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Lust Caution 2

The Writer’s Room: Inspirational/Motivational Movies

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There are so many amazing films that are inspiring and have even changed the way we see life. I think the best way to kick off 2023 is for us to share our favorite films that motivate us to be the best versions of ourselves.

Marleen Apodaca, Writing Team Member

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012):

The Perks of Being a Wallfloweralso known as Perksis not only one of my favorite inspirational movies but also my favorite book. Both the book and film adaptation were written by author Stephen Chbosky. Perks is a coming-of-age movie that focuses on a teen named Charlie that struggles with his PTSD as he enters high school. Charlie (Logan Lerman) befriends senior students Sam ( Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller) while making the most of his freshman year at Mill Grove High.

Without spoiling the movie, I will say that I admire Charlie for overcoming the struggles with his mental health and social anxiety. I think in some shape, way, or form we can all relate to being nervous when it comes to coming out of our shell and being awkward. As an introvert I can definitely relate to Charlie and in college he inspired me to take initiatives when it comes to putting myself out there. Charlie also has great taste in music and is one of the most relatable characters I can think of. I definitely recommend both the book and the movie!

Anthony McKelroy, Writing Team Member

Paterson (2016):

It’s like Tarkovsky said, man, “poetic cinema!”

Forty-years removed from his immortal debut feature Permanent Vacation, guru director Jim Jarmusch appears more concerned with eternity than ever. From his recent zombie drama (zomb-dram), The Dead Don’t Die, which articulates the lingering horror of an indeterminable afterlife, to Only Lovers Left Alive, a vampiric love story of two immortals, Jarmusch keeps returning to Time as a structuring force in his films. How time interacts with memory, relationships, physical spaces, death, and above all, how time interacts with art-making. 

Uniting The Dead Don’t Die and Only Lovers in a triumvirate of existential treatises on time is Jarmusch’s patient and invigorating Paterson. Starring Adam Driver as the titular bus-driving poet (Paterson) the film examines, up close, the microscopic beauty of time’s ethereal slippage. Five days in the life of Paterson are rendered with a durational style that observes the quotidian with rapturous awe. Everything from getting the mail to getting a flat tire are depicted with fresh eyes and long takes that will test less patient viewers. An artist himself, Paterson absorbs the world around him as inspiration for his poems, working in references to events we’ve seen on-screen back into his writing – a sponginess that’s as contagious as it is inspiring. Like Jarmusch at his absolute best, Paterson argues on behalf of the little things that, like atoms, compose the entirety of all existence. A deeply meditative portrait on the nature of inspiration, Paterson assures audiences that good things can come to those who wait.

Dani Shi, Writing Team Member

Lust, Caution (2007):

This film may feel like a non-sequitur in a list of feel-good inspirational movies, but the message behind the wartime romance stayed with me beyond its secret assignations and blaze of erotics (so steamy, in fact, that they were initially banned in China). How far, the plot asks, would you go during wartime for an assigned role? 

During the Second Sino-Japanese War of the 1930s, crowd favorite Tony Leung and Tang Wei are about to find out their tolerance for pain, betrayal, love, and need, as they become embroiled in an assassination plot that is as sexualized as it is fraught with danger. The danger is one of falling in love, of nationalism, of questionable loyalties; a dalliance with resistance is a risk one might not be able to entertain, and one misstep could mean surefire death. “Love is a luxury we can’t afford,” says Leung as Mr. Yee.

Through interwoven desires, the heat of the moment, and the high-stakes adrenaline rush of surviving occupied Shanghai and Hong Kong, our protagonists — collaborator and femme fatale — prove in an early premonition of the 2016 science fiction movie Arrival that “In war, there are no winners, only widows.” The head rush I get from this movie is the sense of a grand romance, of sacrifice for love to the point of selflessness, so much that one’s very conception of who one is becomes lost to the undertow; the thrill of uncontained emotion overcoming.


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