Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Night Movie: Good Dick

Revolutionary Road has three Oscar worthy performances in Winslet, DiCaprio, and Michael Shannon as the truth teller. It is not a bad movie. It's an Oscar movie. It didn't seem like anything new or interesting to me, though.

As a counter balance to good movies of that ilk may I suggest Good Dick. Written and directed by and starring Marianna Palka, it's one of the best American indie flicks I've seen in a long time—not "shot on a cell phone" indie, it's got good production values. It's edgy, smart, and very funny. And a little painful. It also stars John Ritter's spittin' image son Jason. It has a cameo by Charles Durning that is pure money and one of the best "guitar riffing with effects" soundtracks EVAR. The first fifteen minutes of the movie have one song, three different musical interludes, and about three paragraphs of dialog. I think I prefer that to people saying stupid things trying to provide character development. Gran Torino I'm looking at you.

When the boy and girl sit down to watch an Annie Sprinkle video together. Priceless.

I will watch Good Dick again just for the soundtrack and to freak out on the 250 pound Carson Daly look-alike. Some kind of optical illusion, I think.

Now, about the name ....

Tuesday Matinee Movie

This is the best movie I've seen in a long time. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are perfectly cast in this story of 1950's alienation and suburban angst. It might have been written by John Cheever. It was actually written by Richard Yates and competed against Catch 22, by Joseph Heller, and The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy for the National Book Award in 1962 . I read both those books in the 60s and was bowled over by their brilliance. I've never heard of Richard Yeats. This was his first book. It was chosen by Time as one of the 100 best English Language books written since the 1920s. I've read everything by both Percy and Heller. I'm astounded I haven't read Yates.

The move is luscious, and drab. There is this New York landscape inhabited by men in gray suits and hats carrying briefcases. At home in Connecticut there is a discontented wife with a lovely home and two lovely children. DiCaprio plays Frank Wheeler who works for the same company where his father worked unhappily all his life. Winslet, as April Wheeler, has dreams of life in France. She will work and he can "discover" himself. She has done the research. She puts this dream into action and just as they are about to leap free she is trapped by an unwanted pregnancy and her husband's need for safety, normalcy, conformity.

One of the things I remember about the 50's and mid 60s was that in most states contraception was unavailable and abortions were illegal. And mental illness was a very shameful family secret. Kathy Bates has a lovely part as a real estate agent and the mother of a man who is likely bipolar. He was a mathematician before all the shock treatments. He plays the part of the truth teller. I know that role. It doesn't make one popular.

Phillip didn't like the movie. So maybe it's great and maybe it's just another Oscar Movie. But Nick and I loved it. I think remembering the 1950s helps.

I forgot Nick told me when I got in his car that John Updike died today. He was a writer in a class with Cheever, Heller, Percy, Yates.

Biographical Information? Me? Couldn't Possibly!

I have got my pitch together with a lot of help from some of you. I have finally come to the conclusion that there isn't much more I can say in 300 words or less about the novel. I know I'm supposed to be selling a product. I think I've gotten into the spirit of the thing. I think I might have a handle on it now. It's only taken me a couple of weeks. I started out with 750 words or so and cut and cut and cut. Kathleen Maher has been most generous getting me through the worst of it, now under 300 words and just a bit juicy, not too scary, and hopefully intriguing.

But now my task is to write about myself. As myself. Oh god, no! You might think this is funny since I do little else these days, but this has to be focused on me as the writer of this particular book which I am selling as fiction. Can I pull this rabbit out of this hat?

So what are my credentials? Really? Credentials? I have none. This is so sad. I might be one of the best read women in the world, but I have no credentials. I took classes at two universities from the age of 17 to 29 and virtually spoon fed my third husband all the reading he had to do to get his PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Denver. I typed his collection of short stories, and edited them in the process. I read Peyps Diaries to him as we drove back and forth across the country. I swear to god I carried him on my back as we made those endless trips from Arkansas to Colorado over and over while reading aloud from sunup to sundown day after day. But he got the PhD. And happily for me, and sadly for him, he is now still an academic and I write. Ha!