Home Movies, by Tyler Smith

19 Aug

CHANNEL NEWS (2010)
Written and Directed by: Jacob Kindberg
Starring: Jacob Kindberg, Sarah Kindberg, Joe Burger, Adam Lynch

Life is not without a sense of irony. When we’re kids, we spend all of our time wishing that we were adults. Then, when we take a look around at the mounting debt and missed opportunities that is adulthood, all we want to do is be children again. We realize too late that it was a simpler, more magical time in our lives. The future seemed like an endless expanse of possibilities. But, now, here we are, disgusted to find that our once-vast vision of the future extends no further than next week, when we have all that stuff we need to get done.

The real Hell comes when we realize that, though our view of the future has become a bit fuzzy, we see our past with heartbreaking clarity. We remember all the things we wanted to be; all the things we promised ourselves we would accomplish. Each regret is just another dagger to the heart, until we find that we’ve been wounded seemingly beyond repair.

Jacob Kindberg’s Channel News understands this frustration and longing better than most films that are thematically similar. In it, we are told the story of Beau, a young man whose dissatisfaction with the adult world sends him scrambling back towards his childhood passions. His desperate attempts to reclaim what he seems to feel he has lost are amusing at some points, pathetic at others. While Beau struggles, we find that many of his friends- as well as his sister, Sarah- have adapted surprisingly well to their circumstances.

Having broken up with his latest girlfriend and moved in with his sister, Beau’s life seems to be a mere shadow of what he wanted it to be. In a moment of self pity, he starts watching old tapes that he and Sarah made when they were children. We see a wistful smile cross his face and, the next morning, out comes the video camera. In an attempt to find some sort of outlet for his frustration- and as a way to travel back in time- Beau recruits Sarah to be a part of a new venture. They will start their show up again, posting it on the internet for all to see. Sarah is reluctant at first, but soon realizes that these videos are the closest thing that Beau has had to a purpose in a long time, so she plays along.

Meanwhile, with Beau’s return home, Sarah is reintroduced to Adam, an old friend of her brother’s. There is a spark of attraction between them and they embark on an awkward, but sweet, romance. Beau is aware of the budding relationship and does everything he can to stop it. When pressed, Beau mumbles something about Adam not being good enough for his sister, but his true, unconscious reasoning is clear: he wants to be a kid again, making videos with his sister. And there is no such thing as a romantic relationship when you’re a kid!

As the story continues, we are reminded through Beau’s actions that childhood was not really all it was cracked up to be. There may have been less responsibility, but there was infinitely more selfishness. Children have a tremendous capacity for cruelty. Whether it be for his own amusement or petty vengeance, the pain that a child can inflict- on his parents, on his friends, on himself- is not only vicious, but surprisingly creative. The sense of responsibility that comes with adulthood is often a byproduct of being a productive member of society. It comes from a recognition that there are other people in the world, and they are just as important as you.

Beau’s ultimate choice in the film is one that, sooner or later, we all have to face. We can choose to remain a child, unencumbered by obligation or conscience, living a life of hedonism and impulse. Or we can embrace adulthood, acknowledging the responsibilities and frustrations that come with the acquisition of character and wisdom.

Looking at those options, the choice seems obvious, but it’s surprising how few of us choose the right path. And, frankly, it’s understandable why someone would not want to put away those childish things. To put them away can feel like giving up; on your hopes, on your dreams, on yourself. And when, like Beau, one has no real passions, adulthood sounds even less appealing.

This is why the videos that Beau and Sarah make serve such an important purpose in the film. For many artists, the excitement and emotional release they feel when creating is unparalleled by any other experience. However, when faced with the day-to-day tasks of living, creating art seems very impractical. After all, how many people actually make a living at it, really? And isn’t the only art worth doing the kind that you get paid for?

There are a lot of artists out there, like Beau, who push their desire to express emotions through creativity to the back of their mind, where it lies dormant. It is dismissed as a pipe dream; a childish impulse that should be killed as soon as possible. Sometimes, thankfully, one will realize that there is nothing inherently wrong with the need for self expression. In many cases, it is what makes an otherwise dull life worth living.

This is the realization that Beau comes to over the course of the film. In his attempts to relive his childhood, he instead rediscovers something from his childhood that can rejuvenate his life. For all the selfishness associated with children, there is also passion and exuberance. As Beau embraces his creative side, he soon discovers that one doesn’t have to give up all aspects of youth when one grows up.

As he comes to know this, Beau is eventually able to let go of his childishness and embrace adulthood. Not an adulthood merely of obligation, drudgery, and regret. But one of purpose, freedom, and perspective. As he does so, we see the light return to his eyes, the smile return to his face, and the hope return to his life.

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