November 10, 2003

Acquisitions, Movies, and Wilde (is a genius)

Well, craziness this weekend . . . more so concerning what didn't get done as opposed to what did. I'll still finish everything I need to finish, and I'll get it done on time, too. But I haven't done much of it yet. My dad was here this weekend, so I did stuff. We saw a few movies, and that was cool. To make a long story as short as possible, the only activities which will be of any interest to you to read about (I say this without knowing for sure, of course), and of any interest to me to write about, are the movie reviews.

Well, that and the fact that he drove my new pickup over from Lubbock. Nissan Frontier, 1998, red, manual . . . etc. I drove it here and there the past few days and I'm just generally pleased with it. And, of course, it must have a name, just because I can. I believe "Errant Venture" will do nicely. It has just enough levels of meaning, although the one I'm thinking of in particular is "Straying from the proper course on an undertaking of 'uncertain' outcome." For you Star Wars fans out there, I didn't pick it specifically because of the SW connection (Booster Terrik's Star Destroyer). Rather, the name occured to me because I heard it there and liked it on its own merits.

Anyway, on Friday night I went to see Runaway Jury. I thoroughly enjoyed it, pretty much throughout. If you like Grisham, and you liked the book the movie was based on, then you'll probably enjoy it. A suspenseful two hours of watching people manipulate each other . . . yay! They made some very interesting changes from the book, but overall it was a surprisingly faithful adaptation (especially considering the sheer number of events in the book). The trial here was over gun control instead of smoking, which was . . . odd. I'm not sure what all the reasons were for that choice. Personally, I suspect it has to do with how much more relevant and highly-charged the gun control issue is right now. The biggest change, to my mind, was in the ending, but it fit nicely with the direction they had been taking things all along. It annoyed me, but only slightly. The casting was excellent as well.

On Saturday night we saw Radio. I still have two opinions about this movie . . . I can't quite decide. I've been watching the previews for months, and during the first half-hour my original assessment seemed to have been confirmed. This movie is Forrest Gump meets Remember the Titans. As such, the whole thing is terribly cliché. If you liked either of those movies, particularly the latter, then you're going to like this movie. After the football season ended fairly early on, I realized that this wasn't going to be a total rehash of Titans, at least. Then, when the movie hits its "low point" I suddenly woke up and started examining what had happened so far. The movie was rather blatantly attempting to manipulate the emotions of the audience, and it seemed that that was as far as it went. This didn't come as a surprise or anything, I just suddenly noticed it. You were made to like Radio and feel happy for him, and then the movie would do something really crappy to him. And then he'd be back on top again. But after this "low point" it stopped doing that as well. The end was what clinched it, pretty much. The movie was based on a true story, and the main character is still alive. They ended with a voice-over and footage of Radio at recent games. That helped put the movie in perspective and allowed to feel more connected with what I had just seen (thinking of it as real rather than utterly contrived, as I had been tempted to think earlier). It also resonated because of the setting . . . a small, Southern town. Throughout the movie I kept thinking "Well, I've been there!" and "I know that person!" Cuba Gooding, Jr. did an incredible acting job. I've seen him in other movies, and this is obviously as much of a departure for him as Forrest Gump was for Tom Hanks. Ultimately it comes down to this. The movie does not require you to suspend your disbelief in order for you to enjoy it. Rather, you must suspend your cynicism. This makes it more apparent than ever that there are two of me. Because I still have my two opinions about this freaking movie!!!

Finally, tonight (my dad having returned to Guatemala today) we watched The Importance of Being Earnest. I thoroughly enjoyed it because . . . well, Oscar Wilde is a freaking genius. But you knew that. It's great because it works well for both of my personalities. Few things work as well comedically as the classic screwed-up love story. Take two men, both in love, both in the habit of using the same alias with their loved ones. Add two stereotyped Victorian women capable of swinging wildly from hyper-romantic naivete to cold, clammy propriety in the blink of an eye. Throw in a few random plot devices like the materialistic, social-climbing guardian whose consent is required for marriage, and the foundling origins of the main character. Season with the biting satirical wit of Oscar Wilde (a man equally comfortable with the sniper rifle and the sawed-off shotgun when it comes to satire) directed at skewering his society. Shake well. Hilarity ensues. Anyway, it was loads and loads of fun. I'm just kind of scratching the surface here, because that's all I really want to do. I'll leave you with some quotes from the play (unfortunately, it is impossible for me to judge how funny they are taken out of context), and then I'm off to bed.

"I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. Shilly-shallying with the question is absurd."

"The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means."

"To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."

"I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square."

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!"

"I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing."

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

"The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to some one else, if she is plain."

"It is awfully hard work doing nothing. However, I don't mind hard work where there is no definite object of any kind."

"Oh, I don't think I would care to catch a sensible man. I shouldn't know what to talk to him about."

"Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven't got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die."

"Women only call each other sister when they have called each other a lot of other things first."

Posted by Jared at November 10, 2003 02:40 AM | TrackBack