Oscars Project: Movie #3 & GIVEAWAY

(Explanation of The Oscars Project found here. And need I say it? This post contains SPOILERS.)

From 2002: Adaptation

In a nutshell, the central figure, Charlie (Nicolas Cage), tries to work his screenwriting magic on a book (The Orchid Thief) and struggles even harder to make his way in real life. He's unsure of himself, insecure about his looks, awkward with people. At the encouragement of his (rather mirror) twin, Donnie (also played by Cage), he takes a lot of risks with both the screenplay process and his life. . . and both are radically changed as a result.

I'll be honest: Except for the totally committed performances by the cast, which in addition to Cage has Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper--who won Best Supporting Actor--this movie was not enjoyable for me to watch. I didn't really get what was so great about it.

In fact, I almost resent that I'm expected to accept that because profound things come out of characters' mouths from time to time, they redeem the overwhelming number of banal/vulgar/just plain wrong moments surrounding those supposedly profound things.

But don't get me wrong--there was something endearing about Charlie's quirks. His relationship with his brother is touching (bias alert: I had twin dorm-mates in college) and at times hilarious. For example, Charlie is exasperated with Donnie's light-hearted attempt to write a screenplay and his devotion to a screenwriting seminar guru. . . and then Donnie's "guns and car chases" approach (p. 28) sells and Charlie has to take a second look at what his brother is doing. And of course, I can relate to the moments of writer's block, where Charlie's bargaining with himself to write something good in order to earn that "coffee and a muffin."

Overall, though, just not my type of movie. I mean, Susan Orlean (Streep), the author of the Orchid book, just seemed a bit off her rocker, derailed by an extreme solution to her need for more intimacy and purpose in her life (which apparently she wasn't getting from being an acclaimed author and a faithful wife). It ends in disaster, a horrible one at that. There's a lot of graphic stuff in the movie, which I imagine is par for the course with the movie's writers and director.

Interestingly enough, this was the year that Catherine Zeta-Jones, in Chicago, beat Streep for Best Supporting Actress.

Next up: Murder on a Sunday Morning (note: French filmmaker).

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: I'm raffling off an entertainment-themed gift card. Haven't decided which one yet. Comment in this combox about this week's post or the Oscar Project in general to earn a chance to win. One entry per commenter (meaning comment as much as you want but I'll count you once), but feel free to keep the discussion going. Raffle will end Wednesday at midnight, and the winner will be announced in the next Oscars Project film post.


Cullen said…
I really enjoyed the conflict between and Donnie. I also loved that everything Charlie stood for - the things we, as an audience, know are ethical or idealistic - are thrown in his face in typical Hollywood fashion.

But I particularly liked how, in the last 30 minutes they changed everything that the movie was about. Amusing was the "Don't do these things" part and then the movie itself goes and does those things.

I'm not generally bothered by vulgarity. I mean, Tarantino is one of my favorite directors, so I'm coming from a different taste preference.

The movie, IMHO, only works once, or twice if you've forgotten the first time. That's because the film has that trick where it's presented as one thing and winds up being something completely different.

Of course, I recognize that it's not for everyone.
Cullen said…
I really enjoyed the conflict between Charlie and Donnie - that is.
ccr in MA said…
I never saw Adaptation either, so I can't comment on that (I'm another who's lucky to have seen one of the Oscar nominees in any given year). I am finding this project interesting, though, and wonder how many you're going to enjoy!
Kate P said…
Cullen--yeah, I guess I should clarify what I mean by vulgarity. . . that made me sound like some sort of snob. I'm thinking more about moments that really didn't add to the story for me. Sensationalizing, I guess. I do agree with you that there was that interesting sense of irony at the end. That did work. I was still kind of sad for Charlie, though!

CCR--glad you are reading along! Yeah, I am hoping that more often I will say "that was pretty good" than "what a waste of time."
Amy said…
I like this project. I never have time to see movies on TV let alone go to a theater. I have to say that having on Demand available is really good because we've seen a few more recent movies (Gran Torino was one- that was a great movie). But I like living vicariously through Kate this way so keep it up!
Dave E. said…
I haven't seen the movie. I do want a chance at the prize though, so I'll ask about the bargaining thing.

I do that myself at times, but I go back and forth on whether that is a reasonable tool to use to motivate myself, or whether it's kind of sad that I need to resort to it. How is that treated in the movie? Or is it just assumed to be okay and normal?

wv: unkil. As in, my unkil Ted would have scoffed at me bargaining with myself to do what needed to be done anyway.
Kate P said…
Poor Charlie never got the coffee and a muffin. . . ultimately it is pressure and trauma that motivate him, tortured artist that he is.

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