I'm going to preface the following by saying this: I like some of Angels and Airwaves. Yes, I'm not very fond of I-Empire like most, but something has to be said for someone who continues to want to explore the idea of pushing not only their music in a larger than life fashion, but more importantly, the message as well. While Tom DeLonge is aware that many see him as the bad guy in years past, he's really just trying to make a better tomorrow for all of us. Speaking with DeLonge last night before and after the Fantastic Fest viewing of LOVE, a movie scored and co-created by Angels and Airwaves, it's clear that he has the best intentions, even in the eyes of his greatest critics.
My anticipation for LOVE's visual screening was not high, nor was it low. Instead, I just wanted to see it. I wanted to see not only something as big as a feature film that DeLonge had worked on, but I wanted to see the musical approach he took to it even more. While my expectations in the latter consisted of a film commencing an idea with a soundtrack of Angels and Airwaves cuts from their catalog, I was instead given an art house screening that was scored with the band's use of movement through instruments rather than vocals and lyrics. The film plays out closest to a 2001: A Space Odyssey homage, but thematically deals with the idea of isolation and attempts to touch on different aspects of loss of human communication through mental and physical touch, storytelling and relating through it, and the power of - well - love. The movie is cut between the opening Civil War scene (containing a great monologue on life and death) and the future where Astronaut Lee Miller (played by Gunner Wright) learns about the mental stress of isolation when he's cut off from all communication and stranded in the International Space Station. It's Miller's breakdown over time that explores the ideas of being completely severed from the outside world: longing any sort of communication, dreams of intimacy, slowly slipping into an acceptance of death you feel forced to do yourself.
I won't give away too much - especially the final fifteen minutes of the film - but LOVE ended up being more touching than I would have imagined it to be. Sure, there are a few moments where it seems just a tad over the top, but the message over all completely overrides any sort of minimal critique of your preconceived elitism you may or may not have. Visually, LOVE is pretty grand. William Eubank created some great sets, and really brings a contrast of grit in the Civil War scenes against the slick and bright timbre in the last third of the movie's cinematography. I think what's most powerful is placing yourself in Miller's position. When you hear how long he's been self-captive, you start to think if you'd last as long or if you may have cracked earlier. The four interludes Eubanks filmed are possibly the best part of the feature. I'm unsure if their monologues were real or scripted, but they're the most powerful of the film. As Miller begins to breakdown more and more, each interlude becomes more insight into why general communication is needed in our nature. It helps us grow and learn. As humans, we can't thrive off throwing a ball against a wall. In times when it is out of our control, it's nice to know we have the comfort of another to help us through it - the simplicities of mental and physical touch we sometimes take for granted.
Past the movie, I want to move on to the interview I had with DeLonge and some things he said. Growing up doesn't happen over night. Just when you think you've cleared up a mistake, you can sometimes still trip. Growing up will hit you. That "oh shit!" moment of your life exists, and unlike Santa, you'll never know when acts of realization will make their marks and at what age that will happen. For some it's early, for others it can be later in life or never at all. The best decision you can make upon yourself is to bring a sense of positivity and karma around you. I think another theme of LOVE is how individual reactions create shockwaves all of us indirectly or even directly feel every day.
DeLonge and Eubanks' vision and story is quite compelling. Sometimes I believe that we do take communication for granted. As much as we would want to complain about outside forces of both social interaction and immense media may have a negative effect on us, I think the comfort of a laugh from a movie or understanding and appreciating the ending to a problem you're facing when getting to the end of a great album can be a positive that shouldn't be overlooked. We let our bitterness and completely unwavering sense of pride sometimes get in our way of opening up to new ideas - and as someone who considers themselves quite an elitist within music - I'm as guilty as the most casual of listeners. Sometimes we need to just sit back and take something in without expectations. Don't seek answers from a song, just let it talk to you and walk away with your own analysis. I wasn't seeking anything when sitting down in the theater last night, and because of that I walked away with a blank state now full of ideas and thoughts running through my mind. The piece got me thinking about a lot of things, and that's all you can ever hope art, no matter how small or ambitious it is, can do to you in the end.