Love & Mercy (Movie Review, 2015)

Love & Mercy (PG-13), the story of Brian Wilson, singer/songwriter of The Beach Boys fame, is an amazing movie. Much more amazing than I could have anticipated. My experience with The Beach Boys was limited to Surfin’ U.S.A. and Good Vibrations – neither of which I was particularly fond of. How interesting could a band be that produced that sort of pop songs? As it turns out, quite interesting.

Love and Mercy Photo

Brian Wilson is portrayed as a musical genius and watching the film drives a deeper appreciation for The Beach Boys’ music. Wilson is also a deeply broken individual who struggles desperately to please his demanding and self-consumed father. Wilson spirals downwards into drugs and mental illness and then stuff happens. I don’t want to give it away, but the story is gripping. Will everything turn out okay? Will Wilson regain his sanity? His life? Go see!

I’m not the only one who thought it was a good movie. Rotten Tomatoes has it pegged at an impressive 89% fresh while the IMDb has a rating of 7.9/10. For those who don’t surf these sites on a frequent basis, let me just note that these are very impressive scores.

Paul Dano does an amazing job of portraying a young Brian Wilson while John Cusack does a solid job as a middle-aged Wilson. A favorite actor of mine, Paul Giamatti, does a turn as Wilson’s psychiatrist. But honestly, the other real star of the show is Elizabeth Banks who plays an older Wilson’s love interest.

So what are you waiting for? Go see it already!

Musical Artist Review: Brooke Fraser.

I have no clue how popular Brooke Fraser is. She writes songs that are oftentimes cryptic and open to interpretation with a folksy sound. But it doesn’t really matter how popular she is – b/c I like her music – so I listen to it and I want to share it with you.

Probably my favorite song by Brooke Fraser is “Hosea’s Wife” – based off of the Old Testament book of the same name:

Brooke Fraser.
Brooke Fraser.

I just spoke silence with the seek next to me
She had a heart with hesitant, halting speech
That turned to mine and asked belligerently
“What do I live for?”

I see the scars of searches everywhere I go
From hearts to wars to literature to radio
There’s a question like a shame no one will show
“What do I love for?”

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using people like ladders and words like knives

[Chorus]
If we’ve eyes to see
If we’ve ears to hear
To find it in our hearts and mouths
The that saves is near
Shed that shallow skin
Come and live again
Leave all you were before
To believe is to begin
[/Chorus]

There is truth in little corners of our lives
There are hints of it in songs and children’s eyes
It’s familiar, like an ancient lullaby
What do I live for?

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using bodies like money and truth like lies

[Chorus]

[Bridge]
We are more than dust
That means something
That means something
We are more than just
Blood and emotions
Inklings and notions
Atoms on oceans
[/Bridge]

She also has a song titled “C.S. Lewis Song” – now how can you not like someone who names one of their songs after C.S. Lewis? The song is based around one of Lewis’ most famous quotes, one John Piper uses frequently, which she paraphrases as, “If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was not made for here / If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary, / then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared.”1Lewis’ original quote (in Mere Christianity) is “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

I’m also a fan of Crows + Locusts – and I imagine from the title you can get a sense of the topic – somewhat similar (dark) to Hosea’s Wife…So I won’t quote it here for you…But Brooke Fraser doesn’t sing primarily darker songs – in fact she has a number of light and joyous songs that a more general audience may find appealing.

The most popular of these on Spotify is “Something in the Water.” If there was ever a song that was meant to be danced to, this is it.2I would dance to it, if I danced. You can see the music video below:

And I’ve included the lyrics below:

Do do do do do do do do do do

I wear a demeanor made of bright pretty things
What she wears, what she wears, what she wears
Birds singing on my shoulder in harmony it seems
How they sing, how they sing, how they sing

Give me nights of solitude, red wine just a glass or two,
Reclined in a hammock on a balmy evening
I’ll pretend that it’s nothing that’s skipping my heart when I think of you
Thinking of me babe I’m crazy over you

[Chorus]
Aaah Aaah Aaah
There’s something in the water, something in the water
Aaah Aaah Aaah
There’s something in the water, that makes me love you like
[/Chorus]

I’ve got halo’s made of summer, rhythms made of spring
What she wears, what she wears, what she wears
I got crowns of words a woven each one a song to sing
Oh I sing, oh I sing, oh I sing

Give me long days in the sun,
Preludes to the nights to come
Previews of the mornings laying in all lazy
Give me something fun to do like a life of loving you
Kiss me quick now baby I’m still crazy over you

[Chorus]

Oooh oooh ooh (3x)

Give me nights of solitude, red wine just a glass or two, give me something fun to do

[Chorus 2x]

Do do do do do do do do do do

Don’t Be Rude (and Parodies)

The Song & Videos

I’d never heard of the band Magic! before their song Rude began to dominate the air waves. I must confess that I enjoy the song – even though I feel ambiguous about its lyrics.

The song has an upbeat and happy feel to it, at its best speaks of true love unwilling to allow any obstacle stand in its way, and it reminds me of the song in Disney’s The Little Mermaid “Kiss the Girl.”

You can watch the original music video embedded below:

Then you have to watch the parody by Benji Cowart portraying the dad’s side of the story:

Nicky Costabile’s parody from the perspective of the daughter is also worth viewing:

And if you have time you might check out Alisha Thomas’ parody, also from the daughter’s perspective (and quite different from Costabile’s):

Reflections on Lyrics & Videos

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I feel some ambiguity about the lyrics. Why? Because I can empathize with each of the different perspectives presented…and I think, as in most conflicts, all sides can have legitimate points.

I believe that in most situations if opposing sides can take the time to empathize and understand the mindset of their opponent, common ground and understanding can be found.

[Sidenote: I’m not naive, I’ve been burned multiple times, sometimes quite severely, in attempting to live by this belief…but I try not to allow these painful collisions to dethrone my hope…not b/c in the future I won’t be hurt, but b/c I don’t see a better way…this way, with its potential for suffering, is the best way I know.]

In the music video the boyfriend sees the father as a stereotypical white collar man who is concerned primarily about one’s prestige (based upon employment), possessions (nice car, nice clothes), and appearance (wearing a suit and tie).

The father meanwhile sees the boyfriend as a stereotypical young man who is self-absorbed (spends his time making music instead of getting a real job) and lazy/undisciplined (unwilling to spend the time and effort to dress appropriately).

The boyfriend perceives himself as hard-working but communally focused; concerned with living life well rather than making life stable.

The father perceives himself as hard-working and family oriented; concerned with ensuring life is stable for those he loves rather than experiencing life as it comes.

Here we have a clash of generations and of worldviews…and the opportunity for growth on both parts, or for a retrenchment of current positions.

The young man would do well to learn to be more concerned about the future stability of his family, the father would do well to look beyond appearances to recognize the worth of the individual himself.

The father’s response is provocative – he doesn’t suggest ways in which the young man must change in order to be acceptable but rejects the man’s proposal out of hand.

The young man’s response is similarly provocative – he doesn’t respond by asking what it would take to become acceptable to the father but instead threatens to go around the father.

The way perception affects one’s interpretation of the song is most clearly seen in Nicky Costabile’s parody in which she refuses both the father and the boyfriend’s control insisting that “I’m human too.”

This perspective will seem strange to many fathers who don’t assume they control their daughters – only that they desire to protect their daughters from the evils of this world – and that they have a right not to control whom their daughter marries but to give or withhold their blessing upon the marriage.

And the perspective will seem strange to many young men who would assume that asking for permission to marry someone’s daughter is not asking for control but for blessing and is a cultural sign of respect for the parents and the daughter by willing to engage in tradition in securing the relationship.

Additionally, many (most?) young men would have already talked to their girlfriend about whether she was willing to marry him before he asks permission of the father…and even if he asked permission of the father first, it is almost certain he would then ask rather than demand that the daughter marry him.

Thus, one sees how the song has no implications to most men about male chauvinism but to some women (e.g. Costabile) the actions appear forthrightly chauvinistic.

A Final Observation

I thought it was interesting how the music video begins with the boyfriend and girlfriend in a bedroom together (an intimate location) where he is playing music for her (a non-sexual interaction). This (to me) infers a certain respect for the woman by the man (e.g. he is not taking advantage of her, but is acting in an honorable manner).

At the same time, the video portrays towards the end behavior by the girlfriend influenced by the boyfriend that to the father, in appearance (and perhaps actuality) is indicative of a negative dimension to the man’s influence upon his daughter.