Column, Movie Diary

A path toward redemption

By Dom Cioffi

My son and school have never been close friends. He enjoys his classmates and the socialization, but as far as the work is concerned, he struggles to stay interested.

I struggled to stay interested as well. I hated math, was occasionally interested in something historical, didn’t see the relevance of social studies, was confused by science, and only got through English because I was naturally good at putting my voice into sentences.

Outside of that, all I cared about was gym class and art, where I knew I could excel. I would have likely been interested in a music program if it incorporated material I was interested in, but that was never the case.

The difference between my son and me was that I tried a bit harder to disguise my disdain for my studies; I figured it was a means to an end. I knew once I got to college, I could then focus on something I was truly captivated by.

And that’s exactly what happened.

When I got to college, I was originally a business major, but I quickly switched to philosophy when I discovered that it was the only class I was interested in studying. My father berated me for this choice, remarking, “A philosophy degree will only come in handy as a conversation piece while you’re standing in the unemployment line.”

He wasn’t half wrong.

Once I got out of school and got my bearings (and realized a philosophy degree was only good if you’re going into teaching), I began to realize that a “normal” career would last decades, and if that was the case, I wasn’t prepared to do something that I wouldn’t enjoy.

And so, I leaned on the only thing I was good at: art. Throughout my school years, I was always better at art than my classmates. Drawing and painting came easily to me and I had a natural affinity for design.

Once I got on an Apple Macintosh computer, my career literally unrolled in front of me. I never saw it coming, but I’m sure glad it happened.

And that’s what I’ve been telling my son as he prepares to make plans for his next step after high school. I’ve told him that all he needs to do is lean into something that really interests him, and everything will fall into place after that. His original choice may not be the perfect answer, but it will open doors to other ideas as he progresses forward.

Given that my son is adept with his hands (great athlete, plays three instruments), I’ve suggested a two-year associate program in a discipline that interests him. Outside of music and sports, his two biggest loves are fishing and cars. Being a professional fisherman seems like a long shot, so I suggested looking into an auto program at a nearby community college. 

I looked up some info and found a contact and told my son to send an email to inquire if he and I could come for a tour. A week later, we were walking onto a campus that specializes in automotive studies.

 Personally, I was intrigued by the whole setup, which was professional and extensive and covered everything from body work to electoral repair and engine restoration to electric vehicle servicing.

At one point, when we were in a classroom with a dozen workstations that emulated the entire electrical system of a car, my son turned to me and said, “Now this is the kind of classroom I could be into.” He was referencing his lifelong struggle with having to sit still for long periods of time just listening to concepts being relayed.

We both left that tour on a high— my son because he finally found something that really interested him, and I because it was endearing to see him excited about his future. Who knows where this will lead, but at least it has him focusing on a goal.

This week’s feature, “Tár” starring Cate Blanchett, is about a middle-aged woman who has been on a definitive path towards a specific goal her entire life. But while she’s created great success and acquired immense respect in her chosen field, she is not without deep-rooted flaws that eventually come back to haunt her.

Cate Blanchett is mesmerizing (as usual) in her portrayal of a hallowed symphonic maestro, providing the kind of depth and emotion few actors can convey. She was well deserving of an Oscar nod last week, and while she didn’t win, I’m certain her depiction of this haunted genius was a very close second.

This one moves at a slower pace, but the tension and build-up all coalesce into a painful realization that narcissism never pays out. A harmonious “A-” for “Tár” now available for rental on Amazon Prime.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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