Thursday, July 5, 2007

I spent Independence Day watching Vanessa Redgrave.

Happy 4th! As a bit of a patriot (in the I love the USA sense, not in the Patriot Act sense), I always feel a little teary watching Macy's Fireworks to the soundtrack of our national anthem. Even if I wish the fireworks were on the Hudson instead of the East River. But oh well.

I watched Evening today with my mom and sister. The theater was packed with - surprise surprise - senior citizens. All the actors and actresses gave some really great performances. And Meryl Streep's daughter looks like her little clone.

As for the book to film transition: While the basic premise was the same, the plot changed slightly, but I think for the better. Made it tighter, raised the tensions, and maybe even a little bit more sense. She developed Buddy's character more, and took out the questionable fiancee of Harris'. I liked that she kept the sort of blur of reality and dream there.

I do, however, have some criticisms. I felt the pacing was too slow, the transitions between present, past and fantasy too abrupt, and, aside from the backbone of the movie - the scenes that take place in the past - I felt everything else just skimmed the top. The whole thing with the daughters in the present - it was ALMOST there but not quite, never quite spent enough time or dove enough in to feel for them. The dreaminess of her dementia also felt a little bit like it was there for the sake of being there, but offered little device. I also felt it only picked up momentum towards the second half of the movie.

Well, I guess the thing is, I didn't love the book in itself. It was a decent read, and I actually really liked the plot and concept, but I wasn't a big fan of how Minot chose to execute it. The lack of quotations, stream of consciousness and constant confusion of scene flashing and merging, while demonstrating the state of mind that Ann is in, didn't resonate with me or work for me as well as it should have, and it disoriented me enough for me to lose the emotional empathy I would have liked to have for the characters. So it could be that I was expecting something more from a movie that would make everything clear. Don't get me wrong, I definitely felt a lot during the movie and I liked the movie, but I guess there could definitely have been improvements.

What I did like though, was thinking about this theme of regret. Sitting amongst so many seniors, I wondered what they took of the movie's message. If they felt similar about their lives, mistakes, regret. I felt it was so tragic that Ann and Harris missed their chance - as a girl whose life has perhaps not even finished its first act, I have strong feelings about "happily ever after", finding that (as Murakami would say) "100% perfect" one, and missed opportunities. And the expectations and hope that you end up happy. Losing your chance at your only real love seems so unbearably regretful to me. And yet it seemed that the story was making the point that "there are no mistakes", that "we do what we have to do". And I sort of believe that too. That no matter what, things turn out okay, that we have our ups and downs, but things will be all right in the end. It may not always be what we imagine it to be, or expect it to be, or planned it to be. But I think we learn to be happy with what we have, because we wouldn't know otherwise how it could turn out. But then I wonder if 50 years down the line, I'd feel the same, or if I'd look back on something, someone, and wonder about mistakes made, opportunities not seized, the one that got away. Is it true? That there are no mistakes? I wondered what all those sitting in the theater, with decades and decades under their belt, what they all felt while watching this movie, when, undoubtedly, they all reflected back on their own lives, and loves missed too.

Reminds me of one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite movies, Before Sunset. When Ethan Hawke asks Julie Delpy, why, why didn't they exchange phone numbers. And she says something to the effect of, when you're young, you believe that there will be so many people that you will connect with, that you'll have so many chances. But then you get older and you realize that's not true.

I wonder about that sometimes.

Anyway. Some truly great performances by amazing actresses and actors in this movie. Worth seeing, even if it's a little bit dragging. But you should be in that sort of mood. Otherwise, go see Live Free Die Hard (I want to see that too!).

Happy birthday, America.

4 drops:

moonrat said...

what about the nine years in between sunrise and sunset?! how many innocent unsuspecting 20somethings looked to the romantic fateful message in the first movie and took it as reason enough not to pursue something precious for whatever reason?! unforgivable.

moonrat said...

speaking of book to movie, though, what's your take on trying to reread all the harry potters by next week so i'll be fresh on the details?

moonrat said...

or at least, like, books 4-6.

angelle said...

i think that's a delightful idea (the HP deal). well, or, rent movie 4, and re-read 5. i hated book 5 though, so i'm hoping they make up for that. ummm and i can't wait for the 21st because you know i'll be completely disappearing for a few days when THAT book arrives in my mailbox...

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