"There's a point, when your mind outlives its obsessions, when your habits survive your dreams, when your losses... You wonder, maybe death is a gift. All I know I'll be be better off. What I don't know is why."
Saturday night and I've got time on my hands... and a project or two that needs my attention. As true to my routine, I head into my atelier, sigh at the mess - the enormity of the mess - and plop down on the couch to find something mindless on TV to keep me company while I work.
What I find, and am tempted to NOT watch, but rather record & watch later, is 2003's "The Life of David Gale."
This is one of those movies I remember from its release (how can it be 7 years old already???), but never got around to seeing in the theaters, never heard a word about and promptly dismissed it from my mind until this moment. I read the description: (something to the effect of) "a journalist interviews a death row inmate and rushes to prove his innocence before his execution."
Hmmm, I ponder... it does sound interesting. Kevin Spacey (love him), Kate Winslet (love her), Laura Linney (a definite fav...) - great actors all... but still. It sounds like a "thinker" and a "close watcher," neither of which I have time for tonight. I have work to do! I should just see what's on HGTV, or Lifetime, or Bravo, and save this for another day when I do have time to sit & watch... really watch... and think... and ponder...
But, even as I'm thinking this - pondering this - I connect to the channel and immediately become engrossed as I see a woman running thru a street trying desperately to flag down a driver to give her a ride... WTH?
And so begins my journey into "The Life of David Gale."
The tagline is: The crime is clear. The truth is not.
Well, in my not so humble opinion, a lot more than the truth is unclear in this movie... I can't even begin to explain how disappointed I was. And frustrated. And aggravated. You know, I actually liked it - until the point when the crime is explained. Then I absolutely hated it when the final detail fell into place - at the very last minute of the movie. I was almost angry. And insulted. Really? Really???? Seriously? Are you kidding me????
Then: Whatever, with a shake of my head. What-freakin'-ever.
Of course, I've thought about it quite a bit since Saturday night. Even discussed it with a friend over lunch the next day. And, while searching for an image to use in this blog post, I actually found a working copy of the script - and read it! In one sitting and in it's entirety in hopes that I'd appreciate it more (which I do, although I can't say I really like it any better; here's the link: www.movie-page.com/scripts/the_life_of_david_gale.pdf). So all this obsession, if you will, makes me further ponder (more with the pondering?): isn't that what a good story makes you do? Continue to think about it? Haven't I mentioned more than once in this blog how I love a story that stays with me, lingers on my mind, causes me to play out the fantasy of the rest of their lives - the what happens next - in my mind?
Well, not this time. This time the story continuation stops cold and makes me "tsk!" in disgusted irritation. And I'm realizing there is a difference between a story that lingers creatively in your heart and mind and a story that plagues you with frustrating, unanswered questions... a story with an ending you just cannot relate to, no matter how hard you try. A story, that when said & done, you define as stupid.
Oh, that's it! At the end of the movie I decided what they did was stupid. Yep, they (the characters) were stupid. Illogical. Fanatical. And just plain dumb-asses.
Here's my thought: the story is definitely interesting and the concept very creative. I just think it didn't work. I think, sometimes, in our zealousness to come up with a new idea, something that hasn't been done & overdone time & again, we writers miss our mark. We become overly creative and therefore overly complicated. To me, a better story - any art really - should explain itself, definitely not need to be explained. But having said that, now that I know the whole story and the characters' intent (thanks to my continued ponderances AND the reading of the script), I really don't know that it could have been told, or ended, any other way.
So, I continue to ponder here... since the story played out as it should, regardless of my disbelief in the calculated complexity of it, is it actually successful? And, hmmmm, am I doing exactly what the storyteller wanted? Does my continued ponderance (is that a real word?) of this story deem it a success in his terms? Perhaps, it does. Perhaps he's sitting somewhere having a chuckle because I'm giving him exactly what he wanted all along. Someone to think about this so much it is not forgotten...