Monday, September 08, 2008

weekend movie-viewing

Well, finished watching The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford. Ah me! Actually, I'm kinda touched. I have to admit that although I found the presentation kinda maudlin. First, of all it's got this narrator that shows up on all kinds of noble science historical nonfiction stuff. To say this guy has gravitas oozing out of every cell of his vocal chords is an understatement. But then there is this "wasn't Jesse wonderful?" thing happening. True, it's fair to Jesse and to Robert Ford...and we see that Robert was kinda stuck in an odd position (fear of JJ killing him and his brother, being pegged by government officials to betray his friend, Jesse supposedly getting world weary and kinda fatalistic and kinda hinting Rob should kill him.) And it shows that Jesse also shot folks in the back and was kinda supposedly mentally wobbly and paranoid toward the end. But the Jesse as Jesus, Robert as Judas is a bit much. And it doesn't help matters that historically Jesse was killed the day after Palm Sunday and buried on Good Friday. Not since Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet has I see christ-figuritis raise to such a maudlin tremor.

Then there was this need for glory thing which was the bane of old gunslingers plus some upset nutcase travelling to the midwest to kill Robert. And the comparisons of crowds at Jesse's funeral and photos of him on the piece of board (like Jesus pretty much) compared to no crowds at Rob's funeral and no postcards. So yeah, I was touched . At the end when Robert is hated by all and the evils of fame -- ah I bet the actors who watched this really understood the idea of hangers-ons, and stalking people who want to destroy what they emulate. The guilt poor Rob had to deal with after betraying his friend will also help me depict my main character's guilt. Okay, he was a weak character definitely. Not mentally together but who would be with folks messing around and picking on him. Harshness and teasing is par for the course in certain cultures. Maybe this is one of the thing that annoys Psal. Before psychology made us aware of how nutty we all are, and how cruel such teasing was.....well, of course this kinda thing would happen.

Easy enough to get into the story although I always think, "Why the hell should I like JEsse JAmes? He was a southern racist." The in-law part I don't mind. But a southern racist dying at the hand of another guy who cowardly though he be is also a southern racist. But I can be "american" enough to like a national outlaw hero.

Watched The Last King of Scotland. Like Glory, it's a story about a black main character but they have to use a white main character to tell his story. I'm sure Nisi and Cindy (co-authors of Writing the Other) would get a chuckle out of that. Seemed to be a weekend for me to delve into megalomania. Well, forced myself to sit through it. Jim McAvoy. Way cute so I accepted it. Plus I also love Forrest. But dang! Remember this thing is fiction. McAvoy plays a scottish doctor who ends up being Idi Amin's doc...and sleeping with one of Amin's cast-off wives. (Let me repeat that: sleeping with one of Amin's cast-off wives. Oh the ridiculousness of that.) So it's basicially an Innocents Abroad falling into trouble film joined to a white man surrounded by gorgeous black women film plus noble youth wanting to uplift the natives film. I swear! It was hard to not see it as a work of fiction. Because everything --in this white country-- seemed to depend on this white kid. ::rolls eyes::

I honestly find myself saying, "Why the heck do I continue to trust movie critics?" They praise certain movies and I keep forgetting that I am not part of the mainstream. Heck, Gone with the wind is the favorite movies of most white americans with Casablanca a close second. And black folks hate them both. And most film critics are white. So why the heck did I trust them? The trouble is I forget. I mean I'm pretty aware of certain things like religion and abortion issues so I avoid films like those cause I know I won't agree with the characterizations. But race....totally forgot about that. Or maybe I had been a bit naive and assumed that this taking up the white man's burden/sex savior thing is still valid in some circles. So annoying this movie. Although I will say that Forrest Whitaker was great.

-C
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