26 February 2012

Love & Death & Life and Films and Woody, Always Woody

"We only begin to live when we conceive life as a tragedy."  - W.B. Yeats

Yesterday I learned that an acquaintance, Aaron, had died of a heroin overdose. He was 32 years old. Aaron had been in and out of AA, often serving in volunteer roles while in. But as he once said, "I love my heroin." The news of Aaron's passing was a punch in the gut, but at the same time not at all surprising. It is left to us who knew him to pass along Aaron's story. Sharing the soaring heights of life's experiences and the depressing lows enrich and inform our own experience and help us contextualize what it means to be here among the living. Thanks for being around Aaron and trying to clean up. Sorry I didn't know you better and really sorry that any chance to is permanently gone.

Last weekend I finished "catching up" with 2011 releases. I'll never make the mistake again to feel compelled to watch films out of a sense of obligation. I sat through Ides of March and  for which I should receive an award. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti played political operatives in roles made for them. They responded by uttering their lines and collecting fat paychecks. Some imaginative casting would have been nice here. George Clooney directed, or at least received screen credit for directing. He shot the script with the actors hitting their marks. I hope gofers supplied enough coffee for him to stay awake. Hard to believe this is the same bloke who directed the wonderful Good Night and Good Luck (2005). Clooney also appeared in the film. Appeared is the perfect word for his role. To say he acted would be a stretch. Clooney played the presidential candidate in this story of a pivotal Ohio Democratic primary. The star of the film was Ryan Gosling. Gosling is a major talent, who kept all that talent safely hidden away while Ides of March was filmed. A bigger problem than the "performances" in this "film" was that the story was told with something less than originality. A lot less than originality. Like none. The story itself hardly seemed worth telling. Up and coming young campaign media man's struggle to keep his position and get his candidate elected. There is a suicide in the story which is ironic considering this film pretty much killed itself.

I also saw 50/50 starring the intensely likable Joseph Gorden Leavitt. It is the true story of a young man who discovers he has cancer. Seth Rogen plays his best buddy. Rogen has enriched many films playing guys we are all familiar with. The happy stoner, good buddy and fun-loving prankster rolled into one. But this time he's mostly amazingly obnoxious and unpleasant. Several characters in the film strain credulity with how bloody thoughtless they are, like the doctor who delivers the initial bad news with shocking insensitivity. Maybe the screenwriter experienced such louts in this struggle with cancer but they don't translate into believable film characters. The story breaks no new ground nor is it told in an interesting way.For most 16 year olds 50/50 will seem like a deep and meaningful film with rich insights into the human condition. Okay, maybe not most 16 year olds, just the less sophisticated ones. 

The other day I overheard to "people" dissing Woody Allen. To hear such talk tends to drive me into a homicidal rage. However in this instance I distanced myself from the two yokels before blood was shed. Sadly, before I could leave the area I heard one of them opine that "all his movies are alike." Yes, of course. Match Point (2005) and Small Time Crooks (2000) are virtually the same film. As are Midnight in Paris (2011) and Cassandra's Dream (2007). So too are Bullets Over Broadway (1994) and Another Woman (1988). Not to mention Sleepers (1973) and Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). I could sarcastically go on and on pairing Allen films that are nothing alike. It is true that there are certain themes and character types that appear regularly in Allen films. Just as there are in the films of Fellini, Bergman, Hitchcock and any other director who's made more than a handful of films. It's just depressing to share a planet with people who make such ridiculous generalizations and utter such preposterous mistruths. As we see every time a republican candidate opens his mouth.

On the bright side I've recently watched M (1931), Winter Light (1963) and Raging Bull (1980) and yesterday purchased my very own copy of L'Avventura (1960). So life, is after all, good.

1 comment:

Tudor Queen said...

I'm very sorry about the loss of your friend.

Thanks for warning me off "Ides of March". I wasn't sure if I wanted to see it or not and, well, now I know I don't.

As for Woody Allen, I was a little surprised when he won the Oscar last night for Original Screenplay. But apart from the fact that I do think the man can write extraordinarily well, it made me happy because basically the Academy has now said three separate times, it's okay that you don't care about or respect us, and we think you were the best this year anyway!

There's a kind of honor in that.