December 17, 2011

If You Liked The Descendants, You Are A Terrible Person

poster descendants.jpgi've seen this movie before

The Descendants is not the worst movie ever made, but it may be the most subversive, and if you think it is one of the best you need to rethink your life choices.


 

Bring a date.  Oh, you don't have one.


I.

The promotional tag line:


A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.


You'll observe that the three women are characterized only by their connection to him, while he gets an extra identifier-- that happens to be about his wealth.   We'll come back to this.

The movie is a pyramid scheme of cliches: you can keep heaping them on as long as no one ever asks how it pays off, because it can't.  Rich but emotionally distant husband.  Complicated wife.  Family secrets, summed up by the dumb stoner toolbox improbably dating Matt's (Clooney) smart but rebellious daughter:


descendants script.jpg

That may not read like an insightful exchange between men, but I'll translate: men are never much worthy of their women.

Cue crying, laughing, yelling-- no sing-a-longs, this isn't a chick flick so male emotional progress will be symbolized instead by either jujitsu (wrong genre) or by forward physical motion: driving, walking, running, travel, now we're getting somewhere-- lots of blaming, reconciliation, "resolving of inner conflicts" and of course Act IV "closure."

Love is complicated, death is complicated, and a movie about both would be, well, complicated, especially when you throw in infidelity.  But despite what you will hear and read from critics, The Descendants is neither complicated nor about any of those things. 

Here's your first hint: it's called The Descendants.


II.


clooney and payne.jpg

just saying



I am not an expert on what makes a good or a bad movie, if it's bad you'll ignore it and anyway, best case scenario, two minutes after it wins Best Picture it will go the way of Cold Mountain.   The real power of movies that do not involve giant robots is not what they tell you about yourself, but that they tell you how to think about yourself.  You don't think you learned that from your parents, do you?

This is the "Personal Quote" on director Alexander Payne's IMDb page:

It's my hope that we're getting into an era where the value of a film is based on its proximity to real life rather than its distance from it. 

By "proximity to real life" does he mean "was playing 20 minutes away form my real life" because the only commonality between the film and my life is that they are both shot in color.  So whose real life is this proximate to and how do they think about themselves?  Let's listen.

III.

Here's what happened about 15 minutes into the movie.  I'm sitting three or four rows in front of two 50ish women.  In a key emotional scene teen daughter Alexandra blubbers through her mixed up adolescent tears that dying mom wasn't happy and was cheating on him.  He is floored, devastated-- he had no idea.   So he literally runs down the street to a couple that was friends with his wife, and they reluctantly admit that it is true-- and that she was planning on divorcing him.  At this moment one of the women seated behind me says, loudly, as if making an important discovery about human nature and I swear I am not making this up, "A divorce!  And all that money!"

Son of a bitch, am I an idiot.  That thought never occurred to me.  It's legitimate, it would be a huge part of divorcing characters' reality, and I missed it because, dumb stupid me, I was thinking this was about love and infidelity.  But of course it isn't.  At all.  On second viewing (thanks Sweden) it's obvious.  There is no love depicted anywhere in this film and its target demo knew not to expect it, not to look for it.  Yes it's about family and sadness and betrayal but love?  Middle aged people don't love, duh, love is for 20 year olds.  Besides, what does that demographic know about love anyway, where would they have learned it?   The rom-coms all ended right when the relationship begins.  There's no consistent model for love ten years after marriage, except ones based on: infidelity, divorce, death, finances.  Which is exactly why the first two happen so often in response to the second two.

The few happy movies about mid-life "love" are not about established marriages (those are always sitcoms) but about new relationships, starting over, new beginnings, play-acting the story lines of their twenties but with a "mature" take, i.e. some middle aged mother of two looks in a mirror before her first big date in years and laments how old she is now and how ugly she's gotten, as played by Nicole Kidman or Jennifer Aniston.   Wow, nailed it, I can completely relate.  I'm not knocking these movies for existing or for casting these hairless nymphomaniacs, I'm simply posing the general question: since the audience has learned nothing from their own parents, and they don't read 19th century Russian literature, what is their model for love in the 2nd decade of marriage?  They don't have one.  Which is why when this demo finds themselves in the 2nd decade of marriage they feel unfulfilled, anxious, depressed, is this all there is? They have nothing to guide them except The Discovery Channel and mommy blogs, and they lack the courage to analyze their ennui, so these movies serve the important function of pretending that it's normal.  "Oh, yeah, that's exactly what I'm feeling."  Fine, but don't you also want to know why you feel that way?

There are, of course, plenty of people with normal marriages who still love each other despite the absence of windfall inheritances and relentless drama.  But they won't be seeing this movie.

Normal love between two normal people that is not clandestine or inappropriate or impossible or financial is not revealed here, it is not even imagined here.   The couple with the "best" marriage-- and no whites in this movie have a good marriage--  are the wife's elderly parents, but don't worry, no  love there either: mom has severe dementia, so dad is her caretaker.  That may sound like love but that odd backstory means that no male in this movie is ever depicted dialoguing meaningfully with a female of his age group, unless they are arguing.  And no one notices this weird feature of the movie's world because that's the world the audience lives in as well.   And what does this grieving but wise old former soldier say to Clooney about his daughter's infidelity and death?  "If only you had let her go on those shopping sprees women like, maybe she wouldn't have needed to get her thrills elsewhere."  I wish I made that up.  Life is priceless, but for everything else, there's Mastercard.

These depictions of mid-life's relentless pragmatism, isolation, and lack of anything-- what word can I use that doesn't bring out the psychotics?-- "abstract," dressed up in porno-level dramatics to mask the banality of it all are no more realistic than a fat guy's second chance with the girl that got away (Charlize Theron), and yet they resonate with a certain audience because that's where they live, too.

In fact, the only psychologically realistic thing in this movie, and not coincidentally it will be the one thing the audience will say is the least realistic thing-- is that the older generation is so emotionally infantile that their children become parentified.  Example: Clooney passive-aggressively calls his wife's lover and leaves a message pretending to be a client, and when the guy calls back Clooney's paralyzed; so his daughter takes the phone (NB: a Blackberry) out of his impotent paw and runs the con.  Manipulating middle aged men for middle aged men.  Just the right role for a 16 year old girl.  It'll be easy to tell her drinking is bad now.   NB: the girl's mother is dying in the same room, but it's the father that needs all the attention.  She has to be strong for him.  "Save me Anna Freud, save me!"   In fact, according to the movie, here is how teen girls cope with the loss of their mother: they get over it.  It takes about 15 minutes.

It's supposedly judgmental to say that Matt is a bad father, you're supposed to say, "he's doing the best he can," which means that it's okay he's a terrible role model  because by golly he gets points for admonishing the kids not to curse.  "Watch your language," he says a lot.  HA!  That's the movie's comic relief but it's also some BF Skinner 10th dan ninjitsu.  Control of expression-- language, behavior, appearance-- substitutes for parenting, it's not for the kid but for the parent, it makes the parent think of themselves as a parent because the outside looks all presentable, and then they are just so surprised that their micro-parenting didn't prevent their ADHD teen from turning to alcohol.  "It's a disease."  I'll get my stethoscope.

"Who are you to blame me my teen's behavior?"   I don't even know you or your teen.  YOU ARE PROJECTING.  All I'm saying is if your teen is an alcoholic AND you think The Descendants is a meaningful film, then you need to bring to your therapist of ten years the possibility that the two may be the same force and that the problem isn't your teen, or your exes.  They weren't Matt's, after all.


IV.

Voice overs are supposed to be an example of bad or lazy writing, but I have a theory: when a movie has a voice over, it means the character is being dishonest.  Not "it wasn't me who stole the cookies" dishonest, but "it's not as simple as it looks, you don't know the whole story, let me explain" dishonest. In other words: BS. This can be consciously manipulative (The Usual Suspects) or unconsciously rationalizing (Sex And The City). The voice over pulls you into the mind of the character and so you are less able to make an objective assessment about what you see. What's important about it is that the story would be impossible to tell without the VO because no one would buy it.   I can see why director Alex Payne needed it for this one.

Here's a bit of human nature for you and you are most certainly not going to like it.  Fat George Clooney discovers his wife has been cheating on him-- and he never suspected.  That's a profound insult, a narcissistic injury, and no, people who complain I talk about it too much but haven't actually learned the lessons, you don't have to be a narcissist to experience a narcissistic injury, it's built into the way we relate to other people.  It's jealousy AND an existential beat down: look at the limits of your power, look at the limits of your reach, she is able to have a whole other existence that had so little to do with you you didn't even notice, nor did she feel any need to tell you.  At least if she had done it to hurt you you'd still suffer the jealousy but your place as main character in your own movie would be secure.  Maybe you're only supporting cast in hers?   "Screw that. I'm changing the script."

Three ways humans deal with narcissistic injuries, count them: 1. Rage.  But Fat George Clooney doesn't look like he's up for the physical exertion of attacking his wife, which is why he is depicted as fat and not fit (viz Sleeping With The Enemy, Unfaithful, The Last Seduction, To Die For, etc) and anyway the target is in a coma.  2.  Displaced rage: go after yourself (suicide: guarantees the Other remembers you forever) or the lover.  But if Fat George Clooney is too winded to beat up a coma patient, how's he going to fight the Alpha Penis that stole his wife?  Pass.   What he might do-- which is both highly realistic about the target demo and also the problem with the target demo-- is channel his inner 15 year old girl and stalk him, then kinda-sorta confront him, then mess up his stuff.  That'll show him.

The third way is the interesting one, the one that ruins you:  3.  Make the cheating be about yourself, your "fault" (minus any real introspection.)  Increase your pain to save your ego.  That's the path the movie chooses: she cheated not because she fell in love, or lust, but because he neglected her, he was a bad husband, he didn't take her on shopping sprees.    "As long as you don't ask me to change, I'm accepting some blame for her cheating on me."  You'll feel right as rain. 

The movie takes this a diabolical step further.  Matt finds and confronts the lover, but in an act of "selflessness" tells the guy he's not there to cause trouble, he just wants to give the guy the opportunity to say goodbye to her, too.  WOW!  What a guy!  And no one thinks this is preposterous.  The audience sees this as a redemptive act, a kind act, a noble act, and that's because they are all idiots.  No, no, I mean every single one of them.  They are (thanks, VO)  starting from a false premise: that he actually really loved his wife in the first place.  He didn't.  That's why she was cheating.  To illustrate just how inconceivable "love" is to this audience, I'll explain that this selfless offer is how the scene starts, but the point of the scene, how it ends, is with Clooney realizing that the guy bedded her for his money.  So not only did she cheat because of him, the lover chose her because of him.  Narcissistic injury averted-- that's what passes as "coming to terms with" infidelity for this audience.

While the 50 year old women behind me and every critic in America are applauding his apparent selflessness, they overlook the fact that while he wasn't angry when he confronted the lover, he became angry when he discovered the true target was his finances. That's what gets him fuming, and that's what makes sense to the audience.  Penis and vagina are all very well, but if you mess with the inheritance, it's personal. 

Also observe that the lover is not better looking than Matt, not richer than him, not more interesting  than him, in every way Clooney is "better" than him.  This is a movie so it was scripted this way, but when your wife cheats on you you'll do the same thing, so remember what I'm about to tell you.  You will "discover" how much better you are than him in every way so that her cheating is explicable only as a reaction to you.  You will cry, you will drink, you will yell and you will rage, but you won't kill yourself and you won't change and that was the whole point.  The ego doesn't want happiness, it wants status quo.  Yes, you will also simultaneously disparage her as a bitchless cunt, but that's because she did it to you, against you, towards you.  This will help you eventually "come to terms with" her infidelity, but what then did you learn about yourself?  What then will you change about yourself?  Nothing.  Hence the sequel will be the same as the first movie, with a different villain.


V.


"This is the first movie review I've ever read that attacks not the movie but the people who liked the movie."  I'm not attacking you you if you liked it, only if you identified with it.  "That's not really fair."  American Psycho was an amazing movie, but I wouldn't date anyone who identifies with it.  How is it different?  Again, the point isn't that movies tell you who you are, they tell you how to be.

Here's an example: with 100% certainty I can predict that if you liked The Descendants, if you think you would like The Descendants, then you thought American Beauty was "amazing."  That movie was, indeed, an outstanding reflection of a kind of a man and a kind of a life, but at some point before your divorce or rehab you have to consider that if you identified with the main character there is something wrong with you.


Anyone exhausted?  Here's a comedy break (NSFW): 





Louis CK:

Kevin Spacey playing the man... he's fantasizing about fucking a cheerleader in high school.  And the way they represent this, in this gay movie, this fucking bunch of cum through a projector-- according to this movie, when you fantasize about a cheerleader, you lie on your back and rose petals fall all over your body.  Instead of her hot, sweaty ass, and the confused look on her face as you cum in her stupid eye...  No, it's Kevin Spacey with a sweet look on his face, and flower petals, and jazzy music.

[And at the end of the movie, the ex-marine] is the one who's really gay.  'None of us are gay, it's actually the one hetero guy, he's the gay one.' No one else is gay, Kevin Spacey's not gay. He's straight as an arrow, he lifts weights, listens to Zeppelin, drives a Firebird-- and thinks about fucking rose petals.  And then when he actually sees her tits he almost vomits....He finally sees the 18 year old tits and says, what have I been doing all this time?  I forgot I like men....


Louis CK takes the gay angle for the comedic effect, but he understands this isn't about being gay but about a kind of American self-delusion exemplified by the Kevin Spacey character: everyone else is broken except me.  My only problem is I am surrounded by these people.  And everything gets projected onto them as both defense of the ego and as confirmation that it is, indeed, everyone else who is nuts.  "Look, she's a crazy bitch."   When he throws the plate of food against the wall you're supposed to cheer his rising manliness; you're not supposed to notice that it's infantile narcissistic rage, i.e. foreshadowing: this isn't going to have a happy ending.  The problem for the audience is that there isn't an American Beauty II, the one where he gets the rose petal girl of his dreams and inherits a billion dollars and has a perfect life in Hawaii only to discover that within 5 years everything has regressed to the mean, I mean mean, and everything happens all over again.   "Jeez, why do I attract these crazy bitches?"  Because you're crazy, dummy.  The one universal constant in all of your failed relationships is you.

At the end of The Descendants Clooney and his daughters have "overcome" or "moved on" or "come to terms with" it all.  But in fact nothing has changed.   And what has at-the-end-applaud-worthy-Dad taught his kids about human relationships?  What kind of a man do you think Alexandra is going to eventually marry?  How soon afterwards will she divorce?

Remember Clooney was going to forgo revenge and instead generously let the lover say goodbye?  Well, at the end he gets his revenge anyway, in the only way meaningful to the audience: he screws the lover out of money.

Think about this.  You'd do it, too, if the opportunity presented itself, but that's not the point.  The point is that this is a movie and hence not random, the movie chose this method of revenge.  It is satisfying to the audience, but the kind of person to whom it makes sense to punish a wife's lover financially is the kind of person... whose wife has a lover.  He will have revealed to his wife in countless other ways the transactional value of her sex, and while it may be a lot it's still finite, and so she will get the message and eventually Trade Up to an equivalent model that costs her more.  Indecent Proposal had the decency to put love over money at the end, but that didn't stop a gazillion women from shamelessly/proudly announcing how fast they'd "totally go for it", as their whipped boyfriends sat on the bar stool next to them hiding behind a frozen smiles and pints of Sam Adams.  "It's a Winter Brew."  Choke on it, cuckold.  Meanwhile none of the giggling women in the bar seemed to remember that Robert Redford was offering the money for the wife to the husband.  The trick to understanding that movie is that it isn't a female fantasy to have a rich guy offer you lots of money but a male fantasy to have a rich guy value your woman's sex at $1.57M inflation adjusted dollars, it makes the mystery of sex/"objet petit a" a concrete and understandable commodity but also puts it fantastically out of your own reach, like you're 12. 

The reason no one remembers that Redford made the deal with Woody and not Demi is that it is unremarkable to these people that that's who he would make the deal with, nothing unusual or noteworthy there, Woody is the proper owner of Demi's sex.  Yeah, they're married, that's how it works.  I can see you're upset.  I know, reality bites.  Take a drink, and consider that in The Descendants Matt's relatives are all waiting for him to sell the land so they can get their cut, and Matt's hesitant, and then says something the dummies in the audience didn't appreciate, and what he says is this:

descendants script full.png
Way to figure this all out way too late and about the wrong thing.  The land is supposed to be a metaphor for legacy, for doing the right thing with your inheritance, but I hope it is obvious that the land is a metaphor for vagina.  You may have got it for whatever bullshit reason 150 years ago, but now as the owner of that landgina you have a responsibility to tend to it.  So yes, it makes sense that the rival thought of it as a means to money, it makes sense that the Medicare patient's first thought was to alimony, and it makes sense Woody was willing to sell Demi, it makes sense Matt is more attentive to his finances then his wife,  because if you don't tend to that vagina, to that soul, then all that's left is it's resale value.  And it all makes sense to the audience, because they're psychopaths.  Is that too harsh?  Didn't they get choked up when she dies?  The Descendants has a sad ending, and it makes you sad.  That's not the sign of a well crafted movie, it's a kind of porno.  That's why they're called tear jerkers.  If you bludgeon a puppy or penetrate a vagina you do not then get to yell, "Ha!  Made you look!"

I will concede, however, that the ending of The Descendants couldn't be a more accurate representation of the generation that is only able to feel rage, sadness, anxiety, and nothing.  The last scene of the movie, symbolizing how one moves on from death and infidelity, shows Matt and his daughters, inheritance intact, watching TV.  Roll credits.  Oscar.

-----

see also: The Strange Ascendance of The Descendants

---

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych








Comments

Aw, I did get tired and did... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 12:13 AM | Posted by snozma: | Reply

Aw, I did get tired and didn't finish your whole review.

But I couldn't stand this movie for all the reasons you said. And then I read a review and made me think maybe it was ABOUT those things and I had misunderstood the movie.

So I'm kind of confused now.

But it is interesting that you target all the movies I despise--although I never go to great lengths thinking about what bothers me in them. So thanks. I think you nailed it.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -5 (31 votes cast)
So thumbs down then?... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 2:20 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So thumbs down then?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 14 (24 votes cast)
This might be the worst mov... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 3:15 AM | Posted by truthteller: | Reply

This might be the worst movie I have ever seen. sickening. horrific dialogue. in one word: horrible!!!!!!!!! How can anyone like this horrible piece of crap movie? My God help us all if people call this a good movie. Movies don't get shittier than this one.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (26 votes cast)
While the 50 year ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 3:37 AM | Posted by Kai: | Reply

While the 50 year old women behind me and every critic in America are applauding his apparent selflessness, they overlook the fact that while he wasn't angry when he confronted the lover, he became angry when he discovered the true target was his finances. That's what gets him fuming, and that's what makes sense to the audience.

Excepting the notion that there is no true selflessness/altruism in reality, would it be fair to argue against the narcissism argument by saying his lack of anger when confronting the lover and letting the lover see his dying wife could be a "selfless" recognition that:

1. The lover genuinely coveted his wife (had real meaningful feelings that are worth something in of themselves), and

2. His wife was worthy of being coveted (that she had real meaningful worth irrespective of him)?

Furthermore, that him getting angry when he was discovered the lover's true motives was not narcissistic because it is a judgement of another person's actions as "wrong", that it's fucked up to use someone, mislead someone, toy with someone's emotions for personal gain? Couldn't we argue that there are different types of anger involved with reaction to infidelity and reaction to manipulated infidelity? Is it wise and logical to equate anger or absence of anger with regards to infidelity with anger or absence of anger with regards to perceived manipulation?

Granted, I think we can argue all of this back to narcissism. We can argue back, for example:

a. Recognition of the wife's value of being coveted and the lover's act of coveting is itself a narcissistic judgement of one's own decision and preferences (the wife is of course worthy of being coveted because I coveted her), hence not getting angry is a narcissistic affirmation of one's decision and preferences.

b. Getting angry at manipulation boils down to narcissistic injury that one didn't immediately know the infidelity was not about love but about money.

c. Getting angry when confronting the lover is narcissistic in that the wife exists as an object and possession for which one has dominion and is the gatekeeper to, that preventing the lover from seeing her as she dies is itself an act of"writing someone out of one's own "personal movie script".

d. Not getting angry when learning that the lover was after one's money is narcissistic affirmation of one's value, of how coveted one is and ought to be in one's own mind, so much so that it isn't even a surprise that the lover didn't genuinely covet the wife, because the wife is deemed absent value without oneself.

Just a few thoughts off the top of my head when reading through that part of the post.

Now, I haven't seen the movie so I don't know how far this response goes as applied to the movie, so I'm asking with regards to the phenomenon as applicable to real life in our modern society. I'm not a psychologist so I may not even understand the ramifications of narcissism beyond what I've happened to glean from you, but I'm genuinely curious about your commentary and how to resolve this issue about "how to think about yourself". What reaction wouldn't have been narcissistic or could be accused of narcissism?

Wait...was this last paragraph totally narcissistic?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 24 (32 votes cast)
Are you really a psychiatri... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 3:52 AM | Posted by snozma: | Reply

Are you really a psychiatrist?

Just curious!

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 0 (32 votes cast)
"...the older generation is... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 7:03 AM | Posted by Elizabeth: | Reply

"...the older generation is so emotionally infantile that their children become parentified.:

I'm foreign, so this is a real question:

Are American parents really as infantile and useless as they're presented in the media? Or is it only the subset who raise the kids who eventually write the articles and scripts that portray them in this way?

I keep looking at the parents being depicted, and they're almost cartoonish in their utter uselessness. My parents, and the parents of my friends, had their faults, but they never expected us to parent them.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 41 (45 votes cast)
What "Indecent Proposal" me... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 8:39 AM | Posted by Dan Dravot: | Reply

What "Indecent Proposal" meant to all those giggly cosmotini girls was the fantasy of being seen to be so desirable that Robert Redford -- who wasn't yet quite over the hill then -- valued their vaj at a million bucks. Didn't matter who he paid it to, except that paying it to the husband is rubbing it in (like they're playing at doing in the bar): Showing off the fact (fantasy) that they Can Do Better. In real life they'd hide actual infidelity, of course, because duh, reality. This is a fantasy.

In the fantasy, the million bucks as money isn't all that viscerally compelling. Not in the same league as being so desirable that a famously desirable male would be afraid you'd turn him down if he only offered $500000. A million bucks is just more of what they already have.

What they were all giggling wasn't "I'd do it". It was "Hell, I'd do it FOR FREE."

As for this movie, you could tell from the poster it was a piece of shit. The only reason to see it was to write about how retarded it was. Which, fair enough, I read the whole review, didn't I.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 29 (37 votes cast)
" I was thinking this was a... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 8:59 AM | Posted by aliz: | Reply

" I was thinking this was about love..."
yeah... this was a rant by another broken idealist. you speak as though relations before this "corrupt" generation were so much purer or better or not motivated by something that hides behind a front of "love".so if clooney's character had just done the opposite of what he was doing, consolidating his finances for his sake and the sake of his daughter so as to not lose everything in a divorce, his wife would still love him? really? And you treat it like it's a bad thing, which is perplexing.
grow up.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -6 (26 votes cast)
I am sorry Mr. Alone but ..... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 9:22 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I am sorry Mr. Alone but ...

"it makes sense Matt is more attentive to his finances then his wife,"

I believe you mean THAN his wife. Then just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -19 (37 votes cast)
Alone, off topic but I need... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 9:52 AM | Posted by Narc: | Reply

Alone, off topic but I need your thoughts on how to "cure" yourself if you are the narcissist.

Yes I am one and it's bothering me.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 7 (23 votes cast)
Kai agrees with me.... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 10:49 AM | Posted by Rodrigo: | Reply

Kai agrees with me.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: -3 (3 votes cast)
In one of his articles (can... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 10:59 AM | Posted, in reply to Narc's comment, by Rodrigo: | Reply

In one of his articles (can't remember which) Alone provides the "cure": pretend. He also says that if you think that pretending is not a real solution, then you need to realize that the thing with narcissism is exactly the fact that life is not about yourself. According to him the solution isn't for you, is for everybody else.

On my account, I'd say the cure lies basically in the same old recipe: start by perceiving and understanding what you are doing and how you are doint it, then stop it. It's like pretending, but if you do it right it can actually become a real permanent solution.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 25 (27 votes cast)
Thanks for the response Rod... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 11:21 AM | Posted, in reply to Rodrigo's comment, by Narc: | Reply

Thanks for the response Rodrigo, I read that post once in a while but it seems to be a true parthway is missing, maybe I need to find one myself.

I didn't want to expand why it is bothering me, it feels as if I become as rich as I want or work in the dream job I wanted to have, I will never be happy. I enjoy silent power and can easily manipulate people, I don't want to hurt others or take advantage of them.

I am the nerd who got bullied everyone with home violence turned outwards to world itself. I have no sympathy for anyone. My hormones have kicked in 19 and I look damn fine at 21..

I am a science major from a 2nd world country, I was in %1 and receive government scholarship, I self taught myself everything from 5th grade, English amongst them. I watch Scarface sometimes to se that empty shell of a human being who wanted to have everything and got it. May sound funny but I don't want to end up like that. And I fallen in "real" love couple of times, found no avail. I mostly have little affection or none in the relationship I am in.

I am not happy with what I am and I am looking for a way out. I heard somewhere being 20's is being a narcissistic asshole.

I read everything Alone types, and I know this reply is full of "me". And my cycle of loathing continues. I had that feeling for a long time, at least I know what is wrong with me this time.

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 5 (15 votes cast)
How would a sane, not narci... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 11:28 AM | Posted by K: | Reply

How would a sane, not narcissist person who actually loves his/her spouse respond to a cheating wife/husband?

Vote up Vote down Report this comment Score: 17 (19 votes cast)
I am so self absorbed that ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 11:33 AM | Posted, in reply to Rodrigo's comment, by Narc: | Reply

I am so self absorbed that I forgot to really pay attention to your response. I just said thanks and typed my rant. I think i see it now, the solution is just the same for everyone, and I need to get rid of this "me" or "my way".

That's what happens when I get too much U.S.A in me. By that I mean those escorts in Las Vegas and champaigne. Government scholarship well spent. (I went to public schools for my whole life, so don't fucking judge me - Except for Alone, he's cool).

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This question was already a... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 11:37 AM | Posted, in reply to Narc's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

This question was already answered in an earlier blog, use the search function.

IIRC, it's along the lines of: You have to behave differently, NOT because it's bothering YOU, but for the sake of everyone else. I hope you see how changing because "It's bothering ME" won't help this particular problem.

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Thank you. I love you like ... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 11:41 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Narc: | Reply

Thank you. I love you like how Oprah's audience like their gifts.

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If the narcissist says that... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 11:42 AM | Posted by JohnJ: | Reply

If the narcissist says that everything is about me, how is it also said that my only problem is that I'm surrounded by crazy people? I know a few people (okay, my ex) who would seem to be what you describe as a narcissist, but they (she) would have no qualms about describing themselves (herself) as, for example, bipolar.

What I mean is if everything is about "me", then why don't "I" recognize that the problem really is my fault? Why is it safer to say "I didn't let her spend enough" rather than ask whether I really loved her? Why is one a personal failing, but the other an excuse?

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K,How wou... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 12:28 PM | Posted, in reply to K's comment, by Dan Dravot: | Reply

K,

How would a sane, not narcissist person who actually loves his/her spouse respond to a cheating wife/husband?

I'm interested to hear Alone's answer to that question.

Some kinds of broken relationships can sometimes be fixed, if you know how, and if you're willing to put a lot of effort into it. Most people don't and aren't.

I enjoyed Alone's remarks about people having no archetype or role model for a healthy long term adult relationship in running mode (unless their parents had one).

Well, how would anybody in Hollywood know how to depict a thing like that? The biggest news in the western hemisphere this week was the death of a journalist who had a lot of friends in the news business. How much of what we perceive as our reality is created by professional media in the image of their very narrow little world?

Imagine if all the media you consume were designed by the smartest, most generally curious folks in the professional bass fishing business.

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My personal experience (n=1... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 1:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Dan Dravot's comment, by CD: | Reply

My personal experience (n=1), is you first find out if they really want more of your attention, not more of someone else's. If what they want is more from you, and your heart tells you that's right (an important check, because some people can and will take everything you have and not be satisfied), then reform your behavior. You'll have to work together to change how you two relate. And if that's not what both of you want, then say good-bye. Don't let it drag on.

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Brilliant stuff. You mentio... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 2:26 PM | Posted by sg: | Reply

Brilliant stuff. You mention one should enjoy a movie, but not get identified with it, viz American Psycho. What then, if not some subtle identification, makes me enjoy a film?

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The trailer of the movie re... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 5:03 PM | Posted by Whatever: | Reply

The trailer of the movie reminded me of Houseboat with Cary Grant & Sophia Loren. Both men really suck at playing the father. (Perhaps unrelatedly, they are both notorious lady-killers yet they have a reputation for being bisexual.)

Anyway, it was Clooney's acting in the trailer that put me off from watching the film. Would have liked it if the acting was better? That's the 64k question. In any case, I hated American Beauty.

Now I agree that he didn't love her in the first place, but I don't think that was the reason she was cheating. I believe only people cheat because they WANT to do it. They consider cheating an acceptable solution (under some or all circumstances). They feel entitled to it.

So when someone tells me "I cheated because my husband didn't love me" I think their argument is automatically invalid. I know several people with loveless partners who don't cheat, simply because that's not a part of their moral code.

You can't make people do things they don't want to do.

That said, Clooney's character is bound to repeat the process if he doesn't figure out how he picks them. (It makes sense that an emotionally unavailable man would pick someone who cheats. This spares him having to learn how to be truly intimate with someone.)

that the older generation is so emotionally infantile that their children become parentified. [...] Just the right role for a 16 year old girl. It'll be easy to tell her drinking is bad now.

It's not a recent issue. This was an issue in "Houseboat" too and that movie is 3000 years old. Why? Because it happens so often in real life. Only a particular kind of parent remain a grownup, even as the world falls all around them & keeps their kids out of their affairs. The kind of a parent that would never think of calling his wife's lover in front of his daughter.

Many are not that way.

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Beat them both up.... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 5:40 PM | Posted, in reply to K's comment, by crumbskull: | Reply

Beat them both up.

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Grief! What else?... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 8:18 PM | Posted, in reply to K's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Grief! What else?

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One minor quibble: my impre... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 10:22 PM | Posted by Anon21: | Reply

One minor quibble: my impression was that the movie saw the father-in-law's prescription for marital bliss (more shopping trips) as ridiculous, and never endorsed it as a panacea for marital problems.

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holy shit reading this revi... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2011 11:00 PM | Posted by not important: | Reply

holy shit reading this review makes me think of hot tub time machine. Do yall remember at the end where the bald white guy stays back in time and makes himself rich? How wack is that? Who wrote that movie and said wow this concept isn't creepy and pathetic and it's funny. Why do most people like these kind of movies? this horrible movie got an 8 on imdb. Guy Ritchies Revolver has a 6.7 . WTF. Most people tell me i take life too seriously and i do but i dont think im wrong with my reaction towards this generation and myself. How do these kinds of movies resonate with so many people? This is BS. I'm exactly like those people you write about TLP. I'm selfish and childish and my priorites are all fucked up. But thanks to you and these articles I'm able to see the extent of how much I suck. You expand my mind 1 word at a time . Thank You

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Pirate Bay?Oh no, ... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 5:53 AM | Posted by Swede: | Reply

Pirate Bay?

Oh no, you didn´t? Hehehe
Well, I guess you paid for it once at the theatre, so why not.

Thanks for this post. Brill. I have to see this movie.

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Something tells me this one... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 6:05 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Something tells me this one doesn't apply to me... I'm in my 20s, after all.

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Interesting theory regardin... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 7:22 AM | Posted by Hazel: | Reply

Interesting theory regarding voiceovers and BS - not sure that it works for the Shawshank Redemption though. Mind you, that was about the narration of another person's experience rather than the experience of the Voice.

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Bring a date. Oh, you d... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 8:05 AM | Posted by fraula: | Reply

Bring a date. Oh, you don't have one.

...no male in this movie is ever depicted dialoguing meaningfully with a female of his age group, unless they are arguing. And no one notices this weird feature of the movie's world because that's the world the audience lives in as well.

Bingo! Exactly why this here woman doesn't have a date.

How would a sane, not narcissist person who actually loves his/her spouse respond to a cheating wife/husband?

As others have mentioned, it depends on the cheater. If they're genuinely recognizant of the hurt they've caused, love their partner, and want to work on themselves and their relationship to rebuild trust and open communication with their partner, then there's a chance.

If, however, they're like the narcissist cheater (yes, armchair diagnosis) I dealt with, the cheater will blame you for being stupid enough not to have seen it, rage at you when you refuse to accept their guilt, threaten to destroy your apartment (displaced rage) when the direct rage doesn't work, and then keep sending you text messages and emails about how sexy he is and how sexy he thinks you still are and how he still thinks you're more attractive than the woman he's still boinking on the side and so he thinks you'd be well-advised to go out to lunch with him today at 12.

Three days after you told him to get out of your apartment and stop contacting you.

Then you repeat yourself, only once: "Stop contacting me." And you never reply to anything else, ever again.

And then you go on with your life, sharing stories with trusted friends about wack narcissists and what you can learn from this experience to better avoid that sort in the future, including work on your own self-confidence, since you noticed that slight doubts about what was, in fact, your better judgment pinging your radar with "Warning: I believe this may be a self-centered nitwit who doesn't care about you" were played to the hilt by the narcissist. You learn to trust yourself, and draw healthier boundaries, and also... admit that it might happen again. There are people who are very good at keeping secrets. Ain't the fault of others for not being able to read minds.

And in time, you are very, very happy for the strengths you did have. Emotional and financial independence. Friends you can trust. The maturity to not have invested your entire self in a relationship you had a few doubts about. A decent-enough job that allows you not to need to throw yourself at anyone better off.

And you don't watch movies with titles like "The Descendants". Good grief, it sounds like something taken straight out of feudal Great Britain.

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Realized I (tellingly) didn... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 8:16 AM | Posted by fraula: | Reply

Realized I (tellingly) didn't address "person you truly love(d)" part – when, in the case of a narcissist, you discover the depth of their betrayal, and recognize that they didn't care about hurting you, nor do they care about how they're hurting the other person, nor will they ever admit any wrongdoing whatsoever (whether about cheating or anything else), and that they care more about fobbing responsibility off onto others so that they can keep chasing their reflection in a pond, you quickly face reality: the person you imagined you loved never existed. Except in your imagination.

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Great text, as usual. I'm s... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 9:52 AM | Posted by Deborah: | Reply

Great text, as usual. I'm surprised to know people thought American Beauty was an amazing movie because they identified with the characters! I always thought that movie was great because it showed how ridiculous those characters were.

Anyway, I have a question for you: why do you write as if you were speaking to the narcs if you know they could never get your point?

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I can't get enough of this ... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 9:59 AM | Posted by Haiden Kipling: | Reply

I can't get enough of this blog. Just can't get enough. Cheers from the UK. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnefekaG8wU&feature=related. My gratitude. Haiden.

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<a href="http://thirdtierre... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 10:36 AM | Posted by Nando: | Reply

http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/

Don't be too harsh on Sid. (I have not seen the movie, and am not inclined to do so.) I'm sure this stoner character could manage to get into most ABA-approved law schools.

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I am SO tired of these narc... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 1:21 PM | Posted by RSG: | Reply

I am SO tired of these narcissistic baby boomer movies.

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I'm with you, RSG. And I gu... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 1:32 PM | Posted, in reply to RSG's comment, by Deborah: | Reply

I'm with you, RSG. And I guess what makes me tired about them is the audience pretending to believe these movies represent reality. They should be a comic picture of how pathetic narcissists look "from the outside".

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The "land metaphor" was... ... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 5:23 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The "land metaphor" was... awesome. Thank you.

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It is self-delusion I recal... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2011 5:40 PM | Posted by David: | Reply

It is self-delusion I recall, I really did not know life at all.

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"the point of the scene, ho... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2011 2:51 AM | Posted by WJA: | Reply

"the point of the scene, how it ends, is with Clooney realizing that the guy bedded her for his money. So not only did she cheat because of him, the lover chose her because of him."

This is totally wrong -- the real estate agent was only seeking a fling. He says as much. The idea doesn't even make any sense. How would he get Clooney's money? If she left Clooney, she would probably get little or nothing in the divorce settlement, because she cheated.

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I loved American Beauty bec... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2011 1:27 PM | Posted by LA native: | Reply

I loved American Beauty because I thought it was about how self-centered and (the word for getting more stuff) we are. I thought the young cheerleader and roses were a longing to be naive again and young enough to do it over. Mid life crisis being a very reoccurring theme. I thought the daughter and her boyfriend were real and the best friend was insecure and the young version of what the two parents are in the future- Kevin and Annette.
I Liked the religious/military sexual repression reflected in the over compensating killer –he is the tea party. Plainly, I saw it as a beware sign about what is wrong with America. I think most people are responsible and really care for their spouses and children-but then there are those crazy American Beauty perverted types. Please, come to LA, it is all over this place.
As for George Clooney- I think he is very typical of many men in LA in that he is heterosexual, but he does not like or respect women enough to want to make a lifetime commitment to one. He says he would fail at it as a way to say he has no interest or value where women are concerned. He likes/respects men more. Women are too complex.
He said his first wife divorced him because he was not jealous when she asked him if he would be if she slept with another man. I know- he told me. I said I would find it very strange if a man who loved me did not feel “strongly” about me sleeping with another man. But that’s just me and his x wife.
But, when I saw the promo for this movie- I was not interested. Especially when George runs up to the hedge and peeks over. Infantilized, silly man stuff, Yuk. I do very much love the in-depth critique from alone. It is very stimulating and that is why I like this site.

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Rothschilds don't regress t... (Below threshold)

December 20, 2011 6:54 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Rothschilds don't regress to the mean.

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What are the semiotics of t... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2011 12:47 AM | Posted by Satanforce: | Reply

What are the semiotics of the Blackberry? You have mentioned BBs in your other articles.

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Funny that I didn't anticip... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2011 3:14 AM | Posted by Or: | Reply

Funny that I didn't anticipate your rant on American Beauty, although Pastabagel's review on Partial Objects kept making me think of all the reasons I hate it. Some day when I have time I'll do a post about the real reason it's the worst movie ever, although perhaps it's a testament to the writers that so many people are able to come up with entirely different but perfectly cogent explanations of how terrible it is. Usually movies are terrible because they stick to being terrible in one boring way.

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s/writers/writers' skills/;... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2011 3:19 AM | Posted by Or: | Reply

s/writers/writers' skills/;

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I loved the review - and I ... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2011 5:01 AM | Posted by So Much For Subtlety: | Reply

I loved the review - and I think TLP ought to do more film reviews, but I have to quibble about this:

I'm simply posing the general question: since the audience has learned nothing from their own parents, and they don't read 19th century Russian literature, what is their model for love in the 2nd decade of marriage? They don't have one.

There is at least one good model for married love in the second decade - Fargo. The scene where they talk about the husband's postage stamp design has to be one of the most grown up depictions of married love in modern American cinema.

But it is an exception and I otherwise agree with the post.

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Here:<a href="http... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2011 6:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Narc's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Here:

http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2009/01/can_narcissism_be_cured.html

Maybe it could help you.

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Haven't seen the Descendant... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2011 8:22 AM | Posted by TP: | Reply

Haven't seen the Descendants but definetly felt and agree on American Beauty... Another movie I would dump in this category is Pulp Fiction. I walked out of the theater about half way through, and to my amazement all I kept hearing was how great it was.

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Embarrassingly bad movie. G... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2011 11:59 AM | Posted by TiX: | Reply

Embarrassingly bad movie. Great Reviews. Payola must be back. The 8 people in the theater sat there like stones stunned they got suckered into plunking down $11 for this crap. The only people who will find this movie entertaining are those who find the incessant use of the word "twat" compelling.

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Thanks for the insights her... (Below threshold)

December 21, 2011 10:53 PM | Posted by thecobrasnose: | Reply

Thanks for the insights here, Alone. The acclaim for "American Beauty" (and "About Schmidt" and "Sideways" as long as we're up for dumping on Alexander Payne) made me heart sick. But I'm curious, did you see / what did you think of "Crazy Stupid Love"?

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"You'll observe that the th... (Below threshold)

December 22, 2011 10:51 AM | Posted by someone: | Reply

"You'll observe that the three women are characterized only by their connection to him, while he gets an extra identifier-- that happens to be about his wealth."

It's something called a "protagonist."

You aren't even trying anymore.

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Alexander Payne must have s... (Below threshold)

December 28, 2011 7:40 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Alexander Payne must have some killer slick moves with the press. Is there any other way to account for such a grossly overrated film as "The Descendants"? I thought I was watching a Lifetime made for television movie for the better part of the film. I'm surprised that Payne has so easily bamboozled the press on this one. I guess being on the board of the Academy is akin to having a lobbyists access with which to promote yourself. After seven years in absentia, you'd think Payne could at least pull out an original plot instead of setting the same tired formula into another setting, Hawaii. He's the fill-in-the-blank Payne story—self absorbed clueless male begins film with Absent wifeZ—comatose—"The Descendents", dead—"About Schmidt", x-"Sideways", cheating—"Election", huffing & whoring—"Citizen Ruth", and an hour and a half later, still doesn't have any self awareness whatsoever. A common charge against Payne is that he relies too heavily on voice-over, a film school 101 conceit to blot over huge plot holes, but I think its all he has left after eliminating the possibility of any meaningful dialogue with an adult equal straight out of the gate. All that's left to challenge the protagonists are stroke addled elders, delinquent children (deformed by parental neglect), and a cast of fat, stupid, or otherwise hobbled minor characters. How does Payne do it? I once heard from a reliable source that during UCLA film school, Payne was a scholar in Memorization and NPL techniques. The better with which to manipulate under-recognized critics.

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Louis CK is a radio jockey?... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2011 1:29 AM | Posted by Vulgarity is our Pride and Joy. Celebrate it!: | Reply

Louis CK is a radio jockey? How does such filth even pass?

Oh I forgot. Wecome to America. What we lack in culture we make up for in vulgarity.

And this dude supposely has 2 daughters? Somebody call CPS.

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Just saw Melancholia. Alone... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2011 5:36 PM | Posted by Doc: | Reply

Just saw Melancholia. Alone - you MUST see and review this ultimate tale of narcissism at he end of the world.
Apparently, the depressed narcissists had it right all along...

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I thought you walked out ha... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2011 2:47 AM | Posted by Art: | Reply

I thought you walked out half way through the movie to watch another movie, how do you know how it ends? ;-P

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"There are, of course, plen... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2011 10:13 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

"There are, of course, plenty of people with normal marriages who still love each other despite the absence of windfall inheritances and relentless drama. But they won't be seeing this movie."

Bingo.

Frau - good advice on getting rid of the narcissist. Was he a narcissist? Either way, it doesn't matter, since things were doomed anyway. Here are two alt explanations.

He could have simply been not-very-mature. He is laearning how to be an adult, through experiences. He may not have had good lessons and role models in his life, or some lessons only are recognized when you really go thru the experience yourself. then you really lern it.

This next possibility - you won't like it. You had sex with someone before marriage - what do you expect? You cut him off! Sure, it seemed like a relationship. Like "Cheers," where everybody knows your name. But who would be at Cheers if there were no alcohol? Just the sober bartender who needs the job. That is what I see with a lot of "relationships" in the "modern" era versus the old-fashioned family value days.

Let's have a sexual and companionship realtionship. If it happens to 'work out' in the long run, without too much challenge, then maybe we could actually get indefinitely committed for some 'long term,' like we commit to a decent job as long as it suits us, or maybe even commit to marriage. (Kids, BTW, make little diff in this decision.)

Frau - do you REALLY want to avoid the lousy guys, and find a decent guy? Find a guy who gets to 'know' you and value you without a sexual dimension to the relationship. This will thin the herd pretty quickly. The alternate is to learn when the break-up happens - as you did. It could be better to learn in advnace than after you have caught the HPV.

This is how things are in other places, and used to be here. This is why STD rates were not very impressive until the sexual devolution, but now HPV rates for teens and young adults run just below the rate of who is genrally sexually active. This is historically unprecedented in epidemiology.

In the old days, men accepted the fact that they had to give, and develop a relationship, and make a long-term commitment, before getting the dipstick wet.

Yes, there were slips and oops. But not every night.

You are free to consider this style of life. Even though media (Cosmo mag, TV, movies) do not portray this style of life, and propagandize against it. Your life is your life.

Again - Good move on cutting off the guy. Admirable.

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"Bingo! Exactly why this he... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2012 2:19 PM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by aliz: | Reply

"Bingo! Exactly why this here woman doesn't have a date."
...or maybe because you're not worth more to a man than a one night stand. take a good look at yourself, create a brutal appraisal and think about it.

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"representation of the gene... (Below threshold)

January 9, 2012 6:23 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"representation of the generation that is only able to feel rage, sadness, anxiety, and nothing"

That's me, now what do I do? Most of the time I'm feeling nothing. And there's also an occasional positive emotion - though I wouldn't call it happiness or love - more like satisfaction and affection.

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It did seem as if the husba... (Below threshold)

January 18, 2012 12:39 PM | Posted by Ron: | Reply

It did seem as if the husband did not love his wife. And, we do not really have much background on the marriage or her character, except that her daughter alludes to her superficiality etc. Perhaps, like many folks who cheat, she was so fundamentally flawed(narcissistic) herslf, that , once her courtship mask was removed, he fell out of love with her.
So, why if he did not love her was he upset by the cheating? I guess I can relate. I did not love my XW by the end. But, her cheating still pissed me off. It pissed me off at myself for tolerating all the other crap she dished out for so long.
You can sort of see this in Clooney's reaction when he tells the comatose wife that he planned on divorcing her, as well.
In my case, if I am honest, it was the fact that my XW beat me to the punch and suckered me into subsidizing her affair and, now , her lifestyle via child support. She outsmarted me and that upset me.

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bro you gotta incorporate s... (Below threshold)

January 19, 2012 1:06 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

bro you gotta incorporate some humanism, your shit has really been gettin' me down lately.

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Injuring a true narcissist.... (Below threshold)

January 23, 2012 12:28 PM | Posted by Paula: | Reply

Injuring a true narcissist...is it even possible? I was in a relationship with someone who could easily be diagnosed with NPD. I didn't discover this until AFTER I left him 12 months ago. My mother suspected months before that he was "crazy," that something was off. She would say, "Oh, Paula. If you marry him, he's going to lock you up and keep you all to himself. He's muffling you already." I didn't want to believe her. How could someone who claimed I was the love of his life want to hurt me like that? Within hours of moving in with him, I sensed something was not right. He had insisted I live with him and that he'd make room for my son and that we'd live happily ever after. But the first evening in "our" home, I saw something. I asked him if he was sure this is what he wanted. "Absolutely!" he replied. "This is your home now. You are the love of my life." A week later, my son returned from a holiday away with his dad. Reality set in. The way he "made my son feel at home" filled me with fear and anxiety. From making him stop running and playing by 8 to forcing him to eat things my son didn't like, this man started to make me want to vomit when I looked at him. This whole time he had been pretending to be a good person. I saw him for the monster he truly is and I was devastated. I quickly began feeling like maybe I was the crazy one. Jesus, what had I done. How could I have been so blind. I left at the end of week four. I received emotionally filled calls with him on the other end crying and promising to change. I received texts moments after the calls ended in which he delared me a whore and a cheater and bi-polar and an alcoholic. Evil and nasty messages seemed to easily fly from his fingers into my inbox. I stopped responding thinking he would re-read things I had written and realize that it wasn't all my fault, that he had a role in the demise of our love affair. Isn't that what normal people do? Months went by. Then his birthday arrived. I was tempted to text him to wish him a happy birthday, but I didn't. I didn't want to ruin his day. But at 10:30 that evening, he called my cell. I didn't answer because I felt like it was going to be an accusatory call. I knew his moods and temper all too well by this point. So, instead, I texted him a birthday message and wished him well. He responded with mean and nasty messages telling me that he was now convinced that I nevered cared about him. More name calling; more Ruben is the victim BS. I deleted them. A few more months went by. My stepfather died. I sent Ruben an e-mail to let him know. No response. No flowers or card for my mother. Nothing. I expected this but it still made me wonder what kind of heartless person behaves this way. So, much to my regret, I called him. Long conversation short: I am dead to him. The only thing he regrets is that HE cared so much. He feels I was too sick to care about as much as he did. He's found another victim to suck and fool.

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I read it got nominated for... (Below threshold)

January 24, 2012 9:41 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I read it got nominated for Oscar(s). Yuk.

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That's good enough for me, ... (Below threshold)

January 25, 2012 9:15 AM | Posted by JMo: | Reply

That's good enough for me, though I admit not reading this to the end. Too tired. So thanks, man, you just saved me $19.00. I had bought the hype (in a nice, eco-friendly paper bag), and was going to see it.

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Wow, I watched this last ni... (Below threshold)

January 25, 2012 12:55 PM | Posted by Charles: | Reply

Wow, I watched this last night...man was it bad, all of it, the acting, the story, the cussing kids!, If the Academy likes this so much ..why did they not nominate Superbad when it was out? I wasted 2 hours of my life on this junk, at 30 minutes we asked each other ... "what the heck", at 45 minutes we said "15 more minutes is all its getting"...then we actually finished it hoping for some sort of miracle finish. It never came, we never enjoyed it, and George Clooney owes me some money and 2 hours of my life back! Best Picture? Really...I think The Artist will win for sure based on what I watched...I can't even believe it's a best picture nominee and the hype might take it to a win? Please...NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I went to this movie as som... (Below threshold)

January 29, 2012 10:14 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I went to this movie as someone else assumed it was a chick flick due to the presence of George Clooney. After 45 minutes it attained the honour of being the first movie I've ever wanted to leave. We stuck around, hoping for a decent ending, but nothing came. We left the cinema with the feeling of wanting to warn other patrons about it.

There is one extra aspect to the ending which I believe you did not mention. During the movie, Clooney's character stated that if they waited until the law against perpetuities forced them to dissolve the trust, then all hell would break loose.

He does not choose to sell to the next bidder, which would have been the smart thing to do. He could have had his revenge and his money, too, but no. He sits on the property with the intention of holding it until the law demands dissolution, bringing upon himself the social and legal backlash from other family members and Lord knows what repercussions seven years down the line.

Therefore, even though he has taken 'revenge' against the man who diddled him out of his wife, he has also screwed himself, and in a much more royal manner than just loosing out of millions of dollars.

One could put this down to a desire to punish himself for not taking better care of his wife, marriage or kids. But I saw this as yet another brainless choice by a man who had a long history of such stupidity. I loathed The Descendants as I saw it as a collection of emotionally disturbed characters who made one poor choice after another. Perhaps the people who like this movie identify with the lameness of such choices?

As The Descendants closed, with Clooney's character sitting on a sofa huddled under a blanket with his two daughters, eating ice cream and watching March Of The Penguins, I saw a man who had signed his own financial and social death warrant, eating his last supper and waiting for the inevitable axe to fall.

The amount of awards and acclaim this movie is gaining is probably the most depressing meta-aspect of this movie. The shortcomings of fictional characters are forgiveable, but the idiocy of real people who applaud them is not.

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This is a great over-analys... (Below threshold)

February 2, 2012 11:53 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This is a great over-analysis of a movie. I haven't seen it but you seemed to have nailed a 'me, me, me' issue in the characters. I don't know, maybe the writers just were thinking to make it from the characters' perspective and so we'd see them as interesting or were thinking 'it had been me...'. The wife cheated and now for some reason is in a coma. The only way we could get her perspective, which also might be BS, is if the focus had been turned on her and significantly more or most of the movie made about her, maybe with flashbacks to her past.

And just because she's in the worst situation does NOT mean she's innocent. You propose that Clooney was a cold business-y person and yet the man she cheated on was nothing like him - maybe she didn't love Clooney's char either. Well, considering that she cheated I guess it's fair to assume that she didn't love him. But she chose him and stayed with him all that time. And came home to him and the family she'd made with him every single night and pretended this didn't happen. I'd have to say she was worse than Clooney's character for whatever narcissism you perceived in him. Having an affair, lying to her whole family instead of maybe just being a being a grown up and getting a divorce she decided to put on this whole deception. She made a legal, or depending on how religious you are, spiritual vow to love and stay committed and him and even though he perhaps didn't give her the attention she desired, SHE is the one who took the action to have a whole other relationship, not him. She decided 'hmm, no, husband and children, you are all too boring for ME and I want MORE' or 'omg I passive aggressively hate my husband so I'm going to do things in secret to spite him or for fun'. That's HER narcissistic flaw, not his. Had it been the other way around I would say the same thing.

The next question is since they didn't love each other what attracted them to each other? Or did they love each other once and it fell away? Maybe it was all based in pragmatism, maybe she wanted a wealthy man and ended up regretting it and seeking a different kind of man? And why did she stay? And the whole thing about his land, which otherwise doesn't sound like it should have ANYTHING TO DO with emotional issues like these, is apparently a key detail. So maybe that's why he kept the land, maybe that's why she stayed. Maybe thinking 'ok, I just have to outlive him and I get the pot!' or him thinking 'well something bad happened to me so I'm gonna make this decision for myself without considering anyone else now because I want to feel in control of something even though I don't understand why we have it and it hasn't made us happy anyway' I don't know.

Also, American Beauty was overrated I agree 100%. Every character is moody, self-centered and two hours of a smug drama on how everyone else is the problem. Then everyone proceeds to make dumb decisions and it looks so cool to the audience. A violent closeted nazi kills someone and gets away with it and his emo son tries to sound so deep by showing a video of a plastic bag floating through the air, this part made me angry. That's basically the entire movie.

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...So he was a horrible evi... (Below threshold)

February 2, 2012 12:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Paula's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

...So he was a horrible evil monster for wanting his stepson, your son, to be quiet in the evening and to try new foods? That jerk.

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Well, I didn't "The Descend... (Below threshold)

February 5, 2012 11:02 PM | Posted by Pissed Off Woman: | Reply

Well, I didn't "The Descendants" and am not going to, the trailer was bad enough: Valium-like music combined with a plot exposition consisting of

1) middle-aged rich dude finds what he thought was his property (i.e. wife and daughters) slipping away from him
2) rich dude has a violent middle-aged male hissy fit, punching her daughter's boyfriend (an obvious substitute for the punch he's too cowardly to throw at the guy his wife cheated on him with), throwing a teddy bear, and generally ordering people around in an effort to reassert his authority.
3) heartwarming ending.

I was surprised you described the audience as being mostly middle-aged women, as I figured the audience for such crap would be middle-aged men fantasizing about reasserting their fading authority over their families. Then I realized that George Clooney is for some reason a sex symbol among older females, so that brings them in I guess, and, I don't know, maybe they have similar issues regarding their husbands and are thinking of themselves as the female version of his character: my husband cheated on me, but that's ok 'cause I have control over the money.

As for "American Beauty", I hated that movie because the daughter's best friend got so screwed, with so little sympathy. Like we're supposed to see the daughter's boyfriend as this deep artist, but what happens is basically the daughter abandons her best friend for him. The best friend, desperately lonely, is driven into the arms of her friend's father, the hero, who proceeds to have sex with her. This is why statutory rape laws were invented, people.

Louis CK's review, though, was worse than the actual movie and that's saying something. A male sees a female as something besides a worthless sex object! He must be gay!

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"the generation that is onl... (Below threshold)

February 9, 2012 4:14 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

"the generation that is only able to feel rage, sadness, anxiety, and nothing."

Is that because they are stuck in the ugly, trying to, or being defeated at, get the attention / affect from their parents?

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Just curious: Is this websi... (Below threshold)

February 19, 2012 2:39 AM | Posted by Rory: | Reply

Just curious: Is this website gaslighting?

It seems to me that some of the paragraphs are in a lighter shade of grey, or perhaps a darker shade of grey. I keep squinting my eyes, and not being able to decide whether the darker shades are more or less important than the lighter shades or vice-versa. And then someone will say, "Nooo, the paragraphs are all the same colour..." and I will eventually go insane.

And also, I don't want to be a terrible person, so I choose NOT to like this movie.

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Surprisingly, I'm going to ... (Below threshold)

April 16, 2012 2:10 PM | Posted by lauren: | Reply

Surprisingly, I'm going to say the movie, the Descendants, has stuck with me for awhile. I oddly enjoyed it. I don't think it was well done, it's not even remotely an oscar contender (it's embarrassing that you think it might be.) It looks mostly like someone's pet environmental project. The story that was interesting was, Hawaii. It was not glossy. And I've spent time with people who live there, it was surprisingly realistic (at least the white ones with money.) I watched it as a story of Hawaiian real estate and trust fund babies.
The George Clooney character was not fat, but he was presented as less sexy. I thought it more a sad tale of a parsimonious guy who lives a careful life (frugal, emotionally detached) who was married to a beautiful, charismatic adrenaline freak. Ever hang with one of those? Poetry in motion and thrill and selfishness. You don't have relationships with one of those, and in this case the George Clooney character was living vicariously through her thrill seeking. I thought the movie made it clear that her attraction to him had always been the stability of his money. Ironically his character was so ahedonic he lived on just his income as a lawyer, quite pointedly not as a trust fund baby. Real love? No. But realistically aren't most pairings to fill a void within yourself? And 19th century Russian literature as paragon of relationship modelling? Really? Are you being sarcastic????
And finally, The Descendants is targeted to middle aged women, American Beauty to hipster cineophiles, two entirely different demographics generally speaking.

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You must be 12. If you're o... (Below threshold)

April 30, 2012 7:48 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You must be 12. If you're over 50 you get this movie. Sorry, but tweens get nothing, especially complicated stuff. Buh-bye kid.

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I liked BOTH the Descendant... (Below threshold)

April 30, 2012 8:00 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I liked BOTH the Descendants and American Beauty...but again, I'm over 50. Human larva (people under 12) should shut up and wait until they grow a brain to comment on movies. Srsly.

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i didn't see it like you at... (Below threshold)

May 30, 2012 9:09 PM | Posted by jani: | Reply

i didn't see it like you at all. In the end he was the one who loved her to bits. He never sold the land because he wanted to keep it in the natural form just as the other Hawiians wanted. If wanted to just screw the guy out of the money he could have sold it to the other bidder that actually offered them more money. Everyone in the movie was motivated by selfishness. His wife is dying and his cousins can't stop thinking about the selling of the land, the wife comes to rant at her dying body......to me he was a likeable character

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This can be this kind of ex... (Below threshold)

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I recently came accross you... (Below threshold)

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Not everyone who liked the ... (Below threshold)

July 11, 2012 8:35 PM | Posted by Gary: | Reply

Not everyone who liked the movie did so because it taught us any moral lessons or agreed with any Freudian urges deep within. I, for one, liked the way it portrayed Hawaii, where I'm from, and the spotlight on the local culture. It was well written and funny, as was the book's dialogue.

You also base the fact that it won an Academy Award as proof that everyone else liked the movie and agreed with its moral message and proximity to their life. Who really knows how Academy Awards are awarded or even judged? Many people say the studios buy the awards for movies; if this is the case, maybe the panel of 100 families or so really do have to struggle with their own $500 million legacies. Perhaps these are the people the director was referring to.

You forget that the purpose of a movie is entertainment, and not everyone who enjoys something agrees with or identifies with the characters motivation or actions. It's not representative of an audiences moral compass, despite your well articulated layers of proofs and evidence. Also, original book author was a woman, and I don't know if that will mean anything to your claims of the movie's stance that all the females in the book define themselves in relation to Matt's wealth. She had to write as a middle aged man. If anything, his trials and tribulations in love, family dynamics, money, all probably originate from her own experiences. How are you to say they are indicative of an "awful" person?

You will probably not think this is adequate a reply for your massive spread. That's fine by me, I wouldn't want everything to represent a phallus, vagina, childhood angst, or mis-projected fear.

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I don't know anything about... (Below threshold)

July 13, 2012 12:54 PM | Posted by bandy: | Reply

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my name is missu a... (Below threshold)

September 7, 2012 10:56 AM | Posted by missu: | Reply

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This can be this kind of ex... (Below threshold)

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I didn't think much of this... (Below threshold)

November 5, 2012 1:46 PM | Posted by Altostrata: | Reply

I didn't think much of this movie, or much about it, but I thought the job of the audience was to figure out all the ways Matt, despite being played by everybody's hero George Clooney, was a jerk.

This includes, at the end, refusing to share the landgina with his less well-off, mercenary relatives.

Seems that you and I, Dr. Last, had the viewer experience the director intended.

(Yeah, I liked Californication, too.)

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pathetic review... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 8:54 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

pathetic review

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The only narcisism you shou... (Below threshold)

December 29, 2012 9:02 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The only narcisism you should care about is yours. The movie was one of the most humane I 've ever watched. Perfection of simplicity. Tired of τhε blasé nobodies. Worst thing bout this film is that it gave you a chance to write you bullshit. Really doubt that you re a psychiatrist, but you definitely need one.

Yours sincerely

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I have to agree with the po... (Below threshold)

December 30, 2012 3:54 AM | Posted by Ana: | Reply

I have to agree with the points made about this film. But I'm also interested in the view people have if they've read the novel. I haven't read the novel, but I'm guessing that the film is like most films that are unable to capture the nuances in novels. But in saying that, this is basically the ideal story isn't it? Wealthy family (convenient), unhappy wife of wealthy dude (believable: I've known many women like that, as well as their hired lovers) and kids that somehow deal with it all in a week (unbelievable).
I couldn't get my head beyond the idea that here is this man played by Clooney, confronted with a guy that is embodied by an actor that was miscast as the lover, who makes it his quest of sorts to contact this man and then tell him that his wife is in a coma, bla bla bla. But it's all about a far fetched story. That's what all films are about aren't they?

Despite agreeing with most parts of the review, I didn't find it a terrible film to watch. I mean, it wasn't Prometheus (worst film of 2012). In fact it's the only film that I like Clooney in. Normally I can't watch George Clooney. He is one dimensional and plays the same persona repeatedly, but he's ideal for these types of roles.

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SPIRITUALLY YOUR PROBLEM HA... (Below threshold)

January 22, 2013 11:04 PM | Posted by Mohammed Rahman: | Reply

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if you want it from me i will send you the RING AND THE MAGICAL WORD that you will pronounce to enable you change any metal to Gold or Gem stone to Diamond please note when the changes take effect it will last for 10 hours from rising of the sun till dawn,after that the metal or the gem stone will return back to its normal colour.
if you need this Talisman from me i will it to you,Those that has this Ring make too much money with it, fraud expert uses this type of magical powers to make money.

10, COME BACK TO ME if want your divorce husband or your divorce wife to come back to you.,you will be happily married many things will change you will no longer lived like a bachelor.you will see attention and to be loved and you will no longer feel like crying.The kids need their daddy and want you to come back together.Very useful for the wife or husband who want to attract their partner and want ot remove misunderstanding between them,This power helps the wearer to drive away all evil spirits , ghost, bad dreams, sleepless night,

11,Mahalaxmi magical power talisman:
What to say about this most mahalaxmi magical power talisman , It contains natural power in it .We cant found it easily We found it very great patience and difficulties and then energized it with most powerfulMantras of Mahalaxmi in tantrik rituals . This very rare of rarest and natural talisman . This product is for for prosperity, wealth, treasures, financial improvement, luck, windfalls, advancement in career, promotions, business success, abundance and general blessings . This talisman carries abundant degree of prana and energy of this universe It can remove poverty with ease , It can win you lottery . It remove all sort of financial troubles and person never run out of money . It shows you path to how to extend the business and make good profit . .It remove hindrance and obstacles you are facing in acquiring money or in business . It make you rich and famous in society .Just have it and feel the change in your life .It also removes the the black magic effects on you if somebody have done to stop your income .This magical pendant works automatically and give wearer all sort of comforts to wearer life,It create the magical aura around the wearer. It creates positive energies around the wearer and holy soul , spirit may contact the wearer and help him or her for acquiring wealth to the wearer and every person come in contact get attracted to wearer and help to fulfill dreams.

12,Third eye talisman
Ope third eye talisman is very powerful talisman to open and activate your third eye,If you want to know anything past or present or condition and position of a person, it help you to see future happening and predict future , by getting this you will know the lottery number and the number of soccer team who win or anything you want to see about future . it is very powerful talisman for to build intuition power and foresee future .very useful for person who do speculation business,want to win lottery or the one who want to see future happening.

13,AGADANGODO KEY
This key is a highly spiritual key, whatever is your problem mention it and lock the key it will be permanently like that until you open the key.For example if you want a relationship between you and someone all you need to do is to mention your name and the name of the person and lock it that means that you have join the two hearts together, if you take a Loan from someone and you don’t have the money to pay back and the person is disturbing you hold the key in your hand mention his name and said that he should forget about the Loan you collected from him automatically the person will not ask you about the money again.If you have a court case you can also use it to end up the case mention everything you want as you are holding the key and lock it that will be the end of that matter and the key must not be open unless you want the case to be revised again.For this reason people in West Africa that knows about this key have many of it in their homes for different problems they have locked.

14,Are you Adoptee Searching for your Birth Parents, Family, Son, Daughter, to know anything about them try me, Spiritual i will get the information for you i will send you address and phone number of any of them call me now

15,GOLF PLAYERS TALISMAN
The Talisman is mind and eyes control of a cricket ball to any direction you wants it, is very useful for golf players, professional golf players uses this Talisman to control cricket ball to any direction. you will enjoy playing golf with this Talisman when you receive it from me

16 MOHRE MAR PYTHONS SNAKE STONE,
These stones are found inside the body of a snake.Asia and Africa Pythons that live near the equator where it is hot and wet and their huge bodies can stay warm,They make their homes in caves,these Snake stones is possessed by a Spirit that is responsible for the stone they inhabit and aid the possessor of the stone toward unlimited good fortune and Luck, they radiate the personal Aura making it like a shield against negative energies such as curses, hexes and the "Evil Eye" they protect the possesor of the stone from accidents and misfortune of any kind, they render the holder of the stine invisible to evil or ill indended beings (human and otherwise), Bring Love into their lives or increase existing love between partners, they give Power to ordinary humans making them extraordinary, casting spells and manifesting becomes much more powerful when using one of these stone, keeps the possessor healthy and cures diseases and illnesses when placed in water, when worn it will bring the wearer many new opportunities and adventure, and increase financial situation of the wearer, it will attract people toward the wearer of the stone and keep him youthful by drinking the water in which it is placed in, these stones have so many attributes it is difficult to list them all, they work on many levels and improve the wearers life almost immediately, they bring out the "personal Magnetism" in the possessor.It also is a cure for poison, if the wearer is bitten by a snake, scorpion, or any other poisonous animal, by placing the stone on the bite it will stick to the skin and absorb all the poison and 'swell', when all the poison has been drawn out of the body the stone will fall off, and by placing it into a bowl of warm milk it will clease the stone of the poison and go back to its original size. Napoleon was given one of these stones by the shah of Iran,s grandfather to place in his chalice before drinking wine, thus bringing this stone to the western hemisphere. http://www.kidzone.ws/lw/snakes/facts-python.htm

I WORK WITH HIGH SPIRITUAL MEN WITH POWERS,
The cost price will not be a problem for you if you use it wisely the someday you receive it from me you will gain more than the money you send for it.some times people send a fly ticket for any of my worker to come and demonstrate how it works and i will send my worker to go and demonstrate it for them before they pay for the total cost.a man from Morocco did this when he notice the action of the talisman he paid more than the cost of the talisman because he was happy: I will be waiting for you response For more Talisman.EMAIL mohammedraman2@yahoo.com
CONTACT. Mohammed Rahman
International Astrologer and Psychic Advisor
http://mohammedraman.listal.com CALL ME OR SEND TEXT MESSAGE Tel; +234-803-064-9883

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Well, I liked The Descendan... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2013 2:36 AM | Posted by Dani: | Reply

Well, I liked The Descendants very much and I don't like American Beauty at all.

I think you are peeing like...250 km from the bucket. I don't presume to know why everyone liked this but I can tell you why I liked it, and it was because of the simple view of a moment of the life of a family and how they deal with grief, bonds, etc. It felt direct and to the point. And Hawaii, I love Hawaii.

So what if he is narcissistic or if the daughter takes care of him and not the other way around? This dynamic exists and why shouldn't they be portrayed in a movie?

I really don't get your point of saying the movie is bad. A bad movie has flat characters and doesn't transmit anything. This movie certainly has transmitted enough to you for you to make a mile long review, check what you are doing for a second. You made an analysis of the characters so they are real to you, you think they are shit, they are the wrong role model or whatever...So what? That's not the job of the movie.

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I'm glad you made the disti... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2014 3:58 PM | Posted by AspieCatholicgirl: | Reply

I'm glad you made the distinction between liking this movie and identifying with it. I did enjoy watching it, but definitely definitely did not identify with it.Every character has a life full of despair, sin, and meaninglessness.
The only good thing in the world, as depicted by that movie, is the beauty of the Hawaiian outdoors.

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It is not possible to answe... (Below threshold)

August 1, 2014 9:58 AM | Posted by Greg Harnett: | Reply

It is not possible to answer all the rambling nonsense in this piece. But one thing I can assure you 100% is that I loved The Descendants but American Beauty is one of my most hated films--that at least gave me a smile when i read your 100% guarantee.

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I have started reading your... (Below threshold)

August 25, 2014 4:48 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I have started reading your blogs a couple weeks ago and can't help but wonder if I have created you from my mind. You sound a lot like the voice in my head that I can't use. This keyword search "Is knowing the truth going to help" was what I used that eventually led me to your blog. Just right around the time that I figured that nothing that I had ever been told or believed was ever true. Only BS, and my projection of course. So now I don't know what to make of you.

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