(un)interesting movies

I saw JULIE AND JULIA with my mother, which was the perfect way to see it. I thought it was pretty good. I liked the ideas it had of trying to live your life in the shadows of your heroes, giants from history. My wife even bought MY LIFE IN FRANCE, and I picked it up and I’m half way through. It’s a great book if you’re into food, like I am.

I read the review of Julie Powell’s new book, CLEAVING, which apparently is very different from the book based on her blog that the movie was based on. CLEAVING is about Julie Powell’s life since then, in particular her obsessive affair with an abusive guy. The review goes out of its way to say that Hollywood won’t be touching this one.

My question is, why the fuck not?

I’d love to see this book turned into a movie. I hate that Hollywood can’t handle infidelity in an adult way, or sex, or anything interesting. Why not? Why do books get to have all the fun? I’m dying to see the scene where Julie, wishfully Amy Adams again, is tied up and bruised up by her boyfriend, and then has to go home and explain it to her husband. Why can’t a movie be about a woman who gets a little too obsessed with her boyfriend and herself, and hates herself, and is insecure and is maybe even unsympathetic?

Unsympathetic is the word that will sink you in Hollywood, but how do you measure sympathy? Just because a character has an affair, that alone makes them unsympathetic in Hollywood. They are doomed to some sort of payback. Tom Cruise cheats on his perfect wife? Oops, blackmailed. He should have seen that coming!

The sympathy thing is ridiculous, especially as a character is played by a charismatic actor, or even movie star. Julia Roberts could stab a baby with an ice pick and you’d still fall right into those big brown eyes.

The cynical thing about JULIE AND JULIA was that, in the end, the movie became all about Meryl Streep’s performance. It’s a typically great performance, no question, and they sold the movie on that alone, but was that really all this film had to offer? Ask anyone what they thought of the movie and you’ll get the same exact answer every time, “Meryl Streep was fabulous”, as if there were a little press agent in their head reading from his notes.

What a horrible situation American movies are in. The more anodyne the movie, the broader the appeal, the less interesting it is, the more likely it will get made. The more interesting, the less simplistic, the less likely it will get made.

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