just read this review
about the poet john wilmot, earl of rochester. johnny depp portrays the poet in a movie
based on his life. i just found out about it, the movie, i mean. sacramento isn't a big enough market, i guess, for it to be released theatrically so i'll have to wait until it is released on disc.
not that i'm sitting here on the edge of my seat for a movie about a poet. god knows, there have been scads of film stock wasted already about poets. each film i see about poets and poetry is worse than the last effort, either produced by mainstream studios or independents. writing, a life in writing / reading, doesn't easily lend itself to visual representation, i guess. the filmmakers are reduced to portraying just the more scandalous areas of life. it feels like a cheat.
i recall about a decade ago going to an art theater to watch a film based on the relationship between french poets rimbaud and verlaine. rimbaud is huge in my universe, and leonardo dicaprio starred as the teenaged genius. i was nearly salivating to see the movie total eclipse
. i skipped class that night and headed to the theater right after work. the theater was empty. i thought, i've never had a whole theater to myself. and was near-giddy at the prospect. but no, a couple entered the theater right when the house lights went down. and of all the empty seats to choose from, they picked seats next to mine.
i digress, but only slightly, since the experience of almost having the theater to myself mirrored the film onscreen, if only in my disappointment. dicaprio's performance was so shrill and obnoxious without the least hint of rimbaud's genius that i nearly walked out. director holland
sorely needed to focus, but her direction was slack and enervating. what should have been a movie about a pair of poets whose lives were so cinematic that making a film about them should've been brilliant first-year film student projects, became a study in total boredom.
then there was a merry war
, recommended to me by my friend, poet andrew sullivan. i rented that turd from the local blockbuster. anna and i watched it in bed, which was an excellent spot, since after a couple of beers i fell asleep by the third reel. there is nothing about writing in this movie, only the drooling stupidity displayed by the principals of the film. genius can't pay the rent, it seems, so don't quit yr day job. duh! however, the poet, played by richard e. grant, the long-faced suitor of steve martin's love interest in the otherwise wonderful, whimsical l.a. story
, decides he can't do both so he quits period, mopes about, then quits again, before going back to his day job as an ad-copy writer where he possesses his real genius. less a cautionary tale, than pure muck. nothing about poetry, only the wretchedness of watching a couple of goofballs in love, with what i can't fathom.
but what about barfly
based on the soiled life of ol' buk of san pedro. i confess to a soft spot i have for this film. i like it, despite my better judgment. i think mickey rourke is a great actor, and i've sat thru many a rourke movies, crappy and some not so crappy, to watch him at work. in fact, this movie has one of my favorite scenes, about how chance runs our lives. the scene is where chinaski, the buk character, hears some scuffling and screams from the room next door at his girlfriend's (faye dunaway) flophouse. chinaski is soused but has a bit of spark, so when he breaks down the door to the room he finds an old drunk beating the shit out of his pissed wife. everyone is on one big wooze here. the old man tells chinaski that she likes it, and she spits out an affirmation and tells the hapless idiot to fuck off. chinaski doesn't take a shine to that, and when the old man hits his old lady again, that's it! they struggle, the old guy has a knife, they fight for it, then old man gets shivved in the gut. he says to chinaski, that's just pure dumb luck. chinaski lurches a step and responds, yeah but that counts too.
again i digress, but as a movie about poets and poetry, writing and living, it sucks. i've no idea, other than knowing already the film is based on buk, what rourke's character does. and what little stream-of-consciousness garble he does do we hear as a first-person narration, almost, as it sounds like the worst sort of high-school poetry, affected, melodramatic, and very purple in its suasion. as charlie brown was fond of saying, good grief.
i could go on, since i've not given up all hope on finding a good film about writers and writing. the subject is not very cinematic. poetry is one of the most exciting acts i know, but to someone watching me writing, or reading, would soon contemplate suicide if only to end the numbing tedium of watching my actions. such is innerlife, that actions appear to be non-actions. fuck it. i've found out matt dillon stars as buk in a movie
based on the former's novel. there is no hope, even tho i've got my fingers crossed.