarities between the Colossal and the current Korean situation are pretty fascinating. Let us start with the players. The film's lead character Gloria, played by Anne Hathaway, is a psychologically wounded, self-destructive narcissist New Yorker in a state of perpetual adolescence. When Gloria gets mugged by her unconscious (in her case by getting really drunk), a giant monster, the manifestation of her psychological wound, appears in Seoul, South Korea and starts demolishing the city. 

In regards to our current Korean crisis, does the description of Gloria as a "psychologically wounded, self-destructive narcissist New Yorker in a state of perpetual adolescence" sound like anybody else we know? It seems relatively obvious to me that Gloria is a much prettier, ultimately more self-aware version of Donald Trump. 

The main male character is Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis, who is a psychologically wounded, love starved, desperate, self-destructive, at first passive-aggressive and then aggressive-aggressive, control freak with some extra spicy misogyny thrown into the mix. To give you a glimpse of Oscar's darker impulses, in a pique of jealousy and anger he sets off a gigantic firework in the bar that he owns and operates, which is a family owned business he inherited, which results in setting the place ablaze, all just to prove to Gloria and her ex-boyfriend how Oscar is the one in power and complete control. Similarly to Gloria, Oscar also comes to discover that his psychological wound manifests itself in Seoul leaving death and destruction in its wake, but unlike Gloria whose demon takes the shape of a monster - a living organism with feelings (albeit unconscious ones), Oscar's demon takes the shape of a robot, symbolizing his total lack of connection with any emotional self.

To me, Oscar sounds an awful lot like Kim Jong-un, the "psychologically wounded, love starved, desperate, self-destructive, at first passive aggressive then aggressive aggressive, control freak" leader of North Korea who "inherited the family run business" of leadership of his country and who seems very capable of igniting a "gigantic firework" that lights the family business on fire.

Watching Colossal as primer for a potential Korean conflict was a bit unnerving, which is the main reason why I found it less entertaining the second time around. To me, it is entirely believable that the two stunted children grown large, Trump and Kim Jong-Un, would use the people of Seoul as their playthings and ultimately sacrifice them at the altar of their egos and personal psychological deficiencies and wounds.

If it meant proving a point about how powerful and virile they both are, I have no doubt that these impotent fools would gladly fire some phallic missiles at one another. The brunt of the damage of any conflagration on the Korean peninsula would fall on the city of Seoul, where 25 million people live in the crosshairs of North Korean artillery. Most power-hungry people who become presidents and leaders of nations are little more than sociopaths if not outright psychopaths, but Trump and Kim seem beyond the pale of even the ordinary madmen who rule supreme on this earth. Both of them appear to me to be craven enough to not even consider the fate of the people in Seoul or anywhere else in the world if their fragile psyches and delicate masculinity were on the line. Just like Gloria and Oscar, Trump and Kim only care about themselves and their own insatiable and relentless wants and needs.

As I mentioned in my original review, the fact that Gloria's monster appears in Seoul, as opposed to Tokyo or Beijing, is no coincidence. Seoul, or more accurately, SOUL, is the battleground where Gloria must reclaim her Self and heal her psychological wounds. If she fails in the task of psychological evolution and integration, then Seoul/her soul, will be destroyed. The same is true of Trump, that if he is unable to restrain his most base desires, which for him are to gain power and control and to avoid embarrassment and humiliation, then Seoul will be forced to pay the heavy price that his ego demands. 

The same is true of Kim, but in a slightly different way. Kim's life is on the line in any resurgence of Korean hostilities. Kim's self-preservation instinct is currently all that is keeping the entire Korean peninsula from armageddon.  For the narcissist, the survival instinct is very strong, as the need for love and approval can be a powerful fuel to get them through life. But as strong as the survival instinct is for the narcissist, there can be a turning point, a sort of emotional/psychological event horizon, beyond which there is no turning back. The narcissist will not only do anything for love and control, but for spite…and Kim could certainly get to the point in the Korean situation where he simply must act in order to maintain his delusion of self-worth and identity, which will have dire consequences for his people, the people of South Korea, and the U.S. military men and women serving in the area. 

In the end of Colossal, Gloria gets sober, thus giving her control, not over others, but over herself and her unconscious, which frees her to do the hard work of self-discovery and self-healing that she desperately needs in order to evolve beyond her childhood trauma and into adulthood. Gloria saves Seoul and defeats Oscar by putting herself directly in harms way and taking responsibility for her life and her choices. Obviously, this is where the Gloria-Trump comparisons come to a screeching halt. Trump, the 71 year old man-child, is not going to change now, and so the people of Seoul will have to live on the razors edge of his erratic psyche until he is no longer in office. 

There is a line in Colossal where Gloria says to Oscar, "you've lost your mind…you know that, don't you?", to which Oscar replies, "The important thing now is that you don't lose yours". Kim Jong-Un and his father and grandfather, have always been described as madmen by their adversaries here in America. To be fair, the U.S. ALWAYS describes their enemies as crazy, so that epithet isn't unique to the ruling family of North Korea. That said, for the first time in my lifetime, it appears that America has a true-blue lunatic of their own leading our nation in Donald Trump. So in the near future we may be dealing with an equation in which Kim Jong-Un has potentially "lost his mind" and we are forced to rely on Donald Trump "not losing his" mind. If that becomes the case then we are in some very deep shit. 

In the final analysis, Colossal is a unique film worth seeing that I hope is just a nice piece of original entertainment and not a doomsday prophecy. Although, if I am being honest, I have to admit I have a sinking feeling that in the long run, Colossal will end up being much too prophetic for my comfort. The sad truth is, when two men with twisted souls like Trump and Kim square off, we all might end up losing our Seoul. 

©2017

 

 

Colossal : A Review

****THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS!!!****

Estimated Reading Time : 4 minutes 37 seconds

My Rating : 3.5 out of 5 stars

My Recommendation : SEE IT. See it in the theatre in order to encourage studios to make more films like this! 

Colossal, written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, is a black comedy about Gloria, an unemployed, alcoholic writer who leaves New York city and returns to her suburban childhood home as a means of last resort, when all of a sudden a giant monster starts attacking Seoul, South Korea. Anne Hathaway stars as Gloria, with Jason Sudeikis playing her hometown friend Oscar.

Colossal is a strange, original, smart, unique and ultimately insightful film that is a worthwhile storytelling venture. Writer/Director Vigalondo masterfully weaves together a story about alcoholism, misogyny, monsters, personal demons and psychological/spiritual healing to create an intriguing and ultimately satisfying movie. 

Colossal is not a monster movie, not really, the monster is a secondary device to mine the inner turmoil of Gloria, and is a metaphor for her alcoholism/psychological scars. It is impossibly clever that writer/director Vigalondo has the monster attack Seoul, or less succinctly, SOUL. It is Gloria's soul/Seoul that is under assault. Her self loathing and self-destructive behavior are born out of being a pawn, or barbie doll, in a male dominated world that is cruel, hurtful and monstrous

Hathaway is a polarizing actress, a lot of people spew a great deal of vitriol at her for her public persona. I have no opinion on her as a person, but I will say she does very good work in Colossal. Hathaway's Gloria, like Hathaway herself, smiles maybe a bit too much and seems pretty self-absorbed and disingenuous a lot of the time, which is actually a masterful way to bring the character to life. In a bit of notable artistic courage, Hathaway embraces Gloria's physical and emotional messiness, and allows herself to look her absolutely worst, which is something not every actress would do. Hathaway's Gloria (like Hathaway herself) is very likable in her unlikability, and that is entirely a credit to the actresses charm and skill.

Jason Sudeikis does a surprisingly solid job as Gloria's childhood classmate Oscar. Sudeikis is a funny guy, and he is funny here, but never too funny, which makes his Oscar a totally believable human being and keeps the film grounded. Sudeikis is the polar opposite of Hathaway in that most people generally like him, and as Oscar he uses his inherent likability to lure the audience onto his side to terrific effect. 

Both Hathaway and Sudeikis commit fully to the rather absurd scenario the film lays out for them, which makes the audience never question the legitimacy or veracity of the story as it unfolds. In some way, Colossal reminded me of the brilliant absurdist film from last year The Lobster, in regards to its rather quirky premise. Colossal isn't nearly as good as The Lobster, but it is still an interesting, entertaining and worthwhile film. 

The film may have resonated with me personally because, like Gloria, I too am an alcoholic (unlike Gloria I have a quarter century of sobriety under my belt) and have lots of demons and monsters dwelling inside me that occasionally rear their head to destroy large cities. Colossal expertly captures the relentless cycle of bad decisions and self-immolations that the alcoholic goes through while under the spell of that tantalizing Dionysian nectar. It also wonderfully captures the discomfort those around the alcoholic feel when he/she attempts to stop drinking. Even those who want the drunk to stop boozing are thrown for a loop when they finally do, and seeing that in Colossal rang particularly true for me. It is a common occurrence that people want YOU to change, but they don't want THINGS to change….which, of course, is impossible.

As a psychological exercise, Colossal is pretty marvelous, using a monster attacking Seoul and all the events that follow that bizarre occurrence as a way to tell the story of a woman's struggle to come to grips with her psychological and emotional wounds is a brilliant idea. And it is important to note that this is a WOMAN'S story, as it shows the carnage and soul crushing and suffocating damage men inflict upon the women they claim to love. Much like last years A Monster Calls, Colossal makes a monster movie the way it should be made, as a personal, intimate tale that reveals larger truths, in this instance, the personal experience of a woman trying to survive in a man's world.

Colossal is not a perfect movie, it has its flaws and its occasional sloppiness, but it is an ingenious film that tells a peculiar yet important story. As an alcoholic I can tell you that Anne Hathaway's performance in the final shot of the film is as good as it gets in portraying what life is like living with that affliction. Hope, fear and cold, hard reality all smack you in the face at once when you have reached the mountaintop only to realize you must climb all the way back down again in order to live life on terra firma. Just when you think the battle is won, you realize it hasn't even started yet. 

Whether you're a degenerate drunken booze hound or a teetotaling church goer, Colossal is worth seeing in order to watch what it is like to have your own personal monster projected out there for all the world to see. It is a superbly smart and psychologically relevant film that tells the truth, even when it lies. I recommend you spend your hard earned dollars to see it in the theatre, you never know, the Seoul you save, could be your own. 

©2017