Muscat has a lot of cinemas. They show a staple of Hollywood action, Bollywood fairytales and the occasional indie. In the weekend schedule, I came across Danny Collins. It sounded like an Irish bio-pic but was in fact an American film about a burnt-out rock star (played by Al Pacino) and a real tearjerker.
The premise is that the singer is all but done with playing crowd-pleasers on stale circuits. When his manager hands him a letter sent many years before, it sets him on a new path to reconnecting with what’s important to him. It’s a film in part about artistic integrity.
It got me thinking about Facebook and the ease of Twitter. Democracy in the past meant hoping elected leaders would honour their word. Now the word is ours. Today, the letter in Danny Collins would have been received in an instant, changing the whole story of the film.
I was excited last week to connect on Twitter with someone whose work I have followed for over a year, an activist in a field which deserves the light she shines on it. I didn’t expect a response. For a brief moment we were disagreeing then concurring on a live page. Numerous worlds colliding in a second.
Carl Jung famously wrote: ‘The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.’ The Internet gives rise to this possibility every day.
There is a contrast between the buzz of connecting online and the solitary work of writing a novel. Open all hours, social media is fast food – instant flavour with little effort. Writing something longer is like making a meal over months without a recipe.
Next month I am hoping to attend the Winchester Literary Festival (here). A place where the light of day replaces the computer screen’s glow. Drafted tales are brought, as polished as Downton fish knives, and passed to the industry’s gatekeepers to peruse.
Unlike the like (or un-like) of Facebook or the quick connection of Twitter, there is something in the process of old-fashioned publishing which is both reassuring and terrifying. A comfort because it nurtures stories, and the chain of experience which allows them to be heard. Daunting because working on and submitting a novel is an act of faith.
Danny Collins is a film brimming with faith (and a wonderful young character called Hope). A comedy but not romantic. It sidesteps Hollywood’s formulaic dances and looks at what it might mean to act in the service of love. For Al Pacino’s character, artistic integrity becomes more than writing a good song lyric. Like the work of the activist, for the tired singer at the end of the film, finding his creative centre seems to be about figuring out what truly matters to him, and doing something about it.
Have you seen this film? Have another comment? Feel free to write something below
With thanks to violinha for the photo ‘Where is the internet?’ and byronv2 for The Edinburgh Book Festival Programme photo: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/