Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gonna write you a letter...

I've always been more comfortable with writing than with talking, and in some ways, more comfortable with fictional characters than with real people. Maybe this is because when I was younger I didn't have a ton of friends and read a lot of books, but maybe I was that way because I was more comfortable with fictional people. Regardless, we've been talking a lot about identity and authorship in my postmodern literature class, and about how writing about someone takes away their own sense of their identity. You deny someone a voice by fictionalizing them, or even writing about them in a purely nonfictional way.

I think the same goes for writing to someone. If I have an issue with you, I probably won't talk to you directly (although I'm getting better!). Instead, I'll write articulate letters that I'll never send, and if you try to talk to me, you'll be stuck with inarticulate ramblings about how I don't know what I want. It's somewhat obvious how writing about a real person turns them into a fictional character, but maybe less obvious how writing to someone makes them into a fictional character. Or maybe it's obvious to everyone, but the point is that when you write to someone, you're not having a conversation. Hopefully, they'll respond, and you'll respond, and you'll go back and forth, but in the act of writing, you are the only one there. You get to put all your thoughts and feelings down without giving them a chance to respond in a way that could change the course of the conversation. You are not talking to the real person, but a version of what you hope the real person would be. You can anticipate what they say, and maybe that's exactly what they will say, but who knows? You create the version of the person that you want to talk to when you write to them.

Can true identity ever come from writing? Even in an autobiography, you write a fictionalized portrayal of yourself; how you see yourself or want to see yourself may not be how others see you or how you know you are. Is there such a thing as true identity? Who owns it? Am I being ruined by my postmodernism class? What do you think? Write me a letter, Box 3071. I promise I'll respond.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"He believed it was a natural law that men with secrets tend to be drawn to each other, not because they want to share what they know but because they need the company of the like-minded, the fellow afflicted - a respite from the other life, from the eerie realness of living with people who do not keep secrets as a profession of duty, or a business fixed to one's existence." -Don DeLillo

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Just for you...

I said the best movies were "theoretically" coming soon. Well now I can tell you all about the difference between a theory and a paradigm, but I guess that doesn't really matter... Anyway, in no particular order, the top movies of 2009, well before it's time for the 2010 list, which is for some reason very heavy on the kids movies:

1. An Education: I will admit a huge part of the reason I liked this so much is the early 1960s fashions. And the fact that I've been to the random small town in Greater London where it takes place. But regardless of that, Carey Mulligan was fabulous, as was Peter Skarsgaard. The desire to do something better/more fun/bigger than what people except of you is certainly something I can understand.

2. Where the Wild Things Are: A lot of people didn't like this movie. They thought it was too dark/too whimsical/ruined their childhood. They are wrong. To be fair, it's not really a "kids movie." It is a movie for 18-34 year olds who want to relive childhood and feel infinite again. It was complex, and heartwarming, and sad, and yes, definitely whimsical.

3. Coraline: My opinion in animated movies this year is probably controversial. The first 20 minutes or so of Up were better than most real movies this year, but the rest of the movie wasn't my favorite. It was good, sure, but I think as a whole I found Coraline more enjoyable. Perhaps because it was quirkier, and we all know I love quirky...

4. 500 Days of Summer: In case you didn't believe that I love quirky...Realistically, this was not a "best of the year" movie by almost any standard. But I'm kind of obsessed with both of the lead actors, and desperately want Zooey Deschanel's wardrobe from this. And to be her, but slightly less bitchy. The musical scene was fabulous, and despite it's occasional corniness (the ending with Autumn, ugh), I think it did have some interesting things to say about love.

5. The Brothers Bloom: Another quirky one, but a little-seen one. Which is sad, because it was a really excellent movie. The acting was great, the story was original, and the ending actually had a twist you didn't quite see coming, and that kept you guessing for a bit.

6. Julie and Julia: Like most people, I could have cut out Amy Adams' part completely and just watched Meryl Streep as Julia Child. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Amy Adams' performance, but damn that character was annoying. Julia Child more than made up for it. She was funny, over-the-top, and just extremely lovable and I want her kitchen at the end. And Stanley Tucci of course was great too.

7. Ponyo/The Fantastic Mr. Fox: These two go together simply because I'm not sure I can justify giving so many spots to kids movies. I had watched My Friend Totoro before seeing this, and wasn't too thrilled with Miyazaki's attempt at making a straightforward kids movie. Ponyo, however, was fabulous. It didn't pretend to be anything it wasn't and it just worked so well. As did The Fantastic Mr. Fox. George Clooney's voice made this fox the foxiest I've ever heard. I'm a huge Wes Anderson fan, and I know people who aren't didn't love the movie, but I mean, c'mon it's a quirky kids movie, what's not to love?

8. A Single Man: Realistically, I didn't like this as much as I thought I would. But since I had been waiting/excited about it for months, that's not necessarily a terrible thing. Colin Firth was amazing and understated, Julianne Moore looked incredible, and I always love seeing the boy from About a Boy all grown up (check out the British show Skins if you feel the same way). People criticized that it was too much style over substance, and while it was very stylized and exquisitely detailed, Colin Firth's performance was incredibly substantive.

9. Up in the Air: I feel like people have already sort of beat this to death as "the best movie!" I think sometimes I forget that George Clooney really is an actor and not a movie star, and he was just the heart of this movie. Of course the movie was heart-breaking, but that's a different story. The story I love about it though is that Jason Reitman actually wanted to make this movie before Juno, but it kept getting pushed back, and it just so happened that it ended up being really timely. I think things like that can really help make a movie...

10. Avatar: The story was atrocious. It was barely passable as a movie I would actually want to watch, and I'm very upset it won Best Picture at the Golden Globes. But the technical feat alone makes it one of the best movies as the year. See my post on the movie.

That's my 10, though there are probably some I've seen this year that I've forgotten, and definitely some one that are considered really good I haven't seen, like Precious and The Hurt Locker.