It’s pretty rare that I’ll re-read a book or re-watch a movie that I haven’t seen in years. The first time I read Catcher in the Rye, I was about 12 or 13. I read it again in my late-20’s. It was a completely different book. I’m still not sure if I’m happy or disappointed that it was so different. It was as if I couldn’t trust my own memory.
The first time I saw the movie Xiu Xiu was at the Opera Plaza when it first came out. The theater was nearly empty in that sad, arthouse way. I was completely engrossed. The movie left me angry, heartbroken and crying. I mean really crying, non-stop, during the last 20 minutes.
It’s one of my favourite movies of all time.
I got a chance to see it on the big screen again at the SF International Film Festival a few years ago. I remembered the story. I knew the ending. There’s no way I would cry. I wasn’t surprised that I wasn’t angry. There’s a maturity that comes from time. I now see the story from several sides without blaming any one person or group in the situation. But, those last 20 minutes hit me hard again. Two waterfalls silently poured down my face while I stood against the side wall.
When the lights came up, I looked through my wet, bloodshot eyes at the woman standing next to me. It was the director, Joan Chen. She gave me a smile and walked to the podium for the Q&A. Listening to her talk about the challenges and obstacles that she and the team faced to make the movie was awesome. She talked about her own family at that moment in history. How lucky she and her siblings were. And, why she wanted to tell that story in that way.
Now, when I choose to watch this move again, I’ll have a deeper understanding from the artist’s point of view. And, a nice memory of looking at Joan Chen seeing me totally lose it. And, I’ll probably cry.
It’s just like yoga.
You may think you remember your first downward facing dog. But, like reading Catcher in the Rye, the memory may not be quite accurate.
It’s hard to forget the first class that made you feel great though. That’s why we come back to the mat. Just like watching Xiu Xiu, there’s a new and familiar feeling.
And, hopefully, it gets better every time.