Sunday, December 28, 2008


If I was a more honest person, I'd wax poetical all day and all night about the VAST enthusiasm that fills me every time I see art I really like. I'd proclaim it to the heavens, dance in the street, herald it to the masses, and probably even cry (like I did within the first ten minutes of Wall-E--BOTH times!). But I put up a front because often I fear I'll look like a child if I'm caught enjoying anything. And living in New York for a while hasn't done much in terms of making me a more openly enthusiastic person.

Well, friends, today this ends, twofold. First, I found out I got a belated ticket to Improbable's annual theatre forum Devoted and Disgruntled. My love of the theatre company knows no bounds (at least, I've yet to find the boundary yet) and ever since I dug around their website after the awe-inspiring production of Satyagraha I caught at the Met last year, I can honestly say I have been waiting for the opportunity to go to this event since April. I am so psyched! But there's a glitch: I arrive back in England the morning of the event. It starts at 10AM, and I get into Heathrow at 8:45. What is it with me and the close calls re: continental travel? Seriously, I need an assistant. Not to mention the jet lag I'm going to be dealing with those two days. Also, I never sleep on planes. But it will be worth it, I just know it!

(Hear those famous last words?)

Maybe I'll try to change my ticket. I need to stop living at extremes.

The second thing I'd like to gush about today is The Wrestler. I caught it the other night at one of my favorite smaller art house cinemas in NYC, and loved it. I hated the last Aronofsky film (HATED it) and despite my complete adoration of Requim for a Dream, I wasn't sure I could ever trust that man again. But now my fears are all allayed. The topic of the film seems almost ludicrous, and as someone who used to watch professional wrestling a lot (I was doing it so I would have something to talk about with a boy--lame I know, but who here isn't guilty of that sort of thing at least a few times in their lives) I wasn't too sure what I would gain from watching this movie. Of course, the film doesn't deal with the more recognizable, more commercial version of professional wrestling that blew up about nine or ten years ago, but the time that comes after the fall of fame for one wrestler, played with the most beautiful honesty by Mickey Rourke. For serious guys: he was really freakin' good. I haven't seen a performance like this in a while, probably not since Javier Bardem in A Sea Inside. If you know anything about Mickey Rourke's career, the film takes on an extra life beyond the screen when you watch his character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, dealing with the seeming futility of his life. (Oh, Mickey Rourke...) Clint Mansell's scoring is really sparse, and Aronofsky keeps most of the film silent, with an occassional rush when Randy puts his hearing aid on. It's a really nice choice, and makes the movie more realistic, less melodramatic or sweeping which seems to be the effect of the scores to the other Aronofsky films I've seen (never caught Pi--I know, I know, I have no integrity).

The director also made a really interesting choice in having the camera follow his subject from behind, obscuring his face for most of the beginning of the movie--this sense of following close behind Randy, joining him on his day to day journey, and also creating a sense of distance between the character and the audience by denying us his face. The proverbial "they" always talk about the psychological association that a viewer experiences when watching a film: if you see someone looked scared, you experience fear; if you see someone with a smile on their face, you feel at ease. We recognize ourselves and our own feelings in characters. It's a natural, more basic, more psychological extension of empathy, really. This is something I've brought up briefly before re: my interest in exploring how to create this effect on the body using people on stage (perhaps a little more next term) and it's really great to see such an effective example of this.

(Quick side note: I seem to be pre-occupied with adapting filmic qualities for the stage. This seems ludicrous for a lot of reasons I needn't list here, mostly because some are so painfully obvious. But the big piece of feedback I got from my peers on my final solo performance piece for the term (which you will not see here because of my fear of artistic plagiarism, but I will grant special viewings for those who request them) was that my work was very "filmic." I don't know if that was meant as a compliment, an insult, or if it was a strict observation. But that's what was said.)

But anyway, yes: great film, go out and see it today.

And now to discover the cost of a flight change...

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