All of a sudden, I am the creative that I was in high school. Senior year-type creative, when I painted on a daily basis and wrote like a fiend. I have returned to that kind of madness. I love it. I wrote three new chapters for my book yesterday, started the painting in the picture above (my first in almost a year), and just all around felt better about doing things. I want this to keep up. I have a sculpture due in a couple weeks, and I really want to be at the top of my game for it. I have started gathering supplies. It will be epic.
Last night on a whim, James and I decided we needed to see a movie. We watch movies pretty regularly, but the choices at the multiplex lately have been dire. It's getting towards the time in the movie calendar when, if there are any, the good films come out of the woodwork. The Oscars will surely be interesting this year with such slim pickings. Anyway, we went to see Appaloosa, a western written and directed by Ed Harris, starring himself and Viggo Mortensen. Now, I have been on a bit of a Viggo kick lately. I still haven't seen two thirds of the LOTR franchise (shame on me, I know, everybody else is light years ahead of me), but I watched History of Violence maybe a week ago, and was reminded of the feeling of awe after seeing Eastern Promises. He hasn't done many great movies, but the ones that are great absolutely blow my mind. I had high hopes going into this.
Now, Ed Harris has the reputation of being an actor's director, and it shows. There were so many great scenes between Harris and Viggo that had smart, subtle writing that was only sharpened by the direction. I loved the relationship between the two main characters. The story the movie eventually came around to telling was really poignant. But the way that it got there was fucked from the start. So, a list.
Ways Somebody Screwed Up Appaloosa
1 - The Script
In poetry, we have a saying that if you end up with a good poem and could easily cut the first few lines or stanzas without losing anything, you "wrote your way into the poem". I think this theory works for all writing. Sometimes you have to write your way to what you want to write about, and then you go back and edit so that all of the piece seems congruent and every part is equally as strong as any other.
Appaloosa's script did not benefit from this kind of outlook on writing. In fact, it felt like a first draft that had been rushed into production. I had several endings, and the two main characters share the focus of the film when it's clear in the end that the story was only supposed to be about one of them. It wasn't even a bad script; it could've been great. Somebody should've looked it over before shooting though, because there were fundamental structural issues, and the whole thing felt over-long when it was only about two hours worth of film.
2 - Renee Zellweger
I hate her. On a good day. In this role, even if the character is not meant to be the greatest person in the world, I hated her more than I have ever hated anyone. She distracted me. Always. She did not do the character justice, she did not do the other actors justice, she didn't do the story or the movie justice. Everything about her was just wrong. I don't know what casting was thinking. There were enough big names. Jeremy Irons for God's sake. They had Scar. There was absolutely no need for Bridget Jones.
3 - Double Ending
Movies that end twice are confusing. Movies that end once, have another half an hour of important story, and then end again need serious assistance. This can be attributed to my problems with the script, but I felt like saying it again. Because you know what? I don't like feeling like there's closure for a story and then being pulled back into said story just so that it can end again. They should have edited the movie differently, or just picked the right ending to focus on. Everything builds up to the first ending, so when the credits don't roll, and you instead are presented with a shot of the characters eating pie, it causes just a smidgen of dissatisfaction.
4 - The Judge
He wasn't in it enough. I understand the constraints of the script. But I loved that old man. He was the best.
Overall, I would recommend seeing it, if only for Viggo and Ed Harris's performances, because they are amazing and play really complex characters. Also, there is a hooker I wish had more screen time. She was the character I was most curious about. I wanted her backstory. But that probably would have fucked up the structure even more.