Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cut to: EXT. Night. Sunset Blvd. Jessica sits on a near-sidewalk-level window ledge outside a building, . She is behind several other people, waiting in line in front of a small, one-screen movie theatre. Several people are lined up behind her. She has her cell phone pressed to her ear. She speaks:
Are you on your way? Oh, okay. I just wanted to let you know I'm not
at the cafe next door. I'm in line. I SAID, I'M IN LINE. Yes, there's a line.
I know, I was really surprised. What? Okay, see you soon.

Which is pretty much a reality script of what I did this evening at roughly 8:20, a full hour and a half before the showing of "Batman" at my new favorite --very nahce, one screen--theatre in LA ( it's small! It's Art Deco retro! It's nicely restored and technologically rehabbed! Plus, they took out every other row so there could be leg room! Concessions were cheap! This last factoid will come into play later during this post so pay attention!) , which is actually Jack's favorite theatre, which is why we ended up there. ( Jack and I have become swimmingly good at being friends. It's nice. Suddenly, he's got all his good qualities back and the annoying ones don't bother me as much. Funny how that allllllll changes when you stop sleeping with someone, innit?) I got off work at 7:30 and headed over to his neck o' the woods, and I got there at like, 8:15. After looking around for Jack in the cafe I noticed this string of folks sitting on the sidewalk. (Cue doom-filled music) I knew what I was in for.

This, boys and girls, is where hubris gets you. And don't you forget it. Not that the world will ever let you, more than likely.

So I parked it and Jack showed up with tickets in hand already and I went and got a snack from the cafe next door while he held the spot. (My dinner? Ended up consisting of a cafe mocha and a large, stale cupcake. Oh, and that hot dog and half a bag of popcorn I wolfed down before the movie started. The hot dog and the popcorn were much fresher, if you're interested.) But we got great seats, unlike those folks who showed up way later and ended up being in line across the intersection of Sunset and Hillhurst. Yikes.

And so? So? SO???? You're asking? Did I love it? Did I love it or did I LOOOOOOOVE it? Or was it utterly overboiled and undercooked? Does Heath Ledger deserve that posthumous Oscar as it has been said? Was it all hype? Was it WORTH IT????!?!??

The answer is....


I LOOOOOOOOVED it. Every stinking moment of it. Goddammit!

It was written perfectly, directly perfectly ( god I LOOOOOOOVE Christopher Nolan! I didn't even know he did it untill a few weeks ago! And I almost freaked, because he's made some of my favorite movies EVAH, like "Memento" and "The Prestige"), acted so well by EVERYONE that I almost plotzed. I'm serious. It wants for nothing. Okay, well, I think Mr. Bale needs to tone it down with the "Batman Voice" ( two octaves deeper than his normal speaking range and a little weird) and it was a tad long at 2+ hours, but other than that, it was fanfuckingtastic and I don't care if you don't like superhero movies, it ISN'T a superhero movie. It's about characters, and it's really, really just about as perfect as you can get a cast to be cast, and costumed and shot and so on and so forth. Across the board.

As for That Pending Posthumous Question, let me answer it like this: I don't really believe in "posthumous " much on too many things. I am especially fussy when it comes to All Matters Oscar ( see last year's much ballyhooed "Juno" debate where I took the tres unpopular stance that Ellen Page shouldn't even have been nominated). Putting the two together is like asking me to eat veal and marmalade, which are two other things I don't really believe in and/or am fussy about, which might well be somewhat tolerable together somehow, but God Knows How, and It Sure As Hell Would Have to Be An Exceptional Circumstance, in either case.

On those merits alone, I can tell you: no. I think that people who are awarded posthumous Oscars have to have had a long and notable career and have to have had died unexpectedly while nominated to be awarded one ( although it should be noted that there is a long string of people being nominated for Oscars after death, James Dean being one of them. Who only had 2 films in his whole career when he died. ). The only person who ever won one was Peter Finch for "Network" ( ya know, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" ? Okay, maybe I'm just too old... ) and I think he may have even died before he was nominated ( note to self: look that up. Or, easier: R, do you know?) as well. But even so, he had already worked pretty hard and established himself as a gifted professional for a long, long while. I know this makes me a hardass for bucking tradition in terms of even sheer posthumous nominations, let alone being actually awarded. Call me a stickler (I've heard worse on awards-related topics, trust me), but that's my standard.

On the basis of his performance, soley: Hell yeah. He sneaks in under the wire and steals the whole movie. Which was pretty tough to do, since everyone else was no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. (Christian, of course, as the angsty Dark Knight; Aaron Eckhart as the oh-so-pure-or-is-he? Harvey Dent; Maggie Gyllenhall doing much to improve on Katie Holmes' old role as Rachel Dawes; Micheal Caine as the perfect Alfred and Morgan Freeman as a most original Lucius Fox. And please, someone give Gary Oldman a frickin pat on the back for being almost unrecognizable as himself as Commish Gordan already????)Of course, lets face it: stealing the movie as the Joker is not hard, he could have chosen to walk the whole thing out versus give it something; it's a part screaming for attention with lots of "look at me!" whackjob moments, and if you've ever read the comic book, plenty of chilling psychopathic depth with little need for embellishment to make it work.

Still, Heath adds so much of his own stuff in there, this eerie stillness at the center of the character, these little facial tics and posturing and walking....just watching him walk and hold himself was exactly right, and yet utterly his, because I had not imagined those things out of that character. In fact, I was sitting there wondering when he'd get angrier or more despondant as, in my mind, the Joker can be, when things don't go his way.....when I realized, hmpf. Not his choice. His choice his certainty. Not inner conflict ( that's Bruce Wayne's gig). Not even flappable. Just SURE. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that, but he made his decision as an actor and stuck by it, and it works. It not only works, it's brilliant.

It's a little sad, because I would have liked to see how he made that character work in any future films. R.I.P. He was so talented.


Moving on.

The only REAL problem I had with the film was, in fact, not at all due to anything the makers of it could control. I have a long history of not particularly being inclined toward action/adventure type movies. It's not that I don't feel they have merit, but rather, the sheer adrenaline of watching them often leaves me exhausted. I'm one of those "feeler" types who sit there and catch their breath every time a car rolls over or bullets whiz by. Then there are many peek-through-the-fingers moments when things get violent; I just don't have much of a stomach on me. I can take it up to a point ( fer cryin' out loud, I grew up in AMERICAN culture, thank you!) but then when the scene is all said and done, I usually find I've been holding my breath and a huge exhale is neccessary.

And psychological violence or high-level emotional moments tend to leave me reeling as well; I'm a crier and a laugher and an it-became-a-part-of-me person, and so it's just hard. Which isnt' to say I don't think movies should have those things, it's just I tend to be a little high strung anyway, and again, I feel everything, so, alas. It's a gamble. On the flip side I also tend to relish things more, so it works for me as much as it works against me. I try to choose wisely and view movies I think are worth the whole trip of experiencing, and usually it pays off.

Unless, of course, I forget that about myself ( it happens!Contrary to popular belief I don't get the scoop on every movie I see beforehand, and frankly, I go to the theatre so rarely sometimes it's just BEEN awhile, so I'm not even thinking like that) and fail to gauge IN ADVANCE that I might be putting myself at risk. I've totally bought it at movies before; I remember a truly charming moment of "Requiem for A Dream" that forced me out of the theatre and into a bistro chair breathing it out. ( I thought I was doing pretty well til an employee came up to me and said, "You look sort of green. Are you okay? Should we get your party?" I asked for a glass of water, and assurred him that I was probably going to be all right. Unfortunately, I ended up, after 20 good minutes of chilling, going back in only to discover that NO, this movie WASN'T over and my date wasn't just watching the credits but rather, there was whole lot of end yet to come. At which point I informed said date that "this fucking movie had better end in 20 minutes or less or we are LEAVING!" Yeah, he got lucky, 'cause it did. Suffice it to say, we did not STAY for the credits like he wanted to do.) And that was a movie I didn't eat much of a dinner prior to viewing ( I was on a date. I was nervous!).

So, say, in an of course purely hypothetical situation in which you were cheated out of dinner by having to sit in line for a movie that ended up grossing $155.34 million this weekend ( was I right, or was I RIGHT??) and oh, you know.... you had a big giant ( stale) cupcake followed by a really quick-- albeit super tasty and fresh-- hotdog and popcorn 10 minutes to screen time, followed by a movie chock full of um, er, intense stuff like the aforementioned in the form of
(Insert spoilers here; if you want to keep reading, it doesn't reveal much and is still really vauge. However, I leave you to choose.)
twisted violence ("I'm going to make this pencil disappear" anyone? ) and big-time action sequences ( hey, even the Batcar didn't totally survive one of them) and complex social/psychological torture ( two boats, two detonators, no one leaves, but one of them has to blow, of course.)
(safe to resume now....have at it!)
I ask you: WTF W YOU D?

I almost hurled. Twice. The second time I had that "aha!" moment about the fine fine cuisine of the evening sitting in my stomach like a rock while my insides churned around these plotlines and content. DUH, Jessica! Did you learn nothing when you saw "The Golden Compass " -- a movie that you'd a.) read the book of well before hand and b.) was pretty easy sailing most of the way as it'd been marketed towards children --this Christmas and the polar bear fight almost brought up a soft pretzel ? Apparently not.

And then I almost cried. Three times. I was doing that ::fans face:: thing so I wouldn't and be this total goober who cries at Batman, for crying out loud. Then I got in the car and got all misty on the way home. In my defense, I do have PMS. Not like this was some sort of sappy Hallmark commercial, though, you know?

The bottom line is, I MUST stop eating weird shit at the movies, if not flat out checking myself before I even leave the house with the vetting of films that have "content issues" more regularly. I'm clearly being a.) forgetful and b.) irresponsible enough to not consider the results of ya know, puking on site. In the end, if I suspect a movie contains adrenaline-reaching highs + graphic violence + psychological twist-the-knife moments ( or any combination of the three), I have to decide whether the film is worth it for me. If I feel it has merit enough to see and then make sure I EAT real food at least an hour before curtain. ( After all, I am the daughter of a mother who went to go see "Alien" when she was pregnant with my brother and yanked my dad outta there after that whole chest-bursting-open scene. Granted, being pregnant with another life inside of her when seeing that particular moment probably added to her need to burst out of there like her hair was on fire, but my mom isn't one for that stuff anyway, as it stands).

So this all begs the question, doesn't it? Given the post-near-hurling and crying and whatnot, do I think it was worth it?

Oh, yes. A hundred times, yes. No doubt about it. For once, all the hype and the inconvience and nausea and the was definitely, unequvicably WORTH it.

Yes, yes, yes.