This was another book I got for a dollar at the University Women's Book Sale. I had read it years ago and have watched the movie several times. Larry McMurtry is one of my favorite authors; he is also the author of my favorite American novel the sprawling myth of the American West Lonesome Dove.
I always had some issues with the Peter Bogdanovich's movie even though it is a great movie, one of the best. I never liked the choice of Cloris Leachman as Ruth Popper, even though she won an Academy Award for her role as the mousy wife of the brutally narcissistic Coach Popper. My wife was a high school coach's wife, and while I was never particularly brutal, I was certainly narcissistic enough to cause her some grief. Anyways, I didn't think Leachman was pretty enough for the role. Ruth Popper was to be a trampled flower. I don't think Leachman played her with enough life left in her to attract a boy like Sonny.
I also felt that the movie took it way too easy on Coach Popper. The moviegoer couldn't get inside his head to hear those interior monologues that makes him out as a monster. In a sense, it is his story that is being told. McMurtry was onto this toxic masculinity stuff a long time ago. Coach Popper is a monster who cares only about one person, his selfish, fat-assed self. It doesn't matter who he ruins or destroys, as long as he is left alone enough to serve as a role model to Thalia's young men.
Yes, I said role model. Sometimes they don't have to be good people. We can just as easily decide to be not like someone as be like them. I have a belief that McMurtry read Fred Gipson's classic Old Yeller growing up. I would bet on it. The juxtaposition of Coach Popper's character, or lack thereof, up against that of Sam the Lion looks to be borrowed from Gipson placing the slobbering, selfish Bud Seary up against the selfless, polite Burn Sanderson.
I always taught that the Gipson placed them side by side like that to show young Travis Coates how he should act. Gipson gives him a choice, behave like Searcy and be universally loathed and avoided, or behave like Sanderson and become loved, respected, and admired.
There is also a deeper, more hidden message in all of this juxtaposing. In Sam the Lion's case it is how much it hurts sometimes to be good. That's the same message of Christ in fact. We live in an age where Happy Meals and ice cold Coca Colas are said to be the cure for all our ills, and that happiness is what we seek on this earth and basically anything goes in our pursuit of it.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Ronald McDonald, in essence, is the Antichrist and Coke is his beverage of choice. Maybe he's not the real one, maybe he's just a cousin, or maybe he's only a piece of him, but the idea that happiness is truth and the real reason for being is as bogus as store bought homemade biscuits.
Yet, the character I feel the most empathy for is not Ruth Popper as she still has a tiny sliver of hope, a glimmer that keeps her afloat. Coach Popper is the lost soul here, McMurtry reveals that Coach's voice is an echo coming out of the Pit, a hell he arrived at without even knowing there were choices.
All he ever wanted to do was be the Marlboro Man. It is an interesting note that McMurtry never says that the anecdote to Toxic Masculinity is wearing skinny jeans and buns on top your head or going along with the crowd no matter how stupid they fucking are. He makes it perfectly clear that real men tear off pieces of themselves and give up their dreams of glory to feed and bind the wounds of others.
Salvation is not without scars. That line comes from one of my daughter's songs. (I am extremely proud that she was wise enough to write it.) Sam the Lion is the true role model in that he gave up his own chances at happiness to try to make the world a better place to live. He was kind, understanding, and generous to a fault.
McMurtry has used this all suffering hero many times, most memorably in Captain Call of Lonesome Dove. But there's also bittersweet chastisement involved.
In this book, Sonny, soiled but still innocent, returns to Ruth Potter, seeking motherly solace as much as sex, knowing full well that their relationship will never end well; it was in fact incestuous. To become his true self, he needed to man the fuck up and to go help save Jacy from her own destructive nature. The sins of Sam's self sacrifice, yes, there is such a thing, and his failure to help Jaci's mother Lois avoid her fate are revisited upon Sam.
Men are too often tied to the ground where they fell out their mother's womb, and the umbilical cord only stretches to the city limits sign. Sam needed to have left Texas and taken Lois with him. Sonny needed to drive faster and further when he had the chance but stopped in hope of sleeping with her and staking his claim instead of saving her from her destiny. Jacy tried to tell him as much.
In Lonesome Dove, Captain Call would never acknowledge that he fathered a son from a whore. It is one of the most compelling situations in all of literature. Men are taught that we have to be perfect, but all we really need to learn is that it is our scars that make us men. It is the holes in the palms of our hand, and not our perfections that really matter.
A sign of a great book is that there are other stories involved, little side streets off the main road that are as every bit as interesting as the story being told. McMurtry is a master of positioning these stories, and alluding to their existence in the thoughts, behaviors, and dialogue of his characters.
I'm glad that my friends couldn't see through my window shades to see me mimic the victory celebration of Duke Kaboom after he succeeds at jumping his motorcycle across a wide space in one of the last climatic scenes of the movie. Later, during the final scene when Woody is surveying the wide new world before him from high atop a carnival carousel, I was even happier that they couldn't see me cry. I always cry at the end of these damned movies, and I wish whoever is writing them would knock that shit off. Not really. It's their power to move us that makes them what they are.
I love the Toy Story movies. I had just told a friend that I wished that I could go see this one on a big screen. He told me to just go see it. I told him I'd have to borrow his kid because someone my age just can't walk into a animated kid's movie without people pouring on the side eye. We have to treat such things like we used to treat girlie magazines and worn out Playboys, and watch them when nobody's looking.
This is a sad state of affairs because these movies are so we well written and the artistry is such a wondrous thing to behold, but mainly because the message they send is so damned uplifting. And at age sixty-seven, I need the uplifting almost as much as I need my blood pressure medications.
These stories, so different from what passes for adult fare nowadays, tell us how to live life and face the obstacles that it constantly throws at us. They illustrate the need for friendship, love, and respect, and, above all, they show us the importance of acting decisively and doing the right thing for the right reason.
Woody is one of my favorite all time characters; Tom Hanks, who provides his voice, one of my favorite all time actors. They are both modern versions of the Jimmy Stewart/ Abraham Lincoln persona; they come across as being trustworthy and willing to sacrifice their own happiness for the happiness of others.
This story is about aging and losing your purpose in life. I've struggled with both since I retired a year ago. When the girl child starts neglecting Woodie in favor of her other toys, it really hits home. I wasn't happy with the way I was treated at work before I retired, no one, except a few friends, would listen much to anything I had to say despite the fact I just spent forty-five years perfecting what I should say and how to say it.
According to the creators of movies like Joker this should be the time I start turning on society and reeking horrible vengeance on society at large. Woody doesn't do that and neither should I. He is noble, he acts decisively when his friends' well being is being threatened, and he is, above all, selfless. It seems a shame to me that a fictional wooden puppet knows more about how humans should act than most of our so-called real heroes with their constant blathering, virtue signaling, preaching, and willingness to commercialize pretty much every aspect of their message.
There is a subplot going on too. Woody has to make a hard decision regarding his loyalty and love for his friends and doing what is right for himself. The last scene of this movie is my favorite because as always, with the help of a bit of fate engendered in large part by his decisive action, he figures it out. It's kind of like the choices that people my age have to make whether we will continue clinging to the familiar till the bitter end, or finally overcome our fears and doubts and be willing to take on something new.
I know, I know, haters going to tell me the Toy Story brand is a commercial venture too and Woody ain't really real.
But he is, Virginia. He lives inside us all, or, at least, those of us who can still muster up a tear or two.
Have you ever noticed how old men walk like marionettes with a drunk puppeteer pulling the strings? I'm not poking fun at old men either; they all remind me of Dad in his later years when keeping his balance while he walked was something of a chore. I love watching old men walk into restaurants; it inspires me watching them defy the pull of gravity. There ain't no bullshit about them either. When you get up into your eighties life has pretty much washed away most of your illusions.
I went to eat breakfast at The Corner Cafe at the side of the Save Mart on Akers and Goshen. I saw a lot of old men come in with their wives, and the waitresses greeted them like old friends. That kind of stuff makes my heart feel good. I like this place a lot. It is one of my favorite places to dine in Visalia.
Its not just a place for old people either. There's always a mixture of all kinds of people and there's a down to earth atmosphere. The waitresses laugh and joke with you, and they keep checking on how you are doing. The food is down to earth too, nothing fancy, just good old fashioned, well cooked, home style dishes served with a side of friendliness.
They are very generous with their servings too. I had a meat lover's omelet served with fruit and coffee. It was all very good. I have had the steak and eggs and pork chops and eggs there too. I recommend that you only order one pork chop because they are thick and juicy and a second one is too much to eat at one sitting.
The decor is auto themed. They even have the front end of an old Chevy above the alcove that leads to the kitchen, and a juke box embedded in one of the walls. There's a long counter to eat at and that's usually where I sit because it reminds me so much of the diners in those old black and white movies.
I like to imagine I'm a truck driver in one of the old movies stopping in for a bite on a long, lonely stretch of highway, shooting the shit with a saucy waitress and gulping down a hot cup of java to stave off the cold. You can do that there; it has the characters and the props; all you need is the imagination.
I also enjoy looking at the people talking while they eat their breakfasts. The place is always full and on the week-ends there is usually a line to get in. There's a relaxed homey feel about the place, and it's good thing to see. Dining there is like an anecdote for the contentious times we are living in.
I thoroughly recommend this place; it has a great reputation in Visalia. Take a friend or two, turn off your phone, and sit and enjoy each other's company for a bit.
And if you are an old man...may God bless you and keep you on your feet.
There are two Pita Kabob's in Visalia; there used to be three. The one at the Mission Viejo Mall at the corner of Akers and Walnut has always been my favorite. I have eaten there at least three times a month for the three years and have yet to have had a bad experience.
It advertises itself as Mediterranean Fusion and offers an extensive menu of traditional Mediterranean dishes such as gyros, falafel, humus, pilaf, pita bread, shawarma, and kabob. It is freshly made and well cooked. The restaurant also serves specialty burgers of both lamb and beef, delicious soups, wraps, and rice bowls. Both Visalia restaurants feature a great selection of craft beers.
I like it because it is a place where I can hang out and people don't get all up in my business. I am kind of weird because I am something of a loner who eats in Visalia a lot because I work there and like to grab a bite before I come home. I usually take whatever book that I am reading in with me and try to eat at leisurely pace which allows me to do some mental chewing while in the act of physical chewing. I like this Pita Kabob off of Walnut because the people who hang out there don't make me feel weird while I'm being weird.
Take today, for instance, I was drinking some nice ice tea while waiting for my Mediterranean Rice Bowl with grilled chicken and pilaf (which I heartily recommend by the way) and reading Larry McMurtry's The Last Picture Show. While I waited, I read the following passage,
"While they had rolled around trying to sleep they had kicked the heater wires loose, so that the rest of the trip was miserably cold. The cafe looked like the most comfortable place in the world when they finally pulled in. Genevieve was sitting on the counter reading an old paperback of Forever Amber that everyone who had worked at the cafe had read several several times. When she saw what bad shape Sonny and Duane were in she put it away and fixed them some toast and coffee; as soon as they ate a little they dozed off and slept with their heads on the counter while she filled the coffee maker and got things ready for the morning business. Asleep, they both had the tousled, helpless look of young children and she kept wanting to cover their shoulders with a tablecloth or something."
That's some seriously good shit right there, and I think they could've overcooked the pilaf and burnt the chicken, and I still would have been smiling while I ate that rice bowl. But they didn't; the food was delicious and my experience was doubly good.
The only bad thing about the meal was when I walked into an occupied bathroom because the guy had failed to lock the door.
You can't unsee that shit.
I went to this restaurant located off of Shirk Avenue going north from 198 because someone who I trust very much said it was the breakfast place in Visalia. I was immediately disappointed when I walked in because they handed me a lunch menu. That's my fault for taking so long to find my phone.
The exterior looks somewhat like a warehouse but the interior is fixed up very tastefully. The servers are very friendly and, in my experience, very good at what they do. To start with, I was pretty disappointed that I wasn't getting breakfast. The lunch menu had a plenty of options though, but nothing that I really wanted to eat. I wanted breakfast. I don't know if they would have served breakfast if I had asked because I didn't.
I settled on the first burger listed as the thing I would have probably ordered if I had come for lunch. When it arrived, it was several inches taller than it needed to be. To me, any burger over three-three and a half inches is just fucking acting pretentious. It was topped with what I assume was a homemade potato chip which only served to reenforce that initial judgement.
The burger was cooked to perfection but lacked any real defining flavor. I know that good chefs prefer to let the meat do the talking, and there was nothing wrong with the burger in that respect. But I love In-and-Out burgers, just so you know where I'm coming from, and think that a fifteen dollar burger ought to be something to write home about.
The garlic seasoned fries were fresh and very tasty. I know that there are many foods that a touch of garlic enhances, but I generally don't like it when the garlic stays with you a long while after you leave the restaurant.
I can see how people would like this place, it has a nice bar, it's very clean and welcoming, and the people working there are nice. I do believe the chef knows his business and is undoubtedly more knowledgeable about food than I am, but, as the title says, I am a Cut Rate Gourmet and prefer my food a little bit more down to earth.
I don't care if the burger is a little more pricey either, but don't be sticking shit like chips, pretzels, or a big assed lettuce leafs that you have to tear off in order to eat it on it just to make it look fancier than a burger needs to look. Burgers are a food of the common people and should be practical. Above all, make it taste better than an In-and-Out burger.
Like I said at the beginning, I trust the person's judgement who recommended this place. I'm pretty sure the breakfast is probably as bomb as she described, and I plan on finding out. I also liked it enough to return to try something else.
The Joker's On Us
So, you are thinking about going to watch the Warner Brother's highly anticipated yet controversial movie Joker?
Let me save you nine bucks. Take about four hits of acid, drink a half a bottle of vodka with six ounces of Clorox bleach, put on some head phones with AC/DC's Highway To Hell playing on a continuous loop broken up every ten minutes or so by ninety seconds of Roxy Music, put your dick or any comparable body part into a blender, and turn it on, but only after you have opened every window in the house so that the neighborhood's feline population can climb in and snack on your scabrous, putrefying flesh.
You'll not only get something fairly equivalent to the movie going experience and save time and nine dollars, you'll also save yourself from that unholy moment in the future when you will be dying and forced to look into the mirror and see yourself as you truly are and sadly recognize the fact that the positive side of your life's ledger has very few entries compared to the debit side. People might want to argue this, but I'm basing my assessment on the belief that there will ultimately be a price we have to pay for this letting stuff like this be catalogued as entertainment and worthy of the hundreds of millions that it will make.
This is not a movie per see, it is a mangled myth, created, I suppose, to satisfy America's increasingly bloodthirsty addiction to violence and mayhem. What other excuse could there be? Myths are not to be messed with, we have forgotten this in our headlong rush to destroy what vestige of morality and goodness we still possess.
What else do we have to look forward to, reality shows where the contestants are armed with razors and machetes? Sports where the failure to win results in the death of the athlete. We have been there already, and we've done this already. The idea that we can sanitize the experience by seeing it in a theater with popcorn and a Big Gulp where the blood don't get on us and we can't smell the odor of the urine and the shit is wrong. The blood still gets on us; we just can't see it.
There was a time when we use to know that the Roman Games depicted a civilization driven mad by its excesses, now we can't even tell the difference between us and them.
Coming out of the theater, a man walking behind me told his wife, "That was pretty good, huh?"
I resisted the urge of turning around and telling him something in my best Tommy Lee Jone's voice. It would've caused a stir and not changed anything. Nobody likes the one who rats out the sinner or the sin.
Joker is a movie that cannot be judged for its cinematic features, its acting, or its direction because to do so would involve detachment from the experience, and it is a movie about our ability to detach ourselves from life in the first place.
At one time, the term myth was considered as more of a verb referring to the unfolding of existence via the experience of existing. The later advent of philosophy changed it into a noun that could be analyzed from an objective distance. Even today existentialists argue that the distance between the object and one who analyzes often leads to errors in a truthful understanding the world.
Trying to break this movie down into its parts in order to determine whether it is a good movie or not misses the point; it's not that kind of movie. Joker is a highly visceral experience, the viewers are not there to analyze it, they are there to experience the nightmare world that surrounds us behind the endless facades that we erect in order to deflect the ever present knowledge of our own mortality.
The movie holds up a mirror and forces us to look at ourselves. while, at the same time, calling us out for being in the theater in the first place. It correctly points out that we are all complicit in creating the madness of our times, some more than others, but all guilty of the neglect of truth in favor of diversion.
This message rings somewhat false in that the myth has been turned inside out and upside down and ordered to do things that myth is not supposed to do. The movie points an accusing finger at the rest of us, yet, seems to ignore the fact that it has been the entertainment industry, more than any other entity, that has led us to this point in time.
The only consistent theme presented in all the chaos is that the father is absent, ergo God is dead, or at least nonexistent, and life has no real meaning. My answer to Hollywood on that point would be, "Just how the fuck would you know? Maybe he just don't like you."
Joker is more than a warning. It is like a road sign where the sign has been placed after the exit you needed to take. The line where the neighbor lady calls him a hero because he killed rich kids is very disturbing considering our current political climate. Maybe, we are supposed to believe that its just good wholesome entertainment.
The only place this movie should ever play is at the El Capitan Theater in a quarantined Hollywood with lots of trained psychiatric staff and cleaning crews on hand.
I have crushed harder on Linda Ronstadt than any other female celebrity ever. I loved her back in the 70s; I still do. That is really not much of an admission for a person my age to make because back when she was the most famous singer in the world it was like Willie Nelson said, "There's only two kind of men in the world, those who crush on Linda Ronstadt, and those who never heard of her."
And it's not like I haven't crushed on famous females before. I remember being young and watching Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliette, and falling head over heels in love with Olivia Hussey for better than a month. Linda was different though. I don't think God ever created a more perfect blend of beauty, goodness, and talent. He broke the mold, and it's a God-damn pity that future generations will think that the Taylor Swifts, Pinks, Gagas and Cardi Bs of the world are the epitome of female musical ability.
Ronstadt has an entire catalogue of powerful love ballads, all capable of making the hair on the top of your head tingle with electricity. My favorite will always be "Love Has No Pride" on her Don't Cry album. I listened to that song over and over again just to hear that plaintive wail "If you want me to beg, I'll fall down on my knees and ask for you to come back, I'll be pleading for you to come back." It always made me want to scream, "Don't do it, don't do it, Linda. Mother fucker ain't worth it," while, at the same time, secretly wishing I was the one who had the power to elicit such a heartfelt plea.
The just released documentary of Ronstadt's rise to success Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is both a wonderful way to reconnect with her music or to become acquainted with her voice, in case you have been hiding under a rock somewhere or somehow believe that the shit that passes for quality nowadays, actually is.
The movie uses video clips and old pictures to explore her beginnings as a native Arizonan born and raised a short distance from the border with Mexico. One of the most poignant scenes is when she recorded the album Canciones De Mi Padre and took it on tour to honor her Mexican Father and her own roots. As she described how much she loved her father and how his death affected her, I have to admit I cried quite openly. And I don't think that anybody who sees this movie and who has lost a father will escape this fate.
Throughout the movie, the viewer gets a strong sense of what it must have been like to have grown up in such a strong, loving family. It shows up in every part of her life and in how she handled success, friendships, professional relationships, and setbacks. Back in the day, Ronstadt was the most beautiful, desirable woman alive (her eyes still radiate beauty), and a large part of her appeal obviously came from the inside.
I recently saw the movie Judy about Judy Garland's tragic life, and the parallels are clearly contrasted and defined. The Sound of My Voice has extraordinary value in this fact alone, it is a paean to the value of family and the values that are instilled from good parenting just as the Garland movie shows what can happen whenever this is lacking.
When the film talks about Ronstadt's' relationships with other talented people like Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton, it made me feel good that they had found each other and supported each other in a business that is known to be very brutal and callous at times. It's been a very long while since I could say that about a movie, as far too much of what comes out of Hollywood now seems to prefer to make me feel lousy about being human.
The ending is sad because it shows how much of Ronstadt's amazing voice has been lost to the ravages of Parkinsons. She handles it so well in public by acknowledging how grateful she is for her long career. Her friend Emmylou, however, breaks down when talking about her friend's great loss.
Despite the sad ending, this is still a feel good trip to the theater. It is an uplifting look at the life of a truly remarkable woman, a strong, powerful, real woman who never had to don a pair of superhero's tights or wear a mask. A woman who competed against men, butted heads with men, but never seem to hate anyone and because of that is venerated, loved and respected by every one who came into her life, ex-lovers included.
If I ever got within hearing range of Linda Ronstadt, I would fall at her feet and sing at the top of my voice, "If you want me to beg, I'd fall down on my knees."
Nah, fuck that. I wouldn't want her to think I was crazy. Infatuated maybe, crazy no.
The world is so crazy nowadays that you are made to feel quite priggish for pointing out the flaws of a movie like this, but you should also feel guiltier if you don't. Moviegoers have gotten quite used to feeling slimed, so much so, that even though the slime is always there, we no longer think of it as as a something bad, more like sunscreen or something.
Hollywood has gotten pretty ingenious over the years in knowing just how much shit they can put in a milkshake without taking away the sweetness. And there is a core of sweetness at the center of this story; it involves friendship, the loss of innocence, and trying to stay pure while the world around you goes fucking nuts.
The producers push all the right buttons to make sure that the audience knows it is there. In this regard, it is somewhat realistic. I can remember the time period and the feeling of never, ever being myself, bouncing off walls, and not being able to get my feet back under me until several years after I got married.
The problem is that it is sweetness double wrapped in shit jokes, cum jokes, penis jokes, porn jokes, and jokes about kids innocently playing with sex toys. I'll give the writers a heads up, no young girl playing a six grader should ever be made to believe that anal beads are a necklace from her boyfriend and then shown to wrinkle her nose at the smell of shit as she tries to put it on. I have to wonder about her parents. Did they even read the script?
This goes way beyond the pale. So much so, that it actually marks a big moment in cinematic history when the audience could for the first time actually see what's on the screen and also behind the scene of the movie being made simultaneously and to watch a bunch of writers and producers laughing and patting each other on the back while playing in shit and thinking it is funny.
I saw them there. They were bald and toothless with bloodshot demented looking eyes, and their hands and mouths all covered with flies. I'm sure that they all would argue that they don't look anything like what I just described, yet I would argue back, "But you do; you surely do."
On the drive home, I apologized to myself for choosing this movie. I try to be open minded about things and not to constantly react like a prude, but when I think how far these greedy assholes have pushed the envelope of normalcy, I get very angry. Mainly at myself for lacking the courage to be seen standing at the barricades.
I know that kids now days have access to things that they are far too young to be seeing. They cannot be completely shielded from its effects as there are plenty of parents who haven't ever grown up and lost their fascination with dick jokes and potty humor and see nothing wrong with their kids ruining it for everybody else.
A lot of people will tell me to shut up and mind my own business. Good advice probably, and I'll probably get around to it someday, but only after I inform them that they can pretend as much they they want; they are the damned problem.
All the argument boils down to is that truth remains the truth no matter how sleek, jaded and sophisticated we think we are, and we can argue all we want about our inability to stop the inevitable onslaught of modernity. One day, however, all our justifications will appear about as mindless and evil as the people who wrote this script, and we will be forced to look at ourself in the mirror. Will we be balding and toothless then with blood shot demented looking eyes and smelly fingers? Only time will tell.
We don't provide our kids near enough help for dealing with the flood of sewage they will face; we provide only platitudes and fake sincerity. "Get their consent first," is the phrase that the movie keeps uttering in a weak attempt to be PC. Yep, get their consent and then hand them some anal beads to wear as a necklace.
We could stop this if we wanted; the fact that somebody ran this pile of shit past some bigwig and then got the go ahead to make it, tells me we don't really want to make it go away.
What's next, a take off of the Hangover movies filmed at a elementary school in Beverly Hills? Fifty Shades of Gray Crayolas?
Good Boys is lost episode of Leave it to Beaver wrapped inside a R rated movie. I apologize for bringing it to your attention.
I think that pretty much anyone who has seen this movie has pretty much already awarded the Academy Award for best actress to Renee Zellweger. There are a lot of times that she eerily crosses over into actually channeling Garland on the screen.
The movie is very well made too. It is seamless which is pretty impressive considering the amount of musical numbers it contains. I've read one review where the movie is criticized for focusing more on the tragedy of Garland's life than actually presenting her as a real, flesh and bone human being. I cry bullshit on that. Garland's life was nothing, if not a tragedy, and if anything, the film took it a bit easy on her, choosing to present her as feminist martyr of sorts to the way they made movies when she first became a star.
The familiar tropes of a pushy, stage door mother and a crude, ham fisted studio mogul (Louis B. Mayer) are used to give her fans an excuse for Garland's erratic behavior. There is truth to this, no doubt. She was introduced to drugs as a means to control her weight by the powers who ran MGM, and she always felt that her mother cared more about money than she did about her.
But this in no way absolves her, as the film attempts to do, of her own egregious choices and preference for marrying bad men. Plenty of people have been hamstrung in life by circumstances and by people who only want to use them. Most of them don't end up drug addicts and alcoholics who toss their God given talents away.
Garland had her share of demons, a lot of us do. To pretend that being famous gives a person more latitude for bad behavior is simply a false idea. We may love them more for their beauty, but we should always hold them to the same standard as the rest of us. It might actually help them if we do.
The film does well in telling Judy's story in a kind of a shorthand. It depicts her doomed efforts to be a good mother and also shows how much that the people around her had to deal with in order to try and help her. It powerfully evokes the spirit of the London shows where she performed during what must have been the saddest period of her life when she was trying to regain her relevancy and financial footing while at the same time her life was spinning hopelessly out of control.
The film ultimately is about human life and how we choose to live it. It took a great deal of grit and determination to be Judy Garland. It also takes a great deal of grit and determination to be an ordinary human being. Judy is a cautionary tale to be sure, a warning to us all about the price of trying to stand out from the crowd, but the film, and Judy's life also shows us that things of immense beauty and importance can be engendered by great suffering and pain.
I highly recommend this movie. Zellweger is wonderful. The script is excellent, the acting even better, and on the whole, the movie is very well crafted. It is a powerful, very sad movie about a uniquely talented woman who never wanted to be ordinary, even if it cost her everything.
This movie opens with one of my favorite movie openings of all time, a scene where a single taxi drives down Fifth Avenue early in the morning and drops Audrey Hepburn off in front of Tiffanys in New York. It is a scene that encapsulates much of the secret desire I've long possessed for living in a big City and becoming proficient in its language and ways.
Audrey Hepburn in the role of Holly Golightly delivers such a nuanced and impeccable performance that it is surprising to know that she was not the first choice for the role. The producers wanted Marylyn Monroe to play the part, and I am sometimes divided about whether Miss Monroe would have been a better choice or not.
One of the flaws of the movie is the idea that the sleek sophisticated Holly would have ever, even in her most desperate of times, married Buddy Epstein's character, a Texas farmer and veterinarian named Doc Golightly. He appears one day and tries without a chance of success to guilt Holly into returning with him back to Texas. The scene reads false because it is impossible to picture Holly, even a young, impoverished Holly, to have married such a sad character and living on a farm in Texas. Monroe on, the other hand, could have pulled it off because of the earthy sensuality that she possessed in spades.
But Monroe would have been much harder to imagine playing the part of a chic, sophisticated urban beauty who could request her dates pay her $50 for her visits to the powder room. They would have paid Monroe the money all right, but not for a trip to a powder room.
Hepburn is perfect for that part, Blake Edward's light handed treatment of the story makes it all seem like a frothy bad dream created by desperate choices and unchecked desires. Hepburn became known for the role and rightly so. In her hands, Holly becomes a mythic heroine flying through life in search of a forgiveness she believes she'll find when she has accumulated enough wealth to buy her salvation while knowing full well that the effort to accumulate that wealth will only drive her deeper into oblivion.
Thinking about what Monroe could have done with the role is a compelling enterprise as it leads one to imagine a completely different film, one more grounded in the reality of skin, blood, and bone, much more like Truman Capote's book I've been told.
And the decision to cast George Peppard in the role of Paul Varjak is also kind of strange. He is so handsome in the movie with large blue eyes and handles the role of Holly's savior so effortlessly that the viewer has to wonder why he never became a bigger star. Yet, he doesn't seem blemished enough to play Paul Varjak, a writer who survives on the money provided by his wealthy, married, older lover played by the great actress Patricia Neal.
Peppard and Neal both do not seem desperate, or hardened enough for their roles. Peppard's character switched over from the dark side far too easily and Neal's character was far too stoic and accepting of her fate as the jilted lover. If we are still imagining here, I like to think about what a young Warren Beatty or a Steve McQueen could have brought to the role, actors more capable of providing a deeper, more conflicted hero who sacrificed a hell of a lot more in order to save Holly from herself. There was no need to even change Patricia Neal, just tell her to a be bit more like the character in her gritty Academy Award winning performance in the movie HUD. What a movie that could have been.
Don't get me wrong; I love the movie even while recognizing its faults, and for some strange reason the flaws have never seem to bother its popularity among movie goers. I suspect the scenes of the beautiful parts of New York has something to do with it, also the beautiful score by Henry Mancini, and the fact of Audrey Hepburn's on screen presence, insists, no, demands that the viewer take notice her. She could have recited the New York phone book, and we would watch contentedly.
Instead of a gritty, realistic story about corrupted angels and their very bloody redemption, we are left with a pretty dream world where fair maidens are allowed to not recognize their complicity in their own captivity and their saviors, wearing highly polished and only slightly dented suits of armor, rescue them at no great cost to themselves by simply believing in the power of love.
When I look at the move like this, I can see that it was the template for Pretty Woman, also a movie more about a dream world than reality.
It's funny that I didn't see that before.