Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 25, 2016

Don’t Think Twice

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 9:09 pm

“Don’t Think Twice:” Art is Socialism, Life is Capitalism

When I posted my movie consumer’s guide for 2012, among the recommended films was “Sleepwalk With Me”, a quirky “indie” film based on the real life career of Mike Birbiglia, a self-deprecating, mildly amusing standup comedian who is a sleepwalker. Among the things we learn about him in this modest work is that unless he spends the night in a sleeping bag atop a bed, there is a chance that he might walk out a second story window as he once did.

After getting an invitation from a publicist to see his latest film “Don’t Think Twice”, I was eager to see it based on his earlier work. On one level, it is the same kind of breezy entertainment as “Sleepwalk With Me” but on a higher level it is a dark and deeply perceptive meditation on the phenomenon that William James described in a letter to H.G. Wells in 1906: “The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That — with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success — is our national disease.”

Birbiglia stars as Miles, the founder and director of an improvisational comedy group called The Commune that performs in a theater named Improv for America. While there is nothing overtly political about the group’s performances, their improvisational techniques suggest a certain kind of value system familiar to those of us who lived through the 60s:

1/ Say Yes: Always accept your partner’s cue on stage to move the improvisation forward.

2/ It’s All About the Group: The individual is subordinate to the collective performance. Stardom is frowned upon.

3/ Don’t Think: This is about getting out of your head and acting on your impulses. It is also a reference to the film’s title, one of Bob Dylan’s most famous songs that we hear in the closing credits of the film.

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