Friday, September 15, 2006

Movie Orgies

I love movies. A lot. In fact, I’ve seen 33 movies in since 2:00 pm last Thursday and plan to see 9 more before I got to bed on Saturday... (And no Peter Saarsgard this year, Molly... Did sit across the aisle from Christian Bale a few nights ago, though... Actually, he was down the row a bit, but Jeremy Davies was right across the aisle from me. What a strange and interesting little man...)

Because of my movie obsession, picking one favourite movie is beyond difficult...

But I'm going to have to go with Robert Altman's SHORT CUTS. I'm a serious sucker for the interconnected storyline movie. I also loved Crash, Magnolia, Grand Canyon, Gosford Park, Nashville and even Love, Actually.

Sometimes loving a movie is about when you saw it, or who you saw it with, or what was going on in your life when you saw it... But I think my infatuation with SHORT CUTS is about the characters. No cookie-cutter stereotypes in that movie. Just fascinating, layered people with serious flaws, making interesting, unexpected and questionable choices.

Like Madeline Stowe's character's reaction to her philandering husband. Instead of lashing out, she makes a joking game out of hearing what ridiculous lie he comes up with next. Still she actually seems to love him. I loved the relationship between her and her sister, played by Julianne Moore, too, and the way they laughed at the Matthew Modine character, Julianne's husband, when he tried to be blasé about finding his sister-in-law nude in his living room. And the contrast between that scene and Modine’s actual blasé reaction to his wife being naked from the waist down in another scene. Her nudity had nothing to do with the scene, so some people might argue it was gratuitous, but the choice to have her be naked and not have it matter to the scene, said so much about their characters and the marriage.

I could go on and on about this movie, and I haven’t seen it in years… Must see it again. (Actually, I’m seeing a film tomorrow, JINDABYNE, that is taken from one of the Carver short stories adapted in SHORT CUTS – the one where they find a dead body.)

Has it affected my writing? Not 100% sure. I wish I could write all my characters with so many layers. Must try harder. I am attempting an interconnected storyline manuscript (it's had had a few false starts), and the manuscript that got me my agent has two interconnected timelines… so I guess I am carrying some of the love of this type of film into my writing.

I think filmmakers have a slight advantage over novelists with this structure, though. With the visuals, they can show you the characters and get you interested in a lot of different characters without resorting to tons of description and reminders. Not that it’s impossible in a novel, just harder, I think.

While I’m on the interconnecting soapbox, I saw BABEL this week. Very good. Believe it or not, Brad Pitt made me cry. The film’s not quite as powerful as 21 GRAMS, but great nonetheless.

My brain is too full of movies to think any more…

Some other festival highlights you should see when/if they open.

The Last King of Scotland
Rescue Dawn
Pan’s Labyrinth
For Your Consideration
Breaking and Entering


Molly O'Keefe said...

Maureen! Can't wait to do a post TIFF round up wiht you!! Everything sounds great! I love the Carver story with the body -- I hope that's a great movie.

regarding your hope that you carry this kind of work into your writing -- your choices to always do the more interesting but difficult storyline clearly comes from this appreciation.
Shout when it's all over and you've slept for a day!

Reel Fanatic said...

Short Cuts definitely ranks high on my list of favorites too .. Many directors since have tried to weave together so many disparate stories into a cohesive whole, but most have only failed embarassingly

Christine said...

Thanks Maureen. I'll make a point of checking out those movies when/if they hit the theatres. :)

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