I am an aspiring freelance writer. I write in two different languages and I am fully aware of the kind of market I am embarking on in these days. Since I am a so-called 'Millennial,' I am also fully aware that the same market will demand from me an even more extreme Faustian bargain. A part of me, I have to admit it, would sell my soul just to have an essay published in some rapidly growing website like HelloGiggles -- which pays its contributors a reasonable sum, and even manages to maintain a consistent editorial line.
However, another part of me is trying to reach the market for entirely different reasons: not because I want to make a living doing what I think I do best, but because I want to tell some 'little yet important' stories. I want to have my say on relevant facts and opinions, to build or destroy a good, solid critique. All while trying to change the "little piece of world around us," mentioned by a young Emma Morley in David Nicholls' One Day.
Perhaps, this part of me is an incurable romantic: as such, it is intended to perish over time; you know, with the years of hunger and doubt that force Arturo Bandini to write his masterpiece, but convince the common writer to sell yet another article on the '10 best ways to promote yourself on Twitter.'
To prove that times have drastically changed, moreover, there was already the beautiful, captivating Nightcrawler by Dan Gilroy. With its sneaky, arrogant male protagonist, it framed the picture of a second Brave New World -- suggesting a clear vision of this fresh, disturbing run-gold made of envy and compromise, roughness and complacency.
We can find the same kind of attentive, intelligent portrait in the latest film by Noah Baumbach, While We're Young: a story about the passing of the torch between a couple of forty-somethings and one of twenty-somethings. Working on this premise, Baumbach's forty-somethings (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) are self-centered, messy and perhaps not very bright, but still -- miraculously -- good, honest, somehow 'uncontaminated.' On the contrary, his twenty-somethings (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) are called to deal with the mistakes and turmoil of the first couple. And these kids appear so well-adjusted, talented and confident (too much for living in an old world which misuses new technology), that it's kind of a relief when they show themselves for what they truly are: a considerable pair of cheaters.
In such market and times, it is increasingly difficult to make room for all those 'little yet important' stories I love. Nonetheless, the 87th Academy Awards ceremony was a happy revelation: for once, both 'big' stories (American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything) and 'little' ones (Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash) dominated the awards.
Because there are little and big stories, and last year has been a year of big, biographical stories and little, original ones. Personally, all those big, biographical stories have not been so relevant to me. But in the end, I have always thought that little stories were the ones most able to change our view of the world.
For about 20 years, now, American independent movies, when at their best, have proven to be the most valid, authentic alternative to those big stories. They have often been able to tell little stories with great effort. And watching the first trailer for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon -- which was recently adapted from Jesse Andrews' novel, and will hit the screen in June -- they seem to have many other surprises.
The last indie gems which changed my perception of the world, being it for better or worse, were Short Term 12 and Detachment: two stunning examples of how real heroes of film narration are in the stories of anonymously exceptional characters, rather than in big names who made history.
In Europe, some great, little storytellers certainly are Mike Leigh and Philippe Lioret. Leigh, with Happy-Go-Lucky and Another Year, is a fine, fond yet neutral observer of all the kind-hearted souls who can exist only in his movies. Lioret, on the other hand, is a tireless ethicist; one who likes to voice his thoughts through some incorruptible and passionate character.
Well, I cannot help it: my hopelessly romantic part in me is saying that we should tend more to these stories; in film as well as in journalism. Because the smallest stories are usually the most authentic ones. And because too often, today, you would think that diversity is authenticity. But when diversity is required, forced, pulled out with little or no grace (as in the case of Adam Driver's character in While We're Young, when shooting his documentary he uses some deceitful, insincere procedures), it can and will become vulgar.
On the opposite, when diversity is obtained unexpectedly; when it is recognized at a second glance or even discovered thanks to hard work -- it is and always will be pure, delicate narrative beauty.