Tuesday, March 13, 2007

All I Do is Watch Movies and Shit (with Bonus Book List!)

Seriously, all I can do in here is write about movies I'm seeing and pop-culture I'm consuming. Honest to god, I do real things, like read books and talk about politics and care about the environment and shit, I swear. I just got out of a meeting about totally important international things that I'm not allowed to talk about yet, but will when I can because it's pretty awesome.

And yet yere I shall regurgitate more of my opinions on movies and stuff for you. Oh well!

Believe it or not, I've never seen this movie before. I guess it's not that big a stretch, but given how much I love music and movies it's kind of ridiculous. Anyway, I watched this DVD at my friend Jen's house last Friday and love!

First off, let's talk about Salieri, played by F. Murray Abraham. (Now I get the joke from Last Action Hero, and DO NOT JUDGE ME for seeing and liking that movie.) I could totally relate to the part of this man who knows just enough about music and composing to know that his work is nothing compared to Mozart's. He looks at Mozart's compositions, and he feels like God Himself is composing through Mozart. Being great at music is all Salieri ever wanted, what he promised to God that he would devote his life to, and here's this guy, this raunchy, crass, hilarious genius who has more talent in one of his slightly pink wigs than Salieri has in his entire being. Now, a normal plot would have Salieri jealous of Mozart, but he quickly goes beyond that, determining that God must have a personal vendetta against him, which He flaunts through Mozart. Abraham's playing a character that's HELLA unstable, and he's sympathetic and repellant at the same time, because I can see what a slippery slope it is between jealousy and out and out madness.

Tom Hulce plays Mozart. Can I just get it out of my system really quick that he kind of looks like Chad Lowe? Because it's been distracting me, but now that it's said I feel we can move on. I loved the way he played Mozart. He came off as so child-like to me. Really, he is just a large, precocious child. The gift that he has is as elementary as walking to him, which is why he doesn't seem to get it when continually insults Salieri. He has no concept of how hard it is for most people. Also, he comes across as someone who really just needs people to like him. He seems so insecure, probably because his father so disapproves of him, and particularly with Salieri, all his actions seem to cry out "Look Dad! Look what I can do! Did you see? Did you see me, Dad?" There's just this desperation to be recognized which is kind of mind-blowing considering the guy also has an ego the size of Montana. Hulce was really terrific in the role.

The movie all around is terrific, but there were a few scenes that I thought were particularly amazing, none more so than near the end, where Salieri is helping Mozart with his Requiem. Now, stop reading if you haven't seen and want to see it. Go on, we'll wait. Skip to the book list.

Still with me? Excellent. So Salieri has plotted to drive Mozart to compose the Requiem, and further, plans for Mozart to die and take credit for it as his tribute at the funeral. (How exactly Mozart is supposed to die is murky to Salieri, but he ends up having that taken care of for him, since Mozart basically drives himself into the ground.) Mozart is lying in his bed, racked with fever, but desperate for money and to finish his piece. He's too weak to write, and so Salieri sits at the end of the bed and takes dictation. Mozart is explaining exactly how he wants things to sound, from the chorus to the bassoons and strings. Salieri is just struggling to keep up, and Mozart keeps losing his patience with him. But Salieri's sitting there, writing out this music, and he knows it's genius, and he knows it's not his, but in that moment, he's too busy experiencing this composition coming together to focus on his hate for Mozart, and you can see him getting completely drunk from it, and it's just beautiful.

The whole cast does a great job, and I was especially fond of Jeffrey Jones as Emperor Joseph and Elizabeth Berridge as Stanzi, but really, it's the interaction of Salieri and Mozart that I couldn't tear myself away from. If you haven't seen it yet, Netflix it, it's totally worth it and doesn't at all feel like three hours.

Books I have Lied About Reading
(Suggested by Doppelganger over at 50 Books)

The Grapes of Wrath
Man, we were supposed to read this in high school, and I just hated it. Steinbeck is super-depressing, he totally kills my soul. I read bits and pieces, but honestly, I mostly Cliffnotesed (or rather, Sparknotesed) it. And frankly, I don't think I'm missing that much.

Crime and Punishment
I couldn't get past the first page of this one. Seriously. I totally just read the Cliffnotes and read other people's discussions. Let me know if I missed something great, but I somehow doubt it. (I know, it's great literature, wankity-blah, but I just don't care.)

The Great Gatsby
I have read this now, but I did not actually read it the first time it was assigned to me, which was in high school. I should have just read it because it was really well-done, but Gatsby and Daisy just got on my nerves in high school.

The Reef, and The Age of Innocence
These were assigned in an Austen/Wharton class I took a few semesters ago. At the time, I didn't feel like I had time to read them, but they're on my to-do list now. I really did like The House of Mirth, even though it was a drag.

Another for the Austen/Wharton class. I'm reading it now, though, and I really like it, though it's kind of slow-going. Emma's kind of a hard character to like for most of the book, isn't she? It helps that I know Clueless was based on it, though, so I know she gets better. (Although Cher was always great.)

Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn
I was supposed to read these for a summer children's lit class and didn't. I feel like they're ones I'll get around to, but I'm not in a hurry for it.

I can't think of a clever/pithy way to end this, so... bye!

No comments: