22 January 2008

77. adaptation

it is brilliant because it has it both ways. it is a simultaneous embrace and satire of the standard elements of hollywood moviemaking. this is in terms of the craft of screenwriting, such as mckee's decree "god help you if you use voiceover narration", as well as the culture of hollywood, such as the stereotype of the solitary and tortured writer's life, the town as one big meat market ("catherine keener is at my house?!"), agents as crass commercialists, and more.

but the movie also has it both ways in that it is both a movie about charlie kaufman wants out of "the orchid thief" -- an art film about a struggling artist with no real drama and the beauty of flowers and a struggle with no real resolution ("just like life") -- as well as a Hollywood product based on or Inspired By "the orchid thief", with all the requisite Hollywood trappings, including (but not limited to): drugs, murders, car chases, epiphanies, romance, intrigue.

this is the rare movie that is both an art film and a hollywood product. and it wears that fact on its sleeve.

on top of that, it is a serious act of courage by kaufman and the rest of the filmmakers. kaufman does not show himself in a flattering light, for one. beyond that, though, he was able to invent a fake twin brother that the academy actually recognized! when you add the manufactured Hollywood elements that show orlean in such a distorted light, it is a wonder that the movie got made at all due to libel and slander lawsuits. or maybe everyone involved thought it would be a fun lark.

one more thing: the performances are quite great. nicholas cage can be a fantastic actor when he lets himself be, and he has fun with the ultimate odd couple of charlie and donald -- he ALSO has it both ways, playing fun and mopey in the same scene. and how often do we get to see Serious Thespian meryl streep let loose, have a blast, and even be sexy?

and don't even get me started on chris cooper...


Blogger Austin Kleon said...

agreed! this is a movie I hated in the theater because I thought it was "cheating," but when I went back to it, I was like, "this is brilliant."

chris cooper is such a badass

6:59 PM  
Blogger Austin Kleon said...

oh and i also think meryl streep is kind of hot...you know, like in a MILF way

6:59 PM  

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