Playwrights make movies too.

Joe Vs. The Volcano is an awesome/inspiring movie for so many reasons, but more than anything, it gives me that “Oh, wait. I’m alive, I’m really alive in this world” feeling. I believe it’s a feeling worth spending your life seeking.

John Patrick Shanley both wrote and directed this gem. He also happens to be one of my favorite playwrights. I’ve talked about this before, but I love his work because he has an incredible way of making you vividly feel this sense of magic and being alive, as an undercurrent that runs under every interaction and experience in his plays, however mundane or ordinary.

In this film, Joe Banks is the protagonist, and he basically leaves his corporate office life, where’s he’s waster four years of his life and sacrifices his life to a volcano, which needs to be appeased by having one *willing* human sacrifice every one hundred years. (He is also told he has a terminal condition.)

This is one of my favorite exchanges of dialogue in the film. It’s when Joe quits his job.

Joe Banks: You look terrible, Mr. Waturi. You look like a bag of shit stuffed in a cheap suit. Not that anyone could look good under these zombie lights. I, I, I, I can feel them sucking the juice out of my eyeball. Suck, suck, suck, SUCK…

[makes a sucking noise]

Joe Banks: For 300 bucks a week, that’s the news. For 300 bucks a week, I’ve lived in this sink, this used rubber.

Mr. Waturi: You watch it, mister! There’s a woman here!

Joe Banks: [shouting] Don’t you think I know that, Frank? Don’t you think I am aware there is a woman here? I can smell her, like, like a flower. I can taste her, like sugar on my tongue. When I’m 20 feet away I can hear the fabric of her dress when she moves in her chair!

I just am so moved by this moment in the film – when Joe is so in touch with what makes him human, and I think it’s one of the first times Joe can speak his desire and nature so clearly.

Netflix it if you haven’t seen it. And note to John Patrick Shanley – write more movies!


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