Monday, March 24, 2008

Viggo Mortensen Has No Tush

We saw Eastern Promises this weekend (It was a strange Easter - I had all my Jewish in-laws over for a ham dinner - weird). And man - did I love that movie. I love that all the motivations for all the characters were shown perfectly. Some, depending on the character - the son for instance - were really obvious and blatant - as they should be. The son was not a complicated character - though his homosexual undertones (which were far more subtle) were really interesting and made for some seriously tense moments between him and Viggo. The prostitute scene? Zoinks. I think Viggo loves getting it on on film - he and Cronenberg are like a match made in violent sex scene heaven. But those homosexual motivations - in great plot subplot construction - became the motivations for a lot of what happens in the movie - including the conception of the baby that starts this whole ball running.

The motivations for Naomi Watts, got more intricate and complicated the more the Russian uncle kept blabbering on. And Viggo. Oh, Viggo. Tushy or no. Naked fight scene or no. Nobody does bad ass with a heart of gold like Viggo. What an amazing romance hero. Perfectly constructed - perfectly revealed. The movie ended and I had so many questions about the character and then as I spent a few days thinking about it I realized all the answers were in the film. The answers were right there in the scene with the prostitute that he urges to live a little longer - even after totally defiling her. And the scene when he gets his stars. WOW. Great storytelling. Great storytelling.

I want to be more subtle, more careful and nuanced, but I just don't think I'm smart enough yet. And considering how I spent ten minutes yesterday looking for the aluminum foil that was literally on the counter top RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME - I'm not getting any smarter. And I don't know where learning to be nuanced comes from - I know it's in part trusting your reader and knowing your story. But the rest must be magic. Maybe I can borrow Viggo and his non-existent bum for inspiration...


Heidi the Hick said...

Really? His bum is that scrawny?

Maybe he needs to start riding horses again.

I could help him with that.

Maureen McGowan said...

Ha! Great post, Molly. (Maybe Viggo's fifty something age is starting to show in his butt?)

While you know I love subtlety... Most days I'm back to thinking that you can only use so much of it in genre fiction. Subtlety is not what most readers of genre fiction want, perhaps?

On the other hand, I don't think they want to be spoon fed or told the same things repeatedly... But neither do I think they want to spend a few days figuring out the layers in a book they just finished... And Eastern Promises, while being Cronenburg's most genre, most accessible film to date, still sucked at the box office. That says something to me about what Joe General Public wants in a movie.
I think Eastern Promises was an amazing blend of art and entertainment... Totally overlooked at the Oscars this year, but I don't think we need to worry about putting quite the same level of art in our books. Do we? Boy, I hope not, because like you, I have enough trouble finding the tin foil most days. :-)

Oh, and I think you may have already been here by the end of your post, but I think that son character was more than one dimensional. Poor gay boy abused by his viciously cruel even though he looks like a teddy bear father. Poor guy ;-) You're right. That prostitute scene showed so much. You could look at it as Viggo and David playing out their bizarre fetishes and need to show violent sex on screen... (This is the same director who made a car crash sex fetish movie) but HUGE character reveals in that scene.

Molly O'Keefe said...

It is that scrawny, Heidi - in the showing of the tattoo scenes -- no bum to be seen. But he was incredibly thin in this movie - razor sharp which I think was intentional?

He's 50 something??? Wow. WOW.

I totally agree this was his most accessible film to date - but it's also a russian mafia film which might be part of the reason why people didn't go? And it's not like Cronenberg has catered at all to Joe Public. I like his films and I still close my eyes during lots of those throat slitting, blood gurgling scenes.

I HOPE we don't have to worry about putting in a whole lot of art - but that said, I do know and crave that feeling that I get when I know I hit something just right, or managed to surprise a reader. That's a nice feeling -- would be nice to have it more often. More often than the "what the heck am I doing? I totally suck." feeling.

What I loved about the son was that so much of his motives and character dimension were revealed when he was off screen - so when he was on screen as a viewer I went -- oh! That's why he's a total ass. Oh! That's why he wanted to watch Viggo have sex. Smart. Interesting way to reveal character, particularly since he was the fulcrum for so much of the action.

Maureen McGowan said...

Okay, he's just 50. I checked. Born in 1958.

And storytelling like that makes me want to be better, too. But today, I'd settle for just getting words on the page. Don't want to aim too high. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Loved Eastern Promises, not as much as a History of Violence, but still loved it.
And Viggo, he does that hair trigger violence, but still a good guy thing really believably.

Subtlety on the screen versus in a book, tough thing to pull off, where you can watch a character's face convey a series of emotions on the screen, in a book, we have to be more specific, or we're in another character's POV the entire time.

It's the master craft in writing we talk about, the next level.
Right now I'm working towards proficient.

But the combo of Cronenberg and Viggo is pure joy for me.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Yeah - Sinead that is your perfect match up - the Cronenberg/Viggo combo. I need to think of mine...Maureen, what's yours?

Wylie Kinson said...

I just told hubby to rent it for me this weekend. I'm in desperate need of a crash course in subtle storytelling...

I watched Away from Her this weekend (Sarah Polley directed Julie Christie & Gordon Pinset - based on an Alice Munro story) and it was BRILLIANT.

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