Monday, February 25, 2008

Contact's Big Space; The Osars and
No Country For Old Men's Screenplay

It's been a week with some sleep issues (again), but my sleeplessness last night meant I got to catch some of CONTACT in the wee hours. Yeah, I can watch it anytime. I have the DVD. But it was on, and I love me Jodie Foster, and I love the part where she meets the alien, and the part where she testifies. So, I left it on while I plucked my facial hair. (Don't get old. You turn into a werewolf, ladies. Dang.)

I love how the movie winds down from the excitement of her trip through the ancient space transportation system and the drama of her testimony--with Jodie's ability to look just awash with deep emotion, like she's gonna burst right out of those lovely eyes of hers--descending softly into the romantic comfort of the hug, the meeting of hands in the cab, to the gentle moments with the schoolchildren:

KID: Are there other people out there in the Universe?
ELLIE: That’s a good question. What do you think, huh?
KID: I don’t know.
ELLIE: That’s a good answer. A skeptic, huh? The most important thing is that you all keep searching for your own answers. I’ll tell you one thing about the Universe though. The Universe is a pretty big place, it’s bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space, right?

After that, we seet her sitting by the canyon, letting dirt sift through her hand and wearing an expression of contentment. She was a haunted person when the movie started. She was at peace when it ended. Lovely.

Pull out to the majestic cosmos.

Even if there were no one else out there on other planets, I don't see it as a waste. I see it as just one more testimony of how astoundingly BIG God is. If the universe had been more limited--those spheres turning about us, not that far away--and less awe-inspiring, it would be a lesser instrument pointing to the Creator. The Bible says the universe speaks of God, and to me, it does. Because it has wonders and mystery and , if not infinity, mind-boggling vastness, it says, "Yes, this is pretty nifty and it makes you stand and wonder, but God is so much more mysterious, wondrous, vast, and inspiring. This is less than a pinky nail to what God is."

Considering how gorgeous it is out there, that says a lot.

Carl Sagan (author of the novel on which the excellent film was based) would not agree with me--at least not while alive, but I believe in an afterlife, so, in my view of how things are, he knows now what we can only guess about on this side of it all. But when I look up, I am stunned by it all, and the One who made it long ago... and who still makes contact today.


Watched the Oscars. A bit underwhelmed. None of the gowns made me go oooooh in a big way, though I totally coveted Nicole Kidman's glittery necklace. Marion Cotillard's gown looked like she was gaily plastered with whipped cream. She was adorable. I need to see her Piaf. "Non, je ne regrette rien!"

Jon Stewart didn't make me laugh out loud--not once. (I did smile on occasion, and maybe I guffawed at "and the baby goes to...Angelina Jolie" bit.

Tilda Swinton and Diablo Cody--whose black hair was fun--are up for new awards, I suspect: most dreadful dress at the Oscars. Diablo's at least looked like a dress, if a really tacky one with a way too high slit. I kept waiting to see Wilma Flintstone show up as her best pal. Tilda's looked like a bolt of purple-black cloth had been carelessly draped on her, but never eventually fashioned into a discernible shape and sewn into order. And the color made her look dead. Still, I have found her intriguing since I first saw her in ORLANDO, and I so dig her androgynous glow. That's two foreign gals getting the best actress O in a row. I can only guess that these ladies dress themselves, as opposed to having stylists dress them. So, for that, a thumbs up--if not for the actual gowns.

(I think Bjork still wins the perpetual weirdest Oscar dress award for that swan thing.)

Happy to see Daniel Day win. (Have adored him since his stick-up-the-butt wonderfulness in A Room With a View and his dazzling bit as Christy Brown and his suffocatingly trapped Newland Archer.) However, part of me was rooting for Johnny Depp, who has blown me away since Edward Scissorhands, and, well, he's a hottie.

Until my birthday last week, hubby and I hadn't been to a movie theater since, oh, 2001, I think. My allergies warm me away from mildewy places, and my germphobia goes into high mode in theaters. (Example: I used a paper towel between my head and the seat just in case someone with hair ickies sat there before me.)

But after a morning and afternoon of birthday-related enjoyment, I did not want to get into Miami rush hour traffic. We were at the mall, with me splurging on delicious lip glosses from MAC and Nars and Cargo (the latter two at Sephora, which is a wonderland for girly girls who like colors and scents and self-indulgent beauty products.) I suggested we just watch a film at the megaplex located there. Hubby was game.

Lucked out. The theater was clean, didn't have mildewy smell, didn't have the volume set to "bust Mir's ear before the film is done," didn't have chattering teens or back-of-the-seat kicking preteens, didn't have mashers (oh, don't even ask about pervos in theaters, ugh), and my allergies were not aroused.

That's where the luck ended: The only film starting within a half-hour was UNTRACEABLE. I said, okay, hubby might like it, it's got computers.

Hmmm. UNTRACEABLE is the kind of film that you watch to find out what happens next, while really appalled at the gory stuff, the stupid things characters do, and the total waste of good actors. (Why have Mary Beth Hurt if she basically does nothing? Why have Diane Lane and not give her character dimension?) I like mystery and puzzles and clues. I don't like gore and people suffering horribly before my eyes. And midway through it I was thinking: This is a tv show or tv film. This is just not big enough, smart enough for movie theater prices. This is like CSI, only longer and with dumber law enforcement.

I did enjoy seeing Ms. Lane, who in the film has a real face, not a botoxed/stretched/collagened/restylaned mask. As a middle-aged woman who is aghast at the alarming loss of elasticity in my skin, but who is more alarmed at the plastic surgery mania that surround us, I give the movie one-half bonus star just for showing a middle-aged (but still quite attractive) actress with natural face. (For all I know, Diane has succumed since then. She looked awfully fresh at the Oscars, but not close enough to tell if it was skillful application of makeup or some "work".)

That's one thing I love about the Brit thespians. The women on BBC and in film (such as Helen Mirren, who is still rocking that magnificent bosom of hers and who looked great last night) have real faces. Real teeth (not unnatural white square Chicklets). Real boobies. Real noses. At least, enough that you notice a certain reality when watching. I'm sure a percentage get work done, but not like American actresses and actors. (Seen Burt Reynolds lately? Mickey Rourke? Melanie Griffith? They're scary.) Frankly, I wish Nicole Kidman would drop her P.S. habit. She was so much lovelier before she started with the plumping via assorted means and immobilization via botulism. Ditto Meg Ryan, who went from adorably cute to WTF happened to her mouth/cheeks/etc. She stopped looking "Megsy" to me.

Trust me, I know about hating those crevices between the eyebrows and the sag of the bosom and the droop of the cheeks (both kinds), but an actress (and actor) should be able to actually make the wide range of human expression, dontcha think? I don't want to wonder why the heck they can't frown.

And sending the message to American women who are already half-crazed with a sense of not measuring up lookswise that, hey, without surgery and enhancements and lots of tweaks, forget about it. You just don't rate. You're not woman enough.

That's a dangerous, cruel, and unjust message to send. We're screwed up enough about beauty and aging and weight without thinking we need to save up to get our noses thinned and chins firmed and eyes lifted.

I realize that I say that after spending 130 bucks on lip glosses, perfume, foundation, and face powder as a birthday extravagance. (At least none of those require anesthesia and the risk of life and limb. Plusa, I do end up looking like me, just more colorful, not like a stranger. And if you tick me off, you'll know it, cause my eyebrows can move together.)

What was I talking about before the above rant?

Oh, right. Back to the Oscars.

I really enjoyed the performance of "Raise It Up," a nominee in the best song category. Great voices in that choir. And that little girl was fabulous, so poised and so on key and pitch perfect. Talented kid. But, the lovely, romantic, vocally vulnerable rendition of "Falling Slowly" utterly won me over. There was a point--two actually-- where the male singer (the Irish guy) turns to the pianist (the gal with the Russiany name) and it's such a lovely look and smile he sends her. Just heart-warming. Loved seeing them win. Now I want to see the flick ($100,000 budget!) just to see that sweet chemistry and hear the song in context. (And his voice reminded me of vintage Cat Stevens, which is a very pleasing thing.)

I have no idea why two of the three ENCHANTED songs were nominated. They sucked. Maybe there was a dearth of eligible tunes.

On to the writing bits: With NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN getting so many of the honors, I definitely need to up that on my NetFlix queue (along with the other nominees). Meantime, I found the screenplay online (it won an Oscar, yes) and am halfway done. Bleakness.

But, if you're curious about an Oscar-winning screenplay, read it:

No Country for Old Men, the screenplay

I could not find the screenplay for JUNO, the other film with a writing award, online. If you have a link for it, drop me the url in the comments, would ya?

Now, I need to NetFlix a few films.


Mike Duran said...

Mir, despite the heavy humanist vibes, I love Contact. The cerulean celestial shoreline at the end of the film makes me weep. And No Country for Old Men was my favorite film of '07. Saw it for the second time at the theaters yesterday. Bleak, yes. But the unrelenting evil that is Javier Bardem, and the "old man" grappling for existential footing played by Tommy Lee Jones, are just fantastic. The Coen bros. rock and this film is stylistically one of a kind.

patrick said...

just watched no country for old men, it's unassumingly unconventional yet (thankfully) never over-the-top. the Coen bros. deserve their Oscars; well done indeed.