Friday, August 1, 2014

"I feel like you're breathing helium and I'm breathing oxygen."

Friday’s post.  Awesome.  If you’re reading the blog, it’s FRIDAY.  If you’re reading the subscription it’s SATURDAY and even better.  If you’re like me (which you aren’t, sorry) then it’s THURSDAY which isn’t as good as Friday but I’m on the train home so it’s almost that good.  And, back in the day, Magnum P.I. was on Thursday nights.  Then it was Friends and Seinfeld.  What is it now?  I haven’t had T.V. in years.

Which brings me to an interesting observation.  I enjoy reading screenplays as much as watching movies.  Sometimes, like today, probably more than the movie itself.  I read Before Midnight on the recommendation that it was truly terrific.  Um.  Terrific, unless you are Jason Everett Bear, is subjective and I didn’t think it was terrific.  I thought it was okay as a read and never plan to see it.  Why?  Nothing happens.  Which is to say that plenty happens, but not visually so it shouldn’t actually be a film.  It reminded me very much of a short story.

As a short story it was good.  Nearly the entire film is dialogue.  I’m talking 95% of the text is dialogue, the other 5% is scene headings and character names.  There’s a smattering of ‘R’ material including language and almost sex, but I suspect that’s only there so people will watch it.  You could certainly cut it and still have exactly the same conversation.

It’s two conversations, really.  A running dialogue between the protagonists and a dinner party that kicks off the second act.  Okay, a third.  The opening scene introduces us to Jesse during a lopsided conversation with a character we never see again.

It’s a fairly banal conversation too.  They mostly affect airs and try to sound profound but then drop to clever and crude.  It’s meant to emulate real life and they discuss real life quite a lot.  Mostly about how real life is nothing like a fairy tale and people don’t really fall in love forever and isn’t everything in the world all messed up?  (Of course they don’t say ‘messed’ up.)

The voice of dissent from that world view was not very strong and the closing scene never really answers the question although we know precisely how the main characters feel.  I myself absolutely believe in forever love and found the idea that it was a crock to be supported only by selfishness and a hedonistic desire to experience bliss every moment, always right, always the hero, and always with something better just at the next table.

Silly.  Any cocaine addict will tell you that high is relative and when you’re high you aren’t trying to get high.  It’s not being high that makes being high seem so good.  You can’t feel appreciated unless you’re felt unappreciated first.  And emotion needs to be refreshed.  Like Judo.  You want to control someone with a joint lock?  Don’t keep the pain on.  Ramp it up and then back it off.  Otherwise your opponent will get used to it and kick your butt.

So the script itself was well written and read quickly and, if the format was adjusted a bit, might appear in The New Yorker or The Atlantic.  The characters were well drawn and the voices were very distinct.  It was impressive, actually.  But dull as film.  Talk, talk, talk.

And it was depressing.  I’m sorry if you love it.  Just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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