I Like It Here...
People talk or laugh about aging, its irritations and relentless progression, but rarely confront the reality of dying or being left alone. Nor do they consider the lightness and calmness that can come when the race seems not so crucial. I LIKE IT HERE is about all those things and, finally, about the pleasures of being alive. A figurehead of American independent documentary film, Ralph Arlyck conveys how it feels to look back on your own life, to contemplate your place in an ever-changing world, and what to make of the time that remains.
As poetic and soothing as a cat’s purr, at once minimally lyrical and eloquent in its ways of affirming how, albeit briefly, our lives can be beautiful, I Like it Here demands from its audience only one thing: to sit back, enjoy and wonder.
In 1977, NASA sent out Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 to explore the solar system. Scientists equipped the spacecraft with “golden records,” audio-visual discs containing pertinent scientific information encoded to assist intelligent extraterrestrials in discerning what it is they may have happened to come across. Whenever we decide to dispatch our next golden record, I think we should make sure American director Ralph Arlyck’s I Like It Here (2022) is on it. If showcasing the essence of humanity is the goal, then Arlyck’s documentary fits the criteria.
I Like It Here expresses Arlyck’s existential truths with as much directness, honesty, and tenderness as its title suggests right from the start, like the soul of a child that overcomes external limitations, playing free in the here and now, with a desire that doesn’t have time to turn into a complaint. I like it here, which means let’s stay as long as we can.
Striking a sweet, often humorous tone, Arlyck navigates aging gracefully with a keen awareness of how parent-child relationships morph as time proceeds. With a simple and direct approach, narrated by Arlyck – who early on asks “So what?” as the film makes sense of the loose threads that equal a life – “I Like it Here” is a beautiful meditation on mortality.
It is hard to imagine the precise balance of engagement and neutrality that Arlyck created in this film. Actually, it is balanced in almost everything. It is about the reality we all must eventually face, yet the focus is on how he reckons with it. He is meditative about it but not bitter or sad. And yet, there is an emotion that prevails – the desire to stay.