helen's at it again

oscar run xiv: adaptation.

This is a pretty fascinating movie, albeit one that I can imagine lots of people picking at with annoyance. It's self-absorbed (I suppose the proper term would be "self-referential," but take my word for it, self-absorption is at the center of this movie), and if you're the sort who thinks there's such a thing as too clever, then this movie is too clever by a lot. I can't say the last 1/2 hour or so did much for me, although I can see why some would argue it's appropriate (me, I figure they just got to a point where nothing more could be done, and so they took a sidetrip to stretch the running time).

One sign of an inventive movie comes when you can talk about the plot without really spoiling anything ... no matter how much I give away, you'll still be startled by the audacious structure of the movie. Of course, I'm not actually going to talk about the plot; if you know it, you don't need me to tell it, and if you don't know it, no matter anyway. The thing I would like to note, since this is another Oscar Run movie, is that in this case, I think it's nominated in all the right categories. Nicolas Cage is terrific as twin brothers ... I'm especially taken with the more obviously neurotic Charlie, and think screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has done things here I'd like to pretend I would do if I was writing myself into a screenplay, but I'd be far too chicken to actually do it. Anyway, Cage nails the neuroses, no question about it. As for the twin, well, it made me think of Babe Ruth. When baseball fans argue about who is the best player of all time, you hear people say Willie Mays, or Ted Williams, or even Barry Bonds, and, of course, some people bring up the Babe. You compare all the great hitters in baseball history, and at the very least, Babe Ruth ranks with the cream of the crop. And then you remember that not only was Babe Ruth arguably the greatest hitter in baseball history, he also won 94 games as a pitcher. Well, Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman deserves his Oscar nomination, and when you compare him to the other nominees, the twin brother is kinda like the Babe's 94 wins ... basically, Cage could have gotten two nominations for this movie.

Meanwhile, Chris Cooper is a hoot as the orchid hunter, and Meryl Streep ... well, I think I may have finally figured out what I like about her. I like it when she plays comedy. And she is very funny here, not to mention very sexy, which isn't something I generally think of when I think of Meryl Streep, although again, now that I think about it, she's always sexy when she's funny.

The biggest irony for a movie full of irony will come if Adaptation. wins an Oscar for Best Screenplay based on another work. If you've seen it, you know why; if you haven't, I recommend it. 8 on a scale of 10.


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