a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

A Few Takeaways from Nomadland

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You can always count on Amazon fulfillment centers as a place to work. Oh, and they’re great places to work!

Spending any screen time with a New Age self-empowerment entrepreneur – even if he appears to be a nice guy* – is on any level a bad excuse for thinking seriously about being homeless and on the road.

Living in a vacant lot in the desert beside a freeway is not so bad if you are in the company of like-minded vagrants. Actually, it’s pretty shitty.

Those roadside communities are all filled with a bunch of communitarians, who are all in it to make life better for everyone. As if.

Make sure you include one nameless person of color in your basically all-white communities.

If you’re white and living in your van, you can always count on your family to get you out of trouble. Because they’re basically rich.

Without social security and working minimum wage jobs, one can easily get from Montana to somewhere in Nevada or California, to South Dakota, to Northern California and back to Montana with gas prices as they are while driving a gas-guzzling mobile home.

If you introduce pooping by the side of the road in the first act, throw in a “humorous” scene about the sizes of plastic buckets one should carry in one’s van for pooping purposes in the second act, and then in the third act, add a gratuitous pooping scene – at least show the viewer what size bucket Frances uses!

Go wandering off into the Badlands from the tour group. You will be found, but you will not advance the plot.

Make sure there’s a scene of meaningful contemplation with a brontosaurus.

Introduce 20-something crusters to make a 60-something drifter feel better about her aimlessness while adding a bit of a sentimental empathetic quality to her character.

Even with a great and very likable actress like Frances McDormand, you should give her a bit of a character arc. She goes nowhere in the great Western US nowhere. And though one might recognize the signifiers of her plight – the true plight of many folks, who are apparently all white, stuck in their later years without homes and on limited incomes – does one really feel for her? Does one learn from her and her story?

There is a myth of the independent western drifter type, all white-line fever, gotta keep on movin’, the road is my home, that has been at the heart of some great American art. Merle Haggard’s songs and some of John Ford’s movies come to mind. Does Nomadland, the movie, build on this tradition, work with it, question it?

No, it doesn’t.

*He’s workin’ it in the way all New Age hustlers work it.

Written by Nicholas Vroman

March 31, 2021 at 2:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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