March 13th, 2005

Masa of the force

Snippets of significance

This morning at around 6 I settled down to drink a beer and watch the film "Trust." Yeah, I'm the kind of guy who'll start drinking at 6 in the morning and won't stop until...6:17. There was nothing in particular about "Trust" that I wanted to see, but I was in that hazy "early to rise" state of mind and felt like watching something offbeat and interesting. "Trust" was indeed that, a film that managed to be both strongly American and possessed of a certain European sensibility that made it quite enjoyable (I ended up picking it over a Godard Flick, and that was the right choice.) The movie was interesting in and of itself, but as I watched it I became infatuated with Adrienne Shelly, the female lead. I felt a little creepy about that, since she plays a 17 year old, until I checked IMDB and learned that the film was probably made when she was between 22 and 24 years old. She's not traditionally gorgeous, but there was something about her skin-tone, firm red lips, and most importantly attitude that made her just incredibly beautiful. It's not too often that I get captivated by a woman like that, and I was trying to figure out what was doing it for me in that particular situation. In the end I settled upon the way she played a character who was strong and independent in very feminine ways, and her oddball calm energy when faced with the various crises that her character faced. Then there were those lips.

Godard himself said that the history of cinema is the history of boys photographing girls, and in some ways that is true. Nothing in the world is as captivating as the right woman, and innumerable films have been sold on the basis of having found the right woman for a large segment of the population and giving her something to do. The interesting thing is how many movies fail to do a decent job of this. Finding the right woman is not just a matter of selecting the prettiest face, a model may be able to look interesting in a photograph no matter how little she has going on upstairs, but an actress has to either have something in her head and energy or a fantastic script and masterful director to pull it off for 90-120 minutes. There's also the matter of what women are given to do in movies, which so often amounts to standing around and looking pretty, or fulfilling some directorial fantasy of dubious value. It is, however, women who manage to break out of those limitations who end up being the most interesting and alluring. It's easy to take a girl with big breasts and make her look sexy on film, but it's a cheap kind of sexy. It may be harder to do the same with a woman of smaller chest size and greater complexity, but it's so worth it. Putting a sexy blonde in a low cut dress is like cooking with a microwave, you get pleasant consistent results without much effort. Allowing a woman to be both sexy and competent without the cheap ingredient of nudity? Harder, but infinitely more rewarding.

None of this is particularly groundbreaking material, but it's an important thing for me to remember. I intend to make movies and I very much would like not to fall into those cheap traps so many movie makers end up letting rule their work. I just wanted to write a little note to remind myself that silicone tits in a wonder bra are just as cheap and ineffective a technique as cutting every 15 seconds or spackling dialog over with ancient cliches.
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