The Majestic, An Oldie but a Sweetie

Hard to believe 2001 was almost 20 years ago, my son was an innocent 8 years old, yet shielding him from our country’s rapid ageing after 9/11 seemed impossible.
In line with 2001’s innocence, and subsequent loss of, I watched a movie from December of that year, The Majestic, at the suggestion of my movie genius pal, Gus Mollasis.

Gus had mentioned the movie a few weeks ago on our first podcast (Baker & Mollasis At the Movies on and after his good natured openmindendness on hearing my defense of the deadpan history historical reenactment film “Wild Nights with Emily”, he was due his day (movie) in court (so to speak).

And court there was in The Majestic, this time a 1950’s Red Scare court room scene which unfortunately took the air out of not only the bubble gum bobby socked Americans, but also the romantic and sentimental thrust of the film. Romance with a capital R since the movie beautifully captured not just romance for the opposite sex, but our lust for films and real old time, sit up straight none-of-this-darn-sqeaky-recliner-b.s. movie theaters.

I loved the beginning of the film and thought the opening twenty minutes were very suspenseful, Jim Carrey’s crash scene done very well, the foreshadowing of the coat shut in his convertible door the crash, his rush down the river, his head cracking into the base of a bridge. I was reminded of Gordy Hoffman’s Blue Cat Screenwriting advice: you have to make your main character really suffer!

I also loved the idea that movies have so much power for us and that seeing them on the big screen, in a theater community is a powerful experience. I was even excited enough to fantasize about twenty years from now when maybe, just maybe the trend will swing back, where we’ll grow tired of the one million ways you can watch a movie and go back to the old communal theaters, just like The Majestic.

As far as acting the true stand out here is Jim Carrey even with the likes of who really stands out even with the likes of Martin Landau and Hal Holbrook. Just as the masses have become marginalized by movie venue choices, Jim has gotten lost in choice, too, both personal and professional. He’s definitely caught the politico-fever as evidenced by his mad as a hatter tweets and art work. I’d love him to go back to the likes of “Man on the Moon” or my favorite “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” because he truly seemed to have that Jimmy Stewart sincerity. And look at the director, Frank Darabont, now reduced (in my mind) to zombie products.

And while Martin Landau has always been tremendous, yet his character is so syrupy, as is the film. But in 2001, we were still open to, and in need of, some big sugar. Now, we just need to get back to open, instead of shut in with our tiny little screens. Someday…

In Your Dreams: Documentary The Party’s Over

I rarely remember dreams and when I do, often get a kick out noticing how my day’s reality contributed to the fantasy’s creation. So last night’s doozy came after an interesting concoction of a Netflix political documentary created by Philip Seymour Hoffman called The Party’s Over, found on some sites as Last Party 2000 and a short video of Gordy Hoffman’s Blue Cat Screenwriting tips.

But first, the movie:

Our first thought when we hear the word violence is the man vs. man type, so the self-inflicted drug variety often seems incomprehensible. We opine about Heath Ledger and Philip Seymour Hoffman, ‘But they had young children, they had talent, they had money.’

And so it was very poignant to see Philip Seymour Hoffman interview an African American woman steeped in the important issues of the then present day 2000, chagrin that those same issues weren’t being spoken by either Bush or Gore. Her comments about heroin trafficking being a big business were especially ironic given PSH’s ultimate demise.

What struck me most about this doc is that the concerns of those marginalized were exactly the issues we’re still fretting about, yet apparently not able to change; gun violence (I had forgotten about Rosie O’Donnell and the Million Mom March), campaign finance reform that Gore promised he was going to change, and the need for drug rehabilitation centers numerous enough to take care of the multitudes addicted.
Being a Rochester resident and age equivalent contemporary, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death threw me for a loop. The fact that my son’s major at Suny Geneseo is Musical Theater also played a part in its impact. I realize there are temptations in most professions, but performance art has to be near the top as far as drug availability.

The Party’s Over illuminated Philip Seymour Hoffman’s as a passionately concerned citizen. His epiphany, or perhaps simply a confirmation and why he made the film in the first place, was that the Democrat and Republican conventions contained speeches and ideologies that were eerily similar and hollow.

I can’t help but see PSH as a defeated man, done in by his own addictive behavior. And it’s equally difficult not to see Barrack Obama as equally impotent on a political level, given that he ran on a campaign of hope and yet now even in his elocution seems to be totally disillusioned. If men with so much passion and promise can not overcome addiction and the wealthy selfish stubborn respectively, what is the future of the United States?

I’ll end with my lighthearted dream, proving we can have fantasies and wishes of happy endings and that we must in the end, maintain our optimism for human evolution for our children’s sakes at the very least.

The dream:
Thematically there’s a ‘bad boy’ fixation subtext going on here for me, having always preferred gentlemen who buck the conventional, have a lackadaisical view of fashion and are more passionately introverted than the male norm. In addition, the secret crush I always had on PSH.

So how much fun it was in this nocturnal illusion to be an actress vying for Mr. Hoffman’s romantic attention, against a terminally ill woman, hence ‘winning’ the competition. Boy, do I know how to fix a bias on a dream level, or what? The resolution culminated in my ballsy dinner date request for the following week and my apologizing for the only problem that I’d have to come in costume, “But not an alien costume with antennae at least,” I reassured. In an adorably wrinkled, untucked Oxford shirt (as he wore in The Party’s Over) Mr. Hoffman put his arm around me and replied, “That’d be fine.”

Rent The Party’s Over and you’ll be wanting to slumber to a sweet dream state, too, anywhere instead of our country’s deepening hole fourteen years later!